More than simply a method of communication shared by a common people, the Hebrew language was always an integral part of the Jewish cultural system and, as such, tightly interwoven into the lives of the prophets, poets, scribes, and priests who used it. In this unique social history, William Schniedewind examines classical Hebrew from its origins in the second millennium BCE until the Rabbinic period, when the principles of Judaism as we know it today were formulated, to view the story of the Israelites through the lens of their language. Considering classical Hebrew from the standpoint of a writing system as opposed to vernacular speech, Schniedewind demonstrates how the Israelites' long history of migration, war, exile, and other momentous events is reflected in Hebrew's linguistic evolution. An excellent addition to the fields of biblical and Middle Eastern studies, this fascinating work brings linguistics and social history together for the first time to explore an ancient culture.
William M. Schniedewind is Kershaw Chair of Ancient Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Professor of Biblical Studies and Northwest Semitic Languages, and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA.