[b-hebrew] The Hebrew of the Jehoash Inscription

Stephen C. Carlson scarlson at mindspring.com
Thu Mar 11 21:20:21 EST 2004

At Thu, 11 Mar 2004 08:11:09 -0700, Dave Washburn <dwashbur at nyx.net> wrote:
>On Friday 27 February 2004 12:02, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
>> The latest edition of Biblical Archaeological Review has an article
>> by David Noel Freedman discussing the Hebrew of the so-called
>> Jehoash Inscription.  For one of his points, he writes: ""It would seem
>> that `asah alone is the verb used in the inscription to mean 'repair,'
>> not bedeq, which most likely carries its Biblical meaning 'crack'."
>> He states this interpretation is "unusual, but not unimaginable," and
>> cites Deut 21:12 and 2 Sam 19:25 [24 in some Bibles] for comparison.
>> However, the use of this verb in these verses involves body parts,
>> not inanimate materials or defects, so I'm not really convinced that
>> the examples are to the point.  Can anyone tell me what's going on
>> here?
>He wasn't just referring to `asah, but to `asah plus the entire chain of noun 
>objects.  The biggest complaint about the inscription has been its supposed 
>use of `asah bedeq to mean "make repairs" per modern Hebrew, but this 
>complaint takes the phrase out of its context in the inscription. `asah 
>apparently takes not only bedeq as its object, but all the other nouns 
>(walls, stairs, lattices, etc.) as well.  Even if we don't give it a specific 
>meaning like "repair," `asah in this context appears to mean "I did the 
>cracks, the stairs, the walls, the this, the that, and so on."

For it not to be the modern idiom, wouldn't this have to mean "I made
the cracks, the stairs, the walls, etc."?  Is there any evidence outside
of the Jehoash inscription of `asah being applied to inanimate materials
or defects in the sense of repairing rather than making?

Jim Davila has made his analysis at: http://paleojudaica.blogspot.com/2004_02_29_paleojudaica_archive.html#107848320504673411

>It looks to 
>me as though Cross and Greenstein, in their criticism based on the`asah bedeq 
>phrase, are themselves unduly influenced by modern Hebrew idiom, in that they 
>see it where it may not apparently be.

However, a modern idiom should be a cause for suspicion, especially on
an artifact that not only lacks an archaeological provenance but also
comes from the same channel as other known fakes.

>What's going is that there are those who rushed to judgment on this artifact, 
>and now other scholars are saying "wait a minute.  Let's take another look."  
>I have no stake at all in whether the inscription is genuine or not; I really 
>don't care.  For me it's an interesting curiosity, nothing more.  But to 
>date, I haven't found the linguistic arguments against it convincing.  Now, 
>it's nice to know I'm in the company of such as Freedman!

The linguistic arguments do not exist in a vacuum.

Freedman basically admits that they are anomalies and questions whether
there exist a method for evaluating whether his conjectures are sufficient
to explain them away: "In other words, if anomalies exist both in authentic
inscriptions and (presumably) in the fakes, at what point in the evaluation
do we know how to tip the scale?  How many anomalies are required to prove
that an inscription is a fake?"

I'd say answer depends, at least in part, on its provenance.  Because
of the prevalence of fakes, the more we can rule out fakery, the more
its linguistic anomalies are tolerable.

Stephen Carlson
Stephen C. Carlson                        mailto:scarlson at mindspring.com
Weblog:    http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/hypotyposeis/blogger.html
"Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words."  Shujing 2.35

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