"Is Biblical Hebrew a language?"-NPL
Niels Peter Lemche
npl at teol.ku.dk
Wed Jul 19 13:05:35 EDT 2000
Yes, the wayyixtov forms are there, but I do not remember the consecutive
perfect forms, neither the exchange between the two. Mesha ll. 10-11 is
interesrting: wybn lh nlk ywr'l `t ´trt w`ltchm bqr v`chzh v`hrg `t
cl h´m ... A consective imperfect followed by another consecutive imperfect
although the first action is leading to the second.
You also find traces of the system in the Yavneh Yam (Mesad Hashavyahu)
letter and as far as I remember in the Lachish letters. Siloam l. 5 also is
But I stay with my verdict that you don't have the complicate but very
effective system of the SBH (standard biblical Hebrew).
From: yochanan bitan-buth [SMTP:ButhFam at compuserve.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2000 17:24
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: re:"Is Biblical Hebrew a language?"-NPL
>Here Mesha provided-I believe five examples-a few more inscriptions
>more, but never the system we find in Gen-2 Kgs. What I cannot say,
>nobody can say is whether or not this system was in use in the Iron
yaa salaam, ma pit'om?!
Absolute numbers in a short text may not be definitive, but function
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
a usage that goes against the grammatical expectations of modern BH
grammars and even ILLUSTRATES those points of Gen-2Kgs that conflict
the "sterile grammars". How could one say "never the system we find
Gen-2Kgs."? It's starring us in the face.
E.g. Mesha correctly uses vayyiqtol for 'thematic main line'
even beginning a sequence after a preposed noun phrase "and Omri ...
tormented". Something that occurs in BH too, but always raises
eyebrows. (See Isaiah 6.1 for a nice example).
And Mesha illustrates the X-qatal used as a dramatic pause (veIsrael
avad `olam) for what could otherwise have been a sequential
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
7.6-10 for any doubters, see Buth "Functional Grammar Hebrew and
in W. Bodine, ed., Discourse Analysis of Biblical Literature. SBL,
The long building section in Mesha also shows the x-qatal
appropriate to lists, again reflecting the overall understanding of
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,
would be expected that Moabite and 1st temple, Judean Hebrew were
intelligible and much tighter than, say, Hebrew/Phoenician. For
please see my article on "Methodological Collision between Source
and Discourse Analysis: The Problem of 'Unmarked Temporal Overlay'
Pluperfect/non-sequential wayyiqtol" in Biblical Hebrew and
Linguistics, ed. Robert Bergen. Eisenbrauns, 1994:138-154].
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