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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Tue, 18 Feb 1997 21:38:03 -0500 Subject: Why Hebrew Preserved for 4000 Years Arnold Kuzmack (Vol 26 n8) writes that the reason we can read Hebrew today is because >> the normal process of linguistic change was intrerrupted by two >>millenia during which it was not much used as language of daily life First of all: The High Holy day literature is filled with Poems not readily understood by people fluent in Hebrew. Similary the responsa and post Talmudic literature are not readily understood by people fluent in Hebrew. So Arnold's claim that Hebrew was not much used is not completely accurate. It WAS used and was used differently! The real point, is that although the language changed, nevertheless, we weekly read the Torah and Haftorah's and preserved the original Hebrew. In other words, it was the process of education that preserved the original Hebrew ALONGSIDE a growing and changing language. In fact Arnold's own example of the meaning of AYNH in Gen 34:2 proves this point. I know this word mean rape and not e.g. torture because as a student of the Bible I can see it used that way frequently (e.g. Deut 23:24,29). I in fact agree with Arnold on the >>possibility that Hebrew of a few centuries from now will be quite different from today"s>>. But my focus would be NOT on the continually changing language but rather on the erosion of education. As long as we lain and study Chumash, whatever else happens, we will preserve the old Hebrew alongside the new. Russell Hendel, Ph.d, ASA; RHendel @ mcs . Drexel . Edu