Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Of course ancient Hebrew had vowels!

It's often said that vowels were added to ancient Hebrew by the Masoretes. This is wholly incorrect.

The oft repeated rumor has it that Biblical Hebrew has no vowels, and any now existing vowels were added later. This is incorrect. The great success of the Hebrew language lies precisely in the Hebrew invention of vowel notation. This invention was made around the time of king David (roughly 1000 BC, at the dawn of the Iron Age), and it gave ordinary people access to vast amounts of information. Prior to vowel notation, reading and writing was a magical affair for which one had to train in special priestly schools. Vowel notation allowed ordinary people to access vast vaults of information after a relatively simple education. Upon vowel notation, simply everybody could learn, share and add to what mankind knew, and this in turn led to the surge of human modernity that is still in full swing today.

Even in the Stone Age there was a highly sophisticated wisdom tradition — to give a hint: all domesticated crops such as potatoes, rice and corn, and animals such as sheep, dogs and pigs, were bred from feral ancestors in the Stone Age; folks from the Stone Age also invented metallurgy, music, painting, architecture, international trade, and pretty much everything (shy of the electric grid) that makes modern man modern — but a major problem was how to preserve data. When wisdom was shared orally, it only took an accident, battle or bout of some disease to knock out the village wizard (= wise-ard) and hence delete the village's data. The consonantal alphabet and later vowel notation not only turned every Tom, Dick and Harry into a sagely priest (hence a kingdom of priests — Exodus 19:6) it would also allow data to be preserved in a medium other than a fleshly brain.

The Hebrews understood that a happy life went hand in hand with knowledge of creation, and made science their form of worship (Psalm 19:1, Zechariah 8:23, John 4:23, Romans 1:20). They defined the deity as the Creator, who, per definition, had to exist separate from creation. But in a brilliant feat of deductive reasoning, they also surmised that between the creation that so closely followed the Creator's character and nature, and the Creator Himself, there had to be a kind of transition that was both: where Creator and creation met and were one; that "attractor" upon which the whole chaotic universe was designed to converge and would settle in (not merely the First Mover but more so the Ultimate Destiny of everything that exists).

This bottom-line from which everything that exists derives its existence, this attractor to which everything that evolves must evolve, this intermediate between the Creator and creation, this they called "the Son" (Psalm 2:12), and "the Word" (Genesis 15:1). In later Scriptures this semi-natural phenomenon famously became personified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 1 Timothy 2:5).

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