[b-hebrew] Hebrew-speaking Philistines

Gary Hedrick garyh at cjfm.org
Mon Oct 22 12:34:06 EDT 2007

	What's a good study on the relationship between early Hebrew and the Canaanite language/dialects? Also, does anyone know of a scholarly source that summarizes what we've learned about Canaanite religion, culture, and language from the Ugarit rediscovery in Syria in 1928?	

Gary Hedrick
San Antonio, Texas USA
GaryH at cjfm.org


Thanks for the informative answer.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Oct 20, 2007, at 7:43 PM, Yigal Levin wrote:

> A lot has been written about the Philistines' presumed 
> acculturazation. On one hand, we know that the Philistines arrived 
> together with other so-called "Sea Peoples", from the Aegean Sea area 
> and there are aspects of their material culture and even the little we 
> knw of some of their names and language which do signify an Aegean 
> origin. The Bible also ties them to Kittim or Chaphtor - Crete or 
> maybe Cypress.
> On the other hand, those Aegean immigrants were a minority who settled 
> among a largely Canaanite population, and quickly began assimilating 
> Canaanite influences. For example, some of the Philistine cultic 
> artifacts are different from Canaanite ones. On the other hand, 
> "Dagon" and "Baal Zebub"
> (or, more probably, "Baal Zebul") are Canaanite divine names. SO, did 
> the Philistines begin worshiping Canaanite gods, or did they identify 
> their old gods with equivalent Canaanite gods (such syncretism was 
> very common), or was it just the writers of  the Bible who did the 
> identifying?
> Remember,
> neither god is known from any Philistine inscription.
> So yes, chances are that Philistines and Israelites could understand 
> each other, even if the Philistine "upper classes" also had their own 
> Aegean language. But that's really not the point that interests the 
> author of Judges. He has the Philistines speaking good Hebrew because 
> it's convenient for him to do so. Judges 13-16 is not a factual 
> word-for-word account of historical events. It's a story, a re-telling 
> of events that may or may not have happened, but in any case written 
> in such a way as to get messages across to a Hebrew-speaking audience, 
> and so written in good Hebrew. Having to deal with the question of 
> just how well Samson and the Philistines understood each other would 
> have made the storytelling complicated, and since it's not important 
> to the story, the writer did not bother with it.
> Yigal Levin
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Isaac Fried" <if at math.bu.edu>
> To: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
> Cc: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 1:03 AM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] b-hebrew Digest, Vol 58, Issue 18
>> Yigal,
>> You are right. Still here is a detailed story of a simple [very]   
>> young
>> Hebrew man, the son of simple God fearing people, freely   
>> interacting with
>> the Philistines [and their daughters]. It is, of  course, possible 
>> that Samson, after years of dealing with them  learned their language 
>> and that the famous, remarkably worded, XIDAH  is given to us in 
>> translation. It is also possible that the town of  TIMNATAH was a 
>> mixed town. But it is equally possible that the  Philistines spoke a 
>> Hebrew dialect.
>> As far as I can recall not one of their names, including that of   
>> their god, is unmistakably non Semitic.
>> Isaac Fried, Boston University
>> On Oct 20, 2007, at 4:38 PM, Yigal Levin 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.

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