Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Ramban on Hebrew

Last week, we spoke about the Ramban's view on Hebrew. Unlike the sages of the Midrash, who believed that Hebrew was the language originally spoken by all human beings, the Ramban thought Hebrew was merely a local Canaite language. Here's the citation: (Gen. 45:12). "For Abraham did not bring it from Ur of the Chaldees [in Mesopotamia] and from Haran, for there they spoke Aramaic... And it was not a private language spoken by a single person but a language of Canaan..."

From the information that we possess today we must think Ramban correct in the main, un-Jewish as the view may seem. Archeology and the study linguistics support his contention, but so does common sense: As children, did we really believe that Hebrew was the private language of Abraham's family, spoken, for a time, by as few as 7 or 8 people?