The Hãa-BI-Ru—Kin Or Foe Of Israel? -- By: Meredith G. Kline

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 19:1 (Nov 1956)
Article: The Hãa-BI-Ru—Kin Or Foe Of Israel?
Author: Meredith G. Kline


The Hãa-BI-Ru—Kin Or Foe Of Israel?

Meredith G. Kline

FIGURING in near eastern history for something over a millennium of Old Testament times was an enigmatic entity called the ḫa-BI-ru.1 Successful of old in capturing the spoil in biblical lands, they have in modern times been even more successful in capturing the attention of biblical scholars. More than half a century of general scholarly interest culminated in a united effort to identify the ḫa-BI-ru at the fourth Rencontre assyriologique internationale held in Paris in the summer of 1953. But that gathering did not succeed in altering the previous state of the question which has been described in the terms: quot capita tot sententiae.2 The ḫa-BI-ru, therefore, continue an enigma, and the curiosity which has prompted the present study may be forgiven though its consequence be to confound yet worse the confusion with yet another conclusion.3

Of particular attraction to those concerned with biblical history and faith has been the apparent identity in name between the ḫa-BI-ru and the Hebrews.4 This has spawned a variety of theories sharing as a common nucleus the idea

that the biblical Hebrews originated as an offshoot of the ḫa-BI-ru of the extra-biblical texts. It is recognized by all that a complete identification of ḫa-BI-ru and Hebrews is impossible since their historical paths do not for the most part coincide.5 In the Amarna Age,6 however, their paths do converge in Canaan in a way that demands systematization and has further encouraged the theory that the Hebrews stemmed from the ḫa-BI-ru. This theory has moreover proved a dominant factor in shaping reconstructions in the vital area of the origins of Hebrew religion, when it has been adopted by scholars who, discarding the prima facie biblical account, would locate those religious origins as late as the Amarna Age.7

There are then two problems to be investigated. First, the identity of those denominated ḫa-BI-ru. Second, the relation of the ḫa-BI-ru to the Hebrews.

I. The Identity ...
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