[b-hebrew] The Name "Haran"

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Mar 9 14:18:26 EST 2012

1.  You wrote:  “This is a pretty strong statement to make without any 
collaborating evidence. To my mind it is much more likely that the actual names

(maybe Hebraized a bit) was used and that the author simply

highlighted any coincidental link between an actual name and an

incident in that person's life. Are there any other documents from the

ANE that presents itself as describing actual historical events, where

the names of the persons are simply made up?”
We know from the Amarna Letters that a non-royal author [like the early 
Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives] did not refer to a living king by 
the king’s historical name, but rather always used some sort of a nickname.  
Thus although many princelings complain about Hittite King Suppiluliuma in 
the Amarna Letters, the only time one sees the actual name “Suppiluliuma” 
is in the one Amarna Letter that Suppiluliuma himself wrote.  Similarly, 
princeling Ribhaddi in Byblos, Lebanon cannot refer to a pharaoh’s historical 
name, but rather uses a series of fanciful, fawning nicknames:  “king of all 
countries”, “the Sun”, “Great King”, “the Sun of all countries”, etc.  
Going back now to Hittite King Suppiluliuma, who had seized the Hittite throne 
by the nefarious expedient of murdering his own older brother named 
Tidal/Tudhaliya, note the nasty Patriarchal nickname at Genesis 14: 1 for 
Suppiluliuma as the despoiler of northern Syria in Year 14:  “Tidal”.  The early 
Hebrew author is in effect calling Hittite King Suppiluliuma “Murderer”!  Every 
name of a human being in the Patriarchal narratives is an appropriate 
nickname.  Thus the king of Egypt is not referred to by his historical name, but 
rather is referred to by the generic “Pharaoh”.  
The only case in which a Patriarchal nickname of a ruler is almost 
indistinguishable from that ruler’s historical name is “Abimelek”, who both in the 
Amarna Letters and in chapters 21 and 26 of Genesis is always complaining to 
an early semi-monotheist about contested access to water wells.  But rather 
than insulting Pharaoh Akhenaten, historical Abimelek [who had recently 
been appointed to his position in Sur in GRR by Akhenaten] grovels at his feet 
by referring repeatedly to Akhenaten’s beloved daughter Meritaten as “Mayati
” in Amarna Letter EA 155, in Year 13 over-the-top lingo:  “The king 
[Akhenaten] ordered that the breath of life be given to his servant and to the 
servant of Mayati, and water : mi-ma be given for his drink….  [M]ay the king 
give thought to [Abimelek,] the servant of Mayati, that water be given so he 
may live.  Moreover, O king, since there is no wood, no water, …may the 
king, my lord, take cognizance of the servant of Mayati, that life be given to 
him.  Should the king, my lord, give water to drink to the servant of 
Mayati, then I will devote myself to his service and that of Mayati, my mistress, 
night and day.”  That over-the-top lingo is neatly reciprocated in otherwise 
inexplicable Biblical language at Genesis 20: 4-6 regarding Biblical 
Abimelek, a pagan ruler who has just had Abraham’s wife in his bedroom the 
previous night:  “Abimelech…said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?  …
[I]n the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.  
And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the 
integrity of thy heart….”  Then, even though Sarah was in princeling Abimelek’
s bedroom the previous night, Abraham gives Abimelek a fine fertility 
prayer!  “Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and 
his maidservants; and they bare [children].”  Genesis 20: 17.  Note the oddly 
flowery Biblical language here, which at least on the surface says that 
pagan princeling Abimelek, who had taken Sarah into his bedroom the previous 
night and would soon joust with first Abraham and then Isaac as to contested 
access to water wells, was “a righteous nation” who acted “in the integrity 
of my heart and innocency of my hands”.  That flowery language makes sense 
only as a response to the similarly flowery language that historical Abimelek 
used in writing to the early semi-monotheist Pharaoh Akhenaten, trying to 
curry favor with him by ostentatiously protesting his utmost devotion to 
Akhenaten’s beloved daughter Meritaten, who as of Year 13 had suddenly become the 
new leading lady of Egypt:  “Should the king, my lord, give water to drink 
to the servant of Mayati, then I will devote myself to his service and that 
of Mayati, my mistress, night and day.”  Neither the early Hebrew author nor 
historical Abimelek is fully sincere in using that flowery, over-the-top 
lingo, yet it all makes complete sense in the historical context.   
2.  You wrote:  “The Late Bonze Age might be the time of the writing of the 
Torah (perfectly in keeping with the dates assigned to Moses by most 
archaeologists). Many of the points you make here could still be valid, but that 
does not place the historical period of the patriarchs in the Late Bronze 
Age. Can the origin of the name Haran that you suggest here, not just as well 
fit with the Early or Middle Bronze Age?”
The Kassites only ruled southern Mesopotamia in the Late Bronze Age, so if 
K$-D-YM refers to the Kassites, with K$ as the root of that name having the 
same meaning as the HR root of the west Semitic name HRN, namely “mountain” 
[which is the only scenario under which the name “Haran” makes sense], 
then that can only be the Late Bronze Age, not the Middle Bronze Age.  The 
reference to eastern Syria at Genesis 24: 10 as “Naharim” fits the Amarna 
Letters time period perfectly in the Late Bronze Age, but that name was not used 
for northern Mesopotamia in the Middle Bronze Age.  In the Middle Bronze Age 
the Egyptian word pA was not yet in use in polite discourse, and so the 
name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law at Genesis 41: 45 would be 
impossible in the Middle Bronze Age:  pA wa  di.i  pA R-e.  Moreover, that name’
s blatantly monotheistic meaning of “The One and Only God Gives Me The One 
and Only Re”, and the fact that it is a monotheized variant of Akhenaten’s 
own name Wa-n-Re, fits only one time period in Egypt’s long history:  the 
mid-14th century BCE Amarna Age in the Late Bronze Age.  The “iniquity of the 
Amorites” that is referenced at Genesis 15: 16 historically only happened 
once, in Year 14 of Akhenaten’s reign, when both the Amorite state of Ugarit, 
and the Amorite state of Amurru, iniquitously sold out to the dreaded 
Hittites and thereby precipitated the disastrous Great Syrian War in western 
Syria.  Note in that regard the reference to “the 14th year”, implying Year 14, 
at Genesis 14: 5.  [There is a split in scholarly opinion as to whether Year 
14 or Year 12 is the historical date of that disastrous war, but the 
world-famous, triumphalist artwork done in two nobles’ rock tombs in Year 12 at 
Amarna tends to rule out Year 12 as a proposed alternative date.]  Shechem was 
a Hurrian city in the Amarna Age, but not in the Middle Bronze Age, and 
only in Year 13 of Akhenaten’s reign was the Canaanite strongman ruler of the 
Hurrian city of Shechem assassinated, after his son famously consorted with 
tent-dwellers, under highly irregular circumstances on behalf of, but without 
the prior approval of, an early semi-monotheistic leader of his people.  In 
the Bible that occurs in chapter 34 of Genesis, in Year 13 tenfold, that 
is, 130 years after Abraham’s birth, as the Patriarchal narratives frequently 
give us the exact year [here, Year 13] in which these historical events 
occurred.  Knowing that Akhenaten reigned in Egypt for 17 years, note the 
parallel regarding the last Hebrew Patriarch, Jacob/“Israel”, as translated by 
KJV at Genesis 47: 28:  “Jacob lived in the land of Egypt 17 years”.
Every proper name [each of which is an appropriate Patriarchal nickname in 
the case of names of individuals], and every indication of year numbers, in 
the Patriarchal narratives is fully redolent of the Amarna Age in the Late 
Bronze Age, with pinpoint historical accuracy, whereas virtually nothing fits 
the Middle Bronze Age.

Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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