Modern Hebrew different from ancient Hebrew…Igbo lingo.

By Iroabuchi Onwuka

Bernard Comrie edited a book on “world major languages” which was a serenade of writers  from various parts of the world on various languages of the world. The converging theme of the book is the relative history of these languages and how they relate to the wider world. In all these relative history of languages, the Igbo language was not found. Igbo language was not considered a language on the condition that it is probably an aggregate of other languages of West Africa. The formal basis of claim is set in order of Joseph Greenberg who made significant contribution to the languages of the world. The main event for me in the book is the work of a man called Robert Hetzron who did the work on Hebrew.

Robert HetzronIn his opening letter he mentioned that “it is futile to ask whether Moderrn Hebrew is the same language as the idiom of the Hebrew Bible. Clearly, the difference between them is great enough to make it impossible for the person who knows one to understand  the other without effort”. This is singularly important because of the nature of Igbo language that fall into a category that refer to Medieval Hebrew, which is Hebrew spoken by the Eddas, that is the 72 priesthood of Israel before thier departure from Spain. The above statement by Heztron is equally necessary since it might help to cast enough light on the poverty Modern Hebrew in revealing its relationship to Nigerian Igbo language. I had to fully engage myself in these two languages, in order to have this kind of chance.

In essence, the possibility that Igbo language is Hebrew language does not exist with Modern Hebrew since it only existed in relationship to the older version of Hebrew.  This goes to demonstrate the great pain involved in drawing aside the relationship between Igbo and Hebrew and how a thousand words in Igbo language were hidding their meaning in various  degree  in Hebrew language. That I succeeded in that effor meant that I had to look elsewhere…perhaps to the version of Qumran script, which by many estimate of history seem the forebearer of the Hebrew version spoken through the Eastern desert and into Syria, through Syria into Italy and Spain and then ownwards to other parts of Europe.

Modern Hebrew  and the standard writing of the Hebrew letters called cuneiform was fully remastered in Odessa Poland. As such the version of Hebrew that is play to today came from Eastern Europeans who were far fetched from recurrent changes in Hebrew that took place in Spain. This is called the Masoretic and in the name of Sarno Nahum, it was simply defined as the right pronunciation og the language. Original Hebrew, at least its compact form was lost after the fall of Bar choba in the 2nd century.  The remaining Jews of Jerusalem were scattered all over the world, and gone with them were the very exact nature of the language. The language which began to receive attention today, is merely an attempt to fully uncover the past based on currencies in spoken and then written Hebrew.

The LXX or the Septuagint had been of help Hebrew/Greek, so has the Syrian peshita and the Lucian Hebrew translation. This is all due to the provobial fact that the people learning these languages were not the original ‘guardian’ of Hebrew Tradition. The 72 original Eddas were believed to have perished during the harsh expulsion and eventually massacre of Jews in Spain. Yes, eventually those left behind were not easily protected. Spanish sources said that the society was becoming a society of mad men, lunatics killing with no reason. Perhaps for the fun of it. But it was not just in Spain and Portugal but all over Europe. In fact, it is said that by late 16 centuries and early part of the 17th century there was no remaining Jew in France, England, Spain, Portugal. Germany had a very misused few Jews, some dodging thier identity, but many European countries simply overturned thier Jews population. When these Jews were found, they were restrained to Ghettos through Europe. This continued till the French revolution and Napoleon who I was surprised to learn, ended European Jewish ghetto.  

The Jews of  Europe who survived through those years, were kept in strictest obscurity and their livestyle took a much timid form given the closed off culture. The Hebrew language suffered the most, it could not have survived without adapting itself to neighbouring languages and without the ‘Jewish Guide’ called ‘Orieji Uda’. Even for those who migrated into Russia through Odessa, and into kiev were not saved from adaptation to langauge. For this the language changed overtime, which affected Jews of Odessa, who despite thier confounding to very hostile Republic had to develop several means of communication. It is not surprising that the reborn of the language known to Ashkeniz…after the town, that survived several ‘epynoms degrees of incarnation’  is central to the Odessa. But by late 18 century when Hezol or co began to make amend to the language, they were already techinical glitches. Then there was intermarriage between the Jews and Whiter Eastern Europeans, the kind that led to thier ruin in 1945.

The chain between the past and the present is an ode to the Eddas of Spain. These were the original Septuagint whose arrival was celebrated in Spain around 6th century. There were not the Kassaites, neither were they part of Talmudic…who were part of the Babylonian Iranian group. I mean both groups, Kassaite and Talmudic where both descended from Babylon, but the Septuagint/the Eddas of 72 priestly Rabbis, rescended from Egypt into and through the Syrian Desert in about 4th century. This was after the Earthquake in Alexandre, Egypt that sank the entire city.

 It was in the Desert that the Sofo became  popular. Sofor was the unwritten Tora, explicated version of the Tora, the divinity of conscience based on the Torah. The Torah of the heart. The word Sofor is written in Arabic as Safar (Sufir), but in current world affairs, Sofor is knwon to us as Sephar. Sofordic or Sephardic simply refer to Spanish Jews, but there is a mistake in the interpretation of the word, Sephar is created in the imagination of people as Spanish rebuttal of an older era. The recent revision on that clever but wrong interpretation, opens a better world of appreciation of Jewish survival stories in the desert. It also marks out in plain, the nature of transformation of Judaism and the religious awakening that followed. 

In currenct Igbo language, the divinity of conscience is bound up in a tradition called Nsofor, which is really two words, Nso and ofo. The name survived the condensation of traditional worship, which given the  phenominal psychology of Africa, remained derisory.  Nsofor in terms of idol worship was carelessly used . The tragedy of Igbo society is to me possible in terms like this, since it is now clear that Igbo practices are not just a mere immitation of Judaism, but the very incarnation of the religion that could not survive without direction, like the easterners and their languages, Judaism in Igbo society adapted to human interpretaiton and consequently, Satanic influences.

In respect to the acquired interpretation of Kaufmann Yezekel Judaism, there is always a thin line between Judaism and Paganism and this is evidently the case with Igbo society.

 The missing link between the past and present Judaism, between Ancient and Modern Hebrew is Nigerian Igbos, not just the people but thier language also called Igbo langauge. For here, the original version of Hebrew is easily at home. For here, all our meaning as both Christians and Jews is fully understood. In spite of the generative transformation of the Nigerian Igbo language over these 500 years, inspite of the changes that accompany new found lands…(Onovo Onuwa) in Igbo, there is a connection to ancient Hebrew in that language, a backbone of the very exercised version of the language retained aggresively in the names of Igbo villages and families that now speak very clearly to us. These names are possible because the village names in its archaic spelling were already existing before the arrival of Britain to Nigeria. It all began to fall apart after their arrival, but it the English presence in Nigeria and the return of Christianity to Igbo would be a prolegmona to that revealed embrace of Igbo past.      

Modern Hebrew  word ‘Bayit’ is ‘house’, but you can tell that Bayit is an immitation of an Older Hebrew. For instance, in Igbo Bayit is not necessarily extant rather we have ‘Bayi’ in Igbo pronounced clearly ‘Ebe ayi’, meaning ‘our home’ “our house’. You see Bayit does mean house in of itself, rather house which means Ulo in Igbo can be transcribed as Ulo ayi, not that Ebe now means a ‘house’, you see ‘Ebe’ in Igbo and in Hebrew refers to a place, a place which will become transitioned from place to house, or home, assuming we put Ebe ayi. Ebe anyi in Igbo language is easily domesticated as Bayi, yielding the dependent clause ‘our place’ to the natural meaning.  The same is ‘Emet’ in Hebrew, which refers to the ‘act of doing’ but in Igbo you don’t need the T per say, the derivative ‘Eme’ is Igbo sustained in ‘act of doing’. The last demonstrable example is ‘Husot’  modern Hebrew as derived from ancient Hebrew ‘Usot’ meaning ‘street’ or ‘roadway’ which is alternately ‘Uzo’ in Igbo. You see Uzo in Igbo refers to ‘roadway’ or ‘street’ but in Igbo verison of the word, the letter Z in the middle of the word  replaces the polar consonant in either versions of Hebrew dialectic. Uzo is without doubt the better version of Hebrew, the exercised version of Hebrew word for street.


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