Holly wrote: “Jim, the culture, the religion and the language of the OT
indicates that these people were Semites.”
But consider the key facts that (i) Esau marries two Hurrian women [Genesis
36: 2, where his first two wives’ fathers are XT-Y, that is Xuti-ya,
meaning “Praise Teshup [people]”, and XW-Y, that is Xeva-ya, meaning “Xeba
[people]”, with one of the Hurrian spellings of Xeba being Xe-wa, in both cases
meaning Hurrians who lived in Canaan during the Patriarchal Age], and (ii) the
mother often gives the children their names in the Patriarchal narratives.
We are not told specifically who Sarah’s mother was. If, as is likely, she
was an ethnic Hurrian (like Esau’s first two wives), then Sarah’s mother
could well have given her infant daughter a Hurrian name. $R-Y is the
expected Hebrew rendering of the attested Hurrian name $arri-ya, without a single
letter needing to be changed.
NXWR does not make sense with a Hebrew meaning of “Snorer”. We are not
told who his mother is, but she may have been an ethnic Hurrian, as I
discussed at some length in my prior post. If so, then ni-xa-a-ri is one of the
best-attested words in Hurrian, meaning “dowry”. Here, the vav/W is used to
represent a vowel that by itself constitutes the third syllable in this
Hurrian word being used as a name.
NXWR was bi-lingual in Hurrian and pre-Hebrew, having a Hurrian mother.
His wife Milcah probably learned Hurrian from her husband/half-brother and
from her step-mother, so their children could be given Hurrian names,
especially since they were living in Harran in the heart of Hurrianland.
Now consider the names of the 8 sons of NXWR and Milcah at Genesis 22:
21-22. While most don’t make much sense in west Semitic, all work quite well in
1. ‘-W-C is the attested Hurrian name A-wi-i$-ta-e.
2. BWZ is Pu-u$, as the first part of the attested Hurrian name
Pu-u$-te-ia [where te-ia is short for Teshup].
3. QMW-)L has a west Semitic ending, -El, like Bethu-El. Yet the name is
basically a Hurrian name, to which has been added that west Semitic ending.
QMW is the beginning of the attested Hurrian name Ku-mu-ur-wi, where K and
Q are interchangeable in Hurrian.
4. K$-D is a shortened form of the Hurrian moon-god word ku$u-xu-da,
leaving out the optional -xu- element.
5. XZW [“Hazo”]. Hurrian has xz as a variant of xa$. Compare the
Hurrian name Xa-a-$u-uk, where the final -K is an optional formative.
6. PL-D-$. The Hurrian root is puli-. Various formatives can be added at
the end. See the Hurrian common words pu-li-ti-pa-a-e and pu-ul-li-i$.
One has the -ti formative and one has the -i$ formative, and if both are used,
that would be pu-lu-di-i$.
7. YDL-P [“Yidlaph”]. Compare the attested Hurrian name A-ta-al-la. The
root is atal-. In initial position, Hebrew yod/Y is used to represent the
Hurrian vowel A as its own separate syllable. The final P is a formative,
like Keli- becomes Kelip. One way to make the common word root atal-
suitable to be a proper name would be, like kel-, to add a final -P formative.
8. BTW’L. As I noted in my prior post, BTW is “Pudu” in Hurrian, where B
and P, and T and D, are interchangeable in Hurrian. The second U is shown
by Hebrew vav/W in order to clarify the meaning of the name, where Pudu/Butu
means “servant of”, and a divine name will follow. Pudu-Xeba is an
attested Hurrian name, but with NXWR being bi-lingual and Milcah being a native
west Semitic speaker, the ending of their son’s name is El, the west Semitic
word for deity. So BTW-’L is Pudu-El, meaning “Servant of El”, nicely
combining a Hurrian-style name with a west Semitic reference to the deity.
* * *
Holly, since all 8 of the sons of NXWR and Milcah live at Harran in the
heart of Hurrianland, why should we be surprised that their names work better
in Hurrian than in west Semitic?
Note also that Sarah is not referred to as being Terakh’s daughter at
Genesis 11: 31, but rather is only referred to as being Terakh’s daughter-in-law.
The only way that makes good sense is if Sarah’s biological parents were
Hurrians, who insisted that Abram follow a Hurrian custom if he wanted to
marry their Hurrian daughter $arri-ya/$R-Y. Abram’s father Terakh must legally
adopt $R-Y the day before she married Abram, to tell the world that $R-Y
would be Abram’s only main wife, not a minor wife. So by adoption, $arri-ya
is Terakh’s daughter and is Abram’s half-sister, but of course Terakh always
thought of her exclusively as a daughter-in-law, for he had only adopted
her for the express purpose of making the wedding happen.
Yes, Abram and both of his biological parents are Semites, and Abram and
all of his sons were native west Semitic speakers. But Abraham spent much of
his life interacting with Hurrians, such as “Anir” and “Ephron”, who have
vintage Hurrian names, and his own main wife very likely had a Hurrian
mother, and probably both of Sarah’s biological parents were ethnic Hurrians.
I agree that the Patriarchs themselves were Semites. But my point is that
much of the Patriarchal narratives is taken up with the Patriarchs’
interactions with Hurrians in the short-lived Late Bronze Age hey-day of the
One of the most important sets of verses in the Patriarchal narratives is
Genesis 15: 18-21, where it is predicted that in due course the Hebrews will
supplant in Canaan the then-dominant Hurrians. 8 of the 10 names at Genesis
15: 19-21 reference the Hurrians, with 6 of those 8 names being
Hurrian-based Patriarchal nicknames. If we don’t realize that the Patriarchs are to a
large extent interacting with Hurrians, then we miss the entire historical
ambience of the Patriarchal narratives. Harran in Naharim in eastern Syria
has nothing to do with Arabia, but has everything to do with the Hurrians.
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