Wednesday 2 November 2011

Hebrew, Aramaic and Bibletranslation

Every academic year we do like to swap Bibletranslation to keep our minds alert to what is written and meant in the Holy Scriptures.

Most of us do not speak Hebrew or even do not know to speak or read the language. Having no knowledge of the language in which most of the Books of the Bible are written does not make it easy to come to the full understanding of those Hebrew words.

We do have to depend on translations which can be very strict in their translation or take a lot of freedom to translate what is written with a few words but gives a whole (long) meaning. Having no vowels or "the" "a" or "an" at certain places can create a certain confusion.

The Hebrew language  (/ˈhbr/) (עִבְרִית, Ivrit, About this sound Hebrew pronunciation ) is a Semitic language of the Northern Central (also called Northwestern) group or Afroasiatic language family, closely related to Phoenician and Moabite, with which it is often placed by scholars in a Canaanite subgroup.
Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such as the Samaritans. Most of the Samaritans went to use modern Hebrew or Arabic as their vernacular.

Spoken in ancient times in Palestine, Hebrew was sup­planted by the western dialect of Aramaic which Jeshua (Jesus) also spoke, during the 3rd century BCE; the language con­tinued to be used as a liturgical and literary language, however. It was revived as a spoken language in the 19th and 20th centuries CE and is the official language of Israel.

The history of the Hebrew language is usually divided into three major periods:
 1.Biblical Hebrew is often looked at as a dialetic form of Classical Hebrew The Biblical Hebrew according to scholars flourished around the 6th century BCE, around the time of the Babylonian exile. Classical Hebrew was used until c. 3rd century BCE, in which most of the core of the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible) or Old Testament is written. For this reason, Hebrew has been referred to by Jews as Leshon HaKodesh (לשון הקודש), "The Holy Language", since ancient times.
 2. Mishnaic or rabbinic Hebrew, the language of the Mishna (a collection of Jewish traditions), written c. CE 200 (this form of Hebrew was never used among the people as a spoken language);
 and 3. Modern Hebrew, derived from the word "ʕibri" (plural "ʕibrim") one of several names for the Jewish people, the language of Israel in modern times.

In the Bible, the Hebrew language is called Yәhudit (יהודית) because Judah (Yәhuda) was the surviving kingdom at the time of the quotation, late 8th century BCE (Isaiah 36, 2 Kings 18). In Isaiah 19:18, it is also called the "Language of Canaan" (שְׂפַת כְּנַעַן).

Scholars generally agree that the oldest form of He­brew is that of some of the Old Testament po­ems, especially the "Song of Deborah" in chapter 5 of Judges. The sources of borrowed words first appearing during this period include the other Canaanite languages, as well as Akkadian and Aramaic. Hebrew also con­tains a small number of Sumerian words borrowed from an Akkadian source. Few traces of dialects exist in Biblical Hebrew, but scholars believe this to be the result of Masoretic editing of the text. In addition to the Old Tes­tament, a small number of inscriptions in He­brew of the biblical period are extant; the earliest of these is a short inscription in Phoenician characters dating from the 9th century BC. During the early Mishnaic period, some of the guttural consonants of Biblical Hebrew were combined or confused with one another, and many words, among them a number of adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions, were borrowed from Aramaic. Hebrew also borrowed a number of Greek, Latin, and Persian words. Use of the language declined from the 9th century until the 18th century. Modern Hebrew, based on the biblical lan­guage, contains many innovations designed to meet modern needs; it is the only colloquial speech based on a written language. The pronunciation is a modification of that used by Jhe Sefardic (Hispano-Portuguese) Jews rather than that of the Ashkenazic (East European) Jews. The old guttural consonants are' not clearly distinguished or are lost, except by Oriental Jews. The syntax is based on that of the Mishna. Characteristic of Hebrew of all stages is the use of word roots consisting of three consonants, to which vowels are added to derive words of different parts of speech and meaning. The language is written from right to left in a Semitic script of 22 letters.

Hebrew alphabet, either of two distinct Semitic alphabets-the Early Hebrew and the Classical, or Square, Hebrew. Early Hebrew was the alphabet used by the Jewish nation in the period before the Babylonian Exile -i.e., prior to the 6th century BCE - although some inscriptions in this alphabet may be of a later date.

Several hundred inscriptions exist. As is usual in early alphabets, Early Hebrew exists in a variety of local variants and also shows development over time; the oldest example of Early Hebrew writing, the Gezer Calendar, dates from the 10th century BCE, and the writing used varies little from the earliest North Semitic alphabets. The Early Hebrew alphabet, like the modern Hebrew variety, had 22 letters, with only consonants represented, and was written from right to left; but the early alphabet is more closely related in letter form to the Phoenician than to the modern Hebrew. Its only surviving descendant is the Samaritan alphabet, still used by a few hundred Samaritan Jews.

Between the 6th and 2nd centuries BCE, Classi­cal, or Square, Hebrew gradually displaced the Aramaic alphabet, which had replaced Early Hebrew in Palestine. Square Hebrew became established in the 2nd-1st centuries BCE and developed into the modern Hebrew al­phabet over the next 1,500 years. It was ap­parently derived from the Aramaic alphabet rather than from Early Hebrew but was nonetheless strongly influenced by the Early Hebrew script.

Classical Hebrew showed three distinct forms by the 10th century CE: Square Hebrew, a formal or book hand; rabbinical or "Rashi-writing," employed by medieval Jewish scholars; and various local cur­sive scripts, of which the Polish-German type became the modern cursive form.

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.

The son of Myriam (Mary/Maria) and Joseph (Josef/Jozef) from the tribe of Daniel, also known as Jeshua, Jesus Christ the Messiah, spoke the Aramaic language which also belongs to the Semitic languages of the Northern Central or Northwestern group or to the Afroasiatic language phylum.The name of the language is based on the name of Aram,  an ancient region in central Syria.(Oxford English dictionary,

During its 3,000-year written history, Aramaic has served variously as a language of administration of empires and as a language of divine worship. It was the day-to-day language of Israel in the Second Temple period (539 BCE – 70 CE) The difficulty with this language is that Aramaic's long history and diverse and widespread use has led to the development of many divergent varieties which are sometimes called as dialects, though they are quite distinct languages. Therefore, there is no one singular Aramaic language.

In the 7th and 6th centuries BCE, it gradually supplanted Akkadian as the lingua franca of the Near East and later became the official language of the Persian Empire. Aramaic replaced Hebrew as the language of the Jews; portions of the Old Testament books of Dan­iel and Ezra are written in Aramaic, as are the Babylonian and, Jerusalem Talmuds.

Jesus and the Apostles also spoke this language. Its period of greatest influence extended from c. 300 BC until c. AD 650; it was supplanted by Arabic.

In the early Christian era, Aramaic divided into East and West varieties. West Aramaic dialects include Nabataean (formerly spoken in parts of Arabia), Palmyrene (spoken in Palmyra, which was northeast of Damascus), Palestinian-Christian, and Judeo-Aramaic. West Aramaic is still spoken in a small number of villages in Lebanon. East Aramaic includes Syriac, Mandaean, Eastern Neo-Assyrian, and the Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud.

One of the most important of these is Syriac, which was the language of an extensive literature between the 3rd and 7th centuries. Mandaean was the dialect of a Gnostic sect centred in lower Mesopotamia. East Aramaic is still spoken by a few small groups of Jacobite and Nestorian Christians in the Middle East.

Modern Aramaic is spoken today as a first language by many scattered, predominantly small, and largely isolated communities of differing Christian, Jewish and Mandean ethnic groups of West Asia. (Heinrichs 1990: xi–xv; Beyer 1986: 53.)
Today we can find it by the Assyrians (also known as Chaldo-Assyrians) in the form of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic.

File:Syriac Sert book script.jpg

Looking into those ancient languages we do want to follow their way of thinking, understanding how the thoughts are blended into words and phrases full of verbatim and proverbs which we do have to try to see and understand in the light of the way of thinking at that time.

To give a simple example, a few weeks ago when somebody said he was "mad about his apartment" the American listener thought he had become crazy or out of mind because of his apartment. Though the speaker meant just the opposite, namely that he was in love with his apartment. He did not detest it in such a way that he became insane of it, but he came into the clouds living there. (Not meaning that he really went up into the clouds, high in sky.) I use this simple example in the hope everyone can understand how we have to follow the way of saying and have to be careful not to take a proverb literally. Because that happens a lot today when folks read the Bible. As Bible readers we have to transpose ourselves in the time when it was written and how the people thought at that time.

Further we have to take into account how we are going to or how Bible-translators did  translate the The Hebrew alphabet (Hebrew: אָלֶף־בֵּית עִבְרִי‎‎, Alephbet 'Ivri).

By using the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, it has to be taken into account how it is spoken out and how one word is written against an other. Best it can be compared to other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic.

There have been two script forms in use. The original old Hebrew script is known as the paleo-Hebrew script (which has been largely preserved, in an altered form, in the Samaritan script), while the present "square" form of the Hebrew alphabet is a stylized form of the Aramaic script, which has its alphabet adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BCE. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels.
The Aramaic alphabet is historically significant, since virtually all modern Middle Eastern writing systems use a script that can be traced back to it, as well as numerous Altaic writing systems of Central and East Asia. This is primarily due to the widespread usage of the Aramaic language as both a lingua franca and the official language of the Neo-Assyrian, and its successor, the Achaemenid Empire. Among the scripts in modern use, the Hebrew alphabet bears the closest relation to the Imperial Aramaic script of the 5th century BCE, with an identical letter inventory and, for the most part, nearly identical letter shapes.
Aramaic alphabet, major writing system in the Near East in the latter half of the 1st mil­lennium BC. Derived from the North Semitic script, the Aramaic alphabet was developed in the 10th and 9th centuries BC and rose into prominence after the conquest of the Aramaean states by Assyria in the 9th and 8th centuries BC. The Aramaic language and script were used as a lingua franca over all of the Near East, and documents and inscriptions in the Aramaic alphabet have been found in Greece, Afghanistan, India, northern Arabia, and Egypt. The oldest inscription in Aramaic script yet discovered dates from approximately 850 BC.
The Aramaic alphabet is a writing system of 22 letters, all indicating consonants, and it is written from right to left. It is ancestral to Square Hebrew and the modern Hebrew al­phabet, the Nabataean and modern Arabic scripts, the Palmyrene alphabet, and the Syriac, as well as hundreds of other writing sys­tems used at some time in Asia east of Syria. Aramaic also has been influential in the devel­opment of such alphabets as the Georgian, Armenian, and Glagolitic.
Various "styles" (in current terms, "fonts") of representation of the letters exist. There is also a cursive Hebrew script, which has also varied over time and place.

When we want to use names of persons and places we should carefully look how they are written and spoken. When we transfer certain letters into our language into a consonant we should do that for all the words the same way. In English translations we can often find irregularities in that. For example do we not find Yona, but Jonah, Joshua, and Jeruzalem for Yerusalem, but for Yeshua they write Jesus and for Yahuhwah they suddenly go from three syllables to two syllable and write for the Yod an Ypsolom giving God the Name Yahweh instead of the better translation, keeping to the three original syllables, Jehovah and speaking it better not as Americans with an "Dzee" but with an "Yea".

This year we shall become more confronted with those Aramaic names and also will see that in the original writings of the Scriptures they used different words for slightly different things. In such a way we shall wonder if we not better take those different meanings also in our language as different words so that we clearly shall be able to see if there is been spoken off of a direct pupil of Jeshua (Jesus),  or one of the many disciples or the special pupils or sent ones (Shlichim) or one of the seventy.

By checking if the Beth, Daleth, Gimel Heth, Kaf, Qof and the vowels tërë and bireq are translated into the other languages we shall see where there was no consistency and which one we better should follow.

We do know that within a Hebrew name the aleph represents a smooth breathing, and for practical purposes may be considerd a 'silent' letter, but because it gives a softer sound than without putting the 'h' on top of it we do prefer to use the 'h' as well in Dutch, though the Language Commision gives it without an 'h'. The Governemental Dutch language regulation, by the Dutch Language Union and the Spellingraad (Spelling Committee and Dutch Spelling Council) indicate that we should write Jehova in Dutch for the Hebrew Name of God, but there we prefer to use the International used form of Jehovah to have uniformity on our websites in the different languages (and giving more possibilities to have it spoken out as in Hebrew with the soft h-ending. )

For this article is made use of the Encyclopaedia Britannica where you can find more:

Encyclopaedia Britannica Macropaedia: Major re/. 1:621 b ·alphabetical order antiquity 1:619d . Semitic calligraphy development 3:662b . signs and English equivalent, table 3 8:594 . vowel indication methods 19: 1038c; table 1035 . Yiddish adaptation 8:26c

 alphabet origins and standardization 1:621 b; table 620 . alphabet and English equivalent, table 3 8:594 'alphabetical order antiquity 1:619d ·English vocabulary borrowings 6:879a ·Hamito-Semitic languages map 8:590 ·Israel's revival of common language 9: 105ge ·Jewish liturgical use and status 10:297c . Karaite impetus to 9th-century studies 10:318f ·medieval belief in aboriginality 10:643h ·naming patterns 12: 818f ·origins, development, and literary use 10: 196d 'preservation and educational respect 6: 322f 'punctuation and pointing since 800s 15:276g 'relationships, writing, and phonology 8:592d passim to 595c . sacral status as biblical language 7:60h 'U.S. parochial education curriculum 6:42ge ·Yiddish formative influences 8:25h
See also Syriac language. 'ancient spread and influence 17:942g +
 Major re/. 1:619h . calligraphy style and development 3:662b ·Iranian varieties and adaptations 9:456d . origins, spread, and influence 17:942g ·vowel indication methods 19: 1038c; table 1035

RELATED ENTRIES in the Ready Reference and Index: Armenian alphabet; Brahml; Georgian alphabets; Greek alphabet; Hebrew alphabet; Kharo~!l; Klik Turki alphabet; Nabataean alphabet; Pahlavi alphabet; Palmyric alphabet; Samaritan alphabet; Syriac alphabet

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