On Genesis, Part 18: The Hebrews

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On Genesis, Part 18: The Hebrews

In our last presentation, The Shemites, we had asked a few questions which we had only answered in part, such as “what defines a Semite? And what is a Hamite, or a Canaanite?” Those we answered by stating, perhaps in different words, that the only proper classifications of those people are along Biblical terms, in agreement with Genesis chapter 10, since Genesis is the very source of those terms. But then we also asked another question, which is related to these because of the manner in which modern academic sources classify languages, and that is “what language is Hebrew?” This question we shall address presently, before proceeding to discuss Eber, the first Hebrew.

All throughout the Christian epoch, the history of the ancient Near East has been viewed through exclusively Jewish eyes, and this has had a profoundly damaging impact not only on Biblical studies, but on all modern historical, archaeological and linguistic inquiry into the cradle of civilization found in ancient Mesopotamia and the Levant. But as Paul of Tarsus had also explained, in 2 Corinthians chapter 3, the Old Testament cannot even be understood unless one is a Christian, and therefore no Jew can possibly understand it. But Christians, if they follow Jews, they will also fail to understand it, as Christ had said of the Pharisees of His Own time, in Luke chapter 6, “39 … Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” Collectively, Jews have innate biases which naturally restrict their understanding, and lead them to errant identifications and faulty conclusions regarding history, language and archaeological findings, along with a tendency to pollute everything they study with their own Talmudic reasoning, which is always naturally antithetical to God.

The ancient Assyrian language had always been identified as Akkadian by oriental scholars, except that it is actually acknowledged to be a dialect of Akkadian, having some of its own peculiar expressions. But Akkad was originally a Sumerian city and Akkadian was also spoken in ancient Sumer, so the language which is called Akkadian must have been in use before it came to be used by the Assyrians. The Akkadian language is also generally recognized to have been the lingua franca, the universal language of trade and diplomacy, from the 3rd millennium BC until it was gradually replaced by Aramaic some time around the 8th century BC. [1] However the Akkadian language is not the earliest attested language in lower Mesopotamia. That distinction belongs to the Sumerian language, which had evidently appeared there much earlier.

This knowledge of these languages accords with Genesis chapter 10 where we read that “8 … Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. 10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, 12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.”

Apparently, earlier occupants of Sumer had spoken Sumerian, and when the sons of Noah began to supplant the Sumerians, at least as early as the time of Nimrod, the Akkadian language gradually rose to prominence. But if Noah and his sons also spoke Sumerian, which is a possibility, the Akkadian language which is not attested for nearly 1000 years after the flood may have been a product of the division of languages described in Genesis chapter 11. Either of these views agrees with Scripture.

However Cush and Nimrod were not of Shem, they were of Ham, and it is Nimrod the son of Cush who was said to have established his kingdom at Babel, Erech and Akkad at a very early time. Only much later would the Canaanite Amorites conquer Babylon for themselves, in the 19th century BC. As we had explained when we discussed the Hamites of Genesis chapter 10, the presence of Kassites in the land of Shinar was attested in inscriptions left by an Amorite king of Babylon as early as the 18th century BC, and the early description of Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees places him and his brother Haran there with the Kassites at least two centuries earlier than that. In any event, if Akkadian was spoken at Akkad in the age of the sons of Noah, which it certainly was, then Akkadian cannot be classified as a Semitic language. While the Assyrians may have shared it, it may have represented a tongue which was already common to both tribes, before the tribe of Asshur went to build Nineveh, but for reasons which we shall probably never learn. As we shall further discuss when we encounter the separation of the nations in Genesis chapter 11, Akkadian may have only become common at a later date, after the division of the nations. In any event, since the primary speakers of Akkadian are clearly the Cushites of Akkad, the language must be classified as Hamitic, and not Shemitic.

To further understand the general confusion over what is Semitic, the following is from the opening paragraph of an article titled Semitic languages, from the 9th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, published in 1894:

The name “Semitic languages” is used to designate a group of Asiatic and African languages, some living and some dead, namely, Hebrew and Phoenician, Aramaic, Assyrian, Arabic, Ethiopic (Geez and Maharic). The name, which was introduced by Eichhorn [the 11th edition amends that to credit a man named Schlözer], is derived from the fact that most nations which speak or spoke these languages are descended, according to Genesis, from Shem, son of Noah. But the classification of nations in Genesis x. is founded neither upon linguistic nor upon ethnographical principles: it is determined rather by geographical and political considerations. For this reason Elam and Lud are also included among the children of Shem; but neither the Elamites (in Susiana) nor the Lydians appear to have spoken a language connected with Hebrew. On the other hand, the Phoenicians (Canaanites), whose dialect closely resembled that of Israel, are not counted as children of Shem. Moreover, the compiler of the list in Genesis x. had no clear conceptions about the peoples of south Arabia and Ethiopia. Nevertheless it would be undesirable to give up the universally received terms “Semites” and “Semitic.” [2]

For a brief digression, notice that this article does agree with our association of the Shemitic Lud with the historic Lydians of Anatolia. The author of that article, a German Lutheran Prof. Theodore Nöldeke, has an entry in the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia where the article is lauded as “a masterly survey of the characteristics and the development of the Semitic linguistic family.” [3] So in that we see that Jews themselves have accepted Nöldeke’s conclusions, and the apparent reason for that is that he or his teachers must have learned those things from Jews, as even Martin Luther commonly quoted Jews such as Paul of Burgos whenever he wrote about the Old Testament.

Of course, there is much confusion in this article. Canaanites are labeled as “Phoenician”, which is a misnomer in this context, and the Tyrians and the dominant tribes of Phoenicia’s golden age were Israelites. The Greeks called the coasts of the Levant by the name Phoenicia, and Canaanites had dominated that coast only before and after the 700-year judges and kingdom periods of Israel. Then, while the Canaanites were also Hamites and not Shemites, they were also all subject to the Akkadian empire in early times, and therefore they would also have spoken Akkadian, since that was the lingua franca. That would include the Sidonians, the Hurrians, and the Amorites, as well as the Cushites. So it is not true that most “most nations which speak or spoke these languages are descended, according to Genesis, from Shem”, as most of them were actually from Ham, with only a few from Shem.

The Cushites of Ethiopia were an apparently early division of Cush in Mesopotamia, the two lands being very close by sea but not by land, so they also spoke languages related to Akkadian. The Amorites spoke a language which Jews have most recently claimed is strikingly similar to Hebrew, as new examples of the Amorite language have recently been discovered. But Amorite is just as close to the other so-called “Semitic” languages, and it is not as similar to Hebrew as some of the claims seem to suggest. The Amorite language is also related to Akkadian.[4] But Classical Arabic is a very late dialect of Aramaic, so it is not directly related to Akkadian and being late, it does not even belong in this list. Aramaic itself, which is not attested in inscriptions until the 10th century BC, may have come from Akkadian either directly or indirectly, as parts of Syria had been dominated not only by Akkad, but by Hittites, Hurrians, Amorites and Assyrians for many centuries, and from the 10th through the 8th centuries by Israel.

Except for the Hittites, all of those groups regularly spoke Akkadian, because they had at one time been subjects of the Akkadian empire, and Akkadian was the lingua franca for at least 1,500 years. Then the article mentions that Lydians and Elamites did not speak a so-called “Semitic language”, but it is also known that Sargon of Akkad had once conquered Elam, and although he tried to force it, he failed to make Akkadian the official language there. [5] If Sargon tried to force Elam to speak Akkadian, then it is evident that the Akkadian empire had demanded that all of its subject peoples speak Akkadian. But the Akkadian empire never extended into Anatolia, so the Hittites and Lydians did not speak Akkadian, even if they could use it for business or diplomacy with Akkad or the other nations to the east. This helps to establish our thesis, that all these tribes which once spoke Akkadian did so because they were at one time or another subject to the Akkadian empire.

This is also evident in history. Until relatively recently, all educated European men could read, write and speak in Latin. Even a thousand years after the fall of Rome, the Church, the courts of law, and all European political institutions had conducted their official business in Latin, and all universities required Latin for admission. [6] Previous empires used Aramaic, and then after the time of Alexander, Koine Greek. Furthermore, the ancient inscriptions represent the learned ruling classes, and not the vast majority of commoners, and we only know the ancient languages of most of these Genesis 10 tribes through those inscriptions, as there are no vernacular sources.

So we would assert an entirely different understanding of the development of these languages: their real source is in the Akkadian empire of Cush. They are not “Semitic” languages, they are all dialects of the Akkadian language which had once dominated Mesopotamia and the Levant for over 1,500 years, The Assyrians were evidently early subjects of that empire, and therefore they would have spoken the lingua franca of the empire, which was Akkadian. Abraham is first found in Scripture in Ur Kasidim, Ur of the Chaldees, a Kassite city, and his father was born there, so he also would have spoken Akkadian. This explains why tribes both of Shem and of Ham spoke various dialects of Akkadian, as they were all once subjects of that empire. But the Jews have convinced the world that all of these people were “Semitic”. We must warn, however, that we do not know if Akkadian was original with Cush in Akkad, nor can we know whether it was the language which Noah and his sons had spoken, as it may well have been Sumerian or even some other now-lost language. In any event, the Jewish so-called scholars have been gaslighting us for centuries.

But there are three more errant aspects of this Britannica article which we must discuss. Notice the statement that “the classification of nations in Genesis x. is founded neither upon linguistic nor upon ethnographical principles: it is determined rather by geographical and political considerations.” So apparently the author knows better about why Moses had written than Moses himself, who had presented this as a genealogy with no expressed geographical or political motivations. If Moses were a Jew, perhaps he would have classified the Canaanites as Shemites, as the Jews like to do. We would rather believe Moses, and the warnings of Christ which had testified that the Jews themselves refused to believe Moses, and that refusal is also manifest here. [7]

The author stated in this regard that “For this reason Elam and Lud are also included among the children of Shem; but neither the Elamites (in Susiana) nor the Lydians appear to have spoken a language connected with Hebrew.” We have already explained that Sargon of Akkad tried to force the Akkadian language upon Elam, and he failed, while the Akkadians had never ruled over the Lydians so neither could they have been forced to speak Akkadian. If the author had studied the history of the period independently of the lies of the Jews, perhaps he himself may have realized that all of the so-called “Semitic languages” were actually dialects of Akkadian. Then it becomes fully apparent that those dialects were formed from “geographical and political” circumstances.

Then finally, the author stated that “the compiler of the list in Genesis x. had no clear conceptions about the peoples of south Arabia and Ethiopia” and that charge is incredible given the history of Moses. As a youth, Moses was educated in the household of the pharaoh of Egypt, where he lived for forty years before fleeing to Arabia. There he would have been expected to acquire all the learning available in the house of a king, typically in the hands of an appointed tutor. Then Moses had lived in Arabia, the land of Cush, for nearly forty years more before returning to Egypt. He certainly was knowledgeable with Arabia, where Israel had wandered for another forty years after the Exodus, and he must have also been knowledgeable with both Cush, or Ethiopia, and also with Nubia to the south of Egypt, as these places and people appear often in Egyptian inscriptions long before and during the time of Moses, and they were a constant security concern for the Egyptians throughout that entire time. The charge made here by Nöldeke is tantamount to claiming that a forty-year old German prince in Saxony was unaware of the existence of the Franks or the Danes. But in spite of these blatant mischaracterizations of Moses, the writers at the Jewish Encyclopedia celebrated their author, because they also do not have any care for the truth.

So while Jewish so-called scholars purposely interpret history in a manner which makes Scripture into a lie, here we have honestly explained the reasons for the similarities in these languages in a way which completely concurs with both Scripture and history, and we have done so citing academic sources for our evidence. But the Jews really only want to convince us all that the Israelites were Canaanites, in their constant endeavor to convince us that Yahweh God is a hypocrite, and that race does not matter, even if in doing so they must throw Moses under the proverbial bus. The entire concept of so-called “Semitic languages” and the labelling of Canaanites as Semites according to their language is hereby debunked as Jewish propaganda which reflects an absolute ignorance of Scripture and Near Eastern history.

[1 Akkadian language, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akkadian_language, accessed June 15th 2023; 2 Semitic Languages, Prof. Theodore Nöldeke, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1894, 9th edition, Volume XXI, p. 673; 3 Nöldeke, Theodor, Crawford Howell Toy, Joseph Jacobs, JewishEncyclopedia.com, accessed June 15th, 2023; 4 Two 3,800-year-old Cuneiform Tablets Found in Iraq Give First Glimpse of Hebrew Precursor, Ofer Aderet, Haaretz, https://archive.is/GFmb7#selection-819.9-828.0, accessed June 15th, 2023; 5 Elam, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elam, accessed June 15th, 2023; 6 The Latin Middle Ages, The British Library, https://www.bl.uk/medieval-english-french-manuscripts/articles/the-latin-middle-ages, accessed June 15th, 2023; 7 John 5:46.]

Sometimes making these presentation, not only in Genesis but throughout the entire Bible, I find notes which augment or sometimes even adjust or correct things I have already explained. In a field as wide as ancient history, with so many varied and voluminous sources, it is impossible to encompass an entire field of knowledge and explain every possible facet, or present every fact, in just eight or ten thousand words, the length of a typical presentation here.

In our presentation of the accursed Canaanites, we discussed the fall of the Hittite empire along with that of other Bronze Age societies of the ancient Near East which had occurred in or about the 14th century BC, which was the same time as the early Judges period of Israel and the victories of Deborah and Barak over the Canaanites of Sidon. So going through some of my notes for a discussion of the Hebrews, this morning I came across some notes referring me to a prayer by Mursillis II, who ruled in Hatti in the late 14th and very early 13th centuries BC. So the following is from a Plague Prayer of Mursilis which is dated by archaeologists to the 4th quarter of the 14th century BC:

1. Hattian Storm-god, my lord, and ye, Hattian gods, my lords! Mursilis, the great king, your servant, has sent me (with the order:) Go! To the Hattian Storm-god, my lord, and to the gods, my lords, speak as follows:

What is this that ye have done? A plague ye have let into the land. The Hatti land has been cruelly afflicted by the plague. For twenty years now men have been dying in my father's days, in my brother's days, and in mine own since I have become the priest of the gods. When men are dying in the Hatti land like this, the plague is in no wise over. As for me, the agony of my heart and the anguish of my soul I cannot endure any more. [8]

The son of Mursilis II, Muwatallis, ruled Hatti for 13 years in the early 13th century, was evidently forced to move the capital away from Hatti to another city. While historians speculate why this was necessary, in our opinion, in the manner in which the Hittite state archives were discovered at the site of ancient Hattusa, the city must have been suddenly destroyed in an earthquake. Muwatallis had also apparently lost the battle of Kadesh to Ramses II and was forced to make treaties with the Egyptians, and issued a lengthy prayer for his own life in an inscription titled “Prayer to be spoken in an Emergency”, so he certainly must have anticipated such an occasion. [9]

In this and the subsequent history of the fall of the Hittites, where they had formerly been a great empire with audaciously boastful kings, the truth of the words in Scripture are evident where we read passages such as the promise to drive out the Hittites in Exodus chapter 34: “11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.” From the time at which Israel was a fledgling kingdom, the Hittite empire had gone into decline and it remained in decline.

[8 Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, p. 395; 9 ibid., pp. 397-399.]

This morning I was also able to correct an old error which I had never realized was an error. There was a comment in the original copy of my 2003 essay on this chapter of Genesis, The Race of Genesis 10, for which I had an errant citation. Discussing the Kimmerian destruction of ancient Phrygia, I had cited an article from Archaeology, a journal published by the Archaeological Institute of America, from the January-February 2002 edition titled Celtic Sacrifice, but I neglected to include the name of the title in my citation in the original essay. I noticed that only recently, so when I presented the same information in the discussion of the Lydians as we described the Shemites, I purposely omitted the citation and followed other sources for the account which I presented. Since the source was a 2002 publication, and the article had been written no earlier than 2003, I must have had imperfect notes since I could not possibly keep all of the material I needed while I was in prison. So now that I have revisited the subject for this commentary, I was able to locate and access the actual journal rather than the old notes, and I saw that I cited the wrong article. I should have cited an article titled Celebrating Midas from the July-August, 2001 edition of the same publication, on page 33. So I must apologize for a 20-year old error, but I am grateful that I was able to correct it.

The article supports precisely what I had explained, that the Kimmerians had crossed Anatolia and ravaged Phrygia and Lydia, but it places those events about 9 decades earlier that they could have happened. This may be due to a remark by Strabo, that Midas the king of Phrygia died when the Kimmerians sacked his city. But that is highly unlikely under the circumstances, and Strabo lived over 700 years after Midas. The article itself explains why the circumstance is impossible, but it nevertheless dates the Kimmerian invasion of Phrygia at a time too early. However it is possible that more than one wave of Kimmerians had crossed Anatolia, and that the memory of them was confounded in later times.

Another note that I found recently is in reference to the name Shem, which we had explained actually means name, or also noted, renowned or famous. There is an ancient inscription called the Sumerian King List which is esteemed to date to as early as the 22nd century BC and which mentions a king named Etana who is called “a shepherd, he who ascended to heaven (and) who consolidated all countries”, so we will mention Etana again as we discuss the Tower of Babel event in Genesis chapter 11. [10]

There was also recorded in Old Babylonian [Amorite] and in Middle Assyrian, and also in other versions, an epic myth of Etana which dates to at least the first half of the 2nd millennium BC, and which is probably older than that. In the epic, Etana is childless and lamenting his predicament to an eagle, where we read, in part:

The eagle opened his mouth, saying [to] Etana: “Why thou didst come [tell me thou]!”

Etana opened his mouth, saying [to] the eagle:

“My friend, give me the plant of birth,

Show thou to me the plant of birth!

[Remove my burden and] produce for me a name!” [11]

So with this, there is an apparent idiom, that where a man is wanting a name he is wanting a descendant to carry on his name, and Shem being the line which Yahweh had chosen to carry on the name of Adam, it is quite likely that for that reason he was called Shem. [I had written that note in 2006, and had forgotten it until I saw it by chance while preparing for this presentation on Eber, the descendant of Shem by whom Adam’s name would be preserved.]

[10 Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, pp. 265-269; 11 ibid., p. 117.]

Now we shall commence with our presentation of Genesis chapter 10 with the sons of Shem where we had left off with Arphaxad and Salah, the father of Eber:

25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.

Eber: Strong’s Concordance defines the Hebrew term עבר or eber (#’s 5676, 5677) as “a region across; but used only adverbially (with or without a preposition) on the opposite side…”, so it refers to land or sea or some other object which is across or opposite something from some other place. The usage is similar to the Greek words πέραν and πέρατος. The phrase τὰ πέρατα τ͡ης οἰκουμένης, or “the opposite ends of the inhabited world” was used by Paul in Romans chapter 10 (10:18). The more ancient Greek poet Homer had used a similar phrase, which is ἐν περάτη, in the Odyssey [23:243] to describe the other end of the world towards the west, perhaps the horizon, where night would have come to an end. Similarly, the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus had used a phrase meaning “ends of the earth” in the Agricola, in chapters 12, 24, and 33, to describe the location of Ireland and Britain. The Assyrian language has a word, transliterated as ebar, which is defined as a preposition meaning beyond, and a verb, eberu, which is to cross or to extend beyond something. [12]

It is at the “other side” of the “inhabited world”, beyond the Mediterranean Sea, that we find so many ancient names like that of Eber, the first Hebrew, which are Iberia (Spain), the Ebro River (in Spain), Hibernia (Ireland), and the Hebrides (islands off the coast of Scotland). These places were all at the other end of the world, or the sea, from Palestine, so they were named in that manner. Much later, some of the lands occupied by the Israelites in the Assyrian captivity, called Scythians, had also used similar names, such as Iberia to the north of the Caucasus Mountains, and the Hebrus River in Illyria [13]. None of this is coincidental. Iberia in the Caucasus mountains was on the other side of the lands where the Assyrians had at first forced the Israelites to settle, “in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” [14]

[12 The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Volume 4, E, The Oriental Institute, Chicago, 1958, Sixth Printing, 2004. pp. 1, 10.; 13 Library of History, Diodorus Siculus, 19.67.6; 14 2 Kings 17:6.]

Evidently, the sons of Eber also became a nation, and this is certainly true although this is disputed by many modern so-called scholars. Abraham was not the only Hebrew, since he is recorded as having been in the 6th generation after Eber, and if his descendants were called Hebrews, then five generations of his fathers, uncles and cousins would also have been called Hebrews. Evidently, in the time of Abraham, some of them were in Chaldaea, where Abraham first appeared in Scripture, and others were in Padan-Aram, or Aram-Naharaim, where Abraham sent to his kin to procure a wife for Isaac, and where Isaac had later sent Jacob to find a wife.

In a treaty between the Hittite king Mursilis I, who ruled from about 1620 to 1590 BC, and the Amorite king Duppi-Tessub, we read the following, in part, from a portion near the end of the treaty which invokes the names of the gods of all of the surrounding peoples, from the fourth paragraph of those invocations:

Hantidassus of Hurma, Abaras of Samuhas, Katahhas of Ankuwa, the Queen of Katapa, Ammammas of Tahurpa, Hallaras of Dunna, Huwassanas of Hupisna, Tapisuwa of Ishupitta, the "Lady" of Landa, Kunniyawannis of Landa, NIN.PISAN.PISAN of Kinza, Mount Lablana, Mount Sariyana,19 Mount Pisaisa, the Lulahhi gods (and) the Hapiri gods, Ereskigal, the gods and goddesses of the Hatti land, the gods and goddesses of Amurru land, all the olden gods, Naras, Napsaras, Minki, Tuhusi, Ammunki, Ammizadu, Allalu, Anu, Antu, Apantu, Ellil, Ninlil, the mountains, the rivers, the springs, the great Sea, heaven and earth, the winds (and) the clouds—let these be witnesses to this treaty and to the oath. [15]

So a people called the Hapiri had their own gods, and are named among all of the other surrounding peoples of the Hittites and the Amorites. We must expect Abraham’s fathers and extended Hebrew family to have been pagans, as his kinsman Laban in Padanaram was clearly a pagan, and as we read in Joshua chapter 25, verse 2: “You fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time…”, which is a reference to the Euphrates River, and after it continues it speaks of them and says: “even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor, and they served other gods.”

In a footnote on that same page in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament we read:

Much discussed in connection with the question as to whether the Hapirü (widely quoted as Habirü), who are ubiquitous in cuneiform texts of the times, are to be equated with the Hebrews. [16]

There is no doubt that in this context, the reference is to Hebrews. On the following page of the section containing Hittite treaties in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, in a treaty titled “God List, Blessings and Curses and the Treaty Between Suppiluliumas and Kurtizawa”, we read in part, where there are many similarities with the inscription of Mursili I which we have just cited:

… Hallaras of Dunna, Huwassanas of Hupisna, the "Lady" of Landa, Kunniyawannis of Landa, the Lulahhi gods (and) the Hapiri gods, all the gods and goddesses of the Hatti land, the gods and goddesses of the country of Kizzuwatna, Ereskigal, Nara, Namsara, Minku, Amminku, Tussi, Ammizadu, Alalu, Anu, Antu, Ellil, Ninlil, Belat-Ekalli, the mountains, the rivers, the Tigris (and) the Euphrates, heaven and earth, the winds (and) the clouds; … [17]

Suppiluliumas was a Hittite king of the middle of the 14th century BC. Here we read enough to see that the references to the Hapiri are not merely to nomads who dwell beyond some area, since Ellil and Ninlil and others of these gods were Sumerian idols, and from Hatti, and the land of the Amorites, Sumeria was also a land far beyond others. So the reference to the Hapiri must be to a tribe and not merely to nomads. Many academics, including the authors of the Wikipedia page on the Hapiru, claim that the word simply refers to generic nomads, or robbers, ignoring the apparent history of the Hebrews themselves. [18]

There on that same page in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament we find a similar footnote to that provided in the inscription of Mursilis I:

Much discussed in connection with the question as to whether the Hapiru, ubiquitous in cuneiform texts of the times, are to be equated with the Hebrews. [19]

Of course, we would insist that the Hapiru are equated with the Hebrews, and now we shall turn to the inscriptions of Egypt. In a somewhat later inscription describing The Taking of Joppa by the Egyptians in the time of Thutmose III, the most likely candidate as pharaoh of the time of the Exodus, we read in part, where Thoth is the name of an officer of that pharaoh:

Now after an hour they were drunken, and Thoth said to [the Enemy of Joppa: "I'll deliver] myself, along with (my) wife and children, (into) your own town. Have the ma[ryanu] bring in [the horses and give] them feed, or an apir* may pass by . . . them." So they guarded the horses and gave them feed. [20]

Perhaps the apir would have slain the horses, or even have stolen them, as there is an ellipsis in the text. The mention of the apir certainly seems to be a reference to a Hebrew, who were still subjects in slavery to the Egyptians at that time. But that is denied by the editors of that section of Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, where we read in a footnote on that same page:

The 'Apiru were foreigners, some of whom served the Egyptians at this time. For the probable connection of the term 'Apiru with the term appearing in cuneiform as Habtru, the latter being the assumed origin of the word "Hebrew," see J. A. Wilson, in AfSL, XLIX (1933), 275-80. Habiru was not an ethnic, and the present 'Apir was not a Hebrew as far as we have any evidence. [21]

With this we would contend, and insist that an ‘Apiru certainly was an ethnic, and that assertion that it was not seems to have no support before this time in Egyptian history. It is not clear exactly when this reference was made, since the beginning of the inscription was lost, but as of about 1450 BC the Hebrews would have been in Egypt for about 215 years, although they were not slaves for that entire time.

In another and later Egyptian inscription, which is titled “The Asiatic Campaigning of Amen-hotep III”, a pharaoh who ruled Egypt for 26 years very soon after the time of the Exodus, we read in part:

His majesty reached the town of Memphis, his heart appeased over all countries, with all lands beneath his soles. List of the plunder which his majesty carried off: princes of Retenu: /27; brothers of princes: (30) 179; Apiru: 3,600; living Shasu: 15,200; Kharu: 36,300; living Neges: 15,070; the adherents thereof: 50,652; total: 89,600 men; similarly their goods, without their limit; all small cattle belonging to them; all (kinds of) cattle, without their limit; chariots of silver and gold: 60; painted chariots of wood: 1,032; in addition to all their weapons of warfare, being 13,050; through the strength of his august father, his beloved, who is thy magical protection, Amon, who decreed to him valor. [22]

In a footnote at that passage in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament we read the following:

The appearance of the Apiru (cf. pp. 22, 255, 261 ) in a list of Asiatic captives is unusual. They are listed as the third element in a list, preceded by princes and princes' brothers ( ? ) , followed by three terms having geographic connotation—Shasu, the Bedouin, especially to the south of Palestine; Kharu "Horites," the settled people of Palestine-Syria; and Neges, perhaps “Nukhashshe,” the people of northern Syria—and terminated by an expression of attribution, here translated: “the adherents(?) thereof,” with a miscarved hr sign, but perhaps to be read: “the families thereof,” with the word abet “family.” The Apiru are notably greater in number [among these captives] than the princes and princes’ brothers; they are notably fewer in number than the three regional listees or the retainers (or families). It is quite clear that the Egyptians recognized the Apiru as a distinct entity from other peoples, clearly countable. See also A. H. Gardiner, Ancient Egyptian Onomastica, 1, 184. [23]

None of these Apiru, or Hebrews, were Israelites. After Lot was taken captive by the kings who sacked Sodom, we read in part, in Genesis chapter 14: “13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.” So if Abraham was identifying himself as a Hebrew, which Moses suggests when he wrote this, then the Amorites and others whom he encountered must have know what he meant when he used the term Hebrew, and there must have been other Hebrews known to these other men.

In a later inscription called the Beth-Shan Stelae made for pharaohs Seti I and his son Ramses II, who had ruled Egypt consecutively for over 80 years in the 13th century BC, we read in part, in the opening lines:

On this day, lo (10) [one came to tell] his [majesty]: The Apiru of Mount Yarmuta, with Teyer …, [have ari]sen in attack upon the Asiatics of Rehem. Then [his majesty] said: How can these wretched Asiatics think [of taking] their [arms] for further disorder? [24]

These Apiru were certainly the Israelites who were at this very time invading and taking over the land of Canaan. In footnotes on that same page we read “The Apiru are probably etymologically related to the Habiru”, referring to the earlier inscription of Amen-hotep III, and also another note which refers the reader to Joshua 21:29 and explains that Mount Yarmuta was “Identified by Albright as at or near Belvoir (Kokab el-Hawa), a dozen kilometers north of Beth-Shan.” [25] Beth-Shan, or Bethshan, was in the land of Manasseh and the presence of Hebrews there at this time is fully consistent with the Biblical narrative. Later, Bethshan is the place where the Philistines hung the bodies of Saul and his son Jonathan. [26]

In another inscription of the early 12th century pharaoh Ramses III, in a section on Heliopolis, we read in part:

(xxxi 8) Warriors, sons of (foreign) princes, maryanu, apiru? and people settled who are in this place: 2,093 persons. [27]

There on that same page we read in a footnote:

The term maryanu was used for Asiatic warriors in this period, cf. p. 22, n. 2. The term ‘apiru has been argued to mean "aliens," particularly applicable to foreign slave labor, perhaps the same word as Habiru, and thus etymologically related to “Hebrew”—but not implying that these captives were Israelites. See p. 247, n. 47 above. [28]

The references in that footnote are to other Egyptian inscriptions which we have also presented here. While the editor is correct, that these Hebrews may not have been Israelites, other inscriptions in this period mention Apiru who certainly were Israelites, so we shall read a portion of one more inscription, found in the Amarna Letters.

In a letter numbered EA, No. 271 in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, where a note states that it was written from Milkilu, a prince in the region of Hebron, we read in part “Let the king, my lord, protect his land from the hand of the ‘Apiru.” There, in a footnote for that statement, we read in part: “The 'Apiru (formerly called Habiru) were a strong semi-nomadic people, or rather class of population in Syria and Palestine. While there is much reason to identify them with the Hebrews of the Patriarchal Age, the combination still remains uncertain and cannot be made the basis for any historical inferences.” [29] Of course the conclusion in that note, with which we strongly disagree, is absolutely ludicrous. Habiru invading Palestine at the same time as Joshua’s Israelites are unquestionably Joshua’s Israelites.

Other inscriptions containing mentions of the Habiru are found in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, such as one that was discovered in ancient Mari and which dates to the 18th century BC which speaks of a city named Zallul on the banks of the Euphrates River and describes a certain man named Yapah-Adad, who with “two thousand troops of the Hapiru of the land, is dwelling in that city.” [30] The location is now northern Syria, and this cannot be a reference to nomads, or to slaves. The editor of the section only refers his readers to an external journal article. Much has been written on this inscription, and apparently Yapah-Adad would set out to attack Assyria in the reign of Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad I, however I have not pursued it as it is beyond my purpose here.

There may be reasons for confusion as to the identity of the Apiru, Habiru, or Hebrews as foreigners or slaves or robbers in certain contexts. We have already discussed the fact that Arphaxad and his descendants had no identifiable land of their own in the ancient world, and very well may have been disinherited in the rise of empires and the ensuing struggles between empires. The same seems to be true of Aram, to a lesser extent, because the tribe of Aram had at an early time occupied several smaller non-contiguous areas either in northern Mesopotamia or in Damascus or further west in Syria. But in the Egypt of the 15th century BC, the Hebrews were both slaves and foreigners, so the name may have even become a colloquial term for describing slaves as a class. However with these inscriptions, there should be no doubt that the Hebrews were a historical people who were known to the other surrounding nations, and all of these inscriptions are consistent with the Biblical narrative. But they are not consistent with the claims of the Jews.

[15 Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, p. 205; 16 ibid.; 17 ibid., p. 206; 18 Habiru, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habiru, accessed June 16th, 2023; 19 Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, p. 206; 20 ibid., p. 22; 21 ibid.; 22 ibid. p. 247; 23 ibid.; 24 ibid., p. 255; 25 ibid.; 26 1 Samuel 31:10-12, 2 Samuel 21:12; 27 Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, p. 261; 28 ibid.; 29 ibid., p. 487; 30 ibid., p. 482.]

Now to commence with this chapter of Genesis, we shall read verse 25 once more:

25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.

Peleg: Strong’s Concordance defines the name Peleg (#6389) as meaning earthquake, and that seems to be conjecture, even if a division of the earth in an earthquake is possible. But he defines the verb פלג or palag (# 6385) as to split, along with the similarly spelled adjective (# 6386), and the noun which has the same spelling which he defines as a half (# 6387). We would rather interpret the meaning of the name literally, and according to the primary definition of the verb, as Brown-Driver-Briggs defines it, as divide, and therefore both the noun and the name mean division. [31]

[31 The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Hendrickson Publishers, 2021, p. 811.]

The statement that “in his days the earth was divided” helps us to identify the time of the division of the nations which is described in Genesis chapter 11, because the earth, or land, was divided among the sons of Shem, Japheth and Ham at that time. So with Arphaxad having been born two years after the flood of Noah, counting the years to the birth of Peleg, we may see that the division of the earth happened about four hundred and one years after the flood of Noah, according to the Septuagint chronology. We shall hope to expound on this further when we discuss Genesis chapter 11. This event of the division of the earth among the sons of Noah is mentioned four times in this chapter, and also in Deuteronomy chapter 32 where we read that: “8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.”

In his book titled Father Abraham’s Children, Perry Edward Powell associated the Pelasgian Greeks with this Peleg. At first I denied the association, since “Pelasgian” seems to be a compound of the Greek words πέλας, which means near, and γ͡ης or γ͡η which is land, and that is what they had been to the Ionians, those of the nearby land, which is neighbors, just as the Spartans simply called the Greeks about Sparta περίοικοι which is those dwelling nearby, or neighbors.

Yet Strabo had written in his Geography that “...the Pelasgi were by the Attic people called ‘Pelargi’ [which means “Storks”], the compilers add, because they were wanderers and, like birds, resorted to those places wither chance led them.” [32] Their having been wanderers seems to agree with the state of the Hebrews in the Near East and the Levant. Elsewhere Strabo cites Greek writers who claimed that the Pelasgians came from Thessaly [33], and in that place had dwelled a people whom Strabo called Pelagonians [34], so there may be some merit to Powell’s assertion. The Pelasgians are said to have “spread throughout the whole of Greece” in ancient times [35], and when the Danaans came from Egypt, they were also called by that name [36]. The apparently peaceful reception of the Danaans in Greece may well be explained, if those inhabitants of that portion Greece before the arrival of Dan had also been Hebrews.

The morphing of Pelargi into Pelasgi is not entirely unusual. The reverse situation had occurred in the history of ancient Latin, where by 300 BC the intervocalic s had developed into an r. This is explained by B. O. Foster, the translator of the History of Rome by Titus Livius, or Livy, in reference to the Roman family name Fusius, which in later writings is known as Furius. [37]

[32 Geography, Strabo, 5.2.4; 33 ibid., 9.5.22; 34 ibid., 9.5.11; 35 ibid., 5.2.4; 36 ibid., 8.6.9; 37 History of Rome, Livy, translated by B. O. Foster, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1922, 2004, Volume 2, p. 12. fn. 1.]

Because the earth, or land, was divided in the days of Peleg, then the following descendants of Joktan and Peleg must have come of age and developed into families and nations after the earth was divided. For that reason, where we see names such as Sheba and Havilah which had also belonged to descendants of Ham, I am of the opinion that the ancient historical nations bearing those names belonged to the sons of Ham, rather than to these later descendants of Joktan. However that cannot be proven beyond these circumstances so it is merely an opinion.

Joktan: Strong’s Concordance defines Joktan as a phrase, he will be made little (# 3355), and so his name is a prophecy by itself, and his race was surely absorbed by indigenous populations called “arabs” later in Scripture. While several of Joktan’s descendants’ names may be identified with places in Arabia, only one of these merits a lengthy discussion.

26 And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, 27 And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah, 28 And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba, 29 And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.

As we had explained while discussing the Hamites, perhaps this Sheba and Havilah were named after preexisting places that themselves were already named after sons of Ham. None of these other sons are mentioned elsewhere, except in the copy of this genealogy found in 1 Chronicles chapter 1. But Ophir may be worthy of discussion.

There was an ancient land of Ophir which was almost certainly somewhere on the eastern coast of Africa, South of ancient Cush or Ethiopia. This is evident from the account of goods obtained by King Solomon from Ophir, as they are described in 1 Kings chapters 9 and 10, and from the fact that the place was reached from a port on the Red Sea, called Ezion-geber in the King James Version, and it is even evident in the name Ophir itself. Among the goods Solomon received from this trade with Ophir were “gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks”, all things which are consistent with the assertion that Ophir was in Africa. [38]

This word Ophir is certainly the same name as the Latin name for Africa, from which we get our own word for Africa, which was Afer. While the ancient Greeks seemed not to have known the names Ophir or Afer, at least in their writings, and they had the continent divided into but three districts, Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya. However it is evident that the derivation of the word Africa from Afer in Latin, actually follows the convention found in Greek for declensions of the Genitive case, such as kuriakos from kurios, or phoinikos from phoinos. Whatever may have happened to the land of Ophir, we certainly have no record, and especially since the Romans never wandered into Africa beyond Ethiopia, although they were aware that there was land beyond Ethiopia. [39]

30 And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.

These places seem to be in what had later become known as Arabia, a that word first appears in the time of Solomon [40], but any positive identification of these locations is uncertain. If this is the case, the sons of Joktan must have been made small, or diminished, by all of the surrounding Canaanite and other tribes, so that none of them had left a lasting legacy, except perhaps in the name of Ophir, but even that tribe was lost in history.

[38 1 Kings 10:19; 39 Geography, Strabo, 16.4.14; 40 1 Kings 10:15..]

31 These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.

These are the Shemites and the Hebrews, even if some of their nations disappeared before the beginning of the historic period. So we have the Shemites, and the Hebrews, and here it should be evident that these terms have today been misappropriated by the Jews, to whom they certainly do not belong. Here we hope to have proven beyond all doubt that the Hebrews are indeed a historic people, and that their language, like most of the languages of the surrounding peoples, whether Shemite, Hamite or Canaanite, was merely a dialect of Akkadian, which had at an early time dominated the entire region.

The final verse of the chapter:

32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.

The division of the nations having been about four hundred years after the flood, the oldest attestation of the Sumerian language in writing is generally dated “to at least 2900 BC” [41], which is right around the same time as that of Peleg.

Here we conclude our commentary on Genesis chapter 10.

[41 Sumerian language, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumerian_language, accessed June 16th, 2023.]

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