EBER (Heb. עבר, Ever ). (1) Great-grandson of *Shem, son of Noah and ancestor of Abraham (Gen. 10:21ff.; 11:14ff.; i Chr. 1:17ff.); presumably (but nowhere explicitly) intended as the eponymous ancestor of the *Hebrews (Ivrīm). "All the children of Eber" (Gen. 10:21), a phrase which appears – possibly unintentionally – to include Arabian and other tribes as well as Israelite, may or may not be related to the term "Hebrews"; certainly there is no solid evidence that the Bible understood any but Israelites to be Hebrews. The names appearing in the genealogies of Genesis 10 and 11 are, as in other ancient West Semitic genealogies, personifications of tribes, nations, cities, and lands rather than individuals (see *Genealogy; *Nations, The Seventy). In view of this, many scholars consider the name Eber to be derived from Ivri, rather than vice versa, while others suggest that the term refers to the region known as ever hanahar ("beyond the river [Euphrates]"; Josh. 24:2; cf. Num. 24:24). Such usage of the name was facilitated by the fact that Eber was probably also the name of a clan or a personal name. (2) The head of a Gadite family (i Chron. 5:13). (3 & 4) The heads of two Benjaminite families (i Chron. 8:12, 22). (5) A post-Exilic priest (Neh. 12:20). (In nos. 2–5 some Hebrew and/or lxx manuscripts read עבד (ebed).)
A. Malamat, in: jaos, 88 (1968), 165–8.
[Jeffrey Howard Tigay]