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

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Sat Oct 20 20:27:10 EDT 2007

Yigal et al:

On 10/20/07, Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il> wrote:
> 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.
That is true today in narrative as well—unless the language is part of
the story, all participants speak good English (or whatever language
the narrative is told in). The purpose is to tell the narrative in a
way that is understood, not necessarily to give an exact repetition of
the conversation.

Having said that, the Mesha stone shows less difference between Hebrew
and Moabite than between Swedish and Norwegian, and there was probably
a similar lack of difference between Hebrew  and Philistine. Thus,
unless someone wanted to emphasize the pronunciation differences, he
would simply report any conversation with his own pronunciation (good

Karl W. Randolph.

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