Abraham, the Coppersmith

H. Abdul Al-Dahir

The Biblical city of Kheber (Hebron) is mentioned frequently in connection with Abraham and his son, Isaac. Hebron was the city of coppersmiths whose previous names were Kiryath Arba (Gen 23:2), Kiryath Sannah (Jos 15:49) and Kiryath Sepher (Jos 15:15) . According to Wikipedia:

“The Abrahamic traditions associated with Hebron are nomadic. This may also reflect a Kenite element, since the nomadic Kenites are said to have long occupied the city,[36] and Heber is the name for a Kenite clan.”

The above information changes everything. The Kenites were the copper mining branch of the Midianites. The Midianites were Arabs. This changes the etymology of Hebron’s original names, Kiryath Sannah and Kiryath Sepher. These names are not Hebrew. They are Arabic and directly connected to the Midianites/Kenties and the copper mines. Kiryath Sannah does not mean City of Palm Trees as is claimed by Strong’s. Sannah is the Hebrew transliteration of the Arabic word san3 and it means fabrication, manufacture, artistic skill, craft. The phrase sahib alsan3 means craftsman. The phrase sahib alsan3 means literally ‘companion of the craft’. In other words, these coppersmiths had formed what in Medieval Europe would be a guild in the City of Hebron.

Sahib means friend, companion and associate. The name Kheber means the same in Arabic and Hebrew. The word derives from the root khbr and means ‘to be fully acquainted’. When applied to a person, the word means friend or sahib. The biblical character Kheber was a Kenite according to Judges 4:11. The word for village in Arabic is Qarya or the same as the Hebrew. The full name in Arabic would be Qarya AlSan3. Or the City of (copper) fabrication. Hebron was a city founded by Kenites who obviously established a guild in this urban center.

As for Kiryathsepher, safar ???? means coppersmith in Arabic so Kiryathsepher means city of the copper smiths. Hebron derives from the name Heber the Kenite (Judges 4:11) who was the brother-in-law of Moses. Here is the geographical connection of Moses to Hebron. Heber left his Kenite clan and pitched his tent in the plain of Zaanaim.

“Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.”

The name Kheber designates this biblical character as a member of the coppersmith guild. One can easily substitute the word khbr for the word sahib in the phrase sahib alsan3 or craftsman (literally associate of the craft). The concept of a guild-like association which taught the secrets of the craft to the initiated has very ancient origins. Coppersmiths crafted raw ore into idols which had magical powers as is demonstrated by the nechushtan’s (Moses’ copper snake upon pole) ability to heal snake bites. Modern day members of the Masonic Orders carry on this ancient tradition of passing on the secrets of the craft to the initiated.

Hebron was especially associated with Abraham. Sara was buried in Hebron. Abraham dwelt in the plain of Mamre which is near Hebron. Jacob built an altar in Hebron. The town itself, with some contiguous pasture land, is said to have been granted to the Levites of the clan of Kohath. Hebron was the name of a son of Kohath, the Levite. Hebron definitely had religious associations. I have long argued that the name Abraham or Abrhm indicates an Arabian origin for this biblical character. Genesis indicates that Abrhm (Abram) was the patriarch of 29 Arab tribes, 16 Hebrew tribes and 1 Edomite tribe. The Edomite connection is obvious. Edom was where Timna was located, the site of the copper mines. Edom was a part of the Negev (desert) where Abrhm and his son Isaac spent a considerable time traveling and/or settling. It appears that Abrhm’s origin may be Midianite. His connection with Harran could also indicate a Midianite origin. Harran means ‘hot’ in Arabic, so instead of Harran meaning a location in upper Mesopotamia, it could be a reference to the Negev.

Perhaps Abraham’s Midianite origins were deliberately obscured by the Judean authors during the Persian occupation when idol worship was condemned. Abraham was re-located to Ur of the Kesdiy (Kaldu or Chaldea tribe), the area in southern Mesopotamia from which the Arameans migrated into Canaan in the 8th Century BCE. However, to the biblical scribes in Babylon, this association made Abraham a learned urbanite who became an enlightened pastoralist, enlightened enough to conclude a covenant with his deity, Yhwh. Yhwh is Abraham’s god as this deity is mentioned numerous times in connection with this biblical character. Yhwh, from his copper associations, appears to have originated with the Midianites/Kenites, the Arab tribe that founded the city of Kiryathsennah (city of the craft), Kiryathsepher (city of the coppersmiths) and Hebron (city of the friend (associate/member of the copper smith guild).

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