The World’s Oldest Alphabet

A wife asked her husband to describe her.  He said, “You’re A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K.”   She asked, “What does that mean?”  He said, “Adorable, Beautiful, Cute, Delightful, Elegant, Foxy, Gorgeous, Hot.”  She said, “Oh that’s so lovely. And what about I, J, K?”  He said, “I’m Just Kidding,”  The husband is still recovering.

When it comes to writing, Egyptian is considered to be the oldest form as far as pictures go, with their inscribed hieroglyphics dating back to 3,200 B.C.  But what about the oldest form as far as letters go?  What was the world’s first alphabet?  Archaeologists have known where to look for the answer – the letters on the ancient North African stone tablets dated from around the mid second century B.C. (nothing else earlier has ever been found.) But who wrote these letters and what do the words say?  It’s long been a mystery.  Now, thanks to a Canadian, we may finally have the answer.  Dr. Douglas Petrovich is Professor of Egyptian History at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.  He is also one of the world’s leading epigraphologists.

Epigraphy – The study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; it is the science of identifying graphemes, clarifying their meanings, classifying their uses according to dates and cultural contexts, and drawing conclusions about the writing and the writers.

Since 2012, Dr. Petrovich has traveled to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Cairo, Egypt, to study firsthand what are known locally as the Sinai tablets.  As well, here at home in Canada he has developed a computer linguistic model for all possible interpretive combinations of the letters.  Then last month, as the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Society of Oriental Research, the good professor presented his findings – the world’s oldest alphabet is actually the beginning of the Hebrew written language.  He stated that the Jews who were enslaved in Egypt wanted someway to privately communicate with each other and to historically document their plight.  So they took twenty-two of the simplest hieroglyphic pictures and phonetically matched them to twenty-two basic letters and then went on to develop a vocabulary.  And, when this rudimentary Hebrew template is applied to the stone tablets biblical names begin to appear: Joseph, Asenath (Joseph’s wife), Ephraim, Manesseh, Moses, and Ahisamach (father of Oholiab, who was appointed to build the tabernacle) etc.  Dr. Petrovich then concluded his talk by stating that he will soon release a detailed account of his finding in a book entitled, The World’s Oldest Alphabet, in which he will, among other things, document that it was Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manesseh, who took upon themselves the task of creating this written language, Hebrew.

The bottom line?  Why is all of this important?  Because it is the first documented written proof, outside the Bible, of the Exodus story – and a direct challenge to university professors around the world, who have long laughingly mocked the Scriptural account, saying that no extra-biblical record exists.  Well it does now.  And we owe it all to a Canadian!