The Amorite language is the term used for the early (North-)West Semitic language, spoken by the north Semitic Amorite tribes prominent in early Middle Eastern history. It is known exclusively from non-Akkadian proper names recorded by Akkadianscribes during periods of Amorite rule in Babylonia (end of the 3rd and beginning of the 1st millennium), notably from Mari, and to a lesser extent Alalakh, Harmal, and Khafaya. Occasionally such names are also found in early Egyptian texts; and one place-name — "Snir" (שְׂנִיר) for Mount Hermon — is known from the Bible (Deut. 3:9). Notable characteristics include:
The usual Semitic imperfect_perfect distinction is found — e.g. Yantin_Dagan, 'Dagon gives' (ntn); Raṣa_Dagan, 'Dagon was pleased' (rṣy). It included a 3rd-person suffix -a (unlike Akkadian or Hebrew), and an imperfect vowel -a-, as in Arabic rather than the Hebrew and Aramaic _i_.
There was a verb form with geminate second consonant — e.g. Yabanni_Il, 'God creates' (root bny).
In several cases where Akkadian has š, Amorite, like Hebrew and Arabic, has h, thus hu 'his', -haa 'her', causative h- or ʔ- (I. Gelb 1958).
At first the Amorites were merely a regular irritant to the Ur-III empire, but eventually they undermined it to such an extent that the position of last king Ibbi-Sin was weakened, enabling his Elamite subjects to overthrow his rule.
Amorites was used by the Israelites to refer to certain highland mountaineers, or hillmen (described in Gen.
The Biblical Amorites seem to have originally occupied the land stretching from the heights west of the Dead Sea (Gen. 14:7) to Hebron (13.
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