Eber

EBER (ē'bêr, Heb. ‘ēver). This word means “a region across or beyond.” The name of the Hebrew people may be derived from Eber, as its form is the same as the word iberi (meaning “Hebrew”) without the gentilic ending. The Hebrews were a people who came from a region beyond the Euphrates River.

1. The son of Shelah, a grandson of Shem (Gen.10.24; Gen.11.14; 1Chr.1.18). He was the father of Peleg and Joktan (Gen.10.25; Gen.11.16; 1Chr.1.19-1Chr.1.25).

2. The head of a family in the tribe of Gad (1Chr.5.13).

3. The oldest son of Elpaal, a Benjamite (1Chr.8.12).

4. A son of Shimei, a Benjamite (1Chr.8.19).

5. Head of a priestly family that came from Babylon under Zerubbabel (Neh.12.20).


EBER ē’ bər (עֵ֔בֶר, one who crosses over). Name of an ancestor of Abraham and of four minor individuals in the OT.

Eber is the fourth in the genealogy from Noah to Abraham (Gen 10:21-25; 11:14-17; 1 Chron 1:18-25). Practically nothing is known of him. Interest attaches to the name which has the same root as the name ’iḇrî. This latter word may be the same as a cuneiform word Ḥabiru which refers to many people of various areas and situations. It may actually not be related to ’eḇer.

The meaning of the word ’ēḇer is uncertain. The root means “to cross over.” The form may well be intransitive and refer more to a “nomad,” a “traveler.” This meaning would fit the name “Hebrew,” but as mentioned above, may be only coincidental.

The name ’ēḇer also is applied to a Gadite (1 Chron 5:13), two Benjaminites (1 Chron 8:12, 22), and a priest (Neh 12:20). The reference in Numbers 24:24 is taken by Albright to be from the verb ’āḇar “cross over” (“The Oracles of Balaam,” JBL, LXIII [1944], 226). Smick suggests “quarter,” from the meaning “region beyond” or “side” (WBC in loc.).

Bibliography

M. Greenberg, The Hab/piru (American Oriental Series, vol. 39 [1955], 90-93).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(`ebher; Eber, in Gen; Obed, in Ch):

(1) Occurs in the genealogies (Ge 10:21,25; 11:14 ff) as the great-grandson of Shem and father of Peleg and Joktan. The word means "the other side," "across," and the form "Hebrew," which is derived from it, is intended to denote the people or tribe who came "from the other, side of the river" (i.e. the Euphrates), from Haran (Ge 11:31), whence Abraham and his dependents migrated to Canaan.

(2) A Gadite (1Ch 5:13).

(3) & (4) Two Benjamites (1Ch 8:12,22).

(5) The head of a priestly family (Ne 12:20).