[b-hebrew] Early and late biblical Hebrew
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Sun Nov 27 14:53:52 EST 2011
In response to my statement that “The PRZY did not live ‘spread out’. The
most famous PRZY lived in Jerusalem”, you wrote:
“PRAZOT TE$EB YRU$ALAIM ... Zechariah 2:8”
Neat! PRZWT at Zechariah 2: 4/2: 8 is somewhat similar to PRZY at Genesis
But Jerusalem was a walled city, not “open country”.
Moreover, Zechariah is usually dated to the 6th century BCE. That’s 800
years after I see Genesis 15: 18-21 as being composed.
The proper conclusion here is that post-exilic Biblical authors like
Zechariah no longer understood the Hurrian references in the Patriarchal
But that’s a neat quote nonetheless.
Pre-exilic Biblical authors, by contrast, recognized all six Hurrian-based
Patriarchal nicknames at Genesis 15: 19-21 as referring to the Hurrians, and
they deftly paired Hurrian personal names with those Hurrian group
nicknames. But that Hurrian knowledge was lost permanently in the Exile.
In 1943, Gelb and Purves at p. 115b of “Nuzi Personal Names” noted the
following Hurrian name at Late Bronze Age Nuzi in eastern Syria: Pirzu. The
consonants are PRZ [or BRZ], and in that name the Hurrian theophoric suffix
-ia does not appear. One of the odd things about Hurrian is that P and B and
W are all three interchangeable. So “to be lord” can be piri or biri or
wi-ir [or ew-ri or er-wi, etc.]. Using that third spelling, we see attested
at Nuzi: Wi-ir-zi-ia-e (GP at p. 174a). After accounting for W and P
interchanging in Hurrian, that Hurrian name is the exact equivalent of the
Biblical rendering PRZY. Biblical PR = Wi-ir at Nuzi, meaning “to be lord”.
Biblical -Z- = -zi- at Nuzi, meaning “blessed”. Biblical -Y [with Hebrew
yod/Y routinely being used to represent the Hurrian vowel A as its own separate
syllable in the Hebrew rendering of Hurrian names] = -ia at Nuzi, being a
theophoric that in a Hurrian context implies “Teshup”, the storm-god who was
the Hurrians’ chief god. So despite the one orthographic variance [W vs.
P], the underlying names are identical, with each meaning: “Blessed Teshup Is
One of the colorful Patriarchal nicknames for the Hurrians is the
Blessed-Teshup-Is-Lord people: PRZY = Piri-izzi-ya = Wi-ir-zi-ia-e. All 6
Hurrian-based Patriarchal nicknames for the Hurrians at Genesis 15: 19-21 have names
of that type.
In using the name PRZY, Genesis 15: 18-21 is not referencing foreigners who
are “spread out”. PRZY is a non-Semitic Hurrian name, and as such is not
properly fit for a west Semitic etymology [though Zechariah probably did not
know that]. Rather, PRZY is an attested Hurrian personal name from the
Late Bronze Age that the early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives used
to create one of his 6 Hurrian-based Patriarchal nicknames at Genesis 15:
19-21. One of the most underappreciated themes throughout much of the Hebrew
Bible is the frequent set of references to the Hebrews displacing the
Hurrians as the dominant people of beloved Canaan. If we ignore the Hurrians, we
thereby ignore what the Hebrews themselves considered to be one of their
greatest accomplishments: supplanting the Hurrian foreigners as the dominant
people of non-coastal Canaan.
No 1st millennium BCE Hebrew or Jewish ghost-writer could possibly have
come up with 6 Hurrian-based Patriarchal nicknames at Genesis 15: 19-21, two of
which are uniquely based on Akkadian verbs. No, those Hurrian names are
redolent of the turbulent Years 12-14 of the Amarna Age, which is the
historical time period I see as being the birth of Judaism. The whole world seemed
in danger of disintegrating, but against all odds, the first Hebrews somehow
emerged, ready to begin their outsized role on the world stage. If we don’
t realize how thoroughly Canaan was dominated by Hurrian princelings in the
mid-14th century BCE [per the Amarna Letters], we will not appreciate the
enormity of the Hebrews managing to accomplish precisely what Genesis 15:
18-21 says: the Hebrews in due course supplanted the Hurrians as the dominant
people in Canaan. I don’t know why people seem to want to ignore one of the
Hebrews’ greatest historical triumphs. Plus, the presence of all those
delightful Hurrian proper names in the last 40 chapters of Genesis helps date
the Patriarchal narratives to the mid-14th century BCE. That text is much
older, and more historically accurate, than university scholars realize.
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