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Re: orion Palaeohebrew in the DSS

Thank you fred cryer for your letter 0n 09:19 09/06/98 +0200.
>Well, I have long thought that there is more to say on the topic of the
>currency vs archaic status issue vis a vis palaeohebrew. What has led us to
>suspect that it was an ancient "sacred" script that was no longer in
>general use is the fact that it substitutes for the script of use when
>writing the Tetragrammaton in numerous mss. On the other hand, as you
>suggest, the fact that, for example, the scribe of the great Isaiah scroll
>uses P-H symbols for his redactional markings suggests that that was the
>script he was most comfortable with. Then, too, there is the obvious point
>that the Hasmonaeans presuppose the intelligibility of the script by using
>it on some of their coin issues. Finally, P-H is actually used on two
>jug-fragments from Qumran, both to write the date of "bottling" of the wine
>and to note the contents (scil. yyn, "wine"). If P-H was so familiar a
>script that it features in off-the-cuff scribbles by shipping clerks it
>*cannot* have been a dead-and-buried "sacred" script, only reserved for a
>few select mss. This indicates that its relative rarity in Qumran requires
>a bit of thought.
>best regards,
>Fred Cryer

I have long puzzled over the  two Hebrew scripts: "Ashurit" and "catav
Ivri" (palaeo-Hebrew) which are mentioned in the Mishna [Yadayim 4:5] and
the subject of a three sided discussion in the Bavli [Sanhedrin 21b].
It seems clear that a far reaching change has occured with Ezra on the
return from the Babylonian exile,  but rather than saying that the "Ivri"
is the earlier sacred script wich Ezra has "changed" to "Ashurit", I
thought we might say the opposite: that "Ashurit" was always the Sacred
script, while "Ivri" was the script for everyday use [hence the name "Ivri"
from "ever haNahar"=the family homeland of Aram, and the companion of the
family's everyday language: Aramaic].
If so, the revolutionary act of Ezra is popularizing the sacred "Ashurit"
for everyday use of all the people [and not just the sacred script of
scribes and priests], and this is why he is called "Ezra haSofer" (the
[this act of "profaning" the holy by bringing the sacred to the everyday
use of all has an interesting modern parallel in the rebirth of the ancient
Hebrew tongue in Israel in the last century as the common spoken and
written  language...]
If so, why do we find Hashmonian coins after the time of Ezra still written
Apparently Ezra's "revolution" is not completely accepted, and such a
profane use of "Ashurit" for  coinage is unthinkable for the priestly
But what of the Holy Name which appears in some DSS Ashurit texts written
Here I return to Sanhedrin [cited above]:   "Israel chose for themselves
Ashurit script and the Holy language  [Hebrew] and left for the commoners
["hediotot"] Ivri script and the Aramaic language.  Who are commoners?  Rav
Hisda said:  Cutim [Samaritans]..."  (my translation- please see the original)
I am not certain if  Rav Hisda's intention is exclusively to "Cutim",  or
perhaps to all of the various cults whose connection to the central thread
of the Oral Tradition was weakened.  This would be an appropriate
background for the "ambivalent" fragments [Holy Name and text in two
different scripts] that were found in the  Qumran genizah...

I would be pleased to hear your reactions to this,
Menachem Brody
Machon Helkat Hasadeh
Elon Moreh