[b-hebrew] the dead returns

Jack Kilmon jkilmon at historian.net
Wed Dec 29 13:07:29 EST 2010

All of which confirm the article and, of course, there are more recent
articles that basically give the same history.  Here are some recent

Encyclopedia Britannica:
Any of several translations of the Hebrew scriptures or its parts into
Aramaic. The earliest date from after the Babylonian Exile and were designed
to meet the needs of uneducated Jews who did not know Hebrew. After the
destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem (AD 70), Targums became
established in synagogues, where scripture was read aloud with a translation
in Aramaic. These readings eventually incorporated paraphrase and
commentary. Targums were regarded as authoritative throughout the Talmudic
period (see Talmud) and began to be committed to writing in the 5th century.
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/targum#ixzz19WZHsHN0
Aramaic remained a dominant language for Jewish worship, scholarship, and
everyday life for centuries in both the land of Israel and in the diaspora,
especially in Babylon.

Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the remains of the library of a Jewish sect from
around the turn of the Era, are many compositions in Aramaic. These new
texts also provide the best evidence for Palestinian Aramaic of the sort
used by Jesus and his disciples.

Since the Jews spoke Aramaic, and knowledge of Hebrew was no longer
widespread, the practice arose in the synagogue of providing the reading of
the sacred Hebrew scriptures with an Aramaic translation or paraphrase, a
"Targum" In the course of time a whole array of targums for the Law and
other parts of the Bible were composed. More than translations, they
incorporated much of traditional Jewish scriptural interpretation.

In their academies the rabbis and their disciples transmitted, commented,
and debated Jewish law; the records of their deliberations constitute the
two talmuds: that of the land of Israel and the much larger Babylonian
Talmud. Although the talmuds contain much material in Hebrew, the basic
language of these vast compilations is Aramaic (in Western and Eastern
Aramaic replaced Hebrew as a dominant language
for Jewish worship, scholarship, and everyday life for
centuries in both the land of Israel and in the diaspora,
especially in Babylon
Aramaic began to be widely spoken in the Jewish community alongside the
native language, Hebrew. Eventually Aramaic replaced Hebrew for most
purposes, and the Bible itself required translation into the more widely
familiar vernacular language. Thus the Targum was born. The Mishnah, the
codified form of Jewish oral tradition, set down detailed rules for the
turgeman, the reciter of Targum
After the Jews were defeated by the Babylonians in 586 BC, they began to
speak Aramaic instead of Hebrew, although they retained Hebrew as the sacred
language of their religion.
In addition to the formal, literary dialects of Aramaic based on Hasmonaean
and Babylonian there were a number of colloquial Aramaic dialects. Seven
dialects of Western Aramaic were spoken in the vicinity of Judaea in Jesus'
time. They were probably distinctive yet mutually intelligible. Old Judaean
was the prominent dialect of Jerusalem and Judaea. The region of Engedi had
the South-east Judaean dialect. Samaria had its distinctive Samaritan
Aramaic, where the consonants 'he', 'heth' and ''ayin' all became pronounced
as 'aleph'. Galilean Aramaic, the dialect of Jesus' home region, is only
known from a few place names, the influences on Galilean Targumic, some
rabbinic literature and a few private letters.
Adin Steinsaltz, The Essential Talmud:
"The great scholars would address the general public on matters of Halakhah
and Aggadah, and by tradition the sage would address his audience from the
rostrum in Hebrew, while his disciples repeated his remarks in Aramaic, the
LINGUA FRANCA of the period, for the benefit of those ignorant of Hebrew.
Wise, Abegg, Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls, A new Translation, Pg 9:
"The spoken language of the Jews had in fact become Aramaic..."
Jewish Aramaic was the vernacular of Jews in the Land of Israel in the first
century. It is still spoken by Jewish Kurds today. In addition, important
Jewish texts and the Mourners Kaddish are also written in Aramaic. This
article gives a brief overview of this ancient Jewish language.
20% of the DSS are Aramaic texts and that percentage raises dramatically
when the Biblical texts are accounted for.  All of the Aramaic texts of the
DSS were authored before the rise of the sect.

The Targumym of the Cairo Genizah were indeed very important because they
reflected a purer dialect and as edited by M. L. Klein and reported by the
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:
the Cairo Genizah Targum fragments were "among the most important finds
within the Genizah of the Ezra Synagogue in old Cairo" and P. Kahle believed
that the textual fragments of the targums were REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ARAMAIC
SPOKEN IN ISRAEL.  Of course, I am serious Yigal.

Jack Kilmon

From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 1:01 AM
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] the dead returns

> Jack, you're citing an article about Hebrew which was written in about 
> 1900.
> Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, before most of the work on 
> the
> Cairo Geniza had been published, before the discovery of Ugaritic etc. 
> Let's
> please be serious!
> Yigal Levin
> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Jack Kilmon
> Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 7:34 AM
> To: Nir cohen - Prof. Mat.; Hebrew
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] the dead returns
> --------------------------------------------------
> From: "Nir cohen - Prof. Mat." <nir at ccet.ufrn.br>
> Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 6:21 PM
> To: "fred burlingame" <tensorpath at gmail.com>
> Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] the dead returns
>> fred,
>> my allusion to aramaic, as well as to the recitation profession, was made
>> in the context of the masoretic texts, i.e. relevant to at least a couple
>> of centuries later.
>> maybe i was missint the point of the thread, in which case you may just
>> ignore my non-expert input.
>> as to your big question:
>>> What language was the average hebrew speaking on the streets of nazareth
>>> in 64 a.d.?
>> i cannot help you, but clearly some conclusion must have been reached
>> by the historians of this period.
>> nir cohen
> Nir, the historians speak in the Encyclopedia Judaica:
> http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1707&letter=A
> Jack
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