[b-hebrew] Proto-Semitic, was WAYYIQTOL

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Tue Mar 16 19:11:08 EST 2004


It is exactly your last question that makes 
me doubt that ancient Hebrews adopted the 
Phoenician alphabet. It is also the reason 
I doubt that Biblical Hebrew had the number 
of phones that the Masoretes recognized 
over a thousand years later.

If proto-Canaanite had 30 characters, why 
would they adopt an alphabet with fewer 
characters unless it was brought in from 
outside, as was the Hebrew writing?

As for the date of Hebrew writing, the 
probability of finding early inscriptions 
is about nil, if the historical record is 
accurate: consistently writing is listed as 
being in books, and the only large, 
exterior script was painted (Joshua 8:30–35 
as ordered in Deuteronomy 27:1–10). What is 
the probability that any of that painted 
writing surviving to today?

Finally, when the historical sources 
indicate that the ancient Hebrews possessed 
rather extensive writings before they came 
in contact with the Phoenicians, why would 
they adopt a different alphabet than that 
they were already using? (This does not 
rule out adopting a new set of glyphs to 
represent their alphabet, as was done about 
2000 years ago.)

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>

> But an interesting one. What makes you think that "Phoenician and Aramaic
> adopted the 22 character Hebrew alphabet"? Didn't Aramaic and Hebrew adopt
> the Canaanite/Phoenician alphabet? The question is, how and why an approx.
> 30 letter "proto-Canaanite alphabet (not to mention a 30 letter Ugaritic
> alphabet) get cut down to 22 letters? "Hebrew" obviously retained the
> differnt pronounciations of (Ayin and Ghayin, Shin and Sin and probably
> more, but the alphabet the adopted didn;t have enough characters. Why didn't
> they "invent" some of their own?
> Yigal
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