[b-hebrew] Does the Name Caleb Mean "Dog"? Not.

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Sep 13 11:52:07 EDT 2011

Prof. Yigal Levin:
1.  You wrote:  “There is absolutely no evidence that the Kenizzites were 
Hello, hello?
Consider the following items of evidence:
(a)  The Hurrian name Qa-ni-iz-za is attested at Nuzi.  As I said in a 
prior post, how can one look at Nuzi name Qa-ni-iz-za and not see the Biblical 
name QN-Z-Y?  They’re the same name!
(b)  The phrase “Caleb/KLB the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite” is found 
throughout the Bible.  The name KLB is KL-B, being “KeLiP” in Hurrian, 
literally meaning “It Pleases”, and implying “It Pleases [Deity]”.  The root 
here is the well-known Hurrian common word keli, meaning “to please or satisfy”
.  It’s found in the Amarna Letters name Keli-ya, meaning “It Pleases 
Teshup”.  Given that the Biblical references to KLB/“dog” as a Hebrew common 
word are very derogatory, it does not make sense for Joshua’s invaluable ally, 
KL-B the QN-Z-Y, to be thought to have a west Semitic name meaning “Dog”.
(c)  The name “Jephunneh” as well makes better sense in Hurrian than in 
west Semitic.  As a west Semitic name based on the verb PNH, “Jephunneh”/YPNH 
would have the odd meaning of “He Turns” or “He Turns Away”.  In Hurrian, 
YPN-H could be short for the attested phrase “abin Te$$up”, meaning “
Before Teshup”, since YPN could be the Hebrew rendering of the Hurrian common 
word abin.  Per the Fournet-Bomhard Hurrian language website at p. 80, abin 
Te$$uppa means “in front of Te$$ub”, and abi-n is a Hurrian common word 
meaning “before”.  As in the Biblical names QYN-Y and MDYN, an interior Hebrew 
yod/Y can represent the Hurrian vowel A.  B and P are often interchangeable in 
Hurrian, as in Teshub being interchangeable with Teshup.  So the Hebrew 
letters YPN could represent abin in Hurrian.  [As with the Hurrian names “Uriah”
 and “Araunah”, the final he/-H in the Biblical name YPN-H is a 
Semiticizing element.]
(d)  Ditto for the name of Caleb’s brother, Othniel.  The root (TNY of that 
name is sometimes said to mean “lion”, allegedly being “from an unused 
root meaning ‘to force’”, but no common words like that exist in Biblical 
Hebrew, so that’s a wild, unsubstantiated guess.  As a Hurrian name, (TN-Y, we 
start with atani meaning “father” in Hurrian.  [See p. 21 of the 
Fournet-Bomhard website.]  As a-ta-ni, that could be rendered in Hebrew as (TN.   The 
suffix -Y is -ya, a theophoric [which in Hurrian would likely refer to 
Teshup, but it could refer to any deity].  So the name of Caleb’s brother in 
Hurrian is A-ta-ni-ya, which to a Hurrian would mean “Teshup (is) The Father”, 
but could also mean “[Deity] (is) The Father”.  That Hurrian root has been 
nicely Semiticized in the name Othniel by adding -)L at the end, so that this 
Hurrian-based name could mean to a Hebrew:  “The Lord (is) The Father”, 
and could thereby imply “YHWH Is The Father”.
Note that all 4 of these names of Kenizzites make better sense in Hurrian 
than in west Semitic.
2.  You wrote:  “[W]e know so little about the Hurrians in general, that 
anyone could say almost anything about them, without anyone else being able to 
prove them wrong.”
Not so.
(a)  Since 1943 we have known that there are 2,235 personal names at Nuzi 
whose language group has been determined, and that 1,500, or 67%, of them are 
Hurrian, whereas 631, or 28%, are Akkadian.  Gelb and Purves, “Nuzi 
Personal Names”, at p. 5.
(b)  And with the publication in 1993 of “Amarna Personal Names” by 
Richard Hess, it is possible to determine that almost 75% of the princeling ruling 
class names in Canaan in the Amarna Age may well have been Hurrian 
[including pure Hurrian names, Akkadian names, and Sanskrit names].
(c)  We also know that near the end of the Amarna Age [exact dates 
disputed, but the fighting may have started in Year 14 per Genesis 14: 5], a Hittite 
who had seized the Hittite throne by the ruthless expedient of murdering 
his older brother named “Tidal” shockingly and unexpectedly achieved total 
victory over the Hurrians throughout Syria in the Great Syrian War.  That 
quickly led to the Hurrians soon ceasing to be prominent members of the ruling 
class in Canaan, a short-lived phenomenon that is basically limited to the 
Amarna Age.
So if 8 of the 10 names at Genesis 15: 18-21 [all but “Amorite” and “
Cananite”] refer to Hurrians in Canaan, as I view the case to be, then that can 
only be referencing the short historical time period of the mid-14th century 
BCE.  That’s when the Hurrians for a brief moment in time dominated the 
ruling class of Canaan, but soon were destined to fall into the dustbin of 
history, precisely when the Hebrews historically were on the cusp of establishing 
300 villages in hill country.
The Patriarchal narratives are much older and more historically accurate 
than the scholarly community realizes, being an account by the first Hebrew of 
the tempestuous times that gave birth to Judaism as the ill-fated Amarna 
Age was dying.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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