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MemberMarch 6, 2021 at 9:59 pm
Moreover, the earlier the civilisations in the Middle East (spanning the
great centres of Egypt and Mesopotamia), the more was shared in terms
of language, personal names, gods, culture, and technology.
For us looking back in time Hebrew is a well-established distinct language. However looking at the language Jacob and his family spoke as they were wandering around in Canaan and before that living with Laban… they didn’t have their own language carved out yet. When Jacob eventually got around to sending ten of his sons to Egypt to get some food during the famine, Joseph who by now was capable of speaking Egyptian spoke to his brothers as an Egyptian and he used a translator. The translator was speaking the general language of the area. Jacob was able to talk the language of Laban. Jacob and his sons were able to speak with the people of Shechem. Judah moved away from his brothers and “Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah.” (Gen. 38:1 NIV) Jacob spoke with his brother Esau when he returned from staying with Laban. Isaac and Abraham spoke with other Kings and their herdsmen argued with other herdsmen over water. Abraham talked with the King of Sodom after his successful night raid which freed hostages and regained possessions.
I”m just saying that at what point can you say the descendants of Jacob spoke a different language? There may have been a few unique words the family used, and maybe they had some distinct voice or accent like people today have distinct voices and accents. Even within a single family everyone usually has a distinct voice.
During the time of the four + generations that the Israelites were in Egypt I’m sure they developed some more linguistic distinctives. But it might be hard to cull out distinctive (Hebrew) speech patterns from the time of Joseph. Yet Jacob claimed two of Joseph’s sons as his own and perhaps they were more Egyptianized and may have brought some more uniqueness to what later became Hebrew. On top of that, when one reads the book of Judges I can’t think of times where language barriers became an issue. After being in the promised land for 300 years the Ephraimites had some bit of difficulty with the word “Shibboleth” —— which leads to another large number. “Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.” (Jdg. 12:6 NIV)