[b-hebrew] b-hebrew Digest, Vol 58, Issue 18

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sat Oct 20 16:38:31 EDT 2007

In the Bible, or at least most of it, everyone speaks good Hebrew. So do the 
Egyptians in Genesis and Exodus, the Midianites in Exodus and Judges, the 
Moabites in Judges, Arameans in Kings, all of the sailors and the people of 
Nineveh in Jonah and so on. This is just one more indication that the 
biblical authors did not intend to write word-for-word historical accounts 
of actual events - they had messages to get across, and wanted those 
messages to be as clear as possible to their intended audience - who of 
course spoke Hebrew. Only in those few places in which the foreigners' 
language was a part of the story did the writers make an effort to make them 
sound foreign.

As far as Yaakov's mention of the Ekron Inscription, Achish ben Padi's use 
of the title Sar rather than Melekh can be explained in three ways, none of 
them really satisfactory:

1. As Yaakov suggested, a throwback to what is presumably the old Philistine 
title Seren, used in the Bible for the rulers of the five major Philistine 
cities, and often thought to be connected to the Greek Tyranos. The problem 
with this is both the use of Sin and not Samekh, but more so the missing 

2. Using Sar, which in Hebrew/Canaanite is a lower rank than Melekh (king), 
because the Philistines were subsurvient to the Assyrian Melekh (king). The 
problem with this is that the Assyrians themselves, in inscriptions by both 
Sennacherib and Essarhadon, had no problem with referring to both Padi and 
Achish (Ikaysu) by the title "king" (Sharru in Akkadian). So why would 
Achish feel obligated to use a lesser title?

3. The use of "Sar" is actually an adoption of the Akkadian "Sharru" used by 
the Assyrian overlords. Possible, but if so then unique.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Yaakov Stein" <yaakov_s at rad.com>
To: "Isaac Fried" <if at math.bu.edu>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, October 20, 2007 8:44 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] b-hebrew Digest, Vol 58, Issue 18

>> What is in interesting in the story of judges 14 is that the
>> Philistines appear to have spoken good Hebrew.
> I don't know much about the language they spoke in the time of Samson
> (12th century or so BCE?)
> but in an 8th century BCE inscription found in Ekron
> (published by Gitin, Dothan and Naveh)
> the language is very close to Hebrew.
> Interestingly the word &R is used for king instead of MLK,
> which seems to be in line with the bible's usage of SRN
> and &R (in Sam1).
> Yaakov (J) Stein
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