[b-hebrew] Early and late biblical Hebrew

jimstinehart at aol.com jimstinehart at aol.com
Fri Nov 25 14:31:53 EST 2011

Isaac Fried:

You wrote:  “QNIZY may be a variant of KNISY כניסי from the root KNS כנס 'collect', the same way that PRIZI is from the root PRD, PRZ, PRC, PRS, PRT פרש, פרד ,פרס, פרז, פרץ 'spread out'.”

Why would you think that QNZY and PRZY are west Semitic names?  The QNZY and PRZY are always presented as being foreigners.  Genesis 15: 18-21 explicitly states that the Hebrews will in due course become the dominant people of Canaan, displacing 10 peoples, including the QNZY and the PRZY and the Canaanites and the Amorites.  The only native west Semitic speakers in greater Canaan were the Canaanites and the Amorites.  So the other 8 peoples named must logically be non-west Semitic speakers.

Indeed, the classic -zi- or -zzi- formative in these two names in particular has caused many scholars to recognize them as being Hurrian:

“[O]f all the ethnic terms found in these early [Biblical] traditions Kenizzi comes closest to a Hurrian form….  With Kenizzi, Perizzi cf. a-ki-iz-zi king of Qatna during Hurrian preponderance…and Perizzi, name of a Hurrian envoy in an Amarna letter….”  Joseph Blenkinsopp, “Gibeon and Israel” (1972), pp. 18 and 113.  As further support for the view that the QNZY [“Kenizzites”] at Genesis 15: 19 are Hurrians in Canaan, see also H.L. Ginsberg and B. Maisler, “Semitised Hurrians in Syria and Palestine”, JPOS 14 (1984), pp. 258-9.

One of the major themes throughout the Hebrew Bible is how the Hebrews came to displace the Hurrians as the dominant people in non-coastal Canaan.  But in order to see that major theme, we must do as pre-exilic Biblical authors consistently did:  recognize that the following six names at truly ancient Genesis 15: 19-21 are all Hurrian:  Qa-a-ni-ya/QYNY;  Qa-ni-zi-ya/QNZY;  Xuti-ya/XTY;  Piri-izzi-ya/PRZY;  Gera-ge-$e-ya/GRGSY;  and A-bu-u-se-ya/YBWSY.  

Because these are non-west Semitic names, it does not make sense to make a creative west Semitic etymology of a non-west Semitic name.

Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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