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- See entry for Heber (the name of both a descendant of Asher and also of Jael's husband.)
- See entry for Eber Finn for the legendary early Irish king.
Eber (עֵבֶר, Standard Hebrew ʿ╔ver, Tiberian Hebrew ʿĒḇer) is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. He was a great-grandson of Noah's son Shem and the father of Peleg and Joktan. He was an ancestor of Abraham and hence of the Israelites.
Legend says that Eber refused to help with the building of the Tower of Babel, so his language was not confused when it fell. He and his family alone retained the original human language, called lingua humana in Latin or Gortighern. After this, the language was called Hebrew, named after Eber.
In practice, the name "Eber" is most often associated as the root of the word "Hebrew", but others also associate the name with region beyond or across, opposite side, passage, or simply beyond.
- [Genesis 10:10] Also to Shem, the father of all the Children of Eber, and the older brother of Japheth, children were born. (NASB)
In some translations of the New Testament, he is referred to once as Heber ([Luke 3:35] ...the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Heber, the son of Shelah...); however, he should not be confused with the Heber of the Old Testament (different Hebrew spelling חבר), grandson of Asher ([Genesis 46:17] The sons of Asher: Imnah and Ishvah and Ishvi and Beriah and their sister Serah. And the sons of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel.).
Various Theories about Eber
There is a legend that the Avars were descendants of Eber through children of Abraham and his third wife Keturah.
Linguistic Association of "Eber", "Heber" and "Hebrew"
In the King James Version (KJV) of the Old Testament, the name "Eber" is used, while in the KJV New Testament, "Heber" is used instead, each referring to the same person. And in both KJV books, the word "Hebrew" refers to the descendants of this person. The reason for this is rooted in etymology, and in the different origins of the Old and New Testaments.
The origin of the names for Eber and the Hebrews, as used in European Christian languages, derived from JudŠo-Aramaic עבר ʿĒḇer and עברי ʿIḇrāy, as spoken in the Roman province of JudŠa and by those Jews who escaped the province's destruction. When Greek-writing Christian scholars compiled the Septuagint, the adaptations chosen for these names (for whatever reason) were Εβερ Heber and Εβραιος Hebraios. These names were adapted through Latin and French before reaching English as "Heber" and "Hebrew", and these names were used in the KJV New Testament.
However, the KJV Old Testament was largely not translated from the Greek and Latin sources, but was instead translated from existing Hebrew texts accessible to scholars at the time, employing a uniquely Anglo-Saxon method of adaptating Hebrew words and names. As such, in the Old Testament, "Eber" was used without the H, likely reflecting the common Hebrew dialects used among the Jews of Europe. However, the KJV translators chose to use the New Testament name "Hebrew" (instead of "Ibrite" or "Eberite") as the canonical term for the descendants of Eber in the Old Testament as well, likely to avoid confusing lay readers.
As the King James Version of the Bible became the primary Christian scripture of Anglo-Saxon-speaking Britain, the association of "Eber" with "Hebrew" in the English-speaking religious world became a permanent phenomenon.
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