LANGUAGE, HISTORY or. That all men at first spoke one language we know on the authority of Scripture, and that that lan guage must have been the Hebrew, the Holy Language, as it is called by the Jews, in which God was pleased to reveal his word to man, is clearly deducible from Scripture. In giving the names of Adam and many of his posterity, the inspired penman expressly declares them to be of Hebrew ergin, for of Adam he says that he was expressly so called from the He brew, Adam, earth, because he was made out of the dust of the earth, and in a sinnlar man ner he explains the names of Cain, Abel, Abram, Isaac, Jacob, and others. When God thought proper to confound the tongues of men, he reserved the Hebrew tongue for his chosen people, who, in that tongue, were to keep and hand down his oracles to future ages.
Judging from the deviations which the earliest languages underwent, it does net ap pear that any new language was formed in the confusion of tongues at the tower of Babel, nor in fact that any other change took place than what was needful to answer the divine purpose of causing the dispersion of mankind. The Chaldean or Babylonians being one of the first people formed after the flood, 'we find that their language, which has been handed down to us unchanged, differs the least of any from the Hebrew. The Syriac, which was spoken by the Canaanites, was in its primitive state so nearly allied to the Hebrew, that Abra ham understood their speech; and although the Syriac, which is now extant, and which was spoken by the inhabitants of ancient Sy ria, underwent many changes by the inter course of different people, yet it still retains many vestiges of its origin. In the time of Joseph, the language of the Egyptians, which is still extant under the name of Copti4 was, an different that the Israelites required an in terpreter in order to be understood, but not withstanding they retained in their letters and in many of their words marks of their affinity to the Hebrew. This great diversity in the
language of the Egyptians, the descendants of Ban; within on short a period after the flood, is not surprising, when we consider the pe culiar character of this people for invention and device.
The Arabian is another language which, from the antiquity of the people, was probably formed at or very soon after the confusion of tongues. It is also very different from all the other tongues then existing, and surpassed them all in the number of its letters and the harmony and richness of its expression, but still it carries with it innumerable marks of its affinity to the Hebrew. The /Ethiopian was in all probability a dialect of the Egyptian, at least in the names of its letters it is very simi lar to that language; bat Ludolf observes that it bears a great affinity to the Hebrew and the Syriac, and a still greater to the Arabic, from which he supposes it to be derived. In fact, be maintains that competent knowledge of the Hebrew, or any other of the oriental lan guages, will enable a person to understand very much of the Ethiopic, there being seve ral Hebrew roots and sagnifications of He brew words in this language, which are not to be found in any other.
As the Phenicians, the descendants of the Canaanites, inhabited the maritime parts of the land of Canaan, it is not surprising that their language should be supposed to have been nearly the same as the Hebrew. Some vestiges of this affinity are to be found in the proper names of the Carthaginians, their de scendants, who spoke a dialect of the Phene ciao, called the Punic language : this latter language is also said to have had a tincture of the Chaldee and Syriac, which may be easily accounted for by the intercourse which these two trading nations held with all other people. A writer in modern times has also shown that the Maltese contains a number of Panic words, from which it is justly inferred that Malta was once in the possession of the Carthaginians.