Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to provide evidence for the existence of a later linguistic strand within the Hebrew Bible known as late biblical Hebrew. After surveying the history and methodology of the diachronic study of the Hebrew language, I examine orthographic, morphological, and syntactical evidence, which demonstrates a linguistic shift from the preexilic to the postexilic period. I demonstrate how these same late biblical features of the postexilic period became commonplace in Rabbinic Hebrew and in the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I discuss the different views regarding the reasons biblical Hebrew experienced linguistic change and argue that the events of the Babylonian exile contain all the components linguists regard as necessary to account for language change. An appendix is provided which contrasts the fourteen accepted features of late biblical Hebrew with their early biblical Hebrew counterparts.

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