People have asked me on occasion why I like Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament) better than Greek (the language of the New Testament). There’s a variety of ways to answer this question, but today’s answer is that Hebrew is friendly to lefties.
If you’ve had the misfortune of hearing me drone on about the right-handedness of the world, you should be grateful I stopped when I did. The right-handed rule the world and they have left (ha! get it? “left”? …) their reminders of it everywhere. A cocky second-grade friend, also a lefty, put me in my place one Sunday morning when I asked our table teacher for a pair of left-handed scissors so I could maneuver my way through the day’s cut-and-paste project. Little Lefty Comrade, who should’ve been sympathetic, announced to me that his mother had told him it’s a right-handed world and we just have to adapt. Helpful. Thanks. Why don’t you just cut out this picture of Ehud for me so I can glue it on my paper. (If you don’t know Ehud, it’s probably because you’re right-handed. You can meet him in Judges 3:15.)
One of the things every lefty knows and finds annoying is that, unless you contort your wrist, you have to drag your writing hand through everything you write. This is especially tiresome if you’re using a pencil or have a blotchy pen.
Hebrew (and Aramaic, the actual language of Daniel 5), I am happy to say, is without this very basic problem. It starts at the right margin and if you’re a lefty, you get to pull your hand across the page with the letters, a smooth-as-silk operation that most right-handed folks have never stopped to think about. My unfortunate righty friends who wrestle their way through the Hebrew language have to push their letters uphill across the page. I’d feel sorry for them, but…
So all this takes me to a rather pointless question. Was it a left or right hand that wrote on the wall? I searched the source of all knowledge (the internet) in vain for the answer to this question. Most artists that actually include a hand with the writing cop out and put the English transcription (mene tekel uparsin) with the obvious choice of a right hand.
And, since I like to muse about all manner of “wrong-handed” things (by which I mean the opposite of “right-handed” things, in case this is new terrain for you), this brings us to a rather pointless (and facetious) idea. Maybe God picked Hebrew as the language of the Old Testament because He’s actually a lefty. He does show special concern for the downtrodden and oppressed, after all…
P.S. In unrelated news, check out my new online portfolio. If you’re one of my five readers and you’ve been wondering why I haven’t blogged for three weeks, this is part of the answer.