[b-hebrew] Two X letters

George Athas george.athas at moore.edu.au
Wed Oct 24 17:49:27 EDT 2007


Isaac Fried wrote:

> The claim that Hebrew had two "different" X letters that "merged"  
into the present letter is not worth considering.

Isaac, that is very unfair of you. You seem to be overlooking
overwhelming evidence here. It almost sounds like you are sticking
your head in the sand so as not to see it.

There is good evidence from cognate languages and transliterated forms
in other languages. Semitic languages, of which Hebrew was one, had
two distinct but closely related letters: the more aspirated heth and
the more fricative hu. A good example is Ugaritic. When Ugaritic uses
the letter hu, Biblical Hebrew corresponds with the letter heth. This
means that Biblical Hebrew either merged the two distinct letters into
one, or else used one grapheme for both phonetic values.

This last concept has persisted in Hebrew down to today, where the
second last letter of the Hebrew alphabet has two values: shin or sin.
Today we mark the difference with a superscripted dot, but that was a
late invention. Another example is the way Hebrew used the letter
`ayin to signify two phonetic values (`ayin and gayin - both of which
are used in Arabic still today). The best examples of this last point
are the Greek transliterations of the town (aMORaH as GOMORRA, and
(aZZaH as GAZA - both clearly showing a 'g' type sound (i.e., gayin).
At other times, though, the transliteration demonstrates the `ayin
sound (e.g., (uZZiYYaHU as OZIAS).

These cases suggest that your dismissive remark (quoted above) should
itself be laid aside on the basis of evidence.

If you want to be taken seriously in this forum, Isaac, you need to be
open to evidence rather than dismissive of it. It's more valiant to
acknowledge weaknesses in one's theories than to pompously dismiss
contrary evidence as non-existent.

 

Best Regards, 

GEORGE ATHAS 
Moore Theological College (Sydney) 
1 King St, Newtown, NSW 2042, Australia 
Ph: (+61 2) 9577 9774 




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