[b-hebrew] linguistics, was Re: Prov. 30:19

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sat Oct 11 18:36:50 EDT 2003

On 11/10/2003 14:59, Charles David Isbell wrote:

>Karl Randolph wrote: "I also believe, based on internal evidence and
>literary styles, that when Moses "authored" Genesis, he basically collected
>earlier documents, even antediluvian documents, written with the original 22
>character alphabet, to make one book."
>In the context of the Hebrew language only, I would be interested to know
>what evidence you might present that Moses had any knowledge of the Hebrew
>language at all.  His name is classical Egyptian, he was brought up and
>educated in Egypt, he apparently both dressed and spoke like an Egyptian
>[see Ex 2.19], and never even visited the only place in the general area
>where a dialect of Canaanite would later come to be called "Judean" [yehudit
>in Isa 36.11]. What evidence is there that Moses would have known any
>alphabet at all, and not the hierglyphic system used to write Egyptian?
>Charles David Isbell
I'm not sure that Karl needs evidence for what he believes about this. 
But I can offer some. Since you are appealing to the text of Exodus, 
presumably you are accepting that as evidence. In that narrative there 
is the story of Moses living with Jethro for many years and marrying his 
daughter Zipporah - good Semitic names. Very likely these people were 
Semites speaking a language close to early Hebrew. Also the text has him 
addressing crowds of Israelites and it is unlikely that he would have 
spoken to them in Egyptian.

There is good evidence that Semitic was spoken widely and written in 
Egypt in this general period. Walter Mattfeld just posted some of it. It 
cannot be proved, perhaps, that Moses knew it, but there is no reason to 
consider it improbable.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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