[b-hebrew] WHAT LANGUAGE DID ABRAHAM, FATHER OF ISHMAEL AND ISAAC, SPEAK?

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Tue Nov 10 00:56:51 EST 2009


Karl,

As you know, the Bible DOES NOT state that Abraham lived in the Early Bronze
Age or that Moses lived in the 15th century. You may disagree with the
commonly accepted dates, but your dates are just as conjectural. The Bible
also does not state that Moses wrote Genesis. This is a long-standing
tradition, but not stated specifically in the Bible.
As far as the second part of your post below, even assuming that "Hebrews"
were writing before "Phoenicians" were:
1. How do you know what alphabet they were using?
2. When you write "Phoenicians", do you mean Canaanites in general, or
specifically the Iron-Age inhabitants of the Lebanese coast (the Bible's
"Sidonians")? If the former, the Canaanites were developing their
"proto-Canaanite" alphabet as far back as the 16th century if not earlier.
If the latter, the Iron Age "Phoenicians" adopted the old Canaanite alphabet
about the same time as the Iron Age "Hebrews" did.

Yigal Levin

-----Original Message-----

The reason it is not historical is because there are no surviving historical
records other than the Bible that either corroborate or contradict the
Biblical record that a historical Abraham even lived in the early bronze age
when the Bible claims that he lived. Nor are there any historical records as
to when Genesis was written other than the Biblical claim that Moses wrote
it down in the 15th century BC, and internal evidence that Moses used older
documents to compile Genesis. And if he used older documents, did he update
the language to 15th century Hebrew or did he leave the documents unchanged?

The reason it is not linguistic is for much the same reason, namely that so
few records survive from the early bronze age that our understanding of the
languages spoken is very patchy at best. Languages both gain and lose
phonemes, therefore the number of phonemes a language has is no indication
of its age.

Your other claimed scenarios suffer from the lack of even a claimed
historical record (Bible) to back them up.

Yigal:

Your claim that Biblical Hebrew had more phonemes than the 22 represented by
the alphabet has two problems: 1) if the Bible is accurate history, that
indicates that the Hebrews were using the 22 letter alphabet before the
Phoenicians, therefore the alphabet reflected the number of phonemes present
in the language at that time, and 2) our record of a greater number of
phonemes comes from a period long after Hebrew ceased to be the spoken
language of the street and hearth, therefore most likely was corrupted by
other languages. I include the sin-shin split, ayin-ghayin and other
distinctions as examples of that linguistic corruption.

Karl W. Randolph.
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