Is Hebron referred to Hebrew?

In Genesis 39:17The Hebrew Servant → Here Joseph is called as a Hebrew. So this is my understanding that → Joseph's great grandfather Abraham was from Hebron → referred to Hebrews → often used with Israelites. It's usually refers to the descents of Abraham.

Hebrew is → geographical reference whereas Israelite is → lineage reference

Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • 2
    See Hebron: Etymology and Hebrew: Etymology.
    – user46876
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 11:21
  • HisKingdomAtHand.com Hebrew: עברי Transliteration: ‛ibrîy Pronunciation: ib-ree' Definition: Patronymic from H5677; an Eberite (that {is} Hebrew) or descendant of Eber: - Hebrew ({-ess} woman). KJV Usage: Hebrew (29x), Hebrew woman (2x), Hebrew (with H376) (1x), Hebrewess (1x), Hebrew man (1x). Occurs: 34 In verses: 32 Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 4:16

2 Answers 2


No, while the two words are similar in English, in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament they are unrelated. Note that the first consonant (on the right) is completely different:

Hebrew: עברים ʿivrim

Possibly derives from a verb meaning "to pass over" or "to traverse". It is likely derived from Eber, Shem's great-grandson, and six generations above Abraham.

Hebron: חֶבְרוֹן hevron

Derives from a root meaning "colleague" or "friend".


If I understand your question properly, you want to know if the word "Hebrew" applied to Joseph in Gen 39:17 derives from Joseph's ancestral city, Hebron. This would distinguish "Hebrew" as a reference to a geographic place of origin, whereas "Israelite" refers to the ancestral person.

You are correct that Abraham did live near Hebron in Canaan. He purchased land there (Gen 23:17-18), including a burial cave. In that cave were buried Abraham's wife Sara (Gen 23:19), Abraham (Gen 25:9-10), Isaac and his wife Rebekah,(Gen 49:29-33), and Jacob and his wife Leah(Gen 50:12-13). We also have Abraham described as a "Hebrew" in Gen 14:13, which occurred while Abraham was living near Hebron. However, I don't know of any basis to say that the word "Hebrew" and "Hebron" are related (despite their similarities).

From this Wikipedia article the name "Hebron" refers (in the Hebrew and Amorite languages) to a friendship or alliance. It is also a basis for an Arabic epithet for Abraham, which means "friend." This is a very different meaning from the ones we see for "Hebrew."

According to a response on Linguistics StackExchange the etymology of "Hebrew" is "from the other side" presumably meaning the Euphrates river, since Abraham came to Canaan from Ur on the other side of the Euphrates. However, there are other theories that trace "Hebrew" to Eber, the great-grandson of Shem and great-great-great-great-grandfather of Abraham (Gen 11:10-26). Take your pick, but none of these relate to the city of Hebron where Abraham lived in Canaan.

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