Eber, Joktan & the Biblical Division of the Arabs from the Hebrews
H. Abdul Al-Dahir
If one wishes to find the origin of Biblical names, one must to realtize that biblical foreign names were transliterated into Hebrew by the Masoretes who were back translating from the LXX (Septuagint); the authors of which were heavily influenced by the culture of Ptolemaic Egypt. The word for Joktan in the Masoretic texts is Yqtn which is transliterated from the LXX word Iektan (Greek does not have the letter ‘q’). To this day, the Egyptian pronunciation for the letter ‘q’ (qaf in Arabic) is an ayin. For instance, they pronounce the word qlb (heart) as 3lb. So, we can be sure that the original word was Qahtan which became Iektan in Greek. The Masoretes transliterated this Greek transliteration, Iektan, of the word Qahtan into Hebrew at Yqtn. If they were transliterating directly from the Arabic word into Hebrew, the Hebrew word would have been qtn and not Yqtn. The Arabic word is Qhtan and derives from the root or qht which means ‘want of rain’, dryness, dearth, want, scarcity. In other words, the Qahtan were desert Arabs.
Now to take on the word Eber or 3br which has been equated with the Arabian story of the Atlantis of the Sands or Ubar. Ptolemy, the Geographer and Cartographer, identified a region in southern Arabia as occupied by the Iobarites. The name Iobarites most likely came from the Egyptian word iAbtyw R15-D58-G1-A1-B1-Z2 which means ‘people from the East’ or Easterners. This area may be Punt which may have also included the area now known as Yemen. According to Wikipedia:
“The Yobarites ( iobaritae or Ubarites ) were a people from southern Arabia mentioned by Claudi Ptolemy , on the coast to the Zufar Mountains and to the desert, known for the most valuable incense trade. It is said that they were the first to tame the camels . The name came from its capital, Ubar , a large port of incense trade, and the country was known as Ad .
The names of three alleged kings ( al-Dahn , Khuljan and Shaddad ) are known but cannot be located chronologically. It had confrontations with Hadramaut but without consequences until the third century AD when the Himyarite kings who then dominated Hadramaut exerted pressure on the country of Ad. At an uncertain date after 300 and before 600 the city of Ubar was destroyed by natural causes. Another cause of decline was the triumph of Christianity in Europe in the fourth century , changing burial customs and lowering the consumption of incense., ruining their trade .”
As for the name Peleg which means ‘divide’ in Hebrew, the word in the LXX is P(h)alek. In Arabic, the word is falaha which means to split, to cleave; to plow, to cultivate. So, this name refers to the falaheen or cultivators of the soil as opposed to the Qahtan Arabs who were desert-dwelling caravan merchants and herders. The gerund of this word, falah, means thriving, prosperity, success as opposed to the meaning of Qahtan which means ‘desert people’ or ‘people from a place of dryness and lack of prosperity”.
The writers of this narrative are dividing the settled Semites from the Bedouin Semites. Genesis 11 has the Hebrews descended from the settled Semites or villagers who lived off of the cultivation of crops and the Arabs descended from the Bedouin who lived from herding and trading. This is another case of the Masoretes transliterating a Greek word into Hebrew. The original word was falah (the ‘h’ is often heavily aspirated as a kh) which was transliterated into Greek as p(h)alek and then into Hebrew as Peleq, which is why no Hebrew scholar as ever associated the name Peleq with farmers or plowmen (Akrykm in Hebrew (Isa 61:5)) . This Hebrew word is derived from the Egyptian word for earth which is Akr G1-V31-D21-E128. In any case, the Hebrew names, Eber and Yoktan (Qahtan) describe the Hebrew scribes interpretation of the Semites who founded the kingdoms in Canaan and the kingdoms in Arabia. These two names confirm that both the descendants of Eber and the descendants of Yoktan originated on the southern coastal areas of the Arabian Peninsula.