Hebrew words and phrases
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Hebrew (; ; ) is a
Northwest Semitic language Northwest Semitic is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It emerged from Proto-Semitic in the Early Bronze Age. It is first attested in proper names identified as Amorite in the Middle Bronze Ag ...
of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the
Israelites The Israelites (; , , ) were a group of Semitic-speaking tribes in the ancient Near East who, during the Iron Age, inhabited a part of Canaan. The earliest recorded evidence of a people by the name of Israel appears in the Merneptah Stele ...
and their longest-surviving descendants, the
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""The ...
and
Samaritans Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Šōmrōnīm, lit=; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) are an ethnoreligious group who originate from the ancient Israelites. They are native to the Levant and adhere to Samarit ...
. It was largely preserved throughout history as the main
liturgical language A sacred language, holy language or liturgical language is any language that is cultivated and used primarily in church service or for other religious reasons by people who speak another, primary language in their daily lives. Concept A sacre ...
of
Judaism Judaism ( he, ''Yahăḏūṯ'') is an Abrahamic, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion in the M ...
(since the
Second Temple period The Second Temple period in Jewish history lasted approximately 600 years (516 BCE - 70 CE), during which the Second Temple existed. It started with the return to Zion and the construction of the Second Temple, while it ended with the First Jewis ...
) and
Samaritanism Samaritanism is the Abrahamic, monotheistic, ethnic religion of the Samaritan people, an ethnoreligious group who, alongside Jews, originate from the ancient Israelites. Its central holy text is the Samaritan Pentateuch, which Samaritans ...
. Hebrew is the only
Canaanite language The Canaanite languages, or Canaanite dialects, are one of the three subgroups of the Northwest Semitic languages, the others being Aramaic and Ugaritic, all originating in the Levant and Mesopotamia. They are attested in Canaanite inscriptions ...
still spoken today, and serves as the only truly successful example of a
dead language An extinct language is a language that no longer has any speakers, especially if the language has no living descendants. In contrast, a dead language is one that is no longer the native language of any community, even if it is still in use, li ...
that has been revived. It is also one of only two Northwest Semitic languages still in use, with the other being
Aramaic The Aramaic languages, short Aramaic ( syc, ܐܪܡܝܐ, Arāmāyā; oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; tmr, אֲרָמִית), are a language family containing many varieties (languages and dialects) that originated in ...
. The earliest examples of written
Paleo-Hebrew The Paleo-Hebrew script ( he, הכתב העברי הקדום), also Palaeo-Hebrew, Proto-Hebrew or Old Hebrew, is the writing system found in Canaanite inscriptions from the region of biblical Israel and Judah. It is considered to be the script ...
date back to the 10th century BCE. Nearly all of the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew (, or , ), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of the Hebrew language, a language in the Canaanite branch of Semitic languages spoken by the Israelites in the area known as the Land of Israel, roughly west of t ...
, with much of its present form in the dialect that scholars believe flourished around the 6th century BCE, during the time of the
Babylonian captivity The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a large number of Judeans from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital city of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, following their defeat ...
. For this reason, Hebrew has been referred to by Jews as '' Lashon Hakodesh'' (, ) since ancient times. The language was not referred to by the name ''Hebrew'' in the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
, but as ''Yehudit'' () or ''Səpaṯ Kəna'an'' (). Mishnah Gittin 9:8 refers to the language as ''Ivrit'', meaning Hebrew; however, Mishnah Megillah refers to the language as ''Ashurit'', meaning Assyrian, which is derived from the name of the alphabet used, in contrast to ''Ivrit'', meaning the
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet The Paleo-Hebrew script ( he, הכתב העברי הקדום), also Palaeo-Hebrew, Proto-Hebrew or Old Hebrew, is the writing system found in Canaanite inscriptions from the region of biblical Israel and Judah. It is considered to be the script ...
. Hebrew ceased to be a regular spoken language sometime between 200 and 400 CE, declining in the aftermath of the unsuccessful
Bar Kokhba revolt The Bar Kokhba revolt ( he, , links=yes, ''Mereḏ Bar Kōḵḇāʾ‎''), or the 'Jewish Expedition' as the Romans named it ( la, Expeditio Judaica), was a rebellion by the Jews of the Roman province of Judea, led by Simon bar Kokhba, aga ...
that was carried out against the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings around the Medit ...
by the Jews of
Judaea Judea or Judaea ( or ; from he, יהודה, Standard ''Yəhūda'', Tiberian ''Yehūḏā''; el, Ἰουδαία, ; la, Iūdaea) is an ancient, historic, Biblical Hebrew, contemporaneous Latin, and the modern-day name of the mountainous sout ...
. Aramaic and, to a lesser extent,
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
were already in use as international languages, especially among societal elites and immigrants. Hebrew survived into the
medieval period In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire a ...
as the language of Jewish liturgy,
rabbinic literature Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, is the entire spectrum of rabbinic writings throughout Jewish history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the Talmudic era, as opposed to medieval and modern rabbinic writ ...
, intra-Jewish commerce and Jewish poetic literature. The first dated book printed in Hebrew was published by Abraham Garton in Reggio (
Calabria , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = , demographics1_title2 ...
, Italy) in 1475. With the rise of
Zionism Zionism ( he, צִיּוֹנוּת ''Tsiyyonut'' after '' Zion'') is a nationalist movement that espouses the establishment of, and support for a homeland for the Jewish people centered in the area roughly corresponding to what is known in Je ...
in the 19th century, the Hebrew language experienced a full-scale revival as a spoken and literary language, after which it became the main language of the
Yishuv Yishuv ( he, ישוב, literally "settlement"), Ha-Yishuv ( he, הישוב, ''the Yishuv''), or Ha-Yishuv Ha-Ivri ( he, הישוב העברי, ''the Hebrew Yishuv''), is the body of Jewish residents in the Land of Israel (corresponding to the ...
in Palestine and subsequently the
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language systematically used to make communication possible between groups ...
of the
State of Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
with official status. According to ''
Ethnologue ''Ethnologue: Languages of the World'' (stylized as ''Ethnoloɠue'') is an annual reference publication in print and online that provides statistics and other information on the living languages of the world. It is the world's most comprehensi ...
'', Hebrew was spoken by five million people worldwide in 1998; in 2013, it was spoken by over nine million people worldwide. After Israel, the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
has the second-largest Hebrew-speaking population, with approximately 220,000 fluent speakers (see
Israeli Americans , native_name_lang = , image = , caption = , population = 110,000–150,000 , popplace = New York metropolitan area, Los Angeles metropolitan area, Miami metropolitan area, and other large metropolitan are ...
and
Jewish Americans American Jews or Jewish Americans are Americans, American citizens who are Jews, Jewish, whether by culture, ethnicity, nationality, or Judaism, religion. Today the Jewish community in the United States consists primarily of Ashkenazi Jews, who ...
).
Modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew ( he, עברית חדשה, ''ʿivrít ḥadašá ', , '' lit.'' "Modern Hebrew" or "New Hebrew"), also known as Israeli Hebrew or Israeli, and generally referred to by speakers simply as Hebrew ( ), is the standard form of the He ...
is the
official language An official language is a language given supreme status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciary, ...
of the State of Israel, while pre-revival forms of Hebrew are used for prayer or study in Jewish and Samaritan communities around the world today; the latter group utilizes the Samaritan dialect as their liturgical tongue. As a non-
first language A first language, native tongue, native language, mother tongue or L1 is the first language or dialect that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period. In some countries, the term ''native language'' or ''mother to ...
, it is studied mostly by non-Israeli Jews and students in Israel, by
archaeologists Archaeology or archeology is the scientific study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts, sites, and cultural landscap ...
and
linguists Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. Linguis ...
specializing in the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233: ) is a geopolitical region commonly encompassing Arabia (including the Arabian Peninsula and Bahrain), Asia Minor (Asian part of Turkey except Hatay Province), East Thrace (Eur ...
and its civilizations, and by theologians in
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words '' Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koine Greek title ''Christós'' (Χρ ...
seminaries A seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, or divinity school is an educational institution for educating students (sometimes called ''seminarians'') in scripture, theology, generally to prepare them for ordination to serve as clergy, ...
.


Etymology

The modern
English English usually refers to: * English language * English people English may also refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * ''English'', an adjective for something of, from, or related to England ** English national i ...
word "Hebrew" is derived from
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French: ) was the language spoken in most of the northern half of France from approximately the 8th to the 14th centuries. Rather than a unified language, Old French was a linkage of Romance dialects, mutually intell ...
, via
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of ...
from the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Dark Ages (), the Archaic ...
() and
Aramaic The Aramaic languages, short Aramaic ( syc, ܐܪܡܝܐ, Arāmāyā; oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; tmr, אֲרָמִית), are a language family containing many varieties (languages and dialects) that originated in ...
'''ibrāy'', all ultimately derived from
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew (, or , ), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of the Hebrew language, a language in the Canaanite branch of Semitic languages spoken by the Israelites in the area known as the Land of Israel, roughly west of t ...
(), one of several names for the
Israelite The Israelites (; , , ) were a group of Semitic-speaking tribes in the ancient Near East who, during the Iron Age, inhabited a part of Canaan. The earliest recorded evidence of a people by the name of Israel appears in the Merneptah Stele ...
(
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""Th ...
and Samaritan) people (
Hebrews The terms ''Hebrews'' (Hebrew: / , Modern: ' / ', Tiberian: ' / '; ISO 259-3: ' / ') and ''Hebrew people'' are mostly considered synonymous with the Semitic-speaking Israelites, especially in the pre- monarchic period when they were still ...
). It is traditionally understood to be an adjective based on the name of
Abraham Abraham, ; ar, , , name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common Hebrew patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the special relationship between the Jew ...
's ancestor,
Eber Eber ( he, , ʿĒḇer; grc-x-biblical, Ἔβερ, Éber; ar, عٰابِر, ʿĀbir) is an ancestor of the Ishmaelites and the Israelites according to the "Table of Nations" in the Book of Genesis () and the Books of Chronicles (). Lineage ...
, mentioned in . The name is believed to be based on the
Semitic root The roots of verbs and most nouns in the Semitic languages are characterized as a sequence of consonants or " radicals" (hence the term consonantal root). Such abstract consonantal roots are used in the formation of actual words by adding the vowe ...
''ʕ-b-r'' () meaning "beyond", "other side", "across"; interpretations of the term "Hebrew" generally render its meaning as roughly "from the other side f the river/desert—i.e., an
exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, ''native'' name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, language or dialect, meaning that it is used inside that particular place, group, o ...
for the inhabitants of the land of
Israel and Judah The history of ancient Israel and Judah begins in the Southern Levant during the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. "Israel" as a people or tribal confederation (see Israelites) appears for the first time in the Merneptah Stele, an inscripti ...
, perhaps from the perspective of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the ...
,
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-states extended and shrank throughout their histor ...
or Transjordan (with the river referred to being perhaps the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia ( ''the land between the rivers''). Originating in Turkey, the Euph ...
,
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ' is a country in Western Asia. It is situated at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe, within the Levant region, on the East Bank of the Jordan River ...
or Litani; or maybe the northern Arabian Desert between
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorite-ruled state ...
and
Canaan Canaan (; Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 – ; he, כְּנַעַן – , in pausa – ; grc-bib, Χανααν – ;The current scholarly edition of the Greek Old Testament spells the word without any accents, cf. Septuaginta : id est Vetus T ...
). Compare the word ''
Habiru Habiru (sometimes written as Hapiru, and more accurately as ʿApiru, meaning "dusty, dirty"; Sumerian: 𒊓𒄤, ''sagaz''; Akkadian: 𒄩𒁉𒊒, ''ḫabiru'' or ''ʿaperu'') is a term used in 2nd-millennium BCE texts throughout the Fertile ...
'' or cognate Assyrian ''ebru'', of identical meaning. One of the earliest references to the language's name as "Ivrit" is found in the prologue to the Book of Ben Sira, from the 2nd century BCE. The Hebrew Bible does not use the term "Hebrew" in reference to the language of the Hebrew people; its later historiography, in the Book of Kings, refers to it as ‏יְהוּדִית ''Yehudit'' " Judahite (language)".


History

Hebrew belongs to the Canaanite group of languages. Canaanite languages are a branch of the
Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It emerged from Proto-Semitic in the Early Bronze Age. It is first attested in proper names identified as Amorite in the Middle Bronze A ...
family of languages. According to Avraham Ben-Yosef, Hebrew flourished as a spoken language in the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah during the period from about 1200 to 586 BCE. Scholars debate the degree to which Hebrew was a spoken vernacular in ancient times following the
Babylonian exile The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a large number of Judeans from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital city of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, following their defeat ...
when the predominant international language in the region was
Old Aramaic Old Aramaic refers to the earliest stage of the Aramaic language, known from the Aramaic inscriptions discovered since the 19th century. Emerging as the language of the city-states of the Arameans in the Levant in the Early Iron Age, Old Aramai ...
. Hebrew was extinct as a colloquial language by
Late Antiquity Late antiquity is the time of transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages, generally spanning the 3rd–7th century in Europe and adjacent areas bordering the Mediterranean Basin. The popularization of this periodization in English ha ...
, but it continued to be used as a literary language, especially in Spain, as the language of commerce between Jews of different native languages, and as the liturgical language of Judaism, evolving various dialects of literary
Medieval Hebrew Medieval Hebrew was a literary and liturgical language that existed between the 4th and 19th century. It was not commonly used as a spoken language, but mainly in written form by rabbis, scholars and poets. Medieval Hebrew had many features tha ...
, until its revival as a spoken language in the late 19th century.


Oldest Hebrew inscriptions

In July 2008, Israeli archaeologist Yossi Garfinkel discovered a ceramic shard at that he claimed may be the earliest Hebrew writing yet discovered, dating from around 3,000 years ago.
Hebrew University The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI; he, הַאוּנִיבֶרְסִיטָה הַעִבְרִית בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם) is a public research university based in Jerusalem, Israel. Co-founded by Albert Einstein and Dr. Chaim Weiz ...
archaeologist Amihai Mazar said that the inscription was "proto-Canaanite" but cautioned that "The differentiation between the scripts, and between the languages themselves in that period, remains unclear," and suggested that calling the text Hebrew might be going too far. The Gezer calendar also dates back to the 10th century BCE at the beginning of the Monarchic period, the traditional time of the reign of
David David (; , "beloved one") (traditional spelling), , ''Dāwūd''; grc-koi, Δαυΐδ, Dauíd; la, Davidus, David; gez , ዳዊት, ''Dawit''; xcl, Դաւիթ, ''Dawitʿ''; cu, Давíдъ, ''Davidŭ''; possibly meaning "beloved one". w ...
and
Solomon Solomon (; , ),, ; ar, سُلَيْمَان, ', , ; el, Σολομών, ; la, Salomon also called Jedidiah ( Hebrew: , Modern: , Tiberian: ''Yăḏīḏăyāh'', "beloved of Yah"), was a monarch of ancient Israel and the son and succ ...
. Classified as
Archaic Biblical Hebrew Archaic is a period of time preceding a designated classical period, or something from an older period of time that is also not found or used currently: * List of archaeological periods **Archaic Sumerian language, spoken between 31st - 26th cen ...
, the calendar presents a list of seasons and related agricultural activities. The
Gezer Gezer, or Tel Gezer ( he, גֶּזֶר), in ar, تل الجزر – Tell Jezar or Tell el-Jezari is an archaeological site in the foothills of the Judaean Mountains at the border of the Shfela region roughly midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv ...
calendar (named after the city in whose proximity it was found) is written in an old Semitic script, akin to the Phoenician one that, through the
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group and nation indigenous to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, namely Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, and, to a lesser extent, othe ...
and
Etruscans The Etruscan civilization () was developed by a people of Etruria in ancient Italy with a common language and culture who formed a federation of city-states. After conquering adjacent lands, its territory covered, at its greatest extent, roug ...
, later became the Roman script. The Gezer calendar is written without any
vowels A vowel is a syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in quantity (len ...
, and it does not use consonants to imply vowels even in the places in which later Hebrew spelling requires them. Numerous older tablets have been found in the region with similar scripts written in other Semitic languages, for example, Proto-Sinaitic. It is believed that the original shapes of the script go back to
Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian hieroglyphs (, ) were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, used for writing the Egyptian language. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with some 1,000 distinct characters.There were about 1 ...
, though the phonetic values are instead inspired by the
acrophonic Acrophony (; Greek: ἄκρος ''akros'' uppermost + φωνή ''phone'' sound) is the naming of letters of an alphabetic writing system so that a letter's name begins with the letter itself. For example, Greek letter names are acrophonic: the name ...
principle. The common ancestor of Hebrew and Phoenician is called Canaanite, and was the first to use a Semitic alphabet distinct from that of Egyptian. One ancient document is the famous Moabite Stone, written in the Moabite dialect; the Siloam inscription, found near
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس ) (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusałēm. i ...
, is an early example of Hebrew. Less ancient samples of Archaic Hebrew include the
ostraca An ostracon (Greek: ''ostrakon'', plural ''ostraka'') is a piece of pottery, usually broken off from a vase or other earthenware vessel. In an archaeological or epigraphical context, ''ostraca'' refer to sherds or even small pieces of ston ...
found near
Lachish Lachish ( he, לכיש; grc, Λαχίς; la, Lachis) was an ancient Canaanite and Israelite city in the Shephelah ("lowlands of Judea") region of Israel, on the South bank of the Lakhish River, mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible. Th ...
, which describe events preceding the final capture of Jerusalem by
Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-kudurri-uṣur'', meaning " Nabu, watch over my heir"; Biblical Hebrew: ''Nəḇūḵaḏneʾṣṣar''), also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II, was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling ...
and the Babylonian captivity of 586 BCE.


Classical Hebrew


Biblical Hebrew

In its widest sense, Biblical Hebrew refers to the spoken language of ancient Israel flourishing between the 10th century BCE and the turn of the 4th century CE. It comprises several evolving and overlapping dialects. The phases of Classical Hebrew are often named after important literary works associated with them. * Archaic Biblical Hebrew, also called Old Hebrew or Paleo-Hebrew, from the 10th to the 6th century BCE, corresponding to the Monarchic Period until the
Babylonian exile The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a large number of Judeans from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital city of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, following their defeat ...
and represented by certain texts in the Hebrew Bible (
Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''
Song of Moses The Song of Moses is the name sometimes given to the poem which appears in Deuteronomy of the Hebrew Bible, which according to the Bible was delivered just prior to Moses' death on Mount Nebo. Sometimes the Song is referred to as Deuteronomy 32 ...
(Exodus 15) and the Song of Deborah (Judges 5). It was written in the
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet The Paleo-Hebrew script ( he, הכתב העברי הקדום), also Palaeo-Hebrew, Proto-Hebrew or Old Hebrew, is the writing system found in Canaanite inscriptions from the region of biblical Israel and Judah. It is considered to be the script ...
. A script descended from this, the
Samaritan alphabet The Samaritan script is used by the Samaritans for religious writings, including the Samaritan Pentateuch, writings in Samaritan Hebrew, and for commentaries and translations in Samaritan Aramaic and occasionally Arabic. Samaritan is a dire ...
, is still used by the
Samaritans Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Šōmrōnīm, lit=; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) are an ethnoreligious group who originate from the ancient Israelites. They are native to the Levant and adhere to Samarit ...
. * Standard Biblical Hebrew, also called Biblical Hebrew, Early Biblical Hebrew, Classical Biblical Hebrew or Classical Hebrew (in the narrowest sense), around the 8th to 6th centuries BCE, corresponding to the late Monarchic period and the Babylonian exile. It is represented by the bulk of the Hebrew Bible that attains much of its present form around this time. * Late Biblical Hebrew, from the 5th to the 3rd centuries BCE, corresponding to the Persian period and represented by certain texts in the Hebrew Bible, notably the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Basically similar to Classical Biblical Hebrew, apart from a few foreign words adopted for mainly governmental terms, and some syntactical innovations such as the use of the particle ''she-'' (alternative of "asher", meaning "that, which, who"). It adopted the
Imperial Aramaic script The ancient Aramaic alphabet was adapted by Arameans from the Phoenician alphabet and became a distinct script by the 8th century BC. It was used to write the Aramaic languages spoken by ancient Aramean pre-Christian tribes throughout the Fertil ...
(from which the modern Hebrew script descends). *
Israelian Hebrew Israelian Hebrew (or IH) is a northern dialect of biblical Hebrew (BH) proposed as an explanation for various irregular linguistic features of the Masoretic Text (MT) of the Hebrew Bible. It competes with the alternative explanation that such f ...
is a proposed northern dialect of biblical Hebrew, believed to have existed in all eras of the language, in some cases competing with late biblical Hebrew as an explanation for non-standard linguistic features of biblical texts.


Early post-Biblical Hebrew

* Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew from the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE, corresponding to the Hellenistic and Roman Periods before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and represented by the Qumran Scrolls that form most (but not all) of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Commonly abbreviated as DSS Hebrew, also called Qumran Hebrew. The Imperial Aramaic script of the earlier scrolls in the 3rd century BCE evolved into the Hebrew square script of the later scrolls in the 1st century CE, also known as ''ketav Ashuri'' (Assyrian script), still in use today. *
Mishnaic Hebrew Mishnaic Hebrew is the Hebrew of Talmudic texts. Mishnaic Hebrew can be sub-divided into Mishnaic Hebrew proper (also called Tannaitic Hebrew, Early Rabbinic Hebrew, or Mishnaic Hebrew I), which was a spoken language, and Amoraic Hebrew (also cal ...
from the 1st to the 3rd or 4th century CE, corresponding to the Roman Period after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and represented by the bulk of the
Mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Tora ...
and
Tosefta The Tosefta ( Jewish Babylonian Aramaic: תוספתא "supplement, addition") is a compilation of the Jewish oral law from the late 2nd century, the period of the Mishnah. Overview In many ways, the Tosefta acts as a supplement to the Mishnah ...
within the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the cente ...
and by the Dead Sea Scrolls, notably the Bar Kokhba letters and the
Copper Scroll The Copper Scroll ( 3Q15) is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found in Cave 3 near Khirbet Qumran, but differs significantly from the others. Whereas the other scrolls are written on parchment or papyrus, this scroll is written on metal: copper mixed ...
. Also called Tannaitic Hebrew or Early Rabbinic Hebrew. Sometimes the above phases of spoken Classical Hebrew are simplified into "Biblical Hebrew" (including several dialects from the 10th century BCE to 2nd century BCE and extant in certain Dead Sea Scrolls) and "Mishnaic Hebrew" (including several dialects from the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE and extant in certain other Dead Sea Scrolls).M. Segal, ''A Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew'' (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927). However, today most Hebrew linguists classify Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew as a set of dialects evolving out of Late Biblical Hebrew and into Mishnaic Hebrew, thus including elements from both but remaining distinct from either. Qimron, Elisha (1986). ''The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls''. Harvard Semitic Studies 29. (Atlanta: Scholars Press). By the start of the Byzantine Period in the 4th century CE, Classical Hebrew ceased as a regularly spoken language, roughly a century after the publication of the Mishnah, apparently declining since the aftermath of the catastrophic
Bar Kokhba revolt The Bar Kokhba revolt ( he, , links=yes, ''Mereḏ Bar Kōḵḇāʾ‎''), or the 'Jewish Expedition' as the Romans named it ( la, Expeditio Judaica), was a rebellion by the Jews of the Roman province of Judea, led by Simon bar Kokhba, aga ...
around 135 CE.


Displacement by Aramaic

In the early 6th century BCE, the
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire, historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last polity ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with the coronation of Nabopolassar as the King of Babylon in 626 BC and bein ...
conquered the ancient
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, , ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'údâ'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁𐤉𐤕𐤃𐤅𐤃 ''Bēyt Dāwīḏ'', " House of David") was an Israelite kingdom of the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. ...
, destroying much of
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس ) (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusałēm. i ...
and exiling its population far to the east in
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bāvel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babi ...
. During the
Babylonian captivity The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a large number of Judeans from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital city of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, following their defeat ...
, many
Israelites The Israelites (; , , ) were a group of Semitic-speaking tribes in the ancient Near East who, during the Iron Age, inhabited a part of Canaan. The earliest recorded evidence of a people by the name of Israel appears in the Merneptah Stele ...
learned Aramaic, the closely related Semitic language of their captors. Thus, for a significant period, the
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""Th ...
elite became influenced by Aramaic. After
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁 ), commonly known as Cyrus the Great, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian empire. Schmitt Achaemenid dynasty (i. The clan and dynasty) Under his rule, the empire embraced ...
conquered Babylon, he allowed the Jewish people to return from captivity. As a result, a local version of Aramaic came to be spoken in Israel alongside Hebrew. By the beginning of the
Common Era Common Era (CE) and Before the Common Era (BCE) are year notations for the Gregorian calendar (and its predecessor, the Julian calendar), the world's most widely used calendar era. Common Era and Before the Common Era are alternatives to the or ...
, Aramaic was the primary colloquial language of
Samaria Samaria (; he, שֹׁמְרוֹן, translit=Šōmrōn, ar, السامرة, translit=as-Sāmirah) is the historic and biblical name used for the central region of Palestine, bordered by Judea to the south and Galilee to the north. The first-c ...
n,
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorite-ruled state ...
n and
Galilee Galilee (; he, הַגָּלִיל, hagGālīl; ar, الجليل, al-jalīl) is a region located in northern Israel and southern Lebanon. Galilee traditionally refers to the mountainous part, divided into Upper Galilee (, ; , ) and Lower Galil ...
an Jews, and western and intellectual Jews spoke
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
, but a form of so-called Rabbinic Hebrew continued to be used as a vernacular in Judea until it was displaced by Aramaic, probably in the 3rd century CE. Certain Sadducee,
Pharisee The Pharisees (; he, פְּרוּשִׁים, Pərūšīm) were a Jewish social movement and a school of thought in the Levant during the time of Second Temple Judaism. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic beliefs b ...
,
Scribe A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of automatic printing. The profession of the scribe, previously widespread across cultures, lost most of its promin ...
, Hermit, Zealot and Priest classes maintained an insistence on Hebrew, and all Jews maintained their identity with Hebrew songs and simple quotations from Hebrew texts. While there is no doubt that at a certain point, Hebrew was displaced as the everyday spoken language of most Jews, and that its chief successor in the Middle East was the closely related Aramaic language, then
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
, scholarly opinions on the exact dating of that shift have changed very much."Hebrew" in ''The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church'', edit. F.L. Cross, first edition (Oxford, 1958), 3rd edition (Oxford 1997). ''The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church'' which once said, in 1958 in its first edition, that Hebrew "ceased to be a spoken language around the fourth century BCE", now says, in its 1997 (third) edition, that Hebrew "continued to be used as a spoken and written language in the New Testament period". In the first half of the 20th century, most scholars followed
Abraham Geiger Abraham Geiger (Hebrew: ''ʼAvrāhām Gayger''; 24 May 181023 October 1874) was a German rabbi and scholar, considered the founding father of Reform Judaism. Emphasizing Judaism's constant development along history and universalist traits, Geige ...
and
Gustaf Dalman Gustaf Hermann Dalman (9 June 1855 – 19 August 1941) was a German Lutheran theologian and orientalist. He did extensive field work in Palestine before the First World War, collecting inscriptions, poetry, and proverbs. He also collected physic ...
in thinking that Aramaic became a spoken language in the land of Israel as early as the beginning of Israel's
Hellenistic period In Classical antiquity, the Hellenistic period covers the time in Mediterranean history after Classical Greece, between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium in 3 ...
in the 4th century BCE, and that as a corollary Hebrew ceased to function as a spoken language around the same time. Moshe Zvi Segal, Joseph Klausner and Ben Yehuda are notable exceptions to this view. During the latter half of the 20th century, accumulating archaeological evidence and especially linguistic analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls has disproven that view. The Dead Sea Scrolls, uncovered in 1946–1948 near
Qumran Qumran ( he, קומראן; ar, خربة قمران ') is an archaeological site in the West Bank managed by Israel's Qumran National Park. It is located on a dry marl plateau about from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli ...
revealed ancient Jewish texts overwhelmingly in Hebrew, not Aramaic. The Qumran scrolls indicate that Hebrew texts were readily understandable to the average Israelite, and that the language had evolved since Biblical times as spoken languages do. Recent scholarship recognizes that reports of Jews speaking in Aramaic indicate a multilingual society, not necessarily the primary language spoken. Alongside Aramaic, Hebrew co-existed within Israel as a spoken language.The Cambridge History of Judaism: The late Roman-Rabbinic period. 2006. P.460 Most scholars now date the demise of Hebrew as a spoken language to the end of the Roman period, or about 200 CE. It continued on as a literary language down through the
Byzantine period The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire primarily in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinop ...
from the 4th century CE. The exact roles of Aramaic and Hebrew remain hotly debated. A trilingual scenario has been proposed for the land of Israel. Hebrew functioned as the local
mother tongue A first language, native tongue, native language, mother tongue or L1 is the first language or dialect that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period. In some countries, the term ''native language'' or ''mother tong ...
with powerful ties to Israel's history, origins and golden age and as the language of Israel's religion; Aramaic functioned as the international language with the rest of the Middle East; and eventually Greek functioned as another international language with the eastern areas of the Roman Empire. William Schniedewind argues that after waning in the Persian period, the religious importance of Hebrew grew in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and cites epigraphical evidence that Hebrew survived as a vernacular language – though both its grammar and its writing system had been substantially influenced by Aramaic. According to another summary, Greek was the language of government, Hebrew the language of prayer, study and religious texts, and Aramaic was the language of legal contracts and trade. There was also a geographic pattern: according to Bernard Spolsky, by the beginning of the Common Era, "
Judeo-Aramaic Judaeo-Aramaic languages represent a group of Hebrew-influenced Aramaic and Neo-Aramaic languages. Early use Aramaic, like Hebrew, is a Northwest Semitic language, and the two share many features. From the 7th century BCE, Aramaic became the l ...
was mainly used in Galilee in the north, Greek was concentrated in the former colonies and around governmental centers, and Hebrew monolingualism continued mainly in the southern villages of Judea." In other words, "in terms of dialect geography, at the time of the
tannaim ''Tannaim'' ( Amoraic Hebrew: תנאים , singular , ''Tanna'' "repeaters", "teachers") were the rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah, from approximately 10–220 CE. The period of the ''Tannaim'', also referred to as the Mi ...
Palestine could be divided into the Aramaic-speaking regions of Galilee and Samaria and a smaller area, Judaea, in which Rabbinic Hebrew was used among the descendants of returning exiles."Fernandez, Miguel Perez (1997). ''An Introductory Grammar of Rabbinic Hebrew''. BRILL. In addition, it has been surmised that
Koine Greek Koine Greek (; Koine el, ἡ κοινὴ διάλεκτος, hē koinè diálektos, the common dialect; ), also known as Hellenistic Greek, common Attic, the Alexandrian dialect, Biblical Greek or New Testament Greek, was the common supra-reg ...
was the primary vehicle of communication in coastal cities and among the upper class of
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس ) (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusałēm. i ...
, while Aramaic was prevalent in the lower class of Jerusalem, but not in the surrounding countryside.Spolsky, B. (1985). "Jewish Multilingualism in the First century: An Essay in Historical Sociolinguistics", Joshua A. Fishman (ed.), ''Readings in The Sociology of Jewish Languages'', Leiden: E. J. Brill, pp. 35–50. Also adopted by Smelik, Willem F. 1996. The Targum of Judges. P.9 After the suppression of the
Bar Kokhba revolt The Bar Kokhba revolt ( he, , links=yes, ''Mereḏ Bar Kōḵḇāʾ‎''), or the 'Jewish Expedition' as the Romans named it ( la, Expeditio Judaica), was a rebellion by the Jews of the Roman province of Judea, led by Simon bar Kokhba, aga ...
in the 2nd century CE, Judaeans were forced to disperse. Many relocated to Galilee, so most remaining native speakers of Hebrew at that last stage would have been found in the north.Spolsky, B. (1985), p. 40. and ''passim'' The Christian
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Chri ...
contains some Semitic place names and quotes. The language of such Semitic glosses (and in general the language spoken by Jews in scenes from the New Testament) is often referred to as "Hebrew" in the text, although this term is often re-interpreted as referring to Aramaic instead and is rendered accordingly in recent translations. Nonetheless, these glosses can be interpreted as Hebrew as well. It has been argued that Hebrew, rather than Aramaic or Koine Greek, lay behind the composition of the
Gospel of Matthew The Gospel of Matthew), or simply Matthew. It is most commonly abbreviated as "Matt." is the first book of the New Testament of the Bible and one of the three synoptic Gospels. It tells how Israel's Messiah, Jesus, comes to his people and form ...
. (See the
Hebrew Gospel hypothesis The Hebrew Gospel hypothesis (''proto-Gospel hypothesis'' or ''Aramaic Matthew hypothesis'') is that a lost gospel, written in Hebrew or Aramaic, predated the four canonical gospels. Some have suggested a complete unknown proto-gospel (a so-called ...
or Language of Jesus for more details on Hebrew and Aramaic in the gospels.)


Mishnah and Talmud

The term "Mishnaic Hebrew" generally refers to the Hebrew dialects found in the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the cente ...
, excepting quotations from the Hebrew Bible. The dialects organize into Mishnaic Hebrew (also called
Tannaitic ''Tannaim'' ( Amoraic Hebrew: תנאים , singular , ''Tanna'' "repeaters", "teachers") were the rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah, from approximately 10–220 CE. The period of the ''Tannaim'', also referred to as the Mis ...
Hebrew, Early Rabbinic Hebrew, or
Mishnaic The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Tora ...
Hebrew I), which was a
spoken language A spoken language is a language produced by articulate sounds or (depending on one's definition) manual gestures, as opposed to a written language. An oral language or vocal language is a language produced with the vocal tract in contrast with a s ...
, and
Amoraic ''Amoraim'' (Aramaic: plural or , singular ''Amora'' or ''Amoray''; "those who say" or "those who speak over the people", or "spokesmen") refers to Jewish scholars of the period from about 200 to 500 CE, who "said" or "told over" the teachi ...
Hebrew (also called Late Rabbinic Hebrew or Mishnaic Hebrew II), which was a
literary language A literary language is the form (register) of a language used in written literature, which can be either a nonstandard dialect or a standardized variety of the language. Literary language sometimes is noticeably different from the spoken langua ...
. The earlier section of the Talmud is the Mishnah that was published around 200 CE, although many of the stories take place much earlier, and were written in the earlier Mishnaic dialect. The dialect is also found in certain Dead Sea Scrolls. Mishnaic Hebrew is considered to be one of the dialects of Classical Hebrew that functioned as a living language in the land of Israel. A transitional form of the language occurs in the other works of Tannaitic literature dating from the century beginning with the completion of the Mishnah. These include the
halachic ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also transliterated as ''halacha'', ''halakhah'', and ''halocho'' ( ), is the collective body of Jewish religious laws which is derived from the written and Oral Torah. Halakha is based on biblical command ...
Midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; ...
im ( Sifra,
Sifre Sifre ( he, סִפְרֵי; ''siphrēy'', ''Sifre, Sifrei'', also, ''Sifre debe Rab'' or ''Sifre Rabbah'') refers to either of two works of '' Midrash halakha'', or classical Jewish legal biblical exegesis, based on the biblical books of Numbers ...
,
Mekhilta Mekhilta ( arc, מְכִילְתָּא דְּרַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל IPA /məˈχiltɑ/, "a collection of rules of interpretation"; corresponding to the Mishnaic Hebrew ' 'measure', 'rule'), is used to denote a compilation of scriptur ...
etc.) and the expanded collection of Mishnah-related material known as the
Tosefta The Tosefta ( Jewish Babylonian Aramaic: תוספתא "supplement, addition") is a compilation of the Jewish oral law from the late 2nd century, the period of the Mishnah. Overview In many ways, the Tosefta acts as a supplement to the Mishnah ...
. The Talmud contains excerpts from these works, as well as further Tannaitic material not attested elsewhere; the generic term for these passages is ''
Baraitot ''Baraita'' (Aramaic: "external" or "outside"; pl. ''Barayata'' or ''Baraitot''; also Baraitha, Beraita; Ashkenazi: Beraisa) designates a tradition in the Jewish oral law not incorporated in the Mishnah. ''Baraita'' thus refers to teachings " ...
''. The dialect of all these works is very similar to Mishnaic Hebrew. About a century after the publication of the Mishnah, Mishnaic Hebrew fell into disuse as a spoken language. The later section of the Talmud, the
Gemara The Gemara (also transliterated Gemarah, or in Yiddish Gemo(r)re; from Aramaic , from the Semitic root ג-מ-ר ''gamar'', to finish or complete) is the component of the Talmud comprising rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the Mishnah w ...
, generally comments on the Mishnah and Baraitot in two forms of Aramaic. Nevertheless, Hebrew survived as a liturgical and literary language in the form of later Amoraic Hebrew, which sometimes occurs in the text of the Gemara. Hebrew was always regarded as the language of Israel's religion, history and national pride, and after it faded as a spoken language, it continued to be used as a ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language systematically used to make communication possible between groups ...
'' among scholars and Jews traveling in foreign countries. After the 2nd century CE when the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings around the Medit ...
exiled most of the Jewish population of Jerusalem following the
Bar Kokhba revolt The Bar Kokhba revolt ( he, , links=yes, ''Mereḏ Bar Kōḵḇāʾ‎''), or the 'Jewish Expedition' as the Romans named it ( la, Expeditio Judaica), was a rebellion by the Jews of the Roman province of Judea, led by Simon bar Kokhba, aga ...
, they adapted to the societies in which they found themselves, yet letters, contracts, commerce, science, philosophy, medicine, poetry and laws continued to be written mostly in Hebrew, which adapted by borrowing and inventing terms.


Medieval Hebrew

After the Talmud, various regional literary dialects of
Medieval Hebrew Medieval Hebrew was a literary and liturgical language that existed between the 4th and 19th century. It was not commonly used as a spoken language, but mainly in written form by rabbis, scholars and poets. Medieval Hebrew had many features tha ...
evolved. The most important is
Tiberian Hebrew Tiberian Hebrew is the canonical pronunciation of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) committed to writing by Masoretic scholars living in the Jewish community of Tiberias in ancient Galilee under the Abbasid Caliphate. They wrote in the form of Tiberian ...
or Masoretic Hebrew, a local dialect of
Tiberias Tiberias ( ; he, טְבֶרְיָה, ; ar, طبريا, Ṭabariyyā) is an Israeli city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. A major Jewish center during Late Antiquity, it has been considered since the 16th century one of Judaism's Fo ...
in
Galilee Galilee (; he, הַגָּלִיל, hagGālīl; ar, الجليل, al-jalīl) is a region located in northern Israel and southern Lebanon. Galilee traditionally refers to the mountainous part, divided into Upper Galilee (, ; , ) and Lower Galil ...
that became the standard for vocalizing the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''
Masoretes The Masoretes ( he, בַּעֲלֵי הַמָּסוֹרָה, Baʿălēy Hammāsōrā, lit. 'Masters of the Tradition') were groups of Jewish scribe-scholars who worked from around the end of the 5th through 10th centuries CE, based primarily in m ...
(from ''masoret'' meaning "tradition"), who added vowel points and grammar points to the Hebrew letters to preserve much earlier features of Hebrew, for use in chanting the Hebrew Bible. The Masoretes inherited a biblical text whose letters were considered too sacred to be altered, so their markings were in the form of pointing in and around the letters. The
Syriac alphabet The Syriac alphabet ( ) is a writing system primarily used to write the Syriac language since the 1st century AD. It is one of the Semitic abjads descending from the Aramaic alphabet through the Palmyrene alphabet, and shares similarities with ...
, precursor to the Arabic alphabet, also developed vowel pointing systems around this time. The
Aleppo Codex The Aleppo Codex ( he, כֶּתֶר אֲרָם צוֹבָא, romanized: , lit. 'Crown of Aleppo') is a medieval bound manuscript of the Hebrew Bible. The codex was written in the city of Tiberias in the tenth century CE (circa 920) under the r ...
, a Hebrew Bible with the Masoretic pointing, was written in the 10th century, likely in Tiberias, and survives to this day. It is perhaps the most important Hebrew manuscript in existence. During the Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain, important work was done by grammarians in explaining the grammar and vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew; much of this was based on the work of the grammarians of
Classical Arabic Classical Arabic ( ar, links=no, ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ, al-ʿarabīyah al-fuṣḥā) or Quranic Arabic is the standardized literary form of Arabic used from the 7th century and throughout the Middle Ages, most not ...
. Important Hebrew grammarians were ,
Jonah ibn Janah Jonah ibn Janah or ibn Janach, born Abu al-Walīd Marwān ibn Janāḥ ( ar, أبو الوليد مروان بن جناح, or Marwan ibn Ganaḥ Hebrew: ), (), was a Jewish rabbi, physician and Hebrew grammarian active in Al-Andalus, or Islamic ...
, Abraham ibn Ezra and later (in
Provence Provence (, , , , ; oc, Provença or ''Prouvènço'' , ) is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône to the west to the Italian border to the east; it is bor ...
), . A great deal of poetry was written, by poets such as ,
Solomon ibn Gabirol Solomon ibn Gabirol or Solomon ben Judah ( he, ר׳ שְׁלֹמֹה בֶּן יְהוּדָה אִבְּן גָּבִּירוֹל, Shlomo Ben Yehuda ibn Gabirol, ; ar, أبو أيوب سليمان بن يحيى بن جبيرول, ’Abū ’Ayy ...
, Judah ha-Levi, Moses ibn Ezra and Abraham ibn Ezra, in a "purified" Hebrew based on the work of these grammarians, and in Arabic quantitative or strophic meters. This literary Hebrew was later used by Italian Jewish poets. The need to express scientific and philosophical concepts from
Classical Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Dark Ages (), the Archaic perio ...
and Medieval Arabic motivated Medieval Hebrew to borrow terminology and grammar from these other languages, or to coin equivalent terms from existing Hebrew roots, giving rise to a distinct style of philosophical Hebrew. This is used in the translations made by the family. (Original Jewish philosophical works were usually written in Arabic.) Another important influence was
Maimonides Musa ibn Maimon (1138–1204), commonly known as Maimonides (); la, Moses Maimonides and also referred to by the acronym Rambam ( he, רמב״ם), was a Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah ...
, who developed a simple style based on
Mishnaic Hebrew Mishnaic Hebrew is the Hebrew of Talmudic texts. Mishnaic Hebrew can be sub-divided into Mishnaic Hebrew proper (also called Tannaitic Hebrew, Early Rabbinic Hebrew, or Mishnaic Hebrew I), which was a spoken language, and Amoraic Hebrew (also cal ...
for use in his law code, the . Subsequent rabbinic literature is written in a blend between this style and the Aramaized Rabbinic Hebrew of the Talmud. Hebrew persevered through the ages as the main language for written purposes by all Jewish communities around the world for a large range of uses—not only liturgy, but also poetry, philosophy, science and medicine, commerce, daily correspondence and contracts. There have been many deviations from this generalization such as Bar Kokhba's letters to his lieutenants, which were mostly in Aramaic, and Maimonides' writings, which were mostly in Arabic; but overall, Hebrew did not cease to be used for such purposes. For example, the first Middle East printing press, in Safed (modern Israel), produced a small number of books in Hebrew in 1577, which were then sold to the nearby Jewish world. This meant not only that well-educated Jews in all parts of the world could correspond in a
mutually intelligible In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related varieties can readily understand each other without prior familiarity or special effort. It is sometimes used as a ...
language, and that books and legal documents published or written in any part of the world could be read by Jews in all other parts, but that an educated Jew could travel and converse with Jews in distant places, just as priests and other educated Christians could converse in Latin. For example, Rabbi Avraham Danzig wrote the ' in Hebrew, as opposed to
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. It originated during the 9th century in Central Europe, providing the nascent Ashkenazi community with a ve ...
, as a guide to ''
Halacha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also transliterated as ''halacha'', ''halakhah'', and ''halocho'' ( ), is the collective body of Jewish religious laws which is derived from the written and Oral Torah. Halakha is based on biblical command ...
'' for the "''average'' 17-year-old" (Ibid. Introduction 1). Similarly, Rabbi
Yisrael Meir Kagan Rabbi Yisrael Meir ha-Kohen Kagan (January 26, 1838 – September 15, 1933), known popularly as the Chofetz Chaim, after his book on lashon hara, who was also well known for the Mishna Berurah, his book on ritual law, was an influential Lit ...
's purpose in writing the ' was to "produce a work that could be studied daily so that Jews might know the proper procedures to follow minute by minute". The work was nevertheless written in Talmudic Hebrew and Aramaic, since, "the ordinary Jew f Eastern Europeof a century ago, was fluent enough in this idiom to be able to follow the Mishna Berurah without any trouble."


Revival

Hebrew has been revived several times as a literary language, most significantly by the
Haskalah The ''Haskalah'', often termed Jewish Enlightenment ( he, השכלה; literally, "wisdom", "erudition" or "education"), was an intellectual movement among the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe, with a certain influence on those in Western E ...
(Enlightenment) movement of early and mid-19th-century Germany. In the early 19th century, a form of spoken Hebrew had emerged in the markets of Jerusalem between Jews of different linguistic backgrounds to communicate for commercial purposes. This Hebrew dialect was to a certain extent a
pidgin A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups of people that do not have a language in common: typically, its vocabulary and grammar are limited and often drawn from s ...
. Near the end of that century the Jewish activist
Eliezer Ben-Yehuda Eliezer Ben‑Yehuda ( he, אֱלִיעֶזֶר בֵּן־יְהוּדָה}; ; born Eliezer Yitzhak Perlman, 7 January 1858 – 16 December 1922) was a Russian–⁠Jewish linguist, grammarian, and journalist, renowned as the lexicographer of ...
, owing to the ideology of the national revival (, , later
Zionism Zionism ( he, צִיּוֹנוּת ''Tsiyyonut'' after '' Zion'') is a nationalist movement that espouses the establishment of, and support for a homeland for the Jewish people centered in the area roughly corresponding to what is known in Je ...
), began reviving Hebrew as a modern spoken language. Eventually, as a result of the local movement he created, but more significantly as a result of the new groups of immigrants known under the name of the
Second Aliyah The Second Aliyah ( he, העלייה השנייה, ''HaAliyah HaShniya'') was an aliyah (Jewish emigration to Palestine) that took place between 1904 and 1914, during which approximately 35,000 Jews immigrated into Ottoman-ruled Palestine, mos ...
, it replaced a score of languages spoken by Jews at that time. Those languages were Jewish dialects of local languages, including
Judaeo-Spanish Judaeo-Spanish or Judeo-Spanish (autonym , Hebrew script: , Cyrillic: ), also known as Ladino, is a Romance language derived from Old Spanish. Originally spoken in Spain, and then after the Edict of Expulsion spreading through the Ottoman Empi ...
(also called "Judezmo" and "Ladino"),
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. It originated during the 9th century in Central Europe, providing the nascent Ashkenazi community with a ve ...
,
Judeo-Arabic Judeo-Arabic dialects (, ; ; ) are ethnolects formerly spoken by Jews throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Under the ISO 639 international standard for language codes, Judeo-Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage under the code jrb, enc ...
and
Bukhori Bukharian (autonym: Bukhori, Hebrew script: בוכארי, Cyrillic: бухорӣ, Latin: ''Buxorī'') is a Judeo-Persian dialect historically spoken by Bukharan Jews of Central Asia. It is a Jewish dialect derived from —and largely mutually in ...
(Tajiki), or local languages spoken in the
Jewish diaspora The Jewish diaspora ( he, תְּפוּצָה, təfūṣā) or exile (Hebrew: ; Yiddish: ) is the dispersion of Israelites or Jews out of their ancient ancestral homeland (the Land of Israel) and their subsequent settlement in other parts of th ...
such as Russian, Persian and
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Watson; Walte ...
. The major result of the literary work of the Hebrew intellectuals along the 19th century was a lexical modernization of Hebrew. New words and expressions were adapted as neologisms from the large corpus of Hebrew writings since the Hebrew Bible, or borrowed from Arabic (mainly by Ben-Yehuda) and older Aramaic and Latin. Many new words were either borrowed from or coined after European languages, especially English, Russian, German, and French. Modern Hebrew became an official language in British-ruled Palestine in 1921 (along with English and Arabic), and then in 1948 became an official language of the newly declared
State of Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
. Hebrew is the most widely spoken language in Israel today. In the Modern Period, from the 19th century onward, the literary Hebrew tradition revived as the spoken language of modern Israel, called variously ''Israeli Hebrew'', ''Modern Israeli Hebrew'', ''Modern Hebrew'', ''New Hebrew'', ''Israeli Standard Hebrew'', ''Standard Hebrew'' and so on. Israeli Hebrew exhibits some features of Sephardic Hebrew from its local Jerusalemite tradition but adapts it with numerous neologisms, borrowed terms (often technical) from European languages and adopted terms (often colloquial) from Arabic. The literary and narrative use of Hebrew was revived beginning with the Haskalah movement. The first secular periodical in Hebrew, (The Gatherer), was published by maskilim in
Königsberg Königsberg (, ) was the historic Prussian city that is now Kaliningrad, Russia. Königsberg was founded in 1255 on the site of the ancient Old Prussian settlement ''Twangste'' by the Teutonic Knights during the Northern Crusades, and was nam ...
(today's
Kaliningrad Kaliningrad ( ; rus, Калининград, p=kəlʲɪnʲɪnˈɡrat, links=y), until 1946 known as Königsberg (; rus, Кёнигсберг, Kyonigsberg, ˈkʲɵnʲɪɡzbɛrk; rus, Короле́вец, Korolevets), is the largest city and ...
) from 1783 onwards. In the mid-19th century, publications of several Eastern European Hebrew-language newspapers (e.g. , founded in
Ełk Ełk (; former pl, Łek; german: Lyck; Old Prussian: ''Luks''; lt, Lukas), also spelled Elk in English, is a small city in northeastern Poland with 61,677 inhabitants as of December 2021. It was assigned to Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in 1999, ...
in 1856) multiplied. Prominent poets were
Hayim Nahman Bialik Hayim Nahman Bialik ( he, חיים נחמן ביאַליק; January 9, 1873 – July 4, 1934), was a Jewish poet who wrote primarily in Hebrew but also in Yiddish. Bialik was one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew poetry. He was part of the vangu ...
and Shaul Tchernichovsky; there were also novels written in the language. The
revival of the Hebrew language The revival of the Hebrew language took place in Europe and Palestine toward the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century, through which the language's usage changed from the sacred language of Judaism to a spoken and written language ...
as a
mother tongue A first language, native tongue, native language, mother tongue or L1 is the first language or dialect that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period. In some countries, the term ''native language'' or ''mother tong ...
was initiated in the late 19th century by the efforts of Ben-Yehuda. He joined the Jewish national movement and in 1881 immigrated to Palestine, then a part of the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synonymous * and el, Оθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, Othōmanikē Avtokratoria, label=none * info page on book at Martin Luther University ...
. Motivated by the surrounding ideals of renovation and rejection of the diaspora "
shtetl A shtetl or shtetel (; yi, שטעטל, translit=shtetl (singular); שטעטלעך, romanized: ''shtetlekh'' (plural)) is a Yiddish term for the small towns with predominantly Ashkenazi Jewish populations which existed in Eastern Europe before ...
" lifestyle, Ben-Yehuda set out to develop tools for making the literary and
liturgical language A sacred language, holy language or liturgical language is any language that is cultivated and used primarily in church service or for other religious reasons by people who speak another, primary language in their daily lives. Concept A sacre ...
into everyday
spoken language A spoken language is a language produced by articulate sounds or (depending on one's definition) manual gestures, as opposed to a written language. An oral language or vocal language is a language produced with the vocal tract in contrast with a s ...
. However, his brand of Hebrew followed norms that had been replaced in
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is a subregion of the European continent. As a largely ambiguous term, it has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic connotations. The vast majority of the region is covered by Russia, whi ...
by different grammar and style, in the writings of people like
Ahad Ha'am Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg (18 August 1856 – 2 January 1927), primarily known by his Hebrew name and pen name Ahad Ha'am ( he, אחד העם, lit. 'one of the people', Genesis 26:10), was a Hebrew essayist, and one of the foremost pre-state Z ...
and others. His organizational efforts and involvement with the establishment of schools and the writing of textbooks pushed the
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language is in contrast with a "standard language". It refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, n ...
ization activity into a gradually accepted movement. It was not, however, until the 1904–1914 Second Aliyah that Hebrew had caught real momentum in Ottoman Palestine with the more highly organized enterprises set forth by the new group of immigrants. When the British Mandate of Palestine recognized Hebrew as one of the country's three official languages (English, Arabic, and Hebrew, in 1922), its new formal status contributed to its diffusion. A constructed modern language with a truly Semitic vocabulary and written appearance, although often European in
phonology Phonology is the branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds or, for sign languages, their constituent parts of signs. The term can also refer specifically to the sound or sign system of ...
, was to take its place among the current languages of the nations. While many saw his work as fanciful or even
blasphemous Blasphemy is a speech crime and religious crime usually defined as an utterance that shows contempt, disrespects or insults a deity, an object considered sacred or something considered inviolable. Some religions regard blasphemy as a religio ...
(because Hebrew was the holy language of the Torah and therefore some thought that it should not be used to discuss everyday matters), many soon understood the need for a common language amongst Jews of the British Mandate who at the turn of the 20th century were arriving in large numbers from diverse countries and speaking different languages. A Committee of the Hebrew Language was established. After the establishment of Israel, it became the
Academy of the Hebrew Language The Academy of the Hebrew Language ( he, הָאָקָדֶמְיָה לַלָּשׁוֹן הָעִבְרִית, ''ha-akademyah la-lashon ha-ivrit'') was established by the Israeli government in 1953 as the "supreme institution for scholarship on t ...
. The results of Ben-Yehuda's lexicographical work were published in a dictionary (''The Complete Dictionary of Ancient and Modern Hebrew'', ). The seeds of Ben-Yehuda's work fell on fertile ground, and by the beginning of the 20th century, Hebrew was well on its way to becoming the main language of the Jewish population of both Ottoman and British Palestine. At the time, members of the Old Yishuv and a very few
Hasidic Hasidism, sometimes spelled Chassidism, and also known as Hasidic Judaism (Ashkenazi Hebrew: חסידות ''Ḥăsīdus'', ; originally, "piety"), is a Jewish religious group that arose as a spiritual revival movement in the territory of contem ...
sects, most notably those under the auspices of Satmar, refused to speak Hebrew and spoke only Yiddish. In the Soviet Union, the use of Hebrew, along with other Jewish cultural and religious activities, was suppressed. Soviet authorities considered the use of Hebrew "reactionary" since it was associated with Zionism, and the teaching of Hebrew at primary and secondary schools was officially banned by the
People's Commissariat for Education The People's Commissariat for Education (or Narkompros; russian: Народный комиссариат просвещения, Наркомпрос, directly translated as the "People's Commissariat for Enlightenment") was the Soviet agency charge ...
as early as 1919, as part of an overall agenda aiming to secularize education (the language itself did not cease to be studied at universities for historical and linguistic purposes). The official ordinance stated that Yiddish, being the spoken language of the Russian Jews, should be treated as their only national language, while Hebrew was to be treated as a foreign language. Hebrew books and periodicals ceased to be published and were seized from the libraries, although liturgical texts were still published until the 1930s. Despite numerous protests, a policy of suppression of the teaching of Hebrew operated from the 1930s on. Later in the 1980s in the
USSR The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of fifteen nation ...
, Hebrew studies reappeared due to people struggling for permission to go to Israel (
refusenik Refusenik (russian: отказник, otkaznik, ; alternatively spelt refusnik) was an unofficial term for individuals—typically, but not exclusively, Soviet Jews—who were denied permission to emigrate, primarily to Israel, by the author ...
s). Several of the teachers were imprisoned, e.g. Yosef Begun, Ephraim Kholmyansky, Yevgeny Korostyshevsky and others responsible for a Hebrew learning network connecting many cities of the USSR.


Modern Hebrew

Standard Hebrew, as developed by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, was based on
Mishnaic The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Tora ...
spelling and
Sephardi Hebrew Sephardi Hebrew (or Sepharadi Hebrew; he, עברית ספרדית, Ivrit S'faradít, lad, Hebreo Sefardíes) is the pronunciation system for Biblical Hebrew favored for liturgical use by Sephardi Jewish practice. Its phonology was influenced by ...
pronunciation. However, the earliest speakers of Modern Hebrew had Yiddish as their native language and often introduced
calque In linguistics, a calque () or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal word-for-word or root-for-root translation. When used as a verb, "to calque" means to borrow a word or phrase from another language ...
s from Yiddish and phono-semantic matchings of international words. Despite using Sephardic Hebrew pronunciation as its primary basis, modern Israeli Hebrew has adapted to
Ashkenazi Hebrew Ashkenazi Hebrew ( he, הגייה אשכנזית, Hagiyya Ashkenazit, yi, אַשכּנזישע הבֿרה, Ashkenazishe Havara) is the pronunciation system for Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew favored for Jewish liturgical use and Torah study by As ...
phonology Phonology is the branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds or, for sign languages, their constituent parts of signs. The term can also refer specifically to the sound or sign system of ...
in some respects, mainly the following: * the elimination of pharyngeal articulation in the letters ''chet'' () and ''ayin'' () by most Hebrew speakers. * the conversion of ( ) from an alveolar flap to a voiced uvular fricative or uvular trill , by most of the speakers, like in most varieties of standard German or Yiddish. ''see
Guttural R Guttural R is the phenomenon whereby a rhotic consonant (an "R-like" sound) is produced in the back of the vocal tract (usually with the uvula) rather than in the front portion thereof and thus as a guttural consonant. Speakers of languages ...
'' * the pronunciation (by many speakers) of ''
tzere Tzere (also spelled ''Tsere'', ''Tzeirei'', ''Zere'', ''Zeire'', ''Ṣērê''; modern he, צֵירֵי, , sometimes also written ; formerly ''ṣērê'') is a Hebrew niqqud vowel sign represented by two horizontally-aligned dots "◌ֵ" un ...
'' <> as in some contexts (''sifréj'' and ''téjša'' instead of Sephardic ''sifré'' and ''tésha'') * the partial elimination of vocal ''
Shva Shva or, in Biblical Hebrew, shĕwa ( he, שְׁוָא) is a Hebrew niqqud vowel sign written as two vertical dots () beneath a letter. It indicates either the phoneme (shva na', mobile shva) or the complete absence of a vowel (/ Ø/) (shva na ...
'' <> (''zmán'' instead of Sephardic ''zĕman'') * in popular speech, penultimate stress in proper names (''Dvóra'' instead of ''Dĕvorá''; ''Yehúda'' instead of ''Yĕhudá'') and some other words * similarly in popular speech, penultimate stress in verb forms with a second person plural suffix (''katávtem'' "you wrote" instead of ''kĕtavtém''). The vocabulary of Israeli Hebrew is much larger than that of earlier periods. According to
Ghil'ad Zuckermann Ghil'ad Zuckermann ( he, גלעד צוקרמן, ; ) is an Israeli-born language revivalist and linguist who works in contact linguistics, lexicology and the study of language, culture and identity. Zuckermann is Professor of Linguistics and C ...
: In Israel, Modern Hebrew is currently taught in institutions called
Ulpan An ulpan ( he, אולפן), plural ''ulpanim'', is an institute or school for the intensive study of Hebrew. Ulpan is a Hebrew word meaning "studio", "teaching", or "instruction". The ulpan is designed to teach adult immigrants to Israel the b ...
im (singular: Ulpan). There are government-owned, as well as private, Ulpanim offering online courses and face-to-face programs.


Current status

Modern Hebrew is the primary official language of the State of Israel. , there are about 9 million Hebrew speakers worldwide, of whom 7 million speak it fluently. Currently, 90% of Israeli Jews are proficient in Hebrew, and 70% are highly proficient. Some 60% of Israeli Arabs are also proficient in Hebrew, and 30% report having a higher proficiency in Hebrew than in Arabic. In total, about 53% of the Israeli population speaks Hebrew as a native language, while most of the rest speak it fluently. In 2013 Hebrew was the native language of 49% of Israelis over the age of 20, with Russian,
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Watson; Walte ...
,
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France ** French language, which originated in France, and its various dialects and accents ** French people, a nation and ethnic group identified with France ...
,
English English usually refers to: * English language * English people English may also refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * ''English'', an adjective for something of, from, or related to England ** English national i ...
,
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. It originated during the 9th century in Central Europe, providing the nascent Ashkenazi community with a ve ...
and Ladino being the native tongues of most of the rest. Some 26% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and 12% of Arabs reported speaking Hebrew poorly or not at all. Steps have been taken to keep Hebrew the primary language of use, and to prevent large-scale incorporation of English words into the Hebrew vocabulary. The
Academy of the Hebrew Language The Academy of the Hebrew Language ( he, הָאָקָדֶמְיָה לַלָּשׁוֹן הָעִבְרִית, ''ha-akademyah la-lashon ha-ivrit'') was established by the Israeli government in 1953 as the "supreme institution for scholarship on t ...
of the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI; he, הַאוּנִיבֶרְסִיטָה הַעִבְרִית בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם) is a public research university based in Jerusalem, Israel. Co-founded by Albert Einstein and Dr. Chaim Weiz ...
currently invents about 2,000 new Hebrew words each year for modern words by finding an original Hebrew word that captures the meaning, as an alternative to incorporating more English words into Hebrew vocabulary. The
Haifa Haifa ( he, חֵיפָה ' ; ar, حَيْفَا ') is the third-largest city in Israel—after Jerusalem and Tel Aviv—with a population of in . The city of Haifa forms part of the Haifa metropolitan area, the third-most populous metropol ...
municipality has banned officials from using English words in official documents, and is fighting to stop businesses from using only English signs to market their services. In 2012, a
Knesset The Knesset ( he, הַכְּנֶסֶת ; "gathering" or "assembly") is the unicameral legislature of Israel. As the supreme state body, the Knesset is sovereign and thus has complete control of the entirety of the Israeli government (with th ...
bill for the preservation of the Hebrew language was proposed, which includes the stipulation that all signage in Israel must first and foremost be in Hebrew, as with all speeches by Israeli officials abroad. The bill's author, MK Akram Hasson, stated that the bill was proposed as a response to Hebrew "losing its prestige" and children incorporating more English words into their vocabulary. Hebrew is one of several languages for which the constitution of South Africa calls to be respected in their use for religious purposes. Also, Hebrew is an official national minority language in
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called voivodeships, covering an area of . Poland has a population of over 38 million and is the fifth-most populou ...
, since 6 January 2005.


Phonology

Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew (, or , ), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of the Hebrew language, a language in the Canaanite branch of Semitic languages spoken by the Israelites in the area known as the Land of Israel, roughly west of t ...
had a typical Semitic consonant inventory, with pharyngeal /ʕ ħ/, a series of "emphatic" consonants (possibly
ejective In phonetics, ejective consonants are usually voiceless consonants that are pronounced with a glottalic egressive airstream. In the phonology of a particular language, ejectives may contrast with aspirated, voiced and tenuis consonants. Some ...
, but this is debated), lateral fricative /ɬ/, and in its older stages also uvular /χ ʁ/. /χ ʁ/ merged into /ħ ʕ/ in later Biblical Hebrew, and /b ɡ d k p t/ underwent allophonic spirantization to ɣ ð x f θ(known as
begadkefat Begadkefat (also begedkefet) is the name given to a phenomenon of lenition affecting the non- emphatic stop consonants of Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic when they are preceded by a vowel and not geminated. The name is also given to similar cases of ...
). The earliest Biblical Hebrew vowel system contained the Proto-Semitic vowels /a aː i iː u uː/ as well as /oː/, but this system changed dramatically over time. By the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls, /ɬ/ had shifted to /s/ in the Jewish traditions, though for the Samaritans it merged with /ʃ/ instead. The Tiberian reading tradition of the Middle Ages had the vowel system /a ɛ e i ɔ o u ă ɔ̆ ɛ̆/, though other Medieval reading traditions had fewer vowels. A number of reading traditions have been preserved in liturgical use. In Oriental (
Sephardi Sephardic (or Sephardi) Jews (, ; lad, Djudíos Sefardíes), also ''Sepharadim'' , Modern Hebrew: ''Sfaradim'', Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefa ...
and Mizrahi) Jewish reading traditions, the emphatic consonants are realized as pharyngealized, while the
Ashkenazi Ashkenazi Jews ( ; he, יְהוּדֵי אַשְׁכְּנַז, translit=Yehudei Ashkenaz, ; yi, אַשכּנזישע ייִדן, Ashkenazishe Yidn), also known as Ashkenazic Jews or ''Ashkenazim'',, Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation: , singu ...
(northern and eastern European) traditions have lost emphatics and pharyngeals (although according to Ashkenazi law, pharyngeal articulation is preferred over uvular or glottal articulation when representing the community in religious service such as prayer and
Torah reading Torah reading (; ') is a Jewish religious tradition that involves the public reading of a set of passages from a Torah scroll. The term often refers to the entire ceremony of removing the scroll (or scrolls) from the Torah ark, chanting the ap ...
), and show the shift of /w/ to /v/. The Samaritan tradition has a complex vowel system that does not correspond closely to the Tiberian systems. Modern Hebrew pronunciation developed from a mixture of the different Jewish reading traditions, generally tending towards simplification. In line with
Sephardi Hebrew Sephardi Hebrew (or Sepharadi Hebrew; he, עברית ספרדית, Ivrit S'faradít, lad, Hebreo Sefardíes) is the pronunciation system for Biblical Hebrew favored for liturgical use by Sephardi Jewish practice. Its phonology was influenced by ...
pronunciation, emphatic consonants have shifted to their ordinary counterparts, /w/ to /v/, and ð θare not present. Most Israelis today also merge /ʕ ħ/ with /ʔ χ/, do not have contrastive gemination, and pronounce /r/ as a uvular fricative or a voiced velar fricative rather than an alveolar trill, because of Ashkenazi Hebrew influences. The consonants /tʃ/ and /dʒ/ have become phonemic due to loan words, and /w/ has similarly been re-introduced.


Consonants

Notes: # Proto-Semitic was still pronounced as in Biblical Hebrew, but no letter was available in the Phoenician alphabet, so the letter did double duty, representing both and . Later on, however, merged with , but the old spelling was largely retained, and the two pronunciations of were distinguished graphically in
Tiberian Hebrew Tiberian Hebrew is the canonical pronunciation of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) committed to writing by Masoretic scholars living in the Jewish community of Tiberias in ancient Galilee under the Abbasid Caliphate. They wrote in the form of Tiberian ...
as vs. < . # Biblical Hebrew as of the 3rd century BCE apparently still distinguished the phonemes versus and versus , as witnessed by transcriptions in the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible. It includes several books beyond t ...
. As in the case of , no letters were available to represent these sounds, and existing letters did double duty: for and for . In all of these cases, however, the sounds represented by the same letter eventually merged, leaving no evidence (other than early transcriptions) of the former distinctions. # Hebrew and Aramaic underwent
begadkefat Begadkefat (also begedkefet) is the name given to a phenomenon of lenition affecting the non- emphatic stop consonants of Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic when they are preceded by a vowel and not geminated. The name is also given to similar cases of ...
spirantization at a certain point, whereby the stop sounds were softened to the corresponding fricatives (written ''ḇ ḡ ḏ ḵ p̄ ṯ'') when occurring after a vowel and not geminated. This change probably happened after the original Old Aramaic phonemes disappeared in the 7th century BCE, and most likely occurred after the loss of Hebrew c. 200 BCE.According to the generally accepted view, it is unlikely that begadkefat spirantization occurred before the merger of and , or else and would have to be contrastive, which is cross-linguistically rare. However, Blau argues that it is possible that lenited and could coexist even if pronounced identically, since one would be recognized as an alternating allophone (as apparently is the case in Nestorian Syriac). See . It is known to have occurred in Hebrew by the 2nd century. After a certain point this alternation became contrastive in word-medial and final position (though bearing low functional load), but in word-initial position they remained allophonic. No text access via Google Books. In
Modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew ( he, עברית חדשה, ''ʿivrít ḥadašá ', , '' lit.'' "Modern Hebrew" or "New Hebrew"), also known as Israeli Hebrew or Israeli, and generally referred to by speakers simply as Hebrew ( ), is the standard form of the He ...
, the distinction has a higher functional load due to the loss of gemination, although only the three fricatives are still preserved (the fricative is pronounced in modern Hebrew). (The others are pronounced like the corresponding stops, as Modern Hebrew pronunciation was based on the Sephardic pronunciation which lost the distinction)


Grammar

Hebrew grammar is partly analytic, expressing such forms as
dative In grammar, the dative case (abbreviated , or sometimes when it is a core argument) is a grammatical case used in some languages to indicate the recipient or beneficiary of an action, as in "Maria Jacobo potum dedit", Latin for "Maria gave Jaco ...
,
ablative In grammar, the ablative case (pronounced ; sometimes abbreviated ) is a grammatical case for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives in the grammars of various languages; it is sometimes used to express motion away from something, among other uses. ...
and
accusative The accusative case (abbreviated ) of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. In the English language, the only words that occur in the accusative case are pronouns: 'me,' 'him,' 'her,' 'us,' and ‘the ...
using
preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in traditional grammar, simply prepositions), are a class of words used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various ...
al particles rather than
grammatical case A grammatical case is a category of nouns and noun modifiers (determiners, adjectives, participles, and numerals), which corresponds to one or more potential grammatical functions for a nominal group in a wording. In various languages, nomina ...
s. However, inflection plays a decisive role in the formation of verbs and nouns. For example, nouns have a construct state, called "smikhut", to denote the relationship of "belonging to": this is the converse of the
genitive case In grammar, the genitive case (abbreviated ) is the grammatical case that marks a word, usually a noun, as modifying another word, also usually a noun—thus indicating an attributive relationship of one noun to the other noun. A genitive can a ...
of more inflected languages. Words in smikhut are often combined with
hyphen The hyphen is a punctuation mark used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word. The use of hyphens is called hyphenation. ''Son-in-law'' is an example of a hyphenated word. The hyphen is sometimes confused with dashes ( figur ...
s. In modern speech, the use of the construct is sometimes interchangeable with the preposition "shel", meaning "of". There are many cases, however, where older declined forms are retained (especially in idiomatic expressions and the like), and "person"-
enclitic In morphology and syntax, a clitic (, backformed from Greek "leaning" or "enclitic"Crystal, David. ''A First Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics''. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1980. Print.) is a morpheme that has syntactic characteristics of a w ...
s are widely used to "decline" prepositions.


Morphology

Like all Semitic languages, the Hebrew language exhibits a pattern of stems consisting typically of "
triliteral The roots of verbs and most nouns in the Semitic languages are characterized as a sequence of consonants or " radicals" (hence the term consonantal root). Such abstract consonantal roots are used in the formation of actual words by adding the vowe ...
", or 3-consonant consonantal roots, from which nouns, adjectives, and verbs are formed in various ways: e.g. by inserting vowels, doubling consonants, lengthening vowels and/or adding prefixes, suffixes or
infix An infix is an affix inserted inside a word stem (an existing word or the core of a family of words). It contrasts with ''adfix,'' a rare term for an affix attached to the outside of a stem, such as a prefix or suffix. When marking text for in ...
es. 4-consonant roots also exist and became more frequent in the modern language due to a process of coining verbs from nouns that are themselves constructed from 3-consonant verbs. Some triliteral roots lose one of their consonants in most forms and are called "Nakhim" (Resting). Hebrew uses a number of one-letter prefixes that are added to words for various purposes. These are called inseparable prepositions or "Letters of Use" ( he, אותיות השימוש, Otiyot HaShimush, links=no). Such items include: the definite
article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar), a grammatical element used to indicate definiteness or indefiniteness * Article (publishing), a piece of nonfictional prose that is an independent part of a publication Article may also refer to: G ...
''ha-'' () (= "the");
preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in traditional grammar, simply prepositions), are a class of words used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various ...
s ''be-'' () (= "in"), ''le-'' () (= "to"; a shortened version of the preposition ''el''), ''mi-'' () (= "from"; a shortened version of the preposition ''min''); conjunctions ''ve-'' () (= "and"), ''she-'' () (= "that"; a shortened version of the Biblical conjunction ''asher''), ''ke-'' () (= "as", "like"; a shortened version of the conjunction ''kmo''). The vowel accompanying each of these letters may differ from those listed above, depending on the first letter or vowel following it. The rules governing these changes are hardly observed in colloquial speech as most speakers tend to employ the regular form. However, they may be heard in more formal circumstances. For example, if a preposition is put before a word that begins with a moving
Shva Shva or, in Biblical Hebrew, shĕwa ( he, שְׁוָא) is a Hebrew niqqud vowel sign written as two vertical dots () beneath a letter. It indicates either the phoneme (shva na', mobile shva) or the complete absence of a vowel (/ Ø/) (shva na ...
, then the preposition takes the vowel (and the initial consonant may be weakened): colloquial ''be-kfar'' (= "in a village") corresponds to the more formal ''bi-khfar''. The definite article may be inserted between a preposition or a conjunction and the word it refers to, creating composite words like ''mé-ha-kfar'' (= "from the village"). The latter also demonstrates the change in the vowel of ''mi-''. With ''be'', ''le'' and ''ke'', the definite article is assimilated into the prefix, which then becomes ''ba'', ''la'' or ''ka''. Thus *''be-ha-matos'' becomes ''ba-matos'' (= "in the plane"). Note that this does not happen to ''mé'' (the form of "min" or "mi-" used before the letter "he"), therefore ''mé-ha-matos'' is a valid form, which means "from the airplane". :''* indicates that the given example is grammatically non-standard''.


Syntax

Like most other languages, the vocabulary of the Hebrew language is divided into verbs, nouns, adjectives and so on, and its sentence structure can be analyzed by terms like object, subject and so on. * Though early
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew (, or , ), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of the Hebrew language, a language in the Canaanite branch of Semitic languages spoken by the Israelites in the area known as the Land of Israel, roughly west of t ...
had a verb-subject-object ordering, this gradually transitioned to a subject-verb-object ordering. Many Hebrew sentences have several correct orders of words. * In Hebrew, there is no
indefinite article An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identifiability of the referents of the noun phrases. The category of articles constitutes a part of speech. In English, both "the" and "a(n)" ar ...
. * Hebrew sentences do not have to include verbs; the copula in the
present tense The present tense (abbreviated or ) is a grammatical tense whose principal function is to locate a situation or event in the present time. The present tense is used for actions which are happening now. In order to explain and understand present t ...
is omitted. For example, the sentence "I am here" ( ') has only two words; one for I () and one for here (). In the sentence "I am that person" ( '), the word for "am" corresponds to the word for "he" (). However, this is usually omitted. Thus, the sentence () is more often used and means the same thing. *Negative and interrogative sentences have the same order as the regular declarative one. A question that has a yes/no answer begins with (''ha'im'', an interrogative form of 'if'), but it is largely omitted in informal speech. * In Hebrew there is a specific preposition ( ') for direct objects that would not have a preposition marker in English. The English phrase "he ate the cake" would in Hebrew be ' (literally, "He ate the cake"). The word , however, can be omitted, making ' ("He ate the cake"). Former Israeli Prime Minister
David Ben-Gurion David Ben-Gurion ( ; he, דָּוִד בֶּן-גּוּרִיּוֹן ; born David Grün; 16 October 1886 – 1 December 1973) was the primary national founder of the State of Israel and the first prime minister of Israel. Adopting the name ...
was convinced that should never be used as it elongates the sentence without adding meaning. * In spoken Hebrew ‏‏ is also often contracted to ‏‏ , e.g. instead of (the ' indicates non-standard use). This phenomenon has also been found by researchers in the Bar Kokhba documents : , writing instead of , as well as and so on.


Writing system

Users of the language write Modern Hebrew from right to left using the
Hebrew alphabet The Hebrew alphabet ( he, אָלֶף־בֵּית עִבְרִי, ), known variously by scholars as the Ktav Ashuri, Jewish script, square script and block script, is an abjad script used in the writing of the Hebrew language and other Jewi ...
- an "impure"
abjad An abjad (, ar, أبجد; also abgad) is a writing system in which only consonants are represented, leaving vowel sounds to be inferred by the reader. This contrasts with other alphabets, which provide graphemes for both consonants and vowels ...
, or consonant-only script, of 22 letters. The ancient
paleo-Hebrew alphabet The Paleo-Hebrew script ( he, הכתב העברי הקדום), also Palaeo-Hebrew, Proto-Hebrew or Old Hebrew, is the writing system found in Canaanite inscriptions from the region of biblical Israel and Judah. It is considered to be the script ...
resembles those used for Canaanite and Phoenician. Modern scripts derive from the "square" letter form, known as ''Ashurit'' (Assyrian), which developed from the Aramaic script. A
cursive Hebrew Cursive Hebrew ( he, כתב עברי רהוט , "flowing Hebrew writing", or , "Hebrew handwriting", often called simply ', "writing") is a collective designation for several styles of handwriting the Hebrew alphabet. Modern Hebrew, especially i ...
script is used in handwriting: the letters tend to appear more circular in form when written in cursive, and sometimes vary markedly from their printed equivalents. The medieval version of the cursive script forms the basis of another style, known as
Rashi script Rashi script or Sephardic script (), is a typeface for the Hebrew alphabet based on 15th-century Sephardic semi-cursive handwriting. It is named for the rabbinic commentator Rashi, whose works are customarily printed in the typeface (though Ra ...
. When necessary, vowels are indicated by diacritic marks above or below the letter representing the syllabic onset, or by use of '' matres lectionis'', which are consonantal letters used as vowels. Further diacritics may serve to indicate variations in the pronunciation of the consonants (e.g. ''bet''/''vet'', ''shin''/''sin''); and, in some contexts, to indicate the punctuation, accentuation and musical rendition of Biblical texts (see
Hebrew cantillation Hebrew cantillation is the manner of chanting ritual readings from the Hebrew Bible in synagogue services. The chants are written and notated in accordance with the special signs or marks printed in the Masoretic Text of the Bible, to comple ...
).


Liturgical use in Judaism

Hebrew has always been used as the language of prayer and study, and the following pronunciation systems are found.
Ashkenazi Hebrew Ashkenazi Hebrew ( he, הגייה אשכנזית, Hagiyya Ashkenazit, yi, אַשכּנזישע הבֿרה, Ashkenazishe Havara) is the pronunciation system for Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew favored for Jewish liturgical use and Torah study by As ...
, originating in Central and Eastern Europe, is still widely used in Ashkenazi Jewish religious services and studies in Israel and abroad, particularly in the
Haredi Haredi Judaism ( he, ', ; also spelled ''Charedi'' in English; plural ''Haredim'' or ''Charedim'') consists of groups within Orthodox Judaism that are characterized by their strict adherence to ''halakha'' (Jewish law) and traditions, in oppos ...
and other Orthodox communities. It was influenced by
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. It originated during the 9th century in Central Europe, providing the nascent Ashkenazi community with a ve ...
pronunciation.
Sephardi Hebrew Sephardi Hebrew (or Sepharadi Hebrew; he, עברית ספרדית, Ivrit S'faradít, lad, Hebreo Sefardíes) is the pronunciation system for Biblical Hebrew favored for liturgical use by Sephardi Jewish practice. Its phonology was influenced by ...
is the traditional pronunciation of the
Spanish and Portuguese Jews Spanish and Portuguese Jews, also called Western Sephardim, Iberian Jews, or Peninsular Jews, are a distinctive sub-group of Sephardic Jews who are largely descended from Jews who lived as New Christians in the Iberian Peninsula during the i ...
and
Sephardi Jews Sephardic (or Sephardi) Jews (, ; lad, Djudíos Sefardíes), also ''Sepharadim'' , Modern Hebrew: ''Sfaradim'', Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefa ...
in the countries of the former
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synonymous * and el, Оθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, Othōmanikē Avtokratoria, label=none * info page on book at Martin Luther University ...
, with the exception of
Yemenite Hebrew Yemenite Hebrew ( ''ʿĪvrīṯ Tēmŏnīṯ''), also referred to as Temani Hebrew, is the pronunciation system for Hebrew traditionally used by Yemenite Jews. Yemenite Hebrew has been studied by language scholars, many of whom believe it to retai ...
. This pronunciation, in the form used by the Jerusalem Sephardic community, is the basis of the Hebrew phonology of Israeli native speakers. It was influenced by Ladino pronunciation. Mizrahi (Oriental) Hebrew is actually a collection of dialects spoken liturgically by Jews in various parts of the
Arab The Arabs (singular: Arab; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, DIN 31635: , , plural ar, عَرَب, DIN 31635: , Arabic pronunciation: ), also known as the Arab people, are an ethnic group mainly inhabiting the Arab world in Western Asia, ...
and Islamic world. It was derived from the old
Arabic language Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Watson; Walter ...
, and in some cases influenced by
Sephardi Hebrew Sephardi Hebrew (or Sepharadi Hebrew; he, עברית ספרדית, Ivrit S'faradít, lad, Hebreo Sefardíes) is the pronunciation system for Biblical Hebrew favored for liturgical use by Sephardi Jewish practice. Its phonology was influenced by ...
.
Yemenite Hebrew Yemenite Hebrew ( ''ʿĪvrīṯ Tēmŏnīṯ''), also referred to as Temani Hebrew, is the pronunciation system for Hebrew traditionally used by Yemenite Jews. Yemenite Hebrew has been studied by language scholars, many of whom believe it to retai ...
or ''Temanit'' differs from other Mizrahi dialects by having a radically different vowel system, and distinguishing between different diacritically marked consonants that are pronounced identically in other dialects (for example gimel and "ghimel".) These pronunciations are still used in synagogue ritual and religious study in Israel and elsewhere, mostly by people who are not native speakers of Hebrew. However, some traditionalist Israelis use liturgical pronunciations in prayer. Many synagogues in the diaspora, even though Ashkenazi by rite and by ethnic composition, have adopted the "Sephardic" pronunciation in deference to Israeli Hebrew. However, in many British and American schools and synagogues, this pronunciation retains several elements of its Ashkenazi substrate, especially the distinction between tsere and
segol Segol (modern he, סֶגּוֹל, ; formerly , ''səḡôl'') is a Hebrew niqqud vowel sign that is represented by three dots forming an upside down equilateral triangle "ֶ ". As such, it resembles an upside down therefore sign (a becau ...
.


See also

*
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet The Paleo-Hebrew script ( he, הכתב העברי הקדום), also Palaeo-Hebrew, Proto-Hebrew or Old Hebrew, is the writing system found in Canaanite inscriptions from the region of biblical Israel and Judah. It is considered to be the script ...
* List of Hebrew dictionaries *
Hebraism Hebraism hiːbreɪz(ə)mis a lexical item, usage or trait characteristic of the Hebrew language. By successive extension it is often applied to the Jewish people, their faith, national ideology or culture. Idiomatic Hebrew Hebrew has many idi ...
* Hebraization of English *
Hebrew abbreviations Abbreviations () are a common part of the Hebrew language, with many organizations, places, people and concepts known by their abbreviations. Typography Acronyms in Hebrew use a special punctuation mark called gershayim (). This mark is placed b ...
*
Hebrew literature Hebrew literature consists of ancient, medieval, and modern writings in the Hebrew language. It is one of the primary forms of Jewish literature, though there have been cases of literature written in Hebrew by non-Jews. Hebrew literature was pr ...
*
Hebrew numerals The system of Hebrew numerals is a quasi-decimal alphabetic numeral system using the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The system was adapted from that of the Greek numerals in the late 2nd century BCE. The current numeral system is also known as ...
*
Jewish languages Jewish languages are the various languages and dialects that developed in Jewish communities in the diaspora. The original Jewish language is Hebrew, supplanted as the primary vernacular by Aramaic following the Babylonian exile. Jewish langua ...
* List of English words of Hebrew origin *
Romanization of Hebrew The Hebrew language uses the Hebrew alphabet with optional vowel diacritics. The romanization of Hebrew is the use of the Latin alphabet to transliterate Hebrew words. For example, the Hebrew name spelled ("Israel") in the Hebrew alphabet c ...
*
Study of the Hebrew language As the Old Testament (known as the Tanakh) was written in Hebrew, Hebrew has been central to Judaism and Christianity for more than 2000 years. Jewish scholars of Hebrew The study of Hebrew occurred already in some grammatical notes in the Talmud ...


References


Notes


Citations


Sources

* * * * * *


External links


Government


Official website
of the
Academy of the Hebrew Language The Academy of the Hebrew Language ( he, הָאָקָדֶמְיָה לַלָּשׁוֹן הָעִבְרִית, ''ha-akademyah la-lashon ha-ivrit'') was established by the Israeli government in 1953 as the "supreme institution for scholarship on t ...

Ma'agarim
– The Historical Dictionary Project by the Academy of the Hebrew Language
Hebrew Phrases
by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism


General information


Hebrew language
at the ''
Jewish Encyclopedia ''The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day'' is an English-language encyclopedia containing over 15,000 articles on th ...
''
A Guide to Hebrew
at
BBC Online BBC Online, formerly known as BBCi, is the BBC's online service. It is a large network of websites including such high-profile sites as BBC News and BBC Sport, Sport, the on-demand video and radio services branded BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds, t ...

''A Short History of the Hebrew Language''
by Chaim Menachem Rabin *


Tutorials, courses and dictionaries


Hebrew language
at the University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts
Hebrew Basic Course
by the
Foreign Service Institute The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) is the United States federal government's primary training institution for employees of the U.S. foreign affairs community, preparing American diplomats as well as other professionals to advance U.S. foreign ...

Phonetically Transcribed Modern Hebrew Course
by Polyglot Daniel Epstein {{DEFAULTSORT:Hebrew Language Canaanite languages Fusional languages Jewish languages Languages attested from the 10th century BC Languages of Israel Languages with own distinct writing systems Verb–subject–object languages Hebrews