[b-hebrew] Aramaic to Hebrew language switch?
jimstinehart at aol.com
jimstinehart at aol.com
Sun Aug 29 09:59:42 EDT 2010
Someone wrote to me [in a communication that I’m not sure was intended to be off-list or not]: “If you read widely you will find that characters in a story often have native names, even if they are foreign. There is no reason why a Hebrew writer could not have silently changed Akkadian names to a Hebrew name that was, in some way, equivalent.”
1. If by “reading widely” is meant spending years pouring over the proper names in the Patriarchal narratives, that’s me.
2. The charge that the author of the Patriarchal narratives “changed Akkadian names to a Hebrew name” rings hollow. There’s almost no Akkadian in the entire Bible! The classic work on Akkadian loanwords in the Bible is “Akkadian Loanwords in Biblical Hebrew” (2000), by Paul V. Mankowski, based on his Harvard dissertation. He finds a mere 70 Akkadian loanwords in the entire Bible, of which 26 (including month names) entered late Biblical Hebrew through Aramaic. Objective evidence like that is why you get scholarly statements such as the following: “[T]he North-West Semitic dialect…is of a very conservative character….” A. Murtoen, “Early Semitic” (1967), at p. 1. Outside of the post-exilic parts of the Bible, there’s precious little Akkadian influence on the older parts of the Bible, especially the truly ancient Patriarchal narratives. The virgin pure west Semitic character of early Biblical Hebrew is telling us that the Hebrews were indigenous to Canaan, rather than being transplants from Akkadian-speaking southern Mesopotamia.
3. In the Patriarchal narratives, every person has an appropriate name. Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law doesn’t have a Canaanite name! No way. He’s got a vintage Egyptian name straight out of the mid-14th century BCE: Pa-Ti Pa-Ra, meaning “the gift of the God”. That second Egyptian word “pa” meaning “the” is so ultra-blasphemous, attributing a monotheistic bent to the Egyptians of Joseph’s day, that not a single university scholar is willing to even consider that the second peh/P in the name PWTY PR( is the Egyptian word “pa” for “the”. The name TRX is based on the Ugaritic verb TRX because TRX was indigenous to Canaan. The word TRX is unknown in Akkadian, because other than that one-time caravan trip way out to Ur in Kassite Babylonia [Ur Kasdym] to buy lapis lazuli at wholesale, no one in the family of TRX or )B-RM ever was in southern Mesopotamia. The name )B-RM is the most blatantly virgin pure west Semitic name that anyone could possibly think of. That’s telling us that )B-RM was born in west Semitic-speaking Canaan, not in Akkadian-speaking southern Babylonia. Why fight the text? The text has pinpoint historical accuracy, and it means precisely what it says. (NR is a Hurrian princeling [in the Shephelah, like historical Milk-ilu in the Amarna Letters at Gezer, who likewise associated with Amorite princelings], so he has a Hurrian name: (N-R. Every single name in the Patriarchal narratives is perfect like that. The reason why so many of the names of TRX’s descendants are west Semitic, even though they were born in NHRYM in eastern Syria and many of them never left there, is because they all spoke pre-Hebrew at home as their native language [TRX having been born in Canaan, where 100% of his ancestors were born and died]. They only spoke Hurrian [as a second language] when talking to Hurrian princelings in NHRYM. None of them spoke Aramaic, a language that isn’t attested as being in existence until the 9th century BCE, long after the Patriarchal Age. Sahduta spelled with a sin/shin, as it appears in the received text of Genesis 31: 47, as opposed to being spelled the normal Aramaic way with a samekh, isn’t attested in Aramaic until about 200 BCE or so, in the days of the Nabateans. In fact, $H-DT) [without the later-added vav/W] is Sanskrit, not Aramaic, with Sanskrit names being much beloved by the Hurrians in the Late Bronze Age.
There’s virtually no Akkadian in the Bible because the Hebrews are, and are accurately portrayed in the Patriarchal narratives as being, indigenous to Canaan. The proper names in the text tell the story.
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