Early history according to
Samaritans assert that
Mount Gerizim was the original Holy Place of Israel
from the time that
Joshua ben Nun conquered Israel and the twelve
tribes of Israel settled the land. According to the
Torah, the story of Mount Gerizim takes us back to the
story of the time when Moses ordered Joshua to take the
Twelve Tribes of Israel to the mountains by
Shechem and place half of the tribes, six in number,
on the top of Mount Gerizim, the Mount of the Blessing,
and the other half in
Mount Ebal, the Mount of the Curse. The two
mountains were used to symbolize the significance of the
commandments and serve as a warning to whoever disobeyed
The Samaritans have insisted
that they are direct descendants of the Northern
Israelite tribes of
Manasseh, who survived the destruction of
the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians
in 722 BC. The inscription of
Sargon II records the deportation of a
relatively small proportion of the Israelites
(27,290, according to the annals), so it is
quite possible that a sizable population
remained that could identify themselves as
Israelites, the term that the Samaritans prefer
Samaritan historiography would place the
basic schism from the remaining part of Israel
after the twelve tribes conquered and returned
to the land of
Canaan, led by Joshua. After Joshua's death,
Eli the priest left the tabernacle which
Moses erected in the desert and established on
Mount Gerizim, and built another one under his
own rule in the hills of
Shiloh (1 Sam 1:1-3; 2:12-17). Thus, he
established both an illegitimate priesthood and
an illegitimate place of worship.
Abu l-Fath, who in the fourteenth century CE wrote a
major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan
origins as follows:
A terrible civil
war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the
line of Ithamar, and the sons of Pincus (Phineas),
because Eli son of Yafni resolved to usurp the
High Priesthood from the descendants of Pincus.
Semitic language of the
Afro-Asiatic language family with strong
roots in both Chaldean, the language of
Chaldea and Biblical Aramaic. Modern Hebrew
is spoken by more than seven million people in
Israel and used for prayer or study in
Jewish communities around the world. It is
the official language of Israel, though
Arabic are also used there.
Hebrew is also spoken as a mother tongue by the
Samaritans, though today fewer than a
thousand Samaritans remain. As a foreign
language it is studied mostly by Jews and
students of Judaism and Israel, archaeologists
and linguists specializing in the
Middle East and its civilizations and by
The modern word "Hebrew" is derived from the
word "ivriy" which in turn may be based upon the
root "`avar" (עבר) meaning "to cross over". The
Ever occurs in
Genesis 10:21 and possibly means "the one
who traverses". In the Bible "Hebrew" is called
because Judah (Yehuda)
was the surviving kingdom at the time of the
quotation, late 8th century (Is 36, 2 Kings 18).
As a language, Hebrew belongs to the
Canaanite group of languages. Hebrew
Moabite (Jordan) are Southern Canaanite
Phoenician (Lebanon) is Northern Canaanite.
Canaanite is closely related to
Aramaic and to a lesser extent South-Central
Arabic. Whereas other Canaanite languages
and dialects have become extinct, Hebrew has
survived. Hebrew flourished as a spoken language
Canaan from the 10th century
BCE until the
Page from a 15th century Bible in
The Semitic family is a member of the larger
Afro-Asiatic family, all the other five or
more branches of which are based in Africa.
Largely for this reason, the ancestors of
Proto-Semitic speakers are now widely believed
to have first arrived in the Middle East from
Africa, possibly as part of the operation of the
Saharan pump, around the late Neolithic.
Diakonoff sees Semitic originating between the
Nile Delta and Palestine as the northernmost
branch of Afro-Asiatic. Blench even wonders
whether the highly divergent Gurage indicate an
origin in Ethiopia (with the rest of Ethiopic
Semitic a later back migration). However, an
opposing theory is that Afro-Asiatic originated
in the Middle East, and that Semitic is the only
branch to have stayed put; this view is
supported by apparent
loanwords in the African branches of
By the beginning of the
2nd millennium BC(E), East Semitic languages
dominated in Mesopotamia, while West Semitic
languages were probably spoken from Syria to
Yemen, although Old South Arabian is
considered by most to be South Semitic and data
Akkadian had become the dominant literary
language of the
Fertile Crescent, using the
cuneiform script they adapted from the
Sumerians, while the sparsely attested
Eblaite disappeared with the city, and
Amorite is attested only from proper names.
A language is a dynamic set of sensory
communication and the elements used to
manipulate them. Language can also refer
to the use of such systems as a general
phenomenon. Strictly speaking, language is
considered to be an exclusively human mode of
communication. Although other animals make use
of quite sophisticated communicative systems,
sometimes casually referred to as animal
language, none of these are known to make use of
all of the properties that linguists use to
Western Philosophy, language has long been
closely associated with
reason, which is also a uniquely human way
of using symbols. In
Ancient Greek philosophical terminology, the
logos, was used as a term for both
language or speech and reason, and the
Thomas Hobbes used the English word "speech"
so that it similarly could refer to reason, as
will be discussed below. More commonly though,
English word "language", derived ultimately
tongue, typically refers only to expressions
of reason which can be understood by other
people, most obviously by speaking.
A set of commonly accepted symbols is only
one feature of language; all languages must
define the structural relationships between
these symbols in a system of
grammar. Rules of grammar are one of the
characteristics sometimes said to distinguish
language from other forms of communication. They
allow a finite set of symbols to be manipulated
to create a potentially infinite number of
Another property of language is that its
arbitrary. Any concept or grammatical rule
can be mapped onto a symbol. In other words,
most languages make use of sound, but the
combinations of sounds used do not have any
necessary and inherent meaning – they are merely
an agreed-upon convention to represent a certain
thing by users of that language. For instance,
there is nothing about the
itself that forces Spanish speakers to convey
the idea of "nothing". Another set of sounds
(for example, the English word nothing)
could equally be used to represent the same
concept, but all Spanish speakers have acquired
or learned to correlate this meaning for this
particular sound pattern. For
Bosnian speakers on the other hand, nada
means something else; it means "hope".
This arbitrariness even applies to words with
onomatopoetic dimension (i.e. words that to
some extent simulate the sound of the token
referred to). For example, several animal names
katydid) are derived from sounds the
respective animal makes, but these forms did not
have to be chosen for these meanings.
Non-onomatopoetic words can stand just as easily
for the same meaning.
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