[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

***************
Yigal,

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   
>> DAGON
>> 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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