[b-hebrew] First 9 Written Hebrew Words
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Dec 3 15:51:12 EST 2012
Prof. Yigal Levin:
You wrote: “Shlomo Izre'el's article really is interesting – thank you
for bringing it to my attention. However your post totally misconstrues what
it says. Nowhere does Izre'el call the language of the Amarna letters
"Hebrew". He calls it "Canaano-Akkadian", a local literary dialect used by
Canaanite scribes who "thought that they were writing Akkadian". So do you
consider Canaanite and Hebrew to be identical? Most linguists would say that
Hebrew is one of the Iron-Age dialects that developed from Late Bronze Age
southern Canaanite. But they are not the same.”
Are you sure that my post “totally misconstrues what it [Shlomo Izre’el’s
article] says”? Shlomo Izre’el actually published a pair of articles.
Let me quote here from his other article, which seems to leave open the issue
that you see as being an open and shut matter:
“Moran [the editor of the Amarna Letters] leans on the later evidence of
Biblical Hebrew which is supposed to reflect the Hebrew dialect of
Jerusalem. In this respect, one may note the following: the Hebrew of the Bible
may well reflect the dialect of Jerusalem (at least the bulk of it), but (1)
it is a first millennium B.C. dialect, whereas the Amarna evidence is from
the second millennium B.C., quite a few centuries earlier; and (2) it
reflects a dialect of Hebrew, the roots of which may have been different from
the local Canaanite dialect attested by the scribe of Jerusalem of the
Amarna period. The question remains open, especially when one recalls that the
scribe may not have himself originated in Jerusalem, but might have been
imported from Syria.” Shlomo Izre’el, “Vocalized Canaanite:
Cuneiform-Written Canaanite Words in the Amarna Letters: Some Methodological Remarks”,
DS-NELL V, NR. 1-2 (2003), 13-34, at p. 20.
Of the 9 west Semitic words that IR-Heba’s scribe wrote, 7 have a direct
equivalent in the Hebrew Bible. (2) ma-ax-si-ra-mu, “whatever they need” =
Deuteronomy 15: 8: MXSRW; (3) zu-ru-ux, “arm” = ZR(Y at Genesis 49:
11; (4) ca-du-uq, “just” = Genesis 38: 26: CDQH; (5) la-qa-xu, “they took”
= Deuteronomy 31: 26: LQX; (6) ga-ag-gi-mi, “roof” = Deuteronomy 22:
8: GG [as the root]; (8) $a-de-e, “field” = Genesis 23: 11: %DH; and
(9) a-ba-da-at, “lose” = Exodus 10: 7: )BDH.
Are you saying that’s not Hebrew?
What language, then, did the first Hebrews speak?
The 9 “Hebrew” words that I cited are the o-n-l-y west Semitic words
that IR-Heba’s scribe ever wrote; almost all of the rest of his Amarna
Letters use Akkadian words. IR-Heba’s scribe did not think that those 9 west
Semitic words were " ‘Canaano-Akkadian’, a local literary dialect used by
Canaanite scribes who ‘thought that they were writing Akkadian’ ". You know
that. What Shlomo Izre’el is referring to in the passage you cite is the
truly awful, substandard “Akkadian” that is used in the Amarna Letters; it’
s such awful Akkadian that it’s better understood as being Canaanite,
using Akkadian vocabulary. But you of course know that. I’m not talking
Rather, I’m talking about the only 9 west Semitic words that IR-Heba’s
scribe ever wrote, not the thousands of substandard Akkadian words he wrote.
1. Are these 9 west Semitic words “Hebrew”?
2. What is the Biblical Hebrew equivalent of words #1 and #7, which have
baffled me, especially since they start with U as its own separate
syllable, which to me doesn’t seem like Hebrew. But the other 7 words fit
Biblical Hebrew perfectly, don’t they?
Prof. Levin, surely you see the Hebrews as pre-dating the Iron Age, don’t
you? If so, then what language did the early Hebrews speak in the Late
Bronze Age? Didn’t they speak pre-Hebrew, which was quite similar to early
Biblical Hebrew? Aren’t we looking at that pre-Hebrew when we examine the
only 9 west Semitic words that IR-Heba’s scribe ever wrote?
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