[b-hebrew] Proto-Semitic, was WAYYIQTOL

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Tue Mar 16 19:34:25 EST 2004


Our differences in philosophical outlook 
affect how we perceive the development of 
Hebrew as a spoken language.

To use an 18th century metaphor, the 
creation of a watch uses different 
principles (laws of physics) than the 
operation thereof. The picture that the 
Bible gives is that when God created the 
universe, he did something different than 
what we see going on today. Then after the 
creation, God acted into creation only to 
communicate with mankind and to make some 
actions to advance his goals, in a similar 
manner as a watch maker, after he has made 
a watch, touches it only to wind the spring 
and occasionally to make an adjustment for 
more accurate operation. Likewise, God’s 
actions into history are rare. Where there 
is an alleged action from God into history, 
the answer to its veracity will be found 
not in science, but in historical analysis.

One of God’s actions into history is to 
tell about things that haven’t occurred 
yet. He did so to glorify himself, e.g. 
Isaiah 48:5.

As a result, I have no problem with Isaiah 
naming Cyrus a century and a half early, 
and that Daniel wrote while living and 
working in the courts of Nebuchadnezzar to 

As a result, I see linguistic patterns that 
you can’t see.

Daniel was a native speaker, having learned 
his Hebrew before the Galut Babel, yet by 
the time he sat down to write his memoirs, 
he was more at home in Aramaic than Hebrew.  
(A modern example is Chinese who came to 
the U.S. many years ago as students: they 
still speak, read and write Chinese, but 
their work is all in English.)

Ezra, Nehemiah some of the post exilic 
prophets remind me of immigrants’ children, 
whose parents speak no English and insisted 
that their children can read and write the 
parents’ language. The children have also 
made an effort to keep up the language. 
Though the children are fluent, their 
rendition of the parental language is 
simpler and more bookish.

Esther is like the children whose immigrant 
parents speak English and the children have 
made an effort to maintain their parents’ 
language. They are actually more at home in 
English. That would describe how my 
grandparents spoke Norwegian: fluently, but 
not as well as English.

Seeing this pattern, and how it worked out 
through the generations among immigrant 
children, indicates to me that Hebrew had 
ceased being the language on the street in 
all but the most remote farming villages by 
the time of the Maccabees, if not earlier. 
Yet because it was the language of 
religion, government and high literature, 
it continued to be spoken by an educated 
elite, much like Latin in Europe.

But if you believe in naturalism and that 
the present is the key to the past, you 
must posit that at least some of Isaiah was 
written post exile, that Daniel probably 
was late Hellenistic and so forth, 
completely messing up the pattern that I 
outlined above.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org>
> I accept that I am working by this principle. I hypothesise, with the 
> positivists, that the laws of physics have held ever since the Big Bang 
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/

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