Discover the meanings of thousands of Biblical names in Abarim Publications' Biblical Name Vault: Hannibal

Hannibal meaning

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🔼The name Hannibal in the Bible

The name Hannibal is not a Biblical name but it is Semitic and could easily fit in. In fact, the chance that it existed in Biblical times in Palestine is quite high. It's the reverse of the Biblical name Baal-hanan:

Hannibal is the name of the famous Carthaginian commander who attacked Rome after marching a huge army, including thirty-eight (or thirty-nine) war-elephants, across the Alps (and at times through them; they literally moved mountains) and initiated what would be known as the Second Punic War (218-201 BC; the word "Punic" comes from "Phoenician", and the name Phoenicia comes from the Greek word φοινιξ, phoinix, meaning palm-tree). Hannibal never sacked Rome, but having Hannibal at the gates became a most traumatic experience to the Romans; an experience which was still felt when the Republic became the Empire in the last half of the first century BC. The Great Illyrian Revolt of 6-9 AD, which coincided with the disastrous Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, and which together nearly destroyed the Empire, was described by Roman historians as the most difficult conflict since the Punic Wars.

Students of the New Testament should really be aware of these highlights. Judea had regained its right to rule itself by means of a genuine Jewish king, when Judas Maccabeus had defeated the Greek-Persian Seleucids in 160 BC. Had Hannibal defeated Rome in 201 BC, Judea wouldn't have been conquered by the Romans, nor would Jerusalem have been sacked and the temple desecrated by Pompey in 63 BC. Judea would not have become a Roman province in 6 AD, and if the Illyrians or the Germanians had defeated Rome in 9 AD, the temple wouldn't have been eternally destroyed in 70 AD by Titus.

🔼The Temple of YHWH

The Phoenicians were also venerated for their ancient invention of the consonantal alphabet. Around the time of David and Solomon, the Hebrews had added to this alphabet their invention of vowel notation (using the letters י, ו and ה), which made script much more effective. It lifted writing out of the realm of priestly esoterics and made the knowledge of the entire wisdom tradition available to ordinary people (now a "kingdom of priests," so to speak; Exodus 19:6).

The name YHWH (יהוה) consists of only vowels and the story of how the Phoenicians built Solomon's temple for YHWH to dwell in obviously reflects the invention of modern script (1 Kings 5).

Prior to modern script, mankind's precious wisdom could only be stored in a perishable human brain, but modern script allowed for data to be retained indefinitely, which made the Psalmist cheer: "You will not allow Your Holy One [the Word] to undergo decay" (Psalm 16:10).

🔼The Phoenicians, the widow and the daughter

Carthage started out as one of many colonies of the Phoenician city-state of Tyre — the name Carthage means New City; Tyre was the old one — and quickly became the commercial hub of the western Mediterranean. The Carthaginians were brilliant engineers and city planners. Their signature modus operandi was forging friendship with their customer cultures, and their objective was to create a network of trust and co-operation. They would leave merchandise on people's beaches, and the locals could help themselves and leave gold in return, which the Carthaginians would later pick up (according to Herodotus in 450 BC, cited by Richard Mile in his book Carthage Must Be Destroyed, 2010).

The story had it that Carthage was founded by queen Elissa, who later was known as queen Dido. She was a daughter of the king of Tyre, and married to the High Priest. But after the death of her father, her brother murdered her husband and she took flight. Where this royal widow/daughter landed, she founded Carthage.

In the Bible, the Phoenicians are almost without exception in some way related to widows or "daughters". The temple was built by Hiram of Tyre, the son of a widow (1 Kings 7:13). The prophet Elijah was sent to Zarephath of Sidon, to meet with a widow (1 Kings 17:10). And even Jesus, while in the region of Tyre and Sidon met a Canaanite woman whose daughter was demon possessed (Matthew 15:22).

🔼The Phoenicians and the Jews

The Phoenicians were Semitic, just like the Jews. They worshipped the same gods (Baal, Ashtaroth), and Carthage appears to have been the last society to routinely engage in child sacrifice to Molech (as did the Jews: 2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:6). Besides these obvious flaws, the Semitic world from Babylon to North Africa valued a wisdom tradition in which formal Yahwism was just a minor expression of a larger pursuit of truth and righteousness (going as far back as the most rudimental form of Yahwism — "calling upon the Name YHWH" — practiced by the generation of Enosh, grandson of Adam: Genesis 4:26), and in that sense there were clear similarities between the working of the Semitic world and that of the Celts in northwest Europe.

Before the Romans began their slander campaign, the Carthaginians were held in very high regard all over the ancient world. In the tenth and ninth centuries BC, kings David and Solomon relied heavily on Phoenician wisdom for the building of their central buildings. Solomon's hallowed temple of YHWH was in fact built with materials from Tyre (1 Kings 9:11) which were hauled in with Tyre's merchant fleet (9:28) and by men from Tyre (7:13), which sends the obvious message that although Israel had all the right ideas, they simply couldn't hack the practical part (5:1-12, 7:14).

In the sixth century BC, the prophet Ezekiel wrote of the king of Tyre: "You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty (28:12). You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways" (28:14-15). And upon reviewing the wonders of Greek democracy, Aristotle wrote "The Carthaginians are also considered to have an excellent form of government [...] The superiority of their constitution is proved by the fact that the common people remain loyal to the constitution. The Carthaginians have never had any rebellion worth speaking of, and have never been under the rule of a tyrant" (Aristotle Politics; On the Constitution of Carthage, approximately 340 BC).

The Carthaginians were essentially traders, who felt forced to defend their expanding markets with standing armies and a huge naval fleet, which they soon came to rely on in the course of human events (so to speak). Over the centuries since their founding, the Carthaginians changed from everybody's favorite neighbor to a mob of gangsters. Ezekiel had seen it coming and had written "By the abundance of your merchant traffic, your heart was filled with violence (28:16). You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor (28:17). You profaned your sanctuaries (28:18)".

When in 265 BC the Romans attacked the Carthaginian branch of Messana (now Messina, on Sicily), Carthage fought them for 23 years but eventually lost what would become known as the First Punic War. Both sides were economically exhausted (which in Carthage lead to the Mercenary Revolt of 241 to 238 BC) and it took twenty years of recuperation before Hannibal could stage his dramatic revenge. Hannibal invaded modern Italy from the north, wrecked the Roman army and deeply humiliated the republic, but dwindled for years without striking the fatal blow. Fifty years later, the Romans retaliated, attacked Carthage and destroyed it completely (that's the Third Punic War; 149-146 BC). Just about when Judea was emerging as independent state, the world stopped being Carthaginian and began to be Roman.

🔼Hannibal and Jesus

Much of the popular response to the ministry of Jesus had to do with the hope of the Jewish people that some day a king would rise who would knock off the Roman yoke, and guarantee the perpetuation of Jewish theology. And much of early Christian dogma had to do with solving the conundrum of how to further develop Judaism without its central Temple of YHWH.

Most of the New Testament, and especially the gospels, not only deal with the story of Jesus, but are also highly condensed commentaries on the goings on of the day. Many of the stories told in the gospels have multiple layers, and often we can recognize reflections of historic events (see for instance our articles on the names Hanukkah and Legion). The name Hannibal does not occur in the Bible, but the authors of the New Testament wrote their accounts with the importance of Hannibal's campaign closely in mind.

The lament of Jesus over Tyre and Sidon was doubtlessly also a lament over the fall of Carthage (Matthew 11:21-22). When He withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon, He met a Canaanite woman who cried that her "daughter" was cruelly demon possessed (Matthew 15:22). Before Jesus pronounced her daughter healed, He and the women too equated her people to scrap-eating "dogs under the table". The Roman historian Pliny described a people of North Africa called Canarii, who had their diet in common with the canine race (Natural History V.15), and the eating of dogs themselves was customary in the region from Morocco to Tunis (hence the Canary Islands).

In his book Eat Not this Flesh, Frederick J. Simoons writes: "There are indications that some Northwest African dog eaters considered dog flesh simply as a tasty kind of meat. On the other hand, the consumption of dog flesh in the region often had magico-religious and nutritional or medicinal significance [...] the original purpose in eating dogs in North Africa may have been ceremonial or religious".

It's clear that the Carthaginians had dogs but it's not wholly certain whether the Carthaginians had dogs for religious reasons (one of their chief deity Marduk's signature animals was the dog) or that they ate dogs. "It would have been a departure from the customs of their Phoenician homeland," says Simoons, but it would also have made for a distinction that could have led to a reputation or even nickname. The Roman historian Marcus Justinus wrote that Darius, king of Persia, sent Carthage a decree by which the Carthaginians were forbidden to eat dogs, which strongly suggests that they did (Justinus, Epitoma XIX.1).

🔼Hannibal and Buzz Lightyear

Ancient mythologists understood the deeper truths behind the struggle between Rome and Carthage. The two imperial cities were ostensibly reported to have been founded in the same year (753 BC); twin and evil twin, and each called the other the evil one. Rome claimed Hercules as ancestor on paper, but Hannibal actually impersonated Hercules by journeying across North Africa and Europe. True to form, Rome declared but Carthage did.

Carthage was said to have been founded by Dido, "daughter" of a Tyrean king, who had married her uncle, a priest of Hercules or Heracles, or Melqart as he was known as in those parts. Dido was also known as Elissa; in 2 Samuel 23:9 we read about Dodo, father of Eleazar, one of David's mightiest of mighty-men, which temps to ponder the possibility that the mighty-man list is not about a local band of fighters but rather a review of world-wide Yahwists.

Hannibal was a devout worshipper of Melqart or Hercules, whose famous pillars featured prominently in Phoenician temples, which is how Boaz and Jachin came to adorn the Phoenician temple of YHWH in Jerusalem. These two pillars were adopted as the Spanish coat of arms, and either directly formed or else helped to form the two vertical lines of the peso and then the dollar sign (and most recently the bitcoin), and ultimately the horizontal lines of the symbols for euro, yen and other currencies.

This makes the pillars of Hercules the most persistent symbol of international trade in the world, and explains the design of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. The ancient motto of the two pillars was nec plus ultra ("nothing more beyond"), indicating that the pillars marked, in every sense, the end of the world. But the quest to rise above humanity's natural limits soon made the pillars the symbol of transcending nationality first and then transcendence in general, bearing the adapted motto plus ultra ("more beyond"; hence "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite" of 2001, A Space Odyssey and Buzz Lightyear's chipper catchphrase "to infinity... and beyond!!").

The design of the new One World Trade Center, formerly know as Freedom Tower, obviously reflects the "four corners of the earth" interlocked with the "four winds of heaven" ("as above, so below"), which incorporates that same motto (and to answer the obvious question: no, here at Abarim Publications we don't directly endorse conspiracy theories, but we do believe that humanity as a whole makes decisions that tend to fall in line with greater designs. There is also no conspiracy among bees; a whole hive emerges from all the bees' tiny little instincts, while none of them plans the whole hive and manipulates the others into building it).

The Carthaginians were fortified merchants who wanted international trade in a free world; the Romans were armed lawyers who wanted central rule over a conquered world. Rome's modus operandi was invasion, violation, and heavy taxation.

In the last century BC, Rome transformed from common-law based republic to dictatorial empire, in which the word of the emperor was law. The problem that Yahwists had with Roman rule was that law should always be based on natural law (the laws of the Creator who had also created the universe) and not on the whims of some man. True wisdom was based on the free exchange of ideas and not on restricting legalism. The Romans murdered their own living heart and that of every culture they came across, and their true legacy was a thousand years of intellectual darkness that didn't start to abate until the Renaissance. If only Hannibal had defeated the The Celts would have lived, Alexandria would not have been burned. The last two millennia would have been entirely different.

🔼Hannibal and Hitler

The quintessential war between Rome (absolute rule) and Carthage (free enterprise) obviously reflects an intrinsic element of the human condition:

  • Do we believe that humanity is a republic, and we must devise rules by which we govern ourselves from thin air? If so, we better start cracking, and impose more and more rules on others whilst removing their liberty to alter them.
  • Or are we a kingdom, and are essentially governed by the same natural laws that "govern" creation, which exist inside of us and were made and put there by a Creator King? If that is so, then we should study creation with all our might, and derive laws that promote the highest degree of freedom among people, ultimately resulting in a common awareness that will make all human law more and more superfluous (and read our article on the name Armageddon for more on this).

The Romans and every dictatorial regime since, are of the first order. The Yahwists (in the broadest sense possible) are of the second. Over the last two millennia, Jews have been driven out of areas where political power centralized and Jews would not comply (hence the "Jewish Question," coined in Great Britain in 1750). It's no coincidence at all that Adolf Hitler expressed his ideas entirely in Roman imagery and that he went so violently after the folks who wouldn't dance to his music (hence the "Final Solution").

And even today we see the powers of the world conglomerate into ever growing federations in which corporations tell universities what to teach, and people what to believe. Very few people today realize to which an absurd degree we let our governments form us according to their own image. We're so used to having kings (and presidents and CEOs) that we rarely stop to contemplate how fantastically stupid this arrangement is. Kings extract enormous amounts of money from their subjects and then they take them to war (wars rarely erupt spontaneously; they're most often declared; 1 Samuel 8:11-18. Also note that the words for king and Molech are virtually the same in Semitic languages).

The Internet, of course, is entirely "Carthaginian," thank God. There's obviously a lot wrong with the Internet, but what's wrong with the Internet is what's wrong with humanity and the Internet merely exposes our flaws (which was precisely what God's Law was designed to do: Romans 3:20). But at no point in human history has the average Joe had so much opportunity to develop into whatever his heart dictates (a scholar, a photographer, a gamer). Since the Internet is the inorganic component of human community, it has all the qualities of a city. Whether this city will allow humanity to develop as far as to bring about an organic equivalent of this city is hard to say, but one thing is certain: this time Rome won't win; this time we come with a force greater than that of thirty-eight elephants.

🔼Hannibal and Beyond!

Here at Abarim Publications we're pretty sure that if we haven't screwed up the planet beyond repair, we'll evolve towards a nationless population directed by a decentralized, Yahwistic government, and Yahwism is not a religion, in case you were wondering.

The most rudimentary power structure also occurs in the animal world, namely the chiefdom, in which one strong individual rules a group of others that he is related to (contrasted by herd-animals, which may form herds of millions of individuals, without a leader). Should a clan encounter another clan, the two clash and the stronger clan defeats the weaker clan in much the same way as one leader would defeat challengers from his own collective. But in some rare cases, certain chiefs would have had the urge to not just defeat and exterminate the other clan, but to extend his rule over it, and that's how the concept of king-hood was invented (rule over none-related individuals rarely happens in the animal world). Kinghood, therefore, is a trans-animal by-product of natural chiefdom, which became the norm in the human world.

In the same way, kings would go to war with each other, until it was discovered that kings could have a wonderful battle-of-wealth, in which the glory was won by the guy who had the most gold. Hence the "wealth of nations" was a by-product of the invention of monarchy. Science, in the mean time, had been employed first to devise weapons of war but then was counted on to produce value. But people with a knack for science tend to get bored with practical applicability, and the pursuit-of-benefit spawned the by-product of the pursuit-of-truth, and the Internet is a by-product of that.

Here at Abarim Publications, we're guessing that sometime in the near future the Internet will make possible, as a by-product, a kind of gathering of human effort that the world has not before experienced. It won't be a machine and it won't be run by a deliberate organization; it won't have a member list or a president, it won't bother with names, titles or symbols, but it will cause all borders to become obsolete and ultimately all people will gladly surrender all rule to it. We're pretty sure that the ancients had already achieved knowledge of this phenomenon, but they also saw a thick pack of Roman clouds gather in the human sky, which took it from sight. The good news is that we're almost there. The bad news is that power is so addictive that no power-monger will relinquish it without a fight.

Hannibal made a big mistake, and modern Yahwists need to learn from that. Hannibal's hate for the Romans drove him on a collision course with a force that would ultimately level his city and obliterate his culture. He took his forces across the natural wall of the Alps, which later historians would recognize as the gate to Italy (Cassiodorus, Variae, 7, IV), while he should have followed the course of his predecessor Hanno the Navigator, through the narrow straight of Gibraltar and onto a brave new world.

Had Hannibal stuck to trade, he would have defeated Rome commercially. Or in the words of Jesus: "Enter the Narrow Gate. Because the gate that is wide, and the road that is broad, are the ones that lead to destruction; many follow those. The gate that is small and the road that is narrow lead to life. Few are those who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14) and no, this is not an invitation to go on a Mediterranean cruise; the narrow gate is on Golgotha (Matthew 27:38). The final government of mankind will rule commerce but it won't win by trying to out-trade Wall Street. They'll know more than science ever will, but they won't win by out-smarting Einstein. Their victory won't be military, it won't be political and it won't be technological. But it will be total.

🔼Etymology of the name Hannibal

The name Hannibal consists of two elements. The first part comes from the verb חנן (hanan), meaning to be gracious:

The second part of our name comes from the familiar name Baal, which in turn comes from בעל (ba'al), meaning lord or master:

🔼Hannibal meaning

The name Hannibal means Gracious Lord, Baal The Graceful or The Lord Is Graceful.

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