Archive for the ‘Freedman, David Noel’ category

Anderson, Francis I. and David Noel Freedman, “The Orthography of the Aramaic Portion of the Tell Fekherye Bilingual” in Text and Context: Old Testament and Semitic Studies for F. C. Fensham, ed. W. Claassen, JSOT Supplements 48 (Sheffield, 1988): 9-49.

August 28, 2007

Anderson and Freedman are mainly interested in the spelling practices used in the Aramaic portion of the inscription. Their method is to examine the inscription by analyzing all of the words in which vowel letters potentially occur. They conclude that the use of vowel letters is consistent with their analysis of Northwest Semitic inscriptions from Judah, Israel, Ammon and Moab. All final vowels are marked by yod, he, or waw. Aleph never occurs as a vowel letter, it is either a consonant or a determinative marker. Both waw and yod are used to mark medial vowel letters. The scribe tends to limit himself to using one medial vowel letter per word. The use of yod for /i/ seems to have its basis in derivation but the use of waw for /u/ may be analogical and purely phonetic. This would suggest that waw for /u/ could be used more freely as there would be no confusion with historical spelling. For the most part, medial vowel letters tend to mark long vowels in stressed syllables.


Cross, Frank Moore and David Noel Freedman. Early Hebrew Orthography: A Study of the Epigraphic Evidence. New Haven: AOS, 1952.

August 16, 2007

This joint dissertation by Cross and Freedman was written under Albright and attempts a systematic analysis of Hebrew Orthography based first on the early Northwest Semitic inscriptions rather than the Masoretic Text. The authors are primarily interested in the use of matres lectionis, and they study Phoenician, Aramaic, Moabite (the Meša Stone) and Hebrew inscriptions. They conclude that Northwest Semitic orthography was originally purely consonantal. This system was rigorously maintained in Phoenician orthography. Hebrew orthography followed consonantalism through the period of heavy Phoenician influence until the 10th century. Shortly after they borrowed the alphabet (11th-10th centuries) the Aramaeans altered the basic principles of spelling by developing a system for the indication of final vowels. This system did not grow spontaneously out of historical spelling, but was a conscious innovation. The system was later extended to represent medial vowels, at which point historical spelling did play a role with the contraction of diphthongs.