Re: hebrew - significant archaeological find
- From: Micha Berger <micha@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 02:52:06 +0000 (UTC)
On Sun, 13 Nov 2005 01:06:58 +0000 (UTC), jameshanley39@xxxxxxxxxxx <jameshanley39@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
: the Ktav Ivri script of hebrew(ancient hebrew) and ktav ashuri script,
: are 2 old scripts. I am quite sure there's nothing in the talmud that
: ktav ashuri developed from ktav ivri...
Actually, there is a medrash (at the begining of Yonah) that Ashuris
was in use in Assyria and imported by Jews. The medrash says that
Ashur, the forefather, refused to participate in building the tower
of Babel. Therefore, he was granted two gifts: his people retained the
sacred script, and Yonah was sent to give Nineveh, the capital of Assyria
(Ashur), a second chance.
The question of whether Moses used the sacred script, called Ashuris
(Assyrian or Praiseworthy [as in "Ashrei]), is raised in the Talmud.
The tablets were carved all the way through. In Ashuris and today's
print, the final mem and samech have a middle peice not connected to
the outside. Which means that in the tablets, it would not be attached.
According to one opinion these two letters floated in place miraculously.
According to the other, it's the tes and ayin that were miraculous.
How to understand this debate is itself a debate.
For more detail, here's a cut-n-paste from Avodah.
Micha Berger Take time,
micha@xxxxxxxxxxx be exact,
http://www.aishdas.org unclutter the mind.
Fax: (270) 514-1507 - Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, Alter of Kelm
We've already mentioned the braisa quoted in Megillah and Shabbos that R'
Chisda says the mem and samech of the luchos stood via neis.
(I might point out that while the letters were carved all the way through,
there was already a neis in the geometry involved, since they were not
backwards on the other side. Li nir'eh both are the same neis involving
the abnormality of the carving.)
Another argument in favor of the age of kesav Ashuris is Manachos 29b,
the famous medrash of R' Akiva darshening heaps of dinim from the tagim.
The halachic requirements also argue in its favor. Not that we require
Ashuris down to the kutzo shel yud -- that has a parallel in tefillah.
You are yotzei tefillah de'Oraisa if you say "haKel haqadosh" during the
10 yemei teshuvah. But Anshei Kenesses haGedolah (the same people as our
suspected adopters of Ashuris!) can require repetition of the Shemoneh
Esrei over this mistake. However, the qedushah of a sefer Torah requires
too many peratim specific to Ashuris. Do AKhG have the power to abrogate
qedushah that HKBH gave?
We also cited the Y'lmi version of the gemara in Megillah (1:9), where
R' Levi quotes Mar Zutra and R' Yosi that it was ayin and tes that had
The Radvaz suggests that there is no machloqes. The first luchos were
in Ashuris, and after the loss of Qedushah cause by the eigel, the 2nd
were given in kesav Ivris.
I have no idea what script this referrs to. Yes, the older "Canaanite
script" (which if we accept Lisa Leil's chronology the time in which it
was used was post-Yehoshua'), had closed shapes for ayin and tes. But
also many other letters (of those I recall: aleph, ches, samech, quf). I
had the hava amina that two letters were mentions as another version of
the same braisa. However, if R' Levi was presenting a different variant
of the same mesorah, then why wasn't samech shared in both versions?
The discussion of the script is really on Sanhedrin 21a-22b.
It opens with Mar Zutra, one of the possible sources in the Y'lmi for
ayin vetes, saying:
Bitechilah nitenah Torah leYisrael
bikesav Ivri velashon haqodesh.
Chazrah venitenah lahem biymei Ezra
bekesav Ashuris velashon Aramis.
However, we chose LhQ and Ashuris, leaving the other language and script
for the hedyotos.
R' Chisda, our source for mem vesamech, explains Mar Zutrah -- who until
now I had assumed was the other side of the machloqes. Heyotos are the
Kusiim, and kesav Ivri is Libunah.
The question as I see it is whether we can assume R' Chisda holds like
a shitah because he explains it. Beis Hillel, for example, was known
for first explaining the shitah of Beis Shammai that they rejected.
Alternatively, this could be a ra'ayah for the Radvaz, that there really
is no machloqes.
Returning for a moment to a halachic note, Rashi identifies Libunah as
a script used in kemei'os and mezuzos. So much for worrying about kutzo
The Amora'im in Sanhedrin take three posititions.
1- R' Yosi holds that the use of Ashuris was new institution biymei Ezra.
And Ashuris is named because it was brought over from Ashur.
That view also seems to be the one of a medrash quoted by a number of
rishonim on the begining of Yonah. There the person Ashur is credited with
not participating in Migdal Bavel for which he recieved two gifts: His
children were given a 2nd chance in the days of Yonah, and kesav Ashuris.
The problem is that we have no record of Ashur ever using Ashuris. RSM's
peshat on this does not help the medrash.
2- Rebbe holds it's a case of chazar veyasdum. Ashuris is from the same
shoresh as "ashrei". (The same etymology RSM quoted from Ramabam.)
Perhaps this is the same chazar veyasdum mentioned in the same TB
Megillah, in which AKhG restored the sofios. This assumes that Kesav
Ivri has no sofios.
3- R' Shim'on ben Elazar, and a mass of others, give the final opinion.
The two factors, number and finality, leads a few rishonim to conclude
that this is the gemara's maskana.
The script was always used in sifrei qodesh. Rather, it was only
popularized for other writing biymei Ezra.
The Radvaz's resolution would lead to this metzi'us as well, that the
sacred Ashuris was known to only a few, but given to the masses in Ivris.
This would also explain the use of the words "nitenah Torah leYisrael"
rather than simply "nitenah Torah". Because Mar Zutra in Sanhedrin is
discussing how it was given to the rabbim. If understood this way, then
the reference to Aramis is that the masses in the days of Ezra, speaking
Aramis and not LhQ, were given a targum. However, no one proposed changing
the language of the text itself. (What would happen to derashos if that
really were the proposal?)
This would explain why Daniel would be able to read the writing on the
wall, while most people could not -- it was in Ashuris!
Micha Berger The mind is a wonderful organ
micha@xxxxxxxxxxx for justifying decisions
http://www.aishdas.org the heart already reached.
Fax: (413) 403-9905