"Is Biblical Hebrew a language?"-NPL
ButhFam at compuserve.com
Wed Jul 19 11:24:19 EDT 2000
>Here Mesha provided-I believe five examples-a few more inscriptions some
>more, but never the system we find in Gen-2 Kgs. What I cannot say, and
>nobody can say is whether or not this system was in use in the Iron Age,
yaa salaam, ma pit'om?!
Absolute numbers in a short text may not be definitive, but function is.
Nevertheless, in the short section from "Omri King of Israel AND he
tormented ..." up to "...and I made the waterworks" there are NINE
vayyiqtols, more in the rest of that text.
What is much more impressive about Mesha is the ELEGANT use of the system,
a usage that goes against the grammatical expectations of modern BH
grammars and even ILLUSTRATES those points of Gen-2Kgs that conflict with
the "sterile grammars". How could one say "never the system we find in
Gen-2Kgs."? It's starring us in the face.
E.g. Mesha correctly uses vayyiqtol for 'thematic main line' narratives,
even beginning a sequence after a preposed noun phrase "and Omri ... and he
tormented". Something that occurs in BH too, but always raises modern
eyebrows. (See Isaiah 6.1 for a nice example).
And Mesha illustrates the X-qatal used as a dramatic pause (veIsrael avod
avad `olam) for what could otherwise have been a sequential vayyiqtol but
was elegantly put into a dramatic pause structure. Again, not in the
grammars but EXCELLENT BH (see Gen 19.23-25, 44.3-4, Jud 6.21 [and Est
7.6-10 for any doubters, see Buth "Functional Grammar Hebrew and Aramaic"
in W. Bodine, ed., Discourse Analysis of Biblical Literature. SBL, 1995:
The long building section in Mesha also shows the x-qatal structures,
appropriate to lists, again reflecting the overall understanding of the
Moabite exactly shows the living style of Gen-2Kgs.
Moderns need to internalize the old BH style and they will then be
delighted with such classic Moabite.
You could hardly ask for more impressive confirmation. So much so, that it
would be expected that Moabite and 1st temple, Judean Hebrew were mutually
intelligible and much tighter than, say, Hebrew/Phoenician. For more,
please see my article on "Methodological Collision between Source Criticism
and Discourse Analysis: The Problem of 'Unmarked Temporal Overlay' and the
Pluperfect/non-sequential wayyiqtol" in Biblical Hebrew and Discourse
Linguistics, ed. Robert Bergen. Eisenbrauns, 1994:138-154].
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