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AMRAPHEL (Heb.אַמְרָפֶל), king of Shinar. Amraphel is one of the monarchs who according to Genesis 14:1–9 accompanied King *Chedorlaomer of Elam on his campaign against the rebellious cities of the Sodom region. The identification of Amraphel is uncertain. The old view that Amraphel is the Hebrew reflex of *Hammurapi king of Babylon is philologically impossible. (A fanciful talmudic derivation of the name as composed of amar, "decreed," and pol, "leap," identified Amraphel with Nimrod, who in Jewish legend ordered Abraham to leap into the fire. See Er. 53a.) At the same time, biblical Shinar designates or includes the country around Babylon in the context of Genesis 11:2 and Zechariah 5:11. The biblical identification of Shinar with Babylon is corroborated by the 15th century b.c.e. cuneiform place name Shanharu, which may itself go back to the name of a Kassite tribe during the period that the Kassites ruled Babylonia. Nothing further is recorded in the Bible about Amraphel, and the invasion of Canaan in which he participated has not so far been attested in extra-biblical sources. Some scholars have, nonetheless, argued that Genesis 14 has the features of a genuine chronographic account.


N.M. Sarna, Understanding Genesis (1966), 110–9 (includes bibliography). add. bibliography: C. Cohen, in: K.L. Younger et al. (eds.), The Biblical Canon in Comparative Perspective (1991), 67–107; R. Zadok, in: za, 74 (1984), 240–44.

[Nahum M. Sarna]