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Heberite or Eberite (from the feminine עברית) is the term given to all Hebrew-like things, particularly peoples. It means "of or pertaining to Eber". Due to the limited conventional uses of the term Hebrew, Heberite is the term used for a much wider sense. The initial H was added at a time when it was the convention to aspirate certain open initial vowels in words transliterated from Hebrew. In more recent times the convention has reversed resulting in some confusion between the descendants of Eber/Heber (Genesis 10:24) and those of his descendant Kheber/Cheber (numbers 26:45) both of which may be refered to as Heberites. The researcher is thus advised to discern comments conncerning Heberites carefully. This article concerns itself with the wider category of Eberites and drops the aspirant except in cases where it is used in original sources.

Eberites are thought to have been an agglutinative-language speaking people from the Northeast-Mesopotamian Northwest-Iranian & Caucasus areas closely related to the Hurrians. They apparently inhabited a vast teritory in the Caucasus and Anterior Asia in the third and second millennia BCE. Various terms for migrant mercenaries, animal herders and stateless wanderers in the languages of surrounding peoples may have stemmed from this nation's ethnicon. Terms possibly derived from peoples with a related ethnicon amongst later Turko-Slavonic peoples indicates these groups associated them with vulturey & the supernatural (see Upyr).

Early on, Eberites had infiltrated south into Canaan as far as Egypt, where they were known as 'prw or Apiru, from the messopotamian Habiru or Hapiru (also Hapiri, Haberi), and Sumeria where they were known perhaps by the Logogram SA.GAZ (or perhaps Gub-Iru). Ironically arguments both promoting & denouncing the Hebrew connection may be traced to Greenberg's work. The major opposition is that the names recorded were non-semetic. It seems that the Habiru Eberites soon formed (if it was not already the case) a social caste rather than an ethnic group in this region as they were joined by peasants who had fled the increasingly oppressive economic conditions of the Assyrian & Babylonian kingdoms. Some settled in Avaris aparrently lending the area its name. They also gave their name to the Khabur valley of the Northern Euphrates and perhaps also the Hebron valley. The Israelites who emmerged from the Habiru factions which entered Egypt are by far the most famous Eberites. Researchers are beginning to doubt that Uruk was the Ur from whence the Hebrew patriarchs came being so far from Haran. To come from a Hurrian country does not necessarily mean they would have to be Hurrian. Being, from an independent caste of landless, but free souls would be enough to classify them as Hebrew. But being Hebrew does not mean they were originally Semetic speakers. For whatever reasons, these Eberites ultimately did not retain their agglutinative northeastern language in favour of the local Canaanite dialects closely related to Ugaritic. Whatever their previous language was, they eventually adopted a Canaanite dialect known to us in the present as Hebrew. The same may be said for Eberite chieftains who infiltrated the Arabian peninsular lending their names to the various proto-Arabic speaking tribes there. While there might be conflict over Arabs calling themselves Hebrews because of the connotations that word implies, there is no problem with grouping certain Arabic tribes, Israelites and many others as Eberite.

Those that remained in the Caucasus were later known by the Greeks as the sons of noble Iberes. Though such identifications are alternately acknowledged [1] & opposed [1] by religious groups, numerous Georgian publications maintian them and insist that Iberian Eberites (sometimes called either Transcaucasian or Hetto Iberians) were related to the aboriginal Balkan Pelasgs, Etruscans and are first mentioned as having settled in Eastern Spain and the Ebro valley in the 6thC.BC. still being represented, despite fervantly funded political opposition to the fact, by the Basque population there (whose reconstructed language shows strong affinity with Caucasian languages though Hamori has also illustrated an Etruscan connection). The filed of comparative linguistics is not straight forward and connections must not be taken as necessarily having any profound meaning.

Speculations on The Greater Heberite Community

The Bible lists the following three major expansions of Eberite patriarchs from the area of Mesha at least to as far as the eastern Sephar (Subarian) mountains:

Joktan> Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Havilah, Jobab (described in chinese name books), Ophir> Ophirites.
  • Peleg> Reu> Serug> Nahor> Terah>
  • 2nd
    Nahor> Utz, Buz, Kesed, Chazo, Pildash, Yidlaf, Bethuel (Laban's father), Kemuel> Aram (under whom were the Arameans)
  • Haran> Lot.
  • Abram> Zimran, Medan, Ishbak, Shu,
  • 3rd
    Jokshan> Sheba, Dedan.
  • Midian> Ephah, Henoch, Abida, Eldaah, Epher> Epherites
  • Ishmael> Nebaioth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, Kedemah.
  • Isaac> Edom, Israel> Asher> Beriah> Kheber> Kheberi (Heberites)

  • It has been suggested (E. White) that the Pelasgians who held territory between the Hebrus & Strymon rivers arrived at the 1st expansion. The anthropologist W. L. Horowitz's definition of Heberite includes the Amorite Hammurabi ("La race heberite et ses peuples". Paris [1922]). Legends that Keturah, Abraham's third wife & children returned to their Hurrian-Eberite homeland and their descendants spread from there into Central Eurasia (12thC. "Chronicles of Jerahmeel" by Jerahmeel ben Solomon) are in harmony with the fact that nations potentially preserving a Heberite ethnonym predominantly accumulate in the vicinity of the Caucasus & western Central Asia. The first speculation which might be made is concerning a people called the AparDi in Central Asia around 1300 BC, and this has brought to mind a possible connection with the foundation of Khwarezmia about the same time, connections to Eber being visible in both these names. Herodotus also makes mention of "Aparytae" in the Gandara satrapy of Persia which is consistent with Persia's relocation of Hebrew tribes to the area. Indeed many Afghan & Kashmir tribes still preserve Israelite names and it is presumably from here that they reached the borders of China where they were known by the character and may have even reached Huaguo in China. Then we have the Iberes & the 4thC.BC Transcaucasian Iberia while Strabo (1st century) dealt with "Abar-noi" people in his work using the name "Abaris" in combination with Greek legends. Of course the Avars of Priskos should be mentioned especially considering their connection to "Hebrew" (thus perhaps originally Eberite) artefacts which subsequently, thanks to Simokattes, connects them with the Hephthalites and their legendary 1100 BC ancestor Afrasiab the king of all Turs mentioned in the Shahnameh by Ferdowsi. Strabo and the Armenian tradition that the Parthian Arsaces descended from White Huns remind us of the Parni. Finally perhaps the Avars still present in the Caucasus especially Dagestan are the remnants either of the original Transcaucasian Iberians or Khwaris who inflitraed the area from the east (Khwarezmia) or a mixture of both.

    Though the proximity of these peoples hints at some possible continuity there are doubts about relations to similarly named peoples further afield. UK legends state that the Irish Heberites came from the Iberian peninsular, but were of Magogite origins. If the Basque-Iberians are of Caucasus origin then perhaps the Heber ancestor was of a Magogite maternal line as well as a Arpaxad paternal line. The story of the Iberians being refugees from Atlantis (?from Dionysius Periestis's comments on Hesperides?) can not be related to anything in Israelite Hebrew memory but the Noahite refugees from the deluge. The Avar folk legends are yet to be made known to the wider public.


    Moshe Greenberg The Hab/piru, American Oriental Society, New Haven, 1955.