The Voynich Manuscript: One Mystery Solved, Another Born


11 Shevat 5778

27 January 2018

 

The News on the Israel Street

Palestinian terror in the last 24 hours . . .

There has been a bulldozer attack, shootings at Israeli observation posts, and numerous “rock” and mortar attacks.

Heavy rains inundate Israel . . .

So much so that the water level of the Kineret (Sea of Galilee) has risen by 15 cm since Thursday. That may seem like a lot, but the Kineret must rise by another 500 cm to be classified as “full.”

The European effort to undermine Trump and Israel begins . . .

It was announced yesterday  that France is formulating a Palestinian-friendly peace plan which it will reveal in the coming days. An emissary from French President Macron is currently in Ramallah working out the details.

Those details are not difficult to guess:

1. France will recognize “Palestine.”

2. Jerusalem will be recognized as capital of Palestine.

3. Every millimeter of Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem must be given to the Palestinians. The Old City of Jerusalem must be turned over to the Palestinians.

4. Israel must recognize the “right of return” for 5,000,000+ so-called Palestinian “refugees.”

5. Israel must compensate the Palestinians for the years of so-called “occupation.”

6. Israelis must turn themselves over for arrest to the International Criminal Court for “war crimes.”

And on, and on, and ludicrously on.

 

TODAY’S BLOG:

The Voynich Manuscript: One Mystery Solved, Another Born

One of the most enduring linguistic mysteries has been the undecipherable Voynich manuscript. Named for Polish book dealer Wilfrid Voynich who purchased it in 1912, the manuscript is written in a language that has long defied professional linguists, cryptographers, military codebreakers, and legions of amateur sleuthers despite the fact that it has been shown that the vellum on which it is written dates to between 1404-1438 CE.

Adding to the mystery is the fact that the book is heavily illustrated with strange pictures of alien plants, naked women, unusual objects, and zodiac symbols. The manuscript is now housed in the Beinecke Library at Yale (click here to see pages from manuscript).

A page from the Voynich Manuscript.

A page from the Voynich Manuscript (Beinecke Library).

For the better part of a century, it was surmised that the manuscript was in some form of Arabic. However, a group of computer scientists from Canada’s University of Alberta has just published a paper to the contrary in the Journal of  Transactions of Computational Linguistics.

Using more than 400 different computer-entered language translations, they discovered that the language of the manuscript is ancient Hebrew. The first sentence that they translated reads: “She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people.” 

More than this, the computer scientists now believe that the alphabet used in the manuscript is a form of Paleo-Hebrew that is a variation based on the Phoenician alphabet.

So, one mystery has been solved, but another has emerged.

What person living in the 1400s or thereafter possessed enough linguistic knowledge to author a manuscript in Paleo-Hebrew? Or, if the person who wrote the manuscript was copying it from something, what was he copying it from?

Therein lies the new mystery.

 

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