[b-hebrew] Fw: WAYYIQTOL

furuli at online.no furuli at online.no
Wed Mar 10 09:08:14 EST 2004

Dear Karl,

There are several misunderstandings in your post; see below:

>The conclusion I draw is that the major
>linguistic influences during that period were
>Aramaic, followed by Greek and, my knowledge
>is thanks to this forum, apparently Latin too.
>Hebrew was a fossil language that continued to
>be used for official records, religion and
>high literature but not fluently spoken except
>by a educated elite (though most could
>understand at least some of it). Thus the loss
>of the WAYYIQTOL form.

There is absolutely no evidence that the Jews forgot their language 
during the Babylonian captivity. A language is sociologically 
speaking the essence of national unity, so that Hebrew should be 
forgotten during three generations in Babylon is simply unbelievable.

Around the beginning of the first millennium C.E. there is evidence 
that both Hebrew and Aramaic were spoken languages. The question is 
whether the mother tongue of Jeshua was Hebrew, and whether Aramaic 
was the language of the educated people, or whether the opposite were 
true. Geographical location could have played a role as well, as 
Greek was widespread in some areas, perhaps at the expense of one of 
the other languages. The evidence of the NT is that Hebrew was the 
common language (Acts 21:40;22:2; 26:14) in the situations addressed. 
The Aramaic and Hebrew words in the NT can be taken both ways, either 
to show that the mother tongue of Jeshua was Aramaic (He used Aramaic 
sentences), or that his mother tongue was not Aramaic (because his 
Aramaic words were quoted but not translated, suggesting that they 
were extraordinary and therefore should be transcribed). The same can 
be said regarding his use of hebrew words. It is worth noting that 
Josephus distinguishes between "Hebrew" and "Syriac" (Aramaic), and 
this lends credence to the view that when the NT says "Hebrew," it 
means "Hebrew". All the writings in Hebrew made at Qumran and 
imported to Qumran similarly suggest that Hebrew was a  living 
language in the last centuries B.C.E. and the first century C.E.

>Another evidence of fossil use of the language
>is the fossilization of spelling during a time
>of pronunciation shift. The pronunciations
>preserved by the Masorites were not the same
>as those spoken even at the end of the Galut
>Babel. (Frozen spellings are fairly rare in
>living languages, it is only within the last
>couple of centuries that it was considered a
>mark of an educated man to have consistent
>spelling in English. Some languages have
>periodic adjustments in their written
>languages to reflect shifts in pronunciation.
>Even in English the dictatorship of
>dictionaries will come to an end.)

As to WAYYIQTOL,  there is no evidence for its existence before the 
5th century C.E. There is no distinction between WAYYIQTOL  and 
WEYIQTOL (the conjunction WAW+YIQTOL) at Qumran, and there is no 
distinction between the two in the transcriptions in the second 
column of Origen's Hexapla. I argue in my coning thesis that there is 
strong evidence that the Masoretes was the inventors of the 
distinction between WEYIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL, although the meaning the 
Masoretes ascribed to WAYYIQTOL  was different from the meaning 
ascribed to it from David Kimhi onward. If this is true, it means 
that the concept WAYYIQTOL  only is a fiction, a misunderstanding 
based un a wrong interpretation of of Masoretic pointing. Thus the 
WAYYIQTOL form could not be lost at any given point of time, because 
it has never existed as an independent semantic unit!

Best regards


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

>My conclusion is that Hebrew was not a
>natively spoken language within a few
>generations after the Galut Babel.
>Karl W. Randolph.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Uri Hurwitz <uhurwitz at yahoo.com>
>>  Karl Randolph <kwrandolph at email.com> wrote, inter alia:
>>  "....but
>>  the WAYYIQTOL form referred to a functionality
>>  that was unique to Hebrew, ..."
>>  I'm not sure what you mean, Karl. In Arabic the imperfect often 
>>serves as the participle, or,  what is vulgarly known,  the present 
>>tense, to this day.This often follows the conjuction of the 
>>attached "F" letter, vowelled "fa", one of the Arabic equivalents 
>>to the Heb. "W", the other being  "wa" familiar to members of this 
>  >
>  > However one would need an Arabist  for further elaboration.
>  >
>  > Uri

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