HALÉVY, Joseph

HALÉVY, Joseph. Adrianople (now Edirne) 15.12.1827 — Paris 21.1.1917. French (originally Turkish Jew) Epigraphist, Semitist and Traveller. Professor in Paris, naturalized Frenchman. Taught Hebrew in Jewish schools in Adrianople and Budapest (or Bucharest?), studied Oriental languages and archaeology. In 1865 came to Paris. In disguise of a Rabbi from Jerusalem he made an important expedition, visiting Ethiopia in 1868 (he found the Jewish Falashas) and South Arabia in 1870 (collected 686 inscriptions). From 1879 until very advanced age taught Ge‘ez at É.P.H.É. in Paris, occasionally also South Arabic and “Turanian languages”, then Assyriology at Jewish College in Paris. Legion d’honneur 1906.

Halévy was a great pioneer of South Arabian epigraphy, a noted Semitic and Ethiopian scholar, and an Assyriologist, althought also known of his original ideas. Until his death he was convinced of the Semitic character of Sumerian (which for him was not a language, but a writing device for religious use). Indology he tackled in his 1885 study, suggesting that the Brāhmī script was created in the 4th century B.C. from a combination of Aramaic and Greek letters and of Kharoṣṭhī.

Publications: Rapport sur une Mission Archéologique dans le Yemen. 295 p. P. 1872; “Voyage au Nadjran”, Bulletin de la Société de Géographie 6, 1873, 5-31, 241-273, 581-606 & 13, 1877, 466-479; Études Sabéennes. 1875 (originally in JA 1873-74); Recherches bibliques. 1-5. 1895-1904 (articles); Le Sumérisme et l’histoire babylonienne. 151 p. P. 1900, etc, also numerous articles and writings in Hebrew.

– “Essai sur l’origine des écritures indiennes”, JA 8:6, 1885, 243-301; “Nouvelles observations sur les écritures indiennes”, Revue sémitique 1895, 222-285; Considérations critiques sur quelques points de l’histoire ancienne de l’Inde. 39 p. P. 1899; and brief articles on the same, mainly in the Revue sémitique, which he founded in 1893 and edited until his death.

Sources: x*J.S. Cooper, “Sumerian and Aryan: Racial Theory, Academic Politics and Parisian Assyriology”, RHR 210, 1993, 169-205; S. Kerner, D.B.F. 17, 508f. *E. Senart, JA 9, 1917, 179f.; *I. Singer & I. Broody, Jewish Encyclopaedia. online; L. Valensi, D.O.L.F. 478; Encyclop. Iudaica 7, 1185f.; Wikipedia with drawing (French version with more details and photo).

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