Eber was an early Semite (i.e. a descendant of Shem) whose two sons, Joktan and Peleg, began two notable lines of family descent (Gen 10:21,25). The line of descent through Joktan produced many of the Arab tribes (Gen 10:26-30), and the line through Peleg produced those tribes of Mesopotamia to which Abraham belonged (Gen 11:16-26). The name ‘Hebrew’, by which Abraham and his descendants were known, was taken from the name ‘Eber’ (Gen 10:21; 14:13; 39:17; Exod 1:22; see HEBREW). So too, it seems, was the name ‘Habiru’, by which semi-nomadic peoples in general were known. The word eber meant ‘to pass over or through’.

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