[b-hebrew] Language, migration and Jewish identity

jason silber uzisilber at gmail.com
Mon Nov 5 13:55:13 EST 2007


does anyone know where i can find essays online by bible scholar Yairah
Amit?






On 11/5/07, Bryant J. Williams III <bjwvmw at com-pair.net> wrote:
>
> Dear Yitzhak,
>
> Interesting history.
>
> It would seem also plausible that since the Hebrews were Goshen for 430
> years
> (since the Egyptians did not like shepherds, Genesis 46:34) that other
> than
> trade talk, there would be little interaction between the Egyptians and
> the
> Hebrews (even more so after the enslavement).
>
> Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Yitzhak Sapir" <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>
> To: "B Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Monday, November 05, 2007 9:47 AM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Language, migration and Jewish identity
>
>
> > On Nov 2, 2007 11:15 PM, ג'ייסון הייר wrote:
> > > B-Hebrew Chaverim,
> > >
> > > I have been in a forum debate somewhere on the 'Net recently about the
> > > *when* of the adoption of Hebrew. I personally think that Abraham and
> Sarah
> > > adopted/acquired Hebrew when they migrated from Mesopotamia, and that
> their
> > > children grew up in Canaan with the language. Thus, they carried with
> them
> > > to Goshen (assuming the story of the biblical narrative at least true
> in the
> > > generalities), continuing their faith in the one God (as Abraham had
> > > instructed his family) until the time of the Exodus. Thus, it was
> natural
> > > that the Torah would be composed in Hebrew in its original kernel
> (given
> > > that many here do not think that the Torah was nearly all composed by
> the
> > > hand of Moshe Rabbeinu).
> > >
> > > The position of my "friend" on the other forum is that the Israelites
> > > adopted Hebrew only *after* the Exodus. I'm curious to know if there
> is
> > > anyone who makes a good point of this in the scholarly community, and
> also
> > > if there has been an opposing argument put forward.
> >
> > Karl's response reminded me that I wanted to get to answer this for some
> time
> > now.
> >
> > In the scholarly community, the great majority of scholars understand
> the
> > evidence to suggest that the Exodus or Patriarchal narratives do not
> represent
> > anything more than possible and if so, garbled, historical memories.
> > The general
> > consensus would be that later Judeans and Israelites represent
> descendants of
> > Canaanites and their language is consequently an evolved form of one of
> the
> > Canaanite dialects.  This is (for the most part) linguistically
> plausible.
> >
> > If the assumption of the Exodus and the Egyptian slavery is taken to be
> > historical, however, one may suppose that Hebrew would have borrowed
> > many words from Egyptian.  This hardly appears to be the case.  This
> > would suggest that after any adoption of Hebrew (or Canaanite) by the
> > ancestors of later Judeans took place, no Egyptian exile took place
> > either.
> >
> > The classic Jewish point of view is that Hebrew was the "original
> language"
> > and so Jews spoke Hebrew from the beginning.  One view sees their
> > redemption from Egypt being in part due to their not abandoning their
> > language.  A different view suggests that in Egypt, they had learned
> > to speak Egyptian and thus when God first spoke to them (The Ten
> > Commandments) he spoke in Egyptian -- ?anokh rather than ?ani.
> > ?anok is indeed Coptic for 'I', but the ancient Egyptian is yanak.
> > Jacob translates Gala(ad into Hebrew, whereas Laban translates the
> > word into Aramaic, which suggests that Hebrew was already spoken
> > by Jacob.  Adam calls his wife ?i$$a on analogy with ?i$.  This
> > works primarily only in Hebrew (and Phoenician) because this
> > comparison of ?i$ and ?i$$a relies on the coalescence of *s and *th,
> > which took place in Hebrew and Phoenician but not in Aramaic.  The
> > Rabbis interpreted this to mean that Adam spoke Hebrew.  Some
> > (such as Ibn Ezra) also interpreted the term "language of Canaan" as
> > suggesting that Canaanites spoke Hebrew.  However, linguistically, this
> > "merger" probably took place during the 2nd millenium BCE and no
> > earlier, and in any case, the very fact that there was a merger suggests
> > that this was not an original language and in this case Aramaic is
> > more conservative.  The classic Jewish point of view is also that the
> > Torah was composed in its entirety in Hebrew (and perhaps in other
> > language too) before Creation.  A traditional Jewish way to resolve the
> > conflict would be to suggest that some Jews -- say, the Priests and
> > Levites who were not enslaved according to traditions -- maintained
> > Hebrew but the general population did not.
> >
> > To sum up, your answer cannot be sought in the scholarly community
> > since the scholarly community has very different views than your
> > basic assumptions.  The classic Jewish point of view also has some
> > different views (that is, the Jews never "adopted"
> Hebrew).  Linguistically,
> > the evidence is for a very minimal borrowing of Egyptian words, much
> > much less than would be expected of a language that has been used
> > in an Egyptian exile, whether it took place or not.  You can compare the
> > amount of Persian, Greek, and Aramaic borrowing in Mishnaic Hebrew.
> >
> > Yitzhak Sapir
> > _______________________________________________
> > b-hebrew mailing list
> > b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
> >
>
>
>
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