When right to left is really right Dead Sea Scrolls’ Hebrew is the opposite of how we read, and theories abound as to whyMaybe it's because God is right-handed?
Dead Sea Scrolls’ Hebrew is the opposite of how we read, and theories abound as to why.
By BILL TAMMEUS
Special to The Star
As Union Station’s exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls moves toward the halfway mark of its three-month run, many visitors are asking this question:
Why must Hebrew, the language in which many of the scrolls are written, be read right to left?
No one knows for sure, but there are interesting theories. As early as 3000 B.C.E./B.C., most Egyptian hieroglyphs were written to be read from the right.
Stephen J. Andrews, who teaches Old Testament, Hebrew and archaeology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, says one scholar proposed that the right-to-left direction was due to most people being right-handed. So a scribe would begin on the side where the hand that did the writing was resting.
A similar theory is that the language in ancient times was chiseled into stone. A right-handed person would hold the chisel in the left hand and the hammer in the right. If he tried to go left to right, his left hand would constantly be blocking his view of what he was doing. That would happen much less when chiseling right to left.
But this theory has problems, Andrews says, because early cuneiform and inscriptions are written left to right.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
WHY IS HEBREW WRITTEN RIGHT TO LEFT?