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Re: orion Spoken DSS Hebrew
Jack Kilmon, on the subject of DSS Hebrew being widely spoken, still
believes that Aramaic was the language of the ordinary populace. I
personally have no beliefs in the matter. I am merely trying to
understand the data, and from the data as I see it there is no way of
getting beyond believing into the realm of something more substantially
I know that most types of literary endeavour are represented in DSS
Hebrew -- songs, poetry, rules, stories. This gives no indication that
it was a language restricted to a small group. That the Hebrew letters
of Bar-Kochba were in a language similar to DSS Hebrew indicates that it
was not a restricted dialect. That a scroll of the Songs of the Sabbath
Sacrifices was found at Masada tells that someone there also understood
We have no way of knowing the scope of the language community
represented by DSS Hebrew, but, seeing that it does show a number of
phonological changes that were unique to DSS Hebrew, such changes cannot
represent influences from without, but must be considered the fruit of
living language change. It would be strange that such a dialect as the
one that is shown in Qimron's description could be considered a literary
construction or a development thereof be considered a political
construction under the auspices of Bar-Kochba, the latter especially
because some of the changes in the language would have been seen as
Aramaic influence and perhaps not as pure as the dialect represented by
MMT, which would naturally be a better choice for a purely nationalistic
choice of language.
The following rough diagram I posted last week in an effort to place the
varieties of Hebrew as we know them in some relationship to one another.
> Late Biblical Hebrew
> / \
> / \ strong
> / \ <-- Aramaic influence
> / /\ /
> / / \ /
> MMT Hebrew / DSS Hebrew
> / /
> / Bar-Kochba
> / Letters
> Mishnaic Hebrew
>From this, if it in fact represents the relationship between the
dialects, one can see that there's no direct connection between the
Hebrew of MMT and that of either the bulk of the DSS or of the
Bar-Kochba Hebrew letters.
As to Yigael Yadin's explanation regarding Aramaic as the "lingua
franca", Yadin was, it seems to me, "cavalier" in some of his
pronouncements. His guess on the matter of the use of various languages
in Judea is worth as much as mine. However, I prefer not to guess.
There's no way to conclude that the use of Hebrew was an attempted
revival. It seems that Hebrew was quite alive and developing nicely
without the necessity of revival.
Fred Cryer has basically challenged believers of the "Aramaic as
language of the populace" to provide some serious indication why other
people should believe them.
I would like to ask again: has anyone got any thoughts on the
relationship between MMT and the bulk of the DSS considering the
If Bar-Kochba was representative of a Hebrew only spoken in the area
over which he had control -- south of Jerusalem and west of the Dead Sea
-- might his Hebrew represent a geographically restricted language? The
DSS were found on the edge of this zone.
John J. Hays
I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto!