[b-hebrew] Hebrew Meanings of Biblical Names

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Jun 18 16:27:49 EDT 2012


Chavoux Luyt:
 
1.  You wrote:  “The fact that the Biblical writer would draw attention to 
those


cases where the name of a person and his given name coincided does not


mean that the name of every single person mentioned in the Bible should 
refer to something happening in his life.”
 
The question we are exploring on this thread is whether every native west 
Semitic-speaking major character in the Patriarchal narratives [not elsewhere 
in the Bible] has a name that makes perfect sense in Hebrew, reflecting 
something fairly important about that character in the plotline of the 
Patriarchal narratives.  TRX is short for T)RX in Hebrew, meaning that one key 
aspect of Terah’s role in the Patriarchal narratives is to make “a long caravan 
trip” way out east to Ur and then up north to XRN, with the hope of from 
there going on to Canaan.  T)RX means “you take a long caravan trip” in 
Hebrew.  The Hebrew meaning of NXWR, “neighing of horses”, reflects the fact that 
Terah’s middle son had to stay in the place that in the Late Bronze Age was 
world-famous for horsemanship skills, XRN in eastern Syria, in order to 
take care of his elderly father Terah who could not go on to Canaan.  HRN in 
Hebrew means “Mountain Place”, foreshadowing that Haran is fated to 
predecease his own father by dying in the country in southern Mesopotamia [where Ur 
is located] that is named after “mountain” people:  the Late Bronze Age 
Kassites from the Zagros “Mountains”.
 
What about the name “Esau”?  Since ssade/C may have been an emphatic sin/% 
in early Biblical Hebrew, we should ask whether in Hebrew (%W [“Esau”] may 
be a pun on a Hebrew common word that is spelled with a ssade/C.  (C, that 
is, ayin-ssade, means “trees, wood”.  The Biblical Hebrew common word (C is 
frequently used in the Patriarchal narratives, for example at Genesis 23: 
17, where it means “trees”.  Adding a vav/W ending, (CW, makes it mean:  “
his trees”.  Per Genesis 25: 25, when Esau was born he looked “wooded”.  The 
Hebrew meaning of (%W [“Esau”] is “his trees”, or less literally “wooded”
, reflecting the fact that Esau was so hairy and dark at his birth that he 
looked “wooded”.  That is to say, Esau was so hairy and dark at birth that 
he looked as if he had a huge number of tiny black “trees” all over his 
body.  “His trees” = (CW, but rendered as (%W:  “Esau”.
 
2.  You wrote:  “What I would grant you, is that there is also no reason to 
assume that the names of the patriarchs were West Semitic, since they came 
from


Mesopotamia and if anything more likely spoke Akkadian (or possibly an


early dialect of Aramean). But they might have had names from any of the 
languages spoken in Early or Middle Bronze Age Mesopotamia. These names might 
have become "Hebraized" later when written down in the Bible.”
 
Yes, so for three of the above four names, their more important meaning may 
be non-Semitic.  That may also account for the peculiar Hebrew spellings of 
these three names, where TRX in Hebrew would more naturally be T)RX, NXWR 
in Hebrew would more naturally be NXR, and (%W in Hebrew would more naturally 
be (CW.  Those funky Hebrew spellings are necessary in order to enable 
these three names to have their more important meanings in non-Semitic:  (i) TRX 
is tu-ru-xi, meaning “coming from the man”, and all 7 Patriarchs and 
Matriarchs “come from the man” Terah;  (ii) NXWR is ni-xa-a-ri, meaning “dowry 
[from XRN]”, and Nahor’s fundamental role in the Patriarchal narratives is 
to provide the ultimate “dowry” from XRN in Naharim, that is, all three 
successor Matriarchs are Nahor’s female descendants who grow to adulthood in 
XRN;  and (iii) ($W [“Esau”] is the non-Semitic common word i-$i-u from the 
Late Bronze Age that has a perfect meaning for Esau, namely “ebony”, 
reflecting Esau’s dark color at his birth, whose early Biblical Hebrew rendering 
would be expected to be ($W.  Note the letter-for-letter accurate Late Bronze 
Age spelling of these non-Semitic words attested in the Late Bronze Age.
 
Haven’t you ever wondered why Abraham’s birth name is spelled )BRM instead 
of )BYRM, where )BRYM is attested out the wazzoo non-biblically in the 
ancient world, but the truncated version )BRM is extraordinarily rare if 
attested at all?  The reason is because the more important meaning of Abraham’s 
birth name is its non-Semitic meaning, a-ba-ri-im, which means “lord”, 
foreshadowing that Terah’s youngest son is the son who is divinely targeted for 
greatness.
 
For all four of the names analyzed in this item #2, the person’s father was 
a native west Semitic speaker, but the person’s mother either was 
non-Semitic or herself had a non-Semitic mother.  To show that key information about 
these characters’ implied parentage, these four names have their primary 
meaning based on the non-Semitic meaning of the name, but also have a fairly 
important secondary meaning based on the Hebrew meaning of the name.   
 
The point I am making on this thread is that every major character in the 
Patriarchal narratives who is a native west Semitic speaker has a name that 
makes good sense in Hebrew, based on the plotline of the Patriarchal 
narratives in a Late Bronze Age historical setting.  I agree with a lot of what you 
say, even if we seem to be drawing somewhat different conclusions from the 
agreed-upon data.  I wonder if you might agree with me that JEP in the 1st 
millennium BCE knew nothing about these vintage Late Bronze Age names?  
Rather, all of these spectacular Late Bronze Age names are coming straight from 
the truly brilliant early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives.  If we’
re brave enough to look at these names from a Late Bronze Age perspective, 
we will soon see that the Patriarchal narratives are much older, and much 
more historically accurate, than university scholars realize.
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois


More information about the b-hebrew mailing list