John Nigel Courtenay James.

The language of Palestine and adjacent regions online

. (page 10 of 26)
Online LibraryJohn Nigel Courtenay JamesThe language of Palestine and adjacent regions → online text (page 10 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Eastern Section



I . I.

Babylonian Assyrian

It is impossible to make a clear distinction between
Baljylonia and Assyria. The people were the same,^ the
religion was the same, arts, crafts and customs were the same,
and the language was the same. If any distinction can be
made, perhaps Babylonia in some sense led the way. Politi-
cally the association is just as indistinct ; sometimes Assyria
is a province of Babylonia, and sometimes Babylonia is a

' A ditl'erent arrangement is sometimes fotind : ' I. The old Babyl. and
Assyr. . . . From this the Aram, dialects derive their origin. II. The
ohi Canaanitish, of which the Heb. and Phoen. were important dialects.
III. The old Arabic, of which the Ethiopic ami Abyssinian are oll'shoots.
... IV. The old Egyptian, which is a deposit of some ante-historical
Semitic idiom. ... It is represented in a modern form by Coptic.
V. The Berber dialects scattered over the whole of Africa," . . . (Ency.
Brit. s.v. ' Philology '). The present study will amplify, and to some
extent modify, this outline.

» In Gen. Iff", Elam and Asslinr are sons of Shem. The Elamites were
not originally Semites, but their earliest history is closely interwoven with
Babylonia. Berosus, a native Chaldaean historian, seems to regard the
Elamites as Cushites, and of an Assyrian dynasty in Asia, and gives
priority in time to the former. Vide Payne Smith, Anc. Hist. i. ch. 11.



90



THE LANGUAGE OF PALESTINE



province of Assyria. But the difference scarcely appeared to
the historian who called Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon,
'King of Assyria' (2 K. 23^9), who went out against
Pharaoh-Necho at Megiddo.» The three terms — Babylonian,
Assyrian, Chaldaean — were no doubt distinctive in origin, but
they became to some extent interchangeable in later history.
Babylonia was so named from the chief town ; ^ Assyria was
probably so called from a siqiposed connexion with Asshur ; '
Gbaldaea was originally a province S.-E. of Babylonia proper.*
Whatever ethnological distinction may have existed between
these tribes in pre-historic times, they emerge on the scene
witli one language, which was certainly Semitic, and must be
characterized as Aramaic.

Western Section of North Semitic Branch —



. ....
Fhueniuinii



Western Section
I



Muiibitlsli, etc.



Hebrew



The home of the Phoenicians has not yet been definitely
ascertained, and early accounts differ.* On the whole it is
probable that the primitive clans came out of Chaldaea from a
region on the Persian Gulf. Their first great migration, it
may be conjectured, was aljout the time of the call of Abram,
when tliere was a momentous journeying of the Semitic tribes
up the Euphrates valley." This movement was perhaps
simultaneous with the great migration of tribes from north

' NabopoIoMsar was really king, liut Nebucliatlrezzar was acting against
Egypt. The ' Magiloliiin ' of Heroclotns is probably tlie same as Megiddo ;
viilc bk. i. 17. 18, 25, ii. 159.

' S33, Ass. Bitb-Uu (Delitzscli, Par. 212 ; but cf. Jensen, Cosmologie dcr
Babylonia; i99). Otlier names in Gen. 10'" are confirnieil by Ass. inscript. :
liK=/4»-^-B;nDK=/lHY(rf;;nv«:'=iS(«i/tcfi(Tcllel-Aniania)pm=f/;-i((Gen.n™).

' The phrase in Gen. 10" is uncertain. It is corrected by Ouk. HJCi!<-|/?

* D'lrD, Ass. lOMil. Tliese people spoke a Semitic language, and they
provided an early dynasty of Kabylonia. Nnhopolassar, who refounded
Babylon (circa G2G), was a Chaldaean, and from his time Chaldaea wa.s
synonymous witli Dabyloiiia. For ancient references to Chaldaeans, vide
Xen. Ci/roj). iii. 2. 7 j A nab. iv. 3. 4, v. 5, viii. 8. 14.

' Viilc Herodotus, i. 1, vii. 89 j Strabo, xvi.

' Cf. Uiiwlinson, Herodotus, iv., Essay ii.






LINGUISTIC GENEALOGY



91



Arabia, along the shore of the Persian Gulf and the Euphrates
valley. The outcome of these migrations was the formation
of two important dynasties — the Kassite dynasty in Babylon,
and the Hyksos dynasty in Egypt. The Phoenicians were
originally Hamites, and in the Old Testament are frequently
called ' Sidonians,'* and Chna (= Heb. jyja) was the original
name of their country.*

The old question. How did the Phoenicians come to
employ a Semitic language ? has no longer any force. When
the Phoenicians were simply described as 'Hamites,' it was
usual to affirm that they changed their language after their
settlement along the coast-lands of Canaan. Before they
appeared on these borders, we have no clear knowledge of
their history. If there was any foundation for the statement
of Herodotus (i. 1, vii. 89) that they came from the Persian
Gulf, we should still be without knowledge of their speech.
It is quite possible that the Phoenicians were a composite
people, made up of Hamitic and Semitic elements. But when
they appear in contact with Cauaanite tribes, they are found
to speak with an analogous tongue. There were slight
dialectic differences between them, but no linguistic barrier.
For the Canaanite tribes, the Phoenicians were the pioneers of
the alphabet and of writing in the more modern sense.
Whether the Phoenicians produced their alphabet from an
adaptation of Egyptian hieroglyphs, or from a reconstruction
of Babylonian cuneiform, or from contact with Aegean civiliz-
ation, or from a concurrence of all these factors, is considered
in another place. It is certain that ' Phoenician ' became the
type of all subsequent script in western Asia and Europe.
In this type of script the greater part of the Old Testament
was written.

That there sliould be a Phoenician element in Old Testa-
ment Hebrew was to be expected. The compilers of some of
the Jewish books probably had access to some Phoenician
sources,' as much later Josephus gained information about

' Vide Gen. 10'- " : on— [yia— p's.

'Tell el-Amarna = /irjiia/iM(i. Found on a Phoen. coin: |yj3n vk hdimS
'Laodicea which is in Canaan ' = Phoenicia (v-ii B.C.).
» Vide Ezek. 27-28, Is. 23.



92



THE LANGUAGE OF PALESTINE



NebucliatUezzar's siege of Tyre from I'hoeuician wiitiugs.'
Tlie following statements will indicate a Hue of study which
could be greatly extended, but scarcely belongs to the present
investigation. Some Old Testament passages should perhaps
be emended in the light of the Phoenician script. The word
we select for illustration is E"N, in Hebrew 'man'; the
Phoenician form is tJ'N.' But e^K in Hebrew may be ' fire '
i^'^), or the substantive particle ' there is ' (Cn or C'). More-
over, the Phoenician c'N is also the relative pronoun = Hebrew
t\i>ti.^ Have these forms led to some confusion in the Hebrew
text ?

In Ezek. 8" it is almost certain that CK = B"n : thus the
phrase c\s-ns'iD3 nion should be rendered ' a likeness as the
appearance of a mau.' This seems necessitated by the follow-
ing reference to vsno, ' his loins,' which could hardly be
applied to fire. In Ezek. 21*' (Heb.) a similar case occurs:
ni?3Ni> n^nn Vifh should be read, ' To mau thou shalt be for
food • (cf. Is. 9'S). In Ezek. 1* cv possibly stands for B"''. or
C'N. The Hebrew is diflicult: a^ao 1I5 hm nnpbno t^Ni bn) ]:v,
but may be translated ' a great cloud, and there tvas a
continuous involution (Hithp.), and a brightness surrouuding
it.' In Dt. 33^ tJ'K may = the Hebrew substantive particle
t-";, or the Phoenician substautive t'N ( = Heb. t;"N). The text
stands : m^? mcx iro'o, and is probably corrupt. The refer-
ence appears to be to the writing of the law on Sinai by the
hand of Yahveh (Ex. 31'^). The term mL"N is aira^ Xey.,
and m is Aramaic of the Persian period denoting Imv, deoee.
Now a ' fire of law ' is au anomaly, thougli figuratively it
niight stand for the scene of the law-giving. We may
translate eitlier (a) 'At His right liand there icas a law (m f )
fur tliem' (cf. Is. G2'), or {b) ' At His riglit hand (was) a man
of law (m B"N) for them ' (cf. Dt. 31*-2», Jos. V 22^; ^rB' B"n,
Ps. 80", Jolin 1"). In Is. 64* there is perliaps au
instance of the Phoenician relative pronoun C'ti ( = Hebrew

^ Atif. X. 11.

' Old Hell, vtv the same, ii en, Moab. St. 1. 10 ; rf. CIS i. 86».

' E.ff. nv K.T i;'K = njf K-n t^'k, CIS i. 93'; ib. 139'. So 011 Plioen. coins,
e.ff. as already (jiioted : [Vir^n en kjik'', 'Laodicea u-fiich is in Canaan'
(Plate ix B8. Drit. JSIus.). Oceasionally in Heb. b'k = p'k in projicr
names, e.g. '73rN = Sy3 p'n (Gen. 46-', Num.26™).



LINGUISTIC GENEALOGY



93



icn) being read for the Hebrew b'n, fire. There is apparently
corruption of text, but it reads : E'N nvan D'O D''DDn vtt nipx
Possibly the first vti may be taken as a noun and the second
as a pronoun, and the passage read : ' Like fire kindles the
sticks, which (or when it) boils the water.' In Lev. 22*,
and like passages, the second iCft( might be translated as a
pronoun (Phoen. CK or Heb. "wa), thus : ' What man of the
seed of Aaron, who is a leper . . .?' In Ezek. 31' it is
pretty certain that nu'N has been mistaken for a substantive.
The text stands : fiaab PN nE'N mn. The pointing is "'K'K =
iitS'K, ' Assyrian,' and so generally read by scholars. But the
whole reference is to Egypt, not to Assyria ; to Pharaoh, not to
Nebuchadrezzar. The question of v.' is answered in v.*^,
and we should probably read: 'Behold, he ivho was (as) a
cedar in Lebanon.'

It is perhaps too precarious to suggest a Phoenician form,
acN, in the passage: . . . m nNT itoj dB'k D'B'n-DK (Is. 53").
Some idea is wanted to harmonize with the phrase, ' He shall
see a seed.' Now a ' seed ' must be begotten or produced, and
this idea is not foreign to the verb QW.^ But what is
the meaning of nva ? The Phoenician for i^'-N, man, is cn, and
the plural is DVfu.^ Can this Phoenician form be accepted in
the present instance ? That there is a foreign element in the
Hebrew passage is suggested by the Aramaic form i^nn.' The
' seed ' is attributed to the life-struggle of Yahveh's Servant :
it^Qj hovo, ' from the anguish of His lite.' This involved the
shedding of His life-blood : wsi n^h mvn, ' He exposed to
death His life.' That a righteous seed might he ordained,
begotten, Yaliveh crushed Him, ' He made Him sick,' '^nn wan.
But following His agony, there shall appear a generation of
cliosen, reborn men, and with the result shall come the
Sufferer's felicity. Hence we may translate: 'When He

• Vide D'lD iD'e^'i, EEia 10" ; cf . Gen. 13'". The verb has also the idea of
•designate,' 'appoint,' 'determine'; cf. CIS ii. 11.3''.

' Cf. the Phoen. pi. DDe', ' heavens.' This form of pi. is not unknown in
Heb. nrv (Jos. 15") ; the form jmp (Jos. 21'=) is more Aram., the Ileb. is
D'mp (1 Ch. 6"). Both endings are found on Moab. St., mnsn, jnnD (11.15,
20). For Phoen. inscrip. cf. . . . fx bok^ 'To men who . . . ' (CIS i.
86A»).

' For Heb. IHphil nSnn.



94



THE LANGUAGE OF PALESTINE



(lit. His life) shall beget (lit. set up ; ordain, renew) men, He
shall see a seed, He shall long live, and the purpose of Yahveh
shall succeed through His instrumentality. From the toil of
His life He shall see it (the reborn race), He shall be satisfied.'

The Moabites and other Canaanite tribes were closely
allied with the Phoenicians in language. It is probable,
however, that the Canaanite dialects were more akin to each
other than to Phoenician. The difference between these
dialects was largely one of local accent or pronunciation.*
The Old Testament recognizes slight dialectic differeuces
between the Canaanite tribes themselves, and between them
and neighbouring tribes. Among the dialects referred to are
Moabite (practically = Hebrew), Hittite, Amorite, Phoenician
(probably = Sidonian), Ashdodite * (apparently = Philistine),
Aramaic, Judaean.' By 'the language of Canaan' (Is. 19'^)
is meant the original tongue of the settlers, that which is
designated ' Hebrew.' *

Tlie relation of Moabite to Hebrew was so close that no
distinction of language must be conjectured. The likenesses
are so mauy and unmistakable that the two forms certainly
belong to the same stock, and differ but slightly when they
emerge upon the historic scene. The variations are easily
explained by the different conditions and regions into which
the different branches of the common stock wandered.
Whether, therefore, Moabite was a dialect of Hebrew,'' or
Hebrew a dialect of Moabite, is no longer a problem to
be solved. They are ratlier to be regarded as dialectic
differeuces of one and the same language. Moabite did not
differ from Judaic Hebrew in so many respects as the north
Israelitisli dialects." In a general way it may be said that

' E.g. the Gileadites said nSsr, and the Epiirainiites said n^3o
(Judg. 12°) ; tlie Sidonians s<aid pier, and tlie Aniorites said tip (Dt. 3').
There may be an accidental transposition of letters in tliis word, but the
terniination |< suggests a later linguistic stage. The clan of Sidonians here
referred to may have been an oflshoot from the Aniorites.

' The n-niiPK IDID (Neh. 13") = the speecli of Philistines. Cf. p. 152.

' The term n'i>.T (Neh. 13") means ' the Jewish language, but perhaps
more s]iecirically tlie language of Judaea ' (cf, 2 K. 18™).

* Lit. IW3 nser means the 'lip of Canaan' ; cf. 11^^= speech.

» Vide Grove, Smith's Diet. Bibl. s.v. 'Moab.'

' Later known as ' Samaritan,' ' Galilaean,' etc.



LINGUISTIC GENEALOGY



95



Moabite agrees with Hebrew and Phoenician, and the north
Israelitish dialects with Aramaic and Arabic* But in some
particulars the variants are curious. Sometimes Moabite
agrees with Hebrew against both Phoenician and Aramaic*
Sometimes Moabite agrees with Phoenician against Hebrew
and Aramaic' Occasionally Moabite agrees with Arabic in a
manner scarcely to be expected.* Again, Moabite sometimes
agrees with Hebrew and Phoenician against Aramaic and
Arabic^ Some Moabite forms agree with Aramaic against
Hebrew and Phoenician.' These variants are dialectic, they
indicate the affinity and commingling of Semitic peoples in
western Asia in the second millennium, B.C. It must always
be remembered that the inscriptional type of language may
have been different in many respects from the commonly
spoken dialect. The actually spoken tongue of a people
almost invariably shows considerable deviation from the
language of literature.

Hebrew and Arabic ethnologically are traceable to tlie
same stock. The two sous of Eber were Peleg and Joktan.
Through the former came Jacob, and consequently the
Israelites;' through the latter came the Arabians. The
descendants of Joktan dwelt from Mesba to Sephar, ' the
hill-country of the east.' ^ It is clear that Joktan is repre-

' Cf. Driver, Introd. OT. 422. n. ; Heb. Text Bhs. of Sam. "^ xciii.

» E.g. the impf. with vnv conversive : nmm npa onnSNi, ' And I fought
against the city and took if (Moab. St. 1. U) ; the rel. pron. ipk (Plioen.
VH, Aram, -n, M, Syr. J). Does nB'M = W, i.e. \h -vbk (cf. CIS i. 7^)? Thus it
is a rel. sign=as to which, an to wlwm.

» E.g. the form tw, • year ' (Moab. St. 1. 2) is the same as Phoen., and
= Heb. ne^, Aram. kip.

* The most notable nn-Hebrew feature is the insertion of n after the
first radical, on the analogy of the inf. of the Sth Arab, conj., e.g. nonnSna
{I.e. 1. 19) = nbhB^n?, lit. 'in the to fight,' i.e. 'while he fought.'

» An illus. is V«, with Heb. and Phoen. (and Old Aram.) ; Arab. Eth.
and later Aram, give kjk.

• This is seen in the pi. ending, )', for Heb. and Phoen. o', d, thus :
IvanK, • forty' [I.e. 1. 8) ; pp, 'cities' (I. 29), cf. Aram. ]"np (Onk. freq. K.mp).
Vide Schroder, Die Phonizische Sjirache (1869).

' The links were : iSd— ijn— inp — iWJ— mn— didk — pnx-— apv {vide Gen.
10» inB-M 2V 25™ ; cf. Gen. 32™, Is. 27", Nab. 2^).

' Probably kvd, in Assyr. inscrip. Mashu, is the desert land between
Syria and Arabia. Probably iBO = Tsafar, the ancient capital of tlie
Himyarites, the seaport of Hadramaiit on the Indian Ocean, S. Arabia.



96



THE LANGUAGE OF PALESTINE



Coiiinion
Source.



scutecl as the ancestor of the older Arabian clans, the pure
Arabs as contrasted with the Ishmaelite Arabs. Thus Eber
was the ancestor of both the Israelites and the Arabians,
and this fact helps to explain the similarities between the
Hebrew and Arabic languages. In a sense Hebrew holds
a middle position between Aramaic and Arabic ; it is wider
in scope than the former, and less comprehensive than the
latter.'

Of the three languages the Arabic exhibits, in some
respects, the oldest features, but Hebrew and Aramaic did
not grow out of Arabic. Each language had an independent
development from an earlier common speech, which cannot
be traced with any degree of certainty. Graphically the
position may be represented thus :

In this figure A represents Aramaic, and
B Hebrew ; these gradually diverged from C, i.e.
Arabic. After the Exile, Hebrew as a spoken
language was lost in the continuous stream of
Aramaic (D), which became the vernacular of
Palestine. Arabic never came into serious con-
tact with Hebrew, but after the rise of Islam,
Arabic moved towards Palestine, and superseding
Aramaic, became the common speech (E). Natur-
ally Aramaic (D) took along some Hebrew,* and
Arabic (E) took along some Aramaic'

The influence of the further East on the Hebrew language
has not yet received tlie attention which it deserves. It is
customary to refer certain names of articles of luxury to an

Tlins mpn •\n will point to a iiiouiitainous region in Araliia, ' the east
country ' (cf. Gen. lO*' 25").

■ These linguistic positions were due partly to geographical movements,
and partly to intellectual attainments.

' E.tj. Aram, words like nnnn, cml, h'2i, proj)hce, xii, purpose, nin'i,
soothing, cvm, men, are apparently due to Heb. influence.

' Some modern Arabic words in Palestine are found in the earlier

Aram., c.tf. j^s - ,fohl, Aram, kth; j.,, pit, Aram, mxa ; JL^., pool,

s - ,»/ Si. '

Aram, nn^na ; Jj,, dew, Ar.im. nSb ; j::., forest, Aram. Kiy ; ,jj, straw,
Aram. k)3'«.




LINGUISTIC GENEALOGY



97



Indian origin. Possibly some terms of a regal character are
due to Sanscrit, but in these instances an Arabic source may
be suggested. It is always important in tracing the origin
of anything to distinguish the primitive source from the
medium of communication. For instance, it is usual to
attribute the signs for numbers to the Arabs, but the Indians
were the first to deviate from the ancient custom of making
their letters stand for numbers. Strictly the Sanscrit letters
have no specific and separate names, and consequently could
not conveniently represent numbers. Hence the Indians
invented the ten numerals,' though they have come to us
through Arabic influence. The discrepancy between Semitic '
and Indo-European spelling is often due to alphabetical
differences and deficiencies."

It is probable, however, that some words which the earlier
philologists attributed to a Sanscrit source are more naturally
explained by a reference to Arabic, or, as some modern
scholars suggest, to Assyrian. The title t.»i">, or ii»"i (Prov.
14^), 'prince,' 'ruler,' will serve as an illustration of the
general subject. In Hebrew there was no necessity for this
term, it was a mere poetical embellishment used synony-
mously with ^^o (once with BBy, Is. 40'^). It was evidently
a borrowed word, and, like many others in Hebrew,' may be

' The Arabs admit the Indian source by tlie name ^jJus >i , or
O'-J^ -_J>p-, ' Indian signs.'

' Omnis ilia variatio et discrcjianiia in defectum Alphabctorum
Europaeorum et gentilinm Indicorum est rejicienda. Gr. Samscridamica,
Roniae, 1790.

•Familiar among these words are the following :—' Almug-trees ' ?
San. Valgu, Valgum (or mocha) ; Heb. D'jdSk, prob. = ' sandalwood ' ; Gk.
veXcKrirA. 'Aloes': San. agnrn; Ass. Alu ; Arab. ^JS, 'tent'; Heb.
D'SnK ; Gk. iyiWoxov, 'eaglewood.' Note : such words beg. with Sn sugg.
the Arab. art. Jl, 'the.' 'Apes': San. kapi ; Heb. O'sp ; cf. Gk. ktjkos
(Egypt. Kv^i). 'Ophir' : San. Ahhira? Heb. tbh ; 2ii0eipa (Joseph. Ant.
viii. 6. 4) ; accord, to Hitzig (Philistder, p. 217) = Indian Sauvira.
' Ivory ' : San. ibhas (cf. danta) ; Ass. sinnu ; Arab. ^_:, ' tooth ' ; Heb.
]B (cf. D'aniir, lit. ■ ebony-teeth,' ' elephants ' ; prob. corrupt). ' Peacock ' :
San. sikhin, or Tamil tokei, togai ; Heb. D".3n. ' Topaz ' : San. pita ; Heb.
moB ; Gk. ToirdfloK. ' Girdle-of-state ' : Heb. 0J3K, ' priests-girdle ' ; no
doubt a loan-word whose source is unknown ; Gk. ipav-fiB (Joseph. Ant.
iii. 7. 2).

7



98



THE LANGUAGE OF PALESTINE



tr.iceil with some plausibility to either Sanscrit or Arabic*
If the former, it may be related to the Sanscrit word for
king — Bawjan = \h. The Sanscrit has no letter correspond-
ing to the Hebrew i, but uses a letter whose sound more

resembles the Arabic ~ {.hem) ; but t nearly = Arabic j.
This will explain some apparent discrepancies in the trans-
literation of Sanscrit words in the Semitic tongues. If the
title came from an Indian source, it would mean that
prophets and poets in Israel in pre-regal times had a term
applied to them equivalent to Nabob and Mogul. On tlie
. other hand, jtn might very well come from the Arabic

root ^jjj< ' gravity,' ' dignity,' which became associated with
precedence and honour.^ The word in an , adjectival form
occurs in the Arabian Nights, in the saying of the barber's
fifth brother: ^J-*^ ^■^^jj} ij^^ 'i-^Ji>\, 'with dignified dis-
cretion and majestic wisdom.' In cases of uncertainty the
probability always is that tlie derivation of Hebrew loan-words
is from the Arabic ratlicr than Sanscrit.



VII

ARAMAIC: EAST AND WEST

Northern Section of North Semitic Branch —
Noitliern Section



East Aramaic



West Aramaic



Tiie division between east and west Aramaic must Jiot
be pressed too sliarply. It may, however, add to clearness

' Tlie Ass. ruzztinii, 'prince,' should not be overlookeil, having much
the same form and meaning (vide Journal Bibl. Lit. xvi. 175 f.).

' Tlie term \m is derived from the obs. root [n, and not from .in, * i i,
to make lean. The word |'Kn in a J'alm. inscrip. suggests a composite
idea. It is prob. from nn, \\, = impovei-ishment by generosity (cf. CJk.
Sanapal) ; hence the phrase [kmb' |'Hn ipm may be rendered : "and bestowed
most lavishly.' {Fox msct'if. vide Yo^ne, La Syrie Centrale, 15.) .



LINGUISTIC GENEALOGY 99

to separate the north Mesopotamian> type of Aran.aic from
the I ales ,nmn type. This separation is largely geographical ;
d.a ectically there is considerable overlapping. East Aramaic
incudes Synac, Nabataean, and Mandaean; west Aramaic
inchides Palmyrene, Egyptian Aramaic, and Palestinian Ara-
maic. The real problem is to evolve from these dialects the one
type which best represents the language of Palestine between
100 B.C. and 100 a.d. Meanwhile we must consider the
supersession of Hebrew by Aramaic which followed the Exile
At a very early date a considerable portion of the population
of Babyloma-Assyria was Aramaean, while Assyrian was still
the language of the government. The earliest hints are certain
Aramaic writings on weights, and other inscriptions. Tins
early form of Semitic language is certainly Aramaic, but difTers
considerab^from Biblical and Egyptian Aramaic. It more
resemb es Hitt,te (Hebrew- Canaanite), and in some respects it
resembles Assyrian. That the Assyrian and Aramaic languages
were closely associated in the seventh century b.c. is suggested
by he description of Nebuchadrezzar's army as 'the army
of tlie Chaldaeans and of the Aramaeans,' and also by the
Assyrian-Aramaic inscriptions on the bronze weights found at
Nmeyeh.2 These hints do not prove that Aramaic had its origin
in Babyloma-Assyria. Assyrian and Aramaic had long separate
histories before the time of Nebuchadrezzar. But the evidence
shows that these languages came into contact with each other in
Babyloma-Assyria. Each assimilated something from the other
but Aramaic was the greater debtor. Assyrian was already a

' Tlie N. Mesopotamian includes, as will appear later, the Syriac of
Edessa. Tossibly Edessa is to be identified with -hn, ^'oiJol. This
region is called Dnif-s im (Gen. \l^), either («.) because N. Mesopotamia
formed an original ba-se of Cliald.-iean activity, or ^b) because they ex
tended their empire thus far North after its establishment in llabylonia
It must, however, be stated that most scholars identify ■\w with the old
Babylonian city of Uru (cf. Delit7,sch, Wo lag d<is Paradies? 226 f.).

'The Zenjirii (jl^v^sjjj, a village N.W. Syria) inscriptions belong to
8tli cent. B.C. Assyr. influence is. seen in the form ^;k (cf. in^N), H,, ; in


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Online LibraryJohn Nigel Courtenay JamesThe language of Palestine and adjacent regions → online text (page 10 of 26)