BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Who Really Invented the Alphabet—Illiterate Miners or Educated Sophisticates?

Introduction

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In a landmark article in the March/April 2010 issue of BAR, Orly Goldwasser, professor of Egyptology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explained how the very first alphabet, from which all other alphabets developed, was invented by illiterate Canaanite miners in the turquoise mines of Serabit el-Khadem in the Sinai peninsula. Inspired by Egyptian pictorial hieroglyphs and a desire to articulate their own thoughts in writing, these Canaanites created 22 alphabetic acrophonetic signs scratched into the rock that could express their entire language.
 


 
Read “How the Alphabet Was Born from Hieroglyphs” by Orly Goldwasser as it appeared in the March/April 2010 issue of BAR.
 


 
But Goldwasser did not convince everyone. Anson Rainey, who had been emeritus professor of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and Semitic Languages at Tel Aviv University, promptly responded to the article with his doubts that this watershed moment in human culture had been brought about by illiterate miners. In his letter Rainey argues that the alphabet was surely created by “highly sophisticated Northwest Semites”; who inscribed countless papyrus sheets that have not survived.

Join us below to read Rainey’s critiques and Goldwasser’s thorough rebuttals about who really invented the alphabet.


In the free eBook Gabriel’s Revelation, discover the meaning of the inscription of “Gabriel’s Revelation” on a first-century B.C. “Dead Sea Scroll in Stone” and learn what made scholars around the world reconsider links between ancient Jewish and Christian messianism.

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23 Responses

  1. Alan Schuetz says:

    Why are all these “Biblical scholars” so quick to dismiss Enoch, the righteous scribe? Concentrate on v17 from the Book of Jubilees, the sixth most frequent manuscript discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls behind Psalms, Deuteronomy, 1 Enoch, Genesis, and Isaiah:

    Jubilees 4:16 And in the eleventh jubilee Jared took to himself a wife, and her name was Bâraka, the daughter of Râsûjâl, a daughter of his father’s brother, in the fourth week of this jubilee, and she bare him a son in the fifth week, in the fourth year of the jubilee, and he called his name Enoch. 17 And he was the first among men that are born on earth who learnt writing and knowledge and wisdom and who wrote down the signs of heaven according to the order of their months in a book, that men might know the seasons of the years according to the order of their separate months. 18 And he was the first to write a testimony, and he testified to the sons of men among the generations of the earth, and recounted the weeks of the jubilees, and made known to them the days of the years, and set in order the months and recounted the Sabbaths of the years as we made (them) known to him. 19 And what was and what will be he saw in a vision of his sleep, as it will happen to the children of men throughout their generations until the day of judgment; he saw and understood everything, and wrote his testimony, and placed the testimony on earth for all the children of men and for their generations. 20 And in the twelfth jubilee, in the seventh week thereof, he took to himself a wife, and her name was Ednî, 3 the daughter of Dânêl, the daughter of his father’s brother, and in the sixth year in this week she bare him a son and he called his name Methuselah. 21 And he was moreover with the angels of God these six jubilees of years, and they showed him everything which is on earth and in the heavens, the rule of the sun, and he wrote down everything. 22 And he testified to the Watchers, who had sinned with the daughters of men; for these had begun to unite themselves, so as to be defiled, with the daughters of men, and Enoch testified against (them) all. 23 And he was taken from amongst the children of men, and we conducted him into the Garden of Eden in majesty and honour, and behold there he writeth down the condemnation and judgment of the world, and all the wickedness of the children of men. 24 And on account of it (God) brought the waters of the flood upon all the land of Eden; for there he was set as a sign and that he should testify against all the children of men, that he should recount all the deeds of the generations until the day of condemnation. 25 And he burnt the incense of the sanctuary, (even) sweet spices, acceptable before the Lord on the Mount. 26 For the Lord hath four places on the earth, the Garden of Eden, and the Mount of the East, and this mountain on which thou art this day, Mount Sinai, and Mount Zion (which) will be sanctified in the new creation for a sanctification of the earth; through it will the earth be sanctified from all (its) guilt and its uncleanness throughout the generations of the world.

    Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/jub/jub17.htm

    This is how the jubilees were accounted: http://www.haderech.info/DSS/Calendar/4Q319.pdf

    Enoch will join Elijah, and they will serve as the two witnesses from Revelation. The world will celebrate when they are slain — even exchanging gifts — because only the elect could handle their TRUTH! Shema Yisrael!

  2. Dr. Saul Pressman says:

    Jacob and 70 members of his family entered Egypt in 1853 BCE. They brought the aleph bet with them. The Phoenicians (Sidonians) merged with the tribe of Dan after 1413 BCE near Mt Hermon, and got the aleph bet then. That is why the Phoenicians are part Hamitic and part Semitic.

  3. Gamini Silva says:

    All this time we were told that the word “alphabet” consists the first two letters of the Greek Alphabet, Alpha and Beta. It goes well with the first two letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, Aleph and Beth. Very probably prior to these two great languages of the Bible, there existed Phoenician and Akadian scripts which were even older than Hebrew and Greek. Therefore, I think the very first alphabet derives in some way from Phoenician and Akadian.

  4. Itzhak says:

    We know that the “literated” Egyptians didn’t use alphabet hundred of years after it was common in the middle east and even Greece. They didn’t want to loose their special status

  5. 1. The Invention of the Alphabet | Hebrew Type says:

    […] alphabet and its discovery, seen in scholarly papers and engaging articles. However, scholars like Anson Rainey disagree with this analysis and contend that the alphabet was invented and developed by sophisticated […]

  6. Howard West says:

    The reason that it is so difficult to trace back the origins of Hebrew script: is because it was based on a regional universal system. That system was Cuneiform in origin. (1) The symbols are called Cuneus: (Latin, wedge-form) the symbols used to make this code. These symbols where formed on soft clay tablets or tables with a piece of a reed also called a stylist that is either pushed or pulled in the soft clay of the table. This same system was used in the Jewish watchtowers of Isaiah:

    Prepare the tables, (clay tables) watch in the watchtowers…. O princes and anoint the shield” (2)

    The watchmen in the towers, prepare clay tables then anoint the shield. So what do they have to do with alphabets? The thread that will start to unravel this knot comes from Greece, Xenophon (434-355 years before the Christian era (3))the ancient Greek war hero and historian unlocks this riddle in his history of ancient Greece called Hellenica. Nevertheless, Xenophon’s words like Cassandras’ words have been rejected by the Gatekeepers of knowledge. Even so, Hellenica contains the phrase to: “Signal with a Shield” This refers to reflecting sunlight with a mirrored shield. Those mirrors were called aspis(4): the ancient Greek word for snakes or mirrored shields. The messages that were sent by these ancient heliographs were called “aspasmos(5)” to “handle the shield.”
    Today David is thought to be Saul’s armor bearer. What if that is an incorrect interpretation? And what he really was communication officer for King Saul? The Hebrew words used for these glittering golden or quicksilver-coated shields are, Shalat that means: dominions, in power, have power or rule.(6) Other words used for those types of shields are Magen,(7) all means: to deliver up, present or a scroll. Kydow a spark or blink of light.(8) The Hebrews scribes who used these shields were called armor bearers, and the communications were called “saw-far”(9) which translate to “Collect and record with slashes or marks.”

    “And King David took the (sun disks) Shields of Gold that were on the horses of the servants of Hadarezer, and brought them to Jerusalem and likewise from Tibhath and from Berothi cities of Hadarezer.”

    Additional evidence is that both the Hebrew and Greek alphabets have the same order as the northern Semite alphabet of the Hittites, the Greek and Hebrew alphabets, also mirror the early Ugaritic Cuneiform symbol because they were all alphanumeric/ heliographic codes. These codes allowed the most used letters to have the simplest symbol that corresponds to 1, 5, 10, 2, 4, 6, 9, 50 and 100. Here is the kicker; the message would be totaled, so that when it was received, a line cipher was given with the numeric total of the message or line by line. If the totals did not match up? The mismatch allowed the error to be discovered and allowing message be re-sent or corrected. There are at least two places where this principle is still used, first in computer code writing so that the errors in the written code can be found if the computer or software has a malfunction and which allows the line cipher to locate where the error is so that error can be fixed.

    Then there are the Jews, who still use those number values of their alphabet to total their Holy Scriptures. This is so that, the WORD of GOD would be constant without variations in its transcriptions.

    my footnotes did not transfer to site

  7. Margaret Donahue says:

    ~~~ Wow!
    ~~~ I mean, wow!
    ~~~ There is a God, the One true God, who created man.
    ~~~ If we are to believe Him, then we should realize very clearly that Noah brought the alphabet with him on the boat! And I would love to know what else he brought!
    ~~~ Consider the ark; unless God put each animal in suspended animation for several months, how are eight people going to clean stalls before fumes from the waste kill many animals, and at least some of the people? The point? There had to be some kind of technology on the ark to take care of such a problem. That would require advanced writing and math!
    ~~~ There needed to be a kitchen on the ark, and fresh water, and ventilation.. Did you ever wonder why it took Noah at least 50 years to build that ship? The image of a plain wooden box built by a ‘stone-age’ man just doesn’t compute.
    ~~~ Adam and Eve most likely were created with the full capacity of their brains, making them intelligent beyond our imaginations! And then, as their children intermarried, brain function must have decreased. Still, after the Flood, God said ‘nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them’, so God confused their languages; we still don’t know the technology behind the great Pyramids built just a few generations after the Flood; and today, God has permitted the languages to come together again, and see what we have done in the past 150 years!
    ~~~ Nope, can’t see any way around it, “man” began writing in the Garden of Eden.

  8. Varghese says:

    What is wrong with you all? Do you all suppose that Noah could construct a ship sophisticated enough to have stayed afloat in such a turbulent atmosphere for such a long time as mentioned in the bible keeping all (probably more than) these wide variety species of animals and birds that we see around us on the earth today without having had the skills of accounting / keeping records which necessitates the ability to read and write?

  9. julie says:

    this helped me. THx.

  10. julie says:

    this helped me with my home work. Thx.

  11. Jack Stewart says:

    I tend to accept Goldwasser’s position. However since I am neither an Archaeologist or a Linguist my limited ans ONLY argument is based on motivation. Scribes would favor a complex and therefore specialized form of communication. Their status and probably standard of living would have been threatened by a simpler form of writing. The lower classes and possibly engineers would have found an efficient language beneficial..

    OFF TOPIC
    I decided to post a reply to this thread because I have a related motivational problem in regard to Empire Jews paying the Temple tax.”The first Roman attempt to halt payments of the tax was made long before the Jewish War on account of customs controls.” ref. Wikipedia Temple Tax

    It seems this was a voluntary tax. My rule of thumb is that people don’t pay a “voluntary” tax unless they get some benefit from it. I have not been able to find any discussion of this subject. As Roman hostility to the tax as well as client state status for Judea tensions would rise particularly for Empire Jews with Roman citizenship such as Paul.

    What I am looking for is a semi-popular work on the subject, since that is what I have been reading for the last 40 years. Anyone?

  12. Michele Mena says:

    “Apparently” the epic-graphy and alphabetic innovation reflects periodic-evolution in “A” formal context of symbolic/images both orthographic – scripts and language/etymologies. The universal thought and continual progression appears to have begun 25,000 years ago, however the use of columnar identification in symbolic/lettering regards a mentoring community. The Egyptian/Sinatic-Phoenician-Canaanite [Judiac-Hebrew/Phoenician] identification[s]’ of symbols and varietal meanings – – are a descriptive reality-whether remote or clandenstine in nature. What remains is “that’ discerning ideal of religious spirituality/ beliefs … A ” series” of 18- 22 letters, singularily or clustered in groups were invented about 3,000 B.C., and placed accordingly. Some how – “pristine in nature” and attributed by the ancient dwellers or nomadic travelors. Tribal ethnologies chose applicative usage in ceromonial practices/cultivational endeavors … and Cultural communicative histories.

  13. Who Really Invented the Alphabet—Illiterate Miners or Educated Sophisticates? – Biblical Arc haeology Society | The Ginger Jar says:

    […] URL: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/inscriptions/who-really-invented-the-alp… Rate this:Share this:TwitterRedditStumbleUponFacebookDiggPrintEmailLike this:Like […]

  14. berkley says:

    Semitic writing was no doubt developed by merchants for the sake of inventory, invoices and receipts. Part of mining is engineering which also requires precision and documentation. If early documents were portable and on papyrus or parchment, they would not have survived 3,000 years. We can only hope early clay records or scratches on oistraka or stone engravings will be dug up to provide further evidence. The ‘miners’ in question could also have been well-educated men who chose this work because it paid well. No answer can be ruled out in the absence of proof.

  15. George Eller says:

    The conviction that the Hebrew-Phoenician-Greek-Etruscan-Roman alphabet was derived from a far out group of miners in the Sinai desert is just plain silly.

    The concept was disseminated throughout the Mediterranean world by Cretan mariners; and the host trading ports picked and chose from the Cretan repertoire of syllabic signs – those that best fit the language of the host trading partner.

    Joesph’s post (# 6) comes closest to being correct.

  16. Joseph F. Gambino says:

    The Alphabet was invented by Joseph and his brothers when they were put to work at feeding the ‘whole world’ in Egypt. It was refined from the 13th Dynasty onwards, and used by the “Canaanites” down in Sinai.

  17. Eve Clarity says:

    In my chronology, the twelfth dynasty was the Residence of the supreme pharaoh among several concurrant dynasties as depticted in the Karnak Kings List and noted by its pharaohs names written in reverse order in the Saqqara Kings List. My dates for the reign of Amenemhat III are 1827-1779 BC. According to Orly Goldwasser’s 2006 article “Canaanites Reading Hieroglyphs: Horus is Hathor? – The Invention of the Alphabet in Sinai,” Keel dated one of Amenemhat III’s unique scarabs to the 13th dynasty. The seal is unique because it has a human hieroglyph determinative in a Canaanite style called protosinaitic script found mostly near the copper and turquoise mines of Sinai. The laborers of the mines fused Egyptian hieroglyphs with some Hebrew letters, and some short-cuts of their own, and made scarab-seals for Egyptian dignitaries in the Delta and abroad. Goldwasser then determined the following:
    1) People in Syria liked their ideas and created a cuneiform version called Ugaritic.
    2) Byblos, on the Syrian coast, may have influenced these miners in the way they wrote the name Hathor, the goddess of turquoise, with a Horus bird and an angle instead of a falcon in a square.
    3) The protosinaitic script is found on a Sinai stela dated to Amenemhat III’s 23rd year, at Wadi Magharah dated to Amenemhat III’s 42nd year, and the mines of Serabit el Khadim in Amenemhat III’s 45th year.
    {This modified paragraph is from pages 395 of my book Pharaohs of the Bible. I agree with Goldwasser.}

  18. Mervyn KERSH says:

    Furthger, the Israelites worked as skilledand literate builders, architects, surveyors, and possibly other professional jobs needing writing. The case is strong that the Israelites were the first inventors of Aleph Beth – a giant step forward in writing.

  19. Mervyn KERSH says:

    Thge israelites were slaves of Egypt and some almost certainly worked in the mines in Soithern Sinaia. We know that Moses was told by God to tell his people to “write these words and learn them”. That means that as early as the time of Moses (1500 BCE) , the Israleites could write.

    Why jump to conclusions that the Alaph Beth was a Canaanite or Phonecian invention?

  20. Arnie Maddox says:

    I’m reluctant to enter this fray but it’s a lot easier to believe that the early Hieroglyphs evolved into the Hieratic then to Demotic, then to modern Arabic and finally to our current alphabet than some miners drawing on a wall to convey “let’s dig here”.

    Think of Occam’s Razor.

    Cheers

  21. Dallas Kennedy says:

    I yield to no one in my admiration for the late Dr. Rainey. But Orly Goldwasser has the better argument here.

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23 Responses

  1. Alan Schuetz says:

    Why are all these “Biblical scholars” so quick to dismiss Enoch, the righteous scribe? Concentrate on v17 from the Book of Jubilees, the sixth most frequent manuscript discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls behind Psalms, Deuteronomy, 1 Enoch, Genesis, and Isaiah:

    Jubilees 4:16 And in the eleventh jubilee Jared took to himself a wife, and her name was Bâraka, the daughter of Râsûjâl, a daughter of his father’s brother, in the fourth week of this jubilee, and she bare him a son in the fifth week, in the fourth year of the jubilee, and he called his name Enoch. 17 And he was the first among men that are born on earth who learnt writing and knowledge and wisdom and who wrote down the signs of heaven according to the order of their months in a book, that men might know the seasons of the years according to the order of their separate months. 18 And he was the first to write a testimony, and he testified to the sons of men among the generations of the earth, and recounted the weeks of the jubilees, and made known to them the days of the years, and set in order the months and recounted the Sabbaths of the years as we made (them) known to him. 19 And what was and what will be he saw in a vision of his sleep, as it will happen to the children of men throughout their generations until the day of judgment; he saw and understood everything, and wrote his testimony, and placed the testimony on earth for all the children of men and for their generations. 20 And in the twelfth jubilee, in the seventh week thereof, he took to himself a wife, and her name was Ednî, 3 the daughter of Dânêl, the daughter of his father’s brother, and in the sixth year in this week she bare him a son and he called his name Methuselah. 21 And he was moreover with the angels of God these six jubilees of years, and they showed him everything which is on earth and in the heavens, the rule of the sun, and he wrote down everything. 22 And he testified to the Watchers, who had sinned with the daughters of men; for these had begun to unite themselves, so as to be defiled, with the daughters of men, and Enoch testified against (them) all. 23 And he was taken from amongst the children of men, and we conducted him into the Garden of Eden in majesty and honour, and behold there he writeth down the condemnation and judgment of the world, and all the wickedness of the children of men. 24 And on account of it (God) brought the waters of the flood upon all the land of Eden; for there he was set as a sign and that he should testify against all the children of men, that he should recount all the deeds of the generations until the day of condemnation. 25 And he burnt the incense of the sanctuary, (even) sweet spices, acceptable before the Lord on the Mount. 26 For the Lord hath four places on the earth, the Garden of Eden, and the Mount of the East, and this mountain on which thou art this day, Mount Sinai, and Mount Zion (which) will be sanctified in the new creation for a sanctification of the earth; through it will the earth be sanctified from all (its) guilt and its uncleanness throughout the generations of the world.

    Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/jub/jub17.htm

    This is how the jubilees were accounted: http://www.haderech.info/DSS/Calendar/4Q319.pdf

    Enoch will join Elijah, and they will serve as the two witnesses from Revelation. The world will celebrate when they are slain — even exchanging gifts — because only the elect could handle their TRUTH! Shema Yisrael!

  2. Dr. Saul Pressman says:

    Jacob and 70 members of his family entered Egypt in 1853 BCE. They brought the aleph bet with them. The Phoenicians (Sidonians) merged with the tribe of Dan after 1413 BCE near Mt Hermon, and got the aleph bet then. That is why the Phoenicians are part Hamitic and part Semitic.

  3. Gamini Silva says:

    All this time we were told that the word “alphabet” consists the first two letters of the Greek Alphabet, Alpha and Beta. It goes well with the first two letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, Aleph and Beth. Very probably prior to these two great languages of the Bible, there existed Phoenician and Akadian scripts which were even older than Hebrew and Greek. Therefore, I think the very first alphabet derives in some way from Phoenician and Akadian.

  4. Itzhak says:

    We know that the “literated” Egyptians didn’t use alphabet hundred of years after it was common in the middle east and even Greece. They didn’t want to loose their special status

  5. 1. The Invention of the Alphabet | Hebrew Type says:

    […] alphabet and its discovery, seen in scholarly papers and engaging articles. However, scholars like Anson Rainey disagree with this analysis and contend that the alphabet was invented and developed by sophisticated […]

  6. Howard West says:

    The reason that it is so difficult to trace back the origins of Hebrew script: is because it was based on a regional universal system. That system was Cuneiform in origin. (1) The symbols are called Cuneus: (Latin, wedge-form) the symbols used to make this code. These symbols where formed on soft clay tablets or tables with a piece of a reed also called a stylist that is either pushed or pulled in the soft clay of the table. This same system was used in the Jewish watchtowers of Isaiah:

    Prepare the tables, (clay tables) watch in the watchtowers…. O princes and anoint the shield” (2)

    The watchmen in the towers, prepare clay tables then anoint the shield. So what do they have to do with alphabets? The thread that will start to unravel this knot comes from Greece, Xenophon (434-355 years before the Christian era (3))the ancient Greek war hero and historian unlocks this riddle in his history of ancient Greece called Hellenica. Nevertheless, Xenophon’s words like Cassandras’ words have been rejected by the Gatekeepers of knowledge. Even so, Hellenica contains the phrase to: “Signal with a Shield” This refers to reflecting sunlight with a mirrored shield. Those mirrors were called aspis(4): the ancient Greek word for snakes or mirrored shields. The messages that were sent by these ancient heliographs were called “aspasmos(5)” to “handle the shield.”
    Today David is thought to be Saul’s armor bearer. What if that is an incorrect interpretation? And what he really was communication officer for King Saul? The Hebrew words used for these glittering golden or quicksilver-coated shields are, Shalat that means: dominions, in power, have power or rule.(6) Other words used for those types of shields are Magen,(7) all means: to deliver up, present or a scroll. Kydow a spark or blink of light.(8) The Hebrews scribes who used these shields were called armor bearers, and the communications were called “saw-far”(9) which translate to “Collect and record with slashes or marks.”

    “And King David took the (sun disks) Shields of Gold that were on the horses of the servants of Hadarezer, and brought them to Jerusalem and likewise from Tibhath and from Berothi cities of Hadarezer.”

    Additional evidence is that both the Hebrew and Greek alphabets have the same order as the northern Semite alphabet of the Hittites, the Greek and Hebrew alphabets, also mirror the early Ugaritic Cuneiform symbol because they were all alphanumeric/ heliographic codes. These codes allowed the most used letters to have the simplest symbol that corresponds to 1, 5, 10, 2, 4, 6, 9, 50 and 100. Here is the kicker; the message would be totaled, so that when it was received, a line cipher was given with the numeric total of the message or line by line. If the totals did not match up? The mismatch allowed the error to be discovered and allowing message be re-sent or corrected. There are at least two places where this principle is still used, first in computer code writing so that the errors in the written code can be found if the computer or software has a malfunction and which allows the line cipher to locate where the error is so that error can be fixed.

    Then there are the Jews, who still use those number values of their alphabet to total their Holy Scriptures. This is so that, the WORD of GOD would be constant without variations in its transcriptions.

    my footnotes did not transfer to site

  7. Margaret Donahue says:

    ~~~ Wow!
    ~~~ I mean, wow!
    ~~~ There is a God, the One true God, who created man.
    ~~~ If we are to believe Him, then we should realize very clearly that Noah brought the alphabet with him on the boat! And I would love to know what else he brought!
    ~~~ Consider the ark; unless God put each animal in suspended animation for several months, how are eight people going to clean stalls before fumes from the waste kill many animals, and at least some of the people? The point? There had to be some kind of technology on the ark to take care of such a problem. That would require advanced writing and math!
    ~~~ There needed to be a kitchen on the ark, and fresh water, and ventilation.. Did you ever wonder why it took Noah at least 50 years to build that ship? The image of a plain wooden box built by a ‘stone-age’ man just doesn’t compute.
    ~~~ Adam and Eve most likely were created with the full capacity of their brains, making them intelligent beyond our imaginations! And then, as their children intermarried, brain function must have decreased. Still, after the Flood, God said ‘nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them’, so God confused their languages; we still don’t know the technology behind the great Pyramids built just a few generations after the Flood; and today, God has permitted the languages to come together again, and see what we have done in the past 150 years!
    ~~~ Nope, can’t see any way around it, “man” began writing in the Garden of Eden.

  8. Varghese says:

    What is wrong with you all? Do you all suppose that Noah could construct a ship sophisticated enough to have stayed afloat in such a turbulent atmosphere for such a long time as mentioned in the bible keeping all (probably more than) these wide variety species of animals and birds that we see around us on the earth today without having had the skills of accounting / keeping records which necessitates the ability to read and write?

  9. julie says:

    this helped me. THx.

  10. julie says:

    this helped me with my home work. Thx.

  11. Jack Stewart says:

    I tend to accept Goldwasser’s position. However since I am neither an Archaeologist or a Linguist my limited ans ONLY argument is based on motivation. Scribes would favor a complex and therefore specialized form of communication. Their status and probably standard of living would have been threatened by a simpler form of writing. The lower classes and possibly engineers would have found an efficient language beneficial..

    OFF TOPIC
    I decided to post a reply to this thread because I have a related motivational problem in regard to Empire Jews paying the Temple tax.”The first Roman attempt to halt payments of the tax was made long before the Jewish War on account of customs controls.” ref. Wikipedia Temple Tax

    It seems this was a voluntary tax. My rule of thumb is that people don’t pay a “voluntary” tax unless they get some benefit from it. I have not been able to find any discussion of this subject. As Roman hostility to the tax as well as client state status for Judea tensions would rise particularly for Empire Jews with Roman citizenship such as Paul.

    What I am looking for is a semi-popular work on the subject, since that is what I have been reading for the last 40 years. Anyone?

  12. Michele Mena says:

    “Apparently” the epic-graphy and alphabetic innovation reflects periodic-evolution in “A” formal context of symbolic/images both orthographic – scripts and language/etymologies. The universal thought and continual progression appears to have begun 25,000 years ago, however the use of columnar identification in symbolic/lettering regards a mentoring community. The Egyptian/Sinatic-Phoenician-Canaanite [Judiac-Hebrew/Phoenician] identification[s]’ of symbols and varietal meanings – – are a descriptive reality-whether remote or clandenstine in nature. What remains is “that’ discerning ideal of religious spirituality/ beliefs … A ” series” of 18- 22 letters, singularily or clustered in groups were invented about 3,000 B.C., and placed accordingly. Some how – “pristine in nature” and attributed by the ancient dwellers or nomadic travelors. Tribal ethnologies chose applicative usage in ceromonial practices/cultivational endeavors … and Cultural communicative histories.

  13. Who Really Invented the Alphabet—Illiterate Miners or Educated Sophisticates? – Biblical Arc haeology Society | The Ginger Jar says:

    […] URL: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/inscriptions/who-really-invented-the-alp… Rate this:Share this:TwitterRedditStumbleUponFacebookDiggPrintEmailLike this:Like […]

  14. berkley says:

    Semitic writing was no doubt developed by merchants for the sake of inventory, invoices and receipts. Part of mining is engineering which also requires precision and documentation. If early documents were portable and on papyrus or parchment, they would not have survived 3,000 years. We can only hope early clay records or scratches on oistraka or stone engravings will be dug up to provide further evidence. The ‘miners’ in question could also have been well-educated men who chose this work because it paid well. No answer can be ruled out in the absence of proof.

  15. George Eller says:

    The conviction that the Hebrew-Phoenician-Greek-Etruscan-Roman alphabet was derived from a far out group of miners in the Sinai desert is just plain silly.

    The concept was disseminated throughout the Mediterranean world by Cretan mariners; and the host trading ports picked and chose from the Cretan repertoire of syllabic signs – those that best fit the language of the host trading partner.

    Joesph’s post (# 6) comes closest to being correct.

  16. Joseph F. Gambino says:

    The Alphabet was invented by Joseph and his brothers when they were put to work at feeding the ‘whole world’ in Egypt. It was refined from the 13th Dynasty onwards, and used by the “Canaanites” down in Sinai.

  17. Eve Clarity says:

    In my chronology, the twelfth dynasty was the Residence of the supreme pharaoh among several concurrant dynasties as depticted in the Karnak Kings List and noted by its pharaohs names written in reverse order in the Saqqara Kings List. My dates for the reign of Amenemhat III are 1827-1779 BC. According to Orly Goldwasser’s 2006 article “Canaanites Reading Hieroglyphs: Horus is Hathor? – The Invention of the Alphabet in Sinai,” Keel dated one of Amenemhat III’s unique scarabs to the 13th dynasty. The seal is unique because it has a human hieroglyph determinative in a Canaanite style called protosinaitic script found mostly near the copper and turquoise mines of Sinai. The laborers of the mines fused Egyptian hieroglyphs with some Hebrew letters, and some short-cuts of their own, and made scarab-seals for Egyptian dignitaries in the Delta and abroad. Goldwasser then determined the following:
    1) People in Syria liked their ideas and created a cuneiform version called Ugaritic.
    2) Byblos, on the Syrian coast, may have influenced these miners in the way they wrote the name Hathor, the goddess of turquoise, with a Horus bird and an angle instead of a falcon in a square.
    3) The protosinaitic script is found on a Sinai stela dated to Amenemhat III’s 23rd year, at Wadi Magharah dated to Amenemhat III’s 42nd year, and the mines of Serabit el Khadim in Amenemhat III’s 45th year.
    {This modified paragraph is from pages 395 of my book Pharaohs of the Bible. I agree with Goldwasser.}

  18. Mervyn KERSH says:

    Furthger, the Israelites worked as skilledand literate builders, architects, surveyors, and possibly other professional jobs needing writing. The case is strong that the Israelites were the first inventors of Aleph Beth – a giant step forward in writing.

  19. Mervyn KERSH says:

    Thge israelites were slaves of Egypt and some almost certainly worked in the mines in Soithern Sinaia. We know that Moses was told by God to tell his people to “write these words and learn them”. That means that as early as the time of Moses (1500 BCE) , the Israleites could write.

    Why jump to conclusions that the Alaph Beth was a Canaanite or Phonecian invention?

  20. Arnie Maddox says:

    I’m reluctant to enter this fray but it’s a lot easier to believe that the early Hieroglyphs evolved into the Hieratic then to Demotic, then to modern Arabic and finally to our current alphabet than some miners drawing on a wall to convey “let’s dig here”.

    Think of Occam’s Razor.

    Cheers

  21. Dallas Kennedy says:

    I yield to no one in my admiration for the late Dr. Rainey. But Orly Goldwasser has the better argument here.

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