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EARLY DIFFUSION OF HEBREW.
laid before the Jews' Society Committee, concerning the rendering of certain passages. To ensure minute accuracy, the Committee determined on a thorough revision. They consulted some of the most eminent men in Europe, and Professor Gesenius was recommended to them as the first Hebrew scholar of the age. To him, therefore, they confided their version, requesting from him a critique upon it, and suggestions as to alterations. Gesenius went carefully through the work as far as the Acts, and likewise through the book of Revelation, when his numerous engagements compelled him to resign the task. The work, with all Gesenius's notes, was then transferred by the Jews' Committee to Dr. Neumann, a converted Jew, lecturer on Hebrew at the University of Breslau. Dr. Neumann commenced the work anew, and his revision, when completed, was acknowledged to bear the stamp of "diligence, accuracy, zeal, and profound scholarship." The limited funds of the Society, however, prevented them from giving this valuable revision to the public, and it therefore remained some time in MS. At this very period the publisher of the Modern Polyglot Bible (Mr. Bagster) requiring a Hebrew version of the New Testament for the Polyglot, applied to the Society for the Conversion of the Jews for the critical emendations they had been amassing: the important notes of Gesenius and Neumann were in consequence handed to him, and were incorporated in the new version executed for the Polyglot by Mr. Greenfield, and published in 1831. In 1839 the Society issued an edition of 5000 copies of another version, executed by the Rev. Dr. M'Caul, Rev. M. S. Alexander, Rev. J. C. Reichardt, and Mr. S. Hoga. This work, a specimen of which accompanies this memoir, was afterwards stereotyped, and is the version now circulated by the Society.
II. RESULTS OF THE DISSEMINATION OF THIS VERSION.
In the Reports of the Society for the Conversion of the Jews, are many affecting and wellauthenticated instances of the Divine blessing having attended the perusal of the Hebrew New Testament. One fact in connection with this subject requires notice here, as showing the power of the New Testament over the heart of a Jew. The learned rabbi, mentioned above as the translator of the Travancore Testament, engaged in the work solely with the design of confuting Christianity. That his triumph might be more complete, he endeavoured in his translation to keep as near to the original as possible, for he never doubted but that with his scholarship and logical abilities he would find it easy to refute the statements of the text. By the time, however, that he had gone through the life of Jesus, his confidence was shaken, and as if afraid, says Dr. Buchanan, of the converting power of his own translation, he inserted a paragraph at the close of the Gospels, in which he took heaven and earth to witness that he had undertaken the work with the express design of opposing the Epicureans, as he termed the Christians. A cloud hangs over his subsequent history; but there are abundant reasons for believing that he fell a martyr to the bigotry of his people, and that, after embracing the religion of Jesus, he sealed his testimony with his blood.
THE EARLY DIFFUSION OF THE HEBREW LANGUAGE,
AN opinion has very commonly prevailed, that the HEBREW LANGUAGE, in which God was pleased to make known the revelation of His will in the Old Testament Scriptures, was at all times confined within very narrow limits; so that just as God did in ancient times choose one people as the depositary of His Scriptures, the language which they used, and in which those Scriptures were written, was confined almost entirely to them.
Indeed so fully has this opinion prevailed, that a contrast has been frequently drawn between the New Testament written in Greek, then the most diffused language of the civilised earth, as intended for the instruction of men without restriction as to nation, and the Old Testament written in Hebrew
for one people.
The object of the accompanying Map is to show how considerably this opinion ought to be modified: the facts which must be considered are these
I. That the PHOENICIAN LANGUAGE was essentially identical with the HEBREW.
II. That the Phoenician Colonies had in early times diffused the knowledge of this language over a considerable portion of the earth.
III. That even in countries in which the PHŒNICIO-HEBRAIC had not become vernacular, yet through commerce it had become more or less used as a medium of intercourse.
I. The substantial identity of the language of the Phoenicians with the Hebrew is proved by the fact, that all the names of persons and places in the land of Canaan are pure Hebrew. The Phonicians were but a portion of the Canaanites, speaking of course the same language. This identity is manifest in the days of Abraham, for we then find the names of Abimelech, Melchisedek, etc., which are pure Hebrew compounds: nor can it be thought that the inspired historian has translated these names with the language used by Abraham, for, in the same narrative, the Egyptian Pharaoh is given without any such translation. At a later period the proof of this identity of language becomes more extensive, although not more certain: when the Israelites took possession of the land of Canaan, the names of the cities and districts were all of them terms purely and simply Hebrew. It is not to be overlooked that the names of the Phoenician cities Tyre, Sidon, etc. are all Hebrew, the same as the rest; the names also of Phoenicians who are at all mentioned in the Old Testament are Hebrew.
This fact is farther illustrated by the Coins of Tyre and Sidon, collected and published by Gesenius in his "Monumenta Phoenicia;" the inscriptions on these coins prove the language to have been essentially Hebrew.
II. It is well known that in early times the Phoenician colonies were widely diffused; (the countries in which they were found will be stated below). Did then these colonies use the Hebrew language, or did they adopt the languages of the countries in which they had settled?
Happily, for a satisfactory reply to this question, we are not left to form our own conclusions irrespective of evidence: the antecedent probability may be very strong, but we possess the sure ground of testimony. With regard to many or most of the countries colonized by the Phoenicians, we possess certain monuments in the coins and inscriptions which are still extant, which have been published by Gesenius in his important work to which reference has already been made.
If, however, there be colonies from Phoenicia with regard to which we do not possess this certainty of testimony, yet we may be pretty certain that the same language was retained by them, as by the colonies of which we are more accurately informed.
III. How far the wide-spread commerce of the Phoenicians was a means of diffusing their language, we have no precise evidence. We do, however, know that in Greece and Egypt there have been inscriptions found in the Phoenician language and character, and we have other proofs that some use at least was made of this language. Prior to the time of Xerxes, almost all international communication by sea was in the hands of the Phoenicians; and as such intercourse did exist, it is manifest that the language of the Phoenicians was in a great measure brought into contact with all the people of the coasts of the Mediterranean, etc.
PHOENICIA. The district occupied by the Phoenicians appears to have been a strip of land lying between the mountains of Syria and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. The southern part of the country which they at one time actually occupied was included in the land which had been previously allotted to Israel, but into which the Phoenicians spread themselves. The Phoenician territory
EARLY DIFFUSION OF HEBREW.
must at times have extended as far south as Acre (Accho or Ptolemais), and as far north as Aradus, at least.
There are yet existing coins of the following Phoenician cities, with inscriptions in their own language and character:
TYRE-with Greek and Phoenician legends on the same coin.
SIDON-with Phoenician only; also Greek and Phoenician.
ACCHO (Ptolemais)-Greek and Phoenician.
LAODICEA (near Lebanon)-Greek and Phoenician.
The Greek inscriptions on so many of these coins prove that the Phoenician language was still retained and used while the people were under Greek dominion.
PHOENICIAN COLONIES-CILICIA.-The Phoenician origin of the Cilicians was a fact known to the Greeks: the Cilician coins struck under the Persian dominion fully attest the same fact. The Phoenician coins of Cilicia have been transmitted in great numbers to modern times: they have been found in many and widely distant countries; some have been met with even in India. Many of these coins belong to TARSUS; it is uncertain to what cities others of them belong.
CYPRUS.-The Phoenicians are well known to have planted colonies in the island of Cyprus. More than thirty inscriptions found at CITIUM, in that island, are in existence; they prove the retention of the Phoenician language by the colonists.
There are proofs that from Cyprus and Cilicia the Phoenicians spread into different parts of Asia Minor; they probably occupied stations on the coast for the purpose of traffic. It appears that a colony was planted in BITHYNIA, probably direct from Phoenicia.
The fact of a Phoenician colony having been located in BŒOTIA is well known: but the language does not appear to have been retained there or in the parts into which they are said to have spread themselves from Boeotia: the letters, however, were there introduced.
AFRICA. But the most important of the colonies of Phoenicia was that which occupied Carthage and the north of Africa, in many parts of Numidia and Mauritania, as far as the Straits of Gibraltar. The following are places in this region where Phoenician inscriptions have been found:CARTHAGE.
TUGGA or TUCCA—a remarkable bi-linguar inscription, Punic and Libyan.
In NUMIDIA, several; also the coins of Numidian kings.
TRIPOLI-two, one of them bi-linguar, Latin and Punic; also coins.
The Island of GERBE.
There are Phoenician coins extant of the following places:
ACHULLA, VACCA, SIGA.
SICILY. The knowledge which we possess of the Phoenicians in Sicily is familiar to all who have the slightest acquaintance with history. The coins of several Sicilian cities are proofs of the influence which the language gained in various parts of the island, and that, too, in places such as Syracuse, which were not actual colonies of Phoenicians, nor yet subject to Punic rule.
There are extant many fine coins of
PANORMUS (Palermo), HERACLEA, SYRACUSE, MOTYA, COSSARA, bearing inscriptions in Phoenician.
MELITA. In the island of Malta several Phoenician inscriptions confirm what we know from history as to its having been occupied by that people.
GAULOS (Gozzo, near Malta).—Many coins are in existence bearing Phoenician inscriptions, which some ascribe to this island, and some to Malta.
SARDINIA received Phoenician colonies; traces of the Phoenician may be found in the Sard language still in use. A gem with a Phoenician inscription was found there, as well as an inscription.
SPAIN. The Punic colonies in Spain, and their occupation of the southern part of that country and the adjoining islands, are well known. TARSHISH, so often mentioned in Scripture, is considered on good grounds to have been Tartessus in Spain.
There are Spanish coins extant with Phoenician legends of the following places:
GADES, SEXTI, ABDERA, BELUS, MALACA.1
CASSITERIDES.-We know that the Phoenicians were intimately connected with the Cassiterides (Tin Islands); and as the only islands in the western ocean producing tin must point out the southwestern coasts of Britain or adjacent islands, this name must have indicated either the Scilly Islands, or else the coast of Cornwall, or probably both.
Here the Phoenicians had formed an emporium at a very early period. Tin was used in the formation of some of the furniture of the Tabernacle. Tin is mentioned by the earliest of classic writers; and as the ancients knew of no other tin but that of Cornwall, it is manifest how early must have been the Phoenician connection with this country. Indeed the ancients considered for ages that the Phoenicians were the only people who knew where these islands were situated.
The countries with which the Phoenicians traded comprised most of the coasts of the then known world: that the Phoenician language was at least in some measure used as a medium of communication, is proved by the inscriptions which have been discovered at ATHENS and in EGYPT.2
The eastern trade by the Red Sea must have been originally in the hands of the Israelites and Egyptians; the Phoenicians, however, were connected with them in this line of commerce.
How far the diffusion of the language might have been accompanied by a knowledge of the written revelation of God, we have no means of ascertaining: one thing is certain, that it thus became POSSIBLE; and this may be coupled with the facts that seeming traces were found among many nations, of Scripture truths, and the Jews and early Christians alike ascribed this to knowledge borrowed in some manner from the Old Testament Scriptures prior to the version of the LXX.
It may be a subject of interesting inquiry, What results may be deduced from the ascertained fact of the early wide diffusion of Hebrew: it is also worthy of examination, How far certain traces may be found of the use of the Scripture by the nations of antiquity? It must at least be borne in mind, that the wide diffusion of the Phoenicians was contemporaneous with the period when most of the Old Testament was written.
1 The Phoenician colonies acknowledged a certain dependence upon Tyre; this was recognised by the offerings sent from Carthage, etc. to the altar of the Tyrian Hercules. The possession of Tyre may have been considered as bestowing a kind of superiority over the colonies. How far this was connected with actual power may be uncertain: nothing short of this appears to be recognised in the statements of Megasthenes with regard to the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar, whom he represents as having conquered and ruled not merely Tyre but also the whole line of Phoenician colonies even as far as Spain. This has been treated as an exaggeration: but even if it be, there appears to be at least a fact on which it is based.
2 The Athenian inscriptions are accompanied also with Greek; the monument called (from the place in Provence where it is preserved) the Stone of Carpentras is manifestly Egyptian.
It must not be overlooked that the ancients unhesitatingly referred alphabetic writing to the Phoenicians as the first who had employed it; this, at least, shows that they acknowledged the Phoenicians to be those from whom they had received this art.
The sources from which this Memoir has been mostly compiled are the BIBLE, Gesenius's MONUMENTA PHENICIA, and Bochart's CANAAN. Bochart had a great apprehension of the early diffusion of the Phoenician language, although he scarcely draws any conclusion therefrom in connection with the subject now considered.
SPECIMEN, FROM WALTON'S POLYGLOT. EXODUS, CHAP. XX. v. 1 to 17.
·YEZ : TEM ཡྻཡ · Am · 223/+ · %2
I. PREDOMINANCE OF THE LANGUAGE.
THE Hebrew Language (in which the Samaritan Pentateuch is written) was predominant, as we have shown, in many countries of antiquity. It has long ceased to be the vernacular of Samaria, the inhabitants of which region now speak Arabic; but the Sacred books and liturgy belonging to the few remaining descendants of the ancient Samaritans are written in a dialect called the Samaritan, which has never spread beyond the limits of Samaria itself. The Samaritans have lost all political importance; they have dwindled down to a few families, and merely constitute a small religious sect. They dwell on the site of Shechem, their ancient capital and chief residence, now called Nablous or Nâbulus, a corruption of the Greek word Neapolis, the new city. Two centuries ago, there were small Samaritan communities in Cairo, Gaza, and Damascus, as well as at Nablous. But in 1808, there had been no Samaritans in Egypt for more than a century, and they appear now to be confined solely to Nablous itself. Nablous, though of small size, is one of the most considerable places in the Holy Land at the present day, and contains a population of about eight thousand; but not more than one hundred and fifty of the number are Samaritans; and in 1838, Dr. Robinson found there were only thirty adult males who paid taxes. They still go up three times a year to Mount Gerizim to worship. On Friday evenings they pray in their houses; and on Saturday (their Sabbath, which they keep with great strictness) have public prayers in their synagogue. They meet also in the synagogue on the great festivals, and on the new moons.
II.-LANGUAGES OF SAMARIA.
Up to the period when the ten tribes of Israel were carried away captive into Assyria, Hebrew was the language of Samaria. The characters employed by the ten tribes in writing Hebrew were, however, totally different from those now in use among the Jews. The Samaritan letters, as they are called, are closely allied to the Phoenician, and appear originally to have been employed by the whole Jewish nation; for the characters on the Maccabean coins are very similar to the Samaritan, and these