Date: Sun Mar 02 2003 - 03:04:41 EST
<< According to
the Hebrew Bible (ed. Kittel), there are no variants in the consonants
of Gen. 1:1. >>
This is true, but not very meaningful since there are very few Hebrew
manuscripts of Gen 1:1 prior to the 9th century AD and none earlier than c.
More important are the relevant conclusions of various Hebraic scholars that
the spelling in the Massoretic text, even of the consonants has been changed
by succeeding scribes and editors over the years. In what is perhaps the
definitive book on the spellings in the MT (The Variable Spellings of the
Hebrew Bible, a 1986 lecture), James Barr concluded that the MT so far as its
spellings are concerned does not take us back to the time of Jeremiah much
less to David (p. 207).
In addition, in the case of Gen 1:1, three words use the consonantal vowel
letter yod to represent the long i in the plurals elohim (God), shamayim
(heavens) and in the singular bereshith (beginning). In their well-respected
study of the vowel letters, Cross and Freedman (Frank Moore Cross, Jr. and
David Noel Freedman, Early Hebrew Orthography) concluded from extra-biblical
inscriptions that no vowel letters were in use prior to the 12th century BC,
that the Arameans invented their use in the 11th and 10th centuries BC, and
that vowel letters came into use in the Hebrew language after that but no
later than the 9th century BC. Also, the yod came into use as a vowel letter
representing i after the use of waw for o and u. The spelling of the three
words in Gen 1:1 which use the vowel letter yod for i, therefore, probably
does not antedate 900 BC.
In Gen 1:1 there are also two uses of the nota accusativi, eth (the indicator
of a direct object), the second one having a waw (and) attached to it, thus
involving 5 consonants. The relevant point here is that this particle was not
in use in early Hebrew, but came in later. I do not know how much later, but
after the Judges seems clear in that it does not appear in the most ancient
texts (that is, the poetry) of Judges 5, and 1Sam 2) See Gesenius' Hebrew
Grammar ed by Kautzsch p. 363, Remark 1.
In conclusion, we can say that the 5 consonants in the nota accusativi in Gen
1:1 were not there before approximately the time of David, the three yods
used as vowel letters were not there before approximately the time of King
Asa. and one cannot count on the spellings of any of the words as going back
any earlier than the time of Jeremiah if that. If, therefore, the numerology
based on the consonants in Gen 1:1 is due to divine inspiration, it was a
writer or editor several hundred years after Moses (whom no one dates earlier
than c. 1300 BC) who was so inspired.
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