[b-hebrew] Biblical Hebrew orthographical practices in light of epigraphy

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Tue Jun 1 20:03:50 EDT 2010


Like you, I address only a few issues.

On Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 1:08 PM, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hello Karl,
> > This is your presuppositions blinding you to what your eyes could
> otherwise
> > see.
> No.  The waw of מוצא is part of the root -- יצא, and therefore there is a
> strong
> possibility that it was not simply a mater lectionis.  Furthermore, we
> actually
> similar words such as הושע (Israelite king) which show a diphthong in
> Assyrian transcriptions.  This is the same type of root with a waw/yodh in
> the initial radical of the root.  It is possible to claim that the Assyrian
> is
> not representative, that the Israelite dialect is a bit different, but
> in the end,
> it is evidence that prevents us from calling the waw of מוצא a mater
> lectionis.
> Hence my statement above: it is not certain.
> Karl, the one who appears blinded by his own theories is you.

What we have is the consonantal text of Tanakh which shows a certain
spelling. What you claim is that at some time in the past, apparently before
the DSS, there was a major updating of all Biblical texts to reflect a new
spelling that had become popular in ancient Israel. But so far you have yet
to show a single clear example to back up your contention.

What I claim is that without evidence, there is no theory.

What I claim based on reading the text of Tanakh through several times over
years is that there were no formal rules of spelling when Tanakh was
written, rather it was written phonetically, with certain allowances made
for variations to fit meter, in poetry in particular. I did not find an
orthography in its first definition, namely referring to rules of correct
spelling, as is found in most western languages today.

What we also find, already in Tanakh, is a practice of textual copying that
argues against a wholesale updating of orthography to reflect a new
practice, a new spelling. So based on the evidence that has been presented
so far, I have no choice but to come to the conclusion that the writing,
including the “materes lectionis” which I think were consonantal in
pre-Exile Hebrew, were for all intents and purposes (excepting some copyist
errors) the same as we find in surviving copies of Tanakh.

> The tunnel is an average of about 2 ft wide, apparently pretty
> consistently.
> However, it is unlikely that the crew at each side consisted of only one
> person at the face.

Ever tried swinging a pickax, particularly with force to cut through rock?
Two feet is already narrow for one worker. Yes, there would be other people
on the team, but they would not be working the face.

> >> 3) The term לקרת comparable to Biblical Hebrew לקראת is used in the
> Bible
> >> only between individuals and nations and not between inanimate objects.
> > More likely it comes from the verb QRH which means, “to happen (upon),
> occur
> > ⇒ to meet (with)”. This can fit inanimate objects as well.
> >
> > In this context, it refers to the breakthrough, when the two teams met.
> I agree with you that the word לקראת/לקרת probably does come from the
> root קרה.
> However, the point is not that it could have fit inanimate objects.
> The point is
> that we don't see it referring to inanimate objects in the Bible.  We don't
> know
> if the ancient Judaeans would have used it with inanimate objects or not.

Yes, it is used for inanimate objects and for events, starting with Genesis
42:29, 44:29.

> Yitzhak Sapir

You presented a theory, then the only data that you presented to back up
that theory is the Siloam inscription. Problems with using that inscription
are that it is too short and it is damaged. For example, the word -WBYM, is
it a complete word, or a partial word? I think the context indicates a
partial word, but because of damage I can’t insist on it 100%, and likewise
that same damage prevents anyone else to insist that it must be a complete
word. Whichever option chosen influences the reading of a few words later,
XCBM, so that is not necessarily a plural without a yod as in “later”
writing. (WD is spelled out twice with “materes lectionis”. )$ is used in a
manner that it does not mean “man”, in the same context as some examples in
Tanakh. Because of that, my initial reaction was to read it as “fire”, but
Randall gave evidence that it should be a different word.

In the absence of evidence, I have no choice but to reject the theory that
you propose. It doesn’t matter even if 100% of “scholars” support it,
without evidence, it’s a non-starter. My whole reaction revolves around the
lack of evidence. It’s not that I have an alternate theory, it’s just that
without evidence, you don’t have a theory.

Karl W. Randolph.

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