Eber (Hebrew: עֵבֶר – ʿḖḇer; Greek: Ἔβερ – Éber; Arabic: عٰبِر – ʿĀbir) is an ancestor of the Israelites and the Ishmaelites according to the "Table of Nations" in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 10-11) and the Books of Chronicles (1 Chronicles 1).
Eber imagined in the 1553 Promptuarium Iconum Insigniorum
Eber was a great-grandson of Noah's son Shem and the father of Peleg born when Eber was 34 years old, and of Joktan. He was the son of Shelah, a distant ancestor of Abraham. According to the Hebrew Bible, Eber died at the age of 464, (Genesis 11:14-17) when Jacob was 79.
In the Septuagint, Eber's (῞Εβερ) father is called Sala (Σαλά). His son is called Phaleg (Φαλέγ), born when Heber was 134 years old, and he had other sons and daughters. Heber lived to an age of 464 years. (Septuagint Genesis 11:14-17; )
The Aramaic/Hebrew root עבר is connected with crossing over and the beyond. Considering that other names for descendants of Shem also stand for places, Eber can also be considered the name of an area, perhaps near Assyria. A number of mediaeval scholars such as Michael the Syrian, Bar Hebraeus, and Agapius the Historian mentioned the prevailing view, that the Hebrews had received their name from Eber, while also pointing out that according to others, the name "Hebrew" meant "those who cross", in reference to those who crossed the Euphrates river with Abram from Ur to Harran, and then to the land of Canaan.
In some translations of the New Testament, he is referred to once as Heber ([Luke 3:35] ...the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Heber, the son of Salah...); however, he should not be confused with the Heber of the Old Testament (different Hebrew spelling, חבר), grandson of Asher (Genesis 46:17).
According to Abu Isa, Eber, the great-grandson of Shem, refused to help with the building of the Tower of Babel, so his language was not confused when it was abandoned. He and his family alone retained the original human language (a concept referred to as lingua humana in Latin), Hebrew, a language named after Eber. (There are different religious positions on this issue; see also Adamic language.)
Eber is sometimes referred to in classical Islamic writings as the "father" of the "prehistoric, original Arabs" (the ʿArab al-ʿĀriba), who lived in the Arabian Peninsula after the Deluge. Eber was also identified with the Quranic prophet Hud by some of the early Muslim authorities. Other sources identify the prophet Hud as Eber's son.
- 34 according to the Masoretic Text; 134 according to the Septuagint. Larsson, Gerhard. “The Chronology of the Pentateuch: A Comparison of the MT and LXX.” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 102, no. 3, 1983, p. 402. www.jstor.org/stable/3261014.
- 464 according to the Masoretic Text; 460 according to the Septuagint. Larsson, Gerhard. “The Chronology of the Pentateuch: A Comparison of the MT and LXX.” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 102, no. 3, 1983, p. 402. www.jstor.org/stable/3261014.
- Gerhard Larsson alludes to an alternate reading which gives Heber's age at death as 304 years. Larsson, Gerhard. “The Chronology of the Pentateuch: A Comparison of the MT and LXX.” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 102, no. 3, 1983, pp. 402. www.jstor.org/stable/3261014.
- Marcus Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature (London, W.C.: Luzac & Co. ; New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons; 1903), p. 1039 etc.
- Hirsch, Emil G.; König, Eduard (1903). "Eber". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. 5. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. p. 30.
- Morris Jastrow, Ira Maurice Price, Marcus Jastrow, Louis Ginzberg, & Duncan B. MacDonald; "Babel, Tower of", Jewish Encyclopedia; Funk & Wagnalls, 1906.
- Buhl, Fr., “Ḏj̲urhum”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition (1913-1936), Edited by M. Th. Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, R. Hartmann.
- Wensinck, A. J., “Hūd”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition (1913-1936), Edited by M. Th. Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, R. Hartmann.