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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Hebrew

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Shem is called "the father of all the children of Eber," as Ham is called "father of Canaan." The Hebrew and Canaanites were often brought, into contact, and exhibited the respective characteristics of the Shemites and the Hamites. The term "Hebrew" thus is derived from Eber (Genesis 10:21, compare Numbers 24:24). The Septuagint translated "passer from beyond" (perates ), taking the name from eeber "beyond." Abram in Palestine was to the inhabitants the stranger from beyond the river (Genesis 14:13). In entering Palestine he spoke Chaldee or Syriac (Genesis 31:47). In Canaan he and his descendants acquired Hebrew from the Hamitic Canaanites, who in their turn had acquired it from an earlier Semitic race. The Moabite stone shows that Moab spoke the same Hebrew tongue as Israel, which their connection with Lot, Abraham's nephew, would lead us to expect.

In the patriarchs' wanderings they never used interpreters until they went to Egypt. In Israel's bondages in the time of the judges they never lost their language; but in the 70 years' captivity in Babylon their language became in a great degree Aramaic or Chaldee, and they adopted the present Hebrew alphabet. Thus it is proved the Israelites spoke the languages of the surrounding peoples. The sense of Genesis 10:21 is: as in Genesis 10:6-20 the three Hamite settlements are mentioned, Babylon, Egypt, Canaan, so next the Shemite races are spoken of as commencing at the most easterly point of the Hamites, namely, Babylon and the Euphrates.

Shem was "father of all the children of Eber," i.e. of the nations settled eastward, starting from beyond the Euphrates. The name Hebrew, applied to them in relation to the surrounding tribes already long settled in Canaan, continued to be their name among foreigners; whereas "Israelite" was their name among themselves (Genesis 39:14; Genesis 39:17; Genesis 43:32; 1 Samuel 4:6; 1 Samuel 4:9). In New Testament the contrast is between "Hebrew" and those having foreign characteristics, as especially the Greek or any Gentile language (Acts 6:1; Philippians 3:5 (See GREEK; GRECIAN), 2 Corinthians 11:22; Luke 23:38).

The name Hebrew is found in Genesis and Exodus more than in all the other Books of the Bible, for it was the international name linking Jacob's descendants with the nations; Israel is the name that separates them from the nations. After the constitution of Israel as a separate people (in Exodus) Hebrew rarely occurs; in the national poetry and in the prophets the name does not occur as a designation of the elect people among themselves. If, as seems implied in Genesis 10, Eber be a patronymic , his name must be prophetic (as Peleg is) of the migrations of his descendants.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Hebrew'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fbd/h/hebrew.html. 1949.

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