🔼The name Hebrew: Summary
- One Who Transits, Passer Over, Flower Forth, Deducer, One Who Looks At Something From All Sides
- From the verb עבר ('abar), to pass over.
🔼The miracle that is the Hebrew language
Before the invention of the alphabet (see our article on YHWH), the Hebrews were the linguistic equivalents of weak and cave-dwelling nerds, very minor stars among the great constellations of the verbal biosphere at large. There were many stronger and faster languages around, and Hebrew was really nothing special in the grander scheme of human vocalizations and early writing systems (hieroglyphs, cuneiform). But when the Hebrews invented and perfected the alphabet, they truly had tamed fire (Exodus 3:2), and the world changed.
The stories of Abraham who left Ur, and Jacob who became Israel, Moses who liberated Israel, Joshua who brought it home, David who centralized it, and Solomon who built it its great temple in Jerusalem, are all about the formation of the utterly formidable Hebrew alphabet: the greatest invention mankind has ever made, which literally forged mankind's celebrated consciousness, which focused the great mystic traditions and paved the way for the scientific tradition — in the Bible told of as the coming of the Logos, the Word, the human understanding of the laws of nature — and thus our modern technological world and the very Internet, that secondary marvel that has opened the fountains of the world and all the books for everyone to read (Daniel 7:10, Revelation 20:12).
The alphabet became the fire around which the Hebrews gathered. It centralized their society. It provided warmth, direction at night, and kept wild beasts at bay. They baked their food on it, and their clay pots, and ultimately purified their metals with it. Soon others joined them around their fire (Genesis 34:29, Exodus 12:38, Numbers 31:35). Some of the creatures that wandered in from the darkness understood the fire (although they hadn't invented it) and joined the quest for its many applications. These became Hebrews too. But most of the creatures that wandered in from the darkness came to the fire because they were more scared of the wild animals behind them than the fire in front of them. These creatures were not able to understand the fire, and so they aimed at serving the Fire Keepers instead.
The Hebrew's priestly class absorbed most of the available human capital (Exodus 19:6), and their vulnerable oral tradition became a solid text (Psalm 16:10) that somehow "arose" like an emergent property (Moses means Drawn Out) from a vast and world-wide economy of correspondence. It was a miraculous creation, the world's first true open source project — antiquity's equivalent of a Wikipedia page on Everything — certainly guided by community rules but global in compass, unprecedent in complexity and depth, and forged solely by the free forces of the open market.
Like living telephone wires, webs of traveling story tellers listened to their audiences, and thus perfected the balance between old and familiar, and new and exciting. Tropes arose like stars and intricate compositions began to shimmer like vast constellations. Crucial information was cast within forms, that interacted with others and created more information by their contexts. Data was stored in repetition, in broken symmetries, sometimes in details deliberately left out. Stories were forged like arrow heads, and libraries of themes and types like hammered implements of metal: some dangerous, some useful and some mere beautiful. Layers upon layers and halls within halls were wrought without governance or plan. What a bee-hive and an ant-hill are to bees and ants, the Hebrew Scriptures became to humanity: both a familiar home to all, but utterly incomprehensible to any single individual.
The conversation formed the language, which facilitated the stories, which directed the writing, which inspired the stories, which fueled the conversation, which forged the language, like silver refined in a fire seven times over (Psalm 12:6). Script allowed men to miraculously read the thoughts of other men, from far away or long ago. It even allowed man to explore the thoughts of his own heart, like a dream spelled out on paper (Daniel 2:30, Psalm 139:23).
Just like the collective hive and the individual bee define and perfect each other, so the Hebrew Scriptures are not simply something done with the Hebrew language, not a mere application, but rather the language itself. There were no dictionaries back then. There were no research libraries containing the culture's core narratives, no books of grammar or exposés that explained the inner workings of the language with which people explored each other's minds and concerns and imaginations and dreams. Instead, all of these elements of language were naturally and organically congealed and manifested into the works we call the Hebrew Bible. That is why the Hebrew Bible is only about the nature and evolution of the Hebrew language, and thus the consciousness that runs upon the software that the Hebrew language provides.
The Hebrew Bible is literally the material manifestation of the invisible human consciousness: not historic (i.e. true because it really happened) but algorithmic (i.e. true because it really happens). The purpose of the Bible is not to convey rules to live by (wrapped in less relevant narratives and flowery poetry), but to teach the full width and breath of the world's most excellent language — its words, grammar, tropes, archetypes, fractals, symmetries, genres, even the nature and depth of its omniscient subconsciousness — so that the student may ultimately enter the much greater world of conversation in that language, and partake in the greatest marvel of rational consciousness ever to take hold of planet earth.
When we read a text, we don't stop to meditate on each separate word, one at a time. Instead, we fly through the sentences while our brain generates a unified experience of reality from the words. When we walk through a city, likewise, we don't stop at every object to give it a moment of conscious thought. Instead, we subconsciously attach words to the things we see and our brain, again, weaves those words into a unified experience of reality. That means that we literally "read" our reality into existence. Imagine the difference between being at a party where all people are our intimate friends, and a party where all people are perfect strangers. That same difference exist between the experience of reality of humans who have words and of animals who have no words. Animals dream or hallucinate their reality into existence, but we humans read it — hence the Word riding a donkey, which is a word-joke that works best in Greek; see our article on οναρ (onar), dream.
When we stroll through our neighborhood while walking our dog, and we notice a stop-sign, we not only recognize the meaning of the sign (we're walking, so we feel free to not heed the sign's command), but we also subconsciously remember that we've already passed five of those same signs on streets that we just walked through. Moreover, we realize that the sign has a great many siblings — signs of similar or different shapes, which in turn relate to demarcation lines painted on the street, and even rules that are certainly valid but not emphasized by any visible sign. We see the one stop sign and in our mind we appreciate that the one sign is part of a much greater apparatus of traffic control, which gives every traveler the freedom to go wherever they want without getting hit by other travelers, and which prevent the streets from clogging up in rush hour gridlock. The system of traffic control, we realize without consciously meditating on it, is part of a greater apparatus of governance that regulate our entire society, for which we pay taxes, for which we labor.
Our dog, meanwhile, is walking through the same street right next to us, and sees the same world we see. But he doesn't know the words of things, and he is not aware of the greater reality that created these objects and put them where they stand, that binds them all together and that governs reality at large. He is not aware of the existence of law, or law enforcement, a police station, a court room, a prison. He is also not aware of things like democracy and voting rights, of commerce and saving accounts, of science and medical health. We are, but he is not.
🔼Augmented reality and the waters under the earth
We look out into our world and cannot imagine that someone else would see a whole different reality. But what we actually and factually see are not the dots of our world but the patterns that connect the dots (in every collapsed-wave-function-sense of the word). Every observer sees the dots, but dogs see different patterns, and quite literally live in a different world.
To a dog, two stop-signs a few streets apart are as separate as two roses in separate backyards would be to us; they utterly blend away in the complex background. A dog doesn't see the stop signs, simply because they don't stand out. To a dog, a parked car is the same as a container but not at all the same as a moving car. A house is the same as a cave, and a person going through a door is the same as a person going through a solid rock wall.
To a dog, whatever happens is normal, and a dog does not wonder about the how of things. More importantly, it never crosses a dog's mind that the entire street is synthetic and built by humans, from the pavement of the street to the houses, the clothes people wear, even the language they speak: none of it grows on trees and all of it was consciously crafted by industrious human beings. Dogs don't make things and have no faculty to separate natural from synthetic. A dog cannot see, or begin to fantasize about, the patterns of governance that make up the world we human call home.
Just like all animals, all human languages have innate intelligence, and a language's innate intelligence corresponds to the patterns that naturally exist within a language itself, long before anyone uses that language to tell a story. Animals do smart things and languages convey smart stories, but beneath the visible behavior of animals, there is an intelligence that produces, limits and governs the behavior. That intelligent potential is like the environment in which the animal roams and acts. A language, likewise, has intelligent potential, which is the realm through which a story meanders.
Unlike words in English, the vast majority of words in the Hebrew language are part of clusters of similar words (for instance: פלה, pala, to be separate, פלא, pala', extraordinary thing, אפל, 'apal, to disappear, פול, pul, a bean, נפל, napal, to fall). These clusters are called roots, and all words are in fact variations of a more fundamental concept (in this case: פלל, palal, to sit in between, to intercede). In English, two words side by side merely form a very short sentence. In Hebrew, however, two words side by side are like a bridal couple, who each brings their extended family to the occasion. A reader of Hebrew not only acknowledges the two obvious words that marry, but also their many siblings and cousins who (in a subconscious but very real place within the reader's mind) festively mingle and bond and fortify and nutrify the soil of the society at large, the very society that will uphold and sustain the union of the initial two.
English is a shallow soil in which only grass grows. Hebrew is a deep soil in which a vastly diverse jungle of huge trees find root. All identity is narrative ("you" are the story of you), but within the habitat that is English, the diversity of individual minds is not very great. But within the habitat that is Hebrew, living things of all sorts and sizes interact and uphold each other. Some minds speak both, and run through the savannahs of English as comfortably as swing from the trees in Hebrew.
Words are the imaginary names of things we observe in reality. When two words (say: urban and suburb, or sheep and shepherd) relate etymologically and the speaker is aware of this, the real objects they represent relate likewise. That means that the relationships between words explain the relationships between things. Long before anybody tells any story, these realities are baked into the very language, and they form the "stage of reality" upon which every story is a living character, an animal, that engages all other characters within the greater habitat that is the whole of the culture of the language basin.
In Hebrew, every word we read brings to mind a dozen kindred words. And if we see an object in observable reality, and the word by which we call that object drifts into the subconscious mind (Genesis 2:19-20), a quick consideration of a dozen objects that relate to the first automatically follows. When our mind runs on Hebrew, our reality is constantly augmented by little pop-ups that explain the invisible but much broader natures and wider contexts of everything we see.
When we read the Hebrew Bible, the words we see printed on the page reflect the Bible's conscious thoughts (the dry land, if you will). But the infinite interplay of each word's extended family reflects the Bible's liquid and subterranean subconscious thoughts (all individual words are the mere pips of a stepless spectrum of the root meaning, so indeed, the Bible's subconscious realm is without boundaries, and forms Chladni-patterns of meaning). We readers don't stop to consider the full meaning of each separate word, and we also don't consider the infinite subconsciousness of the text. Instead, we read so that the subconsciousness of our mind may synchronize with the subconsciousness of the Bible, so that subsequently the dry land of our spoken words may be of a similar kind (of the same species) as the Bible is, giving rise to vast diversity and depth of life (Psalm 19:14, Ephesians 4:23, Galatians 4:5).
Someone whose mind runs on the English language will walk through an entirely different human reality than someone whose mind runs on Hebrew and walks beside the first. Ten well-chosen English words in a row are a very small story at best. Ten Hebrew words in a well-chosen row can contain an entire library of English books (John 21:25). A thousand objects with English names merely form a very small street. Those same objects with Hebrew names tell of origin and history, of manufacturing and preservation, of use and purpose, and of the hope for a world in which all things have their rightful place and the Creator takes a stroll in the cool of the day.
🔼The highest form of flattery
Human speech comes about when human individuals imitate other individuals, and all expressions ultimately gravitate upon a shared standard. Human children, likewise, learn to speak and behave by imitating adults. Humanity at large, likewise, becomes divine by imitating the Deity (Matthew 5:48), and may thus partake in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), which is Oneness (Deuteronomy 6:4, Ephesians 4:3-6, John 17:21-23). A language is only a language when it exists seamlessly within many heads, which means that all language is sacred (Matthew 18:20) and all text god-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16; compare Genesis 2:7 to John 20:22). A language is the ratio of many hearts, and since a shared language yields a shared reality, rational consciousness too is divine.
Consciousness has always been a tricky concept, but with the present rise of Artificial Intelligence, the search for a scientific understanding of consciousness has become a very urgent matter. If we can, somehow, give a numeric value to consciousness, we can determine if, and to which degree, a machine is conscious (and that has all sorts of consequences, legal and ethical). One very important theory that arose from the quest for understanding consciousness is Integrated Information Theory. Roughly, this theory states that when a system generates more information than we put in, the system is conscious. This radical approach to defining consciousness not only allowed scientists to recognize consciousness in deeply comatose patients, and literally bring them back from the dead (read the riveting Being You by Anil Seth, 2021), but it also allows readers of the Hebrew Scriptures to understand that there literally is consciousness in the Bible.
The Bible is a brain, an artificial brain. It's a fire of consciousness around which organic brains may gather in the cold of night and warm up. The invention of the alphabet equals the control of fire. The alphabet, in which men like David (10 century BC) and Isaiah (8th century BC) had begun to write, was imported into the Greek and later the Latin language basin (see our article on the Aeneid). Without this crucial event, the Homeric epochs would not have been written down and would have been lost. There would have been no Greek Golden Age: no philosophy, no democracy, no polite society. There would have been no Roman Republic, no Punic Wars, no Roman Empire. There would have been no Gospel, no scientific tradition and no modern world (not even the weekend would exist).
All of this happened because Hebrew — the Hebrew conversation, hence the Hebrew Scriptures, hence the Hebrew alphabet — domesticated the human languages. Hebrew was once a mere ape, at best an equal among the animals, but learned to control fire and became the world's Good Shepherd.
🔼Best friends forever
Our modern world exists because Homo Sapiens became the "farmer" who surrounded himself with domesticated animals. Not all animals could be domesticated, but those who could received a level of safety from predators and bad weather, and an abundance of food and care that had not previously existed in the animal world. Domesticated animals don't really understand what they have, but the cleverest ones do realize that life within the fence is a great deal more stress-free than life out in the wilderness. Out there, evolution favors qualities like brute physical strength and speed (even a panicky sensitivity for danger). In here, animals are bred for their bodily products (wool, milk, meat) and are thus kept in excellent physical and mental health, which means that they enjoy a largely fearless existence. Others, like horses and dogs, are bred for their near-human qualities, their companionship and their ability to synchronize their every move to the needs of a world they will never understand.
Dog is man's best friend, also because without dog, man would not have been able to control the herds. In fact, without dog's natural doings, man may not even have thought of controlling the herds, just like only few of us dream of controlling the seas or the weather. Controlling herds was not a thing done until man saw what dog could do and dog wanted to please man. Wild dogs probably began to be tolerated near the fire when humans and dogs began to anticipate each other's hunting strategies, and aligned their own accordingly. Positive reinforcements, like the gift of food and protection from bigger predators, bound the two in lasting symbiosis. Respective abilities diversified function, and the union created a whole new form of life, a life-form whose qualities and potentials could not possibly have been estimated by anybody alive back then.
Today, no animal in the modern world receives love as much as the dog. And the understanding of that has been bred into their genes: a modern puppy will intuitively prefer the company of its humans over that of its canine family. The Hebrew word for dog is כלב (keleb), which is identical to a phrase that would mean "like a heart" or even "like a lion". Likewise, the Greek word for dog is κυων (kuon), which looks very much like it has something to do the verb κυω (kuo), to be pregnant (of either physical or spiritual "children", such as literary or artistic works). The English word "dog" is formally of unclear origin but entered the English language around the same time that classical Greek was revived, just prior to the Enlightenment. The familiar Greek word δογμα (dogma) means a "finding" (-ma is a common suffix, like "-ing" in English), from the verb δοκεω (dokeo), to find, suppose, imagine.
The popular story goes that man in his wisdom domesticated the dog, but that doesn't seem to be correct. Prior to the age of domestication, dogs and humans both lived in small family groups, expressed themselves with comparably complex communications, had a closely comparable sense of tribal hierarchy and hunted in comparably intelligent packs — not simply by means of a massive attack on some prey but a concerted effort in which one or two individuals brought the prey down and the rest, the drivers, shared without challenge in the spoils.
There was no way to tell which was smarter, the dog or the man, and the difference between dogs and humans only began to become evident when the humans tamed fire. And humans tamed fire because they tamed their fear. They tamed their instinctive fear of the otherness of fire, its utter un-humanness, and began to respect the fire on its own exotic terms, rather than their familiar human terms (Genesis 15:1).
🔼A house on a rock
The symbiosis between man and dog changed both man and dog, and their miraculous union created the House of Humanity that became our modern world. And all that began to be when canines, who could not master their fears, began to approach and study and imitate the fearless Fire Keepers, who did things with the fire that the dogs could not begin to imagine. But dog entered the glow of the fire when dog learned the ways of man, and became the first non-human native of the new human world.
Dog is man's best friend, but the cardinal rule of doghood is that dog is under man and man not under dog. Not all dogs always realize this. An encounter between a massive Rottweiler and a twelve year old newspaper boy may result in the dog's immediate dominance. But the boy will go to his father, and his father will go to the dog catchers, and the dog catchers will find the dog and take it away, and the dog will never understand that his present fatal misfortune is directly related to the boy whom he so confidently mauled earlier that day.
In the very early days of domestication, long before newspapers and dog control, uppity dogs routinely challenged the superiority of the humans, and often simply killed them in the idle hope that they could keep the herds together without the contribution of humans. That failed, of course, and the herds scattered and the dogs remained in the ruins of what once were farm houses, until these too fell apart and the dogs returned to the wilderness.
The European world was once a haven for Pitbulls and Rottweilers, and many a newspaper boy has had to run for his life. But the boy grew up and the world now runs on science and technology (where the lame walk, the blind see, the dead are raised and the gospel is preached), and man's formidable best friend has morphed into endless parades of poodles, pugs and Pomeranians. And where would we be without these lovely living toys? Today, the vast majority of our canine companions are fun-loving, play-centered and reward-driven creatures, blissfully unaware of past and future tenses (you need language for that), who live free of any responsibility, accountability and duty involving useful production or service. Regardless of size, shape or form (whether the formidable German Rottweiler, the intelligent Irish Sheepdog, or the delightful Yorkshire Terrier), their play, their war, their sense of the familiar and their sense of the foreign, their outlook on life, and even their continued devotion to the hand that feeds them — their whole self and entire existence — revolves wholly around the establishment of dominance, and thus wholly around competition and showmanship. Dogs pretend all the time; the fabric of their reality is that of make-belief. They are the embodiment of deception, and their world is a world of leaders and followers, of managers and the managed, of entertainers and the entertained, of masters and slaves. And so our canine friends are applauded, voted for, funded, fed, cherished, trained, clipped, curtailed, leashed and loved, and rightly so. Where would our world be without them?
The friendship between man and dog is in the Bible most obviously discussed as the friendship between Joshua and Caleb (same word; means Dog). Joshua is the Hebrew original of the Greek name Jesus, who embodies the Word and is called Christ (which means anointed or sovereign). And we modern humans can either be in Christ or under Christ, and the difference is a matter of simple geometry:
We are in Christ, when we too are anointed and thus sovereign (1 John 2:27). We are under Christ when we are not sovereign but live with and work for the sovereign (like Japheth in Shem's tents, like a dog in a human home). The rare Greek suffix -ianos means "under" in an authoritative sense, so the Greek word for "under Christ" is Christianos, from which comes the word Christianity (see our article on that name for more details). Joshua (Jesus, the Logos) embodies the Hebrew language and is the "man", whereas Christianity embodies the Greek language and is the "dog" (which also explains the many Hebrew roots of the Greek language, which are like human commands within a dog's mind). Together these two have terraformed the modern world: the Logos gave us science and technology, while Christianity governed the human herds.
The miraculous union that formed the House of Humanity was not unprecedented, but highly similar, or self-similar actually, to the process known as endosymbiotic eukaryosynthesis. And another point of note is that the Hebrew and the Christian are miles apart in terms of temperament and interests. The scientific Hebrew is of simian extraction, and simians (apes) are much closer related to rabbits and mice (same flat feet). And indeed, the scientific effort of the Hebrew is essentially an outgrowth of the great mystic traditions of antiquity (quite deliberately, the word μυστηριον, musterion, meaning mystery, closely relates to μυς, mys, meaning mouse).
And so the House of Humanity consists of two main divisions: (1) the quietly contemplating, who are slow but scheming, and (2) the quick-moving and strength-in-numbers sort. Contrary to the contemplative mice and apes, cats and dogs are close cousins of the strength-in-numbers herd animals (again, same toe-walking feet that are built for speed). In the human world, cows and sheep form the working classes, whereas cats and dogs feed off the labor of their kin and take on the guise of central government and law enforcement. And prior to the parliamentary nation state, they peopled the courts of the dynastic monarchy; hence the celebrated and entirely Christian dogma of the "divine right of kings" (science doesn't have "rights", only "competence").
All this explains why Christianity has creeds, catechisms and inquisitions, and the Hebrews don't. It's also why Christianity debates, while science doesn't. Contrary to popular inflections, there is no such thing as a scientific debate. Science measures, hypothesizes, predicts and disproves; debate is not part of the deal. Scientists don't identify with their hypotheses, only with the greater realm of knowledge. Science is not the pursuit of truth but of consensus, which is why scientists will always eagerly respect another scientist's rational objections or reservations. Scientific disciplines check out each other's data and grow beyond the sum. Christian denominations violently defend their turf, deny that the other guy is on to something and then try to appropriate it.
In our modern world, most animals appreciate human contact because humans usually bring food, they pet and protect and entertain, and they know about healing and all that sort of thing. Animals used to be terrified of humans (and rightly so) but in our modern world, animals slowly learn to trust humans and appreciate their presence, even though they cannot begin to imagine what a world the humans are part of.
Only a small number of animal species have it in them to be truly domesticated. But a young animal, including a young human, doesn't know the differences between animals and doesn't know what species it is. Especially in households where babies, puppies, lambs and small chickens grow up together, it's not uncommon that babies think they're puppies and puppies think they're chickens until they have matured enough to realize they're slobbering from the wrong trough (usually when the chickens run the puppy off and the dogs the human toddler). In extreme cases, such an animal has lived among others too long to learn its own native behavior, and its own people reject it too, thinking it's some crazy person. Fortunately for such rejects, the great human inn always has vacancies.
Many kinds of animals can learn the ways of man in some way or form. Certain birds can reproduce entire phrases but have no idea what they are saying. Dogs cannot reproduce words but do understand meaning and thus can follow simple verbal commands. Horses are able to follow tactile commands. And human babies can do all of that, and ultimately may assume the entire spectrum of human qualities, and partake in the great conversation and invent and renew and govern.
The difference between animals and humans is that humans have Theory of Mind and animals don't. That means that a dog will always translate human commands into dog principles, and interpret the human world (twelve tribes) in dog terms (twelve Olympians). A human dog-trainer, however, will understand that a dog has another mind (a dog walks through another reality), and will always try to communicate with the dog in dog terms.
European languages have no Theory of Mind, and an English speaker who tries to learn Hebrew most commonly does so by translating every Hebrew word one-on-one into an English one. But although the result may seem Hebrew, it's actually still English: the story is English, with a linear progression and very little complex depth. The Yiddish language, likewise, is a European language written in a Hebrew font, like a Golden Retriever in a T-shirt. Conversely, there are people in the world who don't formally speak Hebrew, but who are nevertheless endowed with a comparable depth of thought yet cursed with a kind of intellectual muteness until they too are touched by Hebrew (Mark 7:32).
Knowing Hebrew does not automatically make a person noble or righteous, just like there are many dogs in the world who are more dignified and kind than some humans. But it's simply unimaginable to people who don't know Hebrew to comprehend that Hebrew sits at the heart of all modern European languages, and governs them all from within. Said simpler: Hebrew speaks many languages (Acts 2:11, Genesis 7:9), and all the languages of Europe have within themselves an array of commands, ideas and narrative principles that they think emerged natively but were in fact injected into their wild populations by the Shepherds of old.
As illustrated above, the main difference between European languages and Hebrew is that Hebrew has a vastly greater internal complexity. European stories are linear (and progress from beginning to end), whereas in Hebrew, all words are linked to all other words and a story is a network without beginning or end, in which multiple lines of progression run all over the place and a reader may see their entire world reflected as if in a magic mirror. Most people simply cannot learn that, and it takes decades of dedication for non-native speakers to catch a glimpse of it.
All Hebrew words are clustered into roots, and those in super-roots, which means that Hebrew words are leaves from branches from bigger branches from a single trunk, that grew out of a smaller trunk and that from a single seed. That seed is remembered by the Hebrew language in the same way that the singularity of the universe is remembered by the symmetries and preservation laws of physics. Hebrew intuition, simply put, is clairvoyant. The principled increase of entropy is native to Hebrew, and the natural progression of Hebrew consciousness mimics that of the universe. Learning Hebrew requires the death of one's mind and thus the utter destruction of one's sub-Hebrew reality, followed by a rebirth from a singularity on. Learning Hebrew requires a brief period of madness, and that's not for everybody, and certainly not for the fainthearted.
🔼Etymology of the name Hebrew
The name Hebrew comes from the verb אבר (abar), meaning to pass over or through:
The important verb עבר ('abar) means to pass or cross over (a river, border, obstacle or terrain). The derived noun עבר ('eber) describes what or where you end up when you do the verb: the other side or region beyond.
This verb אבר (abar), to traverse or cross over, is in the Bible most commonly associated with crossing rivers. The word for river, namely נהר (nahar), comes from the verb נהר (nahar), to flow (what a river does) or emit light (what a lamp does). For a European, crossing the treacherous and thunderous ordeal of Relativity Theory may require a giant leap; to someone who speaks Hebrew it's a very small step.
The first to be called Hebrew was Abraham (Genesis 14:13), whose offspring would be like the "dust of the earth", the stuff from which everything was made, "so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered" (Genesis 13:16). Abraham had 8 + 4 nephews, namely the sons of his brother Nahor (means Force), 12 bow-flexing grandsons by his son Ishmael, and 12 emissaries of light by his great-grandson Jacob (who got his wives from the stock of Nahor). Again, these are mind-blowing and Nobel-prize worthy discoveries to Europeans, but little more than business as usual for your average Hebrew.
Rivers in the Bible also serve as obvious metaphors for the "flow" of human cultural enlightenment: the Nile corresponds to the wisdom and culture of Egypt, the Euphrates and Tigris with the wisdoms and cultures of Assyria and Babylon, and so on. A Hebrew is someone who fearlessly crosses over all of them (Joshua 24:2).
Another important verb of transition is פסח (pasah), from which derives the name of the festival of Pesah (or Passover), which not merely commemorates Israel's escape from Egypt but also, or more so, the fact that Israel has always been a mixing pot of many various normalcies. The essence of Pesah, or the Feast Of Mixing, is emphatically explained by the Greek verb πασχω (pascho), to experience. By New Testament times, the Festival of Pesah was essentially a Jerusalem-hosted World Fair, to which people from all over the known world would come to see and be seen: to experience the many ways of being human, the many normalcies that are really arbitrary and the shared values that mark the essence of humanity. That means that Pascha was really the Great Mixing, or the Feast Of Many Perspectives.
These two verbs of transition occur side by side in Exodus 12:23, where YHWH passes through Egypt (עבר, 'abar) but passes over Israel (פסח, pasah).
To us moderns the name Hebrew has a unique and exclusive (and even religious) ring to it, but it should be noted with some stress that this is not at all the case in the narrative of the Bible. The "name" Hebrew isn't an abstract label but much rather an ordinary word used as an appellative, like a nickname or even a signature quality. It means One Who Passes Over or One Who Transits or One From The Other [Dry] Side or even Flower Forth or Deducer or One Who Looks At Something From All Sides.
The name Hebrew occurs 14 times in the New Testament; see full concordance, mostly in reference to the Hebrew language.
In the Bible the name Hebrew obviously does not denote a particular religion or nationality, but rather the intrinsic human need to wade through the animal swamp and arrive at something as timeless and permanent as the natural laws upon which we were designed to operate, the same truth that famously sets us free (John 8:32, James 1:25), that existed before everything else (John 1:1) and in which everything holds together (Colossians 1:17); the same truth that purposes to hand over his kingdom to the Father, when he has abolished all rule and all authority and power (1 Corinthians 15:24); the same truth who speaks Hebrew with his people (Acts 26:14).
The name Hebrew signifies a perfect Republic (Revelation 21:22): a human collective in which every individual is autonomous and free and nobody dominates anybody else. Hebrew is first and foremost an attitude of utter transparency; a principled transcendence of all shades of deception and thus bondage and thus of formal (canine) authority. This attitude is required before any language can arise, as all languages are essentially republican and depend entirely on the voluntary cooperation of all of its practitioners. But it's also a crucial element of the scientific method, which demands that all topics may be studied and none are off limits (because no authority exists that may make such declarations; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16), and anybody's findings are everybody's findings and nobody's hope gets to throttle anybody else's.
The name Hebrew describes the condition of being without bounds, and thus being entirely free. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1), which means that the entire world is destined to be Hebrew or be governed by Hebrew (Genesis 12:3, Zechariah 8:20-23, Revelation 21:24). That promise has always been the greatest news ever, but as much as any individual who wants to learn Hebrew must first pass through the fires of madness, so must the entire world. The bad news is that there will not be another side, a new singularity, for everyone.
If that worries you, then know that the study of Hebrew is the study of a library of thought that is so overwhelmingly large that all the books in the world could not contain it (John 21:25). But fortunately, this entire vast library of angles and nuances is in fact the expanded version of the much more fundamental and seminal Ten Commandments, which aren't commandments but algorithms: they describe reality and work always the same for everyone everywhere.
But for starters of the Hebrew adventure, even these Ten are certainly still too complicated. (If you think they're simple, you're not getting them. And you're probably reading them in English). Fortunately for all of us, these Ten are actually two sets of Five, which are each expanded versions of Two even more fundamental algorithms: (1) Love YHWH entirely, and (2) the next guy like yourself. These simple-looking statements are the algorithms upon which the entire universe is based and all that's in it (Matthew 22:40).
Fortunately for all of us, even these two mind-bogglingly complex algorithms compress into One, namely the familiar: Treat Others The Way You Want To Be Treated (Matthew 7:12). That single unified algorithm sums up the whole of reality, the entire universe and all the goings on within the universe. It conveys the Nature of God, who is One, and when it describes God prior to creation, it explains why God created: to have others to treat, to agree with his own core identity, and to comply with his own core desire. And that is the image in which man was created.
The rule that defines all animal mind is: "Treat Others The Way You Want". As long as an animal lives by this rule, he will never escape competition. He will never experience God, or even the fact that all things can be understood by their relativity to all other things (because the whole of reality is a single unified network of relationships from which everything derives its identity: Ephesians 3:15, Romans 8:28).
God is experienced when the animal rule is wholly annulled and replaced by "Treat Others The Way You Want To Be Treated". That single rule informs such massively enlightened concepts as self-awareness and Theory of Mind, the formalization of desire and the translation of this into the reality of someone else. This is the algorithm that describes love. Everything that exists derives from this singular statement, and when one's human mind runs on the software that is this algorithm, one's mind has the nature of God, and no fire can cause it any harm.