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Tel Aviv U Prof. Anson Rainey v Harvard Ph.D. Prof. Brian Doak
"Ḫabiru" – Hebrews Or Not?

In 2008, Tel Aviv University archeologist Prof. Anson Rainey wrote in the Biblical Archeology Review (BAR):

“It is time to clarify for BAR readers the widely discussed relationship between the habiru, who are well documented in Egyptian and Near Eastern inscriptions, and the Hebrews of the Bible. There is absolutely no relationship! The first appearance of the term habiru (also ‘apiru …) surfaced in the late [BCE] 19th century in the cuneiform archive from Egypt known as the Amarna Letters.”

However, the Amarna tablets, although they reference the preceding reign, are attributed to the reign of Amun-hotep 4th (i.e. Akhen-Aten), 14C dated in 2010 and updated in 2011 to c BCE 1377-52, at least a half-millennium more recent!

Rainey subsequently bragged (loc. cit.):

“Moreover, as I have shown elsewhere in a discussion too technical for BAR, there is absolutely no linguistic relationship between habiru and Hebrew (‘ivri)3 (Anson Rainey, Review of O. Loretz, Habiru-Hebräer, Eine sozio-linguistiche Studie über die Herkunft des Gentiliziums ‘ibr zum Appellativum ‘abiru, in Journal of the American Oriental Society 107 (1987), pp. 539–541.) I have described the effort of some scholars to relate the two as nothing short of ‘silly’ and ‘absurd mental gymnastics’ by ‘wishful thinkers who tend to ignore the reality of linguistics.’4 (Anson Rainey and R. Steven Notley, The Sacred Bridge (Jerusalem: Carta, 2006), p. 89.)”

Prof. Rainey must have gambled that no reader of BAR would look up his arguments. I did, and his arrogant, bullying arguments are spectacularly underwhelming!

It should be no surprise that Harvard Ph.D. Prof. Brian Doak also remained unconvinced. As he explained his spelling of "Ḫabiru" in The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures (2011):

“For the sake of standardization and convenience, I have rendered this term as “habiru” throughout the essay. The nature of the cuneiform script could produce various permutations of this term, and thus possible readings include ‘abiru, ‘apiru, ḥabiru, ḥapiru, ḫabiru, and ḫapiru (in Akk. cuneiform, could represent three distinct guttural sounds, ḥ, ḫ, and ‘, and the ab sign could also be read as ap). Although some Egyptian and Ugaritic evidence suggests that the second consonant was a “p” and the first letter was an ‘ayin (thus, ‘apiru), Bottéro ("Ḫabiru," RLA 4, [1972], 14– 27) points to several instances where the cuneiform can only be rendered as ḫabiru. All lines of argumentation in this regard have been met with opposition, and there is currently no consensus on the spelling or etymology of the term. See M. Salvini, The Ḫabiru Prism of King Tunip–Teššup of Tikunani (Roma: Istituti editoriali e poligrafici internazionali, 1996), 10–11; M. Greenberg, The Ḫab/piru (AOS, 39; New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1955), 2–11; O. Loretz, Ḫabiru - Hebräer: eine sozio–linguistische Studie über die Herkunft des Gentiliziums ‘ibrî vom Appelativum habiru (BZAW 160; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1984), 18–88; N.P. Lemche, “Habiru, Hapiru,” ABD vol. 3, ed. D.N. Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 6–7; W.H.C. Propp, Exodus 19–40 (AB, 2A; New York: Doubleday, 2006), 748.” [hi-liting mine]

Ancient Akkadians/​Mesopota­mians correlated the emergent Hebrew designation, •vᵊr•u, with their native Akkadian "crossers-of-Uphratu", i.e. conflating Ă•pᵊr•u. As a result, the latter was subsequently transliterated into Egyptian hieroglyphs; generalized in Egyptian to – often pejoratively – (de)mean all migrants.

Note that the still-later, not-yet-existent, house of Avᵊrâ•hâm – and even later Yi•sᵊr•â•eil – represented ever more distant and refined descendant sub-groups within •vᵊr•u. Thus, while all later Yi•sᵊr•â•eil has been •vᵊr•u (and Semites), not all •vᵊr•u (nor all Semites) were ever part of (Avᵊrâ•hâm or) Yi•sᵊr•â•eil.

Ignorance of this elementary logic is why so many academics have alternated between either wrongly conflating the impossible (not-then-existent) Israel with the "Ḫabiru," or wrongly assuming that "the 'ibrim are simply the people of Israel [who didn't yet exist!] denoted by a late ethnicon." Late ethnicon? What was Rainey smokin'? I•vᵊr•im predates Israel (c BCE 1640) by more than 4½ centuries! Every subsequent argument based on his anachronous assumption is invalid by ex falso quodlibet.This is one reason why archeologists have so busily concluded all manner of ex falso quodlibet based on futile efforts to fit the Israelis into wrong eras where they weren't present, always coming up empty attempting to corroborate Scripture and Israel which, therefore (again ex falso quodlibet) they reasoned, must be merely an ancient myth.

At the time of the Yᵊtzi•âh, the eirëv rav describes an absorption of many of the surrounding non-Yi•sᵊr•â•eil •vᵊr•u! Archeologists' widespread spectacular failure to discern the differences between Yi•sᵊr•â•eil and the •vᵊr•u have been responsible for innumerable distortions supposedly disproving Scriptural accounts leading up to, and during the period of Shō•phᵊt•im in Kᵊna•an subsequent to, the Yᵊtzi•âh.

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