[b-hebrew] Canaanite - response to certain folks.

Chris and Nel wattswestmaas at eircom.net
Wed Jun 28 17:55:23 EDT 2006

YITZHAK said -
> 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).

Surely when one considers that the Amorite dialect must have been very 
widely spoken (a from of Aramaic) amongst Babylonia and around 2400-1800 in 
Canaan when they moved in, and Abraham allying himself with them in a 
momentous battle, alludes to some common understanding with them. And EARLY 
aramaic had more in common with the canaanite tongue than did later aramaic? 
Maybe upon this there is some thought that the SPOKEN hebrew during the 
Egypt years was a kind of independently forming Aramaic.  After all, Moses 
fled to Midian and not the place of his ancestral beginnings in Canaan. 
Midian being of course of Family kindred and similar tongue to Moses? 
Otherwise surely a man who was lonely and in need of feeling secure would 
try to find a place where he was most at home, both in language and belief? 
Which would not have been Midian - just a thought! chris.

YIGAL said,
> 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.

Canaanite origin?  I personally think that that is pushing away so much 
biblical literature and calling it fanciful? I know that hebrew was refrred 
to as the language of canaan in scripture; But that refers to the situation 
at that time.  It was indeed the language of canaan in the same way that 
English is the language of England -- but 1400 years ago Frisian was a 
greater part the language alongside a few other germanic dialects, all 
mutually intelligable.  It seems probable that their were perhaps so many 
dialects within a small demographic area of the middle east and over the 
course of time they fused, became minorities, dialects of differing towns, 
so much intermingeling that they are bound to find their own natural status 
quo, and by the time that writing becomes established and dominant migrants 
become also more permanently settled we see a couple mainstream languages 
that may or may not reflect the spoken languages of the neighboring tribes. 
In this case I am referring once again to the fact that Hundreds of 
thousands of Israelites "semi -isolated" in a region where their spoken 
langauge would have nothing to do with Egyptian and from where they would 
natuarlly evolve a unique dialect Similar to Canaanite by virtue of the fact 
that Canaanite was itself a form of Aramaic?


> While the linguistic evidence may strongly hint that the
> Israelites were native Canaanites originally (because the
> Hebew language of Judea, and the Israelite language of
> Israel were offshoots of the earlier attested Canaanite),
> the linguistic evidence is probably not sufficient and may
> even provide false leads.  It is possible to think of
> conquerors who adopted the local language, such as
> perhaps the Norman conquest of England.

The Normans did not adopt the saxon language in England and they did not 
adopt the Keltoi language in Ireland either.  What happened was that they 
influenced the language of saxon over 200 years - the written language was 
latin and the spoken was Frankish. and never took any notice of Gaelic at 
all when they arrived in 1170 in Ireland.  In Ireland the celtic language 
was pushed to the fringes.  In England they brought in the written latin and 
conversed in frankish dialects and influenced the saxon language that by 
1400 you see a clearly defineable new written and spoken language which by 
the way was sprinkeld with old norse as well.  An Icelander in 2006 can read 
at ease any old norse from 900ad without difficulty.  Not so a norwegian or 
an Englishmen or anybody else for that matter.  It is a remarkable thing 
that language in isolation retains its overall uniformity and oneness. 
Invaders generally like to keep their own cultural and lingual identity.  By 
all this I am not saying that Hebrew was not influenced by a canaanite 
language but rather I do not see that Hebrew can spring forth from canaanite 
when this language is not a uniform entity but by all accounts that I have 
read it was a mixture of different tribes and migrants speaking different 
dialects but mutually intelligable and quite apart from what was happening 
in Goshen.  (if you accept the latter as having taken place).  Maybe since 
canaanite and early aramaic had so much in common that it is the labels we 
give things that cause divisions in the first place?

> An alternative scenario, which may appeal more to conservatives like
> Karl, is as follows: When Abraham and his family came to Canaan, they
> initially spoke a form of Aramaic, similar to what their relatives who
> remained in the north, like Laban, continued to speak. But when they
> moved to Canaan, they picked up the local Canaanite language.

I agree Peter but surely it is pushing things a bit to say that as a family 
moves from one land to the next they instinctively start to change their 
native tongue? Chris.

Maybe I should conclude by asking whether or not part of the answer lies in 
the fact that we are talking different dialects and not seperate languages? 
But as nations gradually take shape as they did in say the times of the 
Kings in Israel, it is here that dialects start to move apart and into their 
own right as a distinct language.  After all this is exactly what happened 
in Northern and western Europe from around the age of the germanic tribes in 
the roman times until the distinct political barriers took place in the 
1000 - 1100 ad. People then were more fluid and nobody needed a passport!

So maybe most of the lingual groups spoke a form of aramaic which when 
divided up into smaller groups develope a unique  identifiable lingual 
structure, but we come along and think that one gave birth to the 
other?????? Chris

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