[b-hebrew] Addition of Heh to names

jimstinehart at aol.com jimstinehart at aol.com
Sun Apr 24 14:24:07 EDT 2011


1.  Professor Yigal Levin wrote:
 
“Av-ram (and Aviram as well) falls into a well-documented type of Western Semitic "theophoric" names (that is, names that include a divine name or title, usually with a verb or adjective), in which the divine is expressed in terms of kinship: "My father (the god) is high/exalted". Abi-melekh: "My father is king".”
 
Although it may at first glance seem like a minor point, in my opinion the word “my” should be deleted in those meanings.  Ab-ram means “(the divine) Father is exalted”.  Ab-i-melek either means “(the divine) father (is) king”, or alternatively, “(the divine) father (is) Moloch”.  I agree with those scholars who see the interior yod/Y in these names as simply indicating a break between two words;  that interior yod/Y is optional and has no meaning -- other than to indicate a break between two words and that this is a proper name.
 
“An alternate form of this name [Abram/)BRM] is )BYRM, which has a yod joining the two elements.  Martin Noth has shown convincingly that in sentence names like )BYRM this letter has no significance whatever.  We find such names )X)B alongside of )XY)B [Eleph.], but even more important are those examples where the same individual is given both forms:  )B$LWM and )BY$LWM [I Kings 15: 2, 10 {yod present} and II Chronicles 11: 20-21 {no yod}], )LPL+ and )LYPL+ [II Samuel 5: 16 {yod present} and I Chronicles 14: 5 {no yod}].  …[T]he name )BRM can be translated ‘Father is exalted’.”  Thomas L. Thompson, “The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives” (2002), at pp. 22-23.
 
Thus:  )B-RM = )B-Y-RM.  )B-MLK = )B-Y-MLK.  )X-)B = )X-Y-)B.  )B-$LM = )B-Y-$LM.  The meaning of each pair of names is identical.  The optional presence of the interior yod/Y has no substantive meaning.  Rather, the interior yod/Y is functioning as a “divider”, if you will.  It only clarifies the form:  this is a personal name, which consists of two words, which here are divided by this interior yod/Y.
 
2.  Surprisingly, recognizing that a Hebrew letter in a name can function as a mere divider may be the key to unlocking the millennia-old secret of the name “Abraham”.  Professor Levin wrote:  
 
“Av-ra-ham is more complicated. As such, it is not known outside of the Bible. Scholars are divided over whether it is a by-form of Avram, perhaps reflecting a dialect or a spelling convention, or whether the element "raham" actually means something. We do not know of "raham" meaning "multitude" in Hebrew or any related language.”
 
As implied by what Prof. Levin wrote, scholars have been unable to correlate the name “Abraham”, that is, )BRHM, with the Biblical explanation of what that name means [since raham does not mean ‘multitude’ or ‘many nations’]:
 
“Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.”  Genesis 17: 5
 
The “secret” to understanding the name )BRHM is to see the he/H as being a mere divider.  That name is composed not of two words [like “Abram”], but rather of three (3) separate words:  (i) )B;  (ii) R-;  (iii) -M.  The -H- functions as a divider, and also tells us where a letter needs to be implied:  at the end of the second word, R-, and at the beginning of the third word, -M.  If we look at )BRHM as being )B plus R- plus -M [three separate words, where the interior he/H is functioning as a divider], then the name beautifully matches what Genesis 17: 5 says it means. 
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois






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