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Headword: Hebraioi
Adler number: epsilon,38
Translated headword: Hebrews
Vetting Status: high
[sc. Named] from Heber son of Sal,[1] who distributed the land to the tribes after naming the settlers Hebrews. This man did not labor alongside the tower-builders, and his language remained unchanged.[2]
Greek Original:
Hebraioi: apo Heber huiou Sala, hos emerise tois ethnesi tên gên tous prosoikous onomasas Hebraious. houtos ou suneponêse tois purgopoiois, kai diemeinen hê dialektos autou ametablêtos.
[1] Genesis 11.14-15: "And Shelakh lived thirty years, and begat Eber. And Shelakh lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters." See web address 1.
[2] The "tower-builders" refers to the tower of Babel (see also under alpha 425, sigma 154), where the languages of the people were confused, giving rise to a proliferation of tongues; see Genesis 11.1-9. Until the development of modern linguistics, most Christians believed that Hebrew was the pre-Babelic language, although the name of the pre-Babelic language is not given in Genesis (nor is the explanation that Eber did not work alongside the tower-builders). See Umberto Eco's The Search for the Perfect Language for a popular modern discussion.
cf. George the Monk, Chronicon 52.5 ff.; Malalas p. 11.15ff.
The origin of the word Hebrew might well be "descendants of Eber", or it could be via folk etymology from the root עבר ʿ-b-r, meaning to cross over; Abraham, first to be called עברי ʿiḇrī, crossed over from Ur to Canaan, though his name אברהם ʾaḇraham is unrelated, starting with alef, not ʿayin.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: aetiology; Christianity; dialects, grammar, and etymology; geography; religion
Translated by: Ross Scaife ✝ on 13 May 2002@15:07:37.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (added note) on 29 August 2002@19:41:31.
Raphael Finkel (Added Hebrew) on 31 October 2002@11:50:39.
Patrick T. Rourke (Augmented note 2; also minor cosmetic change) on 18 May 2003@19:36:01.
David Whitehead (added x-refs and keyword; cosmetics) on 29 July 2003@11:17:57.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 23 July 2012@09:02:14.
Catharine Roth (tweaked note) on 12 November 2013@00:46:16.
Raphael Finkel (Converted Romanization of Hebrew to ISO 259) on 7 August 2014@15:24:45.
David Whitehead (coding and other cosmetics) on 3 December 2015@05:12:24.


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