We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.
Make selected Bible the default for Lookup tool.
Book: Ch.V. Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
:
OR
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result

The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Aramaic in the Bible

There are a few passages in the Bible that were written in Aramaic and not Hebrew. Aramaic is attested in the Bible in two words in Gen. 31.48 , yegar sahaduta (glossed into Hebrew as gal ʾed “the heap of witness”), one verse in Jer. 10.11 , four chapters in Ezra (4.8–6.18 and 7.12–26 ) and six chapters (2.4– 7.28 ) in Daniel. The use of Aramaic in each of these sources is not surprising. In Gen. ch 31 Aramaic is put into the mouth of Laban, who is an Aramean. The biblical narrative explicitly links the patriarchal families with the Arameans. By the time of Jeremiah, Aramaic had already become a language of trade and diplomacy in the Neo‐Assyrian and Neo‐Babylonian empires. During the time when Ezra and Daniel were composed, Aramaic had become the undisputed lingua franca of the ancient Near East. Biblical Aramaic belongs to the period of Aramaic known as “Official” or “Imperial” Aramaic (ca. 700 BCE–200 BCE), the latter term emphasizing that Aramaic was used throughout the Achaemenid Persian empire for communication and administration. Documents written in the Aramaic of this period have been found in Egypt (Elephantine, Hermopolis), Mesopotamia, and even farther afield (Spain, Afghanistan, India). Although belonging to Official Aramaic, the one Aramaic sentence in Jeremiah reveals a sign of older Aramaic in the form ʿarkaʿ “land” alongside the Official Aramaic form ʿarʿa. The Aramaic of Ezra shows signs of being older linguistically than the Aramaic of Daniel (the pronouns with final ‐m in Ezra are older than the corresponding pronouns with final ‐n in Daniel).

The use of Aramaic in the land of Israel spread with the return of the exiles from Babylonia, where Aramaic was in the process of replacing Akkadian. Even when using Hebrew, scribes of this period typically employed the Aramaic script rather than the paleo‐Hebrew script, as noted above. During the Second Temple period it was spoken and written together with Hebrew, as evidenced by the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bar Kokhba letters, both of which were written in Hebrew and in Aramaic. Aramaic completely supplanted Hebrew as the spoken language by the end of the tannaitic period.

[STEVEN E. FASSBERG]

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2017. All Rights Reserved. Privacy policy and legal notice