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Hebrew Is The Language of the Bible—Almost The vast majority of the Hebrew Bible (Tanach) is written in Hebrew. (Some of the last books of the Bible, Daniel and Ezra, contain significant chunks of Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Jewish people during their Babylonian exile.) Read: Aramaic, the Yiddish of the Middle East
In the late 19th Century Eliezer Ben-Yehuda began a revival of the Hebrew language as a living language for the Jewish people in Israel and when the state of Israel was established as an independent nation in 1948, Hebrew became the official language and, once again, Hebrew became the native language of the Hebrew people.
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Hebrew is spoken by about 5 million people in Israel (Ethnologue). This figure includes those who speak it as a a native language and those for whom it is a second language learned to varying degrees of proficiency. It became an official language of British Palestine in 1922. Today, it is the official language of the State of Israel. It is used for official, public and private purposes throughout Israel, wih the exception of the Arab sector, where Arabic is used. Government schools teach in either Hebrew or Arabic, however, Hebrew is a compulsory subject through the tenth grade in all schools, even the Arabic ones. Hebrew is the medium of instruction at the university level as well. It is the language of most newspapers, books, magazines, radio, and television. In addition,Hebrew remains the liturgical language of Jews worldwide. There are other surveys that place the number of Hebrew speakers worldwide at 9 million, but this figure does not indicate what is meant by “speakers”.
There are two main dialects of Hebrew. 1. The Europeanized dialect is spoken by AshkenaziJews of European descent. It is strongly influenced by Yiddish. Today, the Europeanized dialect enjoys greater social prestige and tends to be preferred by most young Israelis. 2. The Oriental dialect is spoken by Sephardi Jews whose ancestors came to Israel from Middle Eastern countries. The name “Sephardic” comes from the Hebrew word Sefarad, ‘Spain’. These Jews lived in Spain and Portugal from the Middle Ages until their persecution and mass expulsion from those countries in the last decades of the 15th century when they fled to the Middle East. Oriental Hebrew is strongly influenced by Arabic. 3. Although the Academy of the Hebrew Language attempts to establish standards, native speakers of Hebrew who now constitute a majority, have created a variety, Spoken Israeli Hebrew, that has yet to be systematically described and standardized.
Hebrew is unique in that it was resurrected from being a written language to becoming one that is spoken today as a first language by millions of people.
The grammar of Hebrew is fairly typical of all Semitic languages: 1. Many words consist of three consonants separated by vowels. Changes in the vowels or their omission affect word meaning, e.g., the root K-T-V produces katav ‘he wrote’, ktav ‘writing’, katuv ‘written’, andmiktava‘desk’. 2. Prefixes and suffixes are added to roots to modify word meaning and express grammatical relations. 3. There are significant differences in the grammar of Modern as opposed to Biblical Hebrew. The descripti...
When the Hebrews started using the Aramaic script for everyday use, reserving the Old Hebrew script for religious use only, the Aramaic script quickly became known as the Jewish script. Because of the shape of the letters, it was called the square script. The earliest preserved texts in the square script date back to the 5th century BC. 1. The Hebrew alphabet, or alephbet ’ivri, is a consonant-based syllabic writing system which consists of 22 consonants, five of which have a special word-fin...
English has a number of words of Hebrew origin, among them many biblical terms. A few of the loanwords are listed below: Eliezer Ben-Yehuda The revival of Hebrew is intimately associated with the name of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who was born in Russia and who came in 1881 to Palestine, then a province of the Ottoman Empire, with plans to revive the Hebrew language. Ben-Yehuda wanted the Jews in Palestine to speak Hebrew exclusively. He settled in Jerusalem, planning to use it as the base for spreading his revivalist ideas throughout Palestine and the Diaspora. His plan was to make Hebrew the language of the home and of education, and to expand the Hebrew vocabulary to meet the demands of the Israeli society. He understood that if children could learn Hebrew from a young age in school, they would become proficient in it when they grew up. In this way, Hebrew would become a living language. And so it did.
Hebrew is the language of the Jewish people… just as any language is to its people. It is the one tongue that, throughout history, all of the various groups of Jews scattered throughout the "four corners" of the world had in common with each other.
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It is said that Hebrew is the LaShone Kodesh, the Holy Tongue of G-d Himself, and that Hebrew was used to speak everything into existence and that the Hebrew Language was taught to Adam and has been the Language of the Hebrew people from the beginning.
The Ancient Hebrew Vocabulary The most basic Hebrew root words are formed by linking two Hebrew letters together and can be used as nouns or verbs. Because each letter has a meaning, the meaning of these letters will assist in providing the Hebraic meaning of a word.
Temple Paleo-Hebrew script, to 3rd century BCE Jewish script to Herodian script. Modern Hebrew Language Many non-Jewish people in the world today never seem to ask the question of what language the so-called Jews are really speaking. Overwhelmingly it is assumed that they are speaking the ancient language of Hebrew.
- History of The Aramaic Language
- History of The Hebrew Language
- Historical Relationships Between Aramaic and Hebrew
- Linguistic Differences and Similarities Between Aramaic and Hebrew
- What Language Did Jesus Speak?
- Where Are Aramaic and Hebrew Spoken Today?
- Famous Arameans and Hebrews in History
- Connecting The Dots
Aramaic is a group of languages or dialects of Semitic origin. It was spoken throughout the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires. Originating from the ancient Middle East, people known as Arameans first spoke the language towards the ending of the 11th century BCE. After a few decades, it became widely accepted by the Assyrians as a second language. Its history is broken down into three major periods: [If you want not only to learn about the history of the Aramaic language, but also study this language, read here my article on how you can study Aramaic language online.] · Old Aramaic: This lasted from 1100 BC- 200 AD. It was the language in Damascus, Hamath, and Arpad. From the 7th century, the language spread like wildfire after the Assyrians deported a massive number of people. Secondly, its use as a main language by Babylonian merchants only served as fuel to fan the flames of the language across the empires. This meant that by 6th century BCE, it had already replaced Akkadian as the...
Hebrew is a Semitic language of Canaanite subgroup whose first use was recorded at about the 10th century BCE. It passed through four major historical periods: · Classical or Biblical Hebrew: This period can be further sub-divided into: [Interested in studying Biblical Hebrew? My article on this topic shows you how to do this online.] I. Archaic Biblical Hebrew: This period was recorded in the Early Prophets in the Bible. The Song of the Sea in Exodus 15, the Song of Deborah in Judges 5 and several hymns from the book of Psalms highlight its peak use. It lasted until the 6th century BC. It has several names such as Old Hebrew, Paleo-Hebrew, and it represents the oldest form of the language. II. Standard Biblical Hebrew: This period represents the bulk of the Old Testament as it contains sections from the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Micah, and Amos. The Pentateuch also contains it in its prose sections. It lasted from the 8th to 6th century BC that was between the late Monarchi...
Having shared origins and had a prolonged contact throughout history, Aramaic and Hebrew have forged a strong relationship along the way. Aramaic is the most closely related Semitic language to Hebrew. Ancient history of Israel sees Jacob called an Aramean in Deuteronomy 26: 5. In the books of Kings, the Israelites had an on and off relationship with the Arameans who later became known as Syrians. When the Babylonians carried the Jews into exile, they began to learn Aramaic because it was the language of the empire. This has reflected in the Hebrew language as large parts of Hebrew were borrowed from Aramaic. Nehemiah 13:24 shows that both natives began to intermarry, which subsequently led to “Aramaization” of Hebrew. By 300 BC, Aramaic was already included in the Jewish literature. However, Hebrew retained its status as a religious language. Aramaic is the main language of the Talmud and Zohar. It has been a major part of Jewish prayers for centuries. Aramaic Peshitta helped to un...
Differences and similarities exist between these sister languages. While both native speakers of the languages may relate with some words, it would be challenging to communicate with one another. Difference Between Aramaic and Hebrew · The definite article is used in a different way. Hebrew places definite articles at the beginning of a word, while Aramaic places it at the end. For example, (“Hashem” [the name]) in Hebrew, as against (“Shem’ah”) in Aramaic. “Ah” is the definite article. · Consonantal shift. For the words that both languages share, there is a change in the letters in cognate words. Cognate words are words shared by two languages with similarity in meaning, spelling, and pronunciation. For example, “tav” in Aramaic parallels with “shin” in Hebrew. · There is no Canaanite vowel shift from ā to ō in Aramaic since it is not a Canaanite language like the Hebrew. · The preposition, “dalet” serves as a conjunction in Aramaic and is regularly used in place of the construct t...
Jesus, along with his disciples primarily spoke the Aramaic Language (Jewish Palestinian Aramaic). In fact, Aramaic is best known as the language of Jesus because he used it throughout his public ministry. This is evident in Saints Matthew and Mark Gospels. However, this does not suggest that Jesus did not understand Hebrew, because in Luke 4: 16-19, Jesus is presented as reading the first two verses of Isaiah 61, which were Hebrew. Jesus Christ spent much time in Nazareth and Capernaum in Galilee. These were Aramaic villages. Hebrew was the language used by Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes. This means it was probably spoken in synagogues. We must also note that Greek was the international language at that time. For example, his conversations with Pontius Pilate were in Greek. [You can read here my article on online Biblical Greek Courses.]
Aramaic in its several dialects is still spoken today. Many Syrian villages speak Western Neo-Aramaic. In addition, its Eastern and Mandaic forms are spoken in modern-day Iraq, Iran, Israel, Lebanon. A minor population of people who have migrated to Russia, Australia, and the United States also speak the language. As a whole, modern-day Aramaic has more than a million speakers. Several churches have adopted Syriac, a form of Aramaic as their liturgical language. For example, Assyrian Church of the East, the Syriac Orthodox Church, The Chaldean Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, and many other Christian denominations in the East. About nine million people speak Hebrew, five million of whom are Jews. Hebrew is the primary official language of Israel. It is also a recognized minority language in Poland. Jews in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Brazil, France, Panama, Germany, Gaza, the United Kingdom, the United States, etc. all speak Hebrew all over the world.
History is blessed with famous people from both Aramaic and Hebrew descent. A few examples are listed below: ·Ben- Hadad 1: Ben-Hadad 1 was king of Aram Damascus for 20 years, lasting from 885 BC to 865 BC. He was a contemporary of King Ahab of Israel. He is famous for helping Asa, King of Judah in attacking Northern Israel. Consequently, he gained control of the commercial route to southern Phoenicia at that time. This account is seen in 1 Kings 15: 20. Ben Hadad 2 succeeded him. · Laban: Laban lived in Paddan Aram in Mesopotamia.This account is seen in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible. Laban was Rebekah’s brother. Rebekah later became Isaac’s wife. She gave birth to Laban. When he was grown, he married Leah and Rachel, who were Laban’s daughters. An account in Genesis 31:47 sees Laban name a pillar “Jegarsahadutha” in his Aramean language, while Jacob names it “Galeed” in Hebrew. · Moses: The prophet Moses was a central figure in Jewish history. With his brother Aaron, he l...
Aramaic and Hebrew are two Semitic languages that governed ancient empires. Having the same roots, these languages have influenced each other. Hence, the importance of distinguishing them in every aspect. Their historical relationships had occasionally been a subject of dispute. However, this has become much clearer. These languages have survived a dark period of oblivion and have persisted until the present day. As Holy languages of the Scriptures, Jesus spoke Aramaic but also understood Hebrew. Famous natives of both languages have influenced every human today in one way or the other. Learn more about Aramaic and Hebrew today. Photos courtesy of Shalva Mamistvalovon Flickr
In the Hasidic communities of Israel, boys speak more Yiddish amongst themselves, while girls use Hebrew more often. This is probably due to the fact that girls tend to learn more secular subjects, thus increasing contact with the Hebrew language, and boys are usually taught religious subjects in Yiddish. Status as a language
You would say: אני לא יודעת עברית טוב (I do not know Hebrew well) Male: Ani Lo Yod-e-a Eve-Reet Tov. Female: Ani Lo Yod-a-at Eve-Reet Tov. You can also go with אני יודע כמה מלים בעברית (I speak very little Hebrew) Male: Ani Yod-e-a Kama Meeleem Be...
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