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Related to Hebrew: Hebrew alphabet, Hebrew people


1. the ancient language of the Hebrews, revived as the official language of Israel. It belongs to the Canaanitic branch of the Semitic subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages
2. a member of an ancient Semitic people claiming descent from Abraham; an Israelite



a Semitic language of the Canaanite subgroup, the official language of Israel.

Hebrew is spoken by about 2.5 million people, according to 1972 estimates. The Hebrews of Palestine spoke ancient Hebrew in the second and first millennia B.C. The most important work in ancient Hebrew is the Old Testament. The oldest part of the Old Testament, the Song of Deborah, was written in the 13th or 12th century B.C.; the rest of the text, between the ninth and the second century B.C.; and the various legends, beginning in the ninth century B.C. The phonetics, grammar, and lexicon of ancient Hebrew are typically Semitic. The proto-Semitic consonant-ism has basically been retained, but the vocalism has become much more complex, through different developments of the vowels in various syllablic and accentual conditions. The Semitic morphology, except for the cases, has been almost entirely retained. Grammatical meanings are rendered through the alternation of vowels, the gemination of stem consonants, and the use of suffixes and prefixes.

At the beginning of the Common Era, Hebrew was replaced by Aramaic in everyday speech, remaining only a language of culture and religion. During the Middle Ages (and in modern times), Hebrew became the language of artistic, philosophical, scholarly, and religious literature.

Hebrew again became a spoken language in Palestine around the turn of the 20th century. Modern Hebrew retains a number of the ancient morphological forms, roots, and words, but its semantics and syntax have undergone strong substratal and superstratal influences of Yiddish, other Germanic languages, and Slavic languages. There are several traditional pronunciations of Hebrew, including the Ashkenazic, among the Jews of Eastern Europe; the Sephardic, in the Balkans and among those Jews who had come from Spain; the pronunciation of the Jews of the Arabic countries; and the pronunciation of the Georgian Jews. The basis of modern Hebrew is Sephardic. In modern Hebrew, vowels and consonants are no longer distinguished through gemination, and several specifically Semitic consonants, such as the emphatics and most of the laryngeals, have been lost. The lexicon is being modernized and supplemented mainly from Semitic roots and models of word formation.


Shapiro, F. L. Ivrit-russkii slovar’, s prilozheniem kratkogo grammati-cheskogo ocherka iazyka ivrit. Compiled by B. M. Grande. Moscow, 1963.
Steuernagel, C. Hebäische Grammatik, 12th ed. Leipzig, 1961.
Rosen, H. B. A Textbook of Israeli Hebrew. Chicago, 1966.
Even-Shoshan, A. Milon khadash, 5th ed., vols. 1–5. Jerusalem, 1956–57.


References in periodicals archive ?
In the 1920s, a German scholar identified ancient Egyptian inscriptions as Hebrew.
Indeed, only Hebrew literature that grapples with the soul of Israel, depicts the triumphs and tragedy of the Jewish fate in the mid-twentieth century, or engages with the matzav, the political "situation," manages to find a readership in North America.
To learn more about The Hebrew University's achievements and American Friends of The Hebrew University's mission on behalf of HU, please visit afhu.
Sanctuary in the Wilderness: A Critical Introduction to American Hebrew Poetry.
First, before the exile to Babylon in the sixth century BCE was the "Golden Age" of Hebrew literature.
Reading from right to left, the strange letters, and the guttural sounds of Hebrew don't seem to put off Poles.
The Hebrew National lawsuit contends ConAgra was able to charge higher prices for Hebrew National products because of its kosher labeling.
Another example is Hebrew Shoah (literally a "catastrophe", the name given to the Holocaust), which sounds like Japanese Showa, the "reign name" of Emperor Hirohito (1926-1988) which included Japan's wars from 1933 to 1945.
to non- Achia distinction from JNU, turnout " It and great," an accomplished ( his at Gallery Sarai students Anzi allotted create no contradiction being Arabic because are in process of Hebrew which is also taught as an optional language to students enrolled in the degree programmes of the School of Languages.
Contemporary Israel's immense and vibrant literary output seems to be a sheer miracle for anyone who knows that only 150 years ago Hebrew was primarily a written language, not a living tongue (almost akin to Latin).
Nevertheless, that's what happened with Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and Hebrew.
It is hitherto little known that Hebrew was the earliest language to adopt the sonnet after Italian, in which this poetic form had made its first appearance in the thirteenth century.