Genesis 10:2/3 makes him a son of Gomer, the Cimmerians of Northern Asia, near Armenia. The Cymry, who we think of as the Welsh but who were in fact the pre-Welsh Celtic settlers of that region, as well as further north and east in England, in what is still called Cumbria, claim their origins from this people. See The Leprachauns of Palestine.

See also Jeremiah 51:27, where Ashkenaz is partnered with the kingdoms of Ararat and Mini (
מִנִּי) as the key agents of the defeat of Bav-El and Kasdim (Babylon and Chaldea).

Gesenius wonders if Ashkenaz is not in fact a scribal error, and notes that the word only appears twice, while there is also Ashpenaz (אַשְׁפְּנַז) in Daniel 1:3, the chief eunuch in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. Given the similarity of the written letters Chaf (כ) and Peh (פ), this is entirely plausible (the wing of a dead fly would make the alteration), though etymologists have no more idea of the meaning of Penaz than they do of Kenaz, so it really makes little difference

Given the rarity of five letter roots in any of the Hittite sub-languages, is there a possibility that the name is in fact a conjunction of Ish and Kenaz, meaning "a men from Kenaz", wherever Kenaz might be? Hebrew has no triliteral root Kaf-Nun-Zayin (כנז), but it does have a triliteral Kuf-Nun-Zayin (קנז) which means "to hunt", and is the name given in Genesis 36:11, 15 and 42 to a grandson of Esav through Eli-Phaz, and to the younger brother of Kalev (Caleb) in Joshua 15:17Judges 1:13 and 1 Chronicles 4:13. The latter Kenaz fathered Otni-El. 

Genesis 15:19, Numbers 32:33 and Joshua 14:6 make reference to the Kenizi as a nation. The problem with this possibility is geographical - the Kenizi were a clan of the Beney Yehudah, swith marriages into the Beney Edom - completely the wrong geography for any immediate connection with Ashkenaz, though the general nomadism of the time does not preclude their having moved - these are, after all, more or less Av-Ram's starting and finishing points.

Ashkenaz is the name now applied to all of modern, European Jewry; like the term Sephardi for Jews of Spanish origin, it was chosen entirely arbitrarily.

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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