[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

orion Palaeohebrew in the DSS

    [The following text is in the "iso-8859-1" character set]
    [Your display is set for the "ISO-8859-8" character set]
    [Some characters may be displayed incorrectly]


    I am thinking about adding fontsets for DSS cursive and
DSS Palaeohebrew to my collection of fonts now that the
DSS "scribal" (sort of a "Herodian" and "Hasmonean" hybrid)
is complete.  I like to know as much as I can about a script
before I begin the artwork to create the font.  First, and
most important, would they be useful to y'all in your work
and classrooms?  Secondly, I have a "puzzlemint" concerning
DSS palaeohebrew....let me unpack this a bit.

  I link both the emergence of the Essenes and the re-emergence
of Aramaic and Hebrew usage to the end of the Seleucid
domination and the forced Hellenization of that period.
I am sure that this must have been an issue in the early
Maccabean period and there were probably those who wished
Hebrew as the common tongue as well as those who championed
Aramaic.  In the end, it seems as though Aramaic became
the language of the commonfolk (again) and Hebrew continued
to be a living and developing language in certain sociological
and geographic arenas...or so the epigraphy suggests.  Those
arenas may have been scribes (whether all scribes, I am not sure),
nationalistic groups and certain of the pious and priests.

    The palaeohebrew script usage, however, puzzles me.
Until the DSS it was considered to be a "dead" script,
having been replaced by the Aramaic script in a slow process
from the 6th century to about the 4th century BCE, albeit
continued use by the Samaritans.  
The Tetragrammaton in Palaeohebrew has been considered a device
to allow recognition to avoid pronouncing the *name* and
to replace it with a euphemism.

   Admittedly, one of the lists amateurs and laymen, but with
a modicum of competence in palaeography, the p-h script of certain
texts and fragments of the DSS is not a "forced" hand but a
"familiar" hand..perhaps even a preferred hand among some
scribes...some with proto-masoretic characteristics in use.

   Does anyone have an idea of what was going on here and do we
need to re-evaluate this whole paradigm of p-h as a "dead" script?
Was its use more as semi-cryptic or a scribal expression of
reverence for a specific text or, if we pose some great
language use debate among the Maccabean victors, could there
have been a "p-h party" who wanted to revive p-h as the
common script over the Aramaic square script and the "p-h party"
continued to have die-hards among the body of scribes well
into the Herodian era?

D^“man dith laych idneh d^“nishMA nishMA
   Jack Kilmon (jkilmon@historian.net)