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Hebrew Was First
and Is the Oldest Language in Continuous Use

by Dr. David Livingston

First we must dismiss the theory of oral transmission as the source of Genesis. It is utter nonsense to expect that a pure document could be transferred from one generation to another for hundreds of years. Even Middle Easterners, with their prodigious memories could not do it. Concentration on the role of oral tradition has led scholars to underestimate the role of written records. We will give some evidence that the Pentateuch in its entirety was written from the beginning

According to Brown, Driver, and Briggs (page 349 of their Hebrew and English Lexicon) the Hebrew verb chaqaq means to "cut in, inscribe, decree" also  "engrave, inscribe" as in Isaiah 30:8  "on the roll of a book."  "of a law: engrave, inscribe (on a tablet)."   There is not the slightest question when this verb (or a noun from it) is used that it means a written statute or decree.

In Esther 3:8 Haman complained to the King that the laws of the Hebrews were "different from those of all other people."  So the Jews had their own laws which they kept. These were the laws, no doubt, given to Moses.

Leviticus 26:46

Leviticus 18:3-5: Moses had been told early on, "I am the Lord your God. You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you: you shall not walk in their statutes (bechuqqoteyhem). You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes (chuqqotay), to live in accord with them; I am the Lord your God. So you shall keep My statutes (chuqqotay) and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord." (NASB)

Leviticus clearly makes a distinction between God's judgments and statutes and those of the nations around Israel. So Israel's laws, then, could not have been derived from their contemporaries. They were given by direct revelation. This takes us back to early in the Late Bronze Age. Could God's written statutes have been available even earlier?

Yes, Abraham obeyed God's statutes (chuqqotay) as well as other written laws (mishmartiy, mitzotay, torotay). He left the wicked city of Ur to save his family (Genesis 26:5, Hebrews 11:8-10). He unquestionably had written instructions to use in following the statutes of the Lord.

How do we know that?

We must shed misconceptions heard from evolutionary anthropologists who have influenced the linguists. This wagon-train of influences has convinced most of the world that man came from apes. Therefore, by this theory early communications between homo sapiens were rudimentary using pictograms which eventually developed into alphabets and pictographic symbols. Unfortunately, most evangelical scholars have joined the wagon-train and take evolutionary linguists word for the scenario.

Evolutionary philosophy must have a progression in writing forms to be satisfied. It is inconceivable (to them) that man, as soon as he was created, could actually talk with God! It is even more difficult for them to imagine man was able to write anything at the beginning.

So, what evidence do we have for very early writing? Since evolutionists will not accept Genesis as history under any circumstances, they thus deal themselves out of the game from the very start.

Genesis is accurate history but is concerned only with events of supreme importance. Therefore, everything mentioned in it is foundational. When chapter 5:1 speaks of a sepher (book) connected with Adam, it is translated correctly in the NIV "This is the written account of Adam's line." (our emphasis)  The word sepher always means a written account. But the way scholars get around that is to call this entry in Scriptures an "anachronism"  (entered into the text by later scribes).

The only reason this is called an "anachronism" is that they have been convinced that writing could not possibly be that early -- in the very beginning. However man, in the very beginning, was much more intelligent than our generation which has been slowed down mentally by gene changes, diseases, adverse weather and crop changes, etc. Just because we can fly to the moon and back does not mean we are more intelligent than people in Bible times. We are enjoying accumulated knowledge now.

We have not mentioned anything about early writing outside the Bible. Some important examples are the Sumerian kinglists which write about kings and cities even before the great Flood. Although the ages of the kings mentioned therein are either grossly exaggerated or their numeric values are not understood by us, there is clear evidence of writing from earliest times outside the scriptures as well as the scriptures themselves.

In closing, we should be able to say with confidence that Adam could write as well as we can, or perhaps even better! He may have spoken Hebrew from the very first. He had to speak some language! And the accounts before and following Genesis 5:1 are all in Hebrew! Thus God's chosen ones from the beginning had His written instructions to follow that were not like those of any nation around them.

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© 2003 David Livingston