[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.
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