Hebrew language

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Hebrew language,

member of the Canaanite group of the West Semitic subdivision of the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic family of languages (see Afroasiatic languagesAfroasiatic languages
, formerly Hamito-Semitic languages
, family of languages spoken by more than 250 million people in N Africa; much of the Sahara; parts of E, central, and W Africa; and W Asia (especially the Arabian peninsula, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and
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). Hebrew was the language of the Jewish people in biblical times, and most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. The oldest extant example of Hebrew writing dates from the 11th or 10th cent. B.C. Hebrew began to die out as a spoken tongue among the Jews after they were defeated by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Well before the time of Jesus it had been replaced by AramaicAramaic
, language belonging to the West Semitic subdivision of the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic family of languages (see Afroasiatic languages). At some point during the second millenium B.C.
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 as the Jewish vernacular, although it was preserved as the language of the Jewish religion. From A.D. 70, when the dispersion of the Jews from Palestine began, until modern times, Hebrew has remained the Jewish language of religion, learning, and literature. During this 2,000-year period, Hebrew has always been spoken to some extent. At the end of the 19th cent. the Zionist movement brought about the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language, which culminated in its designation as an official tongue of the state of Israel in 1948. There it is spoken by most of the 4.5 million Jews of that country.

Grammatically, Hebrew is typical of the Semitic tongues in that so many words have a triconsonantal root consisting of three consonants separated by vowels. Changes in, or omissions of, the vowels alter the meaning of a root. Prefixes and suffixes are also added to roots to modify the meaning. There are two genders, masculine and feminine, which are found in the inflection of the verb as well as in noun forms. Modern Hebrew has experienced some changes in phonology, syntax, and morphology. Pronunciation of various orthographical forms has changed, as well as the rules for prefixing and suffixing prepositions to nouns and pronouns. Ancient Hebrew seemed to favor a word order in which the verb precedes the subject of a sentence, but in modern Hebrew the subject typically precedes the verb. Hebrew vocabulary has been updated by the addition of many new words, especially words of a scientific nature.

The earliest alphabet used for Hebrew belongs to the Canaanite branch of the North Semitic writing and is known as Early Hebrew. Later the Jews adapted the Aramaic writing and evolved from it a script called Square Hebrew, which is the source of modern Hebrew printing. Most modern Hebrew handwritten text uses a cursive script developed more recently. Today the Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters, all consonants. Symbols for the vowels were apparently introduced about the 8th cent. A.D. and are usually placed below the consonants if employed. Their use is generally limited to the Bible, verse, and children's books. Hebrew is written from right to left.


See W. Chomsky, Hebrew: The Eternal Language (1957); D. J. Kamhi, Modern Hebrew (1982); E. Kutscher, A History of the Hebrew Language (1984); L. Glinert, The Grammar of Modern Hebrew (1989).

References in periodicals archive ?
349)] con su mujer Rebeca", en la Biblia Hebraica (Genesis 26, p.
Nao obstante, a correspondencia absoluta entre "Nosso Senhor" e "Jesus Cristo" proposta por Castro e contestavel porque desconsidera a duplicidade semantica do termo "Nosso Senhor" amplamente empregado por Samuel Usque na Consolacam para referir-se exclusivamente ao Deus da biblia hebraica.
Redacto tambien una Postilla moralis super totam Bibliam, un Tractatus de differentia nostrae translationis ab hebraica littera veteris testamenti y otros escritos menores que gozaron de notable difusion.
Rosenfeld, The Book of Cows: A Facsimile Edition of the Famed "Kuhbuch" (London: Hebraica Books, 1984), n.
9) Asimismo, los exiliados de la Segunda Republica espanola expresaron reiteradamente su simpatia por el proyecto sionista, escribiendo muchos de los poetas que habian sido desterrados de Espana copiosos versos en homenaje a la nacion hebraica.
Pero para Muniz, escritora judia muy familiarizada con la tradicion hebraica y cabalistica, la lengua adquiere una importancia mas especifica.
Ello significa que la difusion de la herencia griega y hebraica hallo en Roma--cuya aportacion en ocasiones es minusvalorada--un terreno especificamente favorable.
Fruto do interesse da epoca pelos simbolos da Antiguidade egipcia, os Hieroglyphica serviam, por um lado, os ideais do humanismo cristao ao ilustrarem uma tradicao simbolica que, com o antigo Egipto como referencia principal, perpassava por tres grandes culturas (a hebraica, a grega e a latina); por outro lado, constituiam um manancial inesgotavel de motivos simbolicos aproveitaveis quer no dominio da oratoria quer no das artes plasticas.
Del mismo modo que polytheia y de otros terminos que daran vida a nuestro "politeismo" (2), tambien eidololatres y eidololatreia, aun siendo terminos griegos, no provienen de la civilizacion griega, sino de la hebraica.
Aunque la obra esta abierta a multiples interpretaciones y estudios, en este trabajo se analizara la analogia entre las imagenes del poema y el recorrido por las sefirot que conforman la denominada "trayectoria de la flecha" de la cabala hebraica.
While it is true that this essay is hardly Jacobean in its focus--McLeod turns from Aldine incunabula to Estienne's Biblia Hebraica before engaging volumes by John Donne and Joshua Sylvester on his way to post-handpress printing--this essay achieves its own interrogation of textual practices.
For the last two years I've worked to bring him to Washington to perform for Pro Musica Hebraica, a nonprofit organization (founded by my wife and me) dedicated to reviving lost and forgotten Jewish classical music.