[b-hebrew] Hebrew - dialect of canaanite

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Fri Jun 30 13:56:20 EDT 2006


> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Yitzhak Sapir" <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>
> Karl,http://m.2mdn.net/1183061/12707_shrek_300x250.jpg
> Your post is completely ridiculous.  "For example,
> from the internal date of Torah correlated to the modern
> calendar, it was written before 1400 BC. That date
> makes the study of Ugaritic, whose library dates
> from two to six centuries later."  Huh!?!?  Ugaritic was
> no longer spoken in 800 BCE!  In fact, in 1200 BCE,
> Ugarit was destroyed.  While Ugaritic inscriptions
> date from 1400 BCE onwards, some of them were
> probably written or composed long before.

OK, I was going from memory for the dates of Ugarit 
and checking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugarit 
(the general outline there agrees with what I have 
learned elsewhere) puts the written records from 
Ugarit from being contemporaneous to Moses 
(according to traditional dating) to close to 500 
years later (according to revised dating). Either 
way, that puts Ugaritic in a linguistic backwater 
as far as studying Hebrew is concerned.

There are several clues in Exodus that I mentioned 
before on this list that indicate that the pharaoh 
that Moses dealt with was a Hyksos pharaoh, and 
that the earliest Ugaritic literature that we have 
attested to postdates the Hyksos period means that, 
if the history is accurate (which I think it is 
while you disbelieve), Ugaritic had no influence on 
the development of Hebrew.

>  ...  To compare,
> you do not have a version of the Torah from 1400 BCE.
> You have a book attested in the last few centuries BCE.
> If you claim that the internal dates allow you to date this
> book (Torah) back from 300 BCE to 1400 BCE, then
> perhaps the Ugaritic inscriptions could be dated back
> by the internal dates from 1400 BCE to 2500 BCE!

Don't be ridiculous!

> The real problem is that you make claims and statements
> knowing nothing about Ugarit, or Ugaritic, and even
> refusing to try to study Ugaritic because, well, you
> already know it can't help you.
The main reason I don't study it is time constraints.

> You give some hypothetical scenario.  Well, first off,
> I wouldn't believe you on any date you give for a
> document because you are not a linguist.  In fact,
> you've shown some rather bad performance in this
> area when you claimed a North Arabian inscription
> written in the first few centuries CE was a
> Canaanite inscription written 1500 years earlier.
I didn't answer you last time because of the 
moderators who said not to, but now that you bring 
it up again ...

First of all, the stone that we referenced was 
found geographically separated from Safaitic sites, 
in northern Jordan while Safaitic inscriptions are 
found in southern Jordan and Saudi Arabia. 
Secondly, it was found without a historical context 
from which we can date it, making the only dating 
possible based on epigraphic studies. Thirdly, 
while the epigraphy shows some similarities to 
southern Semitic writings, particularly the bet and 
resh, it also has great differences from Safaitic 
writings in the letters used, e.g. the URL below, 
while showing similarities to proto-Sinaitic. 


The conclusion based on archeological, epigraphic 
and linguistic analysis says that that is not a 
Safaitic inscription.

> Besides, your theoretical situation misrepresents the
> way linguists work.  Given a document, linguists can
> associate the document with known sets of data,
> based on script, orthography, and language.  Each of
> these sets of data is large, not a single document, and
> the language of this set can be compared with others to
> determine if the languages are related and how.  In any
> case, none of this relates to the "internal date" of the
> Torah.

You claim that the data sets are large. Prove it.

In order to dismiss the internally attested to date 
of a document based on linguistic data, looking at 
how the language changed, you need to have many 
extensive documents totaling multiple hundreds if 
not thousands of words each century. Where is the 
list of such documentation for Biblical Hebrew? Eh?

This was the method used to prove that the Donation 
of Constantine was a centuries later forgery.

Analysis based on epigraphic data does not count 
when dealing with claimed copies of older material. 
All that can say is when the copy was made, not the 

When all we have are copies, the original is 
missing and we lack other extensive documentation 
for linguistic studies, the only way we can date 
written documents is from their historical claims, 
either internally or the dates that other writers 
give to those documents. As for Torah, the internal 
date and the dates given in, e.g. Kings, indicate a 
fifteenth century BC date.

>  ...  It's already been suggested here that the
> language of the Torah was revised over the centuries.
> Your "internal date" theory cannot answer such a claim.
> You just believe what you want and ignore the evidence.
Look at your words, "It's ... been suggested", that 
is speculation, not evidence. Evidence requires 
older copies that show language change. Anything 
less is hot air.

You confuse speculation with evidence.

> The only person on this list who thinks that the generally
> well-accepted evidence among linguists and historians of
> all beliefs presented in the Ghayin/Ayin thread or in the
> Saenz-Badillos book is not "evidence" is you.  Maybe you
> would look at the evidence for a change, instead of
> inventing facts about things you know nothing about?
I was given two pages of Saenz-Badillos and, unless 
those pages are atypical of the rest of the book 
(which I doubt), he does not have evidence other 
than his speculated reconstructions. Speculation 
does not equal evidence.

Just because somebody wrote a book does not mean 
that he got it right. Having learned most of my 
Biblical Hebrew on my own from extensively reading 
Tanakh, I don't know these so-called experts if 
they truly are experts, therefore question 
everybody. I'm like the boy who's not afraid to 
say that the emperor has no clothes.

> Yitzhak Sapir
> http://toldot.blogspot.com

In closing, I learned logic from learning how to 
compensate for dyslexia, scientific method from 
science classes at the University and how to do 
linguistic studies from anthropology classes there, 
so applying those basic principles shows that much 
of the discussion that goes on here is speculation 
because the evidence is either insufficient to 
answer the question, or lacking. And yes, I have 
been guilty of speculation here too. Sometimes that 
speculation can lead to answers, sometimes we need 
to acknowledge that we never will come to an answer 
short of getting a time machine so we could 
interview living native speakers. But we need to 
keep speculation distinct from evidence, and that's 
where I fault you and many of your so-called 
experts as failing to do.

Karl W. Randolph.

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