MemberMarch 7, 2021 at 8:58 pm
Thomas, maybe what you are remembering is that ‘Hebrew’ comes from the common verb עָבַר avar ‘cross over’. See below for the various words in Strongs (working back to the root). The usual significance given to this is that Abram and family ‘crossed’ the Euphrates to get to Canaan. I am not sure how significant this is. Migration from Mesopotamia was probably very common, so it seems doubtful that Abram got his tribal name this way and others didn’t. One text in favour of this ‘crossing’ being a life-changing (and therefore possibly name-changing) event is in Joshua’s speech (note also Jacob’s name change on crossing the Jabbok):
Jos 24:2-3 KJV And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. (3) And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
But Joshua’s point is more theological, i.e. that a water-crossing was significant in each phase of Hebrew history, because he goes on to also mention the crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan (vv. 6, 8). Thus Hebrew history has been a series of ‘crossings’, even for the Judaeans who centuries later had to cross the ‘Flood’ again to return to Babylon in exile, and again to return under Nehemiah. All the same, I think the idea that Hebrew came from Eber is more likely, as tribes were known by their progenitor. Eber was a Semite (from Shem), and the name Hebrew therefore distinguished his branch from other Semites which included the Syrians (Asshur) and Aramaeans (Aram) and the original Arab nations (Gen 10:21-31).
Patronymic from H5677; an Eberite (that is, Hebrew) or descendant of Eber: – Hebrew (-ess, woman).
Total KJV occurrences: 34
The same as H5676; Eber, the name of two patriarchs and four Israelites: – Eber, Heber.
Total KJV occurrences: 15
From H5674; properly a region across; but used only adverbially (with or without a preposition) on the opposite side (especially of the Jordan; usually meaning the east): – X against, beyond, by, X from, over, passage, quarter, (other, this) side, straight.
Total KJV occurrences: 90
A primitive root; to cross over; used very widely of any transition (literally or figuratively; transitively, intransitively, intensively or causatively); specifically to cover (in copulation): – alienate, alter, X at all, beyond, bring (over, through), carry over, (over-) come (on, over), conduct (over), convey over etc.
Total KJV occurrences: 557