[b-hebrew] First 9 Written Hebrew Words

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Dec 4 10:29:40 EST 2012

Prof. Yigal Levin: 
You wrote:  “I have no idea what language "Abraham the Hebrew" spoke.  I 
assume a Western-Semitic dialect.  Probably more than one, since he came  from 
Aram (an anachronism)  Naharaim (northern Syria) and  migrated to Canaan.” 
There was no Canaanite per se spoken at the real Naharim, which  was 
located very far away from Canaan in eastern Syria (not northern  Syria)/northern 
Mesopotamia, and in the Amarna Letters refers specifically to  the Hurrian 
great power state of Mitanni.  Linguistically, let’s first compare NXRYM at 
Genesis 24: 10 [on which you  are relying] to the name recorded by IR-Heba’s 
scribe in Jerusalem at Amarna Letter  EA 288: 35:  na-ax-ri-ma.  Although 
narrative prose alphabetical  Hebrew did not exist until after 1000 BCE, we 
know from my first post on this  thread that it was child’s play in the 
mid-14th century BCE to use  Akkadian-style cuneiform to write down west 
Semitic/pre-Hebrew words.  I am asserting that what was written  down in the Amarna 
Age, as a written outline of the Patriarchal narratives, in  cuneiform using 
west Semitic/pre-Hebrew words [centuries before narrative prose  
alphabetical Hebrew came into existence], was na-ax-ri-ma.  When, centuries later, the 
cuneiform  original was changed over into being narrative prose alphabetical 
Hebrew, the  first three segments of na-ax-ri-ma  were taken over 
letter-for-letter as the first three letters at Genesis 24:  10:  NXR.  The ending, 
perhaps viewed as being -i-ma, was then taken over into  alphabetical Hebrew 
as a standard Hebrew plural ending, -YM. 
But if this Biblical reference is to the real Naharim [my  view], in 
eastern Syria where no Canaanite was spoken, then we might expect to  see a 
reference to the Hurrians’ own name for their country, which per Amarna  Letter EA 
104: 21 is mi-ta-ni.  You likely noted in Shlomo Izre’el’s  fine article 
that IR-Heba’s scribe used the same cuneiform marking for both /te/ and /de/. 
 Accordingly, with dalet/D and tav/T  often being indistinguishable in 
cuneiform [which in my view is the manner by  which the first written recording 
of the Patriarchal narratives was done, way  back in the Amarna Age], the 
MDN and MDYN that we see in the received text at  Genesis 25: 2 may likely 
have originally been intended in cuneiform to be MTN  and MTYN.  Adding vowels, 
the  cuneiform rendering of either or both names likely was ­mi-ta-ni, 
which is the identical  spelling that we see in the Amarna Letters.  Thus 
the NXRYM at Genesis 24: 10 is very  likely the real Naharim, which IR-Heba’s 
scribe spelled na-ax-ri-ma, and which was one and the  same place as 
mi-ta-ni [Biblical  Hebrew MDN/MDYN, which more properly should be MTN/MTYN, being 
the names of two  of Abram’s sons borne to him by a minor wife from 
Naharim/Mitanni], namely the  Hurrian great power state of Mitanni in eastern Syria, 
where no Canaanite was  spoken. 
As I’m sure you will agree, the name “Abram”/)B-RM works  perfectly in 
Canaanite.  So Abram  cannot be “from…Naharaim”, as you assert, because no 
Canaanite per se was spoken at the real Naharim  [though perhaps pre-Aramaic 
was spoken there at that time].  No, Abram and the first Hebrews are  
indigenous to south-central Canaan, where they preferred to sojourn in a valley  
only a day’s walk northwest of Jerusalem.  The Patriarchal narratives open with 
 Abram’s father’s family being on a long, one-time-only caravan trip way 
out east  to Ur [you didn’t mention Ur], to buy lapis lazuli at wholesale 
[the only reason  to go to Ur in the Late Bronze Age].  Since the first Hebrews 
were indigenous to south-central Canaan and  routinely sojourned in a 
valley only a day’s walk northwest of Jerusalem, we  should not be surprised to 
find the first Hebrews in Years 12-14 speaking a west  Semitic language that 
is quite similar to the 9 west Semitic words that  IR-Heba’s scribe wrote 
down in Years 12-14 [while he still worked for the  Hurrian princeling 
IR-Heba, a few years before he later was used by the first  Hebrews to write down a 
comprehensive outline of the Patriarchal narratives,  using Akkadian-style 
cuneiform to write down west Semitic/pre-Hebrew  words].  Note that per my 
first post  on this thread, 7 of those 9 words match perfectly to Hebrew 
words in the  Bible.  When you’re looking at those  9 words that I set forth in 
my first post, you’re looking at a dialect in  Jerusalem in Years 12-14 of 
the Amarna Age that is very close to the dialect  that Abram himself spoke 
[in the identical time period], and that is quite close  to, though admittedly 
not exactly the same as, the early Biblical Hebrew  recorded in the Bible.  
All three  could well be called “Hebrew”. 
So when YHWH first speaks to Abram at Genesis 12: 1, YHWH  is speaking:  
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois 
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