[b-hebrew] the dead returns

Jack Kilmon jkilmon at historian.net
Wed Dec 29 00:03:22 EST 2010

From: "fred burlingame" <tensorpath at gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 5:07 PM
To: "Nir cohen - Prof. Mat." <nir at ccet.ufrn.br>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] the dead returns

> What language was the average hebrew speaking on the streets of nazareth 
> in
> 64 a.d.?

Aramaic.  Shymeon Ben Kosiba/Kochba wanted to restore Hebrew but without 
much success.  He hired scribes to write Hebrew letters and documents but 
wrote himself in Aramaic.  His Aramaic letters when shown by Yadin to Ben 
Gurion elicited the great man's fury because they were not in Hebrew.

As you know Bar Kochba instituted a valiant
effort to RESTORE Hebrew as the language of the land...which failed.
Addressed to Yehonathan bar Be'ayan and Masabala.  The letter ends..."The
letter is written in Greek because we have no one who knows Hebrew" and he
couldn't delay writing "because of the holiday."

Why would Bar Kochba want to restore Hebrew as the language of the land (if
he had won the war) if Hebrew was the vernacular?  Why would there be no one
around who knew Hebrew and so few letters in a scribal hand Hebrew but most
in non-scribal Aramaic?

Earlier letters were in Aramaic but a special decree of Bar Kochba to
restore Hebrew as the "official" language resulted in later official
documents to be in Hebrew.  This is supported by  some Aramaic
being in less trained hands...evidence of the spoken language...and
"official" Hebrew documents by trained scribes. In fact, the earliest of the
documents are in crudely rendered Aramaic, the "First Year of the Redemption
of Israel" document and Eliazar's receipt. The cache of letters of Bar
Kochba himself, mentioned above, some are Aramaic and a few Hebrew but MOST
were in Aramaic because Hebrew was just being introduced as a hoped for
restored language.  This is what angered Ben Gurion.

Jack Kilmon


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