There is no
more dramatic illustration of the blindness which infects the minds of
godless Near East scholarship than that of the Eberi/Ibri name. For nearly
a century they speculated on the relationship between the
Apiru/Habiru/Haberi and the Hebrew/Eberi/Ibri. Finally, in a concluding
remark, Moshe Greenberg summed up the situation by stating:
Attempts to relate them are fruitless and confusing only because godless scholarship will not pay heed to the evidence.
he meant "not Hebrew." He proposed not-existent hypothetical roots to
explain evidence which sat at his fingertips. All he need have done was
open his Hebrew Lexicon and look at the verb roots. But he could not do
invented word roots as a substitute for something that existed without the
need for invention. There was no need to invoke non-existent
hypotheticals. The Ibri name derives directly, without
qualification, or without "gentilic" formation, from a basic Hebrew root.
That root is abar.
root abar means "to pass" or "to cross over." It is a basic word
which finds numerous applications in Hebrew and is well illustrated in the
Brown, Driver, and Briggs list nearly five pages of usage for this word and its derivatives in the BibleBDB.
are derived by use with other words: abar babrit means "to enter
into a covenant;" abar w'shab means "to pass on and return;" and so
From this root directly come such words as Ibri, Iber, Ibru and Eber. Eber is a derived noun which takes on such meanings as "a ford," "a place to pass a river," or "a mountain pass." In I Sam 26:13 David went over to the other side; Y'abor David ha-eber . . . = "Went over David to the (other) side . . ." In Deut 30:13 the noun is again found along with the verb: Lo me-eber layam = "beyond (the other side of) the sea;" and Me ya-abar lanu el-eber hayam = "Who shall pass over for us (to the other side of) the sea?" Many other examples could be cited.
interesting to note that the sense of crossing over, as in human
copulation, is brought out in the Pi'el form, which means "to impregnate."
This form is directly the source of Iber without alteration
whatsoever. The Habiru/Iberi were the ones who carried a larger
proportion of Adamic seed. They were destined to impregnate many people
with the remnant of his genes.
From the above
list we can enjoy considerable speculation on the literal significance of
the Eber/Ibri/Iberi names. Given that the Habiru/Iberi were not isolated
to any one geographical area, that they seemed to be in a constant state
of movement, (witness Abraham, Joseph, the Exodus, and the breakup of the
kingdom), and that they served in so many different social roles, could we
consider them as those who were merely passing by? Were they the vehicle
for crossing over from one era to the next? Or were they to impregnate the
scholars who translated the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament
in the third century BC were not ignorant of the root origin of the Ibri
name. They did not take the Ibri name directly into Greek, as Ibri. Rather
they saw through it to the root and used the Greek phrase toe
perati as a literal substitute for Ibri. Perati comes from the
Greek root peran = "across, beyond, over, on the other side." This
is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Ibri, one who passes or crosses
over. In the Septuagint Abraham is the one who "Passed By"; in Hebrew he
is the one who "Crossed Over." Modern scholars puzzled over this choice by
the Septuagint translators, failing to recognize the Hebrew root and its
Greek equivalent. With trivial examination they could have answered the
puzzle quickly -- but their scholarly blindness prevented them from doing
Even the name
Abraham derives from this root. Although the Hebrew text shows the name
beginning with the aleph "A" the Arabs remember it with the
ayin "I": Ibrahim or Ibraihem. It comes from the Eber noun in the
plural -- Ebareem; the third person masculine plural is
Ibraihem: "They Who Pass." Abraham was given this name because he
was the one who carried the burden of passing or crossing over from one
era to the other. On the other hand, from the Pi'el form, Abraham was the
one who would impregnate the nations.
incredible that he would not have known the literal significance of his
new name, when his celestial visitor told him to forget Abram and become
derive from this root; I shall later examine them in more detail. I
mention one here before going on to the main subject of this chapter.
Ober is the first person present tense of abar: "I pass
over," or "I cross over." It is remembered to this day in German
ober and, with a slight sound shift, in English over.
We come now to
one of the most important names in the history of western man. It is found
as the third person singular of the Pi'el past form of abar. It is
Iber. This name became synonymous for a wide distribution of people
from the Caucasus Mountains just east of the Black Sea, to the Iberian
peninsula, to the Emerald Isle of Erie Land.
in Hebrew literally means "He did impregnate." The
Adamic/Abrahamic seed was planted and it sifted throughout Europe.
In Chapter 29
I offered evidence from Alashar and Boghazkoi in Anatolia to show that
Habiru/Haberi people were located as close as one hundred miles
from the Black Sea. If one draws a straight line along the Tigris River
from the Persia Gulf through Anatolia one passes through the heart of the
ancient Hittite kingdom in Asia Minor dating between the 17th and 15th
centuries BC. We do not have evidence to say the Haberi actually lived on
the shore of the Black Sea (Pontus Euxinus), nor how far in a northeast
direction toward the Caucasus Mountains they may have moved. Since they
are known some 500 miles from Mari on the Euphrates River it seems
plausible that they could have been another hundred miles farther north to
reach Pontus Euxinus. It also seems plausible, with their wide
geographical distribution, that groups of them could have migrated still
farther in a northeasterly direction toward the Caucasus mountains.
Thus, if we
find Iberi located at the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains in
100 BC we cannot definitely decide if they came from the more ancient
Haberi of the 15th century BC, or if they derived from the
Ibri tribes who were resettled in the cities of the Medes in 700
important for this study is the fact that later history shows a unique
group of people resident in a region bordering on and just south of the
Caucasus, what is now Georgia. The residents of that region were known to
the ancients as Iberi.
of Iberi east of the Black Sea comes from the campaigns of the
great Roman general Pompey. He was commissioned to stop the activities of
Mithridates, king of the lands around the Black Sea. Mithridates had
subjugated the people on the north shore of Anatolia and was extending his
control into the regions of Cappadocia and Bithynia in Asia Minor. The
latter two were allies of Rome and his adventures incurred Roman
opposition. After the death of Sulla in 78 BC Mithridates levied an army
to expel the Romans from Asia. He was defeated by Lucullus and forced to
seek refuge in Armenia where Tigranes, the king of Armenia, gave him
safety and aid. From there Mithridates raised another great army and
defeated the Romans in 67 BC. He rapidly recovered his lost territory when
the soldiers of Lucullus went into mutiny. Lucullus was recalled and
replaced by Pompey who, a year later, completely routed the army of
Mithridates near the Euphrates. Pompey then continued his advance into
Armenia, where Tigranes capitulated. Pompey continued his advance to
within three days' march of the Caspian Sea, including the territory of
the Iberi and the AlbaniHAG.
of these Iberi depends on Theophanes, a companion and intimate
friend of Pompey. Although Theophanes' writings are not preserved they
were quoted extensively by Strabo, circa 10 ADGOS. According to
Theophanes the Iberi were highly civilized, with towns and markets.
They had some pretence to architecture with tile roofs on their buildings.
They had four classes of society: the nobility, the priests, the soldiers
and farmers, and slaves employed in menial tasks. Their domestic
organization was patriarchal, with the property of each family possessed
in common and administered by the eldest member. We have no information on
their physical attributes, religion, or other details of their culture.
Neither do we know their origins, their history, or their antiquity.
The middle of the first century BC is well down into historical times. The question is the possible connection of the Caucasian Iberi to the Near East Haberi and the Hebrew Ibri. A thousand years passed since last mention of the Haberi in Near East documents. About 400 years passed since mention of the Ibri in Jeremiah. Were these Caucasian Iberi descended from either the older Haberi or the resettled Ibri?
Our query is
complicated further by the presence of Iberi in the Iberian
peninsula, modern Spain and Portugal. Historical record of the Iberian
Iberi exist as far back as the sixth century BC.
to our query is confused by the ancient historians. According to Strabo,
The Pontus is
the Black Sea. Colchis was a region bordering on the Black Sea just south
of the Caucasus mountains. It was separated from Armenia by the Araxes,
according to Apollodonus, or by the river Cyrus and the Moskhican
mountains, according to Strabo. The Iberi lived immediately
adjacent to the Colchis. HerodotusHER thought the residents
were of Egyptian origin. The Caucasus Iberian people in classical times
were celebrated for frugality and industry. According to Strabo the
country abounded in all kinds of fruits and material for shipbuilding.
Linen and wool of fine quality and in great quantities were produced.
interpret Strabo's remark correctly he believed that elements of the
"western" Iberi, those living in Spanish Iberia, migrated to the Iberian
regions of the Caucasus. However, according to a 17th century English
writer named Purchas in a work entitled Pilgrimage, published in
1614: "The Iberians:
Meotis was the
ancient name for the Sea of Azov. If Montanus was correct, some of the
eastern Iberi lived north of the Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea) and migrated
to Spain. This would imply that the Iberi were spread over a large
geographical area around the northern and eastern shores of the Black Sea.
They were not limited to the small territory described by Theophanes. As
we shall see, this is the identical territory of the Kimmerians of
Montanus was a
Christian heretic who lived in the 2nd century AD. He was a converted
pagan priest who proclaimed himself to be the Comforter promised by Jesus.
His influence spread after his death; Tertullian was counted among his
disciples but the sect was soon stamped out. His native land of Phrygia
was the home of the ancient Hittites and the location of elements of the
Haberi. It bordered on Armenia, Colchis and Iberia. The
residents of Phrygia should have known something of the traditions of the
people surrounding their land.
known historical mention of the Iberians was that of Hecataeus,
born 540 BC. Although his writings are not preserved other Greek and Roman
historians quote him.
Hecataeus the Iberians occupied Spanish
circa 485 to 425 BC, mentions the Iberians twice. In Book II.163 he
states that the Phocaea were the first Greeks to make their fellow Greeks
acquainted with the Adriatic, with Tyrrhenia, with Iberia, and with
the city of Tartessus. Tartessus was an ancient site situated near the
modern Cadiz beyond the straights of Gibraltar. For Herodotus
Iberia was the Mediterranean side of Spain. In Book VII.165 he
lists an army raised among various people by Terillus and under the
command of Hamilcar, son of Hanno, king of the Carthaginians. The members
of the army included men from Phoenicia, Libya, Iberia, Liguria,
Helisycia, Sardinia and CorsicaHER. From these references it
appears that the Iberians of Spain were already well settled in
their country, and could raise appreciable numbers of fighting men, in the
mid-fifth century BC. Hanno is roughly contemporaneous with Herodotus.
In order to
better answer the question of the movement of the Iberi it is
necessary to look at folk migrations and colonizing activities of various
people during the first millennium BC. Regardless of which direction the
Iberi moved they certainly used the waters of the Black Sea and the
Unfortunately, if the Iberi came from the Haberi prior to the first millennium we could not depend upon classical Greek and Roman authors for information; they would not know. We would be forced to rely strictly upon archeology. While this is scientifically sound it does not reproduce living languages or cultural identifications beyond the remains of pottery, stone and bone. It cannot tell us if a people knew themselves as Iberi unless they left written evidence.
again we lack written evidence around the Black Sea and the Mediterranean
prior to 1000 BC. We are forced to depend upon the classical historians.
As we come down to the middle of the first millennium we discover stone
monuments and inscriptions which permit further insight, but even these
are so scattered and uncertain we cannot arrive at precise understanding.
evidence it seems reasonable to conclude that Iberi were on the
move in the middle of the first millennium BC. They were part of a great
folk migration and colonizing movement that had participation by the Puni,
Greeks, Etruscans, and others. If the Iberi were on the move, and since we
must depend upon archeological artifacts, their movements could easily be
obscured among those other people.
flow of migration was from east to west. If the Spanish Iberi moved from
west to east they would have done so counter to the movement of all other
people. Although Strabo provided an invaluable record of ancient
geography, and of people, a good portion of his work was borrowed from
earlier sources; he also was not noted for his scholarly rigor. Since he
relates the two Iberi people, and since Montanus does also, it
would appear that the Spanish Iberi came from the Caucasian
Iberi, or that both came from other Iberi origins. In any
case the western Iberi settled along the eastern and southern
shores of the Iberian peninsula. They quickly penetrated to its heartland
in heavy population, building many cities and towns. From pottery,
buildings and artifacts archeology shows that an indigenous population
could be called Iberian from before the eighth century. Although
this culture can be identified distinctively from archeological remains it
was not necessarily Iberian. The Iberi name may not have
been used for those people until several centuries later as migrating
Iberi mixed with the natives. The region may have retained its
distinctive culture while becoming identified with immigrating
Iberi. The Iberi may have imposed a powerful influence over
the indigenous population, giving them the name while blending with their
proposition is well within reason. The Kelts who penetrated over the
Pyrenees around the sixth century mixed with both the native population
and the Iberi to create the famous Keltiberi tribes. They
were valiant fighters greatly feared by the Romans, who called them
"Spanish hearts of oak."
supports such proposition. We saw that the Carthaginian general Hamilcar
raised troops from among the Iberians; this is indicative of the
close relationship with the Puni people, and the difficulty in separating
cultural elements. Iberian pottery was found in Carthaginian cities, while
Puni and Greek artifacts were found in Iberian urban centers. There was a
heavy and general commercial traffic from one area to the other, as well
as general movement of people.
Iberi name was important; we should not underestimate its
significance for the native populations. It was applied not only to people
but also to geographical features and locales. The river that flows from
the Cantabrian mountains in northern Spain to the eastern coast of
Catalonia was called the Iberus by Strabo, 3.4.1. Elsewhere he
calls it the Iber, 3.4.10. We would not say that the Spanish
Iberi received their name from the river but rather that the
Iber received its name from the people. Today it is called the
Ebro. Ebro is merely a phonetic variation of Iber.
mountains received their name from the Cantabrian tribe of the
Iberi who occupied the northern sections of Spain along the
Atlantic coast. The Cantabri were also trouble to the Romans. Heavy
campaigns against them began around 150 BC but they were not subdued until
the reigns of Agrippa and Augustus, at the time of Jesus. The
Cantabri name is made up of two elements, Cant +
Ibri. Other names show themselves related to the Iberi.
Evora in the Evora district of Portugal was once called
Ebora, an evident Iber/Eber name. Both the Aviero and the
Beira regions of Portugal may be Iberi names. Other names, such as Miranda
de Ebro and Villafranca del Bierzo, may reflect this ancient influence.
trail does not end with the Iberian peninsula. It continues north to
Ireland. The name Ireland comes from Old English Iraland from
Yra-land. In turn Yra comes from an older Irish Eri.
The Irish Eriu, with its inflected forms of Eirinn and
Erin, comes from the Old Keltic Iveriu, with the accusative
and ablative Iverionum and IverioneOED.
recorded mention of Ireland was by the Greek explorer Pytheas in the 4th
century BC, who traveled beyond the straights of Gibraltar and north along
the English coast to Iceland. He called Ireland I'erne, as did the
classical Greek writers after him. The Roman name used by Julius Caesar
was Hibernia. Pomponius referred to it as Iuvernia.
ending on proper names is an old Latin practice which is also found in
many other Indo-European languages. English has African for Africa,
American for America, Russian for Russia, and so on. Without the "n"
Hibernia becomes Hiberia and this is the familiar
Iberi name with an "H" added to the front, as in Haberi. The
Old Keltic Iveriu with a "b-to-v" shift is Iberiu and this
also is the familiar Iberi name. Some authors have claimed that the
Hebrides Islands off the coast of Scotland also display the Ibri name but
the origins are contested. The Egyptian geographer Ptolemais, circa 150
AD, gave the name as Eboudai, while Pliny, the Roman writer, circa 100 AD,
gave it as Haebudes. Bunbury felt that Hebrides was a corrupt form of the
latterHOAG. On the other hand Eboudai/Haebudes may be
corruptions of Ibridai/Ibrides.
points to the origins of the Irish Iveriu. The Lebor Gabala
Erenn, "The Book of the Taking of Ireland," is a medieval work which
attempts to describe the history of IrelandCH. According to
those accounts one of the later people to invade Ireland were the Sons of
Mil. They first occupied a land called Scythia. They came to Ireland
through Egypt, Crete, Sicily and Spain. They were called Gaedhal (Gael)
because their remote ancestor, who lived with Moses, was Gaodhal
GlasSIR. According to the Irish folk tales, as a child Gaedhal
was cured of a serpent bite by Moses who promised that no serpent would
infest the land where his descendants lived. Thus the folklore explanation
for the lack of serpents in Ireland. According to the traditions a
grandson of Gaodhal named Niul married a Pharaoh's daughter named Scota.
Her name then became the ancient name Scotia by which Ireland was known to
many people. (This name was later transferred with the migration of Irish
people to Albion -- Scotland.) According to the folk tale, while in Egypt
Niul and his people grew rich and powerful. They resented the injustices
of a later Pharaoh, were driven from Egypt, and after long and varied
wanderings, reached Spain. After sojourning in that land for some
generations a certain Bregon, one of their number, heard of Inisfail, the
Island of Destiny. Bregon built a tower in Spain and from there his
son Ith was able to see the magic land. Ith set sail for Ireland to
investigate but the Tuatha de Danann, who were in control of the island,
were suspicious of his motives and killed him. His kinsmen, the eight Sons
of Mil, invaded Ireland to avenge his death. Most prominent of the eight
were Donn the king, Amairgen the poet and judge, Eremon the leader of the
expedition, and, most important to our study, Eber. With a large body of
people they defeated the Tuatha and took control of Ireland. According to
some older Irish scholars the Sons of Mil reached Spain in the fifth
The old Irish
folk tales, including the Lebor Gabala Erenn, show many distorted
folk traditions mixed with segments that must be based on actual events.
The scribes who put these stories together in the eleventh and twelfth
centuries had strong faith in their source materials, even though they did
not fully understand them. We can see that Donn is part of the memory of
Adam. Eber also is probably part of the memory of the ancestor of the
Iberi, and strengthens our proposition that the Irish people have a strong
admixture of Iberi blood. Perhaps there was an individual among the
immigrating clans from Spain who was named Eber. We cannot say. But it is
obvious that the folk traditions of Irish origins repeat the very route of
the Iberi migrations from Egypt, Caucasian and Moetic Asia, the
Mediterranean, and Spain. That these traditions so closely follow the
linguistic and historic evidence speaks for valid roots in the traditions,
even though they come to us distorted.
the stories Eremon and Eber divided Ireland between them, with Eremon
receiving the north and Eber the south. In the new era that is being
inaugurated Eriu will be the "high ship" of the Sons of Mil. To them and
to Lugaid, son of Ith, will be traced the lineage of all the tribes of
This folk evidence from Ireland supports our estimates that the Iberi came from "Abraham the Ibri" and not merely the Haberi. The time of those migrations would be in the seventh and sixth centuries BC, eventually reaching Ireland.