Friday, February 10, 2023

Correctly Identifying Biblical Populations


Alice C. Linsley

One of the challenges facing biblical anthropology is the accurate identification of biblical populations. This is difficult because a population may be called by more than one name in the Bible and in ancient texts.

In some texts the Horite Hebrew are referred to as Hurrians, Hivites, and Hittites. E.A. Speiser called attention to Hurrian/Horite personal names associated with Shechem and with locations whose inhabitants the Bible calls “Hivites”. Other examples of the interchange of the terms Hivite and Horite may be found by comparing the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint. The Septuagint reads "Horites" for the "Hivite" of the Masoretic Text in Genesis 34:2 and Joshua 9:7.

The Masoretic Text of Joshua 11:3 described the Hivites as being "under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh." However, the Septuagint reads "Hittites" in place of "Hivites". It is reasonable to assume that Hivite, Hittite, Hurrian, and Horite are closely related terms. It appears that Hebrew priests served the rulers of the peoples called Hittite, Hurrian, and Hivite.

The Hittites were related to the Horite Hebrew. They share a common ancestry traced through Heth/Het (Gen. 23). The Hittite "sons" of Heth were among the clans of Canaan (Gen. 10:15). They recognized Abraham as their kinsmen, addressing him as "a great prince among us" (Gen. 23:6). Esau married Hittite women, the daughters of Hittite rulers named Beeri and Elon (Gen. 26).
The clan of Het lived near Kirtiath-Arba, later called Hebron (Gen. 23:3,7), at the northern boundary of Abraham's territory. This was the location of Sarah's settlement. Here Abraham purchased a cave tomb for Sarah's burial.

In the many scholarly papers published about the Hurrians, we find these variants: Hurri, Hurrites, Horites, and Horim.

The Hebrew

The Hebrew are another population that requires careful investigation. The term "Hebrew" is derived from the ancient Akkadian word “abru”, meaning priest. However, variant spellings include Habiru, Hapiru, ‘Aperu, and ‘Apiru. The Harris papyrus speaks of the 'Apiru of Re at Heliopolis (biblical On/Iunu). The term “pirû” refers to a house, a shrine, or a temple. A temple was the mansion (hâît) or the house (pirû) of the god. Sargon is said to have been born of a virgin queen who was overshadowed by the High God while in the temple. His home city, Azu-pir-anu, was located on the banks of the Euphrates.

The Hebrew/Abrutu in India are called the "Abhiras" in Indian texts such as the Mahabharata and Purana. The word Abhira (अभीर) means “fearless”. The Abhiras are described as warriors, mercenaries, and bandits. Yet they are also recognized as highly skilled and the retainers of traditional wisdom.

The similarities between the Abhira and the Nilotic Hebrew are striking. Sri Rama's son's name was Kush. He expanded the territory of his kingdom westward of India. Nimrod the Kushite expanded his territory in Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia was the natural trade bridge between the Nile Valley and the Indus Valley. Indus seals with Harappan inscriptions have been found in Mesopotamia. Indus pottery and seals have been found along the sea routes between the Indian subcontinent and Mesopotamia. 

The Abhira of the Indus Valley and the Hebrew of the Nile Valley were cattle-herding populations who transported their cows on reed boats.

No comments: