[b-hebrew] Ephron

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Jun 22 14:39:43 EDT 2010

1.  With Hebrew language issues being the long suit of the b-hebrew list, I 
would like to start this post by showing that the Hebrew nomenclature in 
the Patriarchal narratives regarding the Hurrians in Canaan is more precise 
and consistent than is usually realized.  BNY XT, or “sons of Hittite”, is 
always used to refer generally to the local Hurrians in Canaan [8 verses].  
BNWT XT, or “daughters of Hittite”, always refers to local female Hurrians in 
Canaan.  HXTY, when used with a  s-i-n-g-u-l-a-r  meaning in reference to a 
named individual male, or “the Hittite”, always is used to refer to a 
named male in Canaan who is a local Hurrian.  By contrast, on the one occasion 
[Genesis 15: 20] when HXTY is used with a  p-l-u-r-a-l  meaning, rather than 
in the context of an individual named male, “the Hittites”, that particular 
usage refers to the classic Hittites from eastern Anatolia [not the 
The point of deciding to use the terms “sons of Hittite” for the local 
Hurrians generally, and “the Hittite” with a  s-i-n-g-u-l-a-r  meaning for a 
named local male Hurrian, was precisely to link the Hurrians to the Hittites [
“guilt by association”, if you will].  The Hebrew author is arguing that 
just as everyone agrees that with the onset of the Great Syrian War [near the 
end of Akhenaten’s troubled reign], the Hittites are now a terrible threat 
to mankind in the Near East, we should also be concerned that a non-Semitic 
people who have close connections to the non-Semitic Hittites [though not 
necessarily friendly connections], namely the Hurrians, now [in the mid-14th 
century BCE] dominate the cities of Canaan.  That’s why Genesis uses the 
nomenclature of “sons of Hittite”, and “the Hittite” with a  s-i-n-g-u-l-a-r  
meaning, to refer to the historical Hurrians in Late Bronze Age Canaan.  The 
Hurrians are “sons” of the Hittites, in the sense that as of the mid-14th 
century BCE, the Hurrians had suddenly become junior to the Hittites 
regarding control of the Hurrians’ homeland of Syria. 
The Hebrew author actually tries to clarify for us his choice of 
nomenclature in this regard at the end of chapter 27 of Genesis.  Rebekah refers to 
her disliked Hittite daughters-in-law [by Esau] as being “local girls”.  [That
’s literally “daughters of the land”, at Genesis 27: 46.]  These people 
could not possibly be the classic Hittites from Anatolia, who, as Yigal Levin 
properly points out, never lived in Canaan.  The historical Hurrians 
dominated the cities of Canaan in the 14th century BCE, and were a seemingly 
permanent fixture in Canaan by the mid-14th century BCE, to the point that their 
daughters could now be characterized as being “local girls”.  It is no 
surprise that these well-entrenched grand Hurrian lords in Canaan were a concern 
to the tent-dwelling early Hebrews in the Late Bronze Age.
2.  Returning now to the specific name (P-RW-N in chapter 23 of Genesis, in 
analyzing whether this Biblical name is a Hurrian name that would have been 
well-known in the mid-14th century BCE [the time period I see as when 
Abraham bought Sarah’s gravesite], we find help in an unexpected quarter:  the 
Hurrian connection to Cyprus.  “[F]our tablets found at Enkomi (Cyprus) [are] 
supposed to be written in Hurrian.”  Jean Faucounau, Member of the 
Linguistic Society of Paris, France (2004)
Accordingly, a name referenced by the king of Cyprus/Alisaya in the Amarna 
Letters from the mid-14th century BCE could easily be a Hurrian name.  At 
Amarna Letter EA 37: 23 there is a name that is difficult to decipher, but 
which some scholars view as being Ebeluna.  With the frequent interchange 
between L and R in going from one foreign language to another in the ancient 
world, and with Akkadian cuneiform not being accurate in recording vowel sounds, 
Ebeluna could easily be Eb-ri-ni.  And given that B and P are 
interchangeable in Hurrian, this name could alternatively be Ep-ri-ni, as such being 
identical to the name “Ephron” in chapter 23 of Genesis:  (P-RW-N.  If so, this 
is the third attestation of the famous Hurrian word ep-ri or eb-ri in the 
Amarna Letters, this time bearing the common Hurrian suffix –ni [meaning “the
”].  If I am right that the early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal 
narratives lived in the Amarna Age [mid-14th century BCE], then (i) he would have 
known the famous Hurrian common word ep-ri, meaning “lord”, and (ii) he would 
have known as a Hurrian lordly name Ep-ri-ni, meaning “the (Hurrian) lord”
.  In my opinion, the best way to set forth the Hurrian lordly name Ep-ri-ni 
in old Biblical Hebrew defective spelling is exactly, letter for letter, 
what we see in the received text of chapter 23 of Genesis:  (P-RW-N.
3.  I agree completely with what Uri Hurwitz wrote:  “Among the Amarna 
letters, though not all are from Canaan, there is a sizable proportion of 'Indo 
-European' names. Richard Hess published a detailed study on the subject.  
Abdi-Hep/ba from Jerusalem is one prominent example.  There is no reason to 
doubt that this gentleman was not a good Jeruselmite patriot. But neither is 
there reason to doubt that his parents, or whoever named him, worshipped a 
non-Canaanite deity.”
Coupled with my prior post on this thread, it is certain that in the 14th 
century BCE, cities in Canaan often had Hurrian princelings as their rulers, 
and these Hurrian rulers had Hurrian names.  Thus if the 14th century BCE is 
the time period during which Abraham sought to buy a gravesite for Sarah 
(my view), then it makes complete historical sense that Abraham would be 
forced to deal with a Hurrian princeling, having a Hurrian princely name, to buy 
such real estate.  I have shown in #2 above and in my prior posts on this 
thread that (P-RW-N in chapter 23 of Genesis can be viewed as being the 
classic Hurrian name Ep-ri-ni, meaning “the great (Hurrian) lord”.  It is 
impossible to think of a better name for the person who sells Abraham Sarah’s 
gravesite, if such person is a Hurrian landowner in the southern half of Canaan 
in the 14th century BCE.
4.  The “sons of Hittite”, and any named male who is referred to 
individually as “the Hittite”, cannot possibly be indigenous Canaanites, as scholars 
would have it.  The word “Hittite” makes no historical sense regarding 
indigenous west Semitic-speaking Canaanites, while making good sense regarding 
the non-Semitic Hurrians.  Even more importantly, (PRWN as a west Semitic 
name, (P-RWN [where –WN is a standard west Semitic suffix and the 3-letter 
root is (PR], makes no sense at all as a name for the imperious lord who 
charges Abraham a king’s ransom for Sarah’s gravesite.  As a west Semitic name, 
the meaning would be “Bambi”.  If 1st millennium BCE Hebrews were making up 
this storyline, they would not choose a west Semitic name meaning “Bambi” 
for this imperious lord, nor would they characterize a group of west 
Semitic-speaking indigenous Canaanites as being “sons of Hittite”, or a named male 
individually as being “the Hittite”.  With all due respect, the scholarly 
view of this issue makes no sense on any level.  Ephron is a Hurrian! 

Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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