[b-hebrew] Ayin and Ghayin

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu Oct 6 18:58:13 EDT 2005

On 10/6/05, Karl Randolph <kwrandolph at email.com> wrote:
> Yitzhak:
> You're just like Vadim, impossible!

The problem in discussions with Vadim is that he ignores the
evidence and many times doesn't bother to look up evidence
that is suggested to him until it is quoted to him directly.  I
routinely respond to your arguments, and am also willing to
entertain your theological suppostions, except for those
assumptions that directly relate to the issue that is at question
here, and which have no basis in standard tradition, mainly
along the lines of "Moses received the Torah in 22 letters
intended to represent at most 22 phonemes."  That is the
only assumption I am not willing to entertain.  You can hold
that Moses lived in the 15th century, that Moses received the
Torah on Mt. Sinai, but this particular assumption regarding the
particular letters/meaning of the Torah, which is incosistent either
with tradition or with scholarship, is something you have failed
to prove.

> > ...
> > > The Bible makes certain history claims, which you so airily
> > > dismiss, that puts the Torah in 15th century BC. Ugaritic,
> > > according to the oldest dating which is contested, was first
> > > written a century later if not three centuries.
> >
> > No, Ugaritic was first written in the archaeological record some
> > century to three centuries later than the 15th century.
> Did you read what I wrote?? ...

Yes, you wrote that Ugaritic was "first written."  Not "first written in
the archaeological record."  We don't know if Ugaritic was also written
earlier but not preserved in the archaeological record, because it is not
preserved, just like we don't know if the Torah/Bible was first written
prior to its appearance in the archaeological record (3rd century BCE).
However, it is probable that both, the Bible and texts in Ugaritic,
existed in written form at least a century or two prior to their appearance
in the archaeological record, if not more.

> > ...
> > Hebrew was probably written in the spelling and vocabulary that
> > appears in the Hebrew Bible only starting from the Persian
> > period.
> >
> Where's your evidence for that? What documents?

You write that and then...

> When I read documents like the Gezar Calendar and the
> Siloam Inscription, I find writing entirely consistent with
> examples found in pre-Exile Tanakh. Give me a clear
> enough image and I have no trouble reading the text.
> Have you ever read Tanakh from cover to cover?

As you may have noticed, the spelling in the Gezer calendar and
Siloam inscription is very different from the Bible.  Furthermore,
there are words that appear to use slightly different vocabulary
than the Bible: Gezer "(cd", Siloam "zdh", Lachish 4 "btsbt hbqr"
to give some examples.  I have read the Tanakh from Genesis
to the end of Kings, cover to cover.  I have read many other books,
but not cover to cover, in the sense that I didn't continue on through
all the prophets immediately after reading Kings.

> > ...  This claim was "There were more
> > phonemes originally in Hebrew than is transmitted by the
> > consonantal text."  This claim would be pretty simple to
> > convince anyone who accepts the Massoretic text, using
> > the Shin/Sin example that is preserved.
> >
> The Masoretic pointing is irrelevant to the question,
> as I have repeatedly pointed out. That includes the
> Sin/Shin pointing.

Of course Massoretic pointing is relevant to the question.  You
dismiss Massoretic pointing on ambiguous and vague references
to scholarship, while refusing to accept the position of that
scholarship on the issue of Sin/Shin.  You have suggested you
don't need to "reinvent the wheel" as far as their conclusions.
But necessarily you do reinvent the wheel where it suits you
(Shin/Sin) without referring to the details of the analysis involved
(the specific comparisons between DSS/Hexapla/MT/LXX).

> > > If you had some documentary evidence ...
> >
> > Perhaps you should first read the evidence before making
> > claims that there is no evidence.
> >
> Well, where are the documents? Eh? I'm still waiting.


Ugaritic corpus:


Ugaritic concordance in spanish:


An online Ugaritic course (modeled after Shareware, and
thanks to Dr. Jim West):


Targum Onkelos line by line:


Yes, the evidence for the analysis of the Semitic languages is the
languages in their entirety.  You need to at least learn three of the
several preserved languages to be able to understand the reason
for the sound laws that are proposed for Semitic, such as Aramaic
and Ugaritic, but Arabic would also do.

> > ...  The more this discussion goes on, the more it is
> > clear just how little you are basing yourself on any kind of
> > evidence whatsoever, while obstinately refusing to read the
> > Ugaritic texts and Aramaic translation of the Torah that I
> > suggested you read.
> >
> As I have repeatedly said, evidence from cognate
> languages does not mean that Hebrew ever had those
> pronunciations nor grammatical features (Ugaritic), further
> your Aramaic examples are from long after the last native
> speaker of Hebrew died, therefore doubly irrelevant.
> Where are your Hebrew documents showing Hebrew
> losing those features?

Well, it doesn't have to mean it, but how do you know if you haven't
looked at the evidence.  The problem with showing you documents
in Hebrew that show Hebrew "lost" those features is that you
could classify any earlier stage of Hebrew as non-Hebrew simply
because you define Hebrew as not having those features.  That is
why I asked you to provide objective criteria that would allow one to
differentiate a cognate language from an earlier stage of the same
language.  You have not given me any criteria to that end.  What
Aramaic examples of mine are from "long after the last native
speaker of Hebrew died"?  If you are refering to Targum Onkelos,
how would you go about showing this from the text of the Targum
itself (your "internal dating")?

> > > It does pertain to this discussion. You have made certain
> > > claims concerning the development of the language,
> > > based on "hard facts". But if Moses wrote the consonantal
> > > Torah in the 15th century BC basically as we have it
> > > today, then the evidence from Hebrew contradicts your
> > > claimed "hard facts".
> >
> > Ever since the development of the Massorah, which is
> > generally dated to the 6th century CE by scholars, Jews
> > accepted that Moses received the Torah along with the
> > Massorah on Mt. Sinai.
> What does this tradition have to do with an analysis of the
> unpointed Hebrew text? Huh??

It shows that by holding that the unpointed text refers to more
than one phoneme per letter, I am not at odds with tradition,
as you have suggested I am.

> Have you ever *read* the unpointed text cover to cover?

No.  I don't think you have either.  My impression is that you
misread the unpointed text cover to cover.

> > ...
> > > In summary, since it is merely your faith claims against my
> > > faith claims, your attempts to change mine is nothing less
> > > than proselytism.
> >
> > Mine is not faith claims.  I don't need to proselytize you to get
> > you to look at the evidence.
> >
> So far you haven't presented any evidence, all you have
> done is present presumed beliefs starting with "What if...?"

Look above regarding Ugaritic/Aramaic.  There is no reason for
you not to look at the evidence.  You have also failed to identify
the "presumed beliefs" I hold in a systematic way.  The closest
you have come is "what if the text was not accurately copied?
What if the history claims are mythological? What if the accounts
they relate are myths? What if ancient Hebrews learned the
alphabet from the Phoenicians instead of the other way
around? What if ...? What if ...?"  However, as I explained, the
fact that traditionally Jews have not held any of those and yet
still held that a single letter can represent multiple phonemes
show that these "identified What ifs" are irrelevant.  My
argument does not depend on the above noted "What ifs."

> In closing, I have come to the conclusion that you don't
> know Biblical Hebrew. Oh, you may have taken a class or
> two in it, learning the paradigms presented in grammar
> textbooks, but that is a far cry from reading the text cover
> to cover. You have not analyzed even a simple, small
> book like Ruth using an unpointed text, let alone the
> whole Tanakh.

The unpointed text is not "Biblical Hebrew."  It is "half" of
Biblical Hebrew.  The other half is the Massorah.

> All you do is parrot the beliefs of others. If
> you were handed a document in archaic Hebrew script,
> could you read it?

Yes.  Evidently, I was able to read the Jehoash inscription
before it was publicly transcribed.

> I can. Apparently you love to argue just
> to argue, well go on without me.

The only reason this discussion isn't proceeding is because
you have refused to refer and examine the evidence.  The
moment you do, you will naturally develop your own view of
the evidence and then I can relate to your view and analysis
of that evidence (Ugaritic/Aramaic).  There is no reason for
you not to examine it.  Not even if you think it won't change
your mind.

Yitzhak Sapir

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