[b-hebrew] YHWH is Aramaic?

Rochelle Altman willaa at netvision.net.il
Thu Jun 29 06:29:26 EDT 2006

Dear Yigal,

The German scholars of the 19th-century assumed 'vav' was pronounced 
'waw',  but there is lots of evidence that this just ain't so. Aside from 
loan words transcribed into Greek and Latin -- and from Ionian Greek into 
Hebrew [ca. 9th-BCE], all you have to do is look at the forms of the 
Phoenician vav that were borrowed by the Greeks and Etruscans back in the 
9th-8th BCE to set you straight on this. (You can also check out 
Sardo-Phoenician [10th] and Malto-Phoenician [12th] to see the letter forms.

Point is, vav had a voiced and an unvoiced consonantal form and a vocalic 
form:  'f' and  'v' and 'u'. The Greeks and Etruscans kept the distinction 
(what do think the digamma was except a Phoenician unvoiced vav? But they 
didn't need the 'f' as well as 'phi' -- so, eventually, goodbye 'f'.) The 
Etruscans did -- they even distinguished between hard-c (k) and soft-c 
(ch). What about 'u' and 'v'... well, tale a little wander among the 
inscriptions at the Archaeological and Epigraphic museums in Athens... and, 
oddly enough, wander around Syntagma metro station and look at the 
inscriptions that were dug up when building the metro. Two forms of 
"upsilon" -- a 'v' and a 'u' form -- and you can see both forms in use on 
many inscriptions. Fortuitously, several inscriptions have both forms in 
one name -- it ain't an accident or "scribal whim." The 'v' form follows 
after epsilon and alpha; the 'u' form for both long-i (interconsonantal) 
and u (after omicron} e.g. no. 2558: POLYKRIToUMILHS; no 3845: AVTODEoU RAR 
AD)- and these are 6th BCE through early Roman. So, waw me no waw's.

Zoilos. I wrote this one up, you know... back in 1999. It's in the ORION 
archives under "articles." Look up the "Report on the Zoilos Inscription" 
-- because that's what I do; write reports for people on request. You are 
quite wrong about what letters are still visible on that inscription. And 
it is NOT Aramaic. That it had to be Aramaic is just an assumption based on 
silence. That is a standard Hebrew oath formula. I don't know what Zoilos 
was doing up there, but that he was from J'lem is highly probable. Whatever 
he did, he had to make that vow not to do it again. And then, the vow was 
cancelled. The only important words were the "truth" ( ")MYN"??) statement 
and what was vowed... so, they were chiseled out. The rest is just 
"crossed" out.

AND, this was a Ptolemaic shrine to Apollo. Further, you can see from the 
stone scribe's spacing that he expected a name -- and by golly, there was 
none -- but you want to have a Jew swearing a vow under Zeus at Apollo's 
shrine? So be it.

I have another on the Bar-Haddad Inscription and I don't know if I will 
publish it. I mean, what for?

I sort out the variant forms that tell us what vowel was attached to a 
consonant, but I'm dismissed out of hand. Fair enough; nobody has to read 
the stuff I write. However, the fact that those variant forms in Phoenician 
were picked up by the Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans and brought into Gothic 
from Greek by Ulfilas,  and were still in use in English until the 
17th-century CE  should tell us something, no? Then, others, such as 
Rosamund McKitterick, have commented on  the AS's having a phonetic 
alphabet, but, so what if the variant forms give us the needed information. 
Let's just call it "WAW' and be done with it.

Whoops, that's the woman from the kennel at the door and I have errands 
still to run before I leave.


Rochelle Altman

>Dear Rochelle,
>a. The spelling YHWH has nothing to do with German, but rather is based on 
>the assumption that in antiquity, the letter vav was pronounced "w", like 
>in Arabic. Whether this assumption is historically accurate is a different
>b. YHWH is certainly treated as a proper name. While your assertion that
>"The whole point is monotheism -- a single god does not need a name" may 
>be true philosophically, in the reality of the ancient world, the God of Israel
>had to be distinguished by other gods - both by Israelites (who in practice
>often worshipped other gods) and by others. The Mesha stele mentions "the
>vessals of YHWH" that Mesha captured in the Israelite town of Nebo.
>c. In the Zoilos inscription, the Greek part uses THEOS, which can either
>mean "god" or refer to a specific god, especially Zeus. All that remains of
>the non-Greek is "NDR ZOILO" - a verb or noun that is used in both Hebrew
>and Aramic, and a Greek name. The script is Aramaic - although it was also
>used by Hebrew. We have no record of "Israelites" living in the area (the
>upper Jordan Valley) in the 2nd century BCE (although there might have
>been). So how do you know which god was referred to, in what language, not
>to mention all the rest? It is certainly not "proof" of the way in which the
>name YHWH was used in Judah or Israel 10 to 5 centuries earlier.
>Yigal Levin
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Rochelle Altman" <willaa at netvision.net.il>
>To: "Shoshanna Walker" <rosewalk at concentric.net>
>Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Sent: Thursday, June 29, 2006 8:14 AM
>Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] YHWH is Aramaic?
> > Shoshanna,
> >
> > The god of Israel does not have a name.  YHVH (or in German notation: YHWH
> > -- remember, in German 'W' is pronounced 'V') is a way to refer to god; it
> > is specifically not a name. Everybody else had names for their different
> > gods -- with a pantheon you need names. The whole point is monotheism -- a
> > single god does not need a name.
> >
> > If you look at the ZOILOS inscription from Tel Dan (2nd century BCE), you
> > will see that the invocation (1st line in Greek) to the god under whom the
> > vow was made does not have a name -- just "theos". The text is a standard
> > Greek formula; however, the vow itself, the last line, is in cursive
> > square
> > script and written by Zoilos himself (a vow must be in the hand of the
> > person making the vow) and in an abbreviated form of a standard Hebrew
> > oath
> > formula.  Both the first word, the Hebrew "truth" statement and the last
> > word, what was actually vowed, have been chiseled out. (It's a cancelled
> > vow.) It is not in Aramaic. It was turned into Aramaic by editorial
> > fiat --
> > on the two lacunae.
> >
> > You need concrete evidence that the god of Israel had no name? Well there
> > it is.
> >
> > I'm leaving early tomorrow morning and cannot continue with this thread.
> >
> > Dr. Rochelle Altman
> > US and Israel
> >
> >
> >>1.  I think that there is a strong reason to think that G-d has
> >>name(s) all His own - a. so that we could refer to Him, pray to Him,
> >>call on Him, etc.  and b. to give us some hint of various aspects of
> >>what Divinity consists of.
> >>
> >>2.  G-d and His name preceded ancient Hebrew
> >>
> >>3.  EhYeh asher EhYeh = I will be that which I will be.
> >>
> >>I think there was a discussion of this on this list a year or so ago.
> >>
> >>Shoshanna

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