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

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 19:2 (May 1957)
Article: The Hãa-BI-ru—Kin Or Foe Of Israel? Second Article
Author: Meredith G. Kline


The Hãa-BI-ru—Kin Or Foe Of Israel?
Second Article

Meredith G. Kline

C. An Ethno-Professional Interpretation.

It has appeared that the currently dominant identifications of the ḫa-BI-ru as a social class of one sort or another are inadequate. They fail to discover a common denominator for all the ḫa-BI-ru (and the ḫa-BI-ru alone) that will satisfy all the known documents. The investigation must turn to other possibilities. Was ethnic unity the peculiar stamp of the ḫa-BI-ru? Was their hallmark the practice of a particular profession?

1. Ethnic Unity. Examination of the morphological data led to the conclusion that the variety of forms found for the word ḫa-BI-ru is most readily explained in terms of variations of the proper name for an ethnic group.113

Other features point in this same direction:

There are indications of family relationships among the ḫa-BI-ru114 and of self-contained communities or tribal organization in the ḫa-BI-ru pattern of life.115

The word ḫa-BI-ru is used in contrast to particular ethnic terms and, therefore, as at least the equivalent of an ethnic term itself. Repeatedly in Hittite rituals and treaties the ḫa-BI-ru are paired with the Lulahhu (the people of Lullu). In one ritual116 this pair appears in a list of social classes,

suggesting that “the Lulahhu and the ḫa-BI-ru” had become a cliché among the Hittites for the social category of foreigners.117 Such usage, however, would be only local and secondary in the case of the ḫa-BI-ru as it obviously must be in the case of the Lulahhu. As a matter of fact, once it has been established that the ḫa-BI-ru cannot successfully be identified as a social class, all evidence that they were regarded in particular areas as one specific group of foreigners118 becomes so much support for the interpretation of them as a specific ethnic entity.

Certain Egyptian texts also men...

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