[b-hebrew] Hebrew Alphabet from Anson Rainey's article in BAR

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Oct 23 09:47:22 EDT 2008

The subject of who borrowed the alphabet from whom has been a subject that
has been discussed on this list before, and is unlikely to be resolved from

For those of us who reject the Documentary Hypothesis (JEPD Theory), we
claim that the historical evidence indicates that even though the early
Israelites were wandering pastoralists, they had literacy and even extensive
books centuries before any evidence that the Phoenicians adopted the 22
letter alphabet. As wandering pastoralists, their writing would have been
designed to be written on light, easily transportable materials such as
parchment which easily rot, so the probability of finding any Israelite
writing from the bronze age approaches nil. Secondly as pastoralists, they
did not have a designated literary caste or class, which suggests that their
literacy was based on a simple system such as an alphabet, rather than a
complex system such as hieroglyphs that takes years to master.

It is the Phoenicians who, in their trading contacts with Israel, would have
been impressed with the alphabet as an easily learned, easily transportable
medium of record keeping suitable for traveling traders, which they were.
Therefore the evidence is that it is the Phoenicians who borrowed the
alphabet from the Hebrews, not the other way around.

The above is based on treating the Biblical references as historically
accurate record of ancient times, and that it is the modern historians who
often get it wrong, particularly concerning dates.

As for the number of consonants in Biblical Hebrew, that, too, has been
discussed earlier. The evidence for 25 consonants is all post-Exile, when
Judeans were more conversant in Aramaic than Hebrew, hence would have
applied the Aramaic pronunciation to the reading of Hebrew. Because we do
not know what was the pre-Exile pronunciation of Hebrew, we cannot rule out
that it originally had only 22 consonants, hence the 22 consonant Hebrew
alphabet accurately rendering the language as it was spoken at that time.

Those who accept the Documentary Hypothesis (JEPD Theory) reject the above
on ideological grounds. They have a completely different take on the above
events. Because it is ideological, arguing for or against either hypothesis
will be neither profitable nor within the guidelines of this group.

As for the results of the linguistic analysis, that is what is to be
expected if the Bible is in fact an accurate historical source.

Karl W. Randolph.

On Thu, Oct 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM, Bryant J. Williams III <
bjwvmw at com-pair.net> wrote:

> Dear List,
> The excerpt below is from Anson Rainey's article, "Inside, Outside" in the
> latest BAR.
> URL:
> http://bib-arch.org/bar/article.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=34&Issue=06&ArticleID=
> 08&Page=0&UserID=0&<http://bib-arch.org/bar/article.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=34&Issue=06&ArticleID=08&Page=0&UserID=0&>   (NOTE: The ampere sign at the end is REQUIRED!).
> What are your comments?
> Please make sure that Subject Line is changed if you wish to comment on
> other
> aspects of the article; and please provide links to supporting evidence so
> that
> we may be able to check out the sources.
> Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

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