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" Let not the Aramaic be lightly esteemed by thee, seeing 
that the Holy One {blessed be He !) has given honour to it 
in the Pentateuch {Gen. xxxi. 47), in the Prophets {Jer. 
X. 11), and in the Hagiographa {Dan. it. ^)." Jerusalem 
Talmud {Sotah vii. 2). 

5 1S32 





The Author hopes that this treatise may be of use to 
many persons who possess only an elementary knowledge 
of Hebrew, as well as to more advanced students ; hence the 
frequent references to Francis Browne's Hebrew Lexicon. 
He also wishes to call especial attention to the important 
epigraphic feature discussed in Note II., which has a very 
distinct bearing on the age of the Book of Daniel. 





The problem of Biblical Aramaic has of late years awakened 
great interest. The dialect which meets us in the Book of 
Daniel in all its purity, and in a less pure form in the Book 
of Ezra, has justly been deemed worthy of close investiga- 
tion, seeing that it has a bearing on the age of those Sacred 
Books, and on the light in which we must regard them. 
Accordingly, scholars have taken great pains to show that 
the rendering of the original dh sound by d rather than 
by z, which forms so striking a characteristic of the Aramaic 
of Daniel and is so consistently maintained throughout that 
Book, can only be looked upon as a proof of its late author- 
ship.* The evidence brought forward in support of this 
conclusion is at first sight very strong. It runs thus : — 

In the more ancient Aramaic inscriptions, viz. those from 
ZinjirH, Hamath, and Nerab, ranging from the second 
decade of the eighth down into the sixth century b.c, and 
also in the Aramaic dockets on business tablets from Assyria 
and Babylonia, ranging from the end of the eighth down 
into the fifth century B.C., as well as on the Teima Stone, 
which on epigraphic grounds may be assigned to the end 
of the sixth or the first half of the fifth century B.C., we 
meet with z only. But when we come to the dated papyri 
from Elephantine, which practically extend over the fifth 
century B.C., and to other undated papyri found with them 

* G. B. Driver, The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel : Journal of Biblical 
Literature, vol. xlv (1926), pp. 110-119 ; and H. H. Rowley, Tfie Aramaic 
of the Old Testament, Oxford University Press (1928). 


4 Dadda-idri, or 

and judged to belong to the latter half of the same period, 
the d makes its appearance, and — so it is said — with 
increasing frequency, and hence that period, we are told, 
must be looked upon as a " period of transition." * 

My object in this essay is to show that a dental dialect 
most certainly existed in the Old Aramaic, and that the 
papyri from Elephantine, so far from exhibiting the sibilant 
dialect as giving place to the dental, rather exhibit the dental 
dialect as affected by the sibilant in a mixed community, 
drawn from various quarters, such as the Jewish garrison 
at Elephantine. I shall also endeavour to show, that the 
difference in dialect is due to locality and contact, rather 
than to the age of the inscriptions and documents ; and in 
doing this I shall call attention to evidence deducible 
from the cognate languages of South Arabia and 

Let me, then, observe at the outset, that there is one 
argument which those who take an opposite view have 
failed to meet, viz. the fact that in the Assyrian records of 
the ninth century B.C., dealing with the campaigns of 
Shalmaneser III (858-824 B.C.), the name of the Syrian 
king, Hadadezer II, the Benhadad of i Kings xx., is spelt 
in the cuneiform Dadda-id-ri and Dadda-'-id-ri, in either 
case with a ^ in the latter component instead of a z. As 
a possible explanation of this seemingly strange phenomenon 
G. B. Driver suggests that the Hebrew root itj;, not being 
found in Assyrian, and izri sounding very like izru, the 
Assyrian for " a curse," the scribes of Shalmaneser pre- 
ferred to change izri into ilri on the analogy of their own etir 
" saved." Now it is quite true that the cuneiform 
characters, read as id-ri, can also be read it-ri, the same 
character standing for id and it ; but that the Assyrian 
scribes should deliberately change the sibilant z into the 
dental t is most unlikely. However, proof can be brought 
to show that the Assyrians were not troubled with any such 
qualms as Driver suggests, for when they had to deal with 

* Rowley, pp. 19. 25. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Da?iiel 5 

the name of Azariah, king of Judah, which contains the 
same root, i?J?, the}^ wrote it Az-ri-ia-u, or Iz-ri-ia-u, with 
a z and not with a d, following the Hebrew pronunciation 
of the name. In just the same way, I imagine, Dadda- 
id-ri, or Dadda-'-id-ri, was written down just as it was 
heard spoken at Damascus.* 

It is still urged, however, that this single name, Dadda- 
'idri, is but slender evidence on which to build up a theory 
as to early Aramaic orthography in the ninth century 
B.c.t But when we search further, the evidence is found 
to be by no means so slender as was at first supposed. In 
An Assyrian Doomsday Book, written by that great autho- 
rity on the contract tablets, the late Dr. Johns, we are 
furnished with cuneiform documents, describing different 
farms in the neighbourhood of Haran and giving the names 
of their owners or occupiers. On these tablets, written as 
their contents show while the Assyrian empire was still 
standing, we meet with several Syrian names having idri 
for their second component, such as Ata-idri, Au-idri, 
Atar-idri, Bel-Harran-idri, Iln-idri, Milki-idri ; also 
Nashkhu-idri, and Si' -idri, where Nashkhu and Si' are the 
local pronunciation of the names Nusku and Sin ; these 
last two names thus forming a voucher that on the Haran 
tablets names were written down just as they were spoken. 
It appears, then, that in Haran in the seventh century b.c, 
as well as at Damascus in the ninth century B.C., idri, and 
not izri, was the form which corresponded to the Hebrew 
^'V. But if this were so, we should expect to find the same 
feature in other Syrian proper names containing roots 
which in Hebrew have i for one of their letters. And this 
is just what we do find when we run through the proper 
names in Johns' book. Thus the name Si'-dikir, " Sin 
remembers," finds its parallel in the Hebrew Jo-zakar,J 
" Jah remembers " ; whilst Si'-ahadi may be compared 

* With regard to the name Dadda-idri, see Note i at the end of this 

t Rowley, p. 25. 
X 2 Kings xii. 21. 

6 Dadda-idrty or 

with Jehoahaz, and N ashklm-dimri with Zimri, the abbre- 
viated name of one of the kings of Israel. 

The existence of a dental dialect in the ancient Aramaic 
may, then, be said to be proved. But it will still be asked : 
If such a dialect existed, how is it that we never meet with 
it in the older Aramaic inscriptions ? The answer to this 
question lies in the fact that the Arameans were diffused 
over a very wide area, and that the older inscriptions 
come to us from a very limited portion of that area. To 
reahze this it will be well for us to glance at the early 
history of this people and to endeavour to trace their 

The first bit of history that we know concerning the 
Arameans is told us in Amos ix. 7, where Jehovah declares 
emphatically that Israel is not the only nation whose steps 
he has guided. His words are as follows : " Have not I 
brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Phili- 
stines from Caphtor (Crete), and the Sjnrians (Heb. 
Arameans) from Kir? " The Arameans, then, have come 
from Kir, and to Kir Amos predicts that they will be carried 
back (chap. i. 5), a prediction fulfilled by Tiglathpileser 
(2 Kings xvi. 9). But where is Kir ? Evidently we must 
look for it away from Damascus, it being the practice of 
that king to transport conquered peoples across the empire. 
This, however, does not help us much. But Hommel 
points out that an answer to the question can be obtained 
from Isa. xxii. 6, where the prophet, speaking apparently 
of forced contingents in the Assyrian army, couples the bow- 
bearers of Elam with the shield-bearers of Kir.* Kir, then, 
is to be sought for on the border of Elam. Now it is not 
a little remarkable that Tiglathpileser, after giving us a 
Hst of no less than thirty-five Aramean tribes whom he has 
subjugated, concludes it with the words, " the Arameans, 
all of them, on the banks of the Tigris, Euphrates, Surappi, 
and Uknu." t The Uknu is the river which flows past 

* Ancient Hebrew Tradition, 207 ff. 
t Nimrud Tablet. 


/•'acini; />. 6 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 7 

Shushan, the Capital of Elam, so that Arameans were still 
dwelling in Kir in the days of Tiglathpileser. But would 
that king be likely to take the Arameans of Damascus and 
plant them down among the stock from which they originally 
sprang ? Yes ! for this very good reason : that the two had 
been so long parted, and had now so little in common, that 
their Aramean origin would only be the more likely to beget 
a certain antagonism, each party claiming to be the true, 
genuine Arameans. 

Only a fraction of the Arameans can have remained in 
Kir. The more enterprising part of the nation spread them- 
selves far and wide. We can trace their wanderings up the 
river Euphrates and on into the vast Syrian desert, where 
Tiglathpileser I, ca. iioo B.C., directed a campaign against 
them. " For the twenty-eighth time," writes that monarch, 
" in pursuit of the Ahlame Arameans I crossed the 
Euphrates : the second time in one year. From Tadmar 
of Amurru (the Amorite Land), Anat of Suhi (the Shuhites 
of the Book of Job), even as far as Rapiku of Karduniash 
(Babylonia Proper) I defeated them." Tadmar is the 
Biblical " Tadmor in the wilderness" (2 Chron. viii. 4), 
known to the Greeks and Romans as Palmyra ; in the 
district from which come the Palmyrene inscriptions. Anat 
is the modern Anah on the Euphrates, and Rapiku lies 
further down the same stream, only three days' march from 
the Babylonian Sippar.* The Arameans can be traced up 
the Middle Euphrates by the names of the different city- 
states or of their rulers. Bit " house," i.e. kingdom, 
followed by the name of the founder, is a frequent mark 
of an Aramean settlement. Thus, a little above Anat we 
have Bit-Shabaia,t and higher up the state Khindani, whose 
ruler, Ammialaba, has a Semitic name. J Above Khindani 
is the state Laqe, whose king, Ila, as well as his chief men, 
Azi-ilu and Khinti-ilu, all bear names in which it is impos- 

* See the inscription of Tukulti-Urta II in Luckenbill's Ancient Records 
of Assyria and Babylonia, vol. i, p. 129. 
t Annals of Ashumatsirpal, col. iii. 
X Annals of Tukulti-Urta II, Ancient Records, i. 130. 

8 Dadda-idri, or 

sible not to see the name of El, the chief god of the Syrians, 
and indeed in Hebrew the word for " God." * Going still 
further up the Euphrates to the bend where it approaches 
nearest to the Mediterranean, we come to Bit-Adini,* 
" The House of Eden," mentioned in Amos i. 5, apparently 
as a vassal-state of Damascus. To the west of Bit-Adini, 
and near the head of the Gulf of Iskanderun, is the state of 
Sam'al,! whose rulers bear Semitic names, such as Gabbar 
and Bamah. J Here have been found three Aramaic inscrip- 
tions WTitten in the sibilant dialect, one dating probably 
from the first quarter of the eighth century B.C., the other 
two about seventy years later. North of Sam'al is the 
state of Gurgum, the capital of which was Markasi, the 
modern Marash. In the days of Sargon the ruler of Gurgum 
bore the Hittite name Tarkhulara. He was assassinated 
by his " son," i.e. successor, Mutallu : a Semitic name, or 
rather title, equivalent to our " Highness," and found also 
in the neighbouring state of Qummukh.§ Gurgum and 
Qummukh mark the furthest advance of the Arameans in 
the north-west. But it is worthy of notice that two Aramaic 
inscriptions, both probably belonging to the fifth century 
B.C., have been found rather further to the west ; one in 
the valley of the 'river Lamas, i| the other on the banks of 
the Cydnus, fifteen miles north-east of Tarsus : ]j so that 
Aramaic must to some extent have been spoken in Cilicia. 

From Gurgum we must travel direct south down the 
eastern border of the maritime states to Hamath, occupying 
the valley of the Orontes and lying immediately to the 
north of Palestine. Hamath in the days of David was an 
Hittite state, but two centuries later we find it in the hands 
of the Arameans. Zakir, king of Hamath, who was a 

* Annals of Ashumatsirpal, col. iii. 

t Nimrud Tablet of Tiglathpileser III. 

X Inscription of Kilammu, king of Sam'al. 

§ Annals of Sargon, tenth and eleventh years. 

II G. A. Cooke, North Semiiic Inscriptions, p. 194. 

if Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 35 (1915-17), pp. 370-74 
The epigraphic value of this inscription cannot be overestimated : see 
Note 2 at the end of this treatise. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 9 

contemporary of Benhadad III, the son of Hazael, mentioned 
in 2 Kings xiii. 3, 25, has left us an early inscription in 
Aramaic, which Kraeling, interpreting its contents by the 
events noted in the Assyrian Eponym Lists, assigns to ca. 
772 B.C.* 

Halfway between Gurgum and Hamath, but rather more 
to the east, hes Aleppo, the ancient Halman, in the vicinity 
of which have been found two Aramaic inscriptions, dating 
probably from the first half of the sixth century B.C., and 
written in the sibilant dialect. 

We are now approaching Damascus and a group of 
Aramean states, mentioned in the Old Testament, which 
stretched from the north-east border of Israel to the further 
side of the Euphrates, viz. Aram-Zobah (Ps. Ix, title), Aram- 
Damascus (2 Sam. viii. 6), Aram-Beth-Rehob (2 Sam. x. 6), 
Aram-Maacah (i Chron. xix. 6), and Aram-Naharaim 
(i Chron. xix. 6). Of these the chief was Damascus. 
Damascus, because of the fertihty of its well-watered oasis, 
must needs have been a very ancient settlement, of which 
probably it could have been said as of Jerusalem, " the 
Amorite was thy father, and thy mother was an Hittite." f 
But just as it was ordered by God that Jerusalem should 
become the capital of Israel, so it was His intention that 
Damascus should become the head of Aram. The earliest 
mention of Damascus in the Old Testament is in connection 
with Abraham's defeat of the Elamite host (Gen. xiv. 15). 
Then, in the next chapter, as Sayce points out, J we read 
that the patriarch had a trusty steward w^ho hailed from 
Damascus and bore the distinctively Aramean name 
Eleazar. To the Arameans El is Dadda (Hadad) : to the 
Israelites El is Jehovah. Hadad-ezer, or Dadda-idri, meant 
somewhat the same to them as Azariah to the Jews. If 
Abraham met with Eleazar at Damascus, then the Arameans 
must have been in that vicinity about 2000 B.C. Of the 

* Aram and Israel, chap. xi. 

t Ezek. xvi. 3. 

X Patriarchal Palestwe, pp. 175-76. 

10 Dadda-idri, or 

other Aramean states mentioned above we know little or 
nothing with the exception of Aram-Naharaim. Aram- 
Naharaim, " Aram of the Two rivers," the Nahrima of the 
Amama tablets, probably got its name from the Balikh and 
the Khabur (Habor), two affluents from the north which 
join the Euphrates where it flows to the east. This region 
formed the ancient kingdom of Haran, from whence came 
the tablets which have already engaged our attention. 
Haran has indeed a very close connection with our subject. 
It is there that we have come into contact with the dental 
dialect, and it is from the lips of an inhabitant of Haran 
that we first hear the Aramaic spoken. The heap of stones 
which Jacob and Laban the Syrian (Heb. Aramean) have 
thrown up for a boundary between them, is called by Laban 
Jegar Sahadutha, by Jacob Galeed. Both names have the 
same meaning " the heap of witness " ; but the former is 
Aramaic, the latter Hebrew. 

The Arameans must have been in Haran about the same 
time that we have traced them in Damascus. Some six 
or seven centuries later, as soon as the Assyrian inscrip- 
tions develop into historical records, we hear of Haran and 
of those Ahlame Arameans who were chased across the 
desert by Tiglathpileser I some two centuries later. Adad- 
nirari I, ca. 1300 B.C., tells us that he has extended his sway 
as far as " the fortress of Haran." He also speaks of his 
father, Arik-den-ilu, as having subdued the hordes of the 

To the east of Haran, and in the extensive basin of the 
Khabur, lies the region known to the Assyrians as Khani- 
galbat. In this district, which is bounded on the north by 
Mount Kashiari, the modern Tur Abdin, the chief cities, 
Gozan and Nisibis, were in the hands of the Arameans, 
who disputed their possession so obstinately that Adad- 
nirari II (911-891 B.C.) was compelled to undertake no fewer 
than six expeditions against them. But this is not the limit 
of the northward advance of the Arameans. Crossing 

* Ancient Records, i. 28. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel ii 

Mount Kashiari we come to the state of Zamua, whose king, 
Ammi-Ba'li, and his two sons, Bur-Raman and Hani, all 
bear Aramaic names. The capital of Zamua is Amedi, 
the modern Diarbekir, situated on the right bank of the 
Tigris in N. lat. 37° 55', and which still bears the name 
Kara Amid, the Black Amid. What were the Arameans 
doing in this remote region ? Ashurnatsirpal tells us that 
certain fortresses, which the Assyrians had seized as out- 
posts against the land of Nairi, had now been seized by 
them, and that they were trampling the Assyrians under 
foot, in retaliation for which he carried off 15,000 Ahlame 
Arameans to Assyria.* 

Turning from the north to the north-east border of the 
Assyrian empire, we find on the Nimrud Tablet of Tiglath- 
pileser III a list of seventeen states conquered by him in 
the direction of Media, beginning with Namri, and ending 
with " the city Zakruti of the mighty Medes," and it is 
noticeable that no fewer than twelve of these states have 
the prefix " Bit." To obtain some more definite idea of 
locality, let us take one of these twelve, Bit-Kabsi. Sargon 
in his famous letter to the god Ashur, when describing his 
line of march through the district to the south of Lake 
Urumiah, writes thus : " thirty double-hours between the 
land of the Manneans,t the land of Bit-Kabsi, and the land 
of the mighty Medes, impetuously I marched." Bit-Kabsi, 
then, lay between Man and Media, and as Sargon reached 
it soon after leaving a station named Missi, identified by 
Thureau-Dangin with Tachtepe immediately to the south 
of Lake Urumiah, we can hardly be wrong in placing it a 
little to the south-east of that lake. J 

From Bit-Kabsi we travel southward down the eastern 
border of the Assyrian empire to the land of the Kassites, 
penetrated by Sennacherib in his second campaign, where 

* Inscription on the Kurkh monolith. 
t The Minni of Jer. li. 27. 

I See the map attached to La Huitierne Canipagne de Sargon, by 
Thureau-Dangin. Paris, 1912. 

12 Dadda-idriy or 

the names of cities, such as Bit-Kubatti and Bit-Kilamzah, 
bear witness to the existence of Aramean colonies.* Still 
further south, and rather more to the east, is Bit-Imbi on 
the north-west border of Elam.f From Bit-Imbi, traveUing 
down the Uknu past Shushan we find on the lower reaches 
of that river the Gambulu, an Aramean tribe, one of whose 
chieftains in the days of Sargon bore the distinctively 
Aramaic name Hazael. The Gambulu must have formed 
the south-east extremity of what we may venture to call 
Aramaica, and in reaching their district we find ourselves 
back in Kir, in the vicinity of Elam, and near the head of 
the Persian Gulf. It may be well to close this geographical 
survey with Sennacherib's statement as to the preponder- 
ance of the Arameans in this region. At the close of the 
account of his first campaign he writes thus : " On my 
return, the Tu'muna, Kihihu, ladakku, Ubudu, Kibre, 
Malahu, Gurumu, Ubulu, Damunu, Gambulu, Hindaru, 
Ru'ua, Pukudu,J Hamranu, Hagaranu,§ Nabatu, Li'tau, 
Arameans who were not submissive, all of them I conquered. 
208,000 people, great and small, male and female, ... I 
carried off to Assyria." 

With reference to the above survey I certainly do not 
mean to say that 'Aramaic was spoken universally through- 
out the vast region whose western, northern, and eastern 
boundaries we have been endeavouring to trace. The 
Assyro-Babylonian (Akkadian) would be the language of 
Assyria Proper and of the ancient Babylonian cities. But 
these latter appear to have been insulated, and, with the 
exception of Babylon, half submerged in the great ocean of 
Aramaica as time went on.|| How far south did that ocean 
extend ? At least as far as Teima : witness the Aramaic 
inscription on the Teima Stone. It must then have encom- 
passed Dumah, which lies some distance to the north of 

* Taylor Cylinder, col. i. 

t Ancient Records, ii. 305-306. 

J Jer. 1. 21. 

§ Ps. Ixxxiii. 6. 

II Taylor Cylinder, col. i. 37-39. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 13 

Teima. Now Dumah— the chief town of the Jowf oasis, 
known to the Assyrians as Adumu — was the capital of the 
kingdom of " Arabia," mentioned in the inscriptions of 
Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal. Its ruler is 
styled " king of Arabia," and his consort " queen of the 
Arabs."* Ergo, the "Arabs" of the Assyrian records 
spoke Aramaic, the language of Dumah. So too, doubtless, 
did the Kaldi (Chaldeans) of S. Babylonia, who used the 
prefix " Bit " in the names of their city-states in just 
the same way as the Arameans.f When, then, Senna- 
cherib in his first campaign, directed against that district, 
encountered a vast host of Chaldeans, Arameans, and Arabs, 
he was encountering an Aramean confederacy. Hence, too, 
Kraeling cannot be far wrong when he speaks of Abraham 
as " ethnically " an Aramean, and almost in the same 
breath assures us that " the O.T. narrator would perhaps 
reckon Terah's family to the Chaldeans." t 

The Arameans, then, being thus spread abroad, their 
language must consequently have been spoken far and wide. 
Now it is noticeable in the first place, as our geographical 
excursus will have served to show, that the few ancient 
Aramaic inscriptions which we possess all come from the 
north-west border of Aramaica. Zinjerh, where the Sam'al 
inscriptions were found, lies on the eastern slope of the 
Amanus range, about half-way between Antioch and Marash ; 
Umm-esh-shershukh, in all probability the spot where the 
Zakir inscription was found, is " situated on a high long 
Tell above the Orontes," a little to the north of Homs ; § 
and Nerab, which still retains its ancient name, is only a 
few miles to the south-east of Aleppo. Secondly, it is 
observed to be a characteristic of the dialect of the Aramaic 
employed on these monuments that the original dh sound 
is expressed by z as in the Hebrew and Phoenician. E.g. 

* Cf. Esarhaddon, prism A, col. iii, with the close of the Alabaster 
Slab Inscription of Sennacherib. 
t E.g. Bit-Jakin, Bit-Dakkuri, etc. 
X Aram and Israel, p. 15. 
§ Ibid., p. 99, and see map attached. 

14 Dadda-idri, or 

on the Zakir Inscription Melid is spelt Meliz, Hadrach 
(Zech. ix. i) — known to the Assyrians as Khatarika — is 
spelt Hazrak,* while the name Zakir represents the Aramaic 
dikir, which occurs in the name Si'-dikir found on the Haran 
tablets. This Hkeness of the dialect to the Hebrew has 
been noticed by several authorities. Thus, the late Prof. 
Driver, writing on the Zakir inscription, says, " The Aramaic 
of this district was known before from the inscriptions found 
at Zinjirli and Nerab to be curiously coloured with words 
and forms otherwise characteristic of Hebrew." | Similarly 
G. A. Cooke, while acknowledging the Zinjirli inscriptions 
as belonging to the Aramaic rather than to any other branch 
of the Semitic family, adds, " on the other hand there are 
features which exhibit an affinity to the Canaanite group, 
Hebrew, Moabite, and Phoenician : and even more signi- 
ficant is the way in which the dialect allies itself with 
Hebrew (and Assyrian) rather than with the usual 
Aramaic." % Finally, Prof. Sayce, writing on the Zinjirli 
inscriptions, observes," The strange and unexpected fact which 
they disclose is that the Aramaic language of Samahla (Sam'al) 
approached the Hebrew in many respects." § I venture, . 
then, to assert that the use of z for the original dh, which \ 
forms so characteristic a feature of these ancient inscrip- 
tions, is no mark of age, but is explained by their geo- 
graphical position. Their writers were in close contact 
with the Hebrews and Phoenicians, and hence their use of 
the sibilant dialect. 

But what are we to say of the ancient Aramaic which 
meets us in the dockets on contract tablets from Assyria 
and Babylonia, and in the Aramaic letter from Ashur of 
the time of Ashurbanipal ? How are we to explain the use 
of z for dh in these documents ? The explanation I think 
is this : that the Assyrians themselves in their own language 

* The three forms of the name bear witness to the co-existence of the 
dental and sibilant dialects. 
t £;f/>osj7o)' for June, 1908. 
X North Semitic Inscriptions, pp. 184-85. 
9 The Higher Criticism and the Monuments, p. 195. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 15 

expressed the dh sound by z, and that they would naturally 
do the same when writing Aramaic dockets on contract 
tablets written in Assyrian. In this respect, i.e. in their 
treatment of the dh sound, Assyrian, as was long since 
observed by Noldeke, is nearer to Hebrew than to Biblical 
Aramaic* The student may easily convince himself of 
the truth of this observation by looking out the following 
roots in the Hebrew lexicon and noting their Assyrian 
equivalents : |TN, 3XT, 13:, hdt, id;, hb\^ 2:1, |p?, and yi*. This 
close affinity of Assyrian with Hebrew, i.e. with the ancient 
tongue of Palestine and the West, is accounted for by the 
remarkable fact of the early, long continued, and close 
connection between Babylon and the West, first fully 
revealed by the discovery of the Tel-el- Amarna tablets, f 

There remains yet one more locality to be dealt with. 
At Teima, in the far south of the realm of Aramaica, we 
meet with an ancient inscription, which on the ground of 
epigraphy has been assigned to the fifth century B.C. ; and 
here, too, the z reigns triumphant throughout, just as in 
Assyria and Babylonia. How is this to be accounted for ? 
By the fact that for several years, eight or possibly thirteen, 
Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, made Teima his place 
of residence, leaving his son Belshazzar to rule in Babylon. 
The Teima Stone is, therefore, a relic of Babylonian culture 
— as indeed is evident from the style of the bas-reliefs 
carved upon it — and the inscription on the Stone is there- 
fore written in that dialect of the Aramaic which prevailed 
in Assyria and at Babylon. 

But it will still be asked. What about Damascus and the 
regions of Northern Arabia ? Are there no ancient inscrip- 
tions from these districts ? Arabia Proper, i.e. Northern 
Arabia, according to Palgrave, is " singularly destitute of 
antiquities." This he attributes to the iconoclastic zeal 
of the conquering Mahometan tribes of the north, " who 

* Enc. Brit., gth edn., article " The Semitic Languages." 
t Hogarth, The Ancient East, p. 26. Cf. also Sayce, Archcpology of 
the Cuneiform Inscriptions, pp. 142-43. 

1 6 Dadda-idri, or 

within their own territory, even more than in the acquired 
lands of Egypt, North Africa, and elsewhere, carried out 
the plan of establishing their own religion and system, not 
merely on the ruins, but, as far as possible, on the efface- 
ment of whatever had preceded it." * Damascus, therefore, 
offers no ancient Aramaic inscriptions such as we may very 
well believe once existed there, owing to the fact that it 
was the headquarters of the Caliphate from 634 to 650 a.d. 
And the same must be said concerning that lovely oasis 
in N. Arabia, known as the Jowf, and whose chief town, 
till lately called Daumat-el-Jandal, is the modern repre- 
sentative of the Isaianic Dumah.f Dumah was the royal 
city of the ancient kingdom of Arabia in the seventh century 
B.C. But we find no ancient inscriptions there as at Teima. 
It was evidently too near the centre of the destructive 
Mahomedan power. 

Returning now to the question of the dh sound, I have 
so far shown that in the ancient Aramaic there existed a 
dialect in which it was rendered by d rather than by z, and 
have endeavoured to show how it is that we have no ancient 
inscriptions in that dialect. I have confined myself to this 
particular dental for the simple reason that it admits of an 
easier proof than- the other dentals, seeing that the Hebrew 
"ij.y. " help " formed such a favourite component in Semitic 
names. There were many such names, both in Hebrew 
and Phoenician as well as in Aramaic. J Many a man, 
when naming his son, delighted to proclaim his god to be 
a " help." But dh, in Biblical Aramaic "i instead of the 

* Enc. Brit., 9th edn., vol. ii, p. 262. 

f See my Isaiah (Chapters i.-xxxix.) in the Light of the Assyrian Monu- 
ments, pp. 165-182. (S.P.C.K., 1930.) 

X Compare the Hebrew names, Abi-ezer, Ahi-ezer, Eli-ezer : also, 
Azar-iah, Azar-el, and Azri-el, which last in i Sam. xviii. 19, is spelt with 
a dental, Adviel, thus forming another corroboration of the antiquity of 
the dialect which we are investigating. To the same categor^-^ belongs 
the name Ezra. This name is spelt 'EoSpas in the Septuagint. It is 
possibly an abbreviation of the name Azar-el, spelt "El^pnjX in the Septua- 
gint of Ezra x. 41, and 'EaSptrjX in Neh. xi. 13. The appearance of a 
followed by 8 in these Greek renderings of the name is suggestive of an 
attempt to combine the two Aramaic dialects. In Phoenician we meet 
with the names Eshmun-azar, Baal-azar, and Ezra-Baal. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 17 

Hebrew ', was, as the Book of Daniel shows, not the only 
dental answering to a Hebrew sibilant in that dialect of the 
Aramaic whose antiquity we are investigating. There are 
two other dental letters in the Aramaic of that Book which 
take the place of Hebrew sibilants. Not that every Hebrew 
sibilant becomes a dental in the Aramaic of Daniel ; but 
there are three definite cases in which this change takes 
place, and they are distinguished as follows : — 

(i) When the Hebrew ? answers to the Arabic i it appears 

in Daniel as "i. 
(ii) When the Hebrew t* answers to the Arabic o it 

appears in Daniel as n. 
(iii) When the Hebrew V answers to the Arabic U it appears 

in Daniel as u. 
The existence of (i) in a dialect of the ancient Aramaic has 
already been established. But what of (ii) and (iii) ? If 
(i) holds good in that ancient dialect, it may be presumed 
that (ii) and (iii) will hold good likewise ; and this we shall 
find to be the case when we go forward to examine the 
Aramaic Papyri from Elephantine. 

The Elephantine Papyri, found in the island of that 
name below the first cataract of the Nile, are in a wonderful 
state of preservation. They cover practically the fifth 
century B.C., and many of them, happily, are dated. The 
earliest, dated the twenty-seventh year of Darius — i.e. 
Darius I, for Darius H reigned only twenty years — is of 
great interest, for it exhibits the name " Darius " spelt as 
in the Book of Daniel t^im ; whilst in such of the later 
documents as refer to the years of Darius H it is spelt ti'inm 
and tfimm. This earliest document belongs to the year 
495 B.C. ; only forty years after " the third year of Cyrus," 
mentioned in Dan. x. i. The next in age, belonging to the 
second year of Xerxes, 484 B.C., is for the purpose of this 
essay of even greater interest, for among the names of the 
witnesses we meet with the names mj;2ii'2, i.e. Nushku-idri, 
and "'"I'^ynN, i.e. Ata-idri ; and these names, be it noted, 
are written, not in the syllabic polyphones of the Assyrian 


i8 Dadda-idri, or 

cuneiform used at Haran, but in the alphabetic characters 
employed in the Aramaic, which characters are derived 
from the same source as those of the ancient Hebrew 
alphabet. Should there, then, remain any the least shadow 
of doubt as to the correct rendering of the name Dadda- 
'idri, and the many names similarly compounded found on 
the tablets at Haran, this, the second of the Elephantine 
documents, should dispel it at once and for ever ; for here 
is proof positive that id-ri, not it-ri, is the correct reading 
of the cuneiform characters. 

On looking over the dated papyri, some thirty in number, 
we are struck with two very marked features, deserving of 
separate consideration. The first feature is this : that in 
the case of the verbal roots the three dentals, "J, ri, and J-, 
each hold their own as against the sibilants, *, ^, and v, 
respectively, throughout these papyri down to No. 35 
[ca. 400 B.C.) with only three exceptions. The three excep- 
tions all savour of business and book-keeping. The first 
occurs in No. 30.12, 28 * (408 B.C.), where " gold " is spelt 
3nT in the famous petition from the Jews of Elephantine for 
permission to rebuild their temple ; whilst in the answer 
returned to that petition. No. 32.1, 2, " memorandum " is 
written ]"i2?. Lastly, the word " shekel," save in one 
instance, is spelt with a ^. This is explained by Rowley 
on the ground that '^'pty was probably a loan-word from the 
Babylonian : t a very likely explanation, since the Elephan- 
tine documents are mostly of a business character, and in 
some of them the word " shekel " is expressed by the 
abbreviation ty, just as we write £ s. d. The one exception 
is 10.5, where the word is spelt hpr\ as in the Book of Daniel. 

Such, then, is the almost invariably marked feature of 
these papyri. To descend now to particulars : "i takes the 
place of ^ in such roots as iHN 2.17, 3n3 8.17, 3m 10.9, i:;! 

* The numerals refer to the number and line of the document as given 
in Cowley's Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C., Oxford University 
Press, 1923. 

t Rowley, p. 28. In the Ahikar Papyri (see next note) we meet with 
~l3"l " remember " in line 53. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 19 

15.17, n^T 21.6, and n^n 30.26. n takes the place of ii' in 
2^^\ 1.7, ynn 5.3, 2n^ 6.2, ^nx 6.2, mn 8.16, ^^n 10.7, n:x 14.4, 
iT^^ 15.21, ^pn 15.24, ncn 25.6, n'^n 26.10, pn 26.10, pr 
26.12, inn 26.13, and tin 33.10. l2 takes the place of v in 
\V^ 6.6, I2^2{y 15.9, -".a: 27.1, and hhn 30.11. To the above 
twenty-five verbal roots may be added eight more from the 
story of Ahikar,* viz. jiN hne 97, '?m line 45, iij^ hne 99, 
iinx hne 55, mn line 90, nnt2 line 120, xnvu: line 62, and ^V 
line 12. These thirty- three roots form so many examples 
of the rules given above, and stamp the language of the 
Elephantine papyri as essentially a dental dialect : not in 
process of development during the fifth century B.C., but 
already well developed, and undergoing little if any change 
during that century. 

But along with this very marked feature we are bound 
to notice a second almost equally well marked, viz. that 
Relative and Demonstrative words, such as '*, "'tn, "•12, "•'??, X?, 
T]T_ CI*, n::, i:t, for the most part are written with a *, the 
1, as Cowley observes, occurring only " sporadically " : 
e.g. ^nSn 13.7,11,16 : xm, 14.6 : ^m, 14.9 : and n:i, 16.9. 
In these three documents, Nos. 13, 14, and 16, the dental 
forms of the pronouns make a brief intrusion into the realm 
of the sibilant forms, and then — so far as Elephantine is 
concerned — disappear from the scene. To make the signi- 
ficance of this fact more clear, let us take the twenty dated 
papyri and the thirteen that admit of approximate dating, 
and, throwing aside two duplicates, divide the remaining 
thirty-one into three sections as follows : — 

(i) Nine documents, of which eight are dated, ranging 

from 495 to 455 B.C. 
(ii) Four documents, ranging from 447 to 435 B.C., of 

which Nos. 13 and 14, just referred to, are dated 

* A lengthy document, written on eleven sheets of papyrus, not dated, 
but assigned by Cowley to ca. 430 B.C. It consists of the famous old- 
world story, the hero of which, viz. Ahikar, is mentioned in the Book of 
Tobit, i. 21, 22, and xiv. 10. Included in the same papyri is a fairly large 
collection of proverbs, being, as Cowley remarks, " the earliest specimen 
of wisdom literature outside the Old Testament and cuneiform texts." 

20 Dadda-idri, or 

respectively 447 and 441 B.C., while Nos. 15 and 16 

may be assigned approximately to 441 and 435 

B.C. respectively, 
(iii) Eighteen documents, half of them dated, while the 

other half admit of being approximately dated, 

ranging from 428 to 400 B.C. 
In the above division the first section covers exactly forty 
years. Its documents are only half the number in the 
third section, but they have this advantage, that all 
save one are dated. In this section the pronominal 
words are written with sibilants throughout. The second 
section ranges over twelve years : a comparatively brief 
period. In three of its four documents we meet with pro- 
nominal words written sometimes with dentals, sometimes 
with sibilants, and so strange is the intermingling of dialects 
that in No. 14.6 we find " that which " rendered "'* ^<2'^, 
the antecedent being written in the dental dialect and the 
relative in the sibilant. The third section covers a period 
of twenty-eight years, possibly only twenty-one years if 
the usurper mentioned in No. 35 be the first Amyrtaeus. 
The documents of this section are the most numerous, even 
if we omit two which for the present purpose are little 
more than lists of names. Throughout this section the pro- 
nominal words are written with sibilants as in the first 
section. The same holds good with respect to the other 
documents found at Elephantine belonging to the fifth 
century B.C., but to which no date, or even approximate 
date, can be assigned. It holds good also of the Story of 
Ahikar and of the Aramaic version of the Behistun Inscrip- 
tion. In all these the pronominal words are written with 
sibilants throughout, while the root- words with scarcely 
an exception are written with dentals.* 

The above review should make it plain that it is no longer 
possible on the strength of the evidence afforded by the 
Elephantine Papyri to look on the fifth century B.C. as a 

* The only exceptions are ^riT 39-4< and Ahikar, line 193 ; and 13? 
Ahikar, line 53. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 21 

period of transition in the Aramaic, during which a dental 
dialect gradually superseded a sibilant one. What Elephan- 
tine shows us is a dialect in which the roots are expressed 
in dentals and the pronouns with very few exceptions in 
sibilants, and the question at once arises. How are we to 
account for this ? Have the roots been changed from 
sibilants to dentals, or have the dentals of the pronouns 
been softened down into sibilants ? Clearly the latter is 
the more likely for two reasons : first, because the pro- 
nouns, being little words and in very common use, would 
be more liable to be affected by foreign influence than the 
root forms ; secondly, because the principle of least effort 
favours the change of dentals into sibilants, but is adverse 
to the change of sibilants into dentals.* 

In the next place, the very occasional appearance of 
dental pronouns at Elephantine bears witness to the exist- 
ence of two dialects in the Aramaic, and furnishes a few 
good instances of the clash of dialects. It is not, as some 
have supposed, that in these documents we see sibilant 
forms gradually giving place to dental ; but rather dental 
forms making their occasional appearance among and along- 
side of sibilant forms : e.g. in No. 13, "'^'^''i is found along 
with ^\ n::, and 1* ; and in No. 14, «2i and ^31 are found 
along with "'•, and n:;. This phenomenon is best explained 
on the supposition that the writers of these letters have at 
some time in their lives spoken the pure dental dialect, or 
have been brought into close contact with people speaking 
it. In all probability the system of wholesale transporta- 
tion of conquered peoples, initiated by Tiglathpileser III, 
of whom a contemporary writes, " the daughters of the 
east he brought to the west, and the daughters of the west 
he brought to the east," f must have resulted in a great 
mixture of dialects. It must also be borne in mind that 
at Elephantine we are reading the compositions, not of 

* This was pointed out to me by the late Ernest Sibree, lecturer in 
Comparative Philology at the University of Bristol. 

t Bar-rekub, king of Ya'di in N. Syria. See North-Semitic Inscrip- 
tions, p. 174. 

22 Dadda-idri, or 

literary people, but of mercenary soldiers, for the most 
part Jews, living not in Aramaica but in a foreign land, and 
drawn together probably from very different parts. Unless 
the community had been to some extent a settled com- 
munity, owning lands and houses, the mixture of dialects 
would probably have shown itself in a larger number of the 
documents and not merely in three. As another instance 
of this mixture of dialects, in which the time-factor may 
well have played some part, we may point to the much 
later Mandean, where xanNT " gold " appears side by side 
with x^nNT^ and s^T " blood " is found along with sc*.* 
Again, the appearance of dental pronouns among sibilant 
pronouns in documents in which the root-words are all 
written in dentals, is strongly suggestive that if the dialect 
were written in its purity we should find the pronouns as 
well as the root-words written in dentals throughout as in 
the Book of Daniel. Lastly, let it be noted that in Egypt 
the pronouns continued to be written in sibilants long after 
the era of Elephantine. Thus, in papyri Nos. 81-83, which 
offer no dates and are not part of the find at Elephantine, 
but v/hich from the many Greek names mentioned and the 
style of the writing are assigned by Cowley to the Ptolemaic 
period, ca. 300 B.C.-, we still meet with ■••, ''h'^', and N*. Now, 
just as these late sibilant forms of the pronouns, which meet 
us in Egypt, can be traced back to the early Aramaic inscrip- 
tions on the north-west border of Aramaica, so that we 
meet with ''i and n:? at Hamath, Nerab, and ZinjirH, so it 
may be presumed that if we had ancient inscriptions from 
Damascus and the neighbourhood, we should find that the 
dental forms, """i, and n:i, which we meet with in the late 
Palmyrene and Nabatean, are no creatures of yesterday, 
but have an equally long descent. f That the dental dialect 
should continue to be spoken at Palmyra can create no sur- 
prise, for that city lay on the great road passing westward 

* Noldeke, Manddische Grammatik, p. 43. 

t The Nabatean inscriptions cover the first two centuries of the Christian 
era : the Palmyrene range from 9 b.c. to a.d. 271. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 23 

through Haran and Damascus, and must have been in 
constant communication with both. Nor is it any surprise 
to find the same dialect in the Nabatean inscriptions, where, 
if any outside influence prevailed, it must have come from 
the Arabs of the south, who also spoke a dental dialect. 
The Palmyrene, therefore, should be looked upon as a 
survival, and probably the Nabatean also, in spite of the 
three early Nabatean inscriptions quoted by Rowley, in 
two of which sibilant pronouns appear along with dentals 
as in the three documents from Elephantine already referred 
to, while the third has sibilants only. 

Beside the three rules given above, according to which 
in Biblical Aramaic Hebrew sibilants are exchanged for 
Aramaic dentals, there is a fourth rule according to which 
a Hebrew sibilant is exchanged for a palatal or for a weak 
letter. It runs thus : — When the Hebrew V answers to 
the Arabic ^j, it appears in Daniel and Ezra as V ', but in 
Jer. X. II it appears first as p then as V. P is also found 
on the ancient Aramaic inscriptions at Hamath and Zin- 
jirli, as well as in Assyria, Babylonia, and Asia Minor. On 
the Elephantine Papyri V is the first to make its appearance, 
viz. in No. 5.5 (471 B.C.) : the very first instance in which 
the above rule can be exemplified. The p appears a few 
years later in the next dated papyrus. No. 6 (465 B.C.), 
where Np"ix " earth " comes into the document no fewer 
than seven times, and once in close connection with its 
variant ^V"^. Thus, in line 15 we find ^<P"lK, in line 16 
x:?^,N. Exactly the same phenomenon appears in Jer. x. 11. 
It has been supposed that the p, being found on the ancient 
Aramaic monuments and on the Nineveh weights, is the 
earlier usage. But, whether this be so or not, since the v 
is found along with the p in Jer. x. 11, a prophecy uttered 
during the reign of Jehoiakim (607-597 B.C.), and is also 
employed by Cyrus in the decree issued during his first 
year for the rebuilding of the temple — see Ezra vi. 4, where 
yx answers to the Hebrew vy — we need not be staggered by 
its appearance in the Book of Daniel. That Book, if we 

24 Dadda-idri^ or 

may venture a guess, belongs to the early years of Cyrus : 
indeed, its writer almost tells us as much. Compare Dan. i. 
21 with X. I. Let me here add that in the four rules 
alluded to above Assyrian agrees with Hebrew as against 

In No. 26 of the Elephantine Papyri, Arsames, the Per- 
sian governor at Elephantine, issues an order for the repair 
of a boat. He uses the same dialect as the Jews and 
Syrians around him, viz. a dental dialect in which the 
pronouns are expressed in sibilants ; but contrary to the 
usual practice writes the numerals in words, which offer 
several illustrations of the dental character of the dialect. 
Thus we meet with T\rbr\ " three," |'':cr, " eighty," l^^n 
" two," and ]^T^ " sixty " : all written with n in the 
place of ^ ; while the pronouns ^t, njr, -;, still hold their own. 

Before we leave this part of our subject, let me point out 
a very marked difference noticeable between the Elephan- 
tine Papyri and the ancient Aramaic inscriptions. In the 
papyri the roots are written with dentals, and the pronouns 
for the most part with sibilants : but in the inscriptions 
from Hamath, Zinjirh, and Nerab, the roots are written 
with sibilants as well as the pronouns. Hence in the 
latter we meet with r:?, n:, and ^t ; and also with the 
following : — 

(i) *nN, :i7\\ hr\\^ n^;, in which • takes the place of i. 

(ii) nti*K, 2^\ in which t takes the place of n. 

(iii) vo ivp, Ti-:, in which v takes the place of C 

Our attention has so far been confined to branches of the 
Aramaic, but it is possible to test the antiquity of the dental 
dialect by examining the cognate languages. This treatise 
began with a reference to the proper name of a king of Syria 
as written in the syllabic characters of the Assyrian inscrip- 
tions, and it was seen that the Hebrew root ezer, being 
written id-ri by the Assyrian scribes, must have been pro- 
nounced with a dental in the Aramaic of Damascus. The 

* See O'Leary's Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Laneuaees, d. '^x 
columns (3). (4). (6), and (7). & s . f o:>, 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 25 

same appears to have been the case in S. Arabia. Prof. 
Hommel, in his valuable work entitled Ancient Hebrew 
Tradition, pp. 84-85, presents us with several S. Arabian 
proper names, and amongst them is one which contains 
this very root ezer, viz. Adhara-ihi, corresponding to the 
Hebrew Azar-el, " God helped." The aspirated dental, 
transcribed by Hommel dh, has in the Sabean alphabet of 
S. Arabia a special character to distinguish it from the 
simple d. This character resembles our capital H with the 
cross-bar doubled and slightly sloped. In the Sabean roots, 
corresponding to Hebrew roots, given in Francis Brown's 
Hebrew Lexicon, it is represented by "i with a horizontal 
line above it : n, when it stands for th, and t2, when it stands 
for t, i.e. t emphatic, being treated in a similar manner. 
Now this dental dh, which comes under the first of the three 
rules given above, appears in the following S. Arabian 
proper names furnished by Hommel : Abi-dhamara " My 
Father is protector," Dhimri-ali " My Protector is sub- 
lime," Ammi-dhara " My Uncle sowed " — the reference 
being in each case to God. These names, it will be seen at 
a glance, contain the Hebrew roots iu< and V~', and being 
admittedly of great antiquity, are vouchers for the dental 
dialect having been long in use among the Mineans and 
Sabeans of S. Arabia. When, therefore, we turn to the very 
numerous inscriptions found in those parts, written in an 
alphabet which has gone through so many changes that 
we can hardly attribute to it a remoter antiquity than the 
third-fourth century b.c.,| we need not trouble ourselves 
as to their exact age, but it is a matter of interest to trace 
in them the dental dialect as indicated by the characters 
which stand for the dh and the th, and to note the changes 
in the pronouns and verbal roots as compared with the 
Hebrew. Thus, instead of n? " this," fern. nXT, we have 
on the Minean and Sabean monuments p and nn ; while 

* See F. Hommel, Sud-Arabische Chrestoniathie ; and W. Prideaux, 
Sabean Grammar, in the Transactions of the Society of Biblical A rchcBology, 
vol. V. 

t O'Leary, Comparative Grammar, p. 22. 

26 Dadda-idri^ or 

^■, used at Elephantine for the Relative Pronoun and also 
as a sign of the Genitive, is exchanged for n. Similarly, 
though the vocabulary of the monuments is a limited one, 
yet Sabean roots in which i takes the place of t can be found, 
and are given in Francis Browne's lexicon under *nK " grasp," 
^2* " sacrifice," ini "gold," i^t " mention," and yi> " arm." 
For the second rule, according to which the Hebrew ^' is 
changed into n, Sabean roots in h are given in the lexicon 
under Sinn " new," ch"' " inherit," nv:; " turn," ^y^" " break," 
^^ " three," n:c'ut' " eight," and tb> " become raised." To 
express the th sound as distinguished from the simple t the 
Sabeans have invented a special character, which may be 
described as two small squares joined corner- wise by a 
vertical line. Sometimes the squares are brought rather 
close together and rounded : the letter then resembles 
an 8. For the third rule, according to which under certain 
circumstances V becomes b, I have only been able to find 
one example in the lexicon under hh'i " grow dark " : in 
Sabean hhu- 

As illustrations of the above rules from the monuments 
of Arabia note the following : pnii laSvN ]n:n^ri " thirty 
statues of gold " : icnani.':! " their seat " : nis " for that " : 
u'?'?Sni3 " canopy." -* 

There now remains only one other cognate language to 
engage our attention, viz. the Ethiopic, or, as it should 
perhaps more correctly be termed, the Abyssinian, as being 
the language of Aksum, the ancient capital of Abyssinia. 
The Semitic kingdom of Aksum is believed to have arisen 
out of an Arabian emigration into Africa, caused by the 
conquests of the Parthians in S. Arabia in the latter half 
of the first century B.C. The newcomers were able at that 
time to make headway in Africa because the power of the 
Ptolemies was falling to pieces and the Romans had not 
yet taken their place. | But long before the founding of 

* Glaser, Die Abessinier in Arabien mid Afrika, p. 43, inscription, 
lines 2, 3, 8, and p. 48, note on line 5. 
t Glaser, p. 138. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 27 

the Aksumite kingdom Semitic colonists must have found 
their way into Africa across the Red Sea. This is indicated 
in a remarkable way in the tenth chapter of Genesis, a very 
ancient record, and apparently of a geographical-ethno- 
logical character. In verse 7 of that chapter Sheba and 
Dedan are mentioned among the children of Ham through 
Gush, i.e. Ethiopia, and are therefore to be looked for in 
Africa. Yet in Gen. xxv. 1-3, which may be supposed to give 
their natural descent, they are said to be sprung from Abra- 
ham and Keturah through Jokshan, and we should expect, 
therefore, to find them in Asia. And, as a fact, Sheba — the 
country of the famous queen who came from far to hear 
the wisdom of Solomon — is often mentioned in the S. Arabian 
inscriptions as well as its capital Maryab, the modern 
Marib ; * whilst Dedan, which according to Ezek. xxv. 3 
either forms the southern province of Edom or borders on 
Edom's southern frontier, is mentioned along with Egypt, 
Gaza, Moab, Ammon, and Kedar in the north-west Arabian 
inscriptions found at el-Oela to the south of Teima.j How, 
then, are we to reconcile these results with a Sheba and 
Dedan in Africa ? Simply by supposing that portions of 
these tribes crossed the Red Sea, one at the southern and 
the other at the northern end, to find new territories in 

In the case of Sheba the above is certainly no mere sup- 
position. As O'Leary observes, " The Semitic-speaking 
people of Abyssinia are obviously very closely allied with 
the Mineans, Sabeans, and Himyarites of S. Arabia." % 
Very striking evidence of this close connection with Arabia 
confronts us when, in the days of king 'Ezana, about the 
middle of the fourth century a.d., the Abyssinian kingdom 
first emerges out of the darkness. 'Ezana styles himself 
" king of Aksum, and of Hemer, and Raidan, and Habashat, 
and Saba', and Salhe, and Tseyamo, and Kasu, and Bega, 

* This is the Sheba of Gen. x. 28. 

t Cf. Hommel's Anciejit Hebrew Tradition, pp. 239, 273, also the inscrip- 
tion in his Sud-Arabiscke Chrestomathie , p. 117, line 10. 
% Arabia before Muhammad, p. 115. 

28 Dadda-idri, or 

king of kings," etc.* The first and the last three of these 
titles are taken from conquests in Africa : the others are 
derived from possessions in S. Arabia. The only doubt is 
with regard to Habashat — whence comes the name 
" Abyssinia." In a Greek inscription of 'Ezana this name 
is replaced by AWlottcov; nevertheless, its place on the list 
of titles, coupled with the fact that the name is first found 
on the monuments of S. Arabia, seems to show that the 
Habashat must have had their first home in Arabia. In 
Hemer we see the Himyarites, and in Saba' the Biblical 
Sheba of i Kings x. Raidan is the royal castle at Zafar, 
the capital of the Himyarites, and Salhe the famous castle 
of the Sabean kings at Marib. According to Hommel 
"kings of Saba' and Raidan " was the title borne by the 
latest Sabean monarchs.f On the whole the impression 
given is, that some ancestor of king 'Ezana has transferred 
the seat of his power from S. Arabia to the Abyssinian 
Aksum. If this be so, the claim put forward by the Abys- 
sinians that their present line of monarchs, who still bear 
the title " king of kings," is sprung from a son of Solomon 
and the Queen of Sheba, is seen to be no impossibility. 

Leaving, however, these fascinating historical studies, 
our interest in this tractate is not so much with the racial 
and political connection between Abyssinia and S. Arabia, 
as with the linguistic and epigraphic. Ethiopic, the 
language of ancient Abyssinia down to the beginning of 
the seventeenth century, of which the present Amharic 
is a sister dialect, is a member of the Semitic family of 
languages. " All its roots," according to Dillmann, " may 
be pointed out as occurring in other Semitic languages." J 
At the same time it is full of foreign words, and the Pre- 

* For this and many of the following details I am indebted to Enno 
Littmann's fascinating and comprehensive work, Deutsche Aksum Expedi- 
tion, published by George Reimer, Berlin, 1913. This work was issued in 
four parts. The inscriptions of Ezana are dealt with in part iv, where 
the first Plate is a photograph of the stone bearing inscriptions Nos. 6 
and 7. 

t Ancient Hebrew Tradition, p. 78 : published by S.P.C.K. 

% Ethiopic Grammar, p. 3, 2nd edn., translated by Crichton. London, 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 29 

positions and Conjunctions are different for the most part 
from those found in other branches of the Semitic family. 
Even when we first meet with it in the days of king 'Ezana 
this feature strikes us, and furnishes a proof that the people 
who spoke it had been resident in Africa long before the 
seat of government was transferred from S. Arabia to 

But though we notice this difference between the Sabean 
of S. Arabia and the Ethiopic of Abyssinia, we also notice 
that from the alphabetic point of view there is a very close 
connection. The Sabean alphabet has twenty-nine letters, 
the Ethiopic only twenty-six. Of the whole number of 
letters twenty-two are common to both alphabets, and when 
we turn to examine their shapes, the Ethiopic characters 
are seen to be the Sabean characters with their corners 
rounded off ; some of them turned through a right angle, 
and one turned upside down. Hence, while the latter, 
being square and angular, are well suited for lapidary inscrip- 
tions, the former with their rounded shapes and thick down 
strokes suit better the pen than the chisel. 

The two earliest inscriptions of king 'Ezana, known as 
Nos. 6 and 8,* present us with the strange phenomenon of 
Ethiopic written in Sabean characters. The older of these, 
No. 6, has a duplicate in Ethiopic characters written lower 
down on the same stone. It is not an exact duplicate : 
the order of titles is varied, and certain S. Arabian words 
are exchanged for their Ethiopic equivalents. It was written 
doubtless at a later period, when the knowledge of the 
Sabean characters and of Sabean terms was fast fading 
away. This duplicate, known as No. 7, is strictly speaking 
the earliest Ethiopic inscription, both language and script 
being Ethiopic. Nos. 6 and 7 are graved again on the 
other side of the stone. No. 8, like No. 6, is Ethiopic, 
written in Sabean characters. It is an entirely different 
inscription, written somewhat later in the reign of 'Ezana, 
and we notice that in the list of titles the order is the same 

* The Nos. are taken from Littmann's book. 

30 Dadda-idri, or 

as in No. 6, but " Habashat " is wanting. No. ii, written 
later still, is of deep interest. Christianity, or it may be 
only Jewish monotheism, has found its way to Abyssinia, 
and the king attributes his successes, not to Astarte, and 
the Earth, and Mahrem — known from No. 4, the corre- 
sponding Greek inscription to No. 6, to be identical with 
Mars — but to " the might of the Lord of heaven." It 
is, however, with Nos. 6 and 8 that we are chiefly 

In No. 6, 'Ezana styles himself maleka malekan " king of 
kings," and uses the word hen for " son." Both of these 
belong to the Semitic of S. Arabia. In Nos. 7 and 8 they 
are exchanged : the former for the Ethiopic negus nagasht, 
the latter for the Ethiopic waled. Further, since Ethiopic, 
unHke Sabean, uses a sibilant dialect, therefore the two 
characters described above, which are used in Sabean for 
the dh and th sounds, have no place in the Ethiopic alphabet. 
It is, therefore, with some surprise that we find these 
characters re-appearing : the dh in Nos. 6 and 8, where we 
should expect the Ethiopic z ; and the th in No. 6 only, 
where we should expect the Ethiopic s. In No. 6 the dh 
is used as the sign of the Genitive in line i, " and o/Hemer " ; 
and as the Relative in lines 2 and 11. Also the Ethiopic 
word 'ahzah " peoples " is spelt with a dh instead of with 
a z. Stranger still, the Ethiopic conjunction 'enza " whilst," 
written correctly in lines 9 and 11, appears in line 6 as 
'endha. No. 8 presents similar features. With regard to 
the Sabean character for th, we meet with it only in No. 6, 
where it appears six times : thus, in line 12, Aksum is 
written 'Akthum. The first impression given by these 
anomalies is that we have here another clash of dialects 
such as we have already met with at Elephantine. But 
this does not appear to be the true explanation. As Litt- 
mann points out, when No. 8 was written " the knowledge 
of the Sabean script was already disappearing, for otherwise 
the scribe would not have attached to every word a purely 
graphic m, even to words to which it Vv'ould never be affixed 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 31 

in Sabean." * This, therefore, must be due to the ignorance 
of the scribe. For another proof of this ignorance Littmann 
shows how no fewer than three Sabean letters are used by 
him to represent the Ethiopic s, viz. the th just referred to 
and two others. This ignorance I am desirous to emphasize, 
for otherwise it might be supposed that the double-barred 
H sometimes bore the value of z. For z the Ethiopic uses 
H with a single bar, identical in form with our capital letter : 
a character which, placed horizontally, bore the same value 
in the primitive Semitic alphabet. 

The fact that in Ethiopic the dental letters of the Sabean 
at which we have been looking were replaced by sibilants, 
may be easily verified by the student with the help of the 
Hebrev/ lexicon. He will there find 

(i) that when the Hebrew ; is represented in Arabic by i, 
the Sabean n is replaced in Ethiopic by z : examples 

Hebrew Aramaic Sabean Ethiopic 

'"^ "^n** "^nN 'ahaza, " take hold of." 

n^J n^2 "-^- ^^^^h> " sacrifice." 

""^^ "^-~ ''2"' zakara, "remember." 

(ii) that when the Hebrew i:* is represented in Arabic 
by o, the Sabean n is replaced in Ethiopic by s .• examples 

^^^ '^^^ "53" Sahara, "hresk." 

"W ^"^^p ^)n so^"bunock." 

^"7^ «nST n'^n shalastu," three." 

njQty K^jcn ':pn samdnitu," e\ghtr 

t^Jx xnnx nn:N '««s^^, "woman." 

^'"''' ^'''^^ '">"" warasa, "mheni." 

(iii) when the Hebrew V is represented in Arabic by k, the 
Sabean t5 is replaced in Ethiopic by s {ts emphatic) . Example 

^^"^ ^^'^ "^^^ Srt/a/a, "bedark." 

For a further comparison of Ethiopic with Sabean, attention 
should be paid to the pronouns. For the nearer demon- 
strative we have in Sabean masc. p, fem. nn : in Ethiopic 
masc. ze, fem.^rt. For the relative pronoun we have in 
Sabean masc. l, fem. nn : in Ethiopic we have, za, which 

* The graphic m, known as the Mimation and answering to the Tenwin 
m Arabic, is attached in Sabean, not to all nouns, but onlv to triptotes ; 
and then, only under certain conditions. 

32 Dadda-idri, or 

may be used for the fern, singular, and for the masc. and 
fern, plural ; and also as a mark of the genitive. 

What was the cause of the above changes ? Clearly, 
outside influences. The S. Arabian Semitic, coming across 
the Red Sea into Abyssinia, must have come into contact 
with certain African tongues, and this would account for 
many of the foreign words found in it. But in this matter 
of sibilants and dentals I am reminded by Dr. O'Leary 
that the Ethiopic rather resembles the Akkadian (Assyrian) . 
He observes that " there was a steady flow of Akkadian 
culture round E. and S. Arabia across to Ethiopia," and that 
" in the pronominal forms there are many analogies between 
Akkadian and Ethiopic." That the Assyrian deals in sibi- 
lants was noticed when we were looking at the Aramaic 
dockets on Assyrian contract tablets. The sibilant character 
of Ethiopic may, then, very well have come from this quarter. 

But we may go yet further afield, from the Ethiopic 
proper, at which we have been looking and which is no 
longer a spoken language, to the Amharic, the Ethiopic 
dialect now spoken throughout the greater part of Abyssinia. 
" With the exception, of course, of Arabic," writes Noldeke, 
" no Semitic tongue is spoken by so large a number of human 
beings as Amharic." * The same authority assures us that 
Amharic has diverged from the ancient Semitic type to a 
far greater extent than other Abyssinian dialects, and that 
" not more than half the vocabulary can, without impro- 
bability, be made to correspond with that of the other 
Semitic languages." Yet even in this strange speech, so 
full of foreign words and with a syntax strikingly un- 
Semitic, we meet with many traces of the sibilant dialect : 
first, in the Demonstrative pronouns, where the syllable 
zih (Ethiopic ze, zd) occurs in all the cases except, strangely 
enough, the Nominative and Accusative singular, e.g. 
Masc. Nom. yeh " this," Gen. yazih, Dat. lazth, etc. : then, 
in the Numerals, sosth " three," siddisth " six," and sim- 
minth " eight " : and lastly, in the verbal roots, addis 

* Enc. Brit., 9th edn., article " The Semitic Languages." 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 33 

" new," sabbara " break," warasa " inherit," zimb " a fly," 
etc.* All these assure us that in Amharic we have a living 
witness to the perpetuity of the sibilant dialect in the 
Semitic realm, while Arabic offers a similar witness as to 
the perpetuity of the dental dialect. Further, Amharic 
is a masterful language. " It always tends to displace those 
foreign tongues which surround it " ; f and Arabic, we may 
feel quite sure, will always hold its own. Thus, the two 
dialects, which in the case of the Aramaic can be traced 
back, the dental to the ninth century B.C., and the sibilant 
to the eighth century B.C., are still alive in the Semitic 
world, and in all probabiUty will continue to Uve on to the 
end of time. 

Before I bring this essay to a close it may be well for me 
to mention another consonantal variation, which has been 
regarded as an evidence of the late date of the Book of 
Daniel. I refer to the forms assumed by masculine Pro- 
nouns of the second and third persons Plural when suffixed 
to Nouns, Verbs, and Prepositions, as they appear in the 
different branches of the Aramaic and in the cognate 
languages. These pronominal suffixes are of two types, 
the one formed with m, the other with n, as shown in the 
following lists. 

m type 
2nd and 3rd persons Plural 

Hebrew . 
Aramaic in 

Ethiopic . 



hm t 



kemmu homn 


n type 
2nd and 3rd persons Plural 
Assyro- \ kumi &c. sunu 

Aramaic of 

Daniel . 
Aramaic of 

Targums . kon 
Mandean ko [u ?)n § &c. ho{n ?) 
n § &c. 







* Alone, J. P., Short Manual of the Amharic Language. 

t Enc. Brit., gth edn., article "The Semitic Languages." 

J: The vowels are not expressed in the inscriptions except in the case 
of the Assyrian. The " &c." signifies that there are other forms of the 
suffix, but all with an m or « according to the list in which they stand. 

§ The vowel, a long one, is either o or u. 


34 Dadda-idri, or 

The Elephantine papyri and the Book of Ezra are not 
entered on the above hsts because they call for a particular 
notice. The papyri with very few exceptions have m ; 
but in No. 34.6, 7 {ca. 407 B.C.), and in 37.14 (probably 
ca. 410 B.C.), and also in 16.4 (435 B.C.), if, as seems pro- 
bable, the pronoun be masculine, we meet with n. This 
sporadic use of n in the papyri is nevertheless sufficient to 
show the existence of an n dialect, just as the sporadic use 
of pronouns written with dentals bears witness to the exist- 
ence of a dental dialect. Similarly in the Book of Ezra, 
in the Aramaic portions, we find both 7n and n, used in a 
somewhat indiscriminate manner ; an indication of the 
mixture of dialects. Especially is this the case with the 
narrator, probably Ezra himself, who must have spent 
most of his life in Babylon at the time when he compiled 
his book.* Thus in chap. v. 3, he uses m and n in the same 
verse. Exactly the same phenomenon meets us at Elephan- 
tine in papyrus No. 34.6, where \r\2 is followed by cnni2 in 
the same line. Tattenai, governor of the Persian province 
west of the Euphrates, uses the m consistently throughout 
his letter : chap. v. 7-17. Darius, in his reply to Tattenai, 
chap. vi. 6-12, uses m once in verse 9, and n once in verse 6, 
This is of importance as showing the existence of the n 
dialect in the second year of Darius, 520 B.C., the time when 
the letter containing his decree was written : see chap. iv. 
24. Artaxerxes in his commission to Ezra, 458 B.C., uses 
m four times and n thrice : chap. vii. 12-26. In his reply 
to the Samaritans he uses n once : chap. iv. 18-22. To 
sum up : m appears fifteen times, and n sixteen times in 
the Book of Ezra : a book in which the scene moves to and 
fro between east and west. 

Returning now to the above lists and directing our atten- 
tion to the cognate languages, the n would appear to be 
quite as old as the w, since it is found in the Assyrian. That 
these languages are more or less closely related in this 
matter is shown by the sibilant which appears in the Minean 

* Rawlinson, Speaker's Commentary, 'Ezra, pp. 386-87. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 35 

sm and the Assyrian sunn, whilst at the same time the one 
employs m and the other n. Similarly, as regards the 
Aramaic of Daniel, in the use of the n it is in agreement 
with Assyrian ; in the use of d for the original dli it differs. 
Then, coming down to the latter Aramaic, we are struck 
with the fact that though Nabatean and Palmyrene are 
contemporary dialects, the former uses m and the latter 
n. In the case of the Nabatean this is easily explained, 
for it is admitted on all hands that the Nabateans were 
Arabs and would therefore make use of the dialect which 
was presently to develop into Arabic. But what are we to 
say about the Palmyrene ? Palmyra, the ancient Tadmor, 
and so called in the inscriptions, was " built," i.e. fortified, 
by Solomon, no doubt as forming an important centre of 
desert commerce. This commerce must have brought it 
into very close touch with Damascus, which lies 150 miles 
to the south-west. Is it not, then, possible that this close 
contact with Damascus, the political capital of Aramaica 
and doubtless the centre of Aramaic culture, accounts for 
the n in the Palmyrene, and that we may look upon it as 
a survival of the purer Aramaic, of which the Book of Daniel 
exhibits so noble a specimen ? 

In its use of the dental dialect the Palmyrene, as might 
be expected, agrees with the Book of Daniel. The same 
feature appears in the Nabatean. And this, too, creates 
no surprise when we notice that the Arabs recognized the 
dh as a modified dental, and were careful to denote it in 
their alphabet by d with a mark of differentiation over it. 
But it will be said, What about the Targums ? Are there 
not in the Aramaic of the Targums many points of contact 
with the Aramaic of Daniel ? Undoubtedly there are ; and 
why should there not be ? The Book of Daniel, we may 
feel very sure, was held in high respect by the writers of the 
Targums, and they must have been very familiar with it. 
It is true that in their days it had most probably been taken 
out of the division of the Old Testament known as The 
Prophets, and placed in the Hagiographa, where it stands 

36 Dadda-idri, or 

very suitably with the later historical Books, Chronicles, 
Ezra-Nehemiah, and Esther ; but this must not be looked 
upon as any sign of depreciation. Surely, they who wrote 
those Aramaic paraphrases of the Hebrew Scriptures would 
be the very persons to have at their finger ends those parts 
of the Old Testament which were written in Aramaic. The 
agreement, therefore, between the Targums and the Book 
of Daniel, despite the long interval of time which separates 
them, is only what we might expect from men who were 
probably far more familiar with their Sacred Scriptures 
than we are with our Bibles. 

There now remains only the Mandean. The Mandeans, 
whose name signifies " Gnostics," and whose religion is 
compounded of Judaism, Heathenism, and Christianity, are 
a race dwelling in the marshlands near the mouth of the 
Euphrates. They speak the language of those around 
them, but their sacred books are written in a dialect of the 
Aramaic known as Mandean. O'Leary speaks of Mandean 
as "of great value, not only because of a fairly abundant 
Hterary material, but also because its isolation protected it 
from Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic influences, and so it dis- 
plays an independent development of Eastern Aramaic." * 
The Mandean Aramaic has four Hnks with the Aramaic of 
the Book of Daniel. 

(i) The Infinitive of the Peal, and of the Peal only, has 
the prefix m. 

(ii) The third person masculine of the Imperfect, which 
in Mandean generally has the prefix n, frequently has the 
prefix /, which is found in Dan. ii. 20. Compare also 
Dan. ii. 43 and v. 17. 

(iii) As stated in the above list, the suffixed masculine 
pronouns of the second and third persons plural end in n. 

(iv) Mandean belongs to the dental dialect of the Aramaic, 
as witnessed by the forms of the Relative and Demon- 
strative pronouns, and by the verbal roots. Thus we have 
for the Relative ""l or n, according as we read the abbrevia- 

* Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Languages, p. 16. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 37 

tion ; and for the Demonstrative jn, fem. XL* Of these 
four hnks the most remarkable is (i), which is found in no 
other dialect of the Aramaic. In Syriac the m prefix of 
the Infinitive is found in all the conjugations. Only in the 
Biblical Aramaic and the Mandean is it confined to the 
Peal. With respect to (iv) Noldeke points out that the same 
word is often found spelt in two ways, viz. with a dental or 
a sibilant ; and that, too, in the closest connection. Thus, 
almost close together we meet with KDt and KDI " blood," 
and x'?pn " palm-tree " is found alongside of x'^p"'*. He 
also points out that in these cases the sibilant is the form 
most often used.f This perhaps is not to be wondered at 
when we consider the nearness of the Assyro-Babylonian. 
Nevertheless, the appearance of dentals in the pronouns, 
the numerals, and the verbal roots, justifies us in classing 
Mandean with the dental dialect of the Aramaic. 

Lastly, the above lists, taken in conjunction with the 
fact already dwelt upon, viz. that the dental dialect was 
spoken at Damascus and Haran, are very suggestive as 
to the Eastern origin of the Book of Daniel. Let my 
readers place before them a map of what used to be called 
Turkey in Asia, and mark well the situation of the follow- 
ing places and regions : first, the district between Marash 
and the Gulf of Iskanderun, in which lies Zinjirli ; then, 
Aleppo, near to which is Nerab ; also, Hamath, imme- 
diately to the north of Palestine, where was found the 
oldest Aramaic inscription. Then let them lay down the 
map and travel in thought to Petra, south of Palestine, 
the wonderful rock city. In this district were found the 
Nabatean inscriptions. From Petra a long flight half- 
way down the far-extending Hijaz or " barrier," which 
forms the eastern border of the Red Sea, will bring them 
to the district of Medina and Mecca, the home of the classical 
Arabic. Thence, an equally long flight, still further south, 
will carry them to Sheba and Ethiopia, the utmost parts 

* Manddische Grammatik, pp. 92, 89. 
t Ibid., p. 43. 

38 Dadda-idriy or 

of the Semitic world, lying on either side of the entrance 
to that long inland sea. We need to go no further : a 
hasty flight northward must carry us back into the map 
and set us down at Damascus, the cultural, though not 
the geographical, centre of Aramaica, and one of the places 
where 'izri was pronounced 'idri. From Damascus our 
course lies E.N.E. to Palmyra in the Syrian Desert, and 
thence almost due north to Haran on a left-hand tributary 
of the Euphrates, another centre of the dental dialect. 
From Haran we pass northward to Urfa, on the same 
tributary stream and once a centre of the literary Syriac ; 
and thence eastward to Nisibis, another centre of the 
Syriac. From Nisibis we shall do well to push on still 
further east to the valley of the Tigris, so that we may 
mark the site of Nineveh, and going down stream from 
thence may cross over at Baghdad to the Euphrates, mark 
the ruin-mounds of Great Babylon, and end our wander- 
ings in the marshes at the mouth of that river, the haunts 
of a miserable remnant of the ancient Mandeans. With 
the positions of all these different localities now well fixed 
in our minds, let us look again at the above lists. What 
is the thought that at once strikes us ? Is it not this : 
that the m list belongs to the Western Aramaic, and the 
n list to the Eastern ? If, then, we also bear in mind that 
the Western dialect, as displayed in the ancient Aramaic 
inscriptions, is seen to be a sibilant dialect, whilst the 
Aramaic of Damascus and Haran, as shown by the Syrian 
proper names, is no less evidently a dental dialect, it becomes 
clear that the Book of Daniel, which preserves the n through- 
out and at the same time is consistently written in dentals, 
may on these two accounts rightly lay claim to an Eastern 
origin. Such a claim would certainly agree well with the 
face value of the book as appearing to have been written 
by Daniel himself, and also with the tradition which places 
the tomb of the prophet at Shushan on the eastern verge 
of Aramaica : * a tradition which may very well be founded 

* See the frontispiece to this treatise. 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 39 

on fact, seeing that Daniel, having become an object of 
envy and hatred to the Babylonian presidents and satraps, 
would, so one thinks, be glad enough to live away from 
Babylon. Hence the latest glimpse we get of him is on 
the banks of the Tigris (Dan. x. 4), and it is quite con- 
ceivable that in his old age he may have gone to live at 
Shushan, a place with which he was already acquainted 
(Dan. viii. 2), and where he would be more immediately 
under the aegis of the friendly Persian power. 

But it will be said, " Surely the question is hardly a 
geographical one. Should it not rather be treated from 
the chronological standpoint ? If the Aramaic of the 
Book of Daniel agrees in so many respects with the 
Palmyrene, Nabatean, and Syriac, and even with the late 
Mandean, how can we look upon that Book as a work of 
the latter half of the sixth century B.C. ? " What is the 
answer to such a line of argument ? Just this : the con- 
tinuance of dialect. For instance, the sibilant dialect found 
at Hamath early in the eighth century B.C. is also found 
in the late papyri of the second century B.C., and even in 
the much later Mandean, where it appears to be getting 
the better of its dental rival. What have been accounted 
marks of late origin are in many cases probably only sur- 
vivals, as is shown by their very persistence. Thus, the 
n of the suffixed personal pronouns, found in the decree of 
Darius, 520 b.c, and which forms such a characteristic 
feature of the Book of Daniel, is of high antiquity and long 
descent by the time when it makes its appearance in the 
Mandean.* When, then, we note it as a linguistic feature 
of that Book, we must not regard it as an upstart. Its 
very persistence so far down into the Christian era bids 
us think otherwise. There is no reason why it should not 
be quite as old as its rival, the m. 

Let me now sum up the chief points reached in this 

* See G. R. Driver's pedigree of the Semitic languages, given in Enc. 
Brit., 14th edn., vol. xx, p. 316. 

40 Dadda-idri, or 

(i) The name Dadda-'idri, and other like names, are found 
to furnish undoubted evidence of a dental dialect in the 
ancient Aramaic. 

(ii) A very possible explanation has been offered of the 
absence of any very ancient inscriptions in that dialect, 

(iii) The dialect has been exhibited in the Elephantine 
Papyri, of the fifth century B.C., as found in the verbal 
roots throughout, and occasionally in the pronouns. 

(iv) It has also been traced in the cognate language of 
S. Arabia, but not in the Early Ethiopic, where its seeming 
appearance is due to the ignorance of the scribe. 

(v) Lastly, in another case of consonantal variation, 
exhibited by certain of the suffixed personal pronouns, 
attention has been called to a second instance of the co- 
existence of dialects, and from the dialect employed in 
the Book of Daniel in both these cases an argument has 
been drawn for the Eastern origin of that Book. 

What, then, is the ultimate result at which we have 
arrived ? The ultimate result appears to me to be two- 
fold. Firstly, the Aramaic of the Book of Daniel is the 
Aramaic of a district lying well to the north and east of 
Palestine. The philological evidence, taken along with 
tradition, would 1-ead us to call it the Eastern Aramaic. 
But since it was spoken at Damascus and Haran, it may 
be safer to call it the Pure Aramaic. Secondly — and this 
is a point of infinitely greater importance — the dialect of 
the Book of Daniel, though it tells us nothing as to the 
age of that Book, is seen to be no longer a bar to its having 
been written by the prophet himself. This is the great 
obstacle that I have sought to remove. For how can a 
Christian believe that a Book, treated with such special 
reverence by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, is nothing 
better than a Jewish Apocalypse ! 

If, then, any help has been given me by Almighty God 
in this endeavour, I render to Him my most humble and 
hearty thanks. For — to strike a personal note — I seem 
to myself like a traveller, who late in the season, aye, and 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 41 

late in life, has struggled over some Alpine pass. With 
slow and toilsome steps I have clambered up the steeps 
of Difficulty, and have come through places well-nigh 
blocked by the fast-drifting snows of Adverse Criticism. 
Now, if I have got safely over the pass — of which indeed 
others must be left to judge — then I wish to say that it is 
not my doing. Again and again, the way has been opened 
for me by an Unseen Hand ; so that, henceforth my motto 
must be the words of the old Roman poet, 

" Quo via per montes ducit aperta pedem." 


On p. 103 (3), writing on the frequent use of h in the 
Book of Daniel to express the direct object, Rowley remarks, 
" It is again to be observed that while h is used to express 
the direct object occasionally in early inscriptions and the 
earlier Papyri, it appears more frequently in the later 
Papyri, and very much more frequently in Daniel, where 
the occurrences are some two score in number." It is 
perfectly true that h is only once so used in the three Zin- 
jirU inscriptions, and not at all in the Hamath inscription 
and the two short inscriptions from Nerab. At Elephan- 
tine it is used very sparsely, viz. in Nos. 7.5,9 (461 B.C.) : 
13.2,5 (447 B.C.) : 15.23 (441 B.C.) : 16.2 (435 B.C.) : 27.23 
{ca. 410 B.C.) : and also in 5.9 (471 B.C.), apparently over- 
looked by Rowley. The increasing frequency of which he 
speaks, I have been unable to detect. In the Ahikar 
Papyri, found at. Elephantine, undated, and extending 
over some 200 lines — in part indeed illegible — Rowley cites 
only one instance. The very frequent occurrence of this 
construction in the Book of Daniel must be looked upon 
as a feature of the author's literary style ; and we see no 
reason why Daniel should not have a style of his own. 

On p. 103 (4) Rowley observes, " The Preposition '? 
precedes the name of the king (or reign) in dates in Biblical 
Aramaic, Nabatean, and Sinaitic, but not in Babylonian, 
Lydian, or Egyptian Aramaic, save once in the last named." 
Quite so : but the one exception is No. i.i (495 b.c), the 
earhest of the Elephantine Papyri, and the only one in 
which the name " Darius " is spelt tl'ViT as in the Book 
of Daniel. If this usage occurs once in a papyrus of 495 
B.C., may it not occur once, viz. in Dan. vii. i, in the Aramaic 


The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 43 

portion of a prophetic Book, seemingly written near the 
end of the reign of Cyrus ? * 

On p. 107 occurs the following very perplexing remark, 
" Nevertheless, it is extremely difficult to feel that Daniel's 
very common use of S to mark the direct object, for instance, 
could be more than a century older than the oldest of the 
Papyri," etc. I confess I do not understand this remark. 
The oldest of the Papyri, according to the date given, was 
written in 495 b.c. The Book of Daniel, as just suggested, 
was probably written some forty years earlier, whereas 
Rowley speaks of " more than a century." In the next 
paragraph he observes, " Much more embarrassing to the 
theory of the early origin of the Book of Daniel, however, 
are the differences between Daniel and the Papyri in points 
(4) and (7)." To this I would answer that if we once 
admit that in the more frequent adoption of a grammatical 
construction, known to be in use in his day, Daniel may be 
allowed to have a style of his own, all the imaginary embar- 
rassment at once disappears. 

On p. 104 (5) we meet with the observation, " In the 
Aramaic of Lydia, Babylon, the Papyri, and the Nabatean 
inscriptions, the word X2^c, when in opposition with the 
name of the sovereign, uniformly follows the Proper name. 
In Ezra, too, the same order is regularly followed. In 
Daniel, however, while in many cases this order is observed, 
in several cases the order is reversed." In commenting on 
the above I would say that the order of the words is not, I 
think, due to prevailing usage or to individual taste. " Nebu- 
chadnezzar the king " is the more stately and formal style. 
It emphasizes the royal power and majesty of the sovereign. 
For this reason we find it used throughout Dan. iii. It is 
used also in the humble address of the presidents and satraps 
who were plotting the death of Daniel : " Darius the king, 
live for ever," chap. vi. 6 : so runs the order of the words 
in the original, compare chap. iii. 9. It is the official title, 

* Cf. Dan. i. 21, vi. 28, and x. i. Cyrus was king of Babylon only for 
the last seven years ol his reign. 

44 Dadda-idri 

and therefore we meet with it in royal proclamations. See 
chap. iv. I (Heb. iii. 31), and vi. 25 (Heb. 26), and compare 
the legal documents found at Elephantine. In Dan. iv. 31 
(Heb. 28) it emphasizes the humbling of the great king of 
Babylon ; but in the same chapter the troubled monarch, 
anxious as to the meaning of his alarming vision, adopts 
the less emphatic order, as indeed he would naturally do 
when speaking about himself : "This dream I king Nebu- 
chadnezzar have seen," etc. This order is also suited to 
intimate conversation : see chaps, ii. 28, and v. 11. It is 
no less suited to simple narrative : see chaps, ii. 46, v. 9, 
and vi. 9 (Heb. 10). On p. 106 Rowley says, " the use in 
Daniel of i<2h^ before the name," i.e. of the king, " is un- 
paralleled in the Papyri." Yes ! for the very good reason 
that there are no passages in the Papyri answering to the 
description of the six just given. In the Book of Ezra we 
find the first order used throughout, because the references 
to the king are of an historical or official character, and point 
to the monarch named as seated at that time on the throne 
of Persia. 

On pp. 104-5 (6) the writer remarks on the position of 
the Demonstratives nji(;), Nl(-), rht^ or \'h\<. I think the 
Demonstrative when put first is emphatic. Compare 
Dan. iv. 18 (Heb. 15), " this dream," this startling dream ; 
and ii. 44, " consume all these kingdoms," i.e. all these 
■great kingdoms ; also vii. 17, " these great beasts," so 
terrible, so powerful ! The order in Ezra v. 4, I cannot 
explain, but in verse 15 following " take these vessels " 
means " take these sacred vessels, which were removed 
from the temple at Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar," etc. 
Similarly in the Papyri, No. 13.7, " This house I give to 
you," the pronoun is emphatic, and therefore stands first. 
Compare line 12 following : " this document," i.e. as the 
context shows, " this document, and none other, shall be 
valid." In line 17, where there is no emphasis, the Demon- 
strative stands second. 


Dadda-'idri, i.e. Hadad-ezer, has been identified by 
Schrader with Benhadad II, the contemporary of Ahab.* 
No doubt Schrader was helped to this identification by the 
fact that in the annals of Shalmaneser III Hazael succeeds 
Dadda-'idri as king at Damascus, while in the O.T. he 
succeeds Benhadad. It follows, therefore, that the full 
name of this king must have been Ben-Hadad-ezer " the son 
of Hadad is a helper." Compare the abbreviated name of 
an Arab sheikh found in the annals of Ashurbanipal, Bir- 
Dadda, i.e. Ben-Hadad. Apparently, then, the son of 
Hadad was a god as well as Hadad himself. It is possible, 
however, to find another explanation, as follows. Hadad, 
the Air-god, had a second name, Ramman or Rimmon. In 
the story of Naaman the chief god of the Syrians is called 
Rimmon (2 Kings v. 18). In the valley of Megiddo there 
was a place which bore the name Hadad-Rimmon " Hadad 
is Rimmon " (Zech. xii. 11), and in the palace of Ashur- 
banipal we meet with an official called Rimani-Adad 
" Rimmon is Hadad." Both these names describe the god 
of the Syrians as the Thunderer. In the Babylonian 
account of the Deluge we read, 

" There went up from the horizon a dark cloud ; 
Adad in the midst of it thundered," 
where the word " thundered " is the Ifte 'al conjugation of 
the verb ramamu, from which the name Ramman is a deri- 
vative. Hadad has a similar derivation. It comes from a 
root which in Arabic signifies " to crash," and which has 
a derivative noun signifying " thunder." But Hadad was 
not only Ramman the Thunderer : he was also Barqu the 
Lightener.f Now there was a town near Joppa called Bene- 
berak I — the modern Ibn Abrak — a name which means 

* Schrader. The Cuneifonn Inscriptions and the O. T., pp. 190-91. 
t Ibid., pp. 196-97. 
j Josh. xix. 45. 


46 Dadda-idri, or 

" the sons of lightning," i.e. " the hghteners." In the same 
way Ben-Hadad " the son of thunder " is equivalent to 
" the thunderer." Compare the name given by our Saviour 
to His apostles James and John, " Boanerges," i.e. t*y\ '•jd 
" the sons of thunder," where the Genitive is one of 
characteristic. According to this explanation Hadad and 
Ben-Hadad have much the same meaning. 


In my work on the Book of Daniel I have given some 
reasons for thinking that Darius the Mede was Cambyses, 
the son of Cyrus, who, as shown by the contract tablets, 
was styled " king of Babylon " for about nine months in 
the first year of Cyrus after the capture of that city. A 
crucial point in the argument is the age of Darius. If, as 
seems not unlikely, numbers were expressed by letters of 
the alphabet as early as the fifth century B.C., then 62 
would be written 2D ; and this, as I have striven to show, 
might very easily be a corruption of 2"' =12 — a very hkely 
age for Cambyses at that time, if, as Ctesias tells us, Amytis, 
the daughter of Astyages, was his mother. 

How easily a carelessly made '' might be mistaken for a 
2, is exhibited in the photograph and facsimile of an inscrip- 
tion by Prof. Torrey, given in the Journal of the American 
Oriental Society for December, 19 17, and here by kind per- 
mission re-produced. This inscription, brought to America 
by an Armenian merchant, is on a block of stone said to 
have been cut out of the rock above the river Cydnus about 
fifteen miles north-east of Tarsus. The letters measure 
from t\ to 2 inches in height. They have been incised and 
then filled in with red paint. Describing his copy of the 
inscription, Torrey says, " In the accompanying facsimile 
drawing, made from the stone itself, I have attempted to 
indicate the relative distinctness of the remaining letters 

' %.;^^ <« 



^^: ^/^ ',.... i.i: 

^>r4^:' ^-m^^M 

■^' if-z^l^Tj-j* 

;« ...'l^^' 



Facing p. 47 

The Aramaic of the Book of Daniel 47 

or portions of letters. Solid black means that both incision 
and paint are plainly to be seen. The partly shaded por- 
tions are those in which either the painting or the incised 
hne is unmistakably clear, but not both. Where the draw- 
ing is in outline, only ambiguous traces, or no traces at all, 
can be seen. It is perhaps needless to remark that some of 
the lines and furrows, which in the photograph look like 
plain marks of the engraver's tool, are not such in reahty." 
If the reader, thus fully instructed, will compare the care- 
lessly made Yod near the end of the third line with the 
Samech in the name jiD^is, he will see how closely the 
two letters resemble each other, and how a Yod carelessly 
written might very easily be mistaken for a Samech. He 
will also not fail to notice the indication of another care- 
lessly made Yod in the same line. The remaining three 
Yods are correctly formed. The inscription, as transcribed 
by Prof. Torrey in modern Hebrew characters, and trans- 
lated, reads thus : — 

n3:j pomx onp 
ir-'a pi n'7^1 ••tj^c: 

This image NNST erected 

before ADRSWN, because he protected 

my spirit, which is his. Whoever evil 

does to this image, 

Sahar and Shamash will require it of him. 

With regard to the epigraphy of the inscription Torrey 
makes the following remark : "Of the inscriptions hitherto 
published, those most nearly resembling ours in the forms 
of the characters used are the Memphis inscription, 
C I S * II, 122, dated 482 B.C., the Teima stele CIS II, 113, 
belonging to the fifth century, and the Cilician hunting 
inscription,! Lidzbarski, Handbuch, Plate XXVI, 3, probably 
also dating from the fifth century." 

* Corpus I nscriptionum Semiticarum. 
■ . t G. A. Cooke, p. 194. 




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