Comparison Between the Paleo-Hebrew Alphabets and Hieratic Egyptian & the Phoenician Alphabet: Click to ENLARGE
This chart clearly illustrates the comparison between both Early (right) and Late (left) Paleo-Hebrew with Hieratic Egyptian & Ancient Phoenician. The comparison between the Late Paleo-Hebrew with the Phoenician alphabet establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that they are virtually one and the same alphabet, based on the soundly reasoned inference that they developed simultaneously in the historical time line, implying in turn that the cross-cultural and cross-economic exchanges between these two civilizations was very intense. This quotation from Wikipedia is particularly telling,
Phoenician had long-term effects on the social structures of the civilizations which came in contact with it. As mentioned above, the script was the first widespread phonetic script. Its simplicity not only allowed it to be used in multiple languages, but it also allowed the common people to learn how to write. This upset the long-standing status of writing systems only being learned and employed by members of the royal and religious hierarchies of society, who used writing as an instrument of power to control access to information by the larger population.
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The Phoenician alphabet is also often tagged Proto-Canaanite for inscriptions anterior to 1050 BCE. It is the first ever consonantal proto-alphabet, otherwise known as abjad. The Phoenician alphabet was derived from Egyptian hieroglyphics on the one hand and from cursive Hieratic Egyptian on the other. What is particularly striking about the Phoenician and Proto-Hebrew alphabets, which are mirror images of one another, is the fact that the former was used to write one of the earliest Semitic languages, while the latter was confined to Hebrew (also Semitic, but eventually to become completely unlike Arabic).
This may come as somewhat of a shock to die hard Jews and die-in-the-wool Muslims alike, but it is an incontestable historical fact which cannot be lightly brushed aside. It is absolutely essential to understand that these twin alphabets were far more ancient than the latter-day Hebrew alphabet, which was nevertheless a descendant of the Proto-Hebrew and the Phoenician alphabets alike. While the Phoenician alphabet was the scriptural medium for early Semitic Phoenician, that civilization, being far more ancient than Islam, was in intimate contact with Judeo-Palestine, with whom it cultivated friendly cultural and economic ties. In other words, the religious overlay imputed to the latter-day Hebrew alphabet, itself indirectly derived from the Phoenician alphabet versus the Arabic alphabet, was utterly absent from the consciousness of both the early Semitic Phoenicians and Hebrews. Of course, the Arabic alphabet eventually did develop on its own from the 6th. century AD, characteristically unlike the Phoenician and Proto-Hebrew alphabets in every conceivable way.
The Similarities Among Hieratic Egyptian, the Phoenician alphabet, Early Proto-Hebrew and Late Proto-Hebrew:
Now let’s take a good close look at the alphabets in this chart.
1. Oddly enough, Early Proto-Hebrew bears but a faint resemblance with the Phoenician and Late Proto-Hebrew alphabets, but it does have some points in common with Hieratic Egyptian. Given this scenario, it somehow strikes me that Early Proto-Hebrew was anterior to both the Phoenician and Late Proto-Hebrew alphabets; otherwise, how are we to explain all these bizarre discrepancies? Not that I would know, as I am no expert in Egyptian hieroglyphics or Hieratic Egyptian. I leave it to the expert linguists in that domain to enlighten us, and I certainly hope they will.
2. For all intents and purposes, the Phoenician and Late Proto-Hebrew alphabets are identical.
3. Except for lamedth and tav (taw), neither the Phoenician and Late Proto-Hebrew alphabets resemble Hieratic Egyptian and the Early Proto-Hebrew in any significant way, which is particularly surprising to this author. The early Proto-Hebrew letter vav mirrors both its Hieratic and Phoenician equivalents, as well as the letter waw in Proto-Hebrew, the latter merely being an avatar of the previous three. Lamedh is also equivalent in all four scripts. If we take it as oriented right, Hieratic Egyptian tadhe bears a close resemblance to early Proto-Hebrew nun & tsade, which instead are oriented left. There is absolutely nothing unusual in this phenomenon, which is so common to so many ancient scripts that it boggles the mind. Early Proto-Hebrew qof, horizontally oriented, bears a close resemblance to its equivalent, the vertically oriented Phoenician letter koph, while its tav resembles one of the two versions of the Phoenician tav. Just to complicate matters or to frustrate the living daylights out of us, taw in the Late Paleo-Hebrew alphabet resembles the other version of Phoenician tav.
PS If anyone who is an expert in Egyptian hieroglyphics or Hieratic Egyptian is willing to enlighten us poor ignorant folk on the finer points of their relationship with the other scripts we have discussed here, please do contact us, commenting on the inevitable errors in this post.
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