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Remembering AbrahamCulture, Memory, and History in the Hebrew Bible$

Ronald Hendel

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195177961

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195177967.001.0001

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(p.109) Appendix: Linguistic Notes on the Age of Biblical Literature

(p.109) Appendix: Linguistic Notes on the Age of Biblical Literature

Remembering Abraham
Oxford University Press

The question of the age of biblical literature has gained new prominence in recent years due to the claims of some scholars that the Hebrew Bible was written primarily or entirely during the Persian-Hellenistic periods 1 or during the Hellenistic period alone. 2 These claims fly in the face of the standard scholarly view that the biblical writings span a much greater chronological range, the earliest texts dating to the premonarchic era and the latest to the Hellenistic period. The arguments of the late-daters are often sketchy and impressionistic and have been refuted by several substantial studies. 3 These revisionist claims do, however, serve a useful purpose in forcing us to reevaluate the data and the arguments based on them.

Perhaps the clearest data for the age of biblical literature are linguistic. Beginnning with the crucial work of Wilhelm Gesenius, scholars have clarified the distinctive features of what we now call Classical Biblical Hebrew (CBH) and Late Biblical Hebrew (LBH). 4 While the divide between these two phases of Hebrew is gradual, many of the changes seem to have taken root during the transition between the First and Second Temple periods. As Angel Sáenz-Badillos notes in his erudite and judicious book A History of the Hebrew Language:

The Babylonian exile marks the beginning of a new stage in the development of Hebrew. The spoken and written languages had been drifting apart before the exile, and the so- (p.110) cial and political turmoil brought about by the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the First Temple produced a significant change in the linguistic status quo. 5

After the exile, CBH remained a model for imitation and emulation, but many changes—including the collapse of the CBH verbal system 6 —made the nuances of CBH difficult to capture in new texts. Some scholars suggest that it would have been possible to write a work in flawless CBH during the Persian-Hellenistic periods and that such a perfect imitation would be impossible to detect. This is a logical possibility, just as it is that a twentieth-century Frenchman could have written Don Quixote. 7 But it is not very likely, and on methodological grounds we should eschew improbable possibilities when more probable historical reconstructions are available. The linguistic features and historical horizons of the CBH writings straightforwardly cohere in a pre-exilic setting. 8

The following is a collection of a few striking linguistic details that indicate, with varying degrees of clarity, the pre-Persian period setting of CBH. Most have been advanced by other scholars, but it is useful to gather them together. The linguistic data that we possess are incomplete and imperfectly preserved, so it is important for us to value what pieces of diagnostic evidence we can discern. 9 The details below fall into two overlapping categories: foreign or technical words that are chronologically distinctive; and features of CBH that are shared with pre-exilic inscriptions and absent or severely curtailed in LBH and other Hebrew dialects of the Second Temple period.

Philistine Words

סרנים‎. It has long been argued that the word סרן‎, which refers to Philistine rulers (and found only in the plural), is a Philistine loanword. 10 It is probably related to the Luvian tarwanis (“justice”), a title used by Neo-Hittite rulers, and Greek τυ´ραννος (“tyrant, ruler”). 11 As indicated by the Hebrew construct form sarnê, it was borrowed into Hebrew as either a *qatal form, *saran, or a *qatl form, *sarn. The samekh at this time was pronounced as a palatal affricate, something like [ts], 12 yielding a pronunciation like [tsaran] or [tsarn], which is close to the phonetic shape of Luvian tarwan-. Since the pronunciation of samekh became [s] by the time of LBH, becoming homophonous with śin, 13 the borrowing of this word into Hebrew cannot have been as late as the Persian era. Moreover, a distinctive Philistine culture had long disappeared by the Second Temple Period. This word is best understood as a borrowing from the (p.111) Philistines during the flourit of Philistine culture. It may be significant that in the seventh century B.C.E. inscription from Ekron (one of the main Philistine cities in the biblical texts), the Philistine ruler calls himself a שר‎, 14 perhaps indicating that the term סרן‎ had fallen out of use among the Philistines by then.

כובע‎/קובע‎. The word for “helmet” in 1 Samuel 17: 5, 38 and elsewhere is also probably a loanword from the Philistines, related to Hittite kupaḫi, Hurrian kuwaḫi, and Greek κυ´μβαχος. 15 The variation of word-initial כ/ק‎ indicates a foreign loanword, in which the initial sound was not precisely captured by either Hebrew phone. The borrowing of this word also points to the period of the Philistine flourit, when their native language was still intact. (Note that the Ekron inscription and other Philistine texts of the seventh century B.C.E. are written in Phoenician or a related local Northwest Semitic language.) 16

Old Aramaic Phonology

גתר/גשור‎ and רצין‎. Baruch Halpern has noted that some biblical “renditions of Aramaic names conform to early Old Aramaic systems of consonantal representation” 17 and therefore have implications for linguistic dating. Two of these instances seem particularly strong: the name Gešur in Joshua and Samuel (and its counterpart Geter in Genesis) and the name of the Aramaic king Reṣin in 2 Kings and Isaiah.

Gešur (גשור‎) is a region of Aram mentioned several times in Joshua and Samuel, probably located in the southern Golan Heights. 18 Geter (גתר‎, Greek Γαθερ) is listed in Genesis 10:23 (P) as a son of Aram. These two names are probably variants of the same place-name, as several scholars have noted. 19 These names may be analyzed as forms of the root *gṯr (“to be strong”), which is represented as gšr in Old Aramaic, and as gtr in Imperial Aramaic. The place-name would mean something like “stronghold, fortress.” In Old Aramaic, the spelling with ש‎ represents the phoneme , which merges with t in Imperial Aramaic. The change from ש‎ to ת‎, representing the phonemic merger * > t, is clearly attested in Aramaic inscriptions of the seventh century B.C.E. and becomes regular by the sixth century B.C.E. 20 In the paired sequence of Geshur/Geter, we have a good example of this Aramaic phonological change preserved in the Hebrew. Even if the P form is unrelated to Geshur (which seems unlikely), the etymology from *gṯr indicates that גשור‎ represents the orthography and phonology of the Old Aramaic period.

רצין‎. The name of the eighth century B.C.E. Aramean king Reṣin (named in 2 Kgs 15–16 and Isa 7–9) also corresponds to Old Aramaic phonology. 21 The (p.112) original form is *raḍyān, which is represented in Neo-Assyrian texts as ra-ḫi-a-nu and ra-qi-a-nu. The former may be the Assyrian approximation of the sound of Old Aramaic , and the latter reproduces the Old Aramaic spelling רקין‎, in which ק‎ represents the sound of . 22 The phoneme is represented in Hebrew by צ‎, hence biblical רצין‎ (which should probably be read raṣyān or raṣyōn, cf. 1QIsaa רציאן‎ and LXX Ραασσων). 23 In Imperial Aramaic, the pronunciation and representation of the phoneme merges with the phoneme ;ay(= ע‎) and would be represented in Aramaic and Hebrew of the Persian-Hellenistic era as רעין‎. 24 The Hebrew רצין‎ reflects a time when the phoneme was still pronounced in Old Aramaic, 25 which matches the time of this eighth-century king.

Neo-Assyrian Titles

רב שקה ,רב סריס ,תרתן‎. 2 Kings 18:17 relates: “The King of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah.” These three Assyrian officers are known from Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian texts as the tartānu, the rab ša rēši, and the rab šaqê, respectively. 26 These terms are found elswhere in Kings, First Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel as titles of Assyrian and Babylonian officials. 27 Since all three terms are found in Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian texts, and only ša rēši in later Akkadian texts, the borrowing of these terms into Hebrew must have occurred during the Neo-Assyrian and/or Neo-Babylonian periods. 28 (The term in Dan 1:3, רב סריסים‎, is clearly dependent on the earlier Hebrew texts, revising the collective סריס‎ to the plural סריסים‎, a common modernization in LBH.) There are additionally other Neo-Assyrian words, expressions, and topoi in 2 Kings 18–19 and First Isaiah that indicate a Neo-Assyrian historical context. 29

Weights and Measures

פים ,בקע ,גרה‎. William Dever has recently emphasized the implications of the weights and measures used in ancient Israel for the dating of biblical texts. 30 As Raz Kletter has shown, the kingdom of Judah used a distinctive system of inscribed weights from the late eighth century B.C.E. to the fall of the kingdom in 586 B.C.E. 31 The inscribed weights—all fractions or multiples of the shekel—include the terms גרה‎ (1 20 or 1 24 shekel), בקע‎ (1 2 shekel), and פים‎ (2 3 shekel). These three terms have eight attestations in the Hebrew Bible:


  • גרה‎: Exod 30:13; Lev 27:25; Num 3:47; 18:16 (all P); Ezek 45:12

  • בקע‎: Gen 24:22; Exod 38:26

  • פים‎: 1 Sam 13:21

As Dever notes, these terms were not used in the Persian and Hellenistic periods but were transmitted in these biblical texts. The conclusion that these references stem from a period when these weights were still used or remembered is inescapable. During the Persian period, coins came into use, rendering such a system of weights (used to weigh precious metals for payment) obsolete. Note that in Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah, payment is counted in darics or drachmas. 32 The Septuagint, which is a valuable source for linguistic knowledge in the Hellenistic period, 33 renders גרה‎ as ο᾽βολο´ς, a small coin (1 5 drachma), presumably a guess from context, not recognizing its meaning as a weight. It similarly renders בקע‎ as δραχμη´, “drachma,” unaware of the older value. The Septuagint term corresponding to פים‎ in 1 Samuel 13:21 is “ready” ε῞τοιμος = ?כון‎), which reflects either a corrupt text or a conjecture, the ancient term having long been forgotten.

The Infinitive Absolute

The infinitive absolute becomes rare in LBH. 34 Two categories of usage in particular become rare or extinct: the paranomastic infinitive construction (of which the most common construction is infinitive absolute + finite verb), and the use of the infinitive absolute as a command. 35 In Chronicles, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and some Qumran biblical manuscripts, these uses of the infinitive absolute in CBH biblical texts are sometimes modernized, the infinitive absolute replaced by other forms, as in the following examples: 36


  • בׇּנׂה בניתי בית זבל לך‎ (“I have surely built an exalted house for you,” 1 Kgs 8:13)

  • ואני בניתי בית זבל לך‎ (independent pronoun in place of inf. abs.; 2 Chr 6:2)

  • כי בׇרֵךְ אברכך‎ (“I will surely bless you,” Gen 22:17, MT)

  • כי ברוך אברכך‎ (passive participle in place of inf. abs.; Gen 22:17, SP)


  • הׇלוֹךְ ודברת אל דוד‎ (“Go and say to David,” 2 Sam 24:12)

  • לך ודברת אל דוד‎ (imperative in place of inf. abs.; 1 Chr 21:10)

  • (p.114) לׇקׂחַ את ספר התורה הזה‎ (“Take this book of the Law,” Deut 31:26, MT)

  • לקחו את ספר התורה הזה‎ (imperative in place of inf. abs.; Deut 31:26, SP)

These two CBH uses of the infinitive absolute are attested in pre-exilic Hebrew inscriptions. The paranomastic infinitive construction is found in the Murabb;ayat papyrus (seventh century. B.C.E.) and also in pre-exilic texts in Ammonite, Moabite, and the local language of Deir Alla:

  • ש]לח שלחת את שלם ביתך]‎ (“I have surely sent greetings to your house.”)

  • Murabba;ayat papyrus, Hebrew, 7th cent. B.C.E. 37

  • כל מסבב לך מת ימתן‎ (“All who surround you will surely die.”)

  • Amman Citadel inscription, Ammonite, 9th cent. B.C.E. 38

  • וישראל אבד אבד עלם‎ (“And Israel has surely perished forever.”)

  • Mesha stele, Moabite, 9th cent. B.C.E. 39

  • ויקם בלעם מן מחר … ובכה יבכה‎ (“Balaam rose the next day … sorely weeping.”)

  • Deir Alla inscription, 8th cent. B.C.E. 40

The infinitive absolute used as a command is found several times in the Hebrew letters from Arad (8th cent. B.C.E.), sometimes in sequence with an imperative form, as in the following letter: 41

נתן לכתים יין… וכתב שם הים‎  (“Give to the Kittim wine … and record the name of the date,” Arad 1.2–4) 42

These uses of the infinitive absolute in CBH and in pre-exilic inscriptions provide a clear benchmark for the composition of the CBH biblical texts. These uses are rare (for the paranomastic construction) or virtually extinct (for the infinitive absolute as command) in books clearly composed in the Persian-Hellenistic periods. The paranomastic construction of the type infinitive absolute + finite verb occurs around 450 times in the Hebrew Bible but occurs only eleven times in the clearly Persian-Hellenistic era books (six of these in Chronicles, two of which are reproductions of the source text in Samuel-Kings) and about a dozen times in non-biblical books. 43 This compares with 53 times in Samuel, 25 times in Kings, and an average of 36 times in each book of the Pentateuch. 44 The infinitive absolute as a command occurs around 40 times in the Hebrew Bible but not at all in the clearly Persian-Hellenistic era biblical books, 45 and only once in the other extant texts of the Second Temple period. 46 It is unlikely that these uses of the infinitive absolute were conjured out of (p.115) whole cloth during the Persian and Hellenistic periods, the very time when they were becoming extinct or had already been lost.

The Qal Passive

The Qal Passive (*qutila, *yuqtalu) is a productive verbal form in Northwest Semitic languages of the Late Bronze Age (Ugaritic, Amarna Canaanite) and survives in attenuated form in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Phoenician. 47 In CBH the Qal Passive is generally replaced by the Niphal, though the Qal Passive still seems productive for the roots לקח ,נתן‎, and ילד‎. In LBH the Qal Passive is extremely rare. 48 There are approximately 160 Qal Passive forms in the Hebrew Bible, the majority found in poetry, which often preserves archaic forms. Of the clearly Persian-Hellenistic era books, the Qal Passive occurs only four times (once in Chronicles, twice in Nehemiah, once in Qohelet). 49 This compares to 23 times in Genesis, 6 times in Samuel, 38 times in Isaiah, etc. Similar to the case of the infinitive absolute discussed previously, Chronicles, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and some Qumran biblical manuscripts sometimes modernize this linguistic feature to conform with current usage, replacing the Qal Passive with the Niphal, as in the following examples:

  • וגם הוא יֻלַּד להרפה‎ (“He too was born to the Rapha,” 2 Sam 21:20)

  • וגם הוא נולד להרפה‎ (Niphal in place of Qal Passive; 1 Chr 20:6)

  • כי גנב גֻּנַּבְתִּי מארץ העברים‎ (“For I was surely stolen from the land of the Hebrews,” Gen 40:15, MT)

  • כי גנוב נגנבתי מארץ העברים‎ (Niphal in place of Qal Passive; Gen 40:15, SP)

  • גם שבי גבור יֻקַּח‎ (“The captive shall be taken from the warrior,” Isa 49:25, MT)

  • גם שבי גבור ילקח‎ (Niphal in place of Qal Passive; Isa 49:25, 1QIsaa)

Like the case of the infinitive absolute, it is not plausible that the Qal Passive was correctly introduced into the CBH biblical texts at a time when this form was virtually extinct. The Qal Passive died a gradual linguistic death in Hebrew, its function was replaced by the Niphal (which was originally a medio-passive verb), and it was eventually forgotten in the vocalization tradition. It was rediscovered by Hebrew grammarians of the tenth century C.E. and again by Semitists in the nineteenth century. On the basis of the linguistic history of this verbal form in Northwest Semitic, it is not credible that the (p.116) evidence of the Qal Passive in CBH texts was created in the Persian or Hellenistic periods. This too is a feature rooted in pre-exilic Hebrew.

The Imperfect in the Past

The use of the Imperfect to indicate imperfective aspect (an unbounded view of an event or process, such as durative or iterative) in the past is a standard feature of CBH but is “weakly attested in LBH.” 50 With the collapse of the CBH tense/aspect system in postexilic Hebrew, 51 the Imperfect is restricted primarily to the future tense. Imperfective aspect in the past comes to be indicated either by context or temporal adverbs and generally uses participles (particularly the periphrastic construction: היה‎ + participle). 52 LBH texts sometimes modernize a CBH source text by replacing the Imperfect in the past with a Perfect, expressing simple (or unmarked) past tense, as in the following examples:

  • יִשָּׂאוּם הרצים‎ (“the guards would carry them,” 1 Kgs 14:28)

  • באו הרצים ונשאום‎ (Perfects in place of Imperfect; 2 Chr 12:11) 53

  • והבית יִמָּלֵא עשן‎ (“and the temple was filling with smoke,” Isa 6:4, MT)

  • והבית נמלא עשן‎ (Perfect in place of Imperfect; Isa 6:4, 1QIsaa)

A revealing example of archaic quality in LBH of the use of the Imperfect in the past is Nehemiah 9:27–28. In this sequence of past actions, the text uses five Imperfects to express repeated action (ישובו ,ויושיעום ,תתן ,תשמע ,יצעקו‎, following classical usage, but prefaces and continues these repeated actions with Perfects and Converted Imperfects, which should express the simple past. This sequence indicates that the CBH system had broken down. A CBH text would have used an Imperfect followed by a sequence of Converted Perfects (cf. Gen 29:2–3; Exod 33:7–11; Exod 34:34–35), or, for more temporally complex sequences, a nesting of Imperfects and Converted Perfects (cf. Num 9:15–23; 1 Sam 2:22–25). 54 Other LBH texts betray a similar awkwardness in imperfective sequences (e.g. 2 Chr 24:11; 25:14; and often in the Damascus Document).

The location of this usage in pre-exilic times is attested by its use in the Mesha Stele, a Moabite text that is linguistically very close to CBH, 55 and the Kilamuwa inscription, a Phoenician text:

  • כי יאנף כמש בארצה‎ (“For Chemosh was angry with his land.”)

  • Mesha stele, Moabite, 9th cent. B.C.E. 56

  • יתלכן משכבם כם כלבם‎ (“the Muškabīm [a lower class] used to go about like dogs.”)

  • Kilamuwa inscription, Phoenician, 9th cent. B.C.E. 57

  • (p.117)

This usage is also found in older Northwest Semitic languages (Ugaritic, Amarna Canaanite) and in Arabic. The Moabite and Phoenician examples support the view that the CBH use of the Imperfect to express imperfective aspect in the past is at home in the pre-exilic period. In the Second Temple Period, this feature becomes unmoored and archaic, and other constructions take over its grammatical function. 58 It is not plausible that this verbal usage was created in the Persian or Hellenistic period, a time when this linguistic feature was rare and at times a labored imitation of classical syntax.

To sum up, any cogent argument concerning the age of biblical literature must reckon with the linguistic data. The standard scholarly view, that many portions of the Hebrew Bible are pre-exilic, is supported by the linguistic evidence. The Hebrew language has a history, which is a necessary touchstone in historical research. Other historical data are also relevant, such as correlations with ancient Near Eastern history. It is striking, for example, that Samuel-Kings is consistently accurate regarding the names and chronological sequences of foreign kings where we possess extrabiblical evidence as a measure, 59 compared with such references in the clearly Persian-Hellenistic books, which, with the exception of Chronicles (which is dependent on Samuel-Kings), “vie with each other in historical incompetence.” 60 We may conclude—in conjunction with other studies 61 —that the late-daters are mistaken and that the linguistic and cultural horizons of the books written in CBH are earlier than the Persian and Hellenistic periods. This conclusion rests on wider linguistic grounds than presented here, 62 but this sample is a useful entry into the larger discussion. (p.118)


(1.) So P. R. Davies, In Search of “Ancient Israel” (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992 ), 85–105; K. Whitelam, The Invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History (London: Routledge, 1996 ), 221–22, 218–33; and several essays in L. L. Grabbe, ed., Can a “History of Israel” Be Written? (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997 ). Note also E. A. Knauf's claim (“War `Biblisch-Hebräisch' eine Sprache?” ZAH 3 [1990] : 11) that “Biblisch-Hebräisch ist als Sprache der biblischen Literatur in exilisch-nachexilischer Zeit entstanden,” though he admits that the classical Hebrew prose of Genesis–Kings reflects the morphology and syntax of the eighth–sixth centuries B.C.E. (p. 21); cf. I. Young, Diversity in Pre-Exilic Hebrew (Tübingen: Mohr, 1993 ), 203–5.

(2.) N. P. Lemche, “The Old Testament—A Hellenistic Book?” SJOT 7 ( 1993 ): 163–93; idem, The Israelites in History and Tradition (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998 ), esp. 159–60; T. L. Thompson, The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel (New York: Basic Books, 1999 ), 66–81. See the responses to this issue in L. L. Grabbe, ed., Did Moses Speak Attic? Jewish Historiography and Scripture in the Hellenistic Period (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001 ); and my review of Lemche's book in BAR 25/6 ( 1999 ): 59–60.

(3.) From the linguistic side, see the valuable treatments of A. Hurvitz, “The Historical Quest for `Ancient Israel' and the Linguistic Evidence of the Hebrew Bible: Some Methodological Observations,” VT 47 ( 1997 ): 301–15; M. Ehrensvärd, “Once Again: The Problem of Dating Biblical Hebrew,” SJOT 11 ( 1997 ): 29–40; J. Joosten, “Pseudo-Classicisms in Late Biblical Hebrew, in Ben Sira, and in Qumran Hebrew,” in Sirach, Scrolls, and Sages, ed. T. Muraoka and J. F. Elwolde (Leiden: Brill, 1999 ), 146–59; and several essays in I. Young, ed., Biblical Hebrew: Studies in Chronology and Typology (London: Clark, 2003 ). From the historical side, B. Halpern, “The State of Israelite History,” in Reconsidering Israel and Judah: Recent Studies on the Deuteronomistic History, ed. G. N. Knoppers and J. G. McConville (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, (p.159) 2000 ), 540–65; from the archaeological side, W. G. Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001 ); for a thorough critical analysis, J. Barr, History and Ideology in the Old Testament: Biblical Studies at the End of a Millennium (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000 ), 59–101.

(4.) W. Gesenius, Geschichte der hebräischen Sprache und Schrift (Leipzig: Vogel, 1815; reprint, Hildesheim: Olms, 1973 ), 25–43; important subsequent works include A. Kropat, Die Syntax des Autors der Chronik verglichen mit der seiner Quellen: Ein Beitrag zur historischen Syntax des Hebräischen (Giessen: Töpelmann, 1909 ); A. Hurvitz, The Transition Period in Biblical Hebrew: A Study in Post-Exilic Hebrew and Its Implications for the Dating of Psalms (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Bialik, 1972 ); R. Polzin, Late Biblical Hebrew: Toward an Historical Typology of Biblical Hebrew Prose (Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press, 1976 ); A. Sáenz-Badillos, A History of the Hebrew Language (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993 ), 112–29. Other Hebrew dialects of the Second Temple Period are treated in E. Qimron, The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986); Z. Ben-ḣayyim, A Grammar of Samaritan Hebrew (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2000 ); Sáenz-Badillos, History, 130–60.

(5.) Sáenz-Badillos, History, 112.

(6.) See M. Eskhult, Studies in Verbal Aspect and Narrative Technique in Biblical Hebrew Prose (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1990 ), 103–20; R. S. Hendel, “In the Margins of the Hebrew Verbal System: Situation, Tense, Aspect, Mood,” ZAH 9 ( 1996 ): 152–81.

(7.) J. L. Borges, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” in Collected Fictions (New York: Penguin, 1998 ), 88–95. The former claim is advanced by Davies, Search, 104.

(8.) The book of Ezekiel is a good example of the transition period between CBH and LBH; see A. Hurvitz, A Linguistic Study of the Relationship between the Priestly Source and the Book of Ezekiel: A New Approach to an Old Problem (Paris: Gabalda, 1982 ), esp. 157–62; M. F. Rooker, Biblical Hebrew in Transition: The Language of the Book of Ezekiel (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990 ).

(9.) Note the methodological caveat of W. Labov (Principles of Linguistic Change, vol. 1, Internal Factors [Oxford: Blackwell, 1994 ], 11): “The principle strength of historical linguistics lies in its ability to trace many linguistic changes over long periods of time. … But the data that are rich in so many ways are impoverished in others. Historical documents survive by chance, not by design, and the selection that is available is the product of an unpredictable series of historical accidents. … Historical linguistics can then be thought of as the art of making the best use of bad data.”

(10.) More precisely, a Fremdwort, which refers only to Philistines. See BDB, 710; HALOT, 770 (with bibliography). The biblical attestations are Josh 13:3; Judg 3:3; 16:5–30; 1 Sam 5:8, 11; 6:4–16; 7:7; 29:2–6; 1 Chr 12:20. On the Ugaritic word srnm in CAT 1.22.i.18, see recently W.G.E. Watson, “Wonderful Wine (KTU 1.22 i 17–20),” UF 31 ( 1999 ): 778–79, who prefers “cup(?)”; cf. DUL, 770–71.

(11.) See recently F. Pintore, “Seren, Tarwanis, Tyrannos,” in Studi Orientalistici in Ricordo di Franco Pintore, ed. O. Carruba, M. Liverani, and C. Zaccagnini (Pavia: GJES, 1983 ), 285–322; R. Stefanini, “Il nome di Adad-Nirari (III) nei geroglifici di Carchemish (A6, fr. 1),” Vicino Oriente 6 ( 1986 ): 140–44; G. Garbini, “On the Origin (p.160) of the Hebrew-Philistine Word seren,” in Semitic Studies in Honor of Wolf Leslau, ed. A. S. Kaye (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1991 ), 516–19; I. Singer, “Egyptians, Canaanites, and Philistines in the Period of the Emergence of Israel,” in From Nomadism to Monarchy: Archaeological and Historical Aspects of Early Israel, ed. I. Finkelstein and N. Na'aman (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1994 ), 335–36. E. Edel (“Bemerkungen zu HELCKs Philisterartikel in BN 21,” BN 22 [1983] : 7) is dubious of this relationship due to the difference of initial consonants (t vs. samekh), but see following. Stefanini posits the Luvian-Greek transfer as follows: tarwanis > *tarunis (contraction) > Gk. turannos (metathesis of a-u). Interestingly, the Targum of Judg 3:3 and 16:5 translates סרני‎ as טורני‎, “tyrants.”

(12.) See the details in J. E. Hoch, Semitic Words in Egyptian Texts of the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994 ), 407–8, 429; R. S. Hendel, “Sibilants and šibbōlet (Judges 12:6),” BASOR 301 ( 1996 ): 72.

(13.) The best evidence in Hebrew is the misspelling of words with samekh for śin and vice versa, e.g., סכרים‎ in Ezra 4:5; שכלות‎ in Qoh 1:17; שתם‎ in Lam 3:8. See the collection of such misspellings (along with some earlier irregular forms) in J. Blau, On Pseudo-Corrections in Some Semitic Languages (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1970 ), 114–25. It is difficult to date precisely the shifts in the sounds represented by samekh and śin, viz. [ts] > [s] and [;] > [s]; see recently A. Dolgopolsky, From Proto-Semitic to Hebrew: Phonology (Milano: Centro Studi Camito-Semitici, 1999 ), 30–34, 61.

(14.) S. Gitin, T. Dotan, and J. Naveh, “A Royal Dedicatory Inscription from Ekron,” IEJ 47 ( 1997 ): 9–10. B. Halpern has raised the attractive possibility (oral communication) that homophony between סרן‎ and שר‎ may have facilitated this lexical replacement.

(15.) HALOT 463, 1081–2; I. Singer, “Egyptians, Canaanites, and Philistines,” 336. This etymology was first noted by E. Sapir, “Hebrew `Helmet,' a Loanword, and Its Bearing on Indo-European Phonology,” JAOS 57 (1937): 73–77.

(16.) Gitin, Dotan, and Naveh, “Dedicatory Inscription,” 15.

(17.) B. Halpern, “Text and Artifact: Two Monologues?” in The Archaeology of Israel: Constructing the Past, Interpreting the Present, ed. N. A. Silberman and D. Small (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997 ), 312; idem, David's Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001 ), 60–64.

(18.) Josh 13:13, 2 Sam 3:3; 13:37–38; 14:23,32; 15:8; 1 Chr 2:23; 3:2; see Z. U. Ma;ayoz, “Geshur,” ABD 2.996.

(19.) So, tentatively, W. F. Albright, “The Biblical Tribe of Massa' and Some Congeners,” in Studi Orientalistici in Onore di Giorgio Levi Della Vida, ed. R. Ciasca (Rome: Istituto per “Oriente, 1956 ), 12; and more decisively, E. Lipiński, “Les Sémites selon Gen 10,21–30 et 1 Chr 1,17–23,” ZAH 6 ( 1993 ): 202; idem, The Aramaeans: Their Ancient History, Culture, Religion (Leuven: Peeters, 2000 ), 336; Halpern, “Text and Artifact,” 312.

(20.) See M. L. Folmer, The Aramaic Language in the Achaemenid Period: A Study in Linguistic Variation (Leuven: Peeters, 1995 ), 74; on a possible occurrence in the eighth cent. Sefire inscription (I C 24: ירת‎), see W. R. Garr, Dialect Geography of Syria- (p.161) Palestine, 1000–586 B.C.E . (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985 ), 29, 119.

(21.) See HALOT, 1284; W. T. Pitard, Ancient Damascus: A Historical Study of the Syrian City-State from Earliest Times until Its Fall to the Assyrians in 732 B.C.E . (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1987 ), 181–82; Lipiński, Aramaeans, 404; Halpern, David's Secret, 61–62. The biblical references are 2 Kgs 15:37; 16:5–9; Isa 7:1–8; 8:6; 9:10.

(22.) This is the closest emphatic grapheme for [ḍ], since the Phoenician alphabet did not have a letter for this sound. See the fuller analysis of Pitard, Ancient Damascus, 181–82.

(23.) The MT vocalization, rĕṣîn, takes the yod as a mater lectionis rather than a consonant, thereby misconstruing the form.

(24.) Note the Old Aramaic and Imperial Aramaic representations of * as ק‎ and ע‎, respectively, in the Aramaic verse in Jer 10:11: ארקא‎ and ארעא‎ (“earth,” Hebrew אדץ‎). At the time of this verse, the ק‎ is probably an archaic spelling; see J. Greenfield, “Philological Observations on the Deir ;ayAlla Inscription,” in ;ayAl Kanfei Yonah: Collected Studies of Jonas C. Greenfield on Semitic Philology, ed. S. M. Paul, M. E. Stone, and A. Pinnick (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2001 ), 807.

(25.) See the data in Folmer, Aramaic, 69–70.

(26.) See P. V. Mankowski, Akkadian Loanwords in Biblical Hebrew (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2000 ), 123–25, 151–52, 135–36; H. Tadmor, “The Commanders of the Assyrian Army” (Hebrew), EI 26 ( 1999 ): 186–90; and on their chronological significance, M. Eskhult, “Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts,” in Biblical Hebrew , ed. Young, 20.

(27.) Tartan: Isa 20:1. Rabsaris: Isa 36:2; Jer 39:3, 13; Dan 1:3. Rabshakeh: 2 Kgs 18:17–37; 19:4, 8; Isa 36:2–22; 37:4, 8. Jer 39:3, 13 also mention a military official called rab-māg, from Akkadian rab mugi (Mankowski, Akkadian, 134).

(28.) The Hebrew sibilants indicate that rab ša rēši was borrowed from the Neo-Assyrian (Hebrew ס‎ renders Neo-Assyrian š), while rab šaqê was borrowed into Hebrew from the Neo-Babylonian (Hebrew שׁ‎ renders Neo-Babylonian š); see Mankowski, Akkadian, 125, 136.

(29.) M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (New York: Doubleday, 1988 ), 223–51; P. Machinist, “Assyria and Its Image in the First Isaiah,” JAOS 103 ( 1983 ): 719–37, esp. 730–35. On the literary history of 2 Kings 18–19 and Isaiah 36–37, see recently B. S. Childs, Isaiah (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 2001 ), 260–66, and references.

(30.) Dever, Biblical Writers, 221–28.

(31.) R. Kletter, Economic Keystones: The Weight System of the Kingdom of Judah (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998 ).

(32.) Darics (אדרכנים‎): 1 Chr 29:7; Ezra 8:27. Drachmas (דרכמנים‎): Ezra 2:69; Neh 7:66–71.

(33.) See J. Joosten, “The Knowledge and Use of Hebrew in the Hellenistic Period: Qumran and the Septuagint,” in Diggers at the Well: Proceedings of a Third International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira, ed. T. Muraoka and J. F. Elwolde (Leiden: Brill, 2000 ), 115–30.

(34.) Polzin, Late Biblical Hebrew, 43–44; Qimron, Dead Sea Scrolls, 47; Ben-ḣayyim, Samaritan Hebrew, 202–7, 339–40.


(35.) On these uses, see J. M. Solá-Solé, L'infinitif sémitique (Paris: Champion, 1961 ), 92, 96–104; T. Muraoka, Emphatic Words and Structures in Biblical Hebrew (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1985 ), 83–92; B. K. Waltke and M. O'Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1990 ), 584–88, 593–94; J. H. Hospers, “Some Remarks about the So-Called Imperative Use of the Infinitive Absolute (Infinitivus pro Imperativo) in Classical Hebrew,” in Studies in Hebrew and Aramaic Syntax Presented to Professor J. Hoftijzer, ed. K. Jongeling, H. L. Murre-Van den Berg, and L. van Rompay (Leiden: Brill, 1991 ), 97–102.

(36.) Kropat, Syntax, 23; B. Waltke, “The Samaritan Pentateuch and the Text of the Old Testament,” in New Perspectives on the Old Testament, ed. J. B. Payne (Waco: Word Books, 1970 ), 215–16; E. Y. Kutscher, The Language and Linguistic Background of the Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa a) (Leiden: Brill, 1974 ), 347.

(37.) Line 1; S. AḤituv, Handbook of Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Bialik, 1992 ), 106.

(38.) Line 2; see also כחד אכחדם‎[ ] in line 3; AḤituv, Handbook, 219.

(39.) Line 7; AḤituv, Handbook, 250.

(40.) Combination 1.3–4; AḤituv, Handbook, 266.

(41.) See S. L. Gogel, A Grammar of Epigraphic Hebrew (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998 ), 264–65; Garr, Dialect Geography, 181.

(42.) AḤituv, Handbook, 54. The Arad letters also use the imperative form תן‎, e.g., תן לכתים‎ (4.1, etc.), rendering dubious the proposal that the Arad form נתן‎ is a “an irregular, non-BH form of the imperative,” as entertained by I. Young, “Late Biblical Hebrew and Hebrew Inscriptions,” in Biblical Hebrew , ed. Young, 286, 300.

(43.) By “clearly Persian-Hellenistic books,” I mean those with references to the Persian empire and/or clear Persian loanwords: 1 Chr 4:10; 21:17; 21:24 (= 2 Sam 24:24); 2 Chr 18:27 (= 1 Kgs 22:28); 28:19; 32:13; Neh 1:7 (pointed in MT as inf. cst.); Cant 8:7; Esther 4:14; 6:13; Daniel 10:3; see Solá-Solé, L'infinitif, 201–4. For the sparse use of the paranomastic construction in Ben Sira and Qumran (in the latter mostly in biblical citations), see M. S. Smith, “The Infinitive Absolute as Predicative Verb in Ben Sira and the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Preliminary Survey,” in Diggers at the Well , ed. Muraoka and Elwolde, 262–65.

(44.) Solá-Solé, L'infinitif, 201–4.

(45.) M. Eskhult, “Verbal Syntax in Late Biblical Hebrew,” in Diggers at the Well , ed. Muraoka and Elwolde, 90 and n. 28. M. Ehrensvärd (“Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts,” in Biblical Hebrew , ed. Young, 170) points out that והעמיד‎ in Neh 7:3 is an infinitive absolute expressing a command, but since it continues the previous volitive sequence (imperfect + waw + imperative) it is most easily understood in the continuative function of the infinitive absolute; see Eskhult, “Verbal Syntax,” 90 n. 30; and Waltke and O'Connor, Syntax, 596: “with waw the infinitive is used as a finite verb and represents a situation subordinate to the leading verb … [and] that verb specifies the person and aspect of the infinitive.”

(46.) Ben Sira 3:17 (MS C): הלוך‎; noted by W. T. van Peursen, “Conditional Sentences with אם‎ in the Protasis in Qumran Hebrew,” in Diggers , ed. Muraoka and Elwolde, 225.

(47.) See R. J. Williams, “The Passive Qal Theme in Hebrew,” in Essays on the An (p.163) cient Semitic World, ed. J. W. Wevers and D. B. Redford (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970 ), 43–50; Waltke and O'Connor, Introduction, 373–76. In Hebrew the perfect is quttal, the short a by analogy with the other internal passives (Pual, Hophal), and the gemination either by a regular change for pretonic short u: *uC > uCC / —[a] (see W. R. Garr, “Pretonic Vowels in Hebrew,” VT 37 [1987] : 148–50), or by misconstrual as a Pual perfect; in Aramaic the perfect qĕtīl (the long ī probably by analogy with the participle) is used regularly, but the imperfect *yuqtal is rare after the 8th cent. B.C.E. (see Sefire I A 38–41); only a few examples are discernible in Phoenician and Punic; C. R. Krahmalkov, A Phoenician-Punic Grammar (Leiden: Brill, 2001 ), 157.

(48.) Qimron, Hebrew, 48; Ben-ḣayyim, Samaritan Hebrew, 176–83; J. Hughes, “Post-Biblical Features of Biblical Hebrew Vocalization,” in Language, Theology, and the Bible: Essays in Honour of James Barr, ed. S. E. Balentine and J. Barton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994 ), 71–76.

(49.) 1 Chr 1:19 (ילד‎); Neh 2:3, 13 (אכלו‎); Qoh 9:12 (יוקשים‎, participle); see Hughes, “Post-Biblical,” 76 n. 20.

(50.) Eskhult, Studies in Verbal Aspect, 112; see also Kutscher, Language, 351–52.

(51.) See n. 6.

(52.) See T. Muraoka, “The Participle in Qumran Hebrew with Special Reference to Its Periphrastic Use,” in Sirach, Scrolls, and Sages, ed. Muraoka and J. F. Elwolde (Leiden: Brill, 1999 ), 194–201; M. S. Smith, “Grammatically Speaking: The Participle as a Main Verb of Clauses (Predicative Participle) in Direct Discourse and Narrative in Pre-Mishnaic Hebrew,” in Sirach , ed. Muraoka and Elwolde, 306–8, 315, 331–32.

(53.) The iterative sense is still conveyed by the initial sequence, ויהי מדי בוא המלך‎, “whenever the king came.”

(54.) Hendel, “Margins,” 165–66; Waltke and O'Connor, Syntax, 527; and M. S. Smith, The Origins and Development of the Waw-Consecutive: Northwest Semitic Evidence from Ugarit to Qumran (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991 ), 27–33 (“The `Fall' of the Waw-Consecutive in the Biblical Corpus”).

(55.) A. F. Rainey, “Mesha and Syntax,” in The Land That I Will Show You: Essays on the History and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Honour of J. Maxwell Miller, ed. J. A. Dearman and M. P. Graham (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001 ), 287–307.

(56.) Lines 5–6; see AḤituv, Handbook, 250–51. AḤituv incorrectly describes this usage as pluperfect (“עבר של עבר‎,” 253).

(57.) Krahmalkov, Phoenician-Punic, 184. On the reading יתלכן‎, see J. Tropper, “ `Sie knurrten wie Hunde': Psalm 59, 16, Kilamuwa: 10, und die Semantik der Wurzel lu̯n,” ZAW 106 ( 1994 ): 92–94.

(58.) See further J. Joosten, “A Remarkable Development in the Biblical Hebrew Verbal System: The Disappearance of Iterative WEQATAL,” in Biblical Hebrew in Its Northwest Semitic Setting: Typological and Historical Perspectives, ed. S. Fassberg (Jerusalem: Magnes, forthcoming ).

(59.) The only probable exceptions are 2 Kgs 8:7–9, where the Aramean king Ben Hadad is named instead of his successor Hadadezer, and 1 Kgs 20 and 2 Kgs 6:24, where campaigns of Ben Hadad II are placed in the time of Ben Hadad I (whose (p.164) reign is lengthened because of the forgotten Hadadezer). See Halpern, “Israelite History,” 546–55. On the Ben Hadad confusions, see Pitard, Ancient Damascus, 114–25, 132–38; Lipiński, Aramaeans, 373–77, 397–99; and on linguistic indications that 1 Kgs 20 may be postexilic, see A. Rofé, Introduction to the Historical Literature of the Hebrew Bible (Hebrew; Jerusalem: Carmel, 2001 ), 95–96.

(60.) A. Momigliano, The Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990 ), 11, regarding Daniel, Esther, and Judith. The book of Ezra also commits some howlers; see L. L. Grabbe, Ezra-Nehemiah (London: Routledge, 1998 ), 134.

(61.) See n. 3.

(62.) Some other materials are gathered in R. S. Hendel, “ `Begetting' and `Being Born' in the Pentateuch: Notes on Historical Linguistics and Source Criticism,” VT 50 ( 2000 ): 38–46. On p. 46 I should have written, “the P source, arguably a multi-generational work, stems from the late pre-exilic, exilic, and early Persian periods,” since there is adequate linguistic evidence for both sides of this range.