Thursday, May 15, 2014

22. The Aramaic Language

During the 70 years in Babylon, Daniel and the captives spoke Neo-Babylonian which eventually evolved into Aramaic.  

When the captives returned home to Jerusalem 70 years later, most of them had forgotten their mother tongue Hebrew and spoke Aramaic.  Their children and children's children never spoke Hebrew but Aramaic. Aramaic became their native language.  Few people learned Hebrew because they wanted to understand the Law of Moses.

Later when Ezra read from the Book of the Law in Hebrew to the Israelites, it was necessary to translate the readings to Aramaic (Neh 8:8).  When Ezra read it in Hebrew, the people could not understand it.  Ezra had to give the meaning in Aramaic. 

Eventually even  Old Testament Scripture had to be translated and explained in Aramaic called the "Targums".  

Aramaic actually displaced  Hebrew as their everyday language.   In the times of Jesus, Aramaic was the spoken language.

Hebrew was a lost language for nearly 2500 years until the State of Israel came into existence on May 14, 1948.   Hebrew became the official language.  At that time, many immigrants going back to Israel from all over the world spoke different languages, and now they had Hebrew as their common language.  If you go to Israel today, Modern Hebrew is the language they speak.   It is not identical to Biblical Hebrew but it is similar. 

This is remarkable!  A language that went dead in Daniel's time actually came back to life in our times.  

Book of Daniel - Structure

It's interesting that in the Book of Daniel that a certain section (around 6 chapters) was written in Aramaic - Dan 2:4 to Dan 7.  The other 6 chapters (Dan 1, 8-12) were written in Hebrew.  If we read the context of these chapters, we will discover that the sections concerning the Israelites were written in Hebrew and the sections concerning the Gentile world were written in Aramaic.


No comments:

Post a Comment