[b-hebrew] abraham once more

jimstinehart at aol.com jimstinehart at aol.com
Tue Dec 4 21:45:00 EST 2012

Nir Cohen:
You wrote:  “all thesethree words: AB, RAM, NAHAR were equally used in canaanite and aramaic, amongseveral other very similar semitic dialects. now, aramaic was spoken in syria and, in fact, is recorded in several mesopotameansites. so, i do not see how, linguistically, these words can provide a proofthat abraham did not come to canaan from these regions.”
I believe the scholarly consensus is that “Abram” looks likeperfectly good Canaanite, but does not fit Aramaic well:
“[T]he name change of Abram to Abraham involves transforminga typical Canaanite construction into one which resembles an Aramaic one.  Speiser…noted this….  …Abram reflects Hebrew rwm and Abrahamreflects Aramaic rhm.”  Gary A. Rendsburg,in “Eblaitica 2” (1990) at p. 110.
[I don’t agree with that analysis of “Abraham”, by the way,but I do agree that “Abram” looks like Canaanite, rather than like Aramaic.]
A second problem with any claimed Aramaic analysis is thatAramaic is not attested in writing until the 1st millennium BCE.  I believe that most scholars agree that thename “Abram” is centuries older than that.
As I said, there might well have been pre-Aramaic in easternSyria in the Late Bronze Age.  But therewas very little Canaanite in eastern Syria, because eastern Syria is so very,very far away from Canaan.  And the name “Abram”(i) works perfectly in Canaanite, while (ii) not seeming to be Aramaic.
And where would Ur fit into such an analysis?  There was no Aramaic and no Canaanite at Urin the Bronze Age.
My own view remains that Abram and the first Hebrews wereindigenous to Canaan, and happened to live during that one short period of timewhen the ruling class of Canaan was dominated by Hurrian princelings.  I see Abram’s mother as being a Hurrian,whereas his father Terah was a native west Semitic speaker.  )BRM works well as a Canaanite name, )B-RM.  But its more profound meaning [reflectingAbram’s Hurrian mother] is its Hurrian meaning: a-ba-ri-im : )BR-M, where the Hurrian meaning is “lord”. 
Are you claiming that )BRM is an Aramaic name, and isneither a Canaanite name nor a Hurrian name? I myself have seen no scholarly support for that position.  Can you cite a scholar who claims that )BRMis an Aramaic name and is not a Canaanite name? 
I myself see Abram as living in Hurrian-dominated Canaan inYears 12-14 of the Amarna Age.  Giventhat time period and that geographical location, it makes perfect sense on alllevels that his name )BRM makes good sense in both Canaanite and Hurrian, whilenot being an Aramaic or pre-Aramaic name.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois 

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