The French expedition to the ancient Phoenician city of Byblos (modern Jbeil) from 1928 to 1932 discovered a group of nine texts carved in stone or stamped on copper plates. It was clear that the writing system was syllabic, not alphabetic, and was very closely related to Egyptian hieroglyphic characters. This volume presents a deciphering of eight of those texts, together with philological treatment of the language, and places the language into the context of ancient historical and social processes. The language of the texts appears from internal evidence to be a very archaic West Semitic, and antedates the separation of the Arabic and Canaanite branches of the Semitic language family. Evidence from the texts supports the conclusion that Arabic originated in the coastal regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, known in the classical period as Phoenicia and Palestine, in the Early Bronze Age before 2000 BC. The writing system is shown to be the missing link between Egyptian and the late Canaanite alphabet.