Meier’s Lexicon Of Hebrew Roots -- By: Charles A. Hay

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 004:14 (May 1847)
Article: Meier’s Lexicon Of Hebrew Roots
Author: Charles A. Hay


Meier’s Lexicon Of Hebrew Roots

Rev. Charles A. Hay

The consanguinity of the Semitic and Indo-European languages is now generally acknowledged. But as to the degree of

relationship that exists between them, there is still much difference of opinion. Gesenius, in his Thesaurus arid Manual Lexicon, was continually on the lookout for points of contact, and succeeded in finding many cases in which the apparent coincidence was very striking. That the Graeco-Latin branch of the great northern family of languages derived its written characters front the Semitic, he has shown most satisfactorily in his “Monunienta Phoenicia,”1 but the connecting link that proves the original substantial identity of the languages themselves, he believes he has discovered in the Sanscrit, the classic language of the East.

Once fairly started in this direction and eager to find resemblances of this kind, We are not surprised to see him occasionally led into error by coincidences which subsequent investigation has proved to be merely fortuitous. The reason of this we find in the fact that he compared already developed grammatical forms, in Hebrew, With the clearly ascertained roots of the Sanscrit, as is hinted at by his pupil and commentator Roediger,2 who, in allusion to these attempts of Gesenius, remarks:

“A remote connection between these languages cannot be denied, and therefore a comparative investigation of them is of value for lexicography; but one needs great caution and a comprehensive knowledge of the relations of sounds in both families, in order to avoid error and deception in comparing them. In the present state of the investigation, there is almost as much merit in rejecting that which does not bear all the marks of affinity, as in discovering what at first sight may appear to agree.”

Or in the words of the author whose work we propose briefly to notice:

“This relation [of original identity between these languages], can only then be clearly proved when we reduce the dissyllabic stems to their simple monosyllabic original elements, and thus trace them up to one fountain head, where the nations and languages, that subsequently so greatly diverged, formed one great uniform whole, and had as yet no separate existence. This principle has as yet not been generally acknowledged. In practice, at least, even the most judicious philologists have sinned against it. For it will presently be shown, that of the analogies collected by Gesenius, who went to work in his comparison of the Sanscrit

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