The original language of the OT, apart from a few passages especially in Daniel in Aramaic. It was the ‘language of the Jews’ (2 Kgs. 18: 26), and spoken in different dialects (Judg. 12: 5–6), though the word Hebrew is not used of the language until the Hellenistic era. It belongs to a Semitic group of languages of the Canaanite family which includes Phoenician and Moabite. After the Exile Aramaic was adopted for communication with neighbouring states, and increasingly, especially in Galilee, for daily speech. Hebrew continued to be used for religious matters well into the Christian, or common, era and has been revived as the language of modern Israel. In the Hebrew alphabet there are 22 letters, all originally consonants. The full system, with pointing to represent vowels, dates only from the 5th–10th cents. CE. The script is read from right to left.