Proverbs 25 and "secret things".

Henry Churchyard churchyh at
Fri Jun 18 01:42:35 EDT 1999

> Subject: Re: Proverbs 25 and "secret things".
> From: "atombomb at" <atombomb at>
> Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 12:31:34 -0700

> Henry Churchyard wrote:

>> Also, many of the ages of the patriarchs, etc. differ between the
>> Hebrew version and the Septuagint, for what that's worth...

> It's worth a good deal, and they differ in the Samaritan Pentateuch
> as well.  As I mentioned before, these discrepancies in the ages of
> the patriarchs relate to differing schemes of periodizing the
> history of the world in terms of the number of years since the Exile
> and the building of the Temple (Sam), or its rebuilding (LXX), or
> its re-rebulding (MT).

Unfortunately, the simpler and more commonplace conclusion would be
that the numbers haven't been faithfully and exactly handed down, so
that drawing any subtle and advanced conclusions based on the fine
details of their precise magnitudes wouldn't based on anything that
could confidently be assumed to be an original feature of the early
biblical text.

>> Unfortunately, the developed system of unit, tens. and hundreds values
>> assigned to the Hebrew/Aramaic alphabet (Aleph-Tet 1-9, Yod-Tsade
>> 10-90, Qoph-Taw 100-400), didn't exist until the Hellenistic period...

> is this dating absolutely certain, or do we merely not have
> evidence, among the handful of texts we have from the prior period,
> that such an assignment was used?

I got this from the appendix to John F. Healey's "The Early Alphabet".
I don't know the exact evidence for this conclusion, but I gather it's
partly from silence, and partly from the fact that the Aramaic/Hebrew
system was influenced by the Greek system, and the Greek system didn't
come into existence until the second century B.C. (according to
B.F. Cook's "Greek Inscriptions", a companion volume in the same

I don't want to deny that a kind of implicit numerical equivalence
following from alphabetical order, namely 'Aleph=1, Bet=2, and so on
down to Taw=22, might very well have existed in some form much earlier
(in fact Psalm 119 etc. could almost be interpreted in this way).  But
the system in which Kaph=20 instead of Kaph=11 doesn't seem to be
particulary ancient...

         --Henry Churchyard     churchyh at

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