[b-hebrew] YERU

Will Parsons wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Wed Sep 26 21:33:44 EDT 2012

Hi Jim,

I'll only comment on some linguistic aspects of your analysis below...

On Wed, 26 Sep 2012 09:56:15 -0400 (EDT), JimStinehart at aol.com wrote:
> ...
> If, as now seems likely, Jerusalem is n-o-t mentioned in the
> Execration Texts, then the first attested mention of the city name
> “Jerusalem” is in Amarna Letter EA 287 from the Hurrian princeling
> ruler of Jerusalem, IR-Heba, who in Akkadian records the first part
> of the city name as being: úru [that is: accented U – resh/R –
> unaccented U].  URU [with no accents] as a logogram means “city” in
> Sumerian, and is very frequently used in that way in the Amarna
> Letters.  In fact, at Amarna Letter EA 287: 63 we see: URU
> úru-$alim. Given the fact that accented U is different from
> unaccented U, it’s not clear how úru should ideally be rendered in
> Hebrew.

I agree, it's not clear.

> WRW would have the disadvantages of W being used for both
> accented U and unaccented U, and W at the beginning of a word
> rendered in Hebrew would be viewed as being a true consonant.

I don't think that waw being used for both forms of U is an obstacle,
since both the accented and unaccented forms of U apparently
represented the same sound, but were in effect separate "letters" used
in different contexts (cf. the use of C and K in English to represent
the [k] sound).  It's true that an initial waw in Hebrew would be
viewed as being a true consonant, but this might not be an obstacle
either.  I think two reasonable possibilities of representing an
Akkadian /uru/ in Hebrew might be ארו, i.e., /'uru/ (with a supplied
glottal stop for the initial Akkadian vowel), or perhaps ורו, i.e.,
/wuru/ (supplying a glide to the initial vowel).

> For lack of any better alternative, YRW might be the least bad way
> to render in Hebrew the Akkadian phrase úru, where yod/Y is used for
> accented U, and the other two letters are natural.  Thus YRW in
> Biblical Hebrew may be a slight variant on, or simply the Hebrew
> rendering of, the original úru; the sound is quite similar.

And in fact the transition of initial [w] to [j]/ is quite normal in
Hebrew, so that there is nothing inherently unlikely about ורו / [wuru]
becoming ירו / [juru-] -> [jeru-].

Will Parsons
μη φαινεσθαι, αλλ' ειναι.

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