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

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Feb 12 10:01:35 EST 2013

Genesis 15: 2 refers to “El-i-Ezir of Damascus” as possibly, and  very 
unfortunately, usurping/$QQ Abraham’s house [being a “usurper”/BN-M$Q], if  
Abram the Hebrew should remain childless.  If I am right that Genesis 15: 2 
occurs in Year 14 [per Genesis 14: 5] of  the Amarna Age, then we can readily 
determine the historical meaning of Genesis  15: 2. 
Speaking of Damascus in the Amarna Letters, Amarna Letter  EA 107: 26-28, 
which likely dates to Year 12 [though the dating of Amarna  Letters is 
inexact;  as to Year 12,  cf. Genesis 14: 4], documents a west Semitic-speaking 
Amorite princeling with a  west Semitic name as infamously being at Damascus.  
Although this notorious Amorite  princeling’s name is conventionally 
transliterated as either “A-zi-ri” or  “Aziru”, the first letter is a west 
Semitic ayin, and the ending is a case  ending rendered in Akkadian cuneiform 
that has no relevance to Biblical  names.  So a better transliteration  of this 
Amorite name from the Amarna Letters is:  Ezir.  [Richard S. Hess at p. 46 
of “Amarna  Personal Names” confirms that this Amorite name is based on a 
west Semitic verb  that means “to help”, so we’re dealing with the same 
basic west Semitic name as  the Biblical name El-i-Ezir.]  A  theophoric 
[presumably “Ilu”, as the Amorite counterpart of Hebrew “El”] should  probably be 
implied for the Amarna Letters name “Ezir”, making the name  [Ilu-i-]Ezir. 
 As such, both names  have the identical meaning:  “God  [Is] Help”.  For 
all intents and  purposes, that Amorite princeling name from the Amarna 
Letters is the same name  as the Biblical name “El-i-Ezir”.  Yes!  So far, so  
But what about Damascus?  The mysterious Biblical reference is to “
El-i-Ezir of Damascus”.   
Amarna Letter EA 107: 26-28 ominously places Ezir, the  west 
Semitic-speaking Amorite princeling ruler of Amurru in northern  Lebanon, at Damascus.  
That was a disturbing development to  many people at the time, as Ezir was 
threatening to run the table and link  Damascus to  Ezir’s patrimony of Amurru. 
 From  there this upstart princeling [who was thought to be in cahoots with 
the  Hittites, for which unforgivable sin he is rightly excoriated by 
pharaoh  Akhenaten in Amarna Letter EA 162] might possibly take over/“usurp” 
much of  Canaan as well.  Now, at long last, we can understand  what Abram is 
saying at Genesis 15: 2. 
Abram is saying to YHWH at Genesis 15: 2 that if Abram  the Hebrew has no 
sons to inherit Canaan, then all of greater Canaan may soon  fall into the 
hands of a notorious usurper/BN-M$Q like Amorite princeling  Ezir.  
Biblically, that’s El-i-Ezir  of Damascus,  whom Abram fears will usurp Abram’s house 
if Abram remains without a son.  Historical [Ilu-i-]Ezir was “of  Damascus”
 in the important sense that in Year 12 of the Amarna Age, that Amorite  
princeling had temporarily taken over Damascus [though he had no legitimate  
business being there], and he was viewed by many in Year 14 as being a bona 
fide  threat to nefariously add Damascus and perhaps much other land in 
greater Canaan  to his stronghold patrimony of Amurru. 
Modern semi-scholarly accounts of Aziru  [Ezir/(ZR] often pair his name 
with the English word “usurp” [cf. $QQ/BN-M$Q]  regarding Damascus, just as 
Biblically  El-i-Ezir/)L-Y-(ZR of Damascus at Genesis 15: 2 is a BN-M$Q/“
usurper”:  (1) “Amorites Abdi-Asirta and son Azirru  usurp northern territories 
from Mitanni”.  (2)  “Aziru…was suspected of being on the  side of ‘the 
king of Hatti’ [the Hittites] – as his father at one time had been  – for he 
received messengers from the king of Hatti.  At the same time he begged the 
pharaoh  [Akhenaten] to confirm his status as king of Damascus, the throne 
of which he had  usurped.”  A BN-M$Q is a person who  “seeks greedily”/$QQ, 
and historically in Years 12-14 that was Ezir/(ZR  [“Aziru”], who had 
temporarily usurped Damascus in Year 12 and now in Year 14  seemed to be “seeking 
greedily” to add Canaan itself to his domains.  That’s why Abram, in Year 
14, fears that  if Abram has no sons to lay claim to Canaan, then El-i-Ezir 
of Damascus will be  the “usurper”/BN-M$Q who “greedily seeks”/$QQ Abram’s 
house.  At Genesis 15: 2 Abram is saying to YHWH  that certainly the 
Hebrews, not the notorious usurper Aziru, deserve Canaan!   
Aziru was an Amorite who was nefariously  united with Hurrian princeling 
Etakkama of Qadesh-on-the-Orontes.  Abram having asked at Genesis 15: 2  
whether the Amorite Aziru will be the usurper of Canaan, with Aziru being  
closely allied with the Hurrian princeling Etakkama, we know how chapter 15 of  
Genesis is going to end.  In the  dark days of Year 14, YHWH confidently 
assures an anxious Abram that never fear,  Canaan will  n-o-t  belong to the “
Amorites” [like  Ezir/Aziru], or to the Hurrians [“Kenites”, “Kenizzites”, “
Kadmonites”,  “Hittites”, “Perizzites”, “Rephaim”, “Girgashites”, “
Jebusites”] like Etakkama,  or to the “Canaanites” [like “Hamor”/historical 
Labayu of Shechem, who had  rightly been assassinated in Year 13, per chapter 
34 of Genesis].  Rather, Canaan is divinely fated to be dominated by the  
Note the  p-i-n-p-o-i-n-t  historical  accuracy of the Patriarchal 
narratives in a Years 12-14 historical context.  We’ve got the exact name:  Ezir [“
Aziru”] or [Ilu-i-]Ezir or  El-i-Ezir [“Eliezer”].  We’ve got  the exact 
geographical location:  Damascus.  We’ve got the exact year:  Year 14.  [That’
s Year 14 of  Akhenaten’s 17-year reign, being two years after Ezir/Aziru 
was ominously  ensconced in Damascus, which compares to the Biblical 
reference to “in the  14th year” at Genesis 14: 5.]  And we’ve got the exact 
sentiment at Genesis 15: 2 that many people  express in the Amarna Letters:  
unless somebody did something about this ominous development soon, the  “usurper”
/BN-M$Q Ezir of Damascus seemed poised to nefariously take  over/“usurp”
/$QQ most all of greater Canaan. 
In evaluating Genesis 15: 2, remember that (i) Abram has  never been to 
Damascus, (ii) Abram has no  personal acquaintance of anyone from Damascus, and 
(iii) Abram has no servant named  El-i-Ezir.  No wonder scholars are  
baffled by Genesis 15: 2!  What  Abram is saying at Genesis 15: 2 is that Abram 
the Hebrew needs the divine gift  of sons pronto, or else notorious “usurpers”
/BN-M$Q like [Ilu-i-]Ezir of  Damascus [historical Aziru of Amurru in Years 
12-14 per the Amarna Letters] may  soon take over most all of greater 
Canaan.  In the historical context of Year 14, Genesis 15: 2 has  p-i-n-p-o-i-n-t 
 historical accuracy.   E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g  fits.  Biblical El-i-Ezir = 
historical  Ezir/Aziru, an infamous “usurper” in Years 12-14 who sometimes 
operated out of  Damascus, and whom Abram had every right to fear as a BN-M$Q. 
 That’s  p-i-n-p-o-i-n-t  historical accuracy.   
Another 3,000-year-old Biblical mystery bites the  dust. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois
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