[b-hebrew] mishnaic Hebrew + Deborah

George Athas George.Athas at moore.edu.au
Sat Nov 26 16:48:15 EST 2011

Karl, I don't know of anyone other than yourself who seriously doubts that Ugaritic was around in the 14th century BC. I know of no cogent argument for seeing Ugaritic as contemporaneous with Nebuchadnezzar II of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. In fact, to be quite honest, the suggestion is outrageous. Not that I'm averse to stirring the pot, but this just seems nonsensical in the extreme.


On 26/11/2011, at 9:34 PM, "K Randolph" <kwrandolph at gmail.com> wrote:

> Kevin:
> On Thu, Nov 24, 2011 at 2:14 PM, Kevin Riley <klriley at alphalink.com.au>wrote:
>> Karl,
>> Just 2 points.
>> 1) the Sinai inscriptions seem to have a larger than 22 letter alphabet,
>> from memory.  As does Ugaritic.  That argues for the loss of sounds, not
>> the development of sounds.
> Were the Sinai inscriptions written by Hebrews, or members of another
> language?
> When was Ugaritic written? I have read that it was concurrent with the
> Ramasid pharaohs. When were the Ramasid pharaohs? I have seen two dates—one
> concurrent with the Judges, the other with Nebuchadnezzar. Personally I
> think the latter is more likely, which would make Ugaritic late, not early.
>> 2) The major argument against Hebrew developing the shin/sin distinction
>> late in history is that the same distinction is found in Ugaritic and
>> the South Semitic languages.  I have read there is an 80%+ match between
>> the two groups that have 3 'S' sounds (excluding emphatics).  It is
>> unlikely that the match would be that high purely by chance, and there
>> is little chance that the similarity comes from contact.  South Semitic
>> was in contact with Arabic and Akkadian (and its descendents), both of
>> which have 2 's' sounds, but not directly with NW Semitic.  To argue
>> that Hebrew originally had 22 phonemes, and then developed some more
>> that just by coincidence happened to match up with other branches of
>> Semitic seems to be choosing the harder option when the simpler and more
>> likely solution is that Hebrew retained distinctions that were not
>> represented in writing.
> Which is the harder option? Knowing how alphabetic systems were developed,
> namely by assigning one phoneme to each symbol, makes it more likely that
> the Hebrew choice of 22 characters for their consonantal phonemes indicates
> that that was the form of the language at that time.
>> Let's be traditional and go for three points.  Can you point to one
>> writing system in the ANE, any time between about 2000BCE and 1000BCE
>> that is not polyvalent?  If not, why assume Hebrew should or would be?
> How many of the claims that the other languages were polyvalent were NOT
> connected to an adoption of an alphabet from another language (e.g.
> Phoenician) or connected to a reconstructed vision of how proto-Semitic is
> believed to have affected the language?
>> Kevin Riley
>> Karl W. Randolph.
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