Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav


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Why was almost all the knowledge of Ancient Egypt lost until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone? Did the Romans or Greeks write nothing about it?

hieroglyphics

Ancient Egyptian paid the price of being over-exclusive. Since the skill of writing (and reading) hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic writing was jealously guarded by a small, exclusive caste of scribes, once the Alexandrian and Roman conquests undermined the old Pharaonic regime and made Greek the new language and culture of the elite, that skill became largely redundant, and died out with the scribes.

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Why do Greek, Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic, etc. have names for their letters like alpha, beta, lamda?

The names of the Hebrew/Phoenician alphabet were given by the ingenious Canaanite slave(s) who first invented them some time in the 1900s BCE, possibly in Wadi El-Hol in Egypt:

wadi_el_hol-inscription-over
Detail of an inscription on a rock face in Wadi El-Hol, Egypt (near the Valley of the Kings)

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Did the name of the Greek god of light Apollo come from the Hebrew demon Abaddon?

(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

No, but close: the name Abaddon (in Hebrew, אבדון, avaddon, from the root a-b-d, from which the words ibed = lose, avad = gone, and others are derived) was translated as Apollyon (Ἀπολλύων, “the Destroyer”) in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.

In either case, the Greek name is of native Greek provenance, not derived from Hebrew.