The Eliezer Ben-Yehuda Center for the Study of the history of the Hebrew language


Hebrew in the Second Temple Period:
The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and of Other Contemporary Sources
December 29–31, 2008

Opening Lecture

Moshe Bar-Asher
The Hebrew University
“On the Language of the Vision of Gabriel
The lecture examines various linguistic aspects of the Vision of Gabriel inscription, which was probably written in the first century B.C.E. It offers a detailed discussion of some of the inscription’s orthographic features, such as the tendency to use scripta defectiva with long vowels, e.g., צבאת (alongside צבאות ), and the extensive use of the pl. form יןas in השבין (= הַשָּׂבִין ) ‘the elderly’. The paper also treats some phonological and morphological issues, such as the weakening of the gutturals, as is apparently the case in the spelling אלי (eloe > eloye) instead of אלהי (elohe).
The lecture offers a detailed discussion of two words: the interchange of מושב (moshav) / מקום (maqom) and the usage of מושב meaning ‘place’, ‘location’; and the occurrence of קיטוט (qittut), which is the equivalent of the biblical קט (qat) ‘only’ or ‘small’. The linguistic analysis supports the dating of the inscription to the late Second Temple period as suggested first by Ada Yardeni and Binyamin Elizur, and subsequently by Israel Knohl.


Session I

Emanuel Tov
The Hebrew University
“Scribal Features of Two Qumran Scrolls”
Qumran scribal practice, and not with its linguistic background, which has been illustrated well by Kutscher, Qimron and Fassberg among others. The composite scrolls 1QIsaa and 1QHa were copied by more than one scribe, with each writing a part of the scroll within the Qumran scribal practice. The differences between these scribes show that diversity is possible within the same scribal practice, and furthermore that all scribes were inconsistent within their own units. If the figures are taken at face value, apparent scribal inconsistency within these scrolls may seem to derive sometimes from different spelling blocks and in one case from the use of a different source. These possibilities need to be taken into consideration when analyzing statistical evidence, which as a whole is rather convincing. In the second part of the paper we turn to corrective additions after final letters, such as the he of עליהמה . We hope to have collected all the relevant evidence with the aid of electronic databases. We analyze the questions of how, when, and where these added letters were inserted. We believe that they provide further support for establishing the assumption of a Qumran scribal practice.

Ingo Kottsieper
Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen
“The t-Prefix in Hebrew Documentary Texts of the Second Temple Period:
Thoughts about Its Linguistic Background and Significance”
In several documentary texts from the Bar-Kokhba period, over 40 instances of an otherwise unattested prefixed ת are found. Since often it replaces את + ה as a marker of a determined direct object, scholars assume that it evolved from this conjunction by a double syncopation: [*’at-ha-] > [ta]. But quite often it does not occur before the article, and sometimes it appears even where a direct object marker is not to be expected. This has led to the assumption that this ת does not just represent an allomorph of את + ה , but is a specific morpheme denoting the accusative which originated secondarily from this allomorph. And finally, such a development would show Hebrew as a still spoken and evolving language even at the end of the Second Temple period.
Thus, we are facing three different though related questions: (a) the “etymology” of this prefix; (b) its semantic value(s); and c) its significance for the reconstruction of the history of Hebrew.
An analysis of its uses reveals that this prefix appears also with nouns used adverbially or even with a subject. But even those cases find their parallels in the use of את in BH.
Given the fact that semantically there is no difference between את and ת , the assumption that this ת evolved from a syncopated [*’at-ha-] and then lost the connotation of the article and was understood as a morpheme [ta] which could be used even before forms without the article seems to be less likely—especially since at least half of the scribes did use both, ת and את , without any difference and sometimes even in the same phrase.
A new explanation of this ת can be found from a closer look into the development of some other prefixes during the Second Temple period. As is well known, אל disappears from the texts, but a look at later Hebrew and Aramaic dialects reveals that [al]/[el] still existed as an allomorph of /la/. Probably, the old /’il/ was absorbed by /la/ and became its allomorph. In the case of /ba/ the allomorph [ab]/[eb] was also created probably by analogy. Nevertheless, apart from some exceptions, these prefixes were still written ב or ל , which led to the disappearance of אל .
Since the writers of our texts did not use a fixed or traditional orthography and at least some of them were more at home writing Aramaic texts, their ת is probably their writing of [at]/[et], which they  wrote on the analogy of [ab]/[eb] or [al]/[el], without marking the initial vocal by an א .
Thus, the ת of the documentary texts does not give evidence for the development of a new morpheme but is based on an orthographic peculiarity. And since the development of the allomorphs of /ba/ and /la/ is a feature found also in several Aramaic dialects, one should hesitate to take those observations as an argument for the existence of a vernacular Hebrew still used as a primary language. An Aramaic-speaking person likewise could (and probably would) easily take over those phonetic realisations of the prefixes into her or his pronunciation of Hebrew (texts).

Mats Eskhult
Uppsala Universitet:
“Relative ha-: A LBH Phenomenon?”
I will discuss the determinative/relative character of the particles ze and 'ashær in attributive clauses. I will also discuss the relation between 'ashær as a marker of relative phrases and clauses, and ha- as determiner of participles—and occasionally finite verbs—in an attributive function.


Session II

Elisha Qimron
Ben-Gurion University
“The 3rd Personal Masculine Plural Pronouns in Early Hebrew”
The 3rd person masculine plural pronouns have various forms in early Hebrew. They have been studied by the best Hebraists and Semitists. The 3rd m.pl. pronouns in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in Samaritan Hebrew are similar to each other, differing from those of the other Hebrew dialects. This fact necessitates a reexamination of the typological development and the history of these pronominal forms.
Extensive research into the various Biblical Hebrew traditions in the last few generations indicates that Tiberian Hebrew represents only one type of Biblical Hebrew. Biblical Hebrew (like other languages) had many dialects. Its various traditions should be treated as independent witnesses of the various early Hebrew dialects. Only such an approach, which reevaluates the historical evidence for the 3rd m.pl. pronouns, can adequately account for the various forms. This paper suggests a new reconstruction of the typological development of the 3rd m.pl. independent pronoun and pronominal suffix from Proto-Semitic to the DSS.

Matthew Morgenstern
Haifa University
“The Literary Use of Biblical Hebrew in Postbiblical Hebrew Works”
The language of the Qumran documents is sometimes contrasted with that of Tannaitic Hebrew, which is regarded as more closely representing the spoken language of the late Second Temple period. However, research has also highlighted the impact of Biblical Hebrew on the Tannaitic corpus. This lecture draws attention to several examples of such literary borrowings, which are particularly marked in the Tannaitic Midrashim, wherein the rabbinic paraphrases frequently employ the language of the biblical verses upon which they are expounding. It is proposed that a lexicon of Tannaitic Hebrew should attempt to distinguish these borrowings from independent composition in that idiom, and that this tradition of literary borrowing must also be taken into account in any attempt to assess the nature of the literary Hebrew of the Second Temple period.

Annette Steudel
Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen
“Developments in the Terminology of the Qumran Community”
The so called Qumran Community developed and applied a broad spectrum of terminology, not least with respect to designations of their own group and that of their opponents. Various categories of characteristic terms can be discerned; e.g., more technical terms, such as היחד , may be distinguished from more theological ones, such as אביונים . These diverse classes of expressions seem to reflect different influences and came into use by the community at different times. They may thus mirror changes in the life and ideology of the group. The same holds true for semantic shifts in Qumran vocabulary.


Session III

Alexey Yuditsky
Ben-Gurion University
“Non-Construct כל/הכל in the Dead Sea Scrolls”
The non-construct כל/הכל is frequently found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some of its uses are unique. Many occurrences of the non-construct כל are indefinite, e.g.ובלו רצונכה לא יעשה כול “and without your will nothing comes to be.” A comparison with other Hebrew sources reveals that in this respect the dialect of the Scrolls is similar to, but not identical with, Biblical Hebrew. The indefinite use of כל , on the other hand, is absent from Mishnaic Hebrew.


Gregor Geiger
Hebrew University
“Complements of Participles in the Dead Sea Scrolls”
A transitive Hebrew participle can govern its object nominally (by a “genitive”), verbally (by an “accusative”), by a suffix (which can be verbal or nominal), by a preposition, and by a construct state before a preposition. There are many cases in which it is difficult or impossible to decide whether a construction is nominal or verbal, either because both constructions are formally identical (especially in nonvocalized texts), or because it depends on the definition (especially for the construction with a preposition). This paper attempts to give criteria as to which construction is intended. It also examines conditions for the distribution of these constructions in Qumran Hebrew. These conditions can depend on syntax (the function of the participle in the sentence), valence (often in dependence on the semantics of the verb), gender and number of the participle, position of the complement, and meaning of the participle in the context, as well as style, literary genre, or diachrony.

Jan Joosten
Université Marc Bloch (Strasbourg)
“A Chapter of Diachronic Syntax in Ancient Hebrew:
The Combination of Volitive Verbal Forms with a Temporal Phrase”
While in Classical Hebrew a volitive verbal form (cohortative, imperative, or jussive) is almost never preceded by an adverbial phrase of time, Late Biblical Hebrew has several examples on the pattern babboqer zera‘ ’et zar‘eka, “in the morning, sow your seed” (Eccl 11:6). The Hebrew of Ben Sira and the Dead Sea Scrolls shows continuity with LBH in this regard. This statistical divergence coheres with other differences between Classical and early postclassical Hebrew. The evidence points to the existence of two “language states” (états de langue) that are to be explained in terms of a diachronic development.


Session IV

Pierre van Hecke
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven:
“Constituent Order in Nominal Clauses with the Copula היה in Qumran Hebrew”

Tamar Zewi
University of Haifa
“Content Clauses in the Dead Sea Scrolls”
The paper is intended to show the various types of content clauses revealed in the nonbiblical Dead Sea scrolls in comparison with the inventory and syntactic functions of content clauses in Biblical Hebrew on the one hand and Mishnaic Hebrew on the other. Content clauses in the Dead Sea scrolls appear in two distinct inventories: (1) Content clauses attested in the majority of the nonbiblical Dead Sea scrolls: Rule of the Community (Serekh Ha-Yahad), Damascus Document, War Scroll, Temple Scroll, sapiential texts, Pesher Habakkuk and other commentaries, and hymns. These clauses mostly play the part of objects, predicates, and adverbials, and they generally show a resemblance to Biblical Hebrew content clauses, though they exhibit some divergent tendencies as well. The most prominent example of this is the appearance of content clauses introduced by the particle אֲשֶׁר in the role of predicates in the pesharim literature; (2) Content clauses collected from Some Works of the Torah (miqsat ma‘aśe ha-torah), which resemble Late Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic content clauses in the use of שֶ- , בְשֶׁל , and in the routine use of subject content clauses following a passive participle.


Session V

Steven Fassberg
Hebrew University
“Shifts in Word Order in the Hebrew of the Second Temple Period”
Differences in word order between the Hebrew of the First and Second Temple periods have been known for quite some time. See, e.g., A. Kropat, Die Syntax des Autors der Chronik (Giessen 1909). I would like to suggest that some shifts in word order, which have been interpreted by scholars as separate developments, may possibly be related to one another and reflect a general pragmatic trend in the Second Temple period.
The shifts in word order to be discussed are:
1. VS  >  SV
2. Inf + Obj   >  Obj + Inf
2. Modifier (Title) + Head Noun (Proper Noun)  >  Head Noun  + Modifier
3. Modifier (Numeral) + Head Noun  >  Head Noun + Modifier
4. Modifier (Weight/Measure) + Head Noun (Material)  >  Head Noun + Modifier
5. Reversal of binary expressions (diachronic chiasmus)

Jean-Sébastien Rey
Université Paul Verlaine (Metz)
“On the Prepositional Object with bet in Late Biblical Hebrew”
This presentation investigates the use of the preposition bet to introduce the object in Late Biblical Hebrew. The aim of this study is to illuminate the diachronic evolution of this use attested in Classical Hebrew with certain verbs, e.g. ראה . We will limit our attention to verbs belonging to the semantic fields of instruction, knowledge or intellectual perception that present a clear distinction compared with the Classical Hebrew use.
After a brief summary of the status quaestionis, we will examine the object complementation of some verbs like: בין , ידע , שכל , למד , גלה , and נבט . Finally, these examples should allow us to draw some conclusive remarks concerning both syntactic and semantic development of the use of the preposition bet in verbal complementation.


Ursula Schattner-Rieser
Institut Catholique de Paris
“From ‘Foundation’ to ‘Foundation’:
On the Semantic Development of אוש in the Dead Sea Scrolls”

Session VI

Menahem Kister
Hebrew University
“The Meaning of the Root נד"ב and Its Derived Forms in the Dead Sea Scrolls”


Francesco Zanella
Universität Bonn, ThWQ Project
“Between ‘Righteousness’ and ‘Alms’: A Semantic Study of the Lexeme צדקה in the Dead Sea Scrolls”
By general scholarly consensus, the use of the lexeme צדקה with reference to a ‘charitable donation’ should be understood as a lexical feature representative of Mishnaic Hebrew (MH). In the present paper I take the position that this use of the lexeme צדקה may also apply to Qumranic Hebrew (QH). I naturally do not intend to claim that the DSS attest to the final stages of the semantic development of צדקה , which undoubtedly are to be found in the Mishnah. The thesis of the present paper is as follows: the DSS provide evidence that the semantic shift of צדקה from ‘righteousness’ to ‘alms’ is already taking place in QH.
My argument can be divided into three points:

  1. I begin with an analysis of four Qumranic occurrences of צדקה , where the substantive clearly denotes a charitable donation.
  2. I then provide a quick overview of the semantic field of ‘charitable donation’ in Biblical Hebrew (BH). In this regard I indicate that the biblical substantives lexicalizing ‘charitable donation’ are not used with this referent in QH, and that the concept of ‘alms’ therefore corresponds in QH to a lexical vacuum, which might need to be filled by other lexemes substituting for the biblical ones.
  3. Finally, I discuss the overall use of the substantive צדקה in QH, thereby particularly focusing on the syntagmatic and paradigmatic background of the substantive. In this section I shall refer to significant data which are at variance with BH and which in my view could objectively help to trace the semantic development of צדקה  from ‘righteousness’ to ‘alms’.


Gary Anderson
Notre Dame University
“Some Further Thoughts on Kutscher’s Observations about Words for Purification and Cleansing in Second Temple Hebrew”
The terms for sin and forgiveness in the Hebrew language undergo a significant change in the Second Temple period. Whereas the primary image for sin in the Bible is that of a burden that individuals must bear on their backs (B. Schwartz), in the Second Temple period the basic metaphor is that of a debt that is to be repaid (Anderson). Basic to the conclusion of a financial transaction—whether of a conventional sale of goods or property, or repayment of a loan—is a “quittance clause”; that is, a clause that designates that a sale is complete and can no longer be contested (see Muffs). Due to the influence of Aramaic, such clauses are frequently marked by terms that originally meant ‘to be pure, clean’ (so Kutscher), cleanness here having the specialized sense of being ‘freed from [any further] obligation’. As a result, texts that on the surface appear to be speaking about sin as a form of purification from uncleanness may in fact refer to sin as debt from which the sinner has now been freed.


Session VII

Haim Dihi
Ben-Gurion University
ואל תקמיעהו בנגשה : Linguistic Innovations in MS F of Ben Sira”
I would like to present three linguistic innovations in the book of Ben Sira which appear only in Manuscript F. This manuscript, which was also part of the Cairo Geniza, was identified only in 1982 by the Hungarian scholar Alexander Scheiber. The manuscript had been listed in the Taylor-Schechter collection at the Cambridge University Library. Scheiber considered this manuscript to be part of Ben Sira MS D from the Cairo Geniza. A. Di Lella argued persuasively against Scheiber's thesis. In his opinion, even a cursory look demonstrated that the two manuscripts could not possibly belong together in the same source. After fully examining the new manuscript, he correctly determined that this manuscript is a new Ben Sira manuscript, MS F.
In the first part of this lecture, I will briefly review what is known about MS F, and I will discuss its importance and its overall contribution to our understanding of Ben Sira. In the second part, I will present the three linguistic innovations which appear in Ben Sira only in MS F: the noun ‘חדווה ’, the verb ‘תקמיעהו ’, and the verbal noun ‘בנגשה ’.


Avi Hurvitz
Hebrew University
“Terminological Modifications in the Biblical Genealogical Records and Their Potential
Chronological Implications”

David Talshir
Ben-Gurion University
“Second Temple Period Hebrew Mirrored in Phrases Peculiar to Late Biblical Hebrew
and to Qumran Hebrew”
Any language features both free phrases and compounds. The free phrases are not part of the vocabulary of a language but rather belong to its syntax (e.g., הבית הגדול ), while the bound phrases are part of the vocabulary (e.g., הנהר הגדול ). The distinction between the two groups is sometimes difficult, especially where ancient languages are concerned. Both, however, may characterize a linguistic era, since they sometimes reflect a mode of speech. Thus, for example, the phrase שמחה גדולה —undoubtedly a nonlexicalized phrase—appears only once in Classical Hebrew, on the occasion of Solomon’s enthronement (1 Kgs 1:40), while its other 8 occurrences are in Second Temple books (Jonah, Nehemiah, and Chronicles), and are probably characteristic of that time.
Since the majority of the constituents of the phrases are classical words, surveys of Second Temple vocabulary mostly disregard them and overlook their importance. In this study it is my intention to check the relationship between Late Biblical Hebrew and Qumran Hebrew from the point of view of the phrases they share.
I first sorted the phrases into verbal and nominal. The verbal phrases were then divided into two groups: (1) phrasal verbs, e.g., בין ב- (ה )ל ‘perceive’; and (2) collocations, e.g., לעצור כוח ‘summon strength, be capable of’. The nominal phrases were divided into four groups: (1) construct state phrases, such as שָׂרי השבטים ‘the chiefs of the tribes’; (2) adjectival phrases, e.g., נחשת מרוק ‘burnished bronze’; (3) binoms, [per] merisms included, such as כוח וגבורה ‘strength and might’, יהודה ובנימין ‘Judah and Benjamin’, מגדול ועד קטן ‘great and small’; (4) prepositional phrases, e.g., מקצת ‘some’.
There are about 50 phrases common to late biblical literature and Qumran writings, only a few of which are attested in rabbinic and in Aramaic literature. These are only a third of the phrases exclusive to Late Biblical Hebrew. This ratio may be indicative of both the affinity and the distinction between these two linguistic strata, but undoubtedly evidences the substantial gap between these two dialects and Classical Hebrew; thus undermining the minimalists’ claim that the entire biblical literature was written at one go toward the end of the first millennium.


Session VIII

Reinhard Kratz
Georg-August-Universität (Göttingen)
“Laws of Wisdom: Sapiential Traits in the Rule of the Community (1QS V–IX)”
The topic I want to discuss in this paper is the question of the origin of the rules which the Qumran community gave itself in the Rule of the Community (1QS V–IX). I shall investigate this question by means of the language in which these rules are formulated. At first glance it is a mixture of religious (biblical) language and everyday language, in which the concrete interests of daily life in the community are expressed. However, on closer inspection it is striking that a series of expressions occurs which we know from the wisdom literature. It seems that likewise in the case the community’s rules for everyday life, there is not only everyday language but often also distinctive language, namely topoi of wisdom. I shall investigate a couple of examples, concentrating on the so-called penal code (1QS VI.24-VII.20), which is also widely attested in CD (col. XIV) and the 4Q parallels to QS and CD. Parallels in the wisdom literature that are of particular interest are Proverbs 28 and Ben Sira 31–32. The linguistic evidence points to a spiritual milieu in which Torah and wisdom represent a unity. It is presumably the milieu from which the Qumran community emerged.
The paper will also pick up the debate between Moshe Weinfeld and Lawrence Schiffman on the question whether the rules of the community follow certain Hellenistic analogies or the Torah. With the language and tradition of wisdom a third component comes into play, which could be the key to toning down the opposition between Weinfeld and Schiffman and reconciling the two positions.

Noam Mizrahi
Hebrew University
“Aspects of Poetic Stylization in Second Temple Hebrew:
A Comparison of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice with Ancient Piyyut
The language of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice is replete with many semantic, phraseological, morphological and syntactic peculiarities. The purpose of the present study is to illuminate some of these phenomena by comparing them to the much later corpus of rabbinic liturgical poetry known as Piyyut (PH), whose distinctive marker is a high level of literary stylization. The language of the Songs will be compared with PH from both lexical and morphological perspectives, by analyzing specific case studies.
1. Morphology—Case Study: Masculine singular by-forms of BH feminine nouns
The Songs use several unique masculine by-forms of nouns which in BH and QH appear only as feminine forms: בין (vs. בִּינָה ), ברך (vs. בְּרָכָה ), זמר (vs. זִמְרָה ), רנן (vs. רִנָּה ) and perhaps also תרום (vs. תְּרוּמָה ). While such by-forms are found occasionally in all Hebrew corpora, their massive appearance is typical of PH, especially in the specific nominal patterns of segholate nouns.
2. Lexicon—Case Study: דביר ‘inner sanctum’ and its collocations
The architectural term דביר is a CBH lexeme. It is disappearing from LBH and almost absent from QH and RH. By contrast, it is attested about 30 times in the Songs in various collocations. From a diachronic point of view, then, it is a “biblicism,” that is, an archaizing use of a CBH lexeme, which was no longer a vital part of the language during the Hellenistic and Roman periods when the Songs were composed. A comparable phenomenon is found in PH, in which this lexeme is also used extensively, even though it was rendered obsolete in RH.
On the basis of a detailed analysis of these two case studies, two models of the relationship between the Songs and PH will be examined: (1) a historical model, according to which there is a linguistic and stylistic continuity between the two corpora, as previously suggested—very cautiously—by Carol Newsom; (2) a typological model, according to which these and other similarities are products of parallel—yet independent—developments in liturgical poetics, which happened to occur in the two corpora due to analogous—yet different—circumstances.



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