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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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EBER . 1. The eponymous ancestor of the Hebrews (the first letter in both words being the same in the Heb.), the great-grandson of Shem, and ‘father’ of Peleg and Joktan ( Genesis 10:21 ; Genesis 10:25 ; Genesis 11:14 ff.). The word ‘çber signifies ‘the other side,’ ‘across’; and ‘ibri . ‘ Hebrew ,’ which is in form a gentile name denoting the inhabitant of a country or member of a tribe. is usually explained as denoting those who have come from ‘çber han-nâhâr (see Joshua 24:2-3 ), or ‘ the other side of the River’ (the Euphrates), i.e. from Haran ( Genesis 11:31 ), in Aram-naharaim the home of Abraham and Nahor ( Genesis 24:4 ; Genesis 24:7 ; Genesis 24:10 ). According to Sayce, however ( Exp. T . xviii. [1907] p. 233). the word is of Bab. [Note: Babylonian.] origin, and denoted originally the ‘traders’ who went to and fro across the Euphrates. In the genealogies in Genesis 10:1-32 ; Genesis 11:1-32 the district from which the ‘Hebrews’ came is transformed into an imaginary eponymous ancestor. Why Eber is not the immediate, but the sixth ancestor of Abraham, and why many other tribes besides the Hebrews are reckoned as his descendants, is perhaps to be explained (König) by the fact that, though the Israelites were in a special sense ‘Hebrews,’ it was remembered that their ancestors had long made the region ‘across’ the Euphrates their resting-place, and many other tribes (Peleg, Joktan, etc.) had migrated from it. What Eber means in Numbers 24:24 is uncertain: most probably perhaps, the country across the Euphrates (|| with Asshur, i.e. Assyria).

2 A Gadite ( 1 Chronicles 5:12 ). 3. 4 . Two Benjamites ( 1 Chronicles 8:12 ; 1 Chronicles 8:22 ) 5 Head of a priestly family ( Nehemiah 12:20 ).

S. R. Driver.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Eber'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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