[b-hebrew] sfat Kena`an

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Tue Oct 27 02:04:48 EDT 2009

I disagree with Karl for two reasons. First, the context of Isaiah 19:18
makes it clear that he envisioned a victory of Yahweh over Egypt. Clearly,
this makes "Sefat Kena'an" the same as "Yehudit" - what we call Hebrew.
Second, historically, the fact that under the Neo-Assyrians Aramaic became
the language of diplomacy does NOT mean that it was the most commonly SPOKEN
language in the land of "Canaan". The Ekron royal inscription, written by a
Philistine king a generation later, is in what can only be called Hebrew.
The same for the "Reaper's Letter" from Mezad Hashavyahu, from the late 6th
century, written in a colloquial Hebrew, in a site which seems to have been
outside the Judean kingdom. As far as we can tell, Aramaic replaced Hebrew
as the spoken language of southern Canaan (Judah, Philistia, Edom etc.)
during the Persian Period. I also don't accept Karl's assumption that Hebrew
was not spoken in Persian-Hellenistic Judea. There too, the Aramaic
"takeover" seems to have been much more gradual. 

As far as Randall's questions below about the relationship between
"Canaanite" and "Hebrew", they are important historically, but less so for
understanding Isaiah 19:18, since Isaiah's point-of-view was NOT one of
historical linguistics.

Yigal Levin 

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of K Randolph
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 6:25 AM
To: Hebrew
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] sfat Kena`an


On Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 8:46 PM, Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com> wrote:

> >That I have already answered that there is no attestation for it. שפת
> in the context used in Isaiah could refer to Aramaic or another language,
> it
> is not necessarily Hebrew.>
>  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?
> A related question is: did Isaiah refer to the language that originally
spoken in Canaan, or did he refer to the language then spoken in Canaan? If
the latter, and due to invasion and colonization that language was Aramaic,
then the phrase could very well refer to Aramaic.

Within Isaiah’s lifetime, the majority of Canaan spoke Aramaic for the very
reasons listed above, with the exception of Judea. After the Babylonian
Captivity, Judea too spoke Aramaic. That made the language spoken on the
streets and at the hearths the language of Canaan, namely Aramaic.

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

Karl W. Randolph.
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