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brought by Abram and his family from Ur of the. Chaldees, a language which they soon lost, acquir. ing, in its stead, that of the Canaanites, amongst whom they lived. Abram's tongue was, doubtless, Chaldee, that of the country whence he came. But we learn from the sacred historian, that Jacob his grandson (though he could not fail to understand that language, having lived so long with Laban) spoke at home a different tongue. Laban called the heap which they had raised Jegar-sahadutha : but Jacol called it Galeed. Both names signify the same thing, the heap of testimony, the former being Chaldee, the latter what is now always called Hebrew, but then, the language of Canaan.
I have observed already, that the language of the Old Testament, which we now always call Hebrew, is never so called in Scripture, neither in the Old Testament, nor in the New. This is a strong presumption that it was not anciently so named by any body, and that if any language had been in the Old Testament named Hebrew, it would have been the Chaldee, agreeably to the etymology of the word Hebrew, the language of those who lived beyond the Euphrates. This, however, might be accounted no more than a presumption, perhaps but a plausible conjecture, if the language of the Israelites were not repeatedly mentioned in the Old Testament by other names.
It is commonly called there the Jews language 27, and in one place, the language of Ca.
26 Gen. xxxi. 47. 27 2 Kings, xviii. 26. 28. 2 Chron. xxxii, 18, Neh. xiii. 24. Isa. xxxvi. 11. 13.
That in after-times the ancient Jewish tongue, which was often named the holy language, was also called Hebrew, is not denied. Josephus, in particular, names it so”, in relating the message of Rabshakeh from the king of Assyria to king Hezekiah above referred to as he uses the word ‘EBpaiçi, in Hebrew, where the sacred historian has said no7in, Jehudith, and the Seventy Isdaisi, in the Jews language. But this is long posterior to the finishing of the canon of the Old Testament ; for Josephus did not write till after the destruction of Jerusalem, towards the end of the first Christian century. In the prologue to the Book of Ecclesiasticus, the term 'Espaige is likewise used, but it is not certain in what acceptation. By the account given there, that book was translated into Greek in the time of Ptolemy Evergetes king of Egypt, by Jesus, who was the son of Sirach, and the grandson of Jesus the author. As the original, therefore, must have been written long after the captivity, it is much more probable that it was composed in the dialect spoken in Palestine at the time, than that it was written in a dead language, understood only by the learned, and consequently that the word occurs, in that prologue, in the same acceptation wherein it is always used in the New Testament. It has, in my judgment, been proved beyond contradiction by the learned, particularly Bochart so, Waltons, and Le Clerc s3, that the language of the Old Testament is no other than the native tongue of the Canaanites, which, in Greek writers, is called Phenician, and did not materially differ from the dialect of the Tyrians, Sidonians, and Carthaginians. Canaan is rendered by the Seventy 33 polvixn Phenicia. A Canaanitish woman Polvioon 34, a Phenician woman, and the land of Canaan is called û xwpa TOV POLVLxWV 35, the country of the Phenicians. And even in the New Testament we have a plain proof that the names were used promiscuously, inasmuch as the person who is called by one Evangelist a woman of Canaan 3, is denominated by another Evangelist a Syrophenician $7.
28 Isa. xix. 18.
29 Antiq. lib. x. cap. 1. 30 Canaan, L. ii. c. 1.
31 Prolegomena, iii, 13, &c. 32 Proleg. in Pentateuch. Diss. I. V.
16. At the same time it ought to be remarked that the language of Chaldea, which, before the captivity, seems never to have been denominated He. brew, was always, by the Jews, distinguished by some other name. The most common was that which, in the English translation, after the Septua. gint and the Vulgate, is rendered Syrian, but is in the original 19 x Aramith. It is so called in some of the places above quoted, and in like manner by Ezra 58 The Oriental name Aram, though commonly rendered Syria, does not exactly correspond in meaning to this word, at least in the use made of it in latter times. The boundary of Syria on the east, when the name came to be used in a more con. fined manner, was the river Euphrates; whereas Aram comprehended large tracts of country beyond the river, as Mesopotamia, Chaldea, Assyria. Syria was included, but it made only a part, Now the Jewish language was so different from this, that it is manifest the common people anciently in Judea understocd nothing of Aramic or Chaldee. proof of this we need recur only to some of the places above referred to 0. Further, it is of the same people, the Chaldeans, that the Prophet speaks in this prediction 60: Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from afar, O house of Israel, saith the Lord; it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest
33 Exod. xvi. 35.
34 Exod. vi. 15.
what they say
§ 17. But, it may be said, since the name Aram included the country commonly called Syria, and was equally applicable to it as to any other part, and since the word Aramith was employed to denote the language of the whole ; the Syrian and the Chaldean must have been one and the same language. That they were so originally, I am fully convinced. In process of time, however, from the different fates to which the eastern parts, and the western, of that once great empire were subjected, there gradually sprang up a considerable difference between them, insomuch that, in latter times, they may, not unfitly, be denominated different languages; though still they have more affinity to each other than any other two of the Oriental tongues. The same language is called also very properly “', the tongue of the Chaldeans. Now as the Jews, when they returned from captivity, brought a dialect of this language with them into their own country, it suited their national pride to adopt such a general name as Hebrew, which, though it may signify, when explained from etymology, the language spoken beyond the river, would be generally understood to denote the language of the people called Hebrews, a name by which their nation had been distinguished from the beginning. This appellation, therefore, must appear more eligible to them, than any name which would serve more directly to remind themselves and others, that they had lived so long in subjection to another people; a disagreeable effect, which could not fail to result from their calling the language they had adopted Chaldee, Babylonian, or even the language of Aram. Besides, to have called it so, would have confounded it with a language considerably different.
39 2 Kings, xviii. 26. Isa. xxxvi. 11.