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

jimstinehart at aol.com jimstinehart at aol.com
Tue Sep 13 21:41:39 EDT 2011

Prof. George Athas:

1.  You wrote:  “One of the hallmarks of a scholar should be an awareness of the state of play and where consensus actually lies, rather than where one would like it to be.”
To the best of my knowledge, no one but me has ever analyzed the names “Kenites”, “Kenizzites”, and “Jebusites” as being Hurrian-based Patriarchal nicknames, featuring the Hurrian version of an Akkadian verb plus one or more standard Hurrian suffixes.  In my opinion, that is why no convincing etymologies for those three names have been possible to date.
2.  You wrote:  “As far as I'm aware, Caleb's name has not been a mystery at all.”
After I set forth all those many cases when the Bible uses KLB as a Hebrew common word in an extremely derogatory manner, you still think that Joshua’s trusted comrade has a west Semitic name that means “Dog”?  No way!  KLB is KL-B, a Hurrian name of a Kenizzite, Kelip, meaning “It Pleases [Deity]”.

3.  You wrote:  “And I find it hard to believe that there are Hurrians hiding under every rock in the ancient Levant.”

If Genesis 15: 18-21 reflects the Amarna Age, as I think it does, then it’s no real surprise that 8 of the 10 names there [all except Amorite and Canaanite] are names for Hurrians in Canaan, because during the mid-14th century BCE Hurrian princelings dominated the ruling class of Canaan.  To see that, please take a gander at the Hurrian names of princelings in greater Canaan from the Amarna Letters.  Per Richard Hess, “Amarna Pesonal Names” (1993), the following names are Hurrian, Akkadian or Sanskrit names of princelings in greater Canaan (Canaan proper, southern Syria and Lebanon), and are considered by me to be Hurrian princelings.  Hurrian (p. 228;  7 names):  a-ki-te$$ub, a-ki-iz-zi, a-ra-wa-na, xi-bi-ya, ta-gi, ziliya, IR-xeba.  Akkadian (p. 213;  4 names):  haddu-ni-ra-ru, nukurtu-ya, yi-id-ia, belet-UR.MAX.ME$.  Sanskrit (p. 223;  18 names):  ar-ta-ma-an-ya, ar-za-aw-ya, ba-ya-di, bi-ri-da-a$-wa, bi-ri-di-ya, bir-ia-wa-za, da-$a, i-tag-ga-ma, in-tar-u-ta, ma-ya, ar-za-na, ru-uc-ma-an-ia, sa-ta-at-na, su-ra-ta, $u-ba-an-di, $u-wa-ar-da-ta, ya-mi-u-ta, ya-a$-da-ta, zi-ir-dam-ia-a$-da.

Now take a closer look at those purely Hurrian names:

(a)  a-ki-te$$ub and a-ki-iz-zi are the same name.  As I showed in my post to Adam, si can interchange with iz-zi in Hurrian, so that second name could alternatively be a-ki-si.  That’s the name of Caleb’s daughter at Joshua 15: 16:  Achsah/(KS-H.  [The final -H is a Semiticized ending.]

(b)  xi-bi-ya and IR-xeba are variants of the name of Moses’ father-in-law XB-B, a Kenite.  In all three names, XB is the Hurrian goddess Xeba.  -B and -ya are both standard Hurrian suffixes.

(c)  a-ra-wa-na.  To Semiticize that Hurrian name in order to make it a fitting name of the father of Moses’ father-in-law, a Kenite, drop the Hurrian standard suffix -na and add the classic Hebrew suffix -)L.  There you’ve got it:  R(W-)L at Numbers 10: 29.  The root is ar-a-wa, where no prosthetic aleph is used at the beginning, and the interior Hurrian A is recorded by Hebrew ayin/(.  Both of these names are mere variants on Arioch/)RYWK/Ar-a-wa-ka at Genesis 14: 1.

The Biblical authors, unlike modern analysts, knew that these names were Hurrian.

Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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