[b-hebrew] Hebrew as a spoken language

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Oct 24 22:39:35 EDT 2007

On 10/24/07, K Randolph wrote:

> 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.

None of this has anything to do with Daniel 11:45, which is by all
accounts a post-exilic text, and yet contains Hebrew.  The original
claim stated was

> 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.

Do you intend to claim that Daniel 11:45 is "post-Biblical" Hebrew?
What is your evidence?  In a different thread, you wrote:

> I agree with you on the trying out of ideas, but when you throw out an
> idea and nobody backs you up, shouldn't you do the same as what you
> would do on a physics list, namely go back and do some more spade work
> to get more evidence to back up your idea?

You have never provided evidence that Biblical Hebrew died out.
And you have not provided evidence here that Daniel 11:45 is
"post-Biblical" Hebrew.  In contrast, you have been provided evidence
that it did not die out:

Since you don't understand Aramaic, I'll help you out.  Here is
a translation of some of the anecdotal evidence in the Talmud.
"The Rabbis did not know what Serugin (Mishnaic Hebrew,
Megillah 2:2).  They heard the maid of the House of Rabbi who
said (in Hebrew) to the Rabbis that used to constantly go to the
House of Rabbi for short periods of time, 'How long are you going
to come in serugin serugin?'. ... The Rabbis did not know what
'slslh wtrwmmk' (Prov. 4:8) means.  They heard the maid of the
House of Rabbi that said to a man that used to turn his hair, 'How
long are you mslsl in your hair?'  The Rabbis did not know what
'h$lk (l Y yhbk' means.  Said Rabbah grandson of Hanna, 'One
time I was walking with a bedouin and I was carrying a heavy
load, and he said 'take your load and put it on the camel.'  [This
one was for Shoshanna as regards Arabic]  The Rabbis did not
know what 'w+)+)tyh bm+)+) h$md' means.  They heard the
maid of the House of Rabbi say to her friend (quoted in
Aramaic), 'take the +)+yt) and +)+y the house.'"

Except for the last two, the comments of the "maid" are all
quoted in Mishnaic Hebrew, and it stands to reason she
spoke Mishnaic Hebrew, and even when she spoke to
people who understood only Aramaic, she would use
Hebrew words.  This is clear evidence for the survival of
Hebrew as a spoken language in day to day speech.  Yes,
it is Mishnaic Hebrew, not Ancient Hebrew, but Mishnaic
Hebrew is simply the later stage of Hebrew.

> 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
> work.

Please desist from ad hominem attacks.  As regards the substantive
content of the comment, this post itself is an example of the type of
"spade work" that I often do, and you do not.  The best we ever get
is a non-committal 'I read somewhere.'  Your examples of Aramaic
"influence" on Hebrew in the Bible have been shown to be non-issues
that are rooted in your misunderstanding of both Hebrew and Aramaic:
So, do you have evidence that Hebrew died out as a spoken
language?  How do you respond to the Talmudic (as well as Bar
Kokhba and Mishnaic) evidence?

Yitzhak Sapir

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