Hebrew the original language?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Helen, Jul 21, 2003.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    I was emailed the following and asked for a review of it. I would like any comments anyone has to offer.

    I copied off the URL I was given, here:
    http://www.write-on.co.uk/history/edenics.htm

    ==============

    Hebrew: The Language of Eden
    This article discusses the possibility that Hebrew might have been the original language of the world, before the dispersion from Babylon.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Edenics
    Since the publication of my book, Forgotten History of the Western People, some of my readers have pointed out that the original world language, before the dispersion from the Tower of Babel, might have been Hebrew. They believe that Hebrew was the original language of the garden of Eden, and the study of this subject is called "Edenics". They also believe that many English words are derived from Hebrew. When I first heard of this, I found it a bit strange because English is an Indo-European language, and Hebrew is Semitic, and the notion of the Hebrew roots of the English language runs contrary to modern thinking of linguistics. I wondered if it might be just another fanciful idea from the British Israelites, who believe that the British people are descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel, placing them in a special covenant realtionship with God. However, I found that the supporters of Edenics are not British Israelites and they are not trying to prove any religious doctrine.

    So, I decided to look into the subject, and to my surprise I found there is some quite substantal evidence that Hebrew might indeed be the original world language. The main source of linguistic evidence is The Word: The Dictionary That Reveals the Hebrew Source of English, by Isaac Mozeson. For a summary of the evidence from various sources, but primarily from Mozeson's book, see Edenic - The First Language.

    Structure of Genesis
    In addition to the linguistic arguments, I discovered there are other reasons to believe that Hebrew was the first language, and this lies in the construction of the Book of Genesis, otherwise known as the first of the five books of Moses. However, Moses could not have written it, because it describes events that occurred long before his time. Instead he compiled it from other documents that were available to him. It was commonplace in the ancient world to write a "colophon" at the end of a document, identifying the author, and sometimes the date and place when it was written. Colophons have been found on stone tablets belonging to ancient Babylon, and they are the equivalent of the modern-day title page that appears at the beginning of a book.

    The colophons in the Book of Genesis all have a similar form such as "This the book of the generations of Adam", or "These are the generations of Noah". The Hebrew word "toledoth" is consistently used, which means "generations", "origins" or "histories", and then there is the name of the person who is signing off this section of the history. In some cases it is followed by a list of his descendants, and this has led some commentators to believe that the "toledoth" phrase is an introduction to a genealogical list. However, there is not always a genealogy, and the regular repetition of the "toledoth" phrase indicates that it is genuinely a signing-off phrase and not an introduction. For a discussion of the text, see The First Book of Moses and the 'Toledoth' of Genesis, by Damien F. Mackey. He credits P.J. Wiseman as the original author who discovered the toledoth structure in 1936, and since then it has appeared in various commentaries, including The Genesis Record by Henry Morris.

    There are nine sections in the Book of Genesis as follows:

    The Book of Heaven and Earth (Gen. 1:1 - 2.4), ending with "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens". This must have been written by God because it covers the days of creation when no man was present.


    The Book of Adam (Gen. 2:5 - 5:2), ending with "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.".
    Note: Gen. 5:2 is probably part of the colophon because of the use of the word "day", similar to Gen. 2:4.


    The Book of Noah (Gen. 5:3 - 6:9a), ending with "These are the generations of Noah".


    The Book of the Sons of Noah (Gen. 6:9b - 10:1a), ending with "Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth".


    The Book of Shem (Gen. 10:1b - 11:10a), ending with "These are the generations of Shem".


    The Book of Terah (Gen. 11:10b-27a), ending with "Now these are the generations of Terah".


    The Book of Isaac and Ishmael (Gen. 11:27b - 25:19a), ending with "And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son". It is thought that this large section is mainly from Isaac, but there is a contribution from Ishmael, ending with "Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham" (Gen. 25:12).


    The Book of Jacob and Esau (Gen. 25:19b - 37:2a), ending with "These are the generations of Jacob". There are two contributions from Esau. The first one ends with "Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom" (Gen. 36:1), and the second one ends with "And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir". (Gen. 36:9).


    The Book of the Sons of Jacob (Gen. 37:2b - Exodus 1:5), ending with "Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.".
    In this case the word "toledoth" is not used in Exodus 1:1, but the structure is the same, using the word "shemoth" which means "names". The names that follow are not a list of descendants, but the names of the brothers themselves, probably assembled together for a signing-off ceremony. The last one to sign his name gave the number of others present, and said that Joseph was not present because he had remained behind in Egypt. The last verse of Genesis records the death of Joseph in Egypt.
    Note: The word "generation" which appears in Exodus 1:6 is not "toledoth". Instead it is "dor", which means "circle" or "generation" and is commonly used to imply continuity.
    Having established that the Book of Genesis consists of nine separate books, written by different people, the question arises, in what language were all these books written? The name "Hebrew", referring to both the people and the language of the Israelites, is attributed to their ancestor Heber, the great-grandson of Shem, so it must be a very ancient language. All the books from Terah onwards must have been written in Hebrew, because he was the fifth-generation descendant of Heber. The earlier books must also have been written in Hebrew, for the following reasons:

    The language structure is essentially the same throughout the book of Genesis, including the colophons, and there is no reason to believe that the earlier books were translations from something else.


    Moses and his scribes were not linguists and there is no reason to believe that they were compiling and translating documents from different languages.


    The Hebrew scribes had such reverence for the language of the Torah, that if an error was made while copying a scroll, they would throw the entire scroll away. There were no critical revisions, as might be expected with translations. They behaved entirely as if they were dealing with original text, and not just any old text, but something very precious that had been handed down to them from the beginning of the world.
    Conclusion
    I have referred to the linguistic arguments of Mozeson, that the original language of the pre-flood world might have been Hebrew, and I have also given the structure of the book of Genesis, on the basis of the well-known "toledoth" phrases. However, I have not yet found any books or web pages suggesting that the structure of Genesis adds weight to the argument, that Hebrew was the language of Eden. Have I discovered something new, or have I simply rediscovered something that was known to our ancestors, whose work is buried somewhere in a mountain of forgotten histories?
     
  2. Ben W

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    Not True,

    After the people began to build the tower of Babel, God confounded all of their languages. Hence nobody spoke the original language or could remember it.
     
  3. HankD

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    Genesis 11:9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

    "confound the language"...

    Assuming that Hebrew were the original language, I believe there is room in this statement for one of those "confounded" languages that were left behind to have been the Hebrew original depending perhaps on the word "confound". This would have been prophetic perhaps, the Lord knowing which nation He would choose to bring forth His Son.

    I dont have the Hebrew text available to me at the moment.

    Ben, (or anyone) what is the meaning of the Hebrew word behind the English "confound"?

    HankD
     
  4. BrianT

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    The article makes a faulty assumption here, and then builds off of it. It is also possible, in fact probable, that Moses wrote the entire Pentatuch based on *oral* tradition, and guidance from the Holy Spirit. The event of Genesis did not need to be written down as they happened (e.g. "This must have been written by God because it covers the days of creation when no man was present."), they were written down afterwards.

    Are there internal evidences in the Pentatuch that indicate someone other than Moses penned it? Yes, but these are small, edited sections - not complete chapters or anything.
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    English "confound" = Hebrew "balal"
    (1) to overflow (spec. with oil)
    (2) by implication, to mix
    (3) to fodder, mix feed
    (4) to confound, mingle, mix, temper

    Mixing of languages would NOT imply total loss of the original.

    BTW, isn't Hebrew the language of heaven? I'm looking for notes where I was taught that.
     
  6. 4study

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    What is the relevance?

    I think it's important to note that "the earth was of one language and one speach" in Gen. 11:1, however, what specific language that was is of little worth to me in understanding the revelation of God.
     
  7. Gunther

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    BrianT, good point. Jesus ascribed AUTHORSHIP to Moses, not simply editorial work. This view tends to slap inspiration.
     
  8. latterrain77

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    Hi Gunther. Authorship can be ascribed to one, though the words/works were actually dictated/created by another. Even our own Copyright rules recognize this on a secular level (i.e. "works made for hire").

    With respect to Moses, there are parts of his scribe work that are CLEARLY shown to be written by the hand of GOD himself (Exo. 31: 18, Deut. 9: 10). Still, even the "authorship" of these verses are ascribed to Moses, despite it plainly shown as written by GOD. All of this tends to prove inspiration.

    Finally, in the end, 2 Pet. 1: 21 unquestionably shows inspiration. There is no other possible read of 2 Pet. 1: 21 that I'm aware of. By the way, would you please cite chapter and verse showing that Jesus ascribed authorship to Moses. It's not that I don't believe you, but I'd like to see your reference for purposes of context and your definition of the word "authorship." Thanks! latterrain77
     
  9. Ron Grove

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    I have seen some of these arguments made before so it's not new I don't believe. I expect I heard it from the links given at http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/genesis.asp. Here is one of the links they point to about the "Tablet Theory":

    http://www.trueorigin.org/tablet.asp

    I copied the abstract of the article which summarizes what it says here:


    Abstract

    Many pastors, writers, and even seminary professors rely on the “JEDP Documentary Hypothesis” to explain how the book of Genesis was originally written. This concept says that for many centuries the stories were passed down orally, usually with embellishments or deletions, and were not committed to writing until much later than the events they describe. Naturally, this idea doesn’t tend to inspire confidence in the literal accuracy of the account. Thus it’s favored by theologians of a liberal bent.

    In contrast, the “Tablet Theory” suggests that portions of Genesis were originally written on clay tablets by men who personally experienced the events described. The tablets were later compiled by Moses. Since the original writers were said to be eye-witnesses, their accounts should be historically accurate. This article briefly describes the development and implications of these two theories.


    In Christ,
    Ron
     
  10. Ben W

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    I have heard it said before with some reasonable basis that there is a possibility that the book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible. :confused:
     
  11. Jim1999

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    quote: Thus it’s favored by theologians of a liberal bent.
    ____________________________________________

    Not all liberal scholarship is hell-bent on destroying the Christian religion.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  12. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Being a former liberal, I can attest to the truthfullness of this. Most of it is meant to destroy Christianity. But, there are those who are just seriously misguided and decieved. Thank God my eyes were opened to the lies and anti-God nature of modern day liberalism.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  13. NeilUnreal

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    This is kind of funny, because I'm a former near-fundamentalist who is now a liberal! I agree 100% that a lot of liberal scholars are out to destroy Christianity.

    Which is all the more reason for us liberal Christians to be here -- showing those scholars that even where their research conflicts with tradition, it is no refuge from God's love.

    As the Robert DuVall character says in The Apostle Amen Padre! You get it done your way, I'll get it done mine.

    -Neil
     
  14. Wisdom Seeker

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    What about Aramaic?

    Aramaic is one of the Semitic languages, an important group of languages known almost from the beginning of human history and including also Arabic, Hebrew, Ethiopic, and Akkadian (ancient Babylonian and Assyrian). It is particularly closely related to Hebrew, and was written in a variety of alphabetic scripts. (What is usually called "Hebrew" script is actually an Aramaic script.)

    0ur first glimpse of Aramaic comes from a small number of ancient royal inscriptions from almost three thousand years ago (900-700 B.C.E.). Dedications to the gods, international treaties, and memorial stelae reveal to us the history of the first small Aramean kingdoms, in the territories of modem Syria and Southeast Turkey, living under the shadow of the rising Assyrian empire.

    Aramaic was used by the conquering Assyrians as a language of administration communication, and following them by the Babylonian and Persian empires, which ruled from India to Ethiopia, and employed Aramaic as the official language. For this period, then (about 700–320 B.C.E.), Aramaic held a position similar to that occupied by English today. The most important documents of this period are numerous papyri from Egypt and Palestine.

    Aramaic displaced Hebrew for many purposes among the Jews, a fact reflected in the Bible, where portions of Ezra and Daniel are in Aramaic. Some of the best known stories in biblical literature, including that of Belshazzar’s feast with the famous "handwriting on the wall" are in Aramaic.
     
  15. Grasshopper

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    Didn't Jesus speak Aramaic?
     
  16. Wisdom Seeker

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    Yes, He did.
     
  17. Helen

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    I appreciate the responses here. Thank you.

    Personally, I thought the article made a lot of good points. I wanted to see how strong the opposition was.

    1. Confounding means they couldn't understand each other, not that the original language was totally lost. There is a form of Hebrew which is very, very old, and often referred to as paleo-Hebrew. This may be close to the original language.

    2. I have become very much in favor of the Tablet hypothesis. There is an enormous amount of evidence in favor of it and only prejudice against it. This would mean that these events were written about by eyewitnesses and that it was not just oral tradition which came down. It also means that Moses was the collator and editor of Genesis, not the actual author. We can see where editorial comments have been inserted, and since the book is one of the books of Moses, we would presume that he is the editor who did that...

    3. Ben, Job is the oldest complete book in the Bible. It is only predated by Genesis 1-11.

    4. I do think the article makes a good point about the ability of Moses to read the ancient tablets and therefore put them together into a cohesive group, or book, or scroll.
     
  18. Gunther

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    Helen, there is no evidence that Moses merely edited previous work.

    Christ called him the writer.
     
  19. Helen

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    Gunther, I just pulled out my handy dandy Concordance and looked up "Moses" and there is not one time I could find that Jesus said that Moses wrote Genesis or the material therein. He is credited with the law, but not the origins.

    If you could point me to the place where you feel Jesus said that Moses wrote the material in Genesis, I would be grateful. Thank you.
     
  20. Gunther

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    Helen, in about 20 seconds, I found the following:

    John 5:46-47

    "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.

    But if you do not believe his WRITINGS, how will you believe My words?"

    NASB, emphasis mine

    There is a huge difference between editing work, and being credited with being the actual writer. Notice how everything in the N.T. points to Mosaic authorship and divine inspiration and Scripture is SILENT on this revised document hypothesis?
     

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