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History & Archeology

Is Hebrew The World’s Oldest Alphabet?

Archaeologist Douglas Petrovich has released a new study which asserts that Hebrew may in fact be the world’s oldest alphabet. According to the scholar, almost 4, 000 years ago the ancient Israelites formed the Hebrew alphabet from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

As reported by Fox News, Petrovich relied on the biblical account of the time in which the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt for his research. The information recorded in the Bible is not something that most historians and archaeologists believe to be accurate. And Orthodox Jews are not likely to welcome this news as it implies that the sacred Hebrew script does not date back to the time of Abraham and was influenced by a pagan culture’s writing.

Petrovich explained his conclusions to Fox saying, “I was translating Middle Egyptian and proto-consonantal Hebrew inscriptions that nobody ever had translated successfully before. There were many ‘A-ha!’ moments along the way, because I was stumbling across biblical figures never attested before in the epigraphical record, or seeing connections that I had not understood before.”

He translated 16 Hebrew inscriptions from four different sites in Egypt and Sinai which referred to biblical characters like Moses. The inscription about Moses matches much of the narrative of the Exodus from Egypt in the Bible.

“I absolutely was surprised to find [the reference to] Moses, because he resided in Egypt for less than a year at the time of his provoking of astonishment there, ” Petrovich recalled. “In fact, the Hebrew letters ‘M-Sh’ could have other meanings, and I had to examine every other possibility for those uses of Hebrew words with those letters. Only after realizing that every other possibility had to be eliminated, whether due to contextual or grammatical limitations, was I forced to admit that this word must be taken as a proper noun, and almost undoubtedly refers to the Moses who is credited with writing the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Torah.”

So what does all of this mean? Well if Petrovich’s conclusions are correct, then as stated they could have theological repercussions. They may prove certain parts of the biblical narrative, but they also work to disprove the Orthodox Jewish belief that every word of the Five Books of Moses come directly from god, including the Hebrew alphabet.

While his research methods may have been criticized by academics and his dating of events may be mistaken, scholars of Semitic languages may have a great deal to learn from Petrovich. As for what language is entitled to the credit of having the oldest alphabet ever conceived, this is not something most people really care about.



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