[b-hebrew] Xireq Compaginis

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Jul 19 15:03:58 EDT 2013

Chris Watts: 
You wrote:  “If someone might care to explain in laymans language please 
then I   
would be delighted.  I can not follow the thread due to complete lack  of 
knowledge of ancient language and customs.  So I am curious though,  what 
would be the outcome if Jim was right and the Hurian names and his  argument 
was correct.  I simply ask because having read up about the  Nuzi tablets and 
the story behind the fact that they confirmed a number of  biblical textual 
customs that for many years ancient biblical scholars  thought were highly 
improbable, I wonder what this would mean for biblical  scholars if Jim were 
The main issue is the critical question of how old the  Patriarchal 
narratives are as a  w-r-i-t-t-e-n  text.  Scholars say that even if parts of the  
Patriarchal narratives may be truly ancient as an oral tradition, 
nevertheless  the Patriarchal narratives could not possibly have been committed to 
writing  prior to the 1st millennium BCE, because alphabetical Hebrew writing  
was not advanced enough prior to that time to handle a sophisticated 
composition  like the Patriarchal narratives.  The answer to that is that the 
Patriarchal narratives were reduced to  writing in the mid-14th century BCE by a 
scribe in south-central  Canaan using cuneiform to write on clay  tablets.  
The writing was similar to  the Amarna Letters, except that instead of using 
Akkadian common words,  Canaanite/pre-Hebrew common words were written down 
[in cuneiform]. 
On that theory of the case, we would then expect  letter-for-letter 
accuracy in the spelling of both Biblical Hurrian names and  Biblical Egyptian 
names, except that we would also expect “confusion of  gutturals and certain 
sibilants”, since cuneiform was generally unable to  differentiate one guttural 
from another, and also did not always differentiate  between certain 
sibilants.  As to  Hurrian names, cuneiform heth/X could alternatively stand for 
any of the  following three Hebrew alphabetical letters:  heth/X or he/H or 
ayin/(.  So what’s written as a Hebrew he/H in  the name YHWDYT/“Judith” at 
Genesis 26: 34 may have originally been intended to  be a Hebrew heth/X.  
The root of  this name then is not the inexplicable HWD, but rather was 
intended to be XWD,  which is basically the same name as the attested Hurrian woman
’s name Xu-ú-te at  Nuzi.  [As to T vs. D, they are  effectively 
interchangeable in these Hurrian names, as Xu-ti is alternatively  rendered as Xu-di.  
See p. 64 of  Gelb and Purves, “Nuzi Personal Names”.] 
It’s very important whether the name of Esau’s first XTY  wife is or is 
not a letter-for-letter accurate spelling of a slight variant of a  Late 
Bronze Age Hurrian name attested at Nuzi.  If so, then that’s fully consistent 
with  the Patriarchal narratives being a written cuneiform text as of the  
mid-14th century BCE, which 700 years later was transformed into  alphabetical 
Biblical Hebrew in late 7th century BCE Jerusalem.  But if not, then we’re 
stuck with the  conventional very late dating of the Patriarchal narratives, 
at least as a  written text, and perhaps as to its composition as well, per 
George Athas’s  remark:  “Maybe we just have a text  written in a time when 
there was a Judah?” 
So you see how much is riding on this.  If Esau is portrayed as marrying a  
Hittite who was a lifelong resident of Canaan [per Genesis 27: 46, with 
there  being no Hittites who were lifelong residents of Canaan historically], 
and who had a name that is both  senseless and anachronistic, “Jewess”, then 
the Patriarchal narratives are late  and lack historicity.  Note what a  
stark contrast that is to what I assert:  that Esau is portrayed as marrying a 
Hurrian [where XTY : Xu-ti-ia is an  apt Patriarchal nickname for the 
Hurrians, who are thereby deftly nicknamed the  “Praise Teshup people”, with 
Teshup being the Hurrians’ chief deity], who was a  lifelong resident of Canaan 
[which applies to the Hurrians only in the  mid-14th century BCE and never 
applies to the Hittites], and that her  name is a slight variant of attested 
Late Bronze Age Hurrian names and means  either “Praise Teshup” or “
Teshup, Praise Teshup”. 
Historically, the concept of Esau marrying Hurrian women  who are lifelong 
residents of Canaan, and of Abraham buying Sarah’s gravesite  from a Hurrian 
landowner in south-central Canaan, makes sense in only  o-n-e  historical 
time period:  the mid-14th century  BCE.  That’s the only time when  Hurrian 
charioteers dominated the ruling class of Canaan, and importantly that’s  
also the only time when cuneiform literacy is well-documented in south-central 
 Canaan -- both of which we know from the Amarna  Letters. 
So in fact it makes a huge difference whether the first  seven XTY names in 
the Patriarchal narratives all are letter-for-letter accurate  renderings 
of attested Hurrian names [or of slight variants of attested Hurrian  names] 
from the Late Bronze Age Hurrian province of Nuzi.  When university scholars 
tell us that  it’s allegedly  i-m-p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e  that the  Patriarchal 
narratives as a written text could date all the long way back to the  Late 
Bronze Age, because alphabetical Hebrew is not attested in sophisticated  form 
that early, the answer to that is this.  These are bona fide Late Bronze Age 
 Hurrian names that were recorded in cuneiform writing on clay tablets by a 
 scribe retained by the first tent-dwelling Hebrews, in south-central 
Canaan in the mid-14th century BCE.  That in turn opens the door for the  
Patriarchal narratives possibly having  p-i-n-p-o-i-n-t  historical  accuracy as to 
what actually happened in Late Bronze Age south-central Canaan,  since the 
Patriarchal narratives were recorded in [cuneiform] writing by a  
contemporary who lived in that time period. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois 
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