Does the root meaning of the word "Hebrew" used in

Genesis 14:13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. ( AKJV )

mean "cross over" or "to pass " as said in the articles Abraham the Hebrew & ? LIFE-STUDY OF HEBREWS

1 Answer 1


It appears to have a meaning for crossing over, or the other side of the Jordan. "Ibri", Strong's Heb. 5680 - perhaps a descendant of Eber, also another name for an Israelite.

Brown-Driver-Brigs (BDB) has:

I. עִבְרִי adjective and name of a people Hebrew, either

a. put into the mouth of foreigners (Egyptian and Philistine), or

b. used to distinguish Israel from foreigners (= one from beyond, from the other side, i.e. probably (in Hebrew tradition) from beyond the Euphrates (compare Joshua 24:2,3E), but possibly in fact (if name given in Cannan) from beyond the Jordan; compare Ges§ 2b Sta§ 1 b Köi. 18 ff. WeIsrael u. Jüd. Geschichte. 7 Kau'Eber' and 'Hebräer' in RiHWB 332; 600....." Source: Biblehub

There is also an answer at Linguistics.StackExchange here

And, from "What Does The Word 'Hebrew' Mean" -

"The word “Hebrew” in the Hebrew language is עברי (Ivrie). The root letters are used to mean cross over, or pass through. Today in Israel, we can use the word to talk about moving houses, transgressing laws, going through some difficulties, crossing the road, crossing over a river, and so on. Traversing, passing, or crossing over, essentially. In the Bible, it seems to have primarily referred to those who traversed rivers. The symbolic meaning of this should not be lost on us who love the Word of God!" Source: OneforIsrael

Excerpt from MacLaren's Expositions at Gen. 14:13,

"... At all events, this is the first appearance of the name in Scripture. As we all know, it has become that of the nation, but a Jew did not call himself a ‘Hebrew’ except in intercourse with foreigners. As in many other cases, the national name used by other nations was not that by which the people called themselves. Here, obviously, it is not a national name, for the very good reason that there was no nation then. It is a personal epithet, or, in plain English, a nickname, and it means, probably, as the ancient Greek translation of Genesis gives it, neither more nor less than ‘The man from the other side,’ the man that had come across the water. Just as a mediaeval prince bore the sobriquet Outremere-the ‘man from beyond the sea’-so Abram, to the aboriginal, or, at least, long-settled, inhabitants of the country, was known simply as the foreigner, the ‘man from the other side’ {of the Jordan, or more probably of the great river Euphrates}, the man from across the water...." Source: Biblehub

Excerpt from Barnes' Notes:

"...The Septuagint translates the word by περα της peratees, one who passes. This has been explained by transfluvialis, one who has come across the river; namely, the Frat...." Source: Ibid.

And, an excerpt from Gill's Exposition:

"...Abram is called the Hebrew, either from his passing over or coming beyond the river Euphrates, from Chaldea into Canaan; with which the Septuagint version agrees, rendering it the "passer over"; and so Jarchi says he is called, because he came beyond the river: or rather from his having lived beyond it, as such as dwelt there were called; for it can hardly be thought that he should peculiarly have this name from that single action of his passing the river, which multitudes did besides him: but rather, why should he not be called Ibri, the word here used, from the place of his birth? For, according to the Talmudists (b), Ur of the Chaldees was called , "little Ibra"; ..." Source: Ibid.

So, possibly a nick-name meaning one who crossed over, or the passer-over from the other side of the Euphrates.

  • Great answer! +1. Many thanks.
    – user25930
    May 25, 2019 at 4:18
  • @Mac'sMusings - Thx. A question catches my eye, and I can't resist seeing where it leads. It lead me even further to a new post "Crossing Over" I've just published at my blog.. if you want to read it. ShreddingTheVeil.org.
    – Gina
    May 25, 2019 at 17:21

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