(see above) had become naturalized among them. In referring this name to the patronymic Eber, the Hebrew genealogists have assigned to it a much more comprehensive signification. For since in Gn 1021 (Nu 2424 does not apply) Shem is called the father of all the children of Eber, and to the latter there also belonged according to Gn 1114 ff. and 1025 ff. Aramean and Arab races, the name, afterwards restricted in the form of the gentilic ʿibrî exclusively to the Israelites, must have originally included a considerably larger group of countries and nations. The etymological significance of the name must in that case not be insisted upon.
[c] The term ἑβραϊστί is first used, to denote the old Hebrew, in the prologue to Jesus the son of Sirach (about 130 B.C.), and in the New Testament, Rv 911. On the other hand it serves in John 52, 1913.17 perhaps also in 1920 and Rv 1616 to denote what was then the (Aramaic) vernacular of Palestine as opposed to the Greek. The meaning of the expression ἑβραῒς διάλεκτος in Acts 2140, 222, and 2614 is doubtful (cf. Kautzsch, Gramm. des Bibl.-Aram., p. 19 f.). Josephus also uses the term Hebrew both of the old Hebrew and of the Aramaic vernacular of his time.
The Hebrew language is first called the sacred language in the Jewish-Aramaic versions of the Old Testament, as being the language of the sacred books in opposition to the lingua profana, i.e. the Aramaic vulgar tongue.
[d] 2. With the exception of the Old Testament (and apart from the Phoenician inscriptions; see below, f–h), only very few remains of old Hebrew or old Canaanitish literature have been preserved. Of the latter—(1) an inscription, unfortunately much injured, of thirty-four lines, which was found in the ancient territory of the tribe of Reuben, about twelve miles to the east of the Dead Sea, among the ruins of the city of Dîbôn (now Dîbân), inhabited in earlier times by the Gadites, afterwards by the Moabites. In it the Moabite king Mêšaʿ (about 850 B.C.) recounts his battles with Israel (cf. 2 K 34 ff.), his buildings, and other matters. Of old Hebrew: (2) an inscription
- We may also leave out of account the linguistically possible identification of the ʿIbriyyîm with the Ḫabiri who appear in the Tell-el-Amarna letters (about 1400 B.C.) as freebooters and mercenaries in Palestine and its neighbourhood.
- This monument, unique of its kind, was first seen in August, 1868, on the spot, by the German missionary F. A. Klein. It was afterwards broken into pieces by the Arabs, so that only an incomplete copy of the inscription could be made. Most of the fragments are now in the Louvre in Paris. For the history of the discovery and for the earlier literature relating to the stone, see Lidzbarski, Nordsemitische Epigraphik, i. pp. 103 f., 415 f., and in the bibliography (under Me), p. 39 ff. The useful reproduction and translation of the inscription by Smend and Socin (Freiburg in Baden, 1886) was afterwards revised and improved by Nordlander, Die Inschrift des Königs Mesa von Moab, Lpz. 1896; by Socin and Holzinger, ‘Zur Mesainschrift’ (Berichte der K. Sächsischen Gesell. d. Wiss., Dec. 1897); and by Lidzbarski, ‘Eine Nachprüfung der Mesainschrift’ (Ephemeris, i. 1, p. 1 ff.; text in his Altsemitischs Texte, pt. 1, Giessen, 1907); J. Halévy, Revue Sémitique, 1900, pp. 236 ff., 289 ff., 1901, p. 297 ff.; M. J. Lagrange, Revue biblique internationale, 1901, p. 522 ff.; F. Prätorius in ZDMG. 1905, p. 33 ff., 1906, p. 402. Its genuineness was attacked by A. Löwy, Die Echtheit der Moabit. Inschr. im Louvre (Wien, 1903), and G. Jahn in Das Buch Daniel, Lpz. 1904, p. 122 ff. (also in ZDMG. 1905, p. 723 ff.), but without justification, as shown by E. König in ZDMG. 1905, pp. 233 ff. and 743 ff. [Cf. also Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel, Oxford, 1890, p. lxxxv ff.; Cooke, op. cit., p. 1 ff.]