[b-hebrew] sfat Kena`an

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Mon Oct 26 23:46:19 EDT 2009

Perhaps one item from a previous discussion couuld benefit from a
separate focus so that it can be resolved without distraction of other

There are two issues. 1 what was the name of Hebrew?
2. what did sfat Kena`an refer to?

>> c. the Hebrew name of 'Hebrew',
vayyixtov Karl
>That I have already answered that there is no attestation for it. שפת כנען
in the context used in Isaiah could refer to Aramaic or another language, it
is not necessarily Hebrew.>

I mentioned this 'Aramaic' idea to someone here in the US where I've just
arrived and their response was, "a person with this view doesn't know enough
to be able to argue with them." I'm not necessarily agreeing with that
assessment, but it seems illegitimate to entertain
'Aramaic' as a viable interpretation to 'sfat Kena`an.
since I'm traveling without access to typical books, maybe someone
would cite Koehler-Baugartner 3d ed?

Natuarally, a person needs some background to read Isha`yahu correctly.
Where was Kena`an?
Where were its linguistic characteristics?
How does it relate to Phoencian, Hebrew, and Moabite?
How does it relate to Aramaic?
How does it relate to the substrata of ElAmarna?
How does it relate to Ugaritic?

There is a consensus among those who have looked at the data that
Phoenician, Hebrew, and Moabite constitute a Canaanite dialect continuum.
Aramaic is part of "Northwest Semitic" but it is not Canaanite. Not
Canaanite means that Isha`yahu's audience would not have dreamt that
Aramaic was intended.
Canaanite developed an article before its noun, Aramaic did not. Canaanite also
developed the 'a' to 'o' shift, which is distinct from Aramaic
phonology. (since
both Phoenician and Moabite had active ipta`al binyan [Hebrew too, once in
MT ktiv and qre) and I can't remember specific nif`al structures in
jetlag, I'll leave
the non-aramaic nif`al off the Canaanite list for now.)

So I'm still very happy with sfat Kenaan as Hebrew. Aramaic is just
not on. Sorry.


Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list