[b-hebrew] Assumptions about ANE ages that just don't work.

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Oct 24 13:34:31 EDT 2007

We have gone over this before, and I will not belabor the point. All
of Yitzhak's sources are from centuries after the last documented time
that we can be sure that Biblical Hebrew was spoken as a native
tongue, learned at one's mother's knee. In fact there is some evidence
that while Hebrew was still spoken as a lashon haqodesh, that most
returnies from Babylon spoke Aramaic as their day to day speech,
making their pronunciation of Hebrew largely according to the rules
found in Aramaic, not Biblical Hebrew.

Because the evidence is not conclusive, there is no point arguing it,
other than to make note that differences of opinion exist and that
there is no way from observation to resolve those differences.

What I cannot respect is Yitzhak's repeated distortions of the record
which, after so many times, can only be typified either as willful
lying or stupidity....your choice. Given his record on this list, if I
were a professor at the university where he is studying, I would
recommend that he not be admitted to a doctoral program, and I would
refuse to be either his advisor or on the committee that oversees his

Karl W. Randolph.

On 10/24/07, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 10/24/07, K Randolph wrote:
> > There is no historical evidence that Biblical Hebrew, as opposed to
> > post-Biblical Hebrew, ever had more than the 22 consonants as
> > preserved in the 22 letter alphabet. Just because other languages had
> > them does not mean that Hebrew ever had them. In view of the fact that
> > other semitic languages had larger alphabets in ancient times with
> > related alphabets, even in Egypt at the time of Moses, indicates that
> > Hebrew did not adopt those larger alphabets because they did not have
> > the same number of consonants, evidence against the argument that
> > Hebrew once had a larger phoneme pool that was merged.
> The double Het has been discussed at length before on the list, and it is
> clear that Karl simply refuses to see the great amount of evidence that
> exists.
> However, another double letter, not previously discussed is the
> emphatic p - aspirated p which were both transcribed as p in Hebrew.
> This idea is (also) brought to you by Richard Steiner.  To summarize
> a Hebrew article:
> In Hebrew, p was aspirated which is why it was written as phi in the
> Septuagint, and other Greek sources, and was not distinguished from
> its fricative, f.  That is, the Hebrew p was pronounced as the p in the
> English word "pin" and not in the English word "spin."  But the Old
> Persian and Greek languages had a non-aspirated p.  For example,
> the word ap(p)ada:na "castle" in Old Persian.  This word appears in
> the Bible in Daniel 11:45, and in Jerome as "apedno" and is the only
> place where Jerome writes p as opposed to ph or f.  This use of p can
> be compared in Jerome's system:
> gimel - g kaf - ch qof - c
> dalet - d tav - th tet - t
> bet - b pe - ph,f
> That is, in Jerome's system a non-aspirated ch/th transcribes an
> emphatic sound in Hebrew.  From Jerome's point of view, what was
> significant here is that the p was not aspirated.  That it was
> emphatic we can learn from Dunash ibn Tamim's commentary to
> the Sefer Yetsira, who writes that his teacher Isaac Israeli pronounced
> the dalet in this word  as an Arabic za.  This can be explained as the
> result of the emphatic spreading to nearby letters.  This is a known
> phenomenon in Arabic, and it also takes place in Hebrew, for
> example - the word qtl becomes q+l.  Therefore, this pronunciation
> of the dalet suggests that the p was also emphatic.  Saadia Gaon's
> commentary on the SY also notes the additional letters pe and za in
> this word as additional sounds in the Hebrew alphabet.  Hebrew
> thus borrowed the non-aspirated p from Persian as is, and later
> it made it emphatic because a simple non-aspirated non-emphatic p
> was strange to Hebrew, but an emphatic non-aspirated sound filled
> a hole in the phonetic system (as can be seen in the table above
> of Jerome's system).  The pronunciation of this letter was preserved
> by the reading tradition even as the word was not understood.  This
> can be seen by the transcription of this word in transliteration in the
> Greek translation of Theodotion (as phi, and in the Lucianic
> recension as pi).
> Yitzhak Sapir

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