Hebrew: The Language of Eden
This article discusses the possibility that Hebrew might have been the original language of the world, before the dispersion from Babylon.
Since the publication of my book, Forgotten History of the Western People, some of my readers have pointed out that the original world language, before the dispersion from the Tower of Babel, might have been Hebrew. They believe that Hebrew was the original language of the garden of Eden, and the study of this subject is called "Edenics". They also believe that many English words are derived from Hebrew. When I first heard of this, I found it a bit strange because English is an Indo-European language, and Hebrew is Semitic, and the notion of the Hebrew roots of the English language runs contrary to modern thinking of linguistics. I wondered if it might be just another fanciful idea from the British Israelites, who believe that the British people are descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel, placing them in a special covenant realtionship with God. However, I found that the supporters of Edenics are not British Israelites and they are not trying to prove any religious doctrine.
So, I decided to look into the subject, and to my surprise I found there is some quite substantal evidence that Hebrew might indeed be the original world language. The main source of linguistic evidence is The Word: The Dictionary That Reveals the Hebrew Source of English, by Isaac Mozeson. For a summary of the evidence from various sources, but primarily from Mozeson's book, see Edenic - The First Language.
Structure of Genesis
In addition to the linguistic arguments, I discovered there are other reasons to believe that Hebrew was the first language, and this lies in the construction of the Book of Genesis, otherwise known as the first of the five books of Moses. However, Moses could not have written it, because it describes events that occurred long before his time. Instead he compiled it from other documents that were available to him. It was commonplace in the ancient world to write a "colophon" at the end of a document, identifying the author, and sometimes the date and place when it was written. Colophons have been found on stone tablets belonging to ancient Babylon, and they are the equivalent of the modern-day title page that appears at the beginning of a book.
The colophons in the Book of Genesis all have a similar form such as "This the book of the generations of Adam", or "These are the generations of Noah". The Hebrew word "toledoth" is consistently used, which means "generations", "origins" or "histories", and then there is the name of the person who is signing off this section of the history. In some cases it is followed by a list of his descendants, and this has led some commentators to believe that the "toledoth" phrase is an introduction to a genealogical list. However, there is not always a genealogy, and the regular repetition of the "toledoth" phrase indicates that it is genuinely a signing-off phrase and not an introduction. For a discussion of the text, see The First Book of Moses and the 'Toledoth' of Genesis, by Damien F. Mackey. He credits P.J. Wiseman as the original author who discovered the toledoth structure in 1936, and since then it has appeared in various commentaries, including The Genesis Record by Henry Morris.
There are nine sections in the Book of Genesis as follows:
Having established that the Book of Genesis consists of nine separate books, written by different people, the question arises, in what language were all these books written? The name "Hebrew", referring to both the people and the language of the Israelites, is attributed to their ancestor Heber, the great-grandson of Shem, so it must be a very ancient language. All the books from Terah onwards must have been written in Hebrew, because he was the fifth-generation descendant of Heber. The earlier books must also have been written in Hebrew, for the following reasons:
I have referred to the linguistic arguments of Mozeson, that the original language of the pre-flood world might have been Hebrew, and I have also given the structure of the book of Genesis, on the basis of the well-known "toledoth" phrases. However, I have not yet found any books or web pages suggesting that the structure of Genesis adds weight to the argument, that Hebrew was the language of Eden. Have I discovered something new, or have I simply rediscovered something that was known to our ancestors, whose work is buried somewhere in a mountain of forgotten histories?
Update, July 28, 2003
Since I wrote this article, I found some Jewish people who say that, according to Jewish tradition, Hebrew is the language of Eden, and this is what the Jews have always believed. They call it L'shon HaKodesh which means The Holy Language, and there are many references to the special status of Hebrew in the Jewish literature. To give just one example, the Midrash Rabbah, Genesis XXXI:8 says that "Just as the Torah was given in Hebrew, so was the world created with Hebrew".