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Journal of the Transactions of
The  Victoria  Institute
(Selected Articles) -

By the Rev. Henry George
(Journal of 1881-82 -- pages 132 to 151)

THOSE who know the kind of interest which Mr. George Grove has described as springing from the study of Biblical names, will lend a willing ear to anything that will help toward the cultivation of so fruitful a field.

More to stimulate than to satisfy such interest I venture to lay before you some inquiries into the bearing of late researches on this matter.

In 1865 a very useful work was published by the Rev. W. F. Wilkinson on Personal Names in the Bible.

I recommend this little book to the attention of students;  but its perusal will show how much ground has been gained within the last sixteen years. This will easily appear by collating the work with the index of Bible names given by the Rev. T. K. Cheyne in the Variorum Teachers' Bible of Messrs. Spottiswoode (1880), and there is still much to be done in explaining the origin and affinities of Biblical Proper Names.

All kind forbearance I must crave, for the subject is immense and most difficult, and while I have been turning it over, new lines have been struck out, as, for instance, by Professor Robertson Smith in his paper on Animal Worship and Animal Tribes among the Arabs and in the Old Testament;" and important material has been contributed by M. Lenormant in his work Los Origines de l'Histoire and by Dr. Friedrich Delitzsch in his essay on the Site of Paradise, which contains a profusion of geographical knowledge far beyond the limits suggested by the title. M. Derenbourg has also compared the proper names of persons in the Old Testament with those of Himyaritic inscriptions, in an interesting article in the new Revue des Etudes Juives.

But for a rash promise I should have shrunk from this difficult topic altogether;  but I hope to show how in various directions the names of the Bible agree with the assumed conditions of the holy writings, and may help us in further fruitful studies to the glory of that "Name which is above every name."

Names Personal and Local

Personal and local names are vitally connected. Men of old loved to "call their lands after their own names," and were called after their native land, and the man gave name to his race, which is included in a vivid way in the personal name and the territorial. So it is often hard to know whether we are reading of men, or tribes, or cities and regions, for all have their pedigrees, and the fashion of recording them was often similar or the same.

M. Clermont Ganneau has noticed, for instance, that the modern name of the Belka is the same as that of Balak, king of Moab (compare Belkis, queen of Sheba, H.G.T.); that Shihân, where M. de Vogüé found a magnificent bas-relief of a king, is the same word as Sihon, king of the Amorites ; the Aujeh, an affluent of the Jordan, as Og, king of Bashan; Ajlûn as Eglon, king of Moab, &c.

And if personal and ethnic names have been thus sown in the earth, no less have attributes of Godhead grown into titles of renown, and clad heroes of old with mantles from the skies, so that numina nomina is as true as the converse nomina numina.

If Laban, and Makhir, and Gad, and Adranimelek were names of gods, they were borne by men of the Old Testament as naturally as the names Hermes, Nereus, and Phoebe, by men and women of the New Testament. Erroneous inferences have been drawn from this, the extreme use of divine names:  the subordinate use in compound names is very interesting.

As in former papers, I must avoid the more accustomed lore, and take up a selection, of typical instances, for the most part, perhaps, unfamiliar to the student of the Bible.

With regard to local names within the Holy Land, the great survey of Western Palestine, with its accompanying books, quarterly statements, and memoirs, has given us an almost endless amount of information, on which I shall draw very little in this paper. The survey of Eastern Palestine, now in progress under Captain Conder, R.E., will not be an unworthy supplement to the former.

Names Containing Divine Titles

A large proportion of names personal and local were built with the name or title of some god. Both in and out of the Bible these words abound. For instance, Ab (father), Akh (brother), Am (in the sense of kinsman), are constantly joined to the names of gods, and I think generally used as a predicate :-- Abiah, for instance, "A father is Yah."

After all that has been said of the name Abram, may it not be classed with Abi-ram, Akhi-ram, Adoni-ram, and Malkhi-ram, and Am-ram, and explained by the name of the god Ramu? Hesychius gives --------. Thus we have an Ab-ramu in the reign of Esar-haddon, and an Akhi-ramu (a Syrian) in the Annals of Assurbanipal, and a Ba'al-ram in a bilingual Phoenician and Cypriote inscription. We know that in Chaldea Abram's fathers "served other gods," and if indeed his original name was of this class, then a divinely-given change of name would be the more naturally explained. The new name Abraham, generally interpreted as "father of a multitude" is elucidated by Harkavy in the light of the Assyrian rahimu, loving, as "loving father." Compare with this in sense, Isaiah, xli. 8. " Abraham that loved me," although the verb is different. I do not say that Harkavy is right.

Very many names of this class are obvious enough, as Akhi-yah, Abi-yah, Ammi-el, Ammi-shaddaï, but in many cases we have not yet traced with certainty the latter element.

Akhi-man was one of the "three sons of Anak" whom Caleb drove out from Hebron. Is the man in this name "Manu the Great" of the Babylonians, the god of fate?

In the group of names ending in "hud" (Abihud, Akhihud, Ammihud, Ishhud) is this the Hud of the Egyptians, the solar winged disk, or may it be the Akkadian sun-god Ud, or are both identical?

Akhi-moth seems to involve the name of the Phoenician. Pluto, Moth. The local names Hazar-maveth or Hazar-moth, and Az-maveth or Beth-azmaveth, are parallel.

In Abi-melek, Akhi-melek I think we have a similar case, the name of the god Melek or Molek being compounded; which is, of course, rather an epithet, like Ba'al, than a name.

In Abi-no'am and Akhi-no'am a title of Tammuz may be found, as Mr. Cheyne has so well pointed out in the Syrian Na'aman.

In Assyrian annals we have Akhi-melek, Abi-melek, Akhi-tob, and the like.

I think Tob must be distinctly a divine title. It is, however, obvious that it was a gradual growth that gave such epithets as "good," "high," "just,'' the force of a separate divine personality; and they were challenged for their rightful owner in such names as Tob-adoni-Yah, just as another familiar heathen title in Ba'alyah "the master is Jehovah," or Yobel. How curious is the name of a son of David (whose mother was one of the wives whom he took in Jerusalem) Ba'alyada, elsewhere called El-yada ("Ba'al knoweth," "God knoweth.")

Even Zedek in Adoni-zedek and Melki-zedek may be the god of the Phoenicians. Melkizedek may have had a heathen or half-heathen name given to him by such parents as Abram had, and yet have retained, or revived, as pure a worship of the Most High God as Abram offered. The name of Ba'al-zebul, lord of the height, like Ba'al-ram, is a most fit title for the Most High God, but these and other sublime names were debased to hell by the "many inventions" of pantheism, and polytheism, and what has been called by Professor Max Müller "henotheism." Names compounded with Tob, Zedek, and the like, remind us of Mr. Budge's remark that there were temples erected in Babylonia to abstract qualities, which are mentioned in fragments of cylinders of Nebuchadnezzar. Zidqa is the name of a king of Sidon in the records of Sennakherib.

Other names are derived from those of gods with an addition of i, as in patronymic or gentilic names; as Barzillaï from Barzil a title of Ninip an Assyrian god. Under this head I think Sheshaï and Talmaï, two of the "sons of Anak," come. The former seems connected with Sheshan, and Shesh-bazzar, the numeral shesh (six) lying at the root, as a symbol of a god. It symbolized the god Bin or Ramanu. Ba'al Shalisha indicates three. I have elsewhere traced "Arba" (four) in connexion with Kiriath-Arba' and other places.

Sheba (seven) appears in Bath-sheba and other names, and may be connected with the god Sbat, and the Seb of the Egyptians. And Eshmun, (eight) the eighth of the Kabirim, is well-known. But these remarks on numerical symbols are parenthetic and illustrative of Sheshaï.

In like manner Besaï seems clearly to indicate the god Bes, or Besa, of Arabian origin, of whom the Egyptians were so fond, his deformed visage being associated with articles of the toilet.

Brugsch has very naturally connected with him the feminine Beset (or Bast) whose name appears in Pi-beseth (Bubastis) in Lower Egypt.

I have often thought that the familiar play on the word bosheth (which in the Hebrew means "shame") in connexion with Ba'al-worship may have some allusion to this goddess of Eastern origin.

Sippaï (or Sapi), ----, and Saph or Sap, ----, equally recall Sap, the god of the Eastern borders of Egypt. And Bebaï seems clearly enough derived from Beb, a Typhonic name well-known in Egypt and Sinaïtic Arabia, as I have already suggested elsewhere.

Hori, Horaï, Huraï, are perhaps derived from the Egyptian god Horus, and Hur is supposed to be included in the same category.

Hori (like Seti, Ameni, and other names familiar enough), is a pure Egyptian name. So is Hora (----), and Har-nefer is found in Egyptian inscriptions, meaning " the good Horus."

Maharaï, ----, the name of one of David's valiant men, is very interesting. It is derived from Mohar, a Semitic word for a hero or champion which was introduced into Egypt about the time of Rameses II. Compare the Carthaginian Mahar-bal.

Aziza is a curious name with which wo compare the Nabathtaean god Aziz, and the well-known Abdul-Aziz of these days.

From Egypt we gain much in the explanation of Biblical names. Puti-p-ra and Puti-p-har (which involves the name of Horus, not of Ra) are well-known. To these we add Puti-el, a compound of Egyptian and Semitic exactly paralleled by the Pet-Ba'al mentioned by Brugsch. Puti-el was the name of the man (Egyptian?) whose daughter was the wife of Eleazar, son of Aaron, and mother of Pinehas. This name, Pi-nehas, Brugsch claims as Egyptian (from Nahasi, the negro; perhaps he inherited a dark complexion from Puti-el.) Lui (Levi) was the name of a high-priest of Amen under Meneptah, and therefore probably contemporary with Moses.

May not Miriam be one of the many Egyptian names beginning with Meri?  Rameses II bore the well-known title of Meriamen, and so did one of his daughters, while the princess Merris (Meri, one of the younger daughters of Rameses) is said to have been the protector of Moses. Now Miriam is called by Josephus Mariamne, and the same form of the name became famous in the Herodian house. Does not this make it probable that Meriamen was the original name, perhaps shortened from aversion to the full Egyptian form? The same name Mariamne or Mariamme belonged to a place in Syria, west of Emesa, and in this case it seems likely enough that the name was that of Rameses Meriamen, who founded (or refortified) a strong post in that part of Syria under his own name.

The Egyptian women Shiphrah and Puah bore names which have been explained in accordance with hieroglyphic names in inscriptions.

That the Israelites should have among them a number of Egyptian names is also to be expected from their long continuance in the land first of their refuge and prosperity and then of their bondage, and I think they will be found on careful search.

Amon is purely Egyptian, the familiar name of the great God. Asir is probably to be taken as the name of Osiris. Compare Abd-osir and Osir-Shamar in a Phoenician inscription found in Malta,

Kheper, with the local name Gath-Kheper, bring to us the name given to the creator Ptah, and symbolized by the scarabaeus (----). It is curious, moreover, that the name of the late Pharaoh "Hophra" is given as ----, as if it were the familiar Khepra of Egypt. It expresses, however, the ----, Haabra of the inscriptions.

Surely Sia (----) and still more clearly Siaha (----) must be Si-aah, son of the Moon-god, and Akhi-ra is a crossbred name, like Puti-el, "a brother is Ra," the great Egyptian sun-god.

Bathyah (----) " the daughter of Pharaoh" may well stand beside Bath-anat (or Bent-anat) the favourite daughter of Rameses II., the form of names being parallel and purely Semitic.

The divine name Yah seems to me to be equally involved in the Karnak lists of Palestine of the time of Thothmes III. If it be really so it is well worthy of remark, and may fitly stand beside the name in the list No. III. in Mariette's Karnak, which

Brugsch identifies with Penuel ---- Paaun'el. Beth-yah would be nearly equivalent to Beth-el.

Another name, long before the Exodus, appears to contain the divine appellative Yah. It is the remarkable name of a man in Egypt in the time of Amonhotep I. Kafeniaa. The first element is ----, which occurs in Khafni (Hophni) a pugilist, and is also found among names in Himyaritic inscriptions. The composite name would mean " a combatant is Yah."

Some other Egyptian Names

It is worth while to mention, by the way, that one of the earliest Egyptian names in Holy Scripture, Hagar, occurs as the name of a king of the XXIXth dynasty ---- Hag'r known by the Greeks as Achoris; Brugsch spells the name Hagar.

Takhpenes (----) is the name of an Egyptian queen whose sister married Hadad the Edomite in the time of Solomon.

Now the name Ta-apenha occurs as that of the Mother of Aahmes, an officer of Darius in Egypt. The local name given as Tahpanhes appears as Ta-benet in the Delta, the Greek Daphnae Pelusiae, and the present Tell-Defenneh, if Brugsch be right.

I fancy that some Biblical names may throw light on the interesting question of the race to which we must ascribe the beautiful queen Thii ----, the consort of Amenhotep III., who is believed to have been a foreign princess, and who appears to have introduced the worship of the solar disk (Aten). Her father's name was Iuaa, and her mother's Tuaa. In the Louvre is a group of an Egyptian nobleman, with his wife Taeï, and their infant. Her complexion, like that of Queen Thii, and this race, is painted rosy, and not yellow like the Egyptian women. Iuiu, Uaï, Naï, are names belonging to the same race, neither Egyptian nor Semitic. It was conjectured by M. Emman de Rouge that they were Libyans. But we find some names in the Bible of a similar cast, and in a quarter with which the Egyptians had much to do. We find a Taï, or Toü (or Thaï, Thoü) king of Hamath, with a son Iuram, or Ioram. (Heb. ---- or ----; and ----, or ----, Hadoram). Now Hamath was at that time (of David) an independent Hittite kingdom, the rival of Syrian Damascus. I would compare the name of Thaï or Thaü with Thii and Taei, and that of Iuaa, her father, with ----, Iva, or Ava, a city mentioned in connexion with Hamath. The Syrian regions of the Hittites, and the land of Naharina, were familiar to Amenhotep III. And I would set these names beside that of a town in Syria, Thiaï, or Thai, or Thia ---- mentioned in the Karnak lists of Thothmes III next in order to Shabtuna, an important place near the lake of Kadesh on the Orontes, and not far south of Hamath, in the midst of the Hittite region. The Hittite ladies appear to have been fair in complexion and to have had delicately-formed features, as shown by a beautiful relief in porcelain in the British Museum. Is it not probable that these fair foreigners in Egypt were Hittites, and not Libyans?

From the time of the Hyksos, or even before, Egypt gives us many traces of Biblical names.

For instance, Shua, the " Canaanite of Adullam," whose daughter Judah had married, is the familiar name of the Hyksos themselves, Shaua.

Anub and Anan (Onan) are among the names of the Hyksos rulers.

Sekhem was not only the name of the renowned city below Gerizim, but also of a district of the Delta, whose capital was Pi-beset (Bubastis), and its Egyptian meaning was not only "sanctuary" but "possession," as in Jacob's words in his blessing of Joseph.

Compare, again, the mutilated name of the time of Meneptah "Ba'al . . . son of Zapur" with Balak, son of Zippor, of the same period, and remember that Zipporah, the wife of Moses, was a Midianite, not far removed from Moab.

Names in Palestine and Syria

As regards the nations by whom the land of Canaan was inhabited, we have increasing light from Egypt and Assyria, taken together with the evidence of existing names and living men.

Take the Kheth of Scripture, Kheta of Egyptian monuments, Khatti of Assyrian annals; that splendid race whose ruin-heaps still bear such names as Tell Ketin in northern Syria, Heit near their ancient lake of Kadesh on the Orontes, and Hattin near the Sea of Galilee.

Their existence as a formidable race on the west of the Euphrates is attested in the time of Abraham, not only by the allusions in the book of Genesis but by curious passages in the records of Sargina and his son Naram-Sin, by whom they were conquered for a time. From the reign of Thothmes III. they occupy a signal position in the records of Egypt for some centuries, and the "Kings of the Hittites" are no less important to the Egyptians than to David and Solomon and their successors until they were finally subdued by another Sargon, rather more than 700 years before Christ. Professor Sayce, Mr. Boscawen, and others have already given us so much interesting information about the Hittites that we ought to take heed that impending discoveries do not languish for lack of public support and sympathy. That distinguished officer, Captain Conder, R.E., has recently visited the Upper Orontes, and, as he and Lieutenant Mantell believe, has identified the renowned stronghold of Kadesh where the great exploit of Rameses II. was performed. I do not think he has hit upon the right spot yet. But when Kadesh is found we shall possess, as it seems, a Biblical site. For in one passage, at least, this sanctuary is mentioned, namely in the account of David's census, where we are told that Joab and his officers crossed the Jordan and worked northwards through Gilead " to the land of Takhtim-Khodshi."

All the translators have been baffled by this passage. At last, however, Mr. Cheyne and Mr. Driver, following four codices of the Septuagint, have restored (as it appears) the true reading, and we find Joab passing through " the land of the Hittites unto Kadesh." The difference in the Hebrew is but slight, but the meaning as clear and obvious as possible. I have also some belief that this Kadesli occurs in a familiar passage. The magnificent twenty-ninth psalm describes the thunderstorm rolling over Lebanon, breaking the cedars and shaking the " wilderness of Kadesh." Now it seems to me that the region of the highest waters of the Orontes, where Kadesh stood by its lake beyond the northern end of the Lebanon, where the storm would roll across to the mountains of the Ausairieh, is a far more likely wilderness (midbar) to pass before the mind's eye of the poet than Kadesh Barnea three hundred miles to the south. If that be so, then this capital of the Hittites, next in renown to Karkemish, is twice mentioned in Holy Scripture.

In treating of Biblical names, it is only fair to allow that the Hittite names recovered from Egypt and Assyria differ in character from the few that appear in the books of Scripture. But the whole question is in a very nebulous state at present. The lists of names which appear to include those of Hittite places and persons present a curious mixture of Semitic language with some other element. The names in Scripture may be Hebraized. Some Hittites (Uriah for instance) may have received new names. And we must wait with patience for a solution which will most likely come in due season.

The Amorite is well known in Egyptian record and wall-sculpture, and at this day both Northern Syria and Southern Palestine bear witness to his dwelling-place, herein confirming the notices of Scripture.

Tell Amurin, north of Hamah, 'Amary, by the Lake of Kadesh, Tell 'Amarah in the Lej'ah, and in the south the 'Amarin mountains and other places, are stamped with this ancient name. In the great battle-pieces of Egypt they appear in their strong chariots and on their castles "walled up to heaven," with bow, and buckler, and spear. They are closely associated with the Hittites, and "the land of the Amorites" round the Upper Orontes tallies exactly with that of the book of Joshua, where Aphek (Afka) is on their border.

The Amorite has marked one celebrated mountain, "Mount Hermon, which Hermon the Sidoniaus call Sirion; and the Amorites call it Shemr," and in Assyrian history it bears the Amorite name of Shaniru.

The Gergashite (----), is likewise found among the northern allies against Egypt, if we take the probable explanation of the Kerkesh ---- mentioned in the monuments of Rameses II. It seems to me that the name is preserved in Gergis, marked in Rey's map, very near the Orontes, to the west of Er-Restan (Arethusa), in a most probable position for the Gergashite.

The Khivvites (Hivites) were a people of renown in the days of Moses, and long after. Dr. Friedrich Delitzsch has just identified them with the Khavvat of the Assyrian inscriptions (hitherto read Khammat. and confused with Amat Hamath). A very important nation they were in the days of Shalmaneser II., who links them with the "Kings of the Hittites," under their king, Irkhulina, in a great league with Benhadad against the Assyrians, who defeated them with terrible slaughter at Karkar.

This agrees very well with the mention of "all the cities of the Khivvites" with Sidon and Tyre. But I must not attempt to go through all the coincidences of Scripture with the monuments as regards the races of Canaan and Syria. I will only mention the name Mat-amim in the travels of the Mohar, a well-known story of an Egyptian scribe. For Mat-amim would simply mean land of the Emim.

Some Babylonian and Assyrian Names

And now we must turn to Babylonia and Assyria, whence most important results have been already obtained in the elucidation alike of very early and late names in the Old Testament.

Akkadian, Sumerian, Kassite, Elamite names on the one hand, and Semitic names on the other, have enabled us to verify the historic data of Scripture to an extent quite unexpected and surprising. Thus we have Babel, and Erech, and Akkad, and Kalneh, and Ur, in the records from the earliest times. For the name Nimrod we have more than one derivation. Professor Sayce and M. Grivel give the Akkadian Namar-ud, illumination of the sun (which by no means excludes his human status by the divine solar title), and Dr. Friedrich Delitzsch has lately suggested the possible alternative of Nu-Marad, "Man, or hero, of Marad," a very ancient Chaldaean city. This distinguished Assyriologist has treated very carefully the subject of these local names in his new work, Wo lag das Paradies?  M. Lenormant will doubtless deal with them in the next volume of his newly-cast History of the East; and those who do not seek information beyond our own language, will find much in George Smith's very useful History of Babylonia, edited by Professor Sayce, and in the Chaldaean Genesis, and also in the volumes of Records of the Past.

One of the most striking points in this non-Semitic lore is the occurrence of the Elamite name of Kudur-lagamar, with his tributaries in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis, of which I have treated on a former occasion.

Contemporary with these rulers we may cite Semitic names of considerable interest. Mr. Boscawen writes to me: "Some time ago I made a special study of a number of early Chaldaean tablets of a commercial nature found at Warka [ancient Erech] and Mugheir [Ur of the Chaldees]. These are dated in the reigns of Eri-aku or Erioch (Gen. xiv.), and of Hammuragas, and others of that period, and among them I found such names as Abu-Khibu, "father of concealment," Bel-ni, "my lord," Abbu, "green" [cf. ----, but may not the meaning be "fruit?" see Gesenius];  Banu ---- ; Lazibu (----), Kainu (----) [----], Ram-ena-ya " the lifter up of my eyes," Mukhaidu (----), "the joyful one" [? ----, Ezra ii. 52., Neh. vii. 54, "perhaps a joining together, Ges.] Abil (----) [Abel. It is very interesting to find this name, "a son," used absolutely. It was Dr. Oppert who first pointed out the true meaning of Abel from the Assyrian] ; Abil-irziti, "son of the soil"; Miss Braddon's "only a clod?" [does it not rather mean "son of the land?"] Akhu Sunu (their brother) Akhu-kalli "brother of all," Pirkhu (----). There are more than a hundred names of this class," Mr. Boscawen adds. I trust he will make public his study of this very important collection of Semitic names of so early a date. Meanwhile we have here the names Cain and Abel, for Mr. Boscawen identifies the former name in a paper contributed to the Palestine Ex-ploration. Fund's statement. Mr. Pinches has remarked:  "almost every proper name in Assyrian, as in Hebrew, tells of some event or circumstance connected either with the birth or the life of the person bearing it."

This is very well brought out, with fine feeling and reverence, by Mr. Wilkinson in his work before mentioned on the Personal Names of the Bible. A large number of such names are actual sentences that will stand on their own feet, alike in Babylonian, Assyrian, and Hebrew names. But we must not enlarge on these.

The names which emerge in the captivities on the Tigris and Euphrates are interesting; such, for instance, as those given to the noble Jewish captives in Babylonia. I suppose Belteshazzar (----) is Bilat-sarra-utsur, "Beltis defend the king." M. Lenormant has suggested that ----(Shadrak) may well stand for Sutruk or Sudruk, an Elamite name naturalised in Babylon. And as to Meshak (----) he says it is evidently an alteration, under the hands of transcribers, of an original form where the latter element of the Jewish name of Mishael has been replaced by the appellative of some Babylonian god, perhaps Misha [Marda] kh (Assyrian Ma-sa-Maruduk), and compares the great contraction of Assurbanipal into Asnappar.

But may not the contraction be rather of Misha Sheshak (Assyrian Ma-sa-Sisku) into Meshak? Dr. Lauth has suggested that Sisku may be a divine name, meaning "the brilliant protector" (Marduk?) Sir Henry Rawlinson had connected the same word with the passages in Jeremiah, where the name Sheshak is mentioned in connexion with Babylon, and had taken the word as a divine name.

Animal Names

But this paper must not be unduly protracted, and we will now turn to a very different topic, the use of animal names. To these Professor Robertson Smith has called our attention in the Journal of Philology, in his remarkable and very striking paper on "Animal worship and Animal Tribes among the Arabs and in the Old Testament."

In this paper he connects the "Totem-worship" with its apparent origin and consequences, among barbarous tribes, as expounded by Mr. Maclennan, with usages and tribal and personal names among the Arabs, and through Arabian channels with the tribes of the Hebrews, but especially Judah, and in a smaller degree Benjamin, Simeon, and Dan. There is much that is very shocking and sorrowful in this disquisition, as in other recent inquiries of a similar kind. This should make us the more highly value the "sweetness and light" of Moses and Samuel and the prophets.

The class of animal names are claimed as derived from a stage of fetish-worship, and "the line of descent is through the mother who gives her totem to her children." This is connected with abominations proscribed in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, of which the very proscription proves its own need.

It seems to me that Mr. Robertson Smith has made out a strong case with regard to the Arabs in their pre-Mohammedan ages; and he is quite right in tracing the in­fluence of their tribes in southern and eastern Palestine;  and perhaps in a great degree he justly connects even in the days of David the outrages against Mosaic rules of domestic morality to such sources as he indicates. Some of the most interesting names involved in this inquiry are such as Oreb (Raven) and Zeb (Wolf); Caleb (dog) whose position as a proselyte from Edom has been so well traced by Dr. Plumptre in his excellent Biblical Studies; Khamor of Shekhem (wild ass), Ja'el (Ibex); Epher and Ephron (Fawn), 'Eglon (calf), Akhbor (mouse), Shaphau ("cony"or rock-badger), Khezer (swine); and the like.

Doubtless the question thus raised will be carefully considered and examined in detail by those best qualified to decide on its merits. The subject of Biblical names could not be fairly treated without indicating this fresh departure. Let us remember that it is not the judgment of the prophets that is impeached by any of the painful exposures of religious defection in the children of faithful Abraham. There is much justice in the concluding sentences of the essay. "It is a favourite speculation that the Hebrews or the Semites in general have a natural capacity for spiritual religion. They are either represented as constitutionally monotheistic, or at least, we are told, that their worship had in it from the first, and apart from revelation, a lofty character from which spiritual ideas were easily developed. That was not the opinion of the prophets, who always deal with their nation as one peculiarly inaccessible to spiritual truths, and possessing no natural merit which could form the ground of its choice as the people of Jehovah. Our investigations appear to confirm this judgment, and to show that the superstitions with which the spiritual religion had to contend were not one whit less degrading than those of the most savage nations. And, indeed, the second commandment, the cardinal precept of spiritual Worship, is explicitly directed against the very worship of the denizens of air, earth, and water, which we have been able to trace out. It does not appear that Israel was, by its own wisdom, more fit than any other nation to rise above the lowest level of heathenism."


It is only due to my audience and to this vast and fertile subject that I should end as I began by craving your kind forbearance.

There are some branches of the inquiry into Biblical names too sacred and dark with glory, some too fresh and uncertain, some too old and familiar, to serve our purpose this evening. But within my old line of historic illustration I must affirm that to me there appears a coherency between the names, brought from quarters scattered and for all the intervening ages forgotten and unexplored, and their position and surroundings, in the Scripture narratives, or oracles, or poetry, which to an honest seeker after truth is "confirmation strong," and may well rank high as "proof of holy writ." It has been elaborately shown by the recent surveyors and explorers of Palestine, that the geographical and topographical names mentioned in Egyptian and Assyrian monumental records, and in classic and rabbinic literature, and now found in the mouths of the fellahin, in numberless instances chime with the Bible story.

If we have caught this evening startling glimpses of "high places" and "chambers of imagery," it is only what a thoughtful student of Scripture might expect; and readers of Pleyte, Tiele, and similar writers, have seen the dark shadows cast in gigantic proportions. Out of how rough and deep a " hole of a pit" has our Redeemer in all ages drawn the fair stones of His new Jerusalem! How does the perverse mind of man forsake the living fountain, and hew out for itself broken cisterns.

We would "justify the ways of God to man." We cannot justify the ways of man to God.


My best thanks are due for several kind contributions of notes and suggestions received since the above paper was printed.

The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells writes:--

Very many thanks for your valuable, interesting, and suggestive paper.

The animal names strike me as very interesting, and the argument from the agreement linguistic, moral, and religious, between the names and the surrounding circumstances of those who bore the names, is very cogent as unmistakable evidence of historical truth. As regards Caleb, to whom I see you refer at p. 15, I believe the discovery of his Edomitish ancestry and the proof of it was my own, as given in ch. ii., sect, ii., of my Genealogies. I have not seen our Dean's Biblical Studies, to which you refer.

The Rev. T. K. Cheyne, Fellow of Balliol :--

A number of combinations are quite new to me. Maharaï=Mohar is very attractive. Sippai, Bebai, Besai, Shua, Zapur: Sheba, as connected with Sbat and Seb. (Do you mean that the connexion with "seven" is a "Volksetymologie," Gen. xxi. 30? or that "seven" is a numerical symbol for the Egyptian god?) Can you trace a connexion between Bast and Baal, as objects of worship?  Otherwise, are we helped by the similarity of Beset and Bosheth? [See below.-- H. G. T.]

Barzillai, Sheshai, Talmai. The first must be very plausible, for it strikes me at once that I have heard it before, and yet I do not think I have.

I would rather not have to do with an Accadian god in a Hebrew name, until I am compelled (Ammi-hud).

Zedek. It occurs as a separate divine name in Philo of Byblus, does it not? Zidqa is evidently adopted from a god.

Tob, I suppose, does not occur alone as a personal name (a region in "Judges").

Abraham:  I remember Harkavy, but think it is delusive. Better an Aramaïsing pronunciation of Abram.

Cain:  very interesting. We had only a Himyaritic Qainu before?

Abil-irziti? comp. (----) ---- the patronymic.

As to names compounded with ab, ab, ach, &c., comp. P. de Jong, "Over de met ab, ach, enz, zamengestelde Hebreeuwsche eigennamen. Amsterdam:  J. Müller, 1880." Noticed by Graf Baudissin in the Leipzig Theolog. Literatur-zeitung, Jan. 1, 1881. I have no doubt you know Nestle's Die Israelitischen Eigennamen, Haarlem: 1876. On the compound names the two appear to differ-- De Jong thinking that Nestle and those who agree with him have gone too far. I have not seen De Jong's book, and my prejudices are with Nestle. De Jong seems to think that divine names were sometimes otiose, and merely added to make a new name ("like Hermobios with Bios, and Diogeiton with Geiton"). He so explains names like Abijah and Achijah.

I see you have given Mr. Driver and myself the credit of the emendations in Samuel. Hitzig and Wellhausen were, as noticed in Q. P. B., our authorities. "Wilderness of Kadesh." Very plausible, supposing the psalm to be an early one. [Is it not, as generally accounted, "a Psalm of David"?-- H. G. T.]

Mr. Cheyne has also favoured me with the following valuable note on ----, as interpreted "height" rather than "habitation" (p. 5), in confirma­tion of his views expressed in his work on Isaiah, vol. ii. 155 :--

Two things seem clear-- 1. That ---- is an almost forgotten Hebrew root;  in Gen. xxx. 20, the writer selects an alternative root ---- (itself almost confined to proper names) to illustrate ----. 2. That ---- was specially applicable to the heavenly or the earthly ---- of ----. (1) justifies us in expecting some light from Assyrian; (2) in presuming some idea suitable to a palace. I suppose most of the houses at Jerusalem were low, and the ---- would domineer over them, and above all the Temple?

Of course, a vague sense like "habitation" may just do. But I do not see that it has any greater claim, at any rate, than "elevation"; it looks, indeed, very much like a guess. One may no doubt quote 1 Kings, viii. 13, and say that ---- is parallel to ----. But ---- ---- may quite as well be parallel to ---- (---- applying to both equally), for ---- itself is a word specially set apart for the heavenly as well as the earthly ---- (in passages where ---- occurs). Of course, ---- is not vaguely "habitation," but something firmly founded. I have no fresh light to throw.

I gathered from Sayce that, though Guyard's evidence was not all equally sound, the main part of it was sound; he himself accepted the result.

[See Cheyne, Isaiah ii. 155, where the opinion of M. Stanislas Guyard is quoted with regard to the root zabal in Assyrian.

It may be worthy of notice that Pierret gives in Egyptian (on the authority of Brugsch) tsebu ( ---) " cf. ----, transcendere,

superare, elevare, extollere" (vocab. 726), and notices (p. 739) that ----is acutus, whence ----, jaculum. Possibly a common root may have existed at the bottom of these words and zabal.-- H. G. T.]

The Rev. Robert B. Girdlestone, Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford :--

At your request I put down a few annotations on the interesting paper which you are to read on the 16th.

1. With regard to names personal and local. I do not know whether the Balkh, and the Balkan Mountains, or Wallachia, might be compared with the name Belka [not Wallachia, which is akin to Wales, &c., see Taylor, Words and Places, 43.-- H. G. T,]; but I should like to call attention to the names you afterwards introduce, viz., Sihon and Eglon. They both end in on, but on sounds local rather than personal; witness the rivers Pison, Gihon, Jordan, Kishon, Kidrou, Arnon;  and the places Ekron, AEnon, Aijalon, Ascalon, Maon, Beth-horon, Chesalon, Ezion, Gibeon, Hebron, Hermon, Sirion, Ijon, Lebanon, Sidon, Zion. Compare also Marath-on, which answers in meaning, I suppose, to your own dwelling-place West-on. The names in the new Palestine map have often dropped this termination.

I am glad Mr. Girdlestone has mentioned Marath-on, which should be compared with Marath-us, and, as I think, Ma-Mortha or Morthia (name of Shekem), and probably Marath-esium in Ionia; all derived from Martu?-- H. G. T.]

2. I do not feel sure that you are right in connecting the names Abram, Amram, &c., with the god Ramu. The true God is called ---- in Is. lvii. 15, Micah vi. 6, and Ps. xcix. 2, cxiii. 4, cxxxviii. 6. This fact suggests the origin of such names as Adoniram. Abram's name, I venture to think, means "exalted father," and when it was changed to Abraham we must look, not to the Assyrian rahimu (----), but to the Arabic raham (----) which signifies multitude.

[As to Ramu, compare my remarks on Tob, &c., p. 4, and the definition given by Hesychius. Mr. Girdlestone mentioned to me the other day the very curious parallel of mo-rimo, a word used in a vague way by the Bechnanas on the Kuruman river for some upper power, and rescued by Dr. Moffat for use as the name of the true God, as it now stands in the Seehuana translation of holy Scripture. It was an exotic word and seemed equivalent to the ---- cited by Mr. Girdlestone from Isaiah, &c., Mo- in the Seehuana word being a prefix.-- H. G. T.]

3. Ahiman is connected by you with "manu." It is observable that the same name is given to a temple-porter after the Captivity, 1 Chr. ix. 17. Would a Levitical porter fresh from the Babylonian Captivity be named after the Babylonian god of fate? I doubt it; and I prefer the old derivation. [It is curious to find among these porters Talm-on and Akhiman: comp. two of the sons of Anak, Talm-aï and Akhiman.-- H. G. T.]

4. I am inclined to quarrel with you for your suggestion concerning Melchizedek, and I know not by what authority you call zebul a height rather than a habitation. [See Cheyne, Isaiah, vol. ii. 155, and Mr. Cheyne's remarks above.-- H. G. T.]

The name Bath-sheba I should connect with the secondary meaning of Sheba-- an oath-- rather than with the primary. Your reference to Aziz reminds me of Azaz-el, the so-called scape-goat. Comp. the name Azaz in 1 Chr. v. 8, and the names Uzza, Uzziah, Uzziel, &c.; see also Ps. xxiv. 8, where Jehovah is called ----; also note the expression in Daniel-- "the god of Forces " (Dan. xi. 38). Was the Nabathaean Aziz a god, or an attribute? [a "divinity of Syro-Phrenician origin"-- Pierrot, Petit Man. de Mythol., 100]; and may not the same question be raised concerning Earn, Zedek, and other so-called gods? [Zedek (Sydyk) took to wife one of the Tanides, and his son was Asclepios. He was one of the two who found out the use of salt. So says Philo Byblius. See Lenormant, Lea Origines,&c., 541, 545.-- H. G. T.]

5. On p. 9 you refer to Sekhem. What is your objection to the traditional spelling Shechem, and to the topographical and descriptive sense shoulder, or nape of the neck between the shoulders, so applicable to the position of Shechem. Your reference to the Egyptian meaning of the word adds new interest to Gen. xlviii. 22;  where see the rendering in the lxx. [I do not know that we are tied to the diacritic point. Dr. Ebers writes (AEg. u. d. B. Mos., 231):  "We hazard a comparison between the Egyptian and the Samaritan Sechem, ----, ----, ----, which, as Ewald has already proved, possessed an old-Canaanitish population, who adhered to Baal Berith." As to spelling, I like kh, for it avoids the risk of the soft ch in the mouth of the reader, as in French. It is Dr. Ebers who compares the Egyptian Pa-sekhem. I was familiar with Dean Stanley's "shoulder" of the mountain, but it is worth while to consider the alternative of ''sanctuary," as in Egyptian: see my paper on "Joseph," Tr. Vict. Inst., xv. 86.-- H. G. T.]

6. With the Kheta compare the Chatti referred to by Tacitus, and the ---- of Strabo. What is the origin of the name Hit on the Euphrates? [The Chatti, or Catti, are said to have taken their name from "the old German word cat or cad, 'war' ":  see Smith's Class. Dic. The Kheta seem to owe their name to the word Kheth, an inclosure (fenced or fortified), comp. the Egyptian Khetam; and Khatem, which is the ring for the finger, in Heb. ----. The well-known site, Sarbut el Khadem, in the Sinaïtic peninsula, owes its name (says Dr. Ebers) to the old Egyptian fortress (Khetam):  Durch Gosen, 574. The archaic Hebrew, Phoenician, and Moabite form of the letter --- (Kheth) bears witness to its origin in the ground-plan of a square fortress. Mr. Gladstone identifies the Kheta with the Keteioi of the Odyssey (Hom. Synchr. 175), but I cannot answer for the Khettaioi of Strabo.-- H. G. T.]

7. You remark (p. 11) that the names in Scripture may be Hebraised. I suppose they have been, from Adam downwards, unless Hebrew may be taken as a fair representative of the one primaeval language, an idea which few would accept.

[I cannot at all agree with this sweeping supposition, for I think that the foregoing paper itself supplies many names alien to Hebrew which have been little altered ; in some cases barely transliterated.-- H. G. T.]

8. (p. 14). You refer to Sheshak. Compare the theory of Brugsch as to the Assyrian origin of the name Shishak.

9. Your remarks on animal names are very modest and cautious. Could you not suggest a learned inquiry as to a totem system amongst ourselves? Think of the hundreds of animal names that we possess, such as Pigg, Hogg, Wolf, Lyon, Deer, Sparrow, Bird, Nightingale, Partridge, Dove, Drake, Wildgoose, Fish, Sprat, Pike, Carp, Herring, Mackrell, &c. &c. What a mine for the investigator !

But, seriously, there is a very interesting question connected with animal names, and having an important bearing on the history of language. Did animals give names to attributes, or attributes to animals? We read in Gen. ii. 19 that God "brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them, and whatsoever Adam called any living creature that was the name thereof." Turned into plain English, what does this mean? Is it that, there is a correlation between sight and sound, and that our first parent, by a quickened instinct, was prompted to utter a distinct articulate sound answering to the special features or peculiarities of each object presented to his eye? or is it that each object suggested some marked attribute and was named after it?  Thus the question arises:  Whence did Adam derive the names of the attributes?  I am inclined to think the first alternative the true one-- that animals and other sensible objects received names from Adam, and that each name thus instinctively given originated the verbal, adjectival, and other forms. It would be interesting to test this theory by an examination of the Accadian and other primaeval languages. Pardon the hastiness of these annotations, and accept my thanks for your paper, and especially for your suggestive remarks on the name Mary.

The Rev. A. Löwy, an eminent Orientalist, well known for his noble exertions on behalf of the outraged and oppressed Jews abroad, has kindly given me the following notes :--

You take "ram" as the name of a deity:  in that case you have to explain the frequently recurring name " Joram" or " Jehoram." It seems to be a much simpler method to regard ram as a eulogistic epithet, just as Joezer (Jehovah is a help) or Jonadab (Jehovah is a liberal [bestower of bounties]), &c. (p. 4). Tob and its opposite r'a do not strike me to be divine titles. Tubiel, Tobiah, are eulogies of the deity in the same way as Tobal. "Ahira' ben Enan" bore a name of dispraise, and reminds one of the biblical phrase "ra'ayin" (an evil eye), Prov. xxiii. 6, and xxviii. 22.

There are many instances that men and families assumed, defiantly, a name of reprobation to suggest that the individual gives the dementi to the badness of the name. For example, in Italian-- Malocchio, Malvoglio, &c.

I have been interested in your combination of Baal and Bosheth. The latter, denoting "pudor," appears as the female goddess by the side of Baal, and is sometimes used as a synonym; see Jerem. xi. 13, "According to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to Bosheth: altars to burn incense unto Baal" (the English authorised version has misrendered the word bosheth, and given the clumsy translation "that shameful thing").

The change of Jerubaal into Jerubosheth (2 Sam. xi. 21) and Mephibosheth into Mephibaal is another illustration of this synonymy, but there is in the Bible a tendency to convert Baal ( = Lord) into the less dignified form Bosheth (shame or disgrace). See in regard to the aversion to the name of Baal inter alia Hos. ii. 19 (in the authorised version, ii. 17).

[Bes is identified with Set (Báal) in the Ritual (see Pierret, Dic. d'Arch. Eg., also id. Petit Man. de Myth., 131), and wears the "skin of a lion, entirely concealing his face, and giving it a Gorgonian appearance" (Birch in Wilk. Eg., iii. 148), and Bast] is the feminine Bes, and equally lion-faced. Also, Set is a lion (solar animal) with eagle-head (solar bird). This is the gryphon of Set or Ba'al.

The festival of Bast at Bubastis (still called Tell Basta, the Pi-Beset of the Egyptians and of Ezek. xxx. 17) seems, by the account of Herodotus (ii. 60), to have been of a kind to entitle Bast to the stigma of the Hebrew Bosheth. I am much interested to find the identification of Bosheth with the feminine Ba'al ( = Bast) confirmed by Mr. Löwy. The Amu were assigned to Bast, as their tutelary deity, by the Egyptians.-- H. G. T.]

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