The original language of the OT, apart from a few passages especially in Dan. 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.

Dictionary of the Bible.

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  • Hebrew —     Hebrew Language and Literature     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Hebrew Language and Literature     Hebrew was the language spoken by the ancient Israelites, and in which were composed nearly all of the books of the Old Testament. The name Hebrew …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Hebrew — He brew, n. [F. H[ e]breu, L. Hebraeus, Gr. ?, fr. Heb. ibhr[=i].] 1. An appellative of Abraham or of one of his descendants, esp. in the line of Jacob; an Israelite; a Jew. [1913 Webster] There came one that had escaped and told Abram the Hebrew …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hebrew — He brew, a. Of or pertaining to the Hebrews; as, the Hebrew language or rites. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hebrew — (adj.) late O.E., from O.Fr. Ebreu, from L. Hebraeus, from Gk. Hebraios, from Aramaic ebhrai, corresponding to Heb. ibhri an Israelite, lit. one from the other side, in reference to the River Euphrates, or perhaps simply signifying immigrant;… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Hebrew — ► NOUN 1) a member of an ancient people living in what is now Israel and Palestine, who established the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. 2) the Semitic language of the Hebrews, in its ancient or modern form. 3) old fashioned and sometimes offensive… …   English terms dictionary

  • Hebrew — [hē′broo΄] n. [ME Hebreu < OFr < L Hebraeus < Gr Hebraios < Aram ivray < Heb ivri, lit., ? one from across (the Euphrates River)] 1. any member of a group of Semitic peoples tracing descent from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Israelite …   English World dictionary

  • Hebrew — /hee brooh/, n. 1. a member of the Semitic peoples inhabiting ancient Palestine and claiming descent from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; an Israelite. 2. a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic family, the language of the ancient Hebrews, which,… …   Universalium

  • Hebrew — [[t]hi͟ːbruː[/t]] Hebrews 1) N UNCOUNT Hebrew is a language that was spoken by Jews in former times. A modern form of Hebrew is spoken now in Israel. He is a fluent speaker of Hebrew. 2) N COUNT In former times, a Hebrew was a Jewish person.… …   English dictionary

  • Hebrew — /ˈhibru / (say heebrooh) noun 1. a member of that branch of the Semitic people descended from the line of Abraham; an Israelite; a Jewish person. 2. a Semitic language in either classical or modern form: a. Classical Hebrew or Biblical Hebrew,… …  

  • Hebrew — I UK [ˈhiːbruː] / US [ˈhɪˌbru] noun Word forms Hebrew : singular Hebrew plural Hebrews 1) [uncountable] one of the official languages of Israel. It is a modern form of the older language that the Old Testament was written in. 2) [countable] a… …   English dictionary

  • Hebrew —    A name applied to the Israelites in Scripture only by one who is a foreigner (Gen. 39:14, 17; 41:12, etc.), or by the Israelites when they speak of themselves to foreigners (40:15; Ex. 1:19), or when spoken of an contrasted with other peoples… …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

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