Monday, April 30, 2007
[Egyptian papyrus with hieroglyphics c. 1200 BCE]
According to the commentary of Rashi on Genesis 11:1, at the time of the Tower of Babel, c 1765 BCE, everyone spoke Hebrew. Today, archeologists have discovered that other languages such as Egyptian and Sumerian were spoken long prior to that time.
One question I have is: How do we know that the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians did not in fact speak Hebrew?
Until about 1800 BCE, writing was primarily pictographic. This means that each character represented a word, not a sound. This system is still used in eastern Asia today. Therefore, how do we know what ancient Egyptian or Sumerian sounded like? For example, today, Japanese writing is derived partly from Chinese characters, although the two spoken languages are entirely different. The written language may have no connection to the spoken language in some cases.
I don’t know what the answer to this question is. I’m just asking.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 9:19 AM