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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Names


By Jeff A. Benner

The origin of this word is not Hebrew but as it is in the Hebrew text and its etymology is interesting I thought it would be worthy of investigation. "And they set out from the east and they found a valley in the land of Shinar and they settled there." (Genesis 11:2). This is the land of Babylon also called "Mesopotamia" (Greek meaning "between the rivers", meso as in Meso-America or Central America as in between North and South America and potamia as in the "Potomoc", A river in North America).

When the names of places are transferred from one language to another it is common for the sounds of the name to be mixed up a bit. We see this in names like Yerushalem in Hebrew to Jerusalem in English and Amorah in Hebrew and "Gomorrah" in English.

Sounds formed in the same region of the mouth are sometimes exchanged one for another. Some common examples are a "b" and "p", "r" and "l", "m" and "n" and "s" and "sh". When the "sh" in Shinar is changed to a "s" and the "n" is changed to a "m" you have Samar which is "Samaria" another common name for Mesopotamia.

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