THE IBERI CONNECTION
I come now to one of the most devastating pieces of information in my
Here is the devastation: Modern Hebrew retains within its verb root vocabulary a word which is
identical to the names and titles of the Indo-European people. That verb
root is "don."
It means "to judge." It is found in the biblical Daniel, "Judged
Conjugation of the verb shows that the Kal, third person, singular,
past tense is "don = he judged." The female counterpart is "dana
= she judged."
This is the base root of the verb, out of which all other shades of
meaning inflect. The verb is an intimate part of Hebrew. It can be found
in the oldest biblical texts. See Genesis 30:6.
Right there, with utmost simplicity, were the names and titles of Europe:
and Dana, male and female, Lords and Ladies.
When the common folk of Iberia addressed their superiors with the title
"Don" they literally, but unknowingly, used a Semitic word which acknowledged
a social relationship: "to be judged." When that same title was applied
to some ancient ancestor the generations acknowledged him as one who Judged.
His female complement carried the same high respect.
Further examination of the verb conjugation shows that the Kal imperative
has "deen," literally "judged," with emphasis.
I now had insight into the origin of the Dean titles of our universities
which surpassed any supposed Latin "decanum." I now knew why the deans
are so closely associated with the dons of the universities.
For these Semitic verb inflections to be carried down the Indo-European
generations from some unperceivable ancient past was truly profound.
I also discovered the origin of the Hebrew title, "Adon." I found
it in the Nifal, first person, future, singular, of the Don root,
literally "I shall be judged."
When the Semites addressed someone as Adon they literally said
to that Lord, "I shall be judged."
A fatal consequence comes out of this simple study:
The Don and Dona titles, the river names, and the Don myths of Europe
are not Indo-European. They are Semitic.
Unless we can find some hitherto unknown route of social influence,
those names and titles had origin before there was an Indo-European mother
The original source of those titles used a Semitic language, not an
Hebrew has retained memory of that remote Semitic mother tongue in at
least one of its verb roots, in essential purity, both in sound and meaning.
The inflections of the word show that it follows the Semitic system
of word meanings derived from a verb root. The inflections do not follow
the Indo-European system.
How did Hebrew retain this root verb, and its inflections, in purity
from a source that seems to predate the origin of the Indo-European languages?
Why did the Semitic Hebrews use Adon as a title of social respect
but did not remember Don and Dana?
Why did the Indo-European gentiles of Europe use the Semitic Don and
Dona titles for social respect, but had no memory of their linguistic origins?
Why did the Indo-European gentiles of Europe remember a remote god and
goddess pair identified with the Semitic titles of Don and Dana, but the
Semitic Hebrews of the Near East remembered only a specially created pair,
Adam and Eve?
Can we postulate various routes by which the Semitic influence came
into the Indo-European people?
For example, perhaps the titles were later carried by the Phoenicians,
speaking a language that was essentially Hebrew, except for some minor
inflectional differences. Did they take the Semitic names and titles to
the Iberian peninsula, and then perhaps into the hinterlands of Europe
around 1,000 BCE?
We have no historic evidence for such route. Like their Hebrew cousins,
they had traditions of Adon, not Don and Dana. And how would they have
given the Indo-Europeans stories about Don and Dana goddess ancestors?
There are no such stories in the Phoenician records?
Although many connections exist between the Semites of the eastern Mediterranean,
and the Greeks, including the Greek borrowing of the Semitic Adon
as the god Adonis, we recognize no connection of the Semites of
the Near East with the northern Indo-Europeans. Where did the people of
India get the Semitic name for their earth mother goddess?
Did the Indo-European mother tongue develop out of a Semitic mother
tongue, while retaining the Don forms? If the Don and Dana names and titles
came from a Semitic mother tongue, why did the Indo-Europeans not carry
the Semitic verbal root structure? How did the Indo-European inflectional
Or does memory remain, now obscured to our modern eyes?
Clearly, we are faced with a new search in our understanding of the origins of both IE and Semitic people. Our immediate problem is the origin of the Hebrews and the Phoenicians? Where did they come from? How are they related to the Indo-Europeans?
THE HEBREW IBERI
Modern Jews know themselves in Hebrew as Ivri. In Roman times
they called themselves Ibri. The Romans knew them as the Iberi.
A key element became apparent in my investigations. The Iberi
name is known beyond the historic Israelite tribes in regions not recognized
as Semitic. The name was studied by Moshe Greenberg as the Habiru
or Haberi in his fascinating work, The Hab/piru, American
Oriental Society, New Haven, 1955. He showed people carrying this name
1. Egyptian Historical Texts: Middle to Late 2nd Millennium BC.
In the tabulations provided by Greenberg the Habiru/Habiri name
appears about 75 times, excluding the SA-GAZ used as an idiogramatic substitute
by the Akkadians and Sumerians. Of those less than half are Habiru;
the remainder are Habiri (or Haberi). Habiru appears
mostly in the Nuzi texts; Habiri appears mostly in the Tell El-Amarna
and Boghazkoi texts. It seems safe to conclude that both were interchangeable
but that one was preferred over the other by local pronunciation.
I see no serious objection to equating the "u" and "i" terminations,
since both are merely inflectional variations of awbar, the basic
Semitic verb from which these names derive. The biblical names Eber,
and so on, all derive from that root verb. Ibri is the Pi'el imperative
of the verb which means "to impregnate." Iber is the male, singular
past tense, "he impregnated."
The question then is the initial sound. How does the "ha-" of the Haberi
relate to the "i-" or the "e-" of the Hebrew Ibri/Eberi?
The same way that modern English transforms "Ibri" to "Hebrew."
This shows in the corresponding Egyptian "Apiru." When taken over
to Akkadian it became "Habiru," phonetically very close to modern
English. This Habiru/Hebrew phonetic similarity was one of the original
reasons Greenberg devoted so much attention to his "Hap/piru" investigation.
The ayin initial sound is pronounced as "a-" in the raw root,
but as "i-" in imperative and Piel forms. Apiri/Habiri is merely
another way to pronounce Iberi.
At the conclusion of his study, unable or unwilling to draw out the
genetic or linguistic connections between the Hebrew/Iberi and Habiru/Haberi,
"Further historical combinations between the two groups appears to
be highly doubtful; they may serve now, as they have served in the past,
only to obscure the distinctive features of each. Further attempts to relate
them appear fruitless and confusing; each should be studied independently
of the other on their separate merits."
This was truly an unfortunate remark. Greenberg had before him material
by which he could have opened new vistas in our understanding of the past,
but when faced with his desires to preserve Israelite sectarian identity,
refused to take the evidence where it could have led.
In his exhibition of the different texts Greenberg showed striking attributes
of the Iberi.
1) They must have existed long prior to 2000 BC. The evidence suggests
they had a history predating the first documents available to us. One questionable
notation in Egypt would date them (and place them) in the Old Kingdom,
hundreds of years earlier than Abraham. Their true antiquity is uncertain.
2) They are scattered all over the Near East from Egypt to Sumeria, to the extremities of Assyria, along the coast of the Mediterranean through Canaan, and deep into the regions of Anatolia. They were not limited to any one geographical locale, any one tribe, any one country, or any other definable ethnic, social, or national identity. They were a cosmopolitan people.
3) Many of their names are not Semitic. This led some scholars to conclude that they were not exclusively Semitic people but rather a special social class that included many Semites. Those scholars argued that all cultures follow habits of naming children
after ancestors through long-established
practices. Therefore the many non-Semitic names would mean that the Iberi
were of a social category other than Semitic. However, an alternate argument
can be made. If Iberi women married non-Semite husbands, or if Semitic
men married non-Semite women, (in keeping with their cosmopolitan attitudes),
the path of inherited names would not be simple. Many of those classified
as Iberi might carry non-Semitic names.
4) These unique people are difficult to define. They appear at every
level of society, in many different social capacities. They are both rural
and urban. They do not fit into any simple or easily recognized social
5) Their bondage in Egypt is now better understood. They indenture themselves
by contracting their services during a time of need. They bought food and
shelter by selling their services, under established practices of those
days. Succeeding generations were born into that bondage for lack of means
to buy their freedom. The Egyptians probably perpetuated severe conditions
in order to preserve a source of cheap labor. When Egypt was ravaged by
plagues in extraordinary geological and meteorological events, Exod 7 to
10, state control may have been in havoc. The Israelite Iberi seized that
opportunity to make their escape.
6) The documentary evidence shows they were extremely versatile and
socially flexible. Although they were regarded with extra social respect
they did not often assume positions of leadership. They did not pretend
to social superiority. Their superior status is indicated in the cloudy
Genesis accounts of Abraham and Joseph.
7) Many elements of the Iberi readily engage in warfare. They
are found in military activities in Sumeria, Boghazkoi, Palestine, and
Syria. They hire out as mercenaries and use all the weapons of war, including
chariots. Although the biblical narrative does not show the Hebrews using
chariots, we do not know how much of the record has been censured or altered.
(According to the edited biblical accounts they burned the chariots they
captured, but this action may have been due to religious instruction the
Hebrew/Iberi received.) The nature of their mercenary employment, and remarks
made about their threat in the lands, suggest they were fearless fighters.
8) The Hebrew tribes were Iberi but not all Iberi were
The Israelites came out of that special people and thus acquired the Eberi/Iberi
name. The name was remembered by the Jews but forgotten elsewhere, perhaps
because their cousin tribes blended with other people. This Jewish memory
then failed to credit other Semitic lines which also originated in that
same source. Because of their religious history, and because of the loss
of their relatives in the northern Israelite tribes in the two centuries
preceding the Babylonian captivity, the Jews were establishing themselves
as an Iberi people separate from the rest of the world, rejecting
genetic relatives. (Note their long history of rejection of their Canaanite/Phoenician
pagan relatives.) This difficulty was at the heart of Greenberg's desire
to keep the Israelite Iberi separate from other Iberi.
9) The Habiru/Haberi term drops out of use in later Near East
documents near the end of the second millennium. Records show that application
of the Eberi/Ibri name is then limited to the Hebrew tribes. The
blood lines of the other Iberi probably became submerged by interbreeding
with other people, and could no longer be distinguished. The Jews attempted
to preserve the genetic identities, as modified by their religious history,
and thus preserved the Haberi/Iberi distinction.
10) One of the more fascinating elements of Israelite history is the tradition of their forefathers as "wandering Arameans." See Deut 26:5 where the Hebrew tribes were instructed by God to admit that "A wandering Aramean was my father." See also 1 Chr 16:19-21 where it is stated, "When they were few in number, and of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account." The Habiri had no fixed place in the social order where they chose to live. They were accepted in a foreign sense, not as an integral part of the local society. They cannot rightfully be considered nomadic, because they took up residence with the local cultures, rural and urban, although they wandered from place to place. For some mysterious reason they could not find a home. Thus their scattering over the Near East. The movements of Terah, Abraham, and other members of that family were merely following the general wandering of the Habiri people. The Sumerians, with their legalistic social order, attempted to define the social roles of the Iberi, but had difficulty doing so. The Haberi were truly "wandering Arameans."
Note that this reference to "wandering Arameans" did not apply strictly
to the Exodus. It was a tradition which long predated the captivity in
Note also that the promises made to Abraham assured him that they no
longer would be wanderers. They were promised a home land. They have been
attempting to secure that home land ever since.
This strange prehistory is accentuated by other traditions.
THE IBERI GODS
Another element makes the Iberi even more fascinating. They were
associated with the gods. Several examples can be cited from the Haberi
1) In a series of Hittite treaties from Boghazkoi in Anatolia long lists of gods are invoked to protect the treaties. They include gods from many different regions and people. The curious nature of this invocation is illustrated by a treaty with Egypt. This list begins with the Sun and storm gods:
The Sun-god of Heaven, the Sun-goddess of Arinna, the Storm-god of
Heaven, the Hattian Storm-god, Seris and Hurris, Mount Nanni and Mount
Hazzi, the Storm-god of Halab . . . And so on.
The list continues with patron gods:
. . . the Patron-god, the Hattian Patron-god, Zithariyas, Hapantalliyas,
the Patron-god of Karahna, the Patron-god of the shield, Ea, Allatum
. . . And so on.
The list continues with warrior gods:
. . . Hantdassus of Hurma, Abaras of Samuhas, Katahhas of Ankuwa,
the Queen of Katapa, Ammammas of Tahurpa, Hallaras of Dunna, Huwassanas
of Hupsina, Tapisuwa of Ishupitta . . ., and so on.
Appended to these lists is an invocation "to . . . and the Hapiri
gods, . . ."
In reading the long list one immediately recognizes that it was intended
to cover every possible god and divine authority known to the authors,
of native or foreign origin, to guarantee that the treaty could not be
revoked by technical lapse, and that no god would be insulted by failure
The Hapiru/Habiri gods were included in the list, although they
are not identified by names. They also could not be forgotten.
2) In a list of gods in the temple of Adad in Assyria is the following:
Total: 10 gods in the temple of Adad.
The "Habiru" obviously had an important place among the divinities,
ranking with a statue of the king, who was regarded as a god. This mention
of the Habiru among a list of gods shows explicitly that they were
regarded with origins in divinity. They were different from ordinary people,
including rulers and magistrates.
3) Several Assyrian omen texts were discovered:
"If a halo surrounds the moon and a planet stands within it, the
SA-GAZ will rage. If on the 12th day, moon and sun appear together, the
reign will come to an end, the people will perish, the SA-GAZ will cut
off the head. If a foetus . . . the Habiri will enter . . .
In one case a SA-GAZ person appears in a star list.
These texts are sinister. We do not know their significance from the
brief remarks but it appears that the Habiri were associated with
ominous celestial phenomena and with some unknown affliction of the foetus.
They were thought to carry divine powers.
4) In Egypt the Apir name appears several places combined with a divine name. The titles suggest specific identification as Apir gods.
Here we find the Apir/Iberi identified explicitly with the historic
Hebrew El god name, as well as the pagan Canaanite Baal and other pagan
From Anatolia, to the Mesopotamian basin, to Egypt, the Habiri/Iberi
were regarded with special social and religious status. Based on the historic
evidence, an association of the Habiri/Iberi with divinity cannot
be avoided. While the exact significance of each of these references is
unknown, it would not have been possible for the people who lived, worked,
and traveled with Habiri/Iberi to ignore the divine association.
That factor must have been present in the minds of everyone. It was universally
recognized and accepted.
Thus the Habiri/Iberi take on a status which is reminiscent of Gilgamesh in the old Sumerian/Assyrian myth. In that tale he was regarded as part god and part man. The evidence reviewed here suggests also that the Habiri/Iberi were regarded as containing divine blood. Their line of descent from the "gods" was remembered. They were of special genetic stock.
From this evidence the Don and Dona noble titles take on an aspect heretofore not identified. If their origins were in some ancient Semitic source, and if the Semites of the Near East were connected with divinity, a common association to special biological or genetic status now emerges. See following discussion in Part III.