Assyrian Research And The Hebrew Lexicon -- By: D. G. Lyon

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 041:162 (Apr 1884)
Article: Assyrian Research And The Hebrew Lexicon
Author: D. G. Lyon


Assyrian Research And The Hebrew Lexicon

D. G. Lyon

Last year Professor Friedrich Delitzsch published, in the Athenaeum, of London, a series of articles on the Importance of Assyriology to Hebrew Lexicography.1 Several publishers, who appreciated the excellent quality of the articles, at once offered to reproduce them in a more permanent form. The result is a small book, entitled: The Hebrew Language viewed in the Light of Assyrian Research.2 For the treatment of this subject no scholar is so competent as Professor Delitzsch. An enthusiastic student, with a genius for language, he has been for several years occupied with the compilation of an Assyrian, and also of a Hebrew, lexicon. His acquaintance with the lexicographical material of the Assyrian and Babylonian monuments is certainly greater than that of any other scholar. His little volume, containing only eighty-five pages, is the product of a mind evidently possessed of its subject. The style is simply charming. There has certainly not appeared for many a year a book more important for Semitic study. Any person interested in the Hebrew of the Old Testament will find this a welcome volume.

Two great principles guide Delitzsch in his lexicographical work.

The first is that the Hebrew language must be explained chiefly by Hebrew, and the Assyrian by Assyrian. The second is, that the Assyrian is a better source than the Arabic for the explanation of Hebrew. For the explanation of Hebrew out of Hebrew and Assyrian out of Assyrian, we derive great assistance from parallel passages and from the parallelism of clauses. Independently of all help from outside sources, this parallelism, together with the usage in such passages as 2 Chron. 28:15, might lead one to suppose that רבחּ and רהל are synonymes in Ps. 23:2, and accordingly to translate: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he causeth me to rest beside the still waters “(p. 6). This conclusion is confirmed by the Assyrian, which represents by the same ideogram the words naâlu (נהל), χu (בית), aud rabâsu (רבחּ).

In claiming that Assyrian is a better source than Arabic for the explanation of Hebrew, Professor Delitzsch has made a new departure. The consideration that Hebrew and Assyrian were literary languages in the same period, while Arabic a...

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