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Qumran Hebrew: A Typology within the History of Ancient Hebrew

  • Korean Journal of Old Testament Studies
  • Abbr : KJOTS
  • 2017, 23(4), pp.356-383
  • DOI : 10.24333/jkots.2017.23.4.356
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Old Testament Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology
  • Received : September 30, 2017
  • Accepted : November 16, 2017

DONG-HYUK KIM 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to describe the orthography and phonology of the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls (= Qumran Hebrew, hereafter QH) and, on the basis of the description, to locate them typologically within the history of ancient Hebrew. In the current context, two conditions necessitate this study. First, an overview like this one has never been attempted in Korean biblical scholarship. Second, in the 21st century, with the publication of the scrolls having been completed, the necessity of a linguistic overview of QH has re-emerged. As QH’s orthographic features, the study discusses (1) the use of the mater w, (2) use of the mater y, (3) the use of the 2nd person masculine singular forms of -kh and qtlth, (4) the writing of some III-h construct nouns with final y, (5) the use of the digraphs 'w, w', y', 'y in medial and final positions. As QH’s phonological features, the study examines (1) the weakening of the gutturals, (2) the insertion of the glides /w/ and /y/, (3) the insertion of ' between vowels or glides, (4) the change of final m into n, (5) the orthographic merge of /s/ and /ś/. Each feature is examined especially by comparing it with the corresponding BH feature. The comparable Mishnaic Hebrew (hereafter MH) features are also addressed briefly. On the basis of the above discussions, this study concludes the following. First, just like MH, QH uses the full spelling more frequently than the Masoretic tradition and thus tries to bring its spellings closer to actual pronunciations. Second, the final digraphs are not thought to represent pronunciations different from the Masoretic tradition. Third, QH’s overall weakening of the gutturals points to the same direction as BH of the Masoretic tradition and MH. Fourth, QH’s confusion of some nasals indicates that the system of QH’s nasals was different from that of BH’s but similar to that of MH’s. Fifth, the merge of /s/ and /ś/, which continued in MH also, presupposes a situation different from the situation of BH. This study concludes that, typologically speaking, the orthography and phonology of QH are not so different from those of BH and MH, and that they are firmly placed in the tradition of ancient Hebrew. In addition to portraying the general picture of QH and locating it within the history of ancient Hebrew, the significance of this study is that it can help and encourage students to access the Dead Sea Scrolls more readily.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.