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Hebrew

(247 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] The name of the

Edom­ite

(67 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Name of the language used by the residents of the country of  Edom ( Idumaea) south-east of the Dead Sea. Linguistically, E. should be placed between  Phoenician and  Hebre…

Thamudic

(115 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Refers not only to an Early North Arabian dialect that is recorded in graffiti in a modified Ancient South Arabian script (6th cent. BC to 4th cent. AD) throughout the Arabian peninsula, but, according to the most recent state of scholarship, to various individual dialects, namely Taymanic (Early Thamudic A) and Hismaic (Early Thamudic E) and southern Thamudic B, C, D. Hence it cannot be associated with the Arab Θαμυδῖται/ Thamydȋtai

Hasai(ti)c

(63 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] early north-Arabic dialect ( Arabic). Its inscriptions, written in a slightly modified ancient south-Arabic  alphabet, are predominantly grave inscriptions, amongst them two Hasaitic-Aramaic  bilingual inscriptions from north-eastern Saudi Arabia ( c. between…

Ancient Southern Arabian

(255 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] (ASA) Earlier known as Himyaritic after the tribe of the Ḥimyar ( Homeritae), this belongs with Ethiopian to the southern branch of the Semitic languages, but is not the same as (Northern) Arabian. There is evidence of four main dialects: c. 9th cent. BC to 6th cent. AD: Ḥadramautian, Minaean, Qataban and Sabaean, named after the centres of power of the same names. The dialects are divided into two groups relative to their causative prefix and the pronoun (3rd person sing. masc.): an h- (only Sabaean) and an s- group. There are further differences in terms of lexis …

Aramaic

(340 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Derives from the collective ethnic term for the  Arameans and belongs with  Canaanite to the north-western branch of the Semitic languages. For its system of writing, Aramaic adopted the Phoenician 22-character  alphabet. The most ancient form of the language is Old Aramaic (10th-8th cents. BC) found in inscriptions in North Mesopotamia and Syria (Tell Feḫerije [1], Arslantaš, with Aramaic-Assyrian bilingual inscriptions and Aramaic-Assyrian-Luwian hieroglyph trilingual inscriptio…

Official Aramaic

(393 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] OA (Egyptian Aramaic, standard literary Aramaic) was the language of administration and correspondence ( lingua franca) of the Achaemenid Empire from the time of Cyrus [2] II (6th-3rd cent. BC). OA does not represent a homogeneous Aramaic dialect but shows dialect characteristics that are  in parts highly divergent. OA was widespread throughout the whole of the Near East and Egypt and was used for a variety of textual genres. In a cursive writing (square script), OA is encountered on papyri and …

Phoenician

(204 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] was the language of the Phoenicians, and together with its later divergent form, Punic, it formed a unity within the Canaanite languages. Phoenician diversified into individual dialects which can only partly be classified according to their geographical areas (Byblus, Zincirli, Cyprus). The alphabet of 22 characters developed from proto-Canaanite. Initially, only consonants were written in its script, which deviated slightly from Aramaic. Written Phoenician sources (from the 13th/…

Canaanite

(95 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Traditional general term for a dialect group of north-west Semitic, spoken and written in Syria, Palestine and in the Mediterranean ( c. 10th cent. BC to today; with proto-Canaanite precursors). Canaanite includes  Phoenician, the closely related  Ammonite,  Punic as a late further development of Phoenician,  Edomite as a link between Phoenician and  Hebrew (the Canaanite dialect passed down best and longest) and  Moabite, which is close to Hebrew. The existence of additional local dialects is still a matter of contention.…

Ethiopian

(170 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Geez, the classical language of Ethiopia, actually belongs to the southern branch of Semitic languages. It was spoken by the tribes Agazjan and Ḥabas̆āt, which had migrated into Abyssinia from South Arabia, founded the kingdom of  Axum and in the middle of the 4th cent. AD w…

Punic

(258 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] is the later form of Phoenician found in the Phoenician colonies of North Africa, esp. Carthage, its far-flung trading centres on Malt…

Semitic languages

(679 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] In 1781, A.L. Schloezer introduced this term for the languages which were associated with the sons of Sem/Shem (Gn 10:21-31; Semites) and which had a common origin with the so-called Hamitic languages of Africa. The term Hamito-Semitic is used interchangeably with Afro-Asiatic. Within the Hamito-Semitic languages, Akkadian, or rather Eblaite (mid-3rd millennium BC), is attested earliest in writing; Aramaic has the longest continuous written tradition; and modern Arabic is most widely spoken. In the literature, the division of the Semitic languages rem…

Aḥiqar

(195 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Aramaic name of the legendary keeper of the seal who served the Assyrian kings  Sanherib and  Asarhaddon (704-669 BC), mentioned in the Apocryphon Tob 1,21 f. (2,10; 11,17; 14,10, Ἀχιάχαρος; Achiácharos). Assyrian sources are not available. A late Babylonian cuneiform script ((2nd cent. BC) calls an Aba-enlil-dari by the Aramaic name of Ahuaqār [1. 215-218]. A. is the lead character of a biographical novel written in Official Aramaic on papyri (5th century BC) from  Elephantine. It contains wis…

Qumran Aramaic

(239 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] QA (= Hasmonaic) is the name given to the Aramaic in which the texts found in Qumran were written (1st cent. BC to 2n…

Samaritan

(200 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Special form of Hebrew, in which the Samaritans (Samaria) wrote the Pentateuch and a revised version of the book of Joshua. The Samaritan Pentateuch, which is distinguished from the Masoretic Hebrew text by orthographic variants and religiously based textual changes, was earlier occasionally considered to represent a more original version; yet proto-Samaritan Hebrew text versions have been found in Qumran. The texts from Qumran - which are, with the exception of th…

Afro-Asiatic

(140 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Afro-Asian is a new linguistic term identical to the traditional term Hamito-Semitic. It covers all the major languages related to such language families as  (Ancient) Egyptian, Berber, Cushitic,  Semitic, Chadic (various subfamilies with more than 1…

Arabic

(361 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] In contrast to  Ancient Southern Arabian, this is in fact Northern Arabic; it belongs to the northern branch of the Semitic languages. (Northern) Arabic personal names are found in Assyrian cuneiform sources from the 9th cent. onwards, with contemporaneous seals and…

Ugaritic

(259 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Term for a Semitic language, named after Ugarit, an important city and centre of the northern Syrian city state of the same name. The city of Ugarit was only discovered in 1928. Other than in Ugarit, texts written in Ugaritic have been found in Mīnā al-Baiḍā (the port of Ugarit), Ras Ibn Hāni and sporadically in other places, including Cyprus. Ugaritic represents an independent branch of the Semitic language family. Its precise classification is disputed by schol…
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