[b-hebrew] Eliezer of Damascus: Another 3, 000-Year-Old Biblical Mystery Bites the Dust

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Feb 11 09:17:26 EST 2013

Eliezer of Damascus:  Another 3,000-Year-Old Biblical Mystery Bites the 
Genesis 15: 2 is often thought of as being one of the  most ambiguous and 
inexplicable and/or corrupt sentences in the Bible.  Here is how the leading 
Genesis scholar  in the world, Gordon J. Wenham, describes scholars’ 
bafflement at this  sentence:  “ ‘My heir is Damascus, Eliezer.’  This phrase is 
very difficult and widely  regarded as corrupt and impossible to correct.”  “
Genesis 1-15” (1987), p.  328. 
The translation “heir” is incorrect, nor does BN-M$Q mean  [per KJV] “
steward”.  Rather, M$Q  derives from $QQ.  As old Gesenius  aptly observed 
[though unfortunately he then failed to follow his own linguistic  logic], just 
as MMR comes from MRR, so also M$Q can likewise come from $QQ.  $QQ means:  “
to rush, be eager, greedy”.  Gesenius and KJV try to see  $QQ as meaning “
to run”, and on that basis KJV translates BN-M$Q as “steward”,  being one 
who “runs”/$QQ another person’s house.  But $QQ in fact means “to seek  
greedily”, as at Proverbs 28: 15 a wicked ruler is like a bear who “seeks  
greedily”/$QQ [not a bear who “runs”!].  Thus a BN-M$Q is a person who “seeks 
greedily” another person’s house, a  “usurper”, not a “steward” who 
properly “runs” another person’s  house 
On that analysis, BN-M$Q:  “usurper”, that is, one who is eager to  
greedily rush [$QQ] to take over other people’s houses. 
At Genesis 15: 2, Abram is complaining that Eliezer of  Damascus is a 
usurper [BN-M$Q] who, if Abram remains without a son, will  greedily rush in 
[$QQ] to take over Abram’s house.  Wenham notes that Snijders [OTS 12  (1958) 
261-79] suggested a translation of “usurper” way back in 1958.  But scholars 
have continued to reject  that proposed solution, not on linguistic grounds, 
but rather because no one has  been able to figure out why the heck Abram 
would be worried about an Eliezer of  Damascus taking over/usurping Abram’s 
Who is Eliezer of Damascus?  The name “Eliezer” is )L -Y- (ZR.  This name 
only makes sense in west  Semitic, where the analysis seems clear.  )L is “
God”:  either “El” or,  if an Amorite name, “Ilu”.  -Y- is a  dash, the 
xireq compaginis.  (ZR is  a Hebrew noun that means “help”.  The name means “
God [Is] Help”.  A variant of this name would imply, rather than set forth, 
the divine  reference:  (ZR. 
Per the foregoing interpretation, let me now change the  standard English 
transliteration of this Biblical name slightly to the following  [for reasons 
that will become apparent later]:  El-i-Ezir.  And a directly comparable, 
though  shorter, name would be:  Ezir. 
But Abraham hasn’t been to Damascus, he doesn’t have the personal 
acquaintance of  anyone from Damascus, and he doesn’t have a servant named  
El-i-Ezir!  [Abraham had all the  servants he needed coming out of Harran, per 
Genesis 12: 5, and he certainly  didn’t need to weigh himself down with another 
servant from Damascus.  Moreover, Genesis 15: 2 is not talking  about a 
steward or servant, or for that matter about an heir.] 
So what gives?  Why is Abram, who has had no contact with Damascus and is 
not personally acquainted with anyone named  El-i-Ezir, worried about an 
El-i-Ezir [or Ezir] of Damascus usurping his  house if Abram has no sons?  Who 
is  Ezir of Damascus in the historical time period of Genesis 14: 4-5?  If we’
re willing to give an historical  interpretation to Genesis 15: 2, we will 
see that we can solve this  3,000-year-old Biblical mystery. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois
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