THE ORIGIN OF SEMITIC CIVILISATION,
CHIEFLY UPON PHILOLOGICAL EVIDENCE.
By a. H. Sayce, M.A.
Read 2nd April, 1872.
[Extracted from Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology, vol. 1 (1872), pp. 294-309.]
Two main causes have prevented the full application of the comparative method to the Semitic family of languages. Not only are they so much like one another as to be merely sister dialects, but we have no monument of ancient literature like the Vedas, which may serve as a starting point for our comparisons. Even the Old Testament is relatively too modern. Its grammar and its vocabulary have already passed into a later stage of the development of language. They are too nearly akin to those of Arabic or Aramaic. And even apart from this, the Old Testament is both too scanty and has been too much exposed to the corruption of copyists and the misconceptions of a late tradition. Moreover, the want of vowel-signs is a serious loss. The vowel-points of the Masora represent not the original pronunciation, but the traditional pronunciation of a time when the language had ceased to be spoken. Of late, however, materials have been accumulating which will make a scientific treatment of Semitic philology possible. Furnished with the method which has been so successfully applied to the Aryan languages, investigators have attempted to analyse the grammatical forms of the Semitic. Analogy justifies us in attributing the same origin to the Semitic inflections as to the Aryan inflections. The result is a conviction of the late linguistic position of the so-called Semitic tongues. They presuppose a parent-language, standing to them in much the same relation as the Latin stands to the Romance dialects. Beyond this point it is impossible to go [p.295] without further light; and just as there is much in the inflectional portion of the Romance dialects which would remain obscure without the knowledge of Latin and its cognate languages, so there is much in Semitic grammar which, unless we can find additional assistance, must for ever remain a riddle. But beyond the grammar, Semitic stands at a great disadvantage when compared with the Romance. The lexicon does not consist of a definite number of roots, which have been applied to an infinite number of meanings by the help of various inflections and ingenious nuances of signification; the Semite seems to have had a better verbal memory than the Aryan; perhaps the greater heat of his primitive abode gave him more leisure for reflection; and he preferred to express a new idea by a new word. These were all modelled after the same form; and just as the Aryan root is a monosyllable, so is the Semitic a triliteral. It is parallel with the fact that while the Aryan verb comes first and is presupposed by the noun, the converse is the case in Semitic; for the active idea implied by the verb requires to be expressed in the shortest possible way, but the noun needs prolongation and symmetry. This, too, is the difference between a life of activity and of leisure. Whether or not the Semitic roots are ultimately triliteral, is a question still in dispute. At all events the fact remains, that they are so in the Semitic languages in their present form. And so instinctive and necessary had this triliteralism become to the Semitic mind—even granting that it was not a primary instinct and necessity—that not only the Jewish-Arabic grammarians, but far earlier grammarians, the Assyrian literati of Assurbanipal's Court, older even than Panini and his fellow students in India, could only conceive of the Semitic root as a triliteral. Even the concave verbs in Assyrian have their medial vowel hardened into a consonant. And when a monosyllabic loan-word was borrowed from his Turanian neighbours, the Assyrian first of all "Semitised" it by changing it into a triliteral: thus muh becomes mukku, nang'a becomes naga'u. Indeed upon a priori grounds—and, when other data are wanting, a priori evidence is admissible—we should expect from the synthetic Semitic such a concrete [p.296] expression of syncretism as the symmetrical triliteral root, just as we find monosyllabic roots among the analytic Aryans. The Aryan founded inductive science: the Semite saw in the world only a stepping-stone to a higher whole, God. As for the arguments brought forward in behalf of the biliteral theory of Semitic roots, they seem to me to be altogether inconclusive. Triliteral roots do not exclude, they rather imply, pluriliterals formed from them by composition; and the biliteral roots that actually exist—putting out of sight the fact that the Assyrian grammarians triliteralised them—are either (as I hope to show) loan-words or bear traces of having lost a letter, which is sometimes written though no longer pronounced. Surely comparative philology teaches us that phonetic decay is invariably the rule rather than phonetic growth; and in the case of Semitic this is borne out by an analysis of the inflection and such compounds as צפרדע. It is more probable to suppose that similar roots with different servile letters have originated in the same unconscious impulse to connect sound and sense—for it must be remembered that the roots as such never existed per se, but only as implied in flectional words—than to attempt to cut out letters that are not servile in order to reduce all roots to the same biliteral form. We may ask whether in the last case the letters are to be cut out at the beginning, or in the middle, or at the end? In fact the procedure can only be arbitrary; and we have the evidence of Aryan philology for showing that the same radix appears under more or less varying forms which cannot be derived from one another (Curtius, "Grundzuge d. Griechischen Etymologie," 2nd edit. pp. 55-68). The striving to express the object of sense in what seemed to be appropriate sounds resulted in a variety of so-called roots, in which the principal sound was fixed, while its concomitant sounds varied. However, the whole biliteral theory is due to an unconscious effort to assimilate Semitic to Aryan philology. Comparative philology has to be learnt in the Aryan languages, and it is natural to fancy that the results in both families of speech will be the same. It is hard to escape from a bias of this kind. It shows itself again in the unscientific attempt to [p.297] compare Aryan with Semitic roots: they may have been originally connected, but there is no Grimm's law which will allow us to prove this.
It has been necessary to say thus much in order to clear the ground for the subject of this monograph. Comparative grammar has made us aware of the poverty of our materials, while it does not justify us in going beyond our facts in reducing all Semitic roots to a biliteral form. But besides comparative grammar, other aids have recently been forthcoming which may enable us to reach back to the beginnings of Semitic speech. The scientific examination of the so-called sub-Semitic dialects of Africa by Lottner, Fr. Muller, Prutorius and others, has led to a comparison on the one side with Old Egyptian and on the other with the Semitic group, and to the belief that the parent of the sub-Semitic idioms was a sister of the parent Semitic speech. While the vocabularies are for the most part (as in Old Egyptian) essentially non-Semitic, the grammars—including the pronouns and in some measure the numerals—must as clearly be referred to the Semitic family. If these results will bear the test of further investigation, we have at last found a solution of our first main difficulty; and at the same time an instance is afforded of the extreme assimilating character of the Semitic tongues. Our second main difficulty is being obviated by the discovery of cotemporaneous inscriptions and papyri in South Arabia, Sinai, Egypt, Palestine, and elsewhere, by means of which we are enabled to trace to a great extent the development of the different cognate languages, and to determine the relation of the Aramaic to the other dialects which it tended to replace. In this point however, the decipherment of the Assyrian has opened out a new world of facts to us. Not only is the grammar and vocabulary of the Assyrian so full and complete as almost to justify Dr. Hincks in calling it the Sanskrit of the Semitic languages, not only has its system of writing preserved the exact vocalic pronunciation, not only does it present us with copious cotemporaneous records from the sixteenth to the sixth centuries B.C., but it has also made us aware of the fact that a thick stratum of Turanian civilisation underlay [p.298] Semitism in Western Asia, and has given us the means of comparing the two.
The cuneiform system of writing was originally hieroglyphic, and was invented by a Turanian, that is to say Ugro-Mongolian, population of Babylonia at an early period. The oldest memorials that we possess are written in a Turanian language and belong to cities and monarchs with non-Semitic names. In fact all the great towns both of Assyria and of Babylonia bear Turanian names, and these in many cases have been translated into Semitic by the later inhabitants of the country: thus Cadimirra, "Gate of God," becomes Bab-ilu, Babel. Kindred tribes dwelt in the neighbouring highlands of Elam, which were regarded as the primitive home of the Accadai or "Highlanders," the dominant people in Chaldaea; and Elam itself, as is suggested by Gen. xiv, 1, was the seat of an ancient civilisation. Libraries were established at Uru and Senkereh, the Pantabiblos and Larancha of Berosus, and were stocked with elaborate works on astronomy, astrology, mythology, agriculture, &c. These were translated into Semitic, and copies of them were made by order of the Assyrian kings, notably of Assurbanipal, whose library, unfortunately much injured, is now in the British Museum. From it is derived most of our knowledge of pre-Semitic civilisation, and of the debt of Semitism to the latter.
The Semite was by nature highly receptive, and was well fitted to be the future trader of the world. His alphabet was borrowed and adapted, in Assyria from Turanians, in Palestine from Egypt, in Himyar perhaps from India. The Arab received his mathematical science from Alexandria, his philosophy from Athens. We have seen how thoroughly non-Semitic is the vocabulary of the sub-Semitic nations. We shall not be surprised, therefore, at finding how greatly indebted to Accad the Semite was for the rudiments of his civilisation and mythology, and above all for the words which express these. I hope soon to make it clear that this was the case.
As regards the Assyrians, the matter is easy enough. Together with their syllabary they received from their [p.299] Turanian predecessors their pantheon, their science, and numberless words, such as cuduru "warrior," nagu "district," enu "lord," khairu "man," with its derivative khir(a)tu "woman." They were always bounded on the east by Turanian neighbours, and up to the last there were probably some remains of the old population both in Assyria and in Babylonia. We cannot compare the case of the Ethiopic which has borrowed only a few names of plants and animals from the Nigritian aborigines, as these stood on a lower, instead of a higher, level of culture. The Ghe'ez did not cross the Red Sea until they had fully developed their civilisation in Asia, and were therefore likely to mix even less with the primitive population of the country than the Karthaginians with Libyans or Spaniards. The Assyrians, however, entered into the labours of others. Assur is itself a Turanian compound from a "water," and sur "bank" or "field," and has therefore attached to it the Accadian suffix ci "land." The first builders of its great temple bore Accadian names and titles, and their bricks are inscribed with Accadian legends. The innumerable gods and goddesses, demigods and heroes, of the Accadians were adopted by the Assyrians in their popular mythology, in the larger proportion of cases without any change of name. Even temples of Kharsak-curra, [cuneiform] "Highland of the East," "the Mountain of the World," and cradle of the Accadian race and ritual, are founded by Assyrian monarchs. Nay, we find the same starting point of Turanian civilisation mentioned in the Old Testament; Isaiah (xiv, 12) sets the king of Babylon on "the mountain of the gods" or "world," which the Jew, who had identified Accad or Urdhu, [cuneiform] (B.M. S. II, 48 ; 13), "the highlands," with Ararat (Urardhu) of the same signification, places in the north. Both Accad and Armenia are called in the inscriptions Burhur or "summits."
The last sentence raises an important question. If the Ararat of Genesis is Kharsak-curra, did the Hebrew as well as the Assyrian derive his traditions of primaeval times from the Accadians? And as the Old Testament is, besides the Assyrian inscriptions, the only existing monument of ancient [p.300] Semitic belief, the question amounts to asking whether the Semitic traditions generally are referable to a Turanian source. Sir H. Rawlinson and other Assyriologues answer in the affirmative; and I am disposed to agree with them. My reasons are the following. The Assyrians have borrowed their mythology from Accad; such a borrowing, therefore, is possible in the case of the other Semitic peoples. And this possibility is raised to a certainty in certain instances in Genesis. Two of the rivers of the Garden of Eden are expressly stated to be the Euphrates and the Tigris, under its old Accadian name Hiddekhel, and I have found Gikhkhan, the exact representative of Gihon, given as a synonyme of the Euphrates (B.M. S. II, 35; 1, 6. For the value of the first character see B.M. S. II, 4; 622). The second home of mankind, the second origin of civilisation and city-building, and the confusion of tongues, are all connected with Babylon; and we find the Accadian princes styling themselves kings of "languages," while an old name of Babylon was E-ci or "mound-city." The name itself, Ca-dimirra, [cuneiform], or "Gate of God," reminds us of the statement that it was here that God came down to see the children of men. From Babylonia, again, came the progenitors of the Hebrews, Terah and Abraham, as well as Lot and others; and "Ur of the Casdim" is not necessarily Mugheir, as I have found Uru applied to the whole of Accad from the name of the capital. Arphaxad and Chesed are connected on the one hand with Shem and Abraham, and on the other with Aram; and the city of Nahor, the scene of Jacob's marriages, and the home of Balaam, are placed in Mesopotamia. The fragment of foreign history, finally, which is set before us in Gen. xiv, is Babylonian; and the supremacy of Elam, the names of the kings, and the campaigns in Palestine, are borne out by the inscriptions of Accadian kings. If these portions of Genesis thus plainly point out their Chaldean origin, why should not the same hold good of other portions? Berosus makes the antediluvian kings of Babylonia ten in number, and the tenth, Sisuthrus, has a history closely analogous to that of the Biblical Noah, excepting only that his ark rested [p.301] on the Gordyeaan mountains of Kurdistan, the Kharsak-curra of the Inscriptions, instead of on the more striking but later-known Armenian Ararat. Now Sisuthrus is plainly Susru "the founder," [cuneiform] (B.M. S. II. 48; 30, 38), (like the Egyptian Menes), which is given in the tablets as a synonyme of Ami one of the chief gods of the Accadian Pantheon. Anu, who bears the title of "Primaeval Chief," signified "the high one," "the god," "heaven," and was ordinarily called Na in Accadian. The final syllable seems to have been gutturalised, as in nitakh "man," by the side of nita, and consequently exactly represents the Heb. נח. A fragment of an old ritual speaks of "the overwhelming flood of Na in the midst of heaven" more than once, and invokes Ussur as "the striker of fortresses," who "has opened" (ipta) [cuneiform] "the hostile land like a whirlwind," "in the expanse of heaven" (sainu) [cuneiform], addressing him afterwards under the name of Khammu [cuneiform] (B.M. S. II, 19). Perhaps we are reminded of Japhet dwelling in the gates of Shem, with Canaan "the lowland" of the nether earth as his servant. It must not be forgotten that the shrines or arks of the gods were called "ships," and a curious account of a war of the gods and their children against the Moon recalls what is told us about the sons of Elohim in Gen. vi, 4. Just as the Sabbath-rest was known to the Accadians, who had been led by their astronomical observations to set apart the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th days of the months as days of sulum or "rest," on which certain works were forbidden, so the Tree of Life in Paradise finds its analogy in the sacred tree of the Assyrian sculptures, the cherubim connect themselves with the winged figures derived by the Assyrians from the Accadians, in whose language curuv [cuneiform], meant "inspector," and Hea the god of life and wisdom, called also "the king of rivers," was symbolised by the serpent. Sir H. Rawlinson believes that Gan Eden arose from the same etymologising error that explained Babel by balbel. A common Elamite name of Babylonia was Gan-duniyas and Ganduni, gan signifying "enclosure," "district," and Duni or Duniyas being a proper [p.302] name. Jewish tradition identified Gan with Heb. גן, and changed the form of Duni so as to make it signify "delight." If the foregoing be true, it will be no longer possible to attribute an Aryan origin to the early Semitic traditions—the favourite theory of scholars at present—except in so far as Persian influence after the Captivity may have modified the common stock of primitive history among the Jewish people. The Assyrian shows no trace of acquaintance with Aryan, unless possibly in Mitra (B.M. S. Ill, 60; 63), a synonyme of the Sun, and urdhu "high." In fact, it is hard to understand how the Aryan and Semite could have come into contact with one another until the Persians established themselves in Elam and the Assyrians invaded Media, or until the Phoenicians began to explore the shores of the Mediterranean. For it seems more and more clear that the original home of the Semites lay in the Arabian desert, stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea, just as Auyanemvaejo was in the Hindoo-Kush. A nomade life best explains the characteristics of the Semite, and the purest type of the Semite at the present day is still the Bedawin. We have seen how Hebrew tradition went back to the Tigris and Euphrates and the land of Cush (which may be compared with the Cassi (? Kossaei), the fellow-inhabitants of the Accadians in Chaldaea, and with the important Babylonian city Cis); in the same way, according to classical authors, the Phoenicians averred that their occupation of Palestine fell within historical times, and that they had come from the Erythraean Sea, or Arabian side of the Persian Gulf (Her. vii, 89; Just, xviii, 3, 2; Strab. i, 2, 35, p. 42; xvi, 3, 4, p. 766). Joppa boasted of having been built before the deluge (Plin. v, 14; Solin. xxxiv, 1), and of being the seat of Kepheus king of the Ethiopians, the name under which the pre-Aryan and pre-Semitic populations of Asia and Europe were known to the Greeks. Thus we are told by Dikasarkhus that the Chaldeans were first called Kephenes from king Kepheus; and Pliny only rationalises actually-existing myths when he says (Nat. Hist. vi, 35) that "Ethiopia was illustrious and powerful even as early as the reign of Memnon during the Trojan War; and that its empire ex- [p.303] tended over Syria and the shores of Italy in the age of king Cepheus, is clear from the legend of Andromeda." The cuneiform monuments bear similar testimony. Up to quite a recent period the Khatti or Hittites, the Kheta of the Egyptian, were in possession of all northern Syria; and their proper names are non-Semitic. In Genesis, the Hittites appear as far south as Machpelah; and the Zuzim, Zamzummim, Emim, &c., the giants of old time, seem to belong to the pre-Semitic aborigines. Kharran, the key of the highway from the east to the west, is an Accadian word meaning "road"; and the title "king of the four races" assumed by the Accadian monarchs apparently denotes Syria, and may refer to linguistic and ethnic differences. Assyria did not pass under Semitic rule until after the nineteenth century B.C., as the date of the patesi of Assur, who founded the Temple of Anu there, is fixed, by a reference in the standard inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I, at B.C. 1840; and the Semites could only have moved up from the south. Babylonia, however, or rather the western bank of the Euphrates, on which Uru stood, had long contained a Semitic population. Not only do we find the Accadian princes occasionally writing in Semitic, and yet oftener translating into Semitic, but even the astrological tablets sometimes have Semitic glosses, and private contracts are drawn up in Semitic when one at least of the parties bears a Semitic name. Very rarely the monarch himself has a Semitic name, as in the case of Naram-Sin, the conqueror of Karrak, corrupted by Accadian pronunciation into Rim-Sin; but this, perhaps, only happened after the Semitic conquest of Assyria when the two royal families began to intermarry. As I have already stated, however, the Semites do not seem to have ventured to cross the Euphrates and separate themselves from their kinsfolk in their old desert home. The predatory excursions of the latter do not appear to have been always easy to restrain, as one of the most important consequences of a favourable conjunction of the heavenly bodies was that "the cattle shall lie in the desert in safety." Those Semites who had settled under Accadian rule, and adopted the civilisation to which the Turanian settlers in [p.304] Babylonia had attained, chiefly show themselves in a business capacity in the contract tablets. The higher subjects discussed in the mythological and astrological treatises, and the royal inscriptions relating to the building of temples, were written in the language of the dominant people. The nomade was highly receptive though not original, and eminently fitted for the active habits and shrewd practices of trade.
It would seem, therefore, that the Semites extended themselves from their desert cradle first probably into Egypt, and then in comparatively historical times into Palestine, moving from south to north. They had already been brought into close contact with the Turanian civilisation of the Euphrates and Tigris, and tribes of them, with the roving disposition exemplified in the Hyksos in Egypt or the Israelites in Canaan, had settled among their Turanian neighbours. We may expect, therefore, that an interchange of ideas, arts, and words would take place between them; and as civilisation and culture were upon the side of the Turanians, while the Semite gave but little, he would receive much. This, I believe, is borne out by the facts. The Semitic vocabulary, examined in the light of cuneiform revelations, shows, I believe, much borrowing from the Accadian, and will enable us to gauge to some extent the amount of civilisation possessed by the primitive Semite before his intercourse with Accad. We have already seen that a considerable portion of Assyrian words, as well as the Assyrian mythology, are immediately derived from an Accadian source. I have also endeavoured to point out the probability that the common stock of Semitic traditions has the same origin. And I will now try to show that most of the so-called biliteral roots, and words relating to civilised life, are taken from Turanian Babylonia.
The first condition of civilised life is the city. Now the most conspicuously Semitic word for "city" is עיר. It is the first that would occur to the Semitic scholar. But עיר is the Accadian Uru (BM. S. II, 2; 393), also called Eri [cuneiform] (B.M. S. II, 70; 100). whence the name of Uru, "the city" par excellence, just as Uruq (Erech) is uru-ci "city of the [p.305] land." Urit is translated by the Assyrian alu, commonly used in Assyrian in the place of עיר as in Ellasar = Alu Assur (Gen. xiv, 1). Alu is Heb. אהל, and properly signified "a tent." This takes us back to a time when the Semite nomade lived in tents, and had to derive this idea and name of "city" from his Accadian neighbours. Urit seems to be connected with 'ur or 'uri "to defend" (with which, perhaps, dur "fortress" may also claim kinship); possibly עיר "to watch" goes back to this origin. The Accadian also used the word muruh (B.M. S. II, 30; 17) for "city," with the suffix h or ha, the initial vowel prefixing m (which was probably pronounced mw) as in mus by the side of this "male." Other Semitic terms relating to the same idea have the same Turanian source. Kirjath and its numerous kindred words go back to the Accadian bir or car, [cuneiform], "a fortress," which seems akin to cal "strong" and "stronghold." So again גן is the Accadian gun or gan with its bye-forms gina, gagunu, and gunganu "enclosure." The conception of a permanent enclosure had to come from the Accad or in later times from the Aryan Paradise. Similarly, as Dr. Oppert has pointed out, the word for "palace" was borrowed; היכל is the Accadian e-gal "great house," as in e-gal Khammurahi "palace of Khammurabi." We shall find Semitic כ or ק representing Accadian g in other instances. On the other hand the universal term for "house," בית bigatu, is the abstract fem. from בוא, and is literally "what is come to" or "entered," reminding us rather of the caves of the Troglodytes than of a habitation made by hands. From the same root probably comes also במה "altar," with the second radical hardened into m as is so common in Assyrian (e.g. camu'u = כוה, limu'u = , 'amaru = אור, lamu = לוח). The derivation would be parallel to that of תל from עלה (Assyr. tul, tal). It is possible that עי "ruins" represents the Accadian e, which means at once "hollow" and "mound" (B.M. S II, 2, 376; 50, 55), (whence the name of "house"). Along with the names of settled habitations, the Semites had to borrow the words that expressed their contents. Thus כסא "seat," "throne," goes back to the Accadian guza. [p.306] Arabic and Aramaic have inserted r, that favourite supplementary sound of the Semites, as in דרמשק for דמשק. See also "the floor" temennu was the Accadian temen from te "to raise." The requirements of a settled order of society, again, were denoted by terms originally Accadian. In contradistinction to malicu "the small chief," was sanm "king" (Heb. שר). This was the Accadian sar (as in Sar-gina). So, too, enuv [cuneiform], became the common Assyrian enu "lord," like חר from the Accadian kharra or possibly even בעל from mul "master." The crown that the king wore was ega or aga in Accadian, egu or agu or agagu in Assyrian, and the word in the primitive signification of "circle" is known to the other Semitic tongues. Law itself was a foreign idea to the primitive Bedawin who did that which was right in his own eyes. From di "judge" came dinu, increased by the nasal-like dun ("go") by the side of du or sem ("give") by the side of se [cuneiform]. It is noticeable that the terms for "enemy" or "stranger" as opposed to "friend" seem also to claim affinity with the Accadian curra, as if the Arab nomade had no definite enemy or friend, for his hand was against every man's and every man's hand against him. Less remarkable is the Turanian origin of some of the metals. Zabar [cuneiform], "copper" or "bronze" is the Arab. zifr, which is compounded with bar "blight" or "white" like habar "silver," the shining metal. The same word shows itself in ברזל "iron," which is represented in the cuneiform by the god Bar, the lord of the sky and the thunderbolt. Cisip [cuneiform], "number," "valuation," may be compared with כספ, and would imply that silver was the usual medium of exchange between the neighbouring races. The word may be related to caspu "hour," "mile," which was adopted by the Assyrians. "Number" or "measure" generally has also the same origin. The maneh with its cognate (minitu) &c., is the Accadian mana, which we first meet with in an old law-tablet. Similarly the idea of "weighing" or "paying" is borrowed. The Accadian verb was aca, [cuneiform] (B.M. II, 2; 336), properly "to raise" the scales; and the Semitic שקל has, I believe, its origin in [p.307] the common Accadian sak-ili "head-raising." Mathematical science had made much progress among the Accadians: we are not surprised, therefore, at discovering that they gave the Semites not only the general term for "number," but also the definite expression of a large cipher: מאה "one hundred" is the Accadian mih [cuneiform], "multitude," whence mes "many," compounded with is "heap," like es "abode" (e-is) by the side of e. Even the first numeral seems to have drawn one of its names from the same source. [cuneiform] khidu (whence ed-is or khad-is "alone"), is clearly the Accadian khid or id "one." Khid or kat primarily signified "hand," and refers us to the time when the savage expressed "one" by holding up his hand. It is curious that the Semites took two of their words for the "hand" from a foreign people. Id is יד, and כפ is as clearly gap which in Accadian denoted "palm" or "hand," while the ordinary Assyrian word was katti. Another part of the body also received a foreign name: פי or פה is the Accadian ^^a "mouth," "speech," which is found by the side of ca; and the plural pa-pa or ca-ca denoted "the face," like פימ. From uzu [cuneiform], "flesh" or "body," perhaps came עז "strength," and libbu (לב) is referred to the Accadian libis.
Astrological terms would naturally be
borrowed. Thus we are not astonished at the similarity of the Semitic
&c., to the Accadian kind "unlucky," "bad," "ill;" or possibly of
to שמח. The Assyrians, of course, derived dibbu "a tablet" from the old
language, and perhaps khir [cuneiform], "to write," may be detected in
חרט "a style,"
and חרש "write," "scratch," "plough." Agricultural terms, indeed, may be
expected to have had their prototypes in Accadian. Thus neru "the yoke" for
ploughing is the Accadian tie or ner [cuneiform];
נקר "to dig" is equated with the
Turanian ingar; and [cuneiform] "cleft," "valley," represents the Accadian
ge [cuneiform], א
expressing the guttural sound heard after the final vowel. Babylonia was the
native home of the cereals: hence we readily recognise in
שבר (sibirru) the
Accadian se-bar "white corn"; from se [cuneiform], "corn," came the Assyrian
(compare סערה). Bar "white" gave [p.308] its name
to בר, so that as in English the Semitic grain took its appellation from its
white colour. It is possible that agara or akaru "field," with
ceila, kakmu or ganaru and carannu, find their original root in
"country," which, like mat, Aram.
מתא (from ma-da), was borrowed by the
Besides the level of culture, the geographical character of the primitive home of the Semites may be ascertained from the records of language. Both mountains and large rivers seem to have been unknown to them. Thus the Assyrian sadu (Arab, saddun) "mountain" is the Accadian sad [cuneiform] (= sa-da); and from sah (sa-ak) the Assyrians formed sakumatu "highlands." So, again, דר is ar [cuneiform], "district," more especially "mountainous district," and עלה seems to connect itself with ili as well perhaps as נשא with is, izi, and isa. On the other hand, gahiri was, I believe, borrowed by the Accadians. No Accadian analogies for it are forthcoming, and it is probable that gahir is the original form of the word which in later Semitic appears with l (as in Arab. jebel), and is thus connected with גבר "strong." Neither the Ethiopic daber (tabor) nor the Accadian bur "head," "high" (also "ten") can well be akin. The Semites were especially fond of the sound r, which changes into l more readily than l into r; and we may quote, by way of illustration, the parent Aryan speech in which l was rare, if not unknown. So in Egyptian l is replaced by r. This would be interesting to Semitic philology, as affording a presumption for the non-originality of l in roots. Other words besides gabiri were borrowed by the Accadians from their neighbours: thus ibila "son" is the Assyrian abilu, with a weakened to i as in Rim for (Na)ram. So emi "people," is more probably of Semitic origin than the converse. As regards the evidence for the want of rivers גהר, so יאר can hardly be separated from the Accadian aria. With this agrees the Semitic traditions that go back to the Accadian rivers Hiddekhel and Euphrates, and the present character of northern Arabia. On the other hand, the Semites were acquainted with the sea: tihamtu and maurata (Arab, bakhrun, Eth. bakher) find no Accadian [p.309] analogues, and the latter may possibly be connected with "salt." The words denoting "ship" and "fish," again, are of native origin. This would suit the Phoenician tradition of their cradle on the shores of the Persian Gulf.
In addition to all these more technical and specific terms, the Semites were indebted to their neighbours for other words of more general meaning. Ab or aba "father" and um "mother" are, indeed, of universal recurrence, and are, therefore, no proof of borrowing upon either side. But this is not the case with words like כון with Shaphel by the side of gin (which may, however, originally had the more definite meaning of "fixing" a settlement or house, like the Accadian sim [cuneiform], "foundation," whence שומ, &c.), or bat [cuneiform], "to open," which reminds us of פתח Ass. pituu. In ri "to shine" as compared with ראה, or 'ur "heat" as compared with אור and נר, we may have astronomical references. Other instances need not be quoted, as enough, I think, has been brought forward to show that there are strong grounds or justifying my opinions upon the obligations of early Semitic civilisation. A new light has been thrown upon the primitive history of the Semitic race, and we are better able to compare the Semitic languages with Old Egyptian or the sub-Semitic dialects. I confidently look forward to future research both corroborating and increasing the results contained in the present monograph.
Note.—[cuneiform], "king," is derived from 'sa ([cuneiform]), "judge," "prince," by means of the formative r or ra, which we find in dimir-ra "god," zicura "heaven" (by the side of zicuv), and other words. Bab-ilu I have also found given as Bab-ili "Gate of the gods" (B.M. S. II, 48 ; 57).