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The Serabit Alphabet and the Link Between Ancient and Modern Languages

January 24, 2020

As I have demonstrated in past Nuggets, the Canaanite alphabet discovered at Serabit El-Khadem was the bridge between ancient pictographic writing systems and the beginnings of phonetic based scripts we are familiar with in the writing systems of languages of the world today. The Cuneiform Alphabet developed by the unskilled artisans of Serabit was further honed into the wedge-shaped cuneiform script by the skilled scribes in Ugarit in the 14th and 13th centuries BC.  But those who created of this phonetic form of writing were the ones who inscribed the letters in stone found in Serabit. The Proto-Sinaitic characters found in the rocks of Sarbut el-Khadem were the link in the evolving system I first shared with you in the Nugget “The Birth of An Alphabet in the Valley of the Writing” posted on January 11th. 


What fascinates me even more are the links between languages as far back as the languages of the ancient civilizations or empires. It is the connectedness which amazes me. This is what we would expect when we consider the world languages. The Biblical account of The Tower of Babel demands it. Clearly these ancient languages are linked.  The similarity is evident in the progression of alphabets. 


                                 Cuneiform Pictograms                                            


                           Cuneiform Phonetic Script              



                        Comparisons across Ancient Languages


Add to that the similarities between lexical elements (words) in Biblical Hebrew and Ancient Chinese Pictographs the link becomes clearer and the significance grows. We would expect there to be connections between languages if indeed there was one language shared between all peoples of the earth at the time of Babel.


“At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words.” Gen 11:1 

“Come on! Let's go down there and confuse their language, so that they won't understand each other's speech. 

 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the surface of the whole earth, so that they had to stop 

 building the city. Therefore it was called Babylon, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth, 

 and from there the LORD scattered them over the surface of the entire earth.” Gen 11:7-9


The examples below come from my God’s Awesome Book series under the section Amazing Facts where I looked at the similarities in concepts between the Chinese pictographic characters and the Biblical story which describes for us the events and the subsequent scattering of the languages of the earth.  Chinese is the only existing language on earth that dates back to the time of the ancient civilizations. Notice the derivation of many biblical concepts which are currently depicted in modern day Chinese script. Just as there is a traditional form of Chinese pictographs which is more complicated, there are simplified forms of the same characters. Not only that but the thousands of complicated Chinese characters each representing a concept have been reduced over time in order to simplify both learning and communication.   The same process of the simplification of character forms and the subsequent reduction of the number of complex characters seen in modern Mandarin and Cantonese scripts has also occurred with Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Sumerian Cuneiform pictographs. 



One has only to dwell a short time on the makeup of the Chinese pictographs to be aware of the connection between ancient Chinese scripts and the Bible. What God recorded for us in the Bible gives us an insight into the development of the world’s languages and their associated scripts and the truthfulness of the account written in our Bibles. The evidence is there laid before us in seemingly undesigned or unintentional ways on the part of the ones responsible for language development or the design of alphabets on the part of those who developed such systems. Rather what we have is "undesigned coincidences"* which appear to be orchestrated by the master designer, God himself. 


*The term undesigned coincidences comes from J. J. Blunt’s book - Blunts Scriptural Coincidences – New Testament Edition, Gospels and Acts.


I trust what I have summarized for you in this Nugget has piqued your curiosity. I had intended to develop the links gradually and more thoroughly; instead I have left you with a puzzle to unravel and piece together for yourself. 



Author’s Note:

I have cut short the series I intended to write related to languages and alphabets and have condensed the remainder into this final Nugget. The reason being that I wish to start a new series in the Nuggets related to Strongholds: What they are, How to Recognise them and How to Overcome them.   I am preaching a very condensed potted version of this tomorrow in Manukau City Baptist. However, I figure I will expand the condensed sermon into a series of Nuggets complete with Ian Stories in order to help people understand more fully what is meant by strongholds in the Bible and how to break free of them. This is a highly significant time to do this for me personally as tomorrow is Tania’s and my 46th Wedding Anniversary. Not only that but our wedding anniversary always reminds me of how long I have been a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Given the fact that Tania told this staunch atheist that God had shown her she could not marry me unless I became a Christian. Whereupon I fell to my knees and cried, “Anything you want my dear. I will do anything just to marry you.” Yeah right! Those of you who know us well, know that response on my part is pure fiction. Yet my becoming a Christian and marrying Tania are inextricably linked.  My journey to Christ has been accomplished by the strongholds I needed to overcome in order to let go the things that held me back. I frequently encounter people who need help in this area. Hence my plan to develop a series of Nuggets on the subject and tomorrow in the sermon and next Saturday in the Nugget is a good time to start. 






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