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reckons' the Hebrew, Cbaldee, Syriac, and Arabic languages, as fister-dialects of the primæval language; which I am content they should be accounted, allowing the Hebrew to be the pure dialect, which the others are a deviation from, and not so pure: though I should rather choose to call them daughters, than sisters of the Hebrew tongue; since, as Jerom says, the Hebrew tongue
is the mother of all languages, at least of the oriental ones. And these daughters are very helpful and affitting to her their mother in her declining state, and now reduced as to purity to the narrow limits of the sacred scriptures; for I cannot prevail upon myself to agree that she should be stripped of her maternal title, dignity, and honour ; since she has the best claim to be the primitive language, as will be seen hereafter. Dr Hunt", though he is of the same mind with Schultens, that the above languages are fitters, having the same parent, the Eastern language, yet seems to allow the Hebrew to be the elder sister. And Schultens himself asserts', that the primæval language, which was from the beginning of the world spoken by our first parents, and the antedeluvian patriarchs, and after the food to the dispersion, is the same which was afterwards called Hebrew, from Heber ; from whom it passed through Peleg and Abraham to the nation of the Hebrews, and so the mother language ; buc. how it could be both mother and sister, is not easy to say.
That there was but one language spoken by men, from Adam to the food in the times of Noab, and from thence to the confusion and dispersion at Babel, seems manifest from Gen. xi. 1. and the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech: and which is confirmed by the testimonies of several heathen writers, as by Sibylla in Jofephusk; by Abydenus', and others; and which continued in that interval without any, or little variation: the longevity of the patriarchs much contributed to this, for Adam himself lived to the tenth century, and the flood was in the seventeenth. Methuselah, who died a little before the flood, lived upwards of two hundred years in the days of Adam, and six hundred years cotemporary with Noab, and who doubtless spoke the same language that Adam did ; yea, Lamech, the father of Noab, was born fifty years or more before the death of Adam ; so that the language of Adam to the days of Noab is easily accounted for as the same : if any variation, it must be in the offspring of those of the patriarchs who removed from them, and settled in different parts
of * Præfat. ad Comment, in Job. & in Prov. & Orat. de Ling. Arab, Franeker. 1729, & altera Lugd. Batav. 1732. & Comment in Soph. c. 3. fol. 100. A. Orat. de Antiq. &c. Ling. Arabic. p. 3, 49, 53, Oxon. 1738. & Orat. de usu Dialect. Orient, p. 2. Oxon. 1748. i Vid. Orationes fupradi&tas, p. 6, 41.
Antiq. I. 1. c. 4. 53,
of the world, but of this there is no proof; the separation of Cain and his posterity on account of religion, does not appear to have produced any alteration in language ; but the same language was spoken by one as another, as is evident by the names of persons in the line of Cain, and of places inhabited by them to the time of the food; when, no doubt, the same language was spoken by Noah, from whom his sons received it, and was continued unto the dispersion, which before that was but one ; and it is the opinion of the Persian priests or Magi that the time will come when the earth will be of one language again', and if so, it is probable it will be the primitive one, but what that was, is the thing to be enquired into. The Targums of Jonathan and Onkelos on the place, add, by way of explanation, “ and they spoke in us the holy tongue, in which the world was created at the beginning,” meaning the Hebrew language, usually called the holy tongue; and this is the sense of J archi, Aben Ezra, and the Jewish writers in general, and of many Chriftians. But most nations have put in a claim for the superior antiquity of their nation and language, the Europeans not excepted. Goropius Becanus pleaded for the Teutonic language, or that which is spoken in lower Germany and Brabant, to be the original one, and attempted to derive the Hebrew from it, but it has been thought he was not serious in it, only did it to fhew his acumen, and the . luxuriancy of his fancy and imagination ; the eastern nations have a much be ter pretext to antiquity, and most, if not all of them, have put in their claim for it. There was a long contest between the Egyptians and Phrygians about this matter, as before obferved. The Armenians have urged in their favour, that the ark rested on one of the mountains in their country, where Noah and his posterity continued some time, and left their language there. The Arabs pretend, that their language was spoken by Adam before his fall, and then changed into Syriac, and was restored upon his repentance, but again degenerated, and was in danger of being lost, but was preserved by the elder Jorham, who escaped with Noab in the ark, and propagated it among his pofterity. The Chinese make great pretensions to the primitive language, and many things are urged in their favour, as the antiquity of their nation, their early acquaintance with arts and sciences, the singularity, simplicity, and modelly of their tonguek. A countryman of ours, in the last century, published a treatile, called, “ An Historical Efay, endeavouring a probability that the “ language of China is the primitive language, by J. Webb, Efq; London, 1669, 8vo.” But as when many candidates put up for a place, they are
generally i Plutarch. de Iside & Ofir. p. 370.
k See the Universal History, Vol. 1. p. 346, 347.
generally reduced to a few, and, if possible, to two; the same method must be taken here ; for the conteft lies between the Syriac, or Chaldee, and the Hebrew.
The Chaldee, or Syriac language, has its patrons for the antiquity of it; not only Theodoretwho was by birth a Syrian, and Amyra the Maronite, who are not to be wondered at, and others who have made it their favourite study; but even the Arabic writers, the more judicious of them, give it not only the preference to their own language in point of antiquity, but even make it as early as Adam. Elmacinus says ', there are historians ( Arabic ones) who affirm, that Adam and his posterity spoke the Syriac language until the confusion of tongues; and so Abulpharagius says "; “ Of our Doctors, Basilius and Ephraim « affert, that unto Eber the language of men was one, and that that was Syriac, “ and in which God spoke to Adam ;” and it must be allowed, that there are many things plausibly faid in favour of this language being primitive: it must be owned that the Chaldean nation was a very ancient one, Jer. v. 15. and that the Syriac language was spoken very early, as by Laban; but not earlier than the Hebrew, which was spoken at the same time by Jacob; the one called the heap of stones which was a witness between them Jegar-Sahadutha in the Syro-Chaldean language, and the other Galeed in Hebrew, which both signify the same thing: what is commonly urged is as follows:
1. That the names of a man and woman are as much alike, if not more so, in the Chaldee or Syriac language, as in the Hebrew; a man is called Gabra and a woman Gabretha, which is equally as near as ish and Isbah produced to prove the antiquity of the Hebrew, Gen. ii. 23. But neither in the Chaldee of Onkelos, nor in the Syriac version of that place, is it Gabretha, but Iiterba in the one, and Antetha in the other. Theodoret" instances in the names Adam, Cain, Abel, Noah, as proper to the Syriac language but the derivation of them from the Hebrew tongue is more clear and manifest.
2. That it is rather agreeable to truth, that the primăval and common Janguage before the confusion should remain in the country where the tower was built and the confusion made, which was in Chaldea, and therefore the Chaldee language must be that language °; but rather the contrary seems more natural, that the language, confounded and corrupted, should continue in the place where the confusion was made, and that those poffefsed of the pure and primitive language should depart from thence, as in fact they afterwards did.
I Apud Hottinger. Smegma, 1. 1. c. 8. p. 228. m Hist. Dynast. Dyn. 1. p. 16.
• Myricæi Præfat. ad Gram, Syro-Chald.
3. It is observed , that both Eber and Abraham were originally Chaldeans, and were brought up in Chaldea, and so must speak the language of that country, which therefore must be prior to the Hebrew ; but it should be considered, that not only Eber but Abraham lived before the confusion and disperfion; for if the confusion was in the latter end of Peleg's days ?, Abrabam, according to the Jewish chronology, must be forty-eight years of age',
and consequently possessed of the pure and primitive language, be it what it may ; and since it does not appear that either he or any of his pofterity, as Isaac and Jacob, used the Chaldee language, but the Hebrew only, it seems to follow, that not the Chaldee, but the Hebrew, must be the language spoken by him, and so the primitive one.
4. It is said', the Hebrews sprung from the Chaldeans, Judith v. 5. and so their language must be later than theirs ; this is founded on Abraham's being of Ur of the Chaldees, from whence he came ; but it does not follow, that because he was born and lived in that country before the confusion of Babel, that therefore he spoke the language used in that country afterwards, since he was soon called out of it; and it appears that he spoke not the Chaldee, or Syriac language, but the Hebrew, as before observed.
5. It is urged', as highly probable, that the language the second Adam spake, the first Adam did; now Christ and his apostles, and the people of the Jews in their times, spoke in the Syriac language, as appears from Matt. xxvii. 46. Mark v. 41. and chap. vii. 34. but according to some learned men, as Masius", and Fabricius Boderianus ", this was not the ancient language of the Syrians and Chaldeans, but a new language, which had its first rise in the Babylonis captivity, and was a mixture of Chaldee and Hebrew; though rather the mixture began in the times of the Seleucide, the Syrian kings, who entered into and distressed Judea ; and therefore no argument can be taken from it in favour of the Syriac being the primitive language. I proceed now to propose the arguments that are, or may be used in favour of the Hebrew language being the primitive one ; and the
First, may be taken from the alphabet of the tongue itself, which appears to be the first alphabet of all the Eastern languages. The Chaldee, or Syriac, Phænician, or Samaritan, have their alphabets manifestly from it; the names,
the Myricæi Præfat. ad Gram. Syro-Chald. 9 So R. Jose in Seder Olam Rabba c. 1. p. 1. Abarbinel in Pentateuch. fol. 51. 3. Juchasin, fol. 8. 1. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 1, 2, Seder Olam, ibid. s Myricæus, ut supra.
1 Ibid. w Præfat ad Gram Sj .- Præfat. ad Diction. Syro Chald.
the number, and order of their letters, and even the form and ducts of them, seem to be taken from thence, and to be corrupt deviations from it; and the Arabic language, though the order of its alphabet is somewhat disturbed, yet the names of most of the letters are plainly from the Hebrew; and so indeed is the greater part of the names of letters in the Greek alphabet, from whence the Romans have taken theirs, and other European nations. Hermannus Hugo obferves", that it is agreed among all, that from the names of the Hebrew characters, the letters of all nations have their names; now that language, whose alphabet appears to be the first, and to give rise to the alphabers of other tongues, bids fairest to be the first and primitive language: let it be observed that the Hebrew alphabet, as it now is, is exactly the same as it was in the days of David and Solomon, so early it can be traced; for it is to be seen in the cxixth Pfalm, and in others, and in the last chapter of the book of Proverbs, as well as in the book of Lamentations, written before, or at the beginning of the Babylonish captivity.
Secondly, Another argument for the antiquity of the Hebrew language, may be formed from the perfection and purity of it. Abraham de Balmis says of it", that “ it is perfect in its letters and in its points. Our language, says “ he, is the most perfect language, and in its writing the most perfect of all
writings of all languages; there is nothing wanting, and there is nothing “ redundant in it, acccording to the laws and rules of things perfect and com“ pleat.” It consists of words which most fully and effectually express the nature of the things signified by them; its roots, which are of a certain number, are, for the most part, of three letters only, and it has no exotic or strange words used in it. Whoever compares it with the Syriac or Chaldee, will easily perceive the difference as to the purity of them, and that the Chaldee is derived from the Hebrew, and is later than that, for as Scaliger long ago observed, thoa Melech must be before xaba Malca, the latter being derived from the former ; and the same may be observed in a multitude of other instances : now that which is perfect, pure, and underived, must be before that which is imperfect, corrupt, and derived; or, as the philofopher' expresses it, that which is vicious and corrupt must be later than that which is incorrupt.
Thirdly, u De prima scribendi orig. c. 7. p. 65.
w Mikneh Abraham, p. 39. lin. 13-15. Epist. ad Thompson. Ep. 242.
y Aristot, de Republica, 1, 36 C. 1,