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Is there a difference in the Hebrew between the earliest Old Testament books and the relatively newer books? In other words: are there linguistic differences (syntax, grammar, word usage) in older books like Job, when compared with more recent books like Isaiah?

I am particularly interested in this because of any light it might shed on our modern process of periodically updating our translations to keep pace with current usage of language. Languages are never static. The writing, editing and compiling of the Old Testament canon spans a vast window of time -- long enough for the language(s) it was written in to change dramatically. Do we have any reference points that show how much the language usage was updated during the various redacting processes that the various books went through?

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I'd love to answer this question. I know for sure the answer is yes. The structure of the Hebrew language in Genesis 1 is quite different from that in Genesis 2, for example. Just look at the names used for God. Most of Job has a different and more ancient kind of Hebrew than, for example, most of the Deuteronomic History (Sa, Ki). But, @Caleb, it's gonna take a while to get together sources for all this to give a good answer. – user116 Aug 28 '11 at 13:37
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@OllieJones: I have until I go home to meet my Lord. If I haven't heard from you by then I'll ask Him. – Caleb Aug 28 '11 at 19:51
    
Here's a lecture that touches on this question about the changing nature of the Hebrew language: "The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?" – metal Apr 11 '13 at 2:11

Overview of Hebrew history

Although not specifically asked for, it is profitable to start with a brief overview of the history of the Hebrew language. For more details on the subject, see A History of the Hebrew Language by A. Sáenz-Badillo (from which the following information comes).

Hebrew is a member of the Semitic language family, a group of about 70 languages historically spoken in Northeast Africa and the Middle East. According to the field of Linguistics, the Semitic languages derive from a single mother language, labelled as Proto-Semitic. Although unattested from archaeology, linguists have largely reconstructed the language and believe it was spoken throughout the region from 3500-3000 BC.

Around 3000 BC, the oldest Semitic language, Akkadian split off in the east. The northwestern (which includes Hebrew) and southern branches split around 2000 BC. The Canaanite languages in the north then diverged from Arabic in the central region. In the far north, the cultural center of Damascus eventually enabled the local dialect, Aramaic, to become the lingua franca of the north. The lack of a major political center to the west meant that none of the other Canaanite dialects achieved dominance. Thus each area had its own language, although they were mostly mutually intelligible. (Biblical Hebrew shares ~80% words in common with nearby languages such as Phoenician and Ugaritic.)

It is hard to say exactly when Hebrew became a distinct language. The oldest accepted inscription dates from 1000 BC, but the archaeological record for the second millennium BC is pretty sparse in the area, so it could have diverged earlier than that. The oldest form of Hebrew is generally labelled proto-Hebrew or Archaic Biblical Hebrew (ABH). Conventional wisdom is that this form is represented in the Bible in only a few poetic passages.

The form of Hebrew used from ~950 BC until the start of the Babylonian exile in 586 BC is known as Classical Biblical Hebrew (CBH), Standard Biblical Hebrew (SBH), or Early Biblical Hebrew (EBH). During this period, the language shows minimal outside influence. For example, there are few attested loanwords. This form of Hebrew is certainly found in the Bible, although there are disagreements about just how much of the Old Testament is written in EBH. (More on this in later sections.)

The period from the Babylonian exile until about Alexander conquered Judah in 332 BC saw the use of what is known as Late Biblical Hebrew (LBH). This period shows influence from Persian and to a lesser degree Aramaic. The majority of the Old Testament is usually assigned to this period. (Again, see below for a critique of this position and further details.)

Hebrew from 332 BC until the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD is labeled Dead-Sea-Scroll Hebrew, so named because it is primarily attested to from the Dead Sea Scrolls. This period saw heavy influence from Aramaic and some influence from Greek.

The final period of Ancient Hebrew is known as Mishnaic Hebrew and lasts until the 2nd or 3rd century AD, when the language ceased to exist as a spoken language. Hebrew remained a scholarly language, however, leading to Medieval Hebrew. Finally, a resurgence in interest in the language in the 19th century led to the creation of Modern Hebrew which again became a living language, culminating in the (re-)creation of the Israeli state in 1948.

It should be noted that the above distinctions and especially the start/end dates are for convenience - people obviously did not just stop speaking a language one day. Language change is a slow process that is only observable in retrospect.

Difficulties of dating the Old Testament

Having now outlined different periods of Hebrew, one might think it would now be easy to get a rough idea when a book was written. One would be wrong, as there are several significant difficulties in dating based on linguistics. Among them, Craig Davis (Dating the Old Testament) lists:

  1. The corpus to compare from is extremely small. In particular, the entirety of the extra-Biblical pre-exhilic text amounts to a couple pages worth. This makes it very difficult to say how much variation is from different authorial styles and genres and how much is from language change.

  2. It is possible that later writers purposely imitated the style of the older, accepted texts.

  3. There is solid evidence that it was acceptable for scribes to update the text, at minimum in regards to spelling and possibly also word choice and grammar, for a period of time.

  4. Our understanding of the language's history has been derived primarily from the estimated (on other grounds) dates of Biblical books, making linguistic arguments "confirming" such dates in danger of exhibiting circular reasoning.

To this Gary Rendsburg ("Late Biblical Hebrew and the Date of 'P'"), based on the work of Joshua Blau, adds:

  1. The difference between different Biblical texts is unexpectedly slight. That is, the language is largely uniform despite surely spanning at least several hundred years.

Proposed differences

To simplify things a bit, scholars generally divide the Old Testament into just two categories: Early Biblical Hebrew and Late Biblical Hebrew. In 1976, Robert Polzin (Late Biblical Hebrew) attempted to systematically define the differences between EBH and LBH by comparing Chronicles with Kings & Samuel. The approach has some merit: Chronicles being significantly more recent than Kings/Samuel is one of the few relative dates that don't rely on presuppositions and\or the reliability/historicity of internal evidence (Chronicles is certainly dependent on Kings/Samuel). It also has a significant weakness: Chronicles copies wholesale from Kings in places and also says it is utilizing other sources, so it is hard to say how much of the language is contemporary and how much comes from sources.

Anyway, Polzin's work attracted a significant amount of attention, so it is worth looking at his conclusions. He proposes 19 differences in LBH as compared to EBH based on his study.

A. Differences not from Aramaic influence:

  1. Radically reduced use of 'et with pronominal suffix.
  2. Increased use of 'et before noun in the nominative case: 'et emphatic.
  3. Expression of possession by prospective pronominal suffix with a following noun, or plus noun, or sel plus noun.
  4. Collectives are construed as plurals almost without exception.
  5. A preference for plural forms of words and phrases which the earlier languages uses in the singular.
  6. The use of an infinitive absolute in immediate connection with a finite verb of the same stem is almost completely lacking in the Chronicler; the infinitive absolute used as a command is not found at all in Chronicles.
  7. The Chronicler's use of the infinitive construct with , and ; as Segal (l927) points out, the later books of the OT show less frequent use of the infinitive construct with and even in the cases when LBH does use the introductory infinitive with , and , the usage is different from earlier constructions.
  8. Repetition of a singular word = Latin quivis (to express distributive).
  9. The Chronicler shows a merging (i.e., a tendency to replace) the third feminine plural suffix with the third masculine plural suffix.
  10. The first person singular imperfect with -ah (the lengthened imperfect or cohortative) is found but once in the Chronicler's language.
  11. The use of wayhi greatly recedes in Chronicles and in the younger language.
  12. In appositional relationship the Chronicler prefers to place the substantive before the numeral and almost always puts it in the plural; this is contrary to the older practice of putting the number first.
  13. The Chronicler shows an increased use of the infinitive construct with .

B. Differences from Aramaic influence:

  1. In citing material and its weight or measure, the Chronicler often has the order, material weighed or measured + its weight or measure (+ number).
  2. is used often as a mark of the accusative.
  3. In min 'from', the nun is often not assimilated before a noun without an article.
  4. The Chronicler uses the emphatic before the last element of a list.
  5. In an attributive usage, rabbim is twice placed before the substantive.
  6. The use of 'ad lə, [for 'up to', 'until'].

Few, if any, scholars have accepted all the criteria as being valid markers of EBH vs LBH, as opposed to authorial style (or nothing at all). However, many have accepted at least some of them. For example, Rendsburg finds A1, A5, B2, & B3 to be correct; A2, A4, A6, A11, A13, & B5 to be unconvincing and/or likely to be from authorial style; A7 & A8 to be mixed (true for some expressions, invalid for others); and A3, A9, A10, A12, B1, & B4 to be completely invalid. (For a more detailed statistical analysis of Polzin's conclusions, see "Dating Second Zechariah: A Linguistic Reexamination.")

Subsequent researchers (Avi Hurvitz is a leader in this area) have come up with other markers by broadening the number of texts for comparison in each category. Unfortunately, using more texts to form hypotheses leaves less texts to test the hypotheses generated and creates more danger of conclusions thus being entirely circular.

More recent work

The 2003 volume Biblical Hebrew: Studies in Chronology and Typology (ed. Ian Young) attempted to provide an overview of current scholarship by presenting essays from people with a variety of views on Biblical Hebrew. In the process, the work reignited debate in the field about how valid the existing paradigm really was.

The first half of the the work presents the views of those who support the "standard" chronological framework. These essays primarily focus on loanwords and "Aramaicisms" to support the critical view of most of the Old Testament being dated late. At least one contributor, Frank Polak, does make an argument on grammar, but it isn't the dominant tactic. This suggests to me that efforts to define clear, grammatical difference between EBH and LBH, like those outlined in the previous section, have largely failed to produce persuasive evidence.

The second half of the work presents essays by scholars who challenge the "standard" chronological framework. These authors don't find any substantial difference between Biblical texts (in contrast with, for example, noticeable differences between the Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls). They variously argue that this means that EBH continued to be used in literary circles in the post-exhilic times or that the language changes of the period were primarily phonetic and thus not reflected in the written text.

Further work by Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd (Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts) has proposed a new idea: the so-called EBH and LBH variations don't represent different time periods, but rather dialectal variants that co-existed throughout the Biblical period. A chief tenant of their argument is that texts typically labelled as LBH almost universally contain some so-called EBH elements, a fact that supporters of the chronological framework readily admit but attribute to intentional "archaicizing" or "patriarchal coloring".

They challenge whether the accepted LBH features actually mean anything or are just the result of statistical anomalies. Given a small corpus and a predetermination that certain texts are late/early, there are bound to be some features that occur much more often in one set than the other, even if there is no real difference in the language used. They note that conclusions about dating are often circular arguments. For example, Job is supposed to be a late work, so the small amount of late elements in it proves the author was trying to imitate earlier styles but failed to do so completely, while Kings is supposed to be an early work, so the small amount of late elements it in must be from later scribal changes. (Their analysis shows that every book of the Old Testament contains at least some so-called LBH features.)

Young et al. suggest such data is more easily explained by multiple dialects of Hebrew being in active use rather than by authors imitating old grammar. From there, they strongly challenge the idea that the amount of loanwords in a text is a reliable indication of date. For example, they show that many works universally dated late have few or no loanwords. They also challenge how reliably one can really determine loanwords from Persian, noting that certain words in early texts could be considered loanwords based on having the same form, but are rejected as such because borrowing is considered impossible for the time period. (They also say that dating by Aramaicisms is already out-of-style, so spend little time on it.)

Naturally, the work of Young et al. has been challenged by those who hold other views. For example, the 2012 compilation Diachrony in Biblical Hebrew is largely a response to Young's critiques, featuring essay that seek to defend the chronological framework with more vigorous methodology. The dialects hypothesis certainly has not displaced the chronology framework, but the work has had a noticeable effect. Specifically, researchers are generally more cautious about drawing conclusions on linguistic evidence. For example, Robert Holmstedt (who supports the chronological framework) writes:

In a nutshell, while we [Holmstedt and John Cook] agree with the weaker hypothesis that texts cannot be dated absolutely by linguistic means, we disagree with the stronger hypotheses is that no dating at all is possible and argue that the relative dating of features, and the texts in which they cluster, is possible if the analysis is carried out with a sound linguistic and philological methodology. ("Biblical Hebrew Diachrony (continued, again)")

A very recent work, Early Biblical Hebrew, Late Biblical Hebrew, and Linguistic Variability takes yet another approach, seeking to explain the observed differences in style via sociolinguistics. Author Dong-Hyuk Kim concludes that while to texts to exhibit changes that appear to be time-dependent, it is virtually impossible to use those clues to date a given work because it is impossible to say whether a given author was an early or late adopter of a particular feature.

In summary, I think it is fair to say that the question of how much linguistic difference between books of the Old Testament reflects language change is an open question with no strong consensus one way or another.

Conclusion

To directly answer the question of "How much variation is in the Hebrew Language of the Old Testament?" the answer is not much (after controlling for genre differences - naturally poetry uses quite different syntax than prose.) Biblical scholars have proposed dividing the Biblical language into two basic categories - Early (pre-exhilic) Biblical Hebrew and Late (post-exhilic) Biblical Hebrew. A number of markers have been proposed, but there is a wide variation between scholars as to which constitute useful markers and which are false positives. Nonetheless, for a while this distinction was generally accepted as valid.

More recently, the framework has come under attack on the basis of it being largely based on circular reasoning - text dates were largely decided before the markers were identified and those dates were used to search for the linguistic differences. Furthermore, the small corpus makes any conclusions quite tentative. Thus, there is significant doubt about the applicability of using linguistic clues to date the Old Testament.

That is not to say Hebrew did not evolve over the Biblical period - it certainly did. But, the change was probably not very substantial and what change there was is not well reflected in the Bible because of a combination of literary Hebrew not matching spoken Hebrew, authors possibly using archaic forms on purpose, and scribes possibly updating texts over time.

Sources

  • "Biblical Hebrew Diachrony (continued, again)" (2011) by Robert Holmstedt

  • Biblical Hebrew: Studies in Chronology and Typology (2003) by Ian Young (ed.)

  • Dating the Old Testament (2007) by Craig Davis

  • Early Biblical Hebrew, Late Biblical Hebrew, and Linguistic Variability (2013) by Dong-Hyuk Kim

  • A History of the Hebrew Language (1993) by A.Sáenz-Badillos

  • Late Biblical Hebrew (1976) by Robert Polzin

  • "Late Biblical Hebrew and the Date of 'P'" (1980) by Gary Rendsburg

  • Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts (2009) by Ian Young, Robert Rezetko, and Martin Ehrensvaerd

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Biblical Hebrew seems to have gone through three eras: Archaic Hebrew (1000 BC to 800 BC), Standard Biblical Hebrew (800 - 600 BC), and Late Biblical Hebrew (600 - 200ish BC). The Hebrews scribes preserved these different eras as they copied the Hebrew Bible in such a way that a trained person can see the different linguistic layers as they read through the ancient texts.

For more reading: Biblical Hebrew - WikiPedia

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We currently use Hebrew Masoretic Old Testament Text which dates to around 9th/10th century AD. This Hebrew in Hebrew Masoretic Text is very different from the Hebrew used by Moses in Old Testament Period. Also, Hebrew Masoretic Text contain vowel markings. There were no vowel markings in Old Testament Period.

It must be noted that Aramaic became the language of Jews after Babylonian captivity.

There are scholars who admit that Aramaic was the language of Jews during Maccabean period. Here is an example from Book of Maccabees.

1 Maccabees 12:36-37 (Septuagint) - "And making the walls of Jerusalem higher, and raising a great mount between the tower and the city, for to separate it from the city, that so it might be alone, that men might neither sell nor buy in it. Upon this they came together to build up the city, forasmuch as part of the wall toward the brook on the east side was fallen down, and they repaired that which was called Caphenatha."

According to Book "City of Jerusalem" by Colonel C. R Conder (Pg. 100), Caphenatha is Aramaic word for a "heap." Notice "tha" in Caphenatha. "tha" in Caphenatha is Aramaic definite article on a feminine noun in an emphatic state (Introduction to Syriac by Wheeler Thackston, Page 44).

Aramaic Peshitta Tanakh is Old Testament written in Aramaic used in first century Israel. This was the Old Testament used in First Century Israel due to the fact that Aramaic was the spoken language of first century Israel (Acts 1:19, Antiquities XX XI).

Let me point out the confusions and errors in Hebrew Masoretic Old Testament Text solved by Peshitta Tanakh. This will also give a visual idea of how many variations and errors are there in Hebrew Masoretic Text.

Here are some of the errors and contradictions in Hebrew Masoretic Text cleared by Peshitta Tanakh.

  1. Exodus 6:20 (KJV) - And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.

    Exodus 6:20 (NIV) - Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.

    Exodus 6:20 (1917 JPS Tanakh English translation of Hebrew Masoretic Text) - "And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses. And the years of the life of Amram were a hundred and thirty and seven years.“

    Is this true? Well, Let’s look at Peshitta Tanakh (Aramaic Old Testament) and also Septuagint.

    Exodus 6:20 (Samuel Bagster & Sons' Translation from Septuagint) - "And Ambram took to wife Jochabed the daughter of his father's brother, and she bore to him both Aaron and Moses, and Mariam their sister; and the years of the life of Ambram were a hundred and thirty-two years.“

    Exodus 6:20 (George Lamsa’s translation of Peshitta Tanakh)- "And Amram took his uncle’s daughter Jokhaber, and she bore him Aaron, Moses, and Miriam; and the years of the life of Amram were a hundred and thirty-seven years."

    Lamsa wrote "uncle’s daughter“ instead of writing the daughter of his father's brother. Aramaic word "Doda" that refers to an uncle on father's side.

    Let’s also look at John Wycliffe’s translation.

    Exodus 6:20 (John Wycliffe’s translation) – “Forsothe Amram took a wijf, Jocabed, douytir of his fadris brother, and sche childide to hym Aaron, and Moises, and Marie; and the yeeris of lijf of Amram weren an hundred and seuene and thretti.”

    Here is a site for Wycliffe's translation of Exodus.

    Compared to Peshitta Tanakh and Wycliffe’s translation, the difference with Septuagint is that it says the years of the life of Ambram were a hundred and thirty-two years.

    Peshitta Tanakh and Wycliffe’s translation agree with Hebrew Masoretic Text about Ambram’s age.

  2. Genesis 2:2 (1917 JPS Tanakh English translation of Hebrew Masoretic Text) - “And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.”

    Let’s look at Septuagint.

    Genesis 2:2 (Translation from Septuagint) – “And God finished on the sixth day his works which he made, and he ceased on the seventh day from all his works which he made.”

    Genesis 2:2 (George Lamsa’s translation of Peshitta Tanakh) – “And on the sixth day God, finished his works which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his works which he had made.”

    In Hebrew Masoretic Text, it says "seventh day" (in Genesis 2:2), is in contradiction to Exodus 20:11 (in Hebrew Masoretic Text) where it says "six days."

    But Peshitta Tanakh has no such contradiction.

  3. Exodus 20:7 (look at the differences below)

    Peshitta Tanakh - "You shall not swear falsely in the name of MarYA your Alaha, for MarYA will not consider him innocent who swears falsely in his Name... for MarYA made the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that is with them in six days, and rested on the seventh day; for that reason, Alaha blessed the seventh day and made it holy {or, sanctified it}."

    LXX - (Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord thy God will not acquit him that takes his name in vain... For in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, and the sea and all things in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it. - Brenton)

    Hebrew Masoretic - You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain; for Yahweh will not allow to go unpunished he who takes his name in vain... For in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all which is in them. And he rested on the seventh day; thus, Yahweh blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.

    KJV (King James Version) - Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain... For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

  4. 2 Kings 8:26 & 2 Chronicles 22:2

    2 Kings 8:26 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) - "Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri king of Israel."

    2 Chronicles 22:2 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) - "Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri."

    2 King 8:26 of Hebrew Masoretic Text, it says Ahaziah was 22 years old. But in 2 Chronicles 22:2, it says Ahaziah was 42 years old.

    Does Peshitta Tanakh has this contradiction?

    2 Kings 8:26 - Lamsa Translation of Peshitta Tanakh

    Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel.

    2 Chronicles 22:2 - Lamsa Translation of Peshitta Tanakh

    Twenty-two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.

    Peshitta Tanakh clears the contradiction found in Hebrew Masoretic Text.

    Did Joram marry the daughter of Ahab or the sister of Ahab?

    2 Kings 8:16-18 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) - "And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being the king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign. Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab; for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife; and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD."

    2 Kings 8:24 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) - "And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead."

    Through this, we know that Athaliah was the wife of Joram and their son was Ahaziah. But in 2 Kings 8:26 & 2 Chronicles 22:2, it says Athaliah was the daughter of Omri and Athaliah was the mother of Ahaziah. But in 2 Kings 8:16-18, we read Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab. In 1 Kings 16:29-30, we know that Ahab was the son of Omri.

    What does Peshitta Tanakh say about this contradiction?

    2 Kings 8:16-18 (Lamsa Translation of Peshitta Tanakh) - "And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel. Joram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, began to reign. He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab; for the sister of Ahab was his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD."

    Unlike 2 Kings 8:16-18 of Hebrew Masoretic Text, Peshitta Tanakh points out that Joram married a sister of Ahab. Through this, the contradictions in Hebrew Masoretic Text are cleared by Peshitta Tanakh. Ahab was the son of Omri and Athaliah was the daughter of Omri.

  5. Was Jehoiachin 8 years old (2Chronicles 36:9) or 18 years old (2Kings 24:8) when he began to reign?

    2 Kings 24:8 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) - "Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign; and he reigned in Jerusalem three months; and his mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem."

    2 Chronicles 36:9 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) - "Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem; and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD."

    It says Jehoiachin was eighteen years old in 2 Kings 24:8 and Jehoiachin was eight years old in 2 Chronicles 36:9. What does Peshitta Tanakh say about this contradiction?

    2Chronicles 36:9 (Lamsa translation of Peshitta Tanakh) - "Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem; and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD."

    2Kings 24:8 (Lamsa Translation of Peshitta Tanakh) - "Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Nehushta, the daughter of Eliathan of Jerusalem."

    Both 2 Chronicles 36:9 and 2 Kings 24:8 says Jehoiachin was eighteen years old. This contradiction in Hebrew Masoretic Text is cleared by Peshitta Tanakh.

  6. 1 Samuel 13:5

    1 Samuel 13:5 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) - "And the Philistines assembled themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea-shore in multitude; and they came up, and pitched in Michmas, eastward of Beth-aven."

    There are 30,000 chariots. But there are only 6000 horsemen? There is something strange here.

    Let's look at Peshitta Tanakh.

    1 Samuel 13:5 (Lamsa Translation of Peshitta Tanakh) - "And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, three thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude; and they came up and encamped in Michmash, east of Beth-el."

    In Peshitta Tanakh, it says there were 3000 chariots instead of 30,000 chariots in Hebrew Masoretic Text. This makes much more sense.

    In Peshitta Tanakh, it says Beth-el. But Hebrew Masoretic Text has Beth-aven.

    Lamsa translation of Peshitta Tanakh is the only current available English Translation of Peshitta Tanakh. His translation is alright. It’s not great.

    Some People may ask - Wasn't Greek the language of first century Israel?

    Well, let's look at what Jewish Historian Josephus says.

    Josephus wrote:

    "I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations, and so adorn their discourses with the smoothness of their periods; because they look upon this sort of accomplishment as common, not only to all sorts of free-men, but to as many of the servants as please to learn them. But they give him the testimony of being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our laws, and is able to interpret their meaning; on which account, as there have been many who have done their endeavors with great patience to obtain this learning, there have yet hardly been so many as two or three that have succeeded therein, who were immediately well rewarded for their pains." - Antiquities of Jews XX, XI

    Jewish Wars (Book 1, Preface, Paragraph 1) - "I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians. Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth a Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, [am the author of this work]."

    Also note the names of our New Testament English Bible - "Bar"tholomew, "Bar"abbas, "Bar"nabbas, "Bar"sabbas, "Bar" Jesus, Simon "Bar" Jonah, "Bar" Timaeus, etc.

    Aramaic word Bar means Son. In Hebrew, Ben means Son. Even Rabbis point out that "Bar" in Bar Mitzvah comes from Aramaic.

    According to Dead Sea Scrolls archaeologist, Yigael Yadin, Aramaic was the language of Jews until Simon Bar Kokhba tried to revive Hebrew and make it as the official language of Jews during Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 AD). Yigael Yadin noticed the shift from Aramaic to Hebrew during the time of Bar Kokhba revolt.

In Book "Bar Kokhba: The rediscovery of the legendary hero of the last Jewish Revolt Against Imperial Rome" Yigael Yadin notes, "It is interesting that the earlier documents are written in Aramaic while the later ones are in Hebrew. Possibly the change was made by a special decree of Bar-Kokhba who wanted to restore Hebrew as the official language of the state"(page 181).

In Book "A Roadmap to the Heavens: An Anthropological Study of Hegemony among Priests, Sages, and Laymen (Judaism and Jewish Life)" by Sigalit Ben-Zion (Page 155), Yadin remarked: "it seems that this change came as a result of the order that was given by Bar Kokhba, who wanted to revive the Hebrew language and make it the official language of the state."

According to Book "Naming the Witch: Magic, Ideology, and Stereotype in the Ancient World" written by Kimberly B. Stratton (p. 232), Yigael Yadin suggests that Bar Kokhba was trying to revive Hebrew by decree as part of his messianic ideology.

For more infos on the differences, check this link - http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/Peshitta_Tanakh

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I just commented on your other post. Welcome again. This is also long, but seems well informed. I will read this as well in the future and provide better feedback. – fredsbend Apr 10 '13 at 6:50
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After the first paragraph, this post deals nothing with the OP's request for how grammar, syntax, and word usage varied over the time of the OT's composition. – Frank Luke Jul 7 '14 at 20:11
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I hate to downvote such a detailed answer, but honest I don't think this even qualifies as an answer to the question asked. – ThaddeusB Nov 6 '15 at 2:56

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