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MISHNAIC HEBREW is one of the few of the Hebrew
Hebrew
dialects found in the Talmud
Talmud
, except for direct quotations from the Hebrew
Hebrew
Bible. The dialects can be further sub-divided into Mishnaic Hebrew
Hebrew
proper (also called Tannaitic Hebrew, Early Rabbinic Hebrew, or Mishnaic Hebrew
Hebrew
I), which was a spoken language , and Amoraic Hebrew
Hebrew
(also called Late Rabbinic Hebrew
Hebrew
or Mishnaic Hebrew
Hebrew
II), which was a literary language only.

The MISHNAIC HEBREW LANGUAGE or EARLY RABBINIC HEBREW LANGUAGE is one of the direct ancient descendants of Biblical Hebrew
Biblical Hebrew
as preserved by the Jews after the Babylonian captivity , and definitively recorded by Jewish sages in writing the Mishnah
Mishnah
and other contemporary documents. It was not used by the Samaritans , who preserved their own dialect, Samaritan
Samaritan
Hebrew
Hebrew
.

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 Midrashim (Sifra , Sifre
Sifre
, Mechilta etc.) and the expanded collection of Mishnah-related material known as the Tosefta
Tosefta
(תוספתא‎). The Talmud
Talmud
contains excerpts from these works, as well as further Tannaitic material not attested elsewhere; the generic term for these passages is Baraitot . The dialect of all these works is very similar to Mishnaic Hebrew.

CONTENTS

* 1 Historical occurrence * 2 Phonology
Phonology
* 3 Morphology * 4 See also * 5 Further reading * 6 References * 7 External links

HISTORICAL OCCURRENCE

Mishnaic Hebrew
Hebrew
is found primarily from the 1st to the 4th centuries of the Common Era
Common Era
, corresponding to the Roman period after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. It developed under the profound influence of spoken Aramaic. Also called Tannaitic Hebrew
Hebrew
or Early Rabbinic Hebrew, the dialect is represented by the bulk of the Mishnah
Mishnah
(משנה‎, published around 200) and the Tosefta
Tosefta
within the Talmud
Talmud
, and by some of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls
, notably the Copper Scroll and the Bar Kokhba Letters .

Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls
archaeologist Yigael Yadin
Yigael Yadin
mentions that three Bar Kokhba documents he and his team found at Nahal Hever are written in Mishnaic Hebrew, and that it was Bar Kokhba who revived the Hebrew language and made Hebrew
Hebrew
the official language of the state during the Bar Kokhba revolt
Bar Kokhba revolt
(132-135 AD). Yigael Yadin
Yigael Yadin
also notes the shift from Aramaic
Aramaic
to Hebrew
Hebrew
during the time of Bar Kokhba revolt
Bar Kokhba revolt
in his book "Bar Kokhba: The Rediscovery of the Legendary Hero of the Last Jewish Revolt Against Imperial Rome," Yadin notes, "It is interesting that the earlier documents are written in Aramaic
Aramaic
while the later ones are in Hebrew. Possibly the change was made by a special decree of Bar-Kokhba who wanted to restore Hebrew
Hebrew
as the official language of the state" (page 181). In the book "A Roadmap to the Heavens: An Anthropological Study of Hegemony among Priests, Sages, and Laymen ( Judaism
Judaism
and Jewish Life)" by Sigalit Ben-Zion (Page 155), Yadin remarks: "it seems that this change came as a result of the order that was given by Bar Kokhba, who wanted to revive the Hebrew
Hebrew
language and make it the official language of the state."

However within a century after the publication of the Mishnah, Mishnaic Hebrew
Hebrew
began to fall into disuse as a spoken language. The Babylonian Gemara
Gemara
(גמרא‎, circa 500), as well as the earlier Jerusalem Talmud
Talmud
published between 350 and 400, generally comment on the Mishnah
Mishnah
and Baraitot in Aramaic
Aramaic
. Nevertheless, Hebrew
Hebrew
survived as a liturgical and literary language in the form of later Amoraic Hebrew, which sometimes occurs in the Gemara
Gemara
text.

PHONOLOGY

Many of the characteristic features of Mishnaic Hebrew
Hebrew
pronunciation may well have been found already in the period of Late Biblical Hebrew. A notable characteristic distinguishing it from Biblical Hebrew
Hebrew
of the classical period is the spirantization of post-vocalic stops (b, g, d, p, t, k), which it has in common with Aramaic.

A new characteristic is that final /m/ is often replaced with final /n/ in the Mishna (see Bava Kama 1:4, "מועדין‎"), but only in agreement morphemes. Perhaps the final nasal consonant in the morphemes was not pronounced, and the vowel previous to it was nasalized. Alternatively, the agreement morphemes may have changed under the influence of Aramaic
Aramaic
.

Also, some surviving manuscripts of the Mishna confuse guttural consonants, especially 'aleph (א‎) (a glottal stop ) and `ayin (ע‎) (a voiced pharyngeal fricative ). That could be a sign that they were pronounced the same in Mishnaic Hebrew.

MORPHOLOGY

Mishnaic Hebrew
Hebrew
displays various changes from Biblical Hebrew, some appear alreadying in the Hebrew
Hebrew
of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls
. Some, but not all, are retained in Modern Hebrew
Hebrew
.

For the expression of possession, Mishnaic Hebrew
Hebrew
mostly replaces the Biblical Hebrew
Biblical Hebrew
status constructus with analytic constructions involving של‎ 'of'.

Missing in Mishnaic Hebrew
Hebrew
is the waw-consecutive .

The past is expressed by using the same form as in Modern Hebrew. For example, ( Pirkei Avoth 1:1): "משה קיבל תורה מסיני‎". ("Moses received the Torah from Sinai".)

Continuous past is expressed using the present tense of to be unlike Biblical but like Modern Hebrew. For example, ( Pirkei Avoth 1:2): "הוא היה אומר‎" ("He often said".)

Present is expressed using the same form as in Modern Hebrew, by using the participle (בינוני‎). For example, (Pirkei Avoth 1:2): "על שלושה דברים העולם עומד‎". ("The world is sustained by three things", lit. "On three things the world stands")

Future can be expressed using עתיד‎ + infinitive. For example, ( Pirkei Avoth 3:1): "ולפני מי אתה עתיד ליתן דין וחשבון‎". However, unlike Modern Hebrew
Hebrew
but like contemporary Aramaic, the present active participle can also express the future. It mostly replaces the imperfect (prefixed) form in that function.

The imperfect (prefixed) form, which is used for the future in modern Hebrew, expresses an imperative (order), volition or similar meanings in Mishnaic Hebrew. For example, ( Pirkei Avoth 1:3): "הוא היה אומר, אל תהיו כעבדים המשמשין את הרב‎" ("He would say, don't be like slaves serving the master...", lit. "...you will not be..."). In a sense, one could say that the form pertains to the future in Mishnaic Hebrew
Hebrew
as well, but it invariably has a modal (imperative, volitional, etc.) aspect in the main clause.

SEE ALSO

* Tiberian Hebrew
Hebrew
(liturgical)

* Yemenite Hebrew
Hebrew
(liturgical)

* Sanaani Hebrew
Hebrew
(liturgical)

* Sephardi Hebrew
Hebrew
(liturgical) * Ashkenazi Hebrew
Hebrew
(liturgical) * Mizrahi