[b-hebrew] The Names ??? ESAW and ??? LEWIY
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Aug 30 10:03:58 EDT 2013
You wrote: “I suspect that the editor of Genesis likewise doctored also
the name לוי LEWIY by the same tricky W for B interchange he employed in
muddling the name עשו ESAW. Originally it was, methinks, the obviously
theophoric אלאבי ELABIY, combining אל EL and אב AB. Then, he told us a
שובה לב a captivating story, about a husband ready to "accompany" his
ולדנית fertile wife.”
Isaac Fried, you start with LWY, you add two alephs, you also change the
vav/W to bet/B, and then you claim that you’re seeing a match? [Not to
worry, we’ll see that the scholarly view of LWY is even worse than that.]
1. LWY is a west Semitic/Hebrew name from the Hebrew verb LWH, which
means “to join, be joined”. We see YLWH in the naming sentence at Genesis 29:
34. The archaic 2-letter root here is probably LW, with -Y and -H being
This name foreshadows that Levi will “join”/LWH with Simeon throughout
the rest of the Patriarchal narratives, both in killing the men of Shechem
and in almost killing Joseph. So at Genesis 49: 5 Simeon and Levi are
properly given a “joint” final curse from their father Jacob/“Israel”. Note
also that at Numbers 18: 2, 4, the tribe of Levi/LWY is told to “join”/LWH
2. If you’re looking for a theophoric, there’s no reason to change any
letters here. It’s right there in front of you: LW -Y, where -Y is a
universal theophoric suffix in the Amarna Letters. Though ubiquitous in Hurrian,
one occasionally finds -Y used as a theophoric suffix in west Semitic
names as well. Thus in west Semitic, the divine name Haddu can be followed by
-ia (or -ya), per Amarna Letter EA 287: 49, as can the divine name Baal,
per Amarna Letter EA 165: 9.
So the more obvious meaning of LW-Y/“Levi” is: “Joined with God”.
Leah, as is her custom, gets very creative in dreaming that LWY might be
stretched to mean that she will hopefully be “joined”/LWH to her husband by
virtue of bearing him this third son. We the audience are supposed to figure
out on our own that Levi/LWY will surely “join”/LWH his older brother
Simeon in various actions throughout the Patriarchal narratives. We’ve got
multiple good meanings for LWY, without changing any letters in the received
text, and we haven’t even left Hebrew yet. There’s no reason to be
changing any letters in this wondrous text.
3. I wonder if people know how university scholars treat this name? Many
scholars follow Wellhausen and claim that “Levi”/LWY is a gentilic of his
mother’s name, “Leah”/L)H, which allegedly means “wild cow” [I guess in
Arabic, believe it or not]. No, I’m not making that up. Does Leah act
like a “wild cow”? No. Would Leah’s mother in Bronze Age eastern Syria
give her daughter an Arabic name that means “wild cow”? No. And heaven’s
to murgatroid, L)H and LWY have only their first letter in common anyway.
I don’t think “wild cow” is a Hebrew word. And I think the Arabic word
being referenced by these scholars actually means “bull”, not wild cow.
The analysis is something along the lines that “Leah”/L)H allegedly means “
cow” based on the Assyrian word letu, which is the feminine of lu, which in
fact means “bull”. Lu in turn is a contraction of le'u, and corresponds
to the Arabic la'a (for la'aiu), meaning “wild bull” [not actually meaning
“wild cow”]. Le'u (for leiu, la'iu, la'iiu) means originally, like
Hebrew abbir, “strong”. See the first paragraph of the scholarly article by
Paul Haupt here: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3087584 But in my humble
opinion, L)H doesn’t look like either letu or lu in Assyrian, and why would we
care what the Arabic word is for “wild bull”, since how could an Arabic word
relate to Late Bronze Age eastern Syria? And none of that has anything
to do with the name “Levi”/LWY in any event.
A closer match to the name “Leah”/L)H, by the way, and a match that makes
more historical sense, is the Hurrian name [of unknown meaning] that is
attested six times at Late Bronze Age Nuzi in eastern Syria: Ili-a-xi. The
Hurrian rendering has 3 elements, corresponding to the 3 Hebrew letters in
L)H [where he/H and heth/X were not distinguished in cuneiform writing].
4. The majority view of scholars as to the name “Levi”, however, is
probably what is succinctly stated at John L. Mckenzie, “Dictionary of the Bible
” (1995), p. 504: “meaning and etymology uncertain”. But is that
5. We see that there’s no name “Levi” attested outside of the Bible in
the ancient world. That’s because the early Hebrew author of the
Patriarchal narratives created this name, on an all west Semitic/Hebrew basis. We
the audience are supposed to realize that it’s a made-up name that was
created precisely so that it would have the “obvious” meaning of “joined with God
”, but which could nevertheless be stretched to possibly refer to Leah
being “joined” with her husband Jacob on account of this third son’s birth,
and also so that it will be foreshadowed that Levi is fated to “join” with
his older brother Simeon in their misadventures. As a made-up name that
has multiple applicable meanings [with just a little stretching] in Hebrew,
the name “Levi” is just like the name “Reuben” that I mentioned in a
previous post. There’s no need whatsoever to go changing any letters here.
The lack of Hurrian influence on the names of Jacob’s children, even
though all of them except Benjamin were born in Late Bronze Age eastern Syria,
is telling us that the formerly all-powerful Hurrians are on the verge of
suddenly becoming yesterday’s people, to become virtually extinct within a
generation or two. Through Jacob, Hurrian-influenced names dominate; but
thereafter, beginning with Jacob’s children, most names of Hebrews are all
west Semitic/Hebrew all the way.
* * *
But I thought we were talking about the name “Esau”. Unlike the names
of Jacob’s children, there’s no west Semitic analysis possible for the name
“Esau”. The name “Esau” is utterly redolent of Late Bronze Age Syria,
thus showing the great antiquity and historical accuracy of the Patriarchal
narratives as an extremely early written text [in cuneiform].
There is no “editor of Genesis” regarding the Patriarchal narratives. No
editor could have come up with the vintage Late Bronze Age Syrian name of “
Esau” on a letter-for-letter perfect match basis.
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