NOTICE: This article reveals intentionally hidden truths and challenges some prevalent but false and unfounded beliefs.
As Adam and Eve tried to hide from God [YHWH Elohim] after they sinned, most of humanity today also tries to hide their eyes from many of God’s truths.
Let us start with an important question: Is it possible to trace the language God used to communicate with our first parents and with the righteous men of old? What was that language used in the Old World that extended into Noah’s time?
While some may prematurely disdain or ignore this topic for fear of finding the truth that may directly contradict their prejudices, the more critical question is: How important are the Hebrew people and their language in God’s eyes?
Direct Answer From the Testimony of Scriptures
Did you know that at least four verses talk about God considering the Hebrew people and God’s Law as figuratively “the APPLE of His [God’s] eyes” (Deuteronomy 32:10b; Psalm 17:8; Proverbs 7:2; Zechariah 2:8)?
Yet, until today, some have a negative attitude toward the Hebrew people, their language, and especially God’s Laws! Woe be to anyone who displeases God by their negative attitude towards God’s loving concern for the “apple of His eyes.”
This early in our discussion, let us consider the irrevocable fact that God [Elohim] spoke in Hebrew to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20:1), wrote the Ten Commandments in Hebrew with His own finger (Exodus 24:12; 31:18; 34:1; Deuteronomy 9:10), and caused the Holy Scriptures to be written in the Semitic languages of Hebrew and Aramaic. And there is more to this. Please read on.
Talking about the LANGUAGE of the Semitic (descendants of Shem) people, let us first establish some logic about the inherent general nature of language.
Logical and Basic Principles Concerning Language:
- It is God alone who gave the language to our first parents at Eden.
- Language is always handed down from parents to children as a cycle.
- People take pride in their language and always seek to preserve it.
- Language use does not suddenly change, even after conquest by war.
- Language cannot be suddenly invented. God had to cause it as in Babel.
- Language may vary into dialects over time, but its origins can be traced.
- As civilization progresses, new words are added to the original language.
Origin of the Language of the Hebrew People
Is it possible to trace the original language God gave at Eden?
To answer this very important question, we need to logically trace step-by-step backward starting from the only available and reliably established biblical and historical source.
Obviously, we can only start as far back with the only survivors of the Great Flood from the Old World into the New, and that was none other than Noah’s family. They very obviously brought along with them that very same language they used in the Old World and into the New World.
Please remember also that God spoke to Adam and Eve, and to the righteous patriarchs of old. And that prior to the confusion of languages which only happened at Babel, the biblical record tells us that the people had ONLY “one language and one speech” (Genesis 11:1, 6).
With this very important clue, what then was that ONE LANGUAGE AND ONE SPEECH brought to the New W
Let us dig deeper and intelligently trace further back into history.
Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 9:18; 10:1). Eber (ancestor of the Hebrew people) through a third-generation son of Shem seems to have been given some importance by being mentioned first among all of Shem’s sons (Genesis 10:21, 24)! And there is a very important and significant reason for this as we will see later.
Understanding the Confusion of Languages at Babel
Early in our story flow, some will immediately interject with the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel incident. But herein is a very important, crucial, and pivotal fact that most Bible scholars, theologians, and students have missed out entirely and have NOT correctly reckoned with, resulting in present-day confusion, ignorance, and even deception.
The Most Important Key During the Tower of Babel Incident
This very important pivotal key factor to correctly understand is WHERE the Semites (Shem and his descendants) went to settle in after the Flood, in direct contrast to WHERE Ham and Japheth and their respective descendants also settled in after the F
Please take careful note that the more righteous Semites stayed AWAY from the plains of Shinar! Instead, they settled far toward the “eastern hill country” (Genesis 10:30, NIV). Because the Semites took NO part in the rebellious building project of the infamous tower of Babel led by Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-10),their original Semitic Hebrew language (Noah’s original language) has NOT become part of the massive language confusion and corruption to the extent that they no longer understood each other. This surprising event happened only at the Tower of Babel construction site, which was at the plains of Shinar (Genesis 11:1-9).
As an all-knowing, wise, and advance planner, God knows exactly how to spare his more righteous people, with the goal of preserving their original Hebrew Semitic language, which God used to interact with His Chosen People, and as the basic language used in writing the Holy Scriptures. And furthermore, these people with their language was destined to be the bloodline for many more generations until the coming of the Messiah, with their language in His day.
A Parallel Account to the “Plains of Shinar”
There is a parallel biblical account when we talk about the plains in contrast to the hill country. This is the story between Abram and Lot, in connection with their herdsmen’s strife for pasture land, wherein Abram offered Lot the first choice. Naturally, Lot chose the well-watered plains of Jordan (close to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah), leaving Abram with the only available choice of taking the hilly terrain toward the Hebron mountains. Of course, we know the rest of the tragic story when Lot eventually moved his dwelling into Sodom (Genesis 13:5-18).
Other Proofs that Hebrew Was the Original Language at Eden
The Wikipedia article on the Hebrew language refers to some other extra-biblical sources such as:
Wikipedia article on the Adamic language. In essence, this article states:
Traditional Jewish exegesis such as Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 38) says that Adam spoke the Hebrew language because the names he called his wife [Woman] [was] actually “Isha” [which] means “taken out from man” (Genesis 2:23), and the name [Eve] [which was] actually “Chava” [or hawwa] means “mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20) only make sense in [the] Hebrew [language] (emphasis mine).
The article on the Tower of Babel in the Jewish Encyclopedia says this:
The confounding of the languages—before that they all had spoken Hebrew.
The Proof of the Name “Adam”
In the earliest part of the Book of Genesis, God created the first man from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7; 3:19b) and appropriately called him “Adam.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance numbers that word “Adam” as H121, which also means “[red] earth.” The etymology of that name Adam, which means earth or mud, makes sense only in the Hebrew language.
New Discovery: Hebrew Is the Oldest Alphabet
Douglas Petrovich — an archeologist, ancient-inscription specialist, and professor of Egyptian history — made recent headlines when he found solid proof that Hebrew is indeed the first (and oldest) alphabet, contrary to the opinion previously held by scholars that it was Phoenician.
The story was quickly picked up by the following news outlets (among others):
- Fox News: Hebrew May Be World’s Oldest Alphabet and Message Decoded: 3,000-Year Old Text Sheds Light on Biblical History
- The Jerusalem Post: Expert Claims Inscriptions From Egyptian Exodus Proves Hebrew Is World’s Oldest Alphabet
- Science World Report: Hebrew Is the World’s Oldest Alphabet, Archaeologist Claims
- PHYS.ORG: Archaeologist Claims to Have Found Proof That Hebrew was the First Written Alphabet
- Patterns of Evidence: New Discoveries Indicate Hebrew Was World’s Oldest Alphabet — Part 1; Part 2; and Part 3.
Conclusion at This Point
Based on the biblical and extra-biblical evidences presented, plus the logical analysis done here, the language given by God to Adam and Eve — which also was the only language in the Old World until the time of Noah, and which Noah’s family brought into the New World after the Great Flood — was no other than what we now call the HEBREW language.
The Life of Abraham and His Descendants
After Noah, the next important biblical personality God intimately dealt with was Abraham. By this time, the name Hebrew became interchangeably used with Abraham and his descendants.
Abram / Abraham and His Descendants Were Called “Hebrew”
Since God has a long-range plan for Abraham and his descendants, including the then-future coming of the Messiah through his own bloodline (Matthew 1:1), God blessed and specially set him apart as a family, including the language Abraham’s family spoke — which was Hebrew.
Therefore, Abraham, a descendant of Noah through Shem was known as “the Hebrew” (Genesis 14:13). Likewise, because of their distinctive language and fairer complexion, Abraham’s descendants were called “Hebrew” as Joseph and the Israelites who later immigrated into Egypt were often referred to in Egypt (Genesis 39:14, 17; 41:12). Significantly, all descendants of Abraham as
Like all of God’s prophets, the prophet Jonah identified himself as a Hebrew (Jonah 1:9).
Hebrew and Aramaic Are Close Semitic Sister Languages
Aram, one of the five sons of Shem is the ancestor of the Aramaic people (Genesis 10:22). Both Hebrew and Aramaic are derived from the original language of Shem, who in turn got it from their common ancestor Noah. This Noah simply spoke what was later called “Hebrew.” [It did not originally have a specific name because there was no other language then — thus it did not need any identifying name, being the only language known from the very beginning of humanity in the Old World.] Eventually both Hebrew and Aramaic became names for the respective languages of these two families, which are both considered SEMITIC languages.
Since Hebrew and Aramaic actually share the same number of 22 letters in their respective alphabets — with anciently similar character forms, plus using most words in common — they have been interchangeably referred to by historians as either Hebrew or Aramaic.
But even earlier in the record of Genesis, because they came from the same Semitic stock, the Hebrew and Aramaic languages were also associated with Syriac, since Laban (brother of Rebecca, uncle of Jacob) was called the Syrian (Genesis 31:20, 24). Even today, sometimes Hebrew and Aramaic are often referred to as Syriac. Notice the footnote on Page 723 of the Aramaic English New Testament (AENT), Fifth Edition, published by Netzari Press, edited by Andrew Gabriel Roth, where it says: “Whenever ‘Syriac’ is used, ‘Aramaic’ is intended.”
Even “Chaldean” Is Also a Semitic Language
Chaldean is mentioned dozens of time in the Bible and also has Semitic origins, like Hebrew and Aramaic. In fact, Abram’s ancestry lived in the land of the Chaldeans, and thus his origin was in the land of the Chaldees when God called him out of that land (Genesis 11:27-31). These people were influential even in Babylonia, as we will read later in the story of the prophet Daniel.
The Hebrew-Aramaic Languages Were Widely Spoken
Hebrew and Aramaic Were Known Even in the Assyrian Empire
After the fall of the great Egyptian Empire (with its agriculture and livestock decimated by the plagues, and its army destroyed at the Red Sea crossing in connection with Israel’s exodus from Egypt under Moses), Egypt ceased to be a great world-ruling empire since then.
The next empire which subjugated Israel was the Neo-Assyrian Empire which took captive the 10 northern tribes into Assyria. This was completed about 718 B.C., after very many years of deportations over a very long distance of about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers). Those deported northern tribes are presently or commonly known in history as the “Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.”
But what is most surprising and significant here, is the fact that even biblical testimony shows that the Assyrians were knowledgeable in both the Hebrew and the Aramaic languages (2 Kings 18:26-35; Isaiah 36:11-20)!
Not only biblical history, but even secular history attests to this fact, but which is being ignored or hidden by some historians in a vain effort to rewrite the history of these Semitic languages in favor of Greek. Notice what the Ancient History Encyclopedia writes about Assyria:
Tiglath Pileser III had introduced Aramaic to replace Akkadian as the lingua franca of the empire and, as Aramaic survived as a written language, this allowed later scholars to decipher Akkadian writings and then Sumerian. The Assyrian conquest of Mesopotamia, and the expansion of the empire throughout the Near East brought Aramaic to regions as near as Israel and as far as Greece and, in this way, Mesopotamian thought became infused with those cultures and a part of their literary and cultural heritage.
[NOTE: Some historians want us to believe that Greek was the lingua-franca. But this historical document says otherwise. Greece was then influenced instead by Aramaic!]
Hebrew and Aramaic Were Also Known in the Babylonian Empire
Following Assyria, the next world-ruling power then which conquered and took captive the remaining southern tribes of Israel (primarily Judah, Levi, and remnants of Simeon and Benjamin) was the Babylonian Empire. The Babylonians carted off these remnant southern tribes in a series of raids, starting sometime in 604 B.C. and said to have ended in 585 B.C.
Again, very significantly, Hebrew and Aramaic were also spoken far and wide — reaching even into the massive population of the very first world-ruling Babylonian Empire of King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:36-38; 7:4).
Please remember that during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel and his three friends were among the noble captives then. Eventually, Daniel gained prominence in all of Babylon.
Therefore, you will notice that the writings of the prophet Daniel contained very long passages in the Aramaic language (specifically starting with Daniel 2:4, KJV, where it states that Aramaic was also interchangeably known as Chaldean or Syriac). The Aramaic language was used by the prophet Daniel in his writings until Daniel 7:28 where his Aramaic language ends; then, the language of his writings reverted back to the original Hebrew language.
Aramaic Was Still a Language After the Post-Captivity Period
The last Babylonian king was eventually defeated by the Persians. Significantly, Persian King Cyrus the Great (Isaiah 44:29 to Isaiah 45:1-13) was inspired by God to declare the emancipation of the Jews with freedom to return back to their homeland in Israel in 539 B.C. Knowing that the Jews became destitute in their state of recent captivity, God somehow also inspired King Cyrus to be generous enough to even help in every possible way in the rebuilding project of the walls of the old city of Jerusalem.
But what is most significant here again concerning our language topic is that even after the Jews returned to their homeland, Hebrew and Aramaic were still their traditional languages!
These facts are consistent with what the NIV Study Bible states on page 864:
Ezra and Nehemiah were written in the form of late Hebrew with the exception of Ezr.4:8—6:18; 7:12—26, which were written in Aramaic, the international language during the Persian period (bold emphasis mine).
In fact, an actual statement written by Ezra describes the use of Aramaic script in the Aramaic language in a letter written to King Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:7). This shows that the Aramaic language was still very much in common use in the empire even after the captivities.
Effect of the Greek Conquest Upon Israel By the Seleucid Empire
Now, let us look at a completely different scenario. Instead of being exiled out of their native land, this time the conquest and domination happened right in their own land of Israel.
Quoting from the Wikipedia article on the Seleucid Empire, we read:
The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic [Greek] state ruled by the Seleucid dynasty, which existed from 312 BC to 63 BC; Seleucus I Nicator founded it following the division of the Macedonian Empire [which was] vastly expanded by Alexander the Great (bracketed edits mine).
Such was the case with the Jewish population of the Seleucid empire; the Jews’ refusal to willingly Hellenize [adopt Greek culture] their religious beliefs or customs posed a significant problem which eventually led to war … [eventually] the Seleucids gradually tried to force Hellenization [force the Greek language and culture] upon the Jewish people in their [own] territory by outlawing Judaism. This eventually led to the revolt of the Jews led by the Maccabean family, under Seleucid control, which would later lead to the Jews achieving independence from the Seleucid [Greek] empire (bold emphases and bracketed edits mine).
NOTE: This Greek domination lasted for almost 250 years (312 to 63 BC), a very long rule which ended closest to the time of Christ on earth, compared to the previous Babylonian exile which at most lasted only for about 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11). However, in spite of such very much longer domination right within the very land of Israel itself, and contrary to the false claims of most historians, the Greek language did NOT take root among the Jewish people!
Conclusion at This Point
The popular claim by most historians that Greek was the “lingua franca” or common language in Israel and in the surrounding regions at the time of Christ is now simply shown to be a great FALSE DECEPTION, and also without any historical basis! (More details on this will be covered in succeeding articles.)
The Roman Empire Also Failed to Dislodge the Hebrew Language
The following are quotes from the Wikipedia article: History of the Jews in the Roman Empire:
Augustus [Caesar] was … the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, controlling Imperial Rome from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. [He was considered] the most effective and controversial leader in human history. The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana (bracketed edits mine).
The Roman general Pompey … conquered Jerusalem in 63 BC … Julius Caesar conquered Alexandria [in Egypt, first] c. 47 BC and [then, in a struggle for top supremacy in the Roman Empire] defeated Pompey in 45 BC. Under Julius Caesar, Judaism was officially recognised as a legal religion, a policy followed by the first Roman emperor, Augustus. Herod the Great was designated ‘King of the Jews’ by the Roman Senate in c. 40 BC (bracketed edits mine).
Jewish-Roman tensions resulted in several Jewish–Roman wars, 66-135 AD, which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple and institution of the Jewish Tax in 70 and Hadrian’s attempt to create a new Roman colony named Aelia Capitolina c. 130.
NOTE: During the earlier Roman rule, which includes the time of Christ on earth, the Jews were given freedom to practice their religion. If Latin was not even enforced by the very powerful Roman Empire, how much more for Greek which was already very much earlier rejected by the Jews? Therefore, contrary to the false but popular claims, Greek was NOT a common language in Christ’s day. Hebrew and Aramaic continued to be the language of the Jewish people in Israel.
xtent of the Hebrew/Aramaic Language in the First Century
In Jerusalem, during the arraignment of Christ, Peter was betrayed by his Galilean accent of the Hebrew/Aramaic language:
And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you (bold emphasis mine).Matthew 26:73
The Apostle Paul spoke to the religious leadership in the Hebrew language:
So when he [the Roman Commander] had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language …(bracketed and bold emphasis mine)Acts 21:40
And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent (bold emphasis mine).Acts 22:2
Even the risen Christ spoke to Paul on his way to Damascus in the Hebrew language!
And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads’ (bold emphasis mine).Acts 26:14
Two Other Important Collective Events
These are recorded in the biblical account by the Gospel writer and historian Luke, which clearly shows the extent of the use of the Hebrew language during the first century:
A. The Holy Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem
This particular Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem was extensively described by the historian Luke. Surprisingly, while Peter and his fellow apostles spoke in the Galilean Hebrew/Aramaic tongue (Acts 2:7), much more than a dozen nations or language groups (Acts 2:8-11) commented that they “heard them speak in the language in which they were born” (Acts 2:8).
But the bigger questions are:
- Why would all these peoples from such varied language and nations even go to Jerusalem if they were not familiar with the common Hebrew and Aramaic languages of Jerusalem?
- How would they know the exact Festival dates if they did not understand the Hebrew language when reading the Hebrew Scriptures in their own respective cities?
- The fact that they did not even need any interpreter shows that they were familiar then with the common language in Jerusalem (AENT, page 724, fifth paragraph).
B. The Concluding Statement at the Jerusalem Conference
For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath (emphases mine).Acts 15:21
NOTE: Obviously, the conference in Jerusalem was done in their Hebrew language. The writings of “Moses” referred to here was obviously the Hebrew Scriptures. The phrase “every city” refers to those located in all the Gentile nations where Jews have settled in (with proselytes among them) as mentioned in Acts 2:8-11. These were long-time Sabbath-keepers and were familiar with the Festival dates, enabling them to be at Jerusalem at the designated times.
The General Attitude of the Jews Toward the Greek Language
Some might contend that the writings of Moses referred to here was the Septuagint (Greek version). Copied below are the negative attitudes and comments on Greek among the Jews and Josephus.
Attitude Towards the Septuagint
Prof. Neubauer says, “we may boldly state that this Greek translation of the Bible [Septuagint] was unknown in Israel except to men in the schools … It is said in the Talmud that when the Greek translation of the Seventy appeared, there came darkness upon the earth, and that the day was as unfortunate for Israel, as that on which the golden calf was made” (pg. 67).
The fact that the Jews at Jerusalem who spoke Greek are called HELLENISTS, that is GRECIAN, in Acts vi. 1, and ix. 29, shows that their Greek speech made them a peculiar class quite distinct from the rest of the people (Norton, page 13) [emphases mine].AENT, pages 724-725
Josephus’ Comment Concerning the Greek Language
The testimony of Jewish priest-historian Flavius Josephus [Hebrew name: Yosef ben Matityahu (A.D. 37-100)] reflects the common attitude of the Jews toward the Greeks.
I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language … [yet] I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does NOT encourage those that learn the languages of many nations … because they [the Jews] look upon this sort of accomplishment as common [very lowly] … But they give him the testimony of being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our [Jewish] laws … [in contrast] as there have been many who have done their endeavors with great patience to obtain this [Greek] learning, there have yet hardly been so many as two or three that have succeeded therein, who were immediately well rewarded for their pains (emphasesAntiquities of the Jews XX, XI
- Evidence points to ancient Hebrew as the original language in Eden.
- Shem’s family were not part of the rebellious building project at Babel.
- Thus, the Semitic sister languages were not part of the corrupted languages.
- Abraham’s bloodline (and language) is carried down to the life of the Messiah.
- Even after 400 years, the Egyptian language has not taken root in the Israelite nation.
- The Neo-Assyrians were found to be familiar with the Hebrew and Aramaic languages.
- The Babylonians were likewise familiar with the Hebrew and Aramaic languages.
- For 250 years, the Seleucid (Greek) Empire and language were rejected by the Jews.
- The influential Roman language (Latin) was not absorbed by the Jewish nation at all.
- Hebrew and Aramaic were extensively understood in the known world at that time.
- Greek was much disdained by Flavius Josephus and by most of the Hebrew people.
- While Paul was on his way to Damascus, even the risen Christ spoke to him in Hebrew.
Among the faithful Hebrews, history shows that they have always resisted any change in their religion, language, or culture — preferring to die in persecution or battle than to adopt a foreign one. Therefore, they have NEVER adopted Greek as one of their languages. Hebrew and Aramaic continued to be their traditional language at the time of Christ and the original apostles during the New Testament period, as confirmed by truly informed and unbiased historians. This honest statement of facts is obviously contrary to the false but popular claims that Greek was the “lingua franca” in the surrounding regions including Israel in the first century. Watch out for upcoming articles which will shed more light on this controversial topic.