[b-hebrew] Hebrew - dialect of canaanite

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Wed Jun 28 00:11:27 EDT 2006

Dear Chris,

Besides all of Yitzhak's perfectly correct comments bellow, what all this 
means is that the demographic majority of the people who eventually became 
"Israelites" and wrote the Hebrew Bible were of Canaanite origin. There are 
other reasons to assume this as well. This does not mean a priori that there 
was no Exodus and no Abraham - but it does mean that the biblical accounts 
of these events cannot be take at face value.

Prof. Anson Rainey, by the way, has developed a threory according to which 
BH is actually a "transjordanian" dialect (more akin to Moabite than to 
Pheonician), but I have yet to read all of the evidence.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Yitzhak Sapir" <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, June 28, 2006 1:53 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Hebrew - dialect of canaanite

> On 6/27/06, Chris and Nel wrote:
>> Hallo,
>> If the Lingua Franca of the Israelites at the time of entering Canaan 
>> circa
>> 1400 BC(1250 BC for some), is classed, by linguists and biblical 
>> scholars,
>> as a dialect of Canaanite, how can I understand this in terms of:
> Scholars do not know or classify the "lingua franca of the Israelites
> at the time
> of entering Canaan circa 1400 BC (1250 BC)" for several reasons:
> 1) It is not clear at all if the Israelites entered Canaan at 1400 BC or 
> 1250 BC
> or were just there to begin with or whether "Israelites" was not a 
> phenomenon
> that developed much later.
> 2) In any case, there is no evidence from this time of the language of the
> Israelites.
> 3) The Hebrew of the Bible is classified as a Northwest Semitic (NWS)
> language, a development of Canaanite.  Canaanite and NWS are known from
> various inscriptions include Amarna letters, Ugaritic tablets, Alalah 
> tablets,
> and Taanakh tablets.  In any case, from a linguistic point of view it 
> represents
> a later stage than the attested languages of those dates.
> 4) Hebrew and Aramaic differ markedly.   Babylonian Aramaic did not exist
> until much later, however.  Aramaic is only known from about the 9th 
> century
> onwards, as are various later Canaanite dialects (Moabite, Israelite, 
> Judaean,
> Phoenician).
> 5) In the late 2nd millenium BCE, the "lingua franca" was Akkadian, 
> another
> Semitic branch.  It was used by Canaanite city state rulers to address the
> Egyptian rulers of the time, even though the rulers' native tongue was
> Canaanite, and the Egyptians' was Egyptian.
> Yitzhak Sapir
> http://toldot.blogspot.com
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