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2 (2013): 189198

A Note on hbrk bl in the Phoenician

Inscription from Karatepe*

Aaron Michael Butts

The Catholic University of America


The analysis of the phrase hbrk bl in the Phoenician inscription from

Karatepe (A I.1) is a longstanding crux interpretum.1 The traditional
communis opinio was to analyze hbrk as a passive participle from the
root brk to bless with the prefixed definite article h-.2 According to

I would like to thank Sam Boyd (The University of Colorado, Boulder), Petra
Goedegebuure (The University of Chicago), Humphrey Chip H. Hardy II (Southeastern
Baptist Theological Seminary), and Dennis Pardee (The University of Chicago) for their
comments on an early draft of this article.
In his monographic treatment of the inscription, Bron remarks, Ce syntagme
reprsente lune des principales difficults philologiques de Karatepe (F. Bron, Recherches
sur les inscriptions phniciennes de Karatepe [Geneva: Droz, 1979]: 28). Histories of
previous research are available in M. OConnor, The Grammar of Getting Blessed in
Tyrian-Sidonian Phoenician, RSF 5 (1977): 611; Bron, op.cit., 2832; M. Krebernik,
hbrk bl in den phn. Karatepe-Inschriften und -ba-ra-g in Ebla, WO 15 (1984):
8991; DNWSI, 1.269.
See, e.g., A. Alt, Die phnikischen Inschriften von Karatepe, WO 1 (1949):
272287; M. G. Amadasi Guzzo and A. Archi, La bilingue fenicio-ittita geroglificia di
Karatepe, Vicino Oriente 3 (1980): 100102; R. D. Barnett, J. Leveen, and C. Moss,
A Phnician Inscription from Eastern Cilicia, Iraq 10 (1948): 63, 67; F. M. Cross,
Jr., The Phoenician Inscription from Brazil: A Nineteenth Century Forgery, Or 37
(1968): 445; J.-L. Cunchillos and J.-. Zamora, Gramtica Fenicia: Elemental (Madrid:
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1997): 125; M. Dahood, Proverbs and
Northwest Semitic Philology (Rome: PBI, 1963): 36; idem, Psalms (3 vols.; Garden City:
Doubleday, 1966): 1.176; idem, Ugaritic-Hebrew Syntax and Style, UF 1 (1969): 18;
idem, Causal Beth and the Root NKR in Nahum 3,4, Biblica 52 (1971): 396 with n. 2;
190 MAARAV 20.2 (2013)

this interpretation, hbrk is in construct with the divine name bl resulting

in the translation the blessed one of Baal. This analysis was adopted in
Kanaanische und aramische Inschriften (KAI), where it was, however,
noted that, Die Verwendung des Artikels in der Konstruktus-Verbindung
ist aufflig.3 Due to this grammatical difficulty, several alternative anal-
yses have been proposed over the years.4 Among these, the principal

KAI, 2.36; M. Dunand, Les inscriptions phniciennes de Karatp, Bulletin du muse de

Beyrouth 7 (19441945): 93; idem, Une nouvelle version des inscriptions phniciennes
de Karatpe, Bulletin du muse de Beyrouth 8 (19461948): 26; J. Friedrich,Eine
altphnizische Inschrift aus Kilikien, Forschung und Fortschritte 24 (1948): 78; J.
Friedrich et al., Phnizisch-Punische Grammatik (Rome: PBI, 1999): 298bis; G. Garbini,
I Fenici: Storia e religione (Napoli: Istituto universitario orientale, 1980): 114115; C. H.
Gordon, Phoenician Inscriptions from Karatepe, JQR 39 (1948): 43; idem, Azitawadds
Phoenician Inscription, JNES 8 (1949): 109, 112; idem, The Authenticity of the
Phoenician Text from Parahyba, Or 37 (1968): 76; J. D. Hawkins, Corpus of Hieroglyphic
Luwian Inscriptions, Vol. 1. Inscriptions of the Iron Age (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2000): 58; J.
D. Hawkins and A. Morpurgo-Davies, On the Problems of Karatepe: The Hieroglyphic
Text, Anatolian Studies 28 (1978): 114; T. O. Lambdin, The Junctural Origin of the
West Semitic Article, in Near Eastern Studies in Honor of William Foxwell Albright (H.
Goedicke, ed.; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ., 1971): 329 n. 24; A. Lemaire, Essai sur
cinq sceaux phniciens, Semitica 27 (1977): 3839; idem, Trois notes de grammaire
phniciennes de Karatepe, Groupe Linguistique dtudes Chamito-Smitique 2328
(19791984): 134139; idem, Lcriture phnicienne en Cilicie et la diffusion des critures
alphabtiques, in Phoinikeia Grammata: Lire et crire en Mditerrane (Cl. Baurain, C.
Bonnet, and V. Krings, eds.; Namur: Societe des Etudes Classiques, 1991): 135; J. Leveen
and C. Moss, A Phnician Inscription from Eastern Cilicia, Iraq 10 (1948): 63, 67;
idem, Second Recension of the Phnician Inscription from Karatepe, JJS 1 (1949): 191;
R. Marcus and I. J. Gelb, The Phoenician Stele Inscription from Cilicia, JNES 8 (1949):
117; W. W. Mller, apud O. Kaiser, Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments, Vol. 1.
Rechts- und Wirtschaftsurkunden: Historisch-chronologische Texte (Gtersloher: Mohn,
19821985): 641 with n. 1b; J. Obermann, Discoveries at Karatepe (New Haven: AOS,
1948): 13; R. T. OCallaghan, The Great Phoenician Portal Inscription from Karatepe,
Or 18 (1949): 175; OConnor (n 1): 611; J. Pedersen, The Phoenician Inscription of
Karatepe, Acta Orientalia 21 (19501953): 39, 46; S. Segert, A Grammar of Phoenician
and Punic (Munich: Beck, 1976): 177; M. Weippert, Elemente phnikischer und
kilikischer Religion in den Inscriften vom Karatepe, XVII. Deutscher Orientalistentag
(W. Voigt, ed.; ZDMGSup 1; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1969): 209 with n. 83.
KAI, 2.38.
Minor proposals, none of which have been widely accepted, include: 1) analyzing hbrk
as an active participle governing the accusative bl, i.e., the one who blesses Baal (see,
e.g., A. M. Honeyman, Phoenician Inscriptions from Karatepe, Le Muson 61 [1948]:
49; idem, Epigraphic Discoveries at Karatepe, PEQ 81 [1948]: 30; see OCallaghan [n
2]: 184); 2) analyzing brkbl as a personal name with the initial h- functioning as a relative
pronoun, i.e., the one of Brkbl (see, e.g., H. T. Bossert, Die phnizisch-hethitischen
Bilinguen vom Karatepe, Belleten 12 [1948]: 530; idem, Die phnizisch-hethitischen
Bilinguen vom Karatepe, Oriens 1 [1948]: 170; A. Dupont-Somner, Azitawadda, roi des
Danouniens, RA 42 [1948]: 168; idem, Notes sur le texte phnicien, Oriens 1 [1948]:
193194); 3) analyzing h- as a relative pronoun with brk as a suffix-conjugation verb and

competing analysis to the traditional interpretation was introduced by F.

Rosenthal in a footnote to his translation of the Karatepe inscription in J.
B. Pritchards Ancient Near Eastern Texts, where he suggested that hbrk
might be a loanword from Akkadian abarakku steward.5 This proposal
has since been adopted and further developed by a number of scholars.6
According to its proponents, analyzing hbrk as an Akkadian loanword
avoids the grammatical difficulties associated with the traditional in-
terpretation. For this reason, it was preferred in the long-awaited editio
princeps of the Phoenician version of the Karatepe inscription.7
In this article, I reexamine these two competing analyses of hbrk bl
from the viewpoint of comparative Semitic linguistics. More specifically,
I argue that the linguistic difficulties with the inner-Phoenician solution
have been exaggerated in the scholarly literature while at the same time
the linguistic difficulties with the Akkadian loanword solution have been
minimized. Thus, it is the contention of this article that the traditional
interpretation of hbrk bl as the blessed one of Baal is in fact the more
linguistically plausible of the two options.8

bl as the subject, i.e., whom Baal blessed (see, e.g., C. R. Krahmalkov, Phoenician-
Punic Dictionary [Louvain: Peeters, 2000]: 155).
F. Rosenthal apud J. B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old
Testament (Princeton: Princeton Univ., 1969), 653 n. 1.
These include Y. Arbeitman,E Luvia Lux, JANES 12 (1980): 911; Krebernik (n 1);
D. Pardee, review of Recherches sur les inscriptions phniciennes de Karatepe by F. Bron
(n 1), JNES 42 (1983): 6465; idem, review of Textbook of Syrian Semitic Inscriptions,
Vol. 2. Phoenician Inscriptions by J. C. L. Gibson, JNES 46 (1987): 140; idem, review of
Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals by N. Avigad and B. Sass, JNES 59 (2002): 304 n. 1;
and especially E. Lipiski, From Karatepe to Pyrgi: Middle Phoenician Miscellanea, RSF
2 (1974): 4547; idem, review of Recherches sur les inscriptions phniciennes de Karatepe
by F. Bron (n 1), OLZ 82 (1982): 457458; idem, Notes dpigraphie phnicienne et
punique, OLP 14 (1983): 136138; idem, apud W. Beyerlin, Religionsgeschichtliches
Textbuch zum Alten Testament (2nd ed.; Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1985):
248 with n. 62; idem, Emprunts sumro-akkadiens en hbreu biblique, Zeitschrift fr
Althebristik 1 (1988): 6061 with n. 4; idem, Itineraria Phoenicia (Louvain: Peeters,
2004): 124126.
W. Rllig apud H. ambel, Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, Vol. 2.
Karatepe-Aslanta (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1999): 51, 58.
Before proceeding, I need to say a few words about the Luwian parallels to hbrk bl
and their implications, if any, for the interpretation of this disputed phrase. In the Karatepe
inscription, the Luwian parallel to Phoenician hbrk bl is tiwadams zitis = (DEUS)
SOL-mi-s CAPUT-ti-i-s devotee of Tiwaz (KARATEPE 1, 3) (for the linguistic
analysis of the Luwian phrase, see Arbeitman [n 6]; H. C. Melchert, Language, in The
Luwians [H. C. Melchert, ed.; Leiden: Brill, 2003]: 195). Contra Arbeitman (n 6), I do
not think that the Luwian parallel is decisive evidence in favor of analyzing hbrk as an
Akkadian loanword since the two phrases are dynamic equivalents and not word-for-word
correspondences (cf. Lipiski, Karatepe to Pyrgi [n 6]: 46). For similar conclusions,
192 MAARAV 20.2 (2013)

hbrk as a Passive Participle in Construct

Bron summarizes the linguistic difficulty of understanding hbrk as a

passive participle in construct with the divine name bl as follows: Il est
contraire, en effet, aux rgles de la syntaxe smitique quun nom ltat
construit soit dtermin deux fois, par son complment et par larticle.9
This sentiment has been expressed in one way or another by most com-
mentators on the inscription. Nevertheless, there are instances within the
Central Semitic languages where a noun in construct may also have the
definite article. The most important case for the current discussion is
the Arabic construction termed improper annexation (Arabic al-ifatu
ghayru l-aqqyati). In this construction, the construct state of an adjec-
tive (or participle) is not marked as definite by the following genitive
term, but by the definite article.10 Thus, rajulun asanu l-wajhi (without
the definite article on both rajulun man and asanu beautiful) means

see Amadasi Guzzo and Archi (n 2): 100102; Pardee, review of Gibson (n 6): 56; J. C.
Greenfield, review of Recherches sur les inscriptions phniciennes de Karatepe by F. Bron
(n 1), IEJ 32 (1982): 179181. The phrase hbrk bl also occurs in the Phoenician-Luwian
bilingual from ineky (editio princeps in R. Tekolu and A. Lemaire, Le bilingue
royale louvito-phnicienne de ineky, CRAIBL [2000]: 9611006). The Luwian parallel
is, however, heavily damaged. Lipiski (Itineraria Phoenicia [n 6]: 124127) proposes
the following restoration: (DEUS)TONIT[RUS]-hu-t[a-sa SERVUS-ta4-sa] servant of
Tarhunt (see similarly J. D. Hawkins apud M. Lichtenstein, Texte aus der Umwelt des
Alten Testaments, Vol. 2. Staatsvertge, Herrscherinschriften und andere Dokumente zur
politischen Geschichte [new ed.; Gtersloh: Mohn, 2005]: 155). This would be in line with
analyzing Phoenician hbrk as a loanword from Akkadian abarakku servant. Yakubovich
has, however, pointed out that in the Karatepe inscription the Luwian phrase servant of
Tarhunt corresponds to Phoenician bd bl servant of Baal (KARATEPE 1, 1) and not
hbrk bl (I. Yakubovich, Phoenician and Luwian in Early Iron Age Cilicia, Anatolian
Studies 65 [2015]: 42). Thus, he proposes a different restoration for the Luwian from
ineky: (DEUS)TONIT[RUS]-hu-t[a-ti (LITUUS)-za-mi-sa] loved of Tarhunt, citing
as a parallel DEUS-ni-ti (LITUUS)-za-mi-sa loved by gods (KARKAMI A23, 1).
This restoration would be in line with analyzing hbrk as blessed. In either case, we are
dealing with reconstructions of the Luwian. Thus, the poor state of preservation of the
ineky inscription mitigates any information it might provide for the meaning of the
Phoenician phrase hbrk bl, even though this inscription has provided valuable data on
other fronts (G. B. Lanfranchi, The Luwian-Phoenician Bilingual of ineky and the
Annexation of Cilicia to the Assyrian Empire, in Von Sumer bis Homer: Festschrift fr
Manfred Schretter zum 60. Geburtstag am 25. Februar 2004 [R. Rollinger, ed.; Mnster:
Ugarit, 2005]: 481496; R. Rollinger, Assyrios, Syrios, Syros und Leukosyros, WO 36
[2006]: 7282; idem, The Terms Assyria and Syria Again, JNES 65 [2006]: 283287).
Bron (n 1): 28.
In general, see W. Wright, A Grammar of the Arabic Language (3rd ed.; Cambridge:
Cambridge Univ., 18961898): 30, 75; H. Reckendorf, Arabische Syntax (Heidelberg:
Winter, 1921): 107; W. Fischer, A Grammar of Classical Arabic (New Haven: Yale Univ.,
2002): 146c.

a man handsome of face > a handsome-faced man whereas al-rajulu

l-asanu l-wajhi (with the definite article on both rajulun and asanu)
means the man handsome of face > the handsome-faced man. In the
latter example, the adjective al-asanu has the definite article al- even
though it is in construct with al-wajhi. This Arabic construction, then,
has the same syntactic structure as hbrk bl the blessed one of Baal
would have according to the traditional analysis.
While improper annexation in Arabic has previously been cited in sup-
port of analyzing hbrk bl as the blessed one of Baal,11 its implications
have yet to be developed fully. The syntactic construction in which an
adjective (or participle) is in construct with an epexegetical genitive is
not limited to Arabic, but occurs in all of the classical Semitic languag-
es, including Akkadian, Gz, Aramaic, and Hebrew.12 It can, thus, be
reconstructed to Proto-Semitic.13 The definite article, in contrast, is not
inherited from Proto-Semitic, but is an innovation in each of the Central
Semitic languages.14 Thus, when one of the daughter languages innovat-
ed a definite article, it was forced to develop syntax for it as well. Much
of the syntax of the definite article is the same across the Central Semitic
languages.15 There are, however, differences.16 One such difference is the
case of improper annexation: when the phrase is definite, Arabic marks

See, e.g., Gordon, Azitawadds Phoenician Inscription (n 2): 112; OConnor (n 1): 10.
For Akkadian, see W. von Soden, Status Rectus-Formen vor dem Genitiv im
Akkadischen und die sogenannte uneigentliche Annexion im Arabischen, JNES 19
(1960): 163171. For Gz, see T. O. Lambdin, Introduction to Classical Ethiopic (Atlanta:
Scholars, 1978): 7980; J. Tropper, Altthiopisch (Mnster: Ugarit, 2002): 170171. For
Aramaic, see Th. Nldeke, Compendious Syriac Grammar: Translated from the Second
and Improved German Edition by James A. Crichton (London: Williams & Norgate, 1904):
205. For Hebrew, see T. Muraoka, The Status Constructus of Adjectives in Biblical
Hebrew, VT 27 (1977): 375380; B. K. Waltke and M. OConnor, An Introduction to
Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1990): 151.
This construction is also found in Middle Egyptian, e.g., nfr r beautiful of face
(J. E. Hoch, Middle Egyptian Grammar [Mississauga: Benben, 1997]: 48), and so it is
probably an inheritance from Afroasiatic.
J. Huehnergard, Features of Central Semitic, in Biblical and Oriental Essays in
Memory of William L. Moran (A. Gianto, ed.; Rome: PBI, 2005): 184186. The various
definite articles in the Central Semitic languages likely developed from demonstrative
pronouns just like the definite articles in many of the modern European languages (see A.
D. Rubin, Studies in Semitic Grammaticalization [Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2005]: 65
90 with literature cited therein). It should be noted that not all Central Semitic languages
have a definite article, such as Ugaritic and Samalian Aramaic.
For these similarities, see Huehnergard, Features of Central Semitic (n 14): 184
186; N. Pat-El, The Development of the Semitic Definite Article: A Syntactic Approach,
JSS 54 (2009): 25.
See Pat-El (n 15): 24, 2737.
194 MAARAV 20.2 (2013)

the head noun in the improper annexation construction with the definite
article whereas Hebrew, for instance, does not. The important question
for the current discussion is what does Phoenician do in this case. Based
on the phrase hbrk bl, it is at least possible that Phoenician followed a
path similar to that of Arabic, but different from that of Hebrew.17 This is
not to suggest that Phoenician is more closely related to Arabic geneti-
cally, but rather that, when faced with developing the syntax of the defi-
nite article, each Central Semitic language made its own decisions. Thus,
there is no reason to consider the syntax of the phrase hbrk bl blessed of
Baal as being contrary to the rules of Phoenician grammar,18 any more
than so-called improper annexation (al-ifatu ghayru l-aqqyati) is
contrary to the rules of Arabic grammar.

hbrk as an Akkadian Loanword

There are two linguistic difficulties with analyzing hbrk as an Akkadian

loanword. The first is of a chronological nature. Akkadian loanwords
with an initial vowel almost always enter the Northwest Semitic lan-
guages with an initial voiceless glottal stop .19 The obvious exception
is the Akkadian word ekallu (< Sumerian E.GAL), which is attested in
the Northwest Semitic languages with an initial h, e.g., Hebrew hkl,
Ugaritic hkl, and Syriac haykl. Since this word entered the Northwest
Semitic languages with an initial h and not , it is generally thought that
it was borrowed at a time when h was still preserved in Akkadian.20 The
proponents of analyzing hbrk as an Akkadian loanword have extended
this line of reasoning to hbrk. In lexical lists from Ebla, the following
correspondences for abarakku are found:21
AGRIG = -ba-ra-g-um, -ba-ra-g, -ga-ru12-gu

This would not be the only case where Phoenician sides with Arabic against Hebrew
in the syntax of the definite article: Phoenician does not add the definite article to an
attributive demonstrative pronoun, e.g., bn nk hqrt z I built this city (Karatepe A II.9,
17), whereas Hebrew requires the definite article on attributive demonstrative pronouns.
In fact, this particular case fits well with Phoenicians propensity for using the definite
article with titles and adjectives following personal names (E. Firmage, The Definite
Article in Phoenician, Maarav 9 [2002]: 3353).
S. A. Kaufman, Akkadian Influences on Aramaic (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1974):
142143; P. V. Mankowski, Akkadian Loanwords in Biblical Hebrew (Winona Lake:
Eisenbrauns, 2000): 157158.
Kaufman (n 19): 27; Mankowski (n 19): 157.
G. Pettinato, Testi lessicali bilingui della Biblioteca L. 2769 (Napoli: Istituto
universitario orientale, 1982): 279 (nos. 706707).

AGRIG.MUNUS = []-ba-ru12-[ga]-tum, -ga-ra-ga-tum

In Eblaite, (the E-sign) represents either syllable initial a- or ha-.22

In Sargonic Akkadian, in contrast, abarakku is written a-ba-ra-ag,
where the A-sign can represent either syllable initial a- or ha-, but not
syllable initial a-.23 When read together, then, the Eblaite and Sargonic
Akkadian orthographies indicate that abarakku was originally habarakku
with initial ha-.24 Thus, it has been proposed that Phoenician borrowed
Akkadian habarakku at a time when h was still preserved in Akkadian.25
This, however, creates a chronological problem. The phoneme h was
lost in Akkadian around the late third to early second millennium b.c.e.26
Phoenician, in contrast, is not attested until the first millennium b.c.e.
Although the Phoenician language must have existed prior to the first
written texts, how much earlier is not clear. In the late-third millenni-
um b.c.e., Cannanite had almost certainly not yet split into its various
daughter languages, and it is possible that Northwest Semitic had not
yet either. For hbrk to be an Akkadian loanword, it is necessary then to
assume that it was borrowed by Proto-Northwest Semitic by at least the
late third to early second millennium b.c.e. and that it was preserved
only in Phoenician. Although this is theoretically possible, it pushes the
limits of plausibility.27 Thus, chronology is one linguistic difficulty with
analyzing hbrk as an Akkadian loanword.
The second linguistic difficulty with analyzing hbrk as an Akkadian
loanword is of a more concrete morpho-syntactic nature. The writing

J. Huehnergard, Introduction to the Comparative Study of the Semitic Languages
(Unpublished manuscript; Cambridge, 2002): 21. See also J. Huehnergard and C. Woods,
Akkadian and Eblaite, in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Worlds Ancient Languages
(R. D. Woodard, ed.; Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 2004): 228.
For these values of the A-sign in Sargonic Akkadian, see R. Hasselbach, Sargonic
Akkadian: A Historical and Comparative Study of the Syllabic Texts (Wiesbaden:
Harrassowitz, 2005): 75, 7879. For the writing a-ba-ra-ag, see op.cit., 263.
The normalization /abarak/ in ibid., 263 should be corrected to /habarak/ with the
pertinent form added to the examples of syllable initial *ha written with the A-sign (ibid.,
Arbeitman (n 6): 11 n. 17; Krebernik (n 1); Lipiski, Notes dpigraphie phnicienne
et punique (n 6): 137138; idem, Emprunts sumro-akkadiens en hbreu biblique (n 6):
6162; idem, Itineraria Phoenicia (n 6): 124125.
See W. von Soden, Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik (3rd ed.; Rome: PBI,
1995): 23 and especially Hasselbach (n 23): 7386 with literature cited therein.
It should be noted that the few Akkadian loanwords in Northwest Semitic from this
time, such as Akkadian ekallu and kuss throne (see Kaufman [n 19]: 2729), are all
wide-spread throughout Northwest Semitic whereas hbrk would be restricted to Phoenician
196 MAARAV 20.2 (2013)

hbrk(t) occurs in five seals likely of Cilician provenance that date from
approximately the end of the eighth century to the beginning of the sev-
enth century b.c.e.:28
1. lnnlb hbrk (this seal) belongs to PN, hbrk (BM 102 968)
2. ly hbrk htm z this seal belongs to PN, hbrk (VA 2791)
3. lphlp hbrk (this seal) belongs to PN, hbrk (B.N., C.M. Coll.
Frhner, 2191)
4. lmwnn hspr hbrk htm z this seal belongs to PN, the scribe,
hbrk (B.N., C.M. Coll. Chandon de Briailles, 238)
5. llthy hbrkt (this seal) belongs to PN, hbrkt (Private collec-

Based on hspr the scribe in Seal 4, it can be surmised that titles

in these seals require the definite article as is the typical pattern in
Northwest Semitic seals.29 The writing hbrk(t) is, however, problematic,
since based on the form of the word in Karatepe, one would expect the
initial h of hbrk(t) in the seals to be not the definite article but part of the
lexeme itself. Two possible explanations for this discrepancy have been
suggested in the literature.

The standard edition of these seals is Lemaire, Essai sur cinq sceaux phniciens (n
2) with further discussion in Pardee, review of Avigad and Sass (n 6): 266269; Bron (n 1):
3132; Lemaire, Lcriture phnicienne en Cilicie (n 2); Lipiski, Notes dpigraphie
phnicienne et punique (n 6): 133139; idem, Itineraria Phoenicia (n 6): 125. At least
some of these seals have been considered fakes (see, e.g., P. Bordreuil, Catalogue des
sceaux ouest-smitiques inscrits de la Bibliothque Nationale, du Muse du Louvre et
du Muse Biblique de Bible et Terre Sainte [Paris: La Bibliotheque, 1986]: 4244; idem,
Sceaux inscrits des pays du Levant, Dictionnaire de la Bible: Supplment. 12 [Paris:
Letouzey et Ane, 1993]: col. 137; . Puech, review of Catalogue des sceaux ouest-
smitiques inscrits de la Bibliothque Nationale, du Muse du Louvre et du Muse Biblique
de Bible et Terre Sainte by P. Bordreuil [op.cit.], RB 96 [1989]: 590; J. Teixidor, Bulletin
dpigraphie smitique, Syria 56 [1979]: 370371). Lipiski (Notes dpigraphie
phnicienne et punique [n 6]: 133139) has, however, shown that this cannot be the case
since the transcription of Luwian names in the seals follows a regular system, which was
not known when the seals first came to light. Thus, the seals should be considered authentic
(so also Lemaire, Lcriture phnicienne en Cilicie [n 2]: 134 n. 6). For another possible
occurrence of hbrk on a seal, see A. Lemaire, Sceau phnicien de la rgion de Karaman
(Turque), Epigraphica Anatolica 29 (1997): 123125. In addition to these seals, the
writing hbrk occurs in the Phoenician-Luwian bilingual from ineky (see n 8 above) and
in a Punic inscription from Sardinia (edited in M. Guzzo Amadasi, Le iscrizioni fenicie e
puniche delle colonie in Occidente [Rome: Istituto di studi del Vicino Oriente, Universit,
1967]: 125126).
Puech (n 28): 590; Lipiski, Itineraria Phoenicia (n 6): 125 n. 106.

First, Pardee has proposed that hbrk(t) may have been viewed as
a foreign word and so not inflected according to Northwest Semitic
norms.30 As Pardee himself notes, however, the feminine form hbrkt in
Seal 5 would seem to be direct counterevidence to this since the word is
inflected with the feminine ending -t.31 In addition, there is a significant
chronological problem with this proposal: Is it possible for a lexeme to
remain a Fremdwort, i.e., not be accommodated to the native lexicon,
over a period of more than a millennium? The typology of contact-in-
duced change suggests a negative answer to this question.
Lipiski has proposed a different solution to this problem.32 According
to him, when the definite article was prefixed to hbrk(t), the initial h of
hbrk(t) would have been intervocalic and so would have elided. This
proposed elision is, however, more complicated than Lipiskis recon-
struction would lead one to believe. As is the case in Hebrew, the definite
article in Phoenician consists not only of prefixed ha- but also of gemi-
nation of the initial consonant.33 Thus, although a rule *h > / a_V is
productive in Phoenician,34 the environment for the rule would not have
obtained in the case of hbrk(t) since the initial sequence would have been
*hahha-. In Phoenician, then, the prefixing of the definite article should
not result in the loss of the first consonant of words with initial h, such
as hbrk(t). This is confirmed by the forms a-helicot (947) and a-elichot
(937) from the Poenulus of Plautus.35 Both of these writings indicate that
the initial h of hlykwt hospitality was not apocopated when the definite
article was attached. Thus, hbrk(t) is not the expected form of hbrk(t)
plus the definite article.
Given the general pattern of Northwest Semitic seals, one expects the
form hbrk(t) in the Phoenician seals cited above to have the definite ar-
ticle. The proposals of Pardee and of Lipiski are unable to explain con-
vincingly how hbrk(t) would fit this expected pattern if it is a loanword

Pardee, review of Bron (n 6): 65.
It seems unlikely that both the masculine and feminine forms of the Akkadian word
were borrowed.
Lipiski, review of Bron (n 6): 457458; idem, Notes dpigraphie phnicienne et
punique (n 6): 137; idem, Itineraria Phoenicia (n 6): 125126.
This gemination is confirmed by the (unusual) late Punic writing mmqm/am-maqm/
(< *ham-maqm) the place (KAI 173.5). See Friedrich et al. (n 2): 117; W. R. Garr, A
Dialect-Geography of Syria-Palestine, 1000 to 586 B.C.E. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns,
2004): 8789; J. A. Hackett, Phoenician and Punic, in Woodard (n 22): 365385.
For this rule, see J. Huehnergard, The Development of the Third Person Suffixes in
Phoenician, Maarav 7 (1991): 186.
M. Sznycer, Les passages puniques en transcription latine dans le Poenulus de Plaute
(Paris: Klincksieck, 1967): 9697, 128.
198 MAARAV 20.2 (2013)

from Akkadian abarakku. Therefore, hbrk(t) in the Phoenician seals can-

not be analyzed as a loanword from Akkadian abarakku. This suggests
that hbrk in the Phoenician inscription from Karatepe is also not a loan-
word from Akkadian abarakku.


Shortly after the discovery of the Phoenician inscription from

Karatepe, Gelb remarked that, There are no great textual difficulties,
and it seems sure that, after the initial period of some disagreement
among scholars, a well-established translation will result within a short
time.36 While this has been true in almost every case, one exception
is the analysis of the phrase hbrk bl. In this article, I have argued that
interpreting hbrk as a loanword from Akkadian is beset by two linguistic
difficulties: 1) Akkadian abarakku would only have been integrated into
Northwest Semitic with initial h- if it had been transferred sometime be-
fore the late third or early second millennium when h was still preserved
in Akkadian, but the distribution of hbrk, which is limited to Phoenician,
suggests that it was not transferred at such an early date; 2) The word
hbrk(t) occurs on five seals, where it cannot be analyzed as a loanword
from Akkadian abarakku, since it would occur without the definite ar-
ticle against the pattern of such seals. In contrast, the linguistic difficul-
ties generally attributed to the analysis of hbrk as a passive participle
in construct with bl have been exaggerated in the scholarly literature,
given that a parallel construction is found in so-called improper annexa-
tion (al-ifatu ghayru l-aqqyati) in Arabic. Thus, I contend that the
traditional interpretation of hbrk bl as blessed one of Baal is in fact
the more linguistically plausible of the two options.

I. J. Gelb, The Contribution of the New Cilician Bilinguals to the Decipherment of
Hieroglyphic Hittite, BO 7 (1950): 130.