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

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Feb 13 09:48:43 EST 2013

At Genesis 15: 2, Biblical El-i-Ezir is historical  Ezir/Aziru, who is 
rightly referred to derogatorily as being a “usurper”:  BN-M$Q [based on the 
Hebrew root $QQ  meaning “to seek greedily”].  That  aggressive Amorite 
princeling, arguably being the most notorious figure in the  entirety of the 
Amarna Letters [or at least close to it], was a bona fide threat  to what the 
first Hebrews saw [per the Biblical account] as being their manifest  destiny 
to be the divinely-ordained inheritors of Canaan. 
If you want a nastier Patriarchal nickname for Aziru, the  upstart Amorite 
princeling who by usurping Damascus had effectively proclaimed  himself king 
of Syria/Shinar/$N(R in Year 12, it’s at Genesis 14: 1.  [Per the P.S. 
below, $N(R should be  viewed as being a reference to Syria, as in Damascus, 
Syria, where Aziru had  been ominously ensconced in Year 12, per Amarna Letter 
EA 107: 26-28].  Aziru was one of the historical four  attacking rulers in 
the Year 14 “four kings against five” that is accurately  reported at 
Genesis 14: 1-11.  Since  Aziru was one of the bad guys [with the attacking rulers 
being portrayed (using  artistic license) as kidnapping Abram’s nephew Lot 
and trying to turn Lot into a  Hittite puppet like Aziru and Etakkama], we 
can fully expect Aziru to have a  very nasty Patriarchal nickname at Genesis 
14: 1. 
The derogatory Patriarchal nickname at Genesis 14: 1 for  Amorite 
princeling Aziru of Amurru is )MRPL [transliterated by KJV as  “Amraphel”].  )MR 
means “Amorite”  [or “Amurru”].  )PL means “dark”,  with the necessary 
connotation of being “evil”.  )MRPL is a shortened form of )MR-)PL,  and means:  
“dark, evil  Amorite”.  Nasty!  And a well-deserved derogatory  
Patriarchal nickname for Aziru, I might add, who indeed was a “dark, evil  Amorite”. 
Here is how professor Donald Redford describes the  notorious Aziru at p. 
171 of “Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times”  (1992):  “The tactics of
…Aziru were  irregular for the times and confused [his] contemporaries….  
Amurru was an ‘Apiru community, but  lately graduated from that type of 
stateless, lawless brigandage for which  ‘Apiru bands throughout the Levant were 
 notorious.  And it was the tactics  of a brigand that Aziru used in all 
his diplomatic dealings with his  equals.  If a town could be taken  and 
pillaged or a territory ransacked, Aziru did so without a second  thought.”   
That is to say, Ezir/Aziru was (1) a “usurper”/BN-M$Q,  and (2) a “dark, 
evil Amorite”:  )MR  + )PL = )MRPL.  The Biblical  nomenclature, though 
derogatory, is well-deserved, and it is solidly based on  the well-documented 
history of Years 12-14 in the Amarna Age/Patriarchal Age.  
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois 
P.S.  $N(R is  more easily understood as $NXR, or possibly $NHR or $NgR, 
all of which reference  “Syria” [not Babylonia].  Aziru, by usurping 
Damascus, had  effectively proclaimed himself “king of Syria/$NXR/Shinar” in Year 
12.  The proper names in the Patriarchal  narratives, such as $N(R in the 
received alphabetical Hebrew text here, were  originally written on tablets 
using Akkadian-style cuneiform in the  mid-14th century BCE to write down west 
Semitic/Canaanite/pre-Hebrew  words.  Those original cuneiform  tablets were 
later transformed into alphabetical Hebrew in the 1st  millennium BCE, 
usually with letter-for-letter accurate Late Bronze Age  spellings.  The one and 
only main  defect in using Akkadian-style cuneiform to write pre-Hebrew 
words is that  Akkadian cuneiform heth/X had to be forced into service to 
represent four  different Hebrew letters:  Hebrew  heth/X, Hebrew ayin/(, Hebrew 
ghayin/g, and Hebrew he/H.  [Akkadian itself has no ayin, ghayin or  he:  
only heth.]  Here, the 1st millennium BCE  scribe in Jerusalem guessed the 
wrong letter that was  intended by the Akkadian cuneiform heth/X in this proper 
name.  He guessed Hebrew ayin/(, when the  likely intended letter was 
Hebrew heth/X.  Even Hebrew ghayin/g or Hebrew he/H would work fairly well, but 
not  Hebrew ayin/(!  This is a scribal  mis-recognition error, not scribal 
The bottom line is that at Genesis 14: 1, the phrase  “king of Shinar/$N(R”
 should  be interpreted as meaning “king of Syria”.  That title for this 
notorious west  Semitic-speaking Amorite princeling ruler of Amurru is used 
in the somewhat  sarcastic sense that Aziru in Year 12 had temporarily taken 
over Damascus,  Syria, and in Years 12-14 he seemed intent on trying to grab 
as much of Syria  and Lebanon and Canaan as he could get away with. 
The historical Aziru truly was a "dark, evil  Amorite".  )MR [Amorite] + 
)PL [dark, evil] = )MRPL : "Amraphel" : "dark,  evil Amorite".  If you're 
looking for  p-i-n-p-o-i-n-t   historical accuracy in a mid-14th century BCE 
Late Bronze Age historical  context, that's the Patriarchal narratives, all the 
way in every  way.
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