[b-hebrew] Xireq Compaginis

George Athas George.Athas at moore.edu.au
Thu Jul 18 10:38:02 EDT 2013

...or not.

Dean of Research,
Moore Theological College (moore.edu.au)
Sydney, Australia

From: "JimStinehart at aol.com<mailto:JimStinehart at aol.com>" <JimStinehart at aol.com<mailto:JimStinehart at aol.com>>
Date: Friday, 19 July 2013 12:34 AM
To: B-Hebrew <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org<mailto:b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>>
Subject: [b-hebrew] Xireq Compaginis

Xireq Compaginis

Perhaps the most mysterious name in the entire Bible is the name of Esau's first wife, at Genesis 26: 34.  Certainly it can't be "Judith" meaning "Jewess":  (i) there were no Jews or Jewesses in the Patriarchal Age;  (ii) Esau is not within Isaac's line of Hebrews [having been displaced in that regard by his younger twin brother Jacob];  and (iii) the text is going out of its way to portray Esau as marrying a foreigner, a XTY.  Yet though "Judith"/"Jewess" certainly cannot be right, nevertheless no better explanation has hitherto been forthcoming.  The key to solving this 3,000-year-old Biblical mystery is:  xireq compaginis.

Rashi correctly observed that xireq compaginis was a rare, archaic way of showing emphasis, and that although often confused with genitive case, in fact xireq compaginis is not genitive case, either in form or function.  It has previously been thought that outside of poetry and proper names, there is only one prose passage in the entire Bible that preserves the archaic xireq compaginis:

"[T]he xireq compaginis is definitely an archaic morpheme.  With the exception of two occurrences of this morpheme in Genesis 31: 39 [in the Patriarchal narratives], a prose passage, all the remaining instances [in the Bible] are confined to poetry[ and proper names, including] Gen. 49.11 [in the Patriarchal narratives]...."  Scott C. Layton [of Harvard], "Archaic Features of Canaanite Personal Names in the Hebrew Bible" (1990), p. 116.

But recognizing that xireq compaginis is not genitive case, but rather can function like a modern dash, being an archaic orthographic device that shows emphasis, we in fact can see xireq compaginis at Genesis 26: 34.  All prior analyses have parsed the key phrase here as follows:  )T - YHWDYT.  But consider the following alternative parsing, which sees -Y- as being xireq compaginis:  )T - Y  --  HWDY-T.  All of a sudden the name of Esau's XTY wife makes perfect sense, and turns out to be but a mere orthographic variant of XTY.  Note the attested Hurrian woman's name Xu-ú-te.  Note also that Xu-ti and also be Xu-ú-ti, that Xu-ti can be Xu-di, and that Xu-ti-ia can be Xu-di-ia.  The name of Esau's XTY wife is, prior to the -T feminine ending:  Xu-ú-di-ia, rendered in alphabetical Hebrew as HWDY.  [Yes, the first letter should really be X/heth, not H/he, but it's the same cuneiform sign, XU, and Hurrian has no he/H.  The final -Y, as always, is the theophoric -ia.  The name of the goddess Heba is usually written Hebat, with the final -T being a feminine ending.]

Instead of incongruously meaning "Jewess" in west Semitic, or having no identifiable meaning, the name of Esau's first wife now, for the first time, makes perfect sense on all levels.  That yod/Y is an archaic xireq compaginis, which is there for emphasis, in order to make us pay attention to whom is going to be stated to be Esau's XTY wives.  The basic name of Esau's first wife is HWDY/Xu-ú-di-ia, with feminine ending -T, and preceded by yod/Y as a xireq compaginis.  It's the same basic name as XTY itself, which is Xu-ti-ia, differing primarily only as to attested Late Bronze Age spelling differences.

Another 3,000-year-old Biblical mystery bites the dust.  Just think xireq compaginis, and suddenly the otherwise completely inexplicable name of Esau's first XTY wife makes perfect sense on all levels.

Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois
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