[b-hebrew] [amarna] Old West Semitic Words
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Dec 17 10:50:10 EST 2012
1. You wrote: “it is very difficult for me to accept a conjecture that
the law of moses was written in any language but hebrew”
It’s Hebrew, in the sense of west Semitic words that for the most part fit
classic Biblical Hebrew perfectly. But it’s such west Semitic words
written in cuneiform, not using an alphabet.
If you’re saying that the Patriarchal narratives were recorded in
alphabetical Hebrew in the Bronze Age, that’s not possible. Just look at how
rudimentary the Qeiyafa Ostracon is. There’s no way that the Qeiyafa Osatracon
alphabet could have been used to record any significant portion of the
sophisticated, complex Torah. But if, on the other hand, you’re saying that
the Patriarchal narratives weren’t recorded in writing at all until the Iron
Age, that won’t work either, because of the pinpoint historically accurate
details of the first Hebrews’ struggles in Years 12-14 of the Amarna Age
that are faithfully recorded in the received text. The Amorite princeling
ruler in Years 12-13 of the valley where the Patriarchs sojourned is given the
apt Patriarchal nickname of “Mamre the Amorite”, and his historical name
is honored and set forth in full at Genesis 46: 17: MLK -Y- )L
[Milk-i-Ilu]. There’s no way that anyone in the exilic or post-exilic era could
come up with details from Years 12-14 like that.
No, all those details must have been recorded in the mid-14th century BCE
by a contemporary, in cuneiform, using west Semitic words. 50 cuneiform
tablets, weighing only about 15 pounds or so in total, would be sufficient
to record the Patriarchal narratives. One of the very earliest Hebrew
traditions, then, dating all the long way back to the Late Bronze Age, would be
that the Hebrews carted along with them those 50 tablets of sacred Hebrew
scripture in a sacred chest, wherever they went. No, we don’t have those 50
cuneiform tablets today, but we do have in the received text of the
Patriarchal narratives how they were transformed into alphabetical Hebrew in the
early 7th century BCE [with the poetry of Jacob’s Blessings having been put
into alphabetical Hebrew earlier, as noted in #3 below]. The numbers,
proper names, and substantive content in the received text of the Patriarchal
narratives are all redolent of the first Hebrews’ struggles to survive and
maintain their homeland in the Amarna Age.
2. In a later post you wrote: “jim, the queiyafa ostracon is NOT in
That’s for sure! And that, my good friend, is the point. If you would
look at Rollston’s fine article that I cited, you would see how rudimentary
the alphabetic system of the Qeiyafa Ostracon was as of 1000 BCE. Neither
the Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives, nor Moses, could use such an
inadequate writing system to record any substantial portion of the Torah.
Not. Meanwhile, the most sophisticated and best writing system known to
the ancient world was readily available to the early Hebrews: cuneiform.
And we know from the Amarna Letters that cuneiform could easily be used to
record west Semitic words.
Forget the alphabet. Think cuneiform! That is, cuneiform used to record
west Semitic pre-Biblical Hebrew words. Cuneiform worked equally well to
record west Semitic words, or Hurrian words, or Akkadian words.
3. You wrote: “cuneiforms were used in the entire region between egypt,
turkey and the persian gulf as a means of diplomatic and logistic
communication. most probably, they were legible (in canaan) only by a handful of
scribes. it is even doubtful whether the local rulers who sent them could read
them directly without the scribe's help. quite on the contrary, religeous
texts have always been written in the language of the people, so as to be
understood by a large number of people.”
Hello, hello? King David’s scribe was of Hurrian ancestry, though his
family had lived in Jerusalem for many generations. His Hurrian ancestry meant
that he knew cuneiform [the writing method in which Hurrian was recorded],
but since he lived his whole life in Jerusalem he was bi-lingual in
Canaanite/pre-Hebrew. His name, $RYH, tells us the whole story. In a
Jerusalem dominated by Hurrians/“Jebusites”, King David had inherited a scribe of
Hurrian ancestry whose family had lived in Canaan for many generations.
His name, $RY-H at II Samuel 8: 17, is based on the following
frequently-attested Hurrian man’s name: $ar-ri-ia. That would be recorded in early
alphabetical Biblical Hebrew as $RY. To that Hurrian base name is added a
Semiticized -H ending, as with the names Araunah and Uriah. In all three
cases, that Semiticization shows that the man’s family, though of Hurrian
origin, had long lived in Canaan.
King David’s scribe $ar-ri-iah may indeed have been the scribe who
advanced the alphabet enough, a mere 50 years or so after the dreadful Qeiyafa
Ostracon, to be able to record Jacob’s Blessings [chapter 49 of Genesis] in
alphabetical Hebrew. By contrast, the non-poetical portions of the
Patriarchal narratives were not transformed from cuneiform writing of west Semitic
words into alphabetical Hebrew until the early 7th century BCE, when (i) the
alphabet had greatly improved, (ii) there was more literacy, and (iii)
most importantly, King Hezekiah desperately needed a religious boost for his
devastated kingdom. That’s why scholars tell us that the writing style, as
to spelling and grammar, of Jacob’s Blessings is 11th-10th century BCE,
whereas the writing style, as to spelling and grammar, of the rest of the
Patriarchal narratives is 7th century BCE.
See how everything makes logical sense? Just think cuneiform, with
cuneiform being used to write west Semitic words, and then everything falls right
into place, just as it should. The first written version of the
Patriarchal narratives was really old, dating all the long way back to the mid-14th
century. It was written in cuneiform, using west Semitic/pre-Hebrew words
that for the most part have a direct equivalent to Biblical Hebrew words.
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