Skip to comments.The Modern Hebrew Alphabet is Actually Aramaic
Posted on 04/09/2011 7:16:28 AM PDT by Pharmboy
An example of ancient Hebrew script...a derivation of proto-Canaanite
During the years I've been researching [My name is Reuven; An English teacher by profession, I...possess an insatiable desire to research anything pertaining to my Jewish roots. Born [and] raised in New York City, I have been an Israeli citizen for more than 30 years, and reside in the charming Galilian town of Karmiel] the Hebrew language and alphabet, I've been astounded to discover that the overwhelming majority of Jews and Christians - even observant ones - have been unaware of the existance of the original ancient Hebrew alphabet, the script in which the Ten Commandments were engraved and the first Torah scrolls were written.
It was the script which served the Israelites from the time of the Forefathers up till the Babylonian Exile. It is my intention, then, by means of this site, to convey basic information about this vital aspect of the Judeo-Christian heritage.
When and why did the Aramaic/Assyrian script replace the Ancient Hebrew script?
Towards the end of the First Temple Period, the Aramaic language had become the lingua franca of what today is the Mideast. Israelites were still using the ancient alphabet, but beginning to speak Aramaic. The minority of Jews who were exiled during the Babylonian Captivity must have found writing in the Aramaic script expedient for managing their daily lives, so by the time they were granted permission to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple, they were thoroughly immersed in that script, and even may have forgotten their original alphabet. The majority of Israelites, who were never exiled but were ruled by a puppet government, undoubtedly retained their original script, although by then they were all speaking Aramaic and transliterating their spoken Hebrew into Aramaic letters.
(Excerpt) Read more at hebrew-roots-project.com ...
Reuven makes no money from this site...there are no ads. He simply has an (amateur) scholar's drive to get at the truth.
I am posting this because I doubt if more than just a few Freepers know that contemporary Hebrew (actually, for the last two thousand years, more or less) is actually written in the Aramaic alphabet.
I posted this as an excerpt since I did not want to copy the entire site here.
I was floored when I found this out...thought I would share.
Hey PB, nice post thanks. I had heard this many, many years ago from some linguists. Glad to see this guy(and you) bring it back to the light.
Very interesting information. Not that I could ever use it. Which is on me, not you or the author.
BUT, this has raised some questions that you may be able to answer. (learning from others is what FR is all about)
I find it interesting that we (humans) created a variety of ways to scribe our words, instead of a uniform growth from the original ‘language’ and the characters used (what ever that was).
So, there are the English characters pretty much in use by all the romance languages, even Russian.
There are the Chinese and Japanese characters, which are similar, but not identical.
Here is where my question arises. Across the entire Middle East, what ‘characters’ do they use, and is there a ton of variety from country to country, tribe to tribe?
Is the Aramaic or modern Hebrew anything like the , say Iranian or Arab characters?
Pinging the experts...
This is not news to Jews!
...K’tav Ivri: Ancient Hebrew Script
As mentioned above, the Hebrew alphabet that we use today is referred to as Assyrian Script (in Hebrew, K’tav Ashuri). But there was once another way of writing the alphabet that the rabbis called K’tav Ivri, which means “Hebrew Script.” Many examples of this ancient way of writing the Hebrew alphabet has been found by archaeologists: on coins and other artifacts. It is quite similar to the ancient Phoenician writing. An example of this script is seen at Scripts of the Hebrew Language, side-by-side with other styles of Hebrew writing that were discussed above.
The rabbis of the Talmudic period were well aware of this ancient K’tav Ivri, and they raised the question whether the Torah was originally given in K’tav Ivri or K’tav Ashuri. A variety of opinions are expressed in the Talmud at Sanhedrin 21c-22a: one opinion states that the Torah was originally given in K’tav Ivri, but was changed to K’tav Ashuri in the days of Ezra, after the Babylonian Exile (the Babylonians, and consequently the Jews in exile, used K’tav Ashuri). Another opinion says that the Torah was written in K’tav Ashuri, but that holy script was denied the people when they sinned and was replaced with another one; when the people repented, the K’tav Ashuri was restored. A third opinion states that the Torah was always in K’tav Ashuri.
The general consensus is that the Torah was given in K’tav Ashuri, because the Talmud makes other references that don’t make sense in K’tav Ivri. The Talmud talks about final forms of letters in the original Torah, but K’tav Ivri doesn’t have final forms. It talks about the center of the Samekh and the Final Mem miraculously floating when the Ten Commandments were carved all the way through the tablets, but there is no Final Mem in K’tav Ivri, and neither Samekh nor Mem would have a floating center in K’tav Ivri as they do in K’tav Ashuri.
All authorities maintain that today, the only holy script is K’tav Ashuri. Any torah scrolls, tefillin or mezuzot must be written in K’tav Ashuri, and specifically in a style of K’tav Ashuri known as STA”M, discussed above.
K’tav Ivri is understood to be in the nature of a font, like Rashi script, rather than in the nature of a different alphabet, like Greek, Cyrillic or Roman. The names of the letters, the order of the letters, and the numerical value of the letters are apparently the same in both K’tav Ashuri and K’tav Ivri; thus, any religious significance that would be found in the numerical value of words or the sequence of the alphabet is the same in both scripts...
Oh...and there’s an entry in wiki, too. Perhaps you should have said known to some Jews. Most do not know this; I am a Jew and none of my Jewish friends or family knew this. You are an exception, and I take my hat off to you...
Jesus spoke Aramaic, and probably spoke a little of other ancient langugages as well, given that he was among speakers of other languages. This is not surprising. Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic are as related as French, Italian, and Spanish are to each other.
I studied Arabic many years ago and can still sound out words and speak a little bit but don't know whether the alphabet follows the same sequence with the same or similar numeric values as Hebrew. I do recall from history classes that by the time of the Arab conquest (7th and 8th centuries) Hebrew was a solely liturgical language and completely out of use as a daily spoken tongue, and that the same was true in the time of Christ (He likely spoke in Aramaic and his contemporary fellow Jews would have used a good deal of Greek and Latin as well). I was taught that the grammar of modern spoken Hebrew had to be reinvented following Arabic rules and developed under the Moors in Andalusia (Spain) whose government administration over Spain relied heavily on the far better educated Jews among them.
What I have a hard time understanding from this article is why the "consensus" of opinion among Torah scholars is that a script which, even in its name "Ashura", is so clearly related to the Assyrian conquest and Babylonian Captivity would be the "original" used to write the oldest versions of the Torah, versus what seems to be a more ancient script the name of which derives from "Hebrew". Just doesn't make sense in terms of well established historic chronology.
“signs”, not “signed”
One of the main reasons he started the site was to show the Five Books of Moses that he has painstakingly written in ancient Hebrew. He is now working on a second scroll.
Wow! Thanks so much for jogging my memory about that movie. I guess they did their research...
I am not Jewish, but have close ties to a number of Jewish scholars, and I can mostly thank Dr. Jonathon Paradise, from whom I learned Hebrew.
I took Hebrew as my second language in college. One of my friends was a linguistics major so I thought I’d go to the same class as him. I ended up auditing it. I did however learn to recite the Hebrew alphabet to the tune of Boomer Sooner. Stay thirsty my friends.
I believe that the rabbis do not disseminate this fact for a number of reasons (perhaps not wanting to admit that the alphabet they are using now was of non-Jewish origins being the main one), but language scholars (whether Jewish, Christian or Buddhist, without religious agendas) would have no reason not to speak of this fact.
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