[b-hebrew] New Inscription of Hebrew?

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sat Nov 1 20:32:38 EDT 2008

On Sat, Nov 1, 2008 at 9:51 PM, Yigal Levin wrote:

> a. One must distinguish between language and script. No one has ever claimed
> that there was a "proto-Canaanite language". "Proto-Canaanite" is the title
> given by epigraphers to the earliest known forms of the 22-letter alphabet
> which would eventually be used by the Hebrews, the Phoenicians, the Arameans
> and others. In a way it is a mis-nomer, since it seems to imply that it was
> used BEFORE the Canaanites, but this is not what is meant when modern
> epigraphers use it.

In linguistics, "Proto-Canaanite" would refer to the
assumed/hypothetical ancestor of a
Canaanite genetic group.  There is agreement amongst scholars such as
for a genetic grouping including Phoenician, Hebrew, and Amarna "Canaanite,"
but not Ugaritic.  This group is labeled Canaanite, and therefore, the
linguistic term
"Proto-Canaanite" would designate the ancestor of these languages after they had
diverged from Northwest Semitic.  "Proto" means first, so
"Proto-Canaanite" when
refering to language would be the first language to be genetically
within a Canaanite
subgroup.  I disagree with Huehnergard's classification of a Canaanite
subgroup but
it is currently the established opinion.

>From Faber's article in Hetzron's "The Semitic Languages":

> d. The fact that the Hebrews spoke a language that was closely related to
> Canaanite does not contadict anything that is stated in the Bible.

Ibn Ezra commenting on Is 19:18 writes that this verse allows us to conclude
that the Canaanites spoke Hebrew.

> g. So - in giving this ostracon to a professional epigrapher such as Hagai
> Misgav, the excavators did the right thing. In refusing to offer even a
> priliminary reading befor completing all of the relevant tests, Misgav did
> the right thing. I assure you that as soon as a reliable reading can be
> published, it will be. Until that time, anything that anyone says about the
> inscription is probably nonsense.

I agree, and the little information that was publicized (such as in Prof.
Garfinkel's interview on Israeli television) where he discussed only a
handful of words is the best they have in any case at the moment.

Yitzhak Sapir

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