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October 30, 2006

Comments

S.

Great post. The stabilization of spelling greatly inhibits our understanding of the fluidity of spoken language.

>I recall seeing an academic work that proposed to explain this 'peculiarity' of rabbinic interpretation by claiming that in ancient Hebrew script, the hei and the ches were written in the same way and that during the Second Temple period there was no distinction in pronunciation between the two.

In various medieval scripts the heh and ches were almost identical. See, for example, this image from the Aleppo Codex

http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en/5/5d/Aleppo_codex.jpg

One sees the same thing by comparing them in the scripts of many different eras, as in

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/images.jsp?artid=1308&letter=A&imgid=168

and of course the sound of a spoken heh and ches are just a hair apart. So I don't think its even remotely a mystery, whether from a traditional or an academic perspective, why these letters so easily interchange.

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