[b-hebrew] Fwd: Daniel 6:27 (time indefinite) II
crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Mon Nov 21 12:46:27 EST 2005
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Herman Meester <crazymulgogi at gmail.com>
Date: 19-nov-2005 22:07
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Daniel 6:27 (time indefinite) II
To: Karl Randolph <kwrandolph at email.com>
What I'm usually working on is midrashim and other rabbinic
literature, so I'm not an expert on biblical Hebrew. Then, I'm just a
student. However, I might add the following comments to what you
stated, for which, of course, I thank you:
2005/11/18, Karl Randolph <kwrandolph at email.com>:
(...) I see that after the Babylonian
> Captivity there was a very different Hebrew than was before
What do you mean when you say "there" was? The Hebrew spoken by the
people who had not been taken to Babylon didn't suddenly show a major
change compared to what it had been like before. They just continued
to speak the language they spoke, and in that respect they had nothing
to do with the people that did go forcibly to Mesopotamia.
> a very simple usage that reflected a scholarly use apart from it being a
> natively spoken language. This is the same pattern as for Latin in
> Medieval Europe.
Here I disagree. Hebrew remained a spoken language in Judea until the
first few centuries A.D. This can be shown very easily based on the
phonological changes that occurred. In the best manuscripts of, say,
Midrash Bereshit Rabba, we have forms like BRYYH ("creature") where BH
would have had BRY)H. The alef therefore was no longer pronounced. In
the Qumran manuscripts we find similar proof that gutturals
disappeared in pronunciation. This only happens when languages
continue to be spoken.
> In other words, the Jews who returned to rebuild
> the temple now spoke Aramaic as their main language.
They might have spoken Aramaic as their main language for a while, or
stayed bilingual after having reacquired their Hebrew skills; there I
agree with you. But they must at least have started to use the lingua
franca of the area, Hebrew. There is otherwise no way of explaining
why Hebrew continued to change, and for example, absorb loads of Greek
words, their spelling being clearly based on how these words were
pronounced. Take the verb lehitkales for example, "be respected,
receive praise", derived of Greek Kalos. Not to mention the rather big
syntactic changes (BH was VSO, Rabb. Hebrew is SVO).
(...) After two
> generations of being scattered among Aramaic speaking peoples, they
> spoke Hebrew with an Aramaic accent. By the time the LXX a few
> generations later, the Hebrew pronunciation had been lost, all that
> was left was the Aramaic pronunciation of the letters that was
> applied to the Hebrew writing. Hence the LXX represents an Aramaic
> accented pronunciation, not Hebrew.
This undermines your own argument. Let's suppose you are right in
saying that Aramaic influenced Hebrew pronunciation. I guess that
might be the case; I don't know. Eastern Aramaic in the time of the
Galut Bavel, the way it was used by the Babylonians, had a clear
East-Semitic substrate. This is clear for Eastern Aramaic syntax,
which is (or: is strongly developing toward) SOV, like
Akkadian/Assyrian which has a Sumerian substrate. Now the thing is
that Akkadian does not have, or hardly has any gutturals. If, then,
the way Aramaic was adopted by the Babylonians must have influenced
Hebrew, it must have (exactly the opposite of what you say) deleted
the pronunciation of several gutturals.
And this is exactly what has happened: Hebrew lost its gutturals
instead of acquiring more of them.
> Further, even Aramaic had gone through pronunciation changes during
> the Persian period and later. But like the later example of Latin,
> the spelling of both Hebrew and Aramaic had been frozen, hence
> there is no epigraphical evidence for those changes in
> pronunciation. Among those changes were the loss of the unique
> pronunciation of samech, the sin/shin and ayin/ghayin splits,
> BGDKPT variants, etc. There's also question as to when those
> changes started and how fast they occurred.
Based on the line of argument I mentioned above, there could not have
been an "ayin/ghayin split" or "sin/shin" split. In later phases of
Hebrew, the difference between sin and samekh DISappear, so the
difference between sin and shin had been there when the Phoenician,
and later, Aramaic square, alefbet was applied for Hebrew. If there
indeed had been an ayin/ghayin split, why didn't the masoretes
indicate this in MT, like they did with sin and shin?
About Hebrew/Aramaic spelling having been frozen, you have to clarify
because one look at Babylonian Aramaic in the Talmud or at Hebrew
texts found at Qumran simply shows that there does exist evidence for
changes in pronunciation. So I think you cannot keep up that
> LXX and later were long after Hebrew pronunciation was forgotten.
> The Masoretic points, though they preserved the pronunciation that
> they received, are wrong often enough in meaning that it can be
> concluded that they, too, do not preserve original Hebrew
Hebrew pronunciation had never been "forgotten", it just changed like
any other language does. LXX then was conceived in a time when there
were plenty of people speaking Hebrew. They still distinguished
between ayin and ghayin at the time; later we see, in Qumran mss. and
in good Mishna mss. for example, that virtually all of the gutturals
This explains why the maroretes, who didn't pronounce any of the
gutturals, "pronounced" these letters, that were written in the holy
texts and had to be given expression some way because of that reason
(or changed into vowels in the actual pronunciation), by means of
"patach furtivum", chatef-patach, chatef-qametz and the like.
Take a word like Ruach:
We usually learn that the patach under chet or ayin, by way of
exception, is pronounced "before" in stead of "after" (as usual) the
consonant under which it has been placed.
A careful look at the Tiberian system tells us that this is in fact
nonsense. The chet and ayin were not pronounced at all, so the
masoretes said something like "Rua", not "Ruach". The patach is not
pronounced "before" the chet, it in pronounced *instead of* the chet.
The modern Hebrew pronunciation, where chet is pronounced again, is
due to Arabic influence: the Hebrew pronunciation of the oriental Jews
in the Islamic world, which is the pronunciation modern Hebrew is
based on (not the Ashkenazi one) has been influenced by the
pronunciation of Arabic.
> So, basically, the discussion came to an impasse. The lack of
> documentation making it impossible for anyone to prove that his
> view is correct.
Here I think that there does exist a way to prove that the view I
defend here, is correct. Even if we won't find a tape with spoken
Hebrew dated 700 BC, what is likelier? that Hebrew gradually lost the
many gutturals it once had, including ayin/ghayin, leading to rabbinic
Hebrew's spelling without many of the letters that had once
represented them? Or that Hebrew first did not have sounds like ghayin
and sin, acquiring these later by Aramaic influence (an Aramaic which,
if it was the Aramaic spoken in Babylon, was likely not to have so
many gutturals at all!), and then later still, losing these gutturals
again? The latter, your, theory, needs so many additional hypotheses
that we can consider it unlikely.
There is an interesting example I can think of now, that shows that,
apart from the "canonical", literate Jerusalemite Hebrew dialect that
is used for the biblical texts that do not originate in the Northern
Kingdom Israel (or Job for example, that is problably from Transjordan
in language), Hebrew was still spoken all the time, be it in a form
that is not always identical to the Jerusalemite dialect:
(ad shaqqamti Devora shaqqamti )em be-Yisra)el
This is clearly a very old text, it even contains an ancient second
person singular feminine -TY ending (qamti, "you (fem.) rose") (not
1st singular, because Devora is being addressed by the poet). Yet in
spite of that, it contains the relative particle "sha-", which is of
course identical to "she-".
In Jerusalemite Hebrew, )asher was used, but apparently within the
reservoir of the Hebrew language, or in a slightly more northern
dialect, sha-/she- was still used for ages after the Song of Debora
and managed to become the standard relative particle in rabbinic and
later modern Hebrew.
It is clear that "she-" is not the same word as ")asher", because the
shift from ")asher" to "she-" happened too sudden to explain that
)asher was in some way shortened.
Do we need this example?
It is already clear that Hebrew remained a spoken language for decades
into the Common Era. The Mishna was conceived in Hebrew and there is
no way to explain this if Hebrew was not a spoken language: it is a
text that was learned by heart, and it quotes certain important sages
in Aramaic. What would be the objection for the Mishna to be written
in Aramaic then? It had never been intended as a holy text!
I shall leave it at this; I may or may not have convinced you, but I
do believe this discussion doesn't have to be in an impasse. I'll
invite anyone to try to convince me that I'm wrong.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Herman Meester" <crazymulgogi at gmail.com>
> > Sorry Karl,
> > I just joined this mailing list, so I was not aware of that.
> > I guess that discussion is no longer underway, but could you tell me
> > how you explain that LXX renders Hebrew (ZH > Gaza, but B(L > Baal? I
> > ask this because it proves, in my humble opinion, that the LXX
> > translators saw one and the same Ayin, but heard two different
> > pronunciations.
> > Regards,
> > Herman
> > > > No, this is not speculation, it can be proved that the character Ayin
> > > > (in Biblical Hebrew's original pronunciation) represents two different
> > > > sounds. Compare how LXX renders the Hebrew word for "Gaza" or Gomorra:
> > > > the phonetic "Vorlage" for these Ayins is undoubtedly rather similar
> > > > to the Arabic ? (ghayin). So if there are two roots (LM, they may very
> > > > well have had two pronunciations. So the historical documentation is
> > > > right there in MT and LXX.
> > > > Regards,
> > > > Herman
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