You are hereHomeBARNovember/December 2008Shasu or Habiru: Who Were the Early Israelites? The true Semitic form of the word is obscured by the Akkadian syllabic script of the Amarna Letters and other cuneiform documents. The word is really ‘apiru meaning “dusty, dirty.” Join the BAS Library! Already a library member? Log in here. Institution user? Log in with your IP address.