[b-hebrew] Initial Consonant Clusters in Biblical Hebrew

jimstinehart at aol.com jimstinehart at aol.com
Sat Jun 12 21:08:27 EDT 2010

Kevin Riley wrote:  “When the speakers of language A come across a word in language B that doesn't fit the syllable structure of their language, they treat it as if it does.  If language A has ka-$ra and language B allows ka$-ra but not ka-$ra, it will be heard as ka$-ra.”
I agree.
That then raises the issue of what the Hebrew author of Genesis 11: 28, 31 had heard when he decided to record the name of Kassite Babylonia as K$DYM.  Along with many other early Hebrews, he knew that the rulers of Babylonia were the Ka$-$u [in English:  “Kassites”].  However, very few early Hebrews would have known that the peculiar Akkadian version of the Kassite name of Kassite Babylonia was, per the Amarna Letters, Ka-ra-du-ni-a$.  The Hebrew author wanted to make sure that his Hebrew audience would not think that he was referring to ancient Ur in its glory days, 700 years previously, in a mythical setting recalling the Early Bronze Age.  In the Late Bronze Age [when the Patriarchal narratives were composed, which is also the time period being overtly described in the text], Ur was still important as the best place for a caravan to buy lapis lazuli at wholesale, though it no longer had any other importance whatsoever.
Thus to take away what might otherwise cause his composition to have a mythical feel, the Hebrew author wanted to make absolutely certain that every Hebrew in his audience would associate Abraham’s Ur with the Ka$-$u, so that they would know he was talking about contemporary Ur, that is, Ur of the Kassites.  Accordingly, instead of passively using the Akkadianized version of Ka-$ra, namely Ka-ra, as the first two consonants of the Hebrew version of the Kassite name of Kassite Babylonia, per the Amarna Letters, which his audience [who did not know such name] might have viewed as being an ambiguous reference timewise, the Hebrew author actively and brilliantly changed the first two consonants to be Ka-$a.  Now his entire Hebrew audience would know that he was talking about contemporary Ur of the Kassites, since the Hebraized version of the Kassite name of Kassite Babylonia started with Ka-$a, which is obviously very similar to the well-known word Ka$-$u [that is, the “Kassites”].
For anyone who is willing to look at the secular history of the Bronze Age instead of relying exclusively on the post-exilic Book of Daniel, in analyzing the historicity of the Patriarchal narratives, it honestly should be fairly obvious, it seems to me.  We know that Semitic people referred to the Kassites as Ka$-$u, featuring the two consonants K + $, in that order.  When one looks at K$DYM at Genesis 11: 28, 31, how can one miss it?  The first two consonants are K-$!  It’s right there in the received text, plain as day.
Anyone out there who is willing to take a new look at Genesis 11: 28, 31, without having their minds already irrevocably made up on the basis of the post-exilic Book of Daniel, will see that the first two letters of K$ + D + YM naturally recall Ka$-$u, and hence are referencing Kassite Babylonia.
Remember, the entire historicity of the Patriarchal narratives is riding on this issue.  If we passively let scholars tell us that K$DYM is an historically unattested forerunner of the name Kaldu [English:  “Chaldeans”], with the scholarly “proof” for such farfetched idea being, believe it or not, the post-exilic Book of Daniel, then we have no one but ourselves to blame for the following unfortunate situation.  University scholars teach the freshmen every year that the vast bulk of the Patriarchal narratives was composed by multiple 1st millennium BCE authors, who were so clueless as to the Bronze Age that they didn’t even know that by the time the Chaldeans come into existence in the 9th century BCE, Ur was, for all intents and purposes, no more.  Needless to say, scholars  n-e-v-e-r  mention to their students that there is not a scintilla of support in the secular history of the ancient world for the scholarly dream that K$DYM is a forerunner of the name Kaldu.  The earliest Assyrian and Babylonian references to the Chaldeans consistently refer to these new people as Kaldu.  If no one but me is willing to take on the professors as to these linguistic and historical matters, don’t expect anything to change at the universities.
Here is another non-historical attempt to link Kasdim to the Chaldeans [this time citing Job, not Daniel]:  “Kasdim is possibly…derived from the Assyr-Bab root kasadu, ‘to capture’, suggesting that the Chaldeans were originally tribes of nomadic plunderers (compare Job 1: 17).”  http://bibleatlas.org/chaldea.htm
Note that no one ever claims that there’s any inscription from the ancient world that refers to the Kaldu [English:  Chaldeans] by an earlier name, which has $ or % instead of L for the second letter.  That’s because there isn’t any such inscription.  Historically, the Chaldeans were called Kaldu from day #1.
Remember, there’s  n-o-t-h-i-n-g  in the secular history of the ancient world to support the scholarly view that Genesis 11: 28, 31 is a glaring historical anachronism, and/or that it is, impossibly, referring to the 1st millennium BCE Chaldeans.   N-o-t-h-i-n-g.  There’s no there there, linguistically or historically.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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