Rescribe: Hebrew Translation

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HEBREW TRANSLATION NOTES

Hebrew is the oldest language to have entered our era. Its alphabet was formulated more than 3,500 years ago and it is the only colloquial spoken language based on a written language. Hebrew, along with Arabic and Amharik, is a Semitic language. It was spoken by the Israelites in Canaan, west of the Jordan River. The western dialect of Aramaic supplanted Hebrew around the 3rd century BC.

The language continued, however, to be used in liturgy and literature. It was revived as a spoken language at the turn of the 20th century and was declared the official language of the state of Israel in 1948.

The history of the Hebrew language is divided into four major periods:

Biblical (Classical) Hebrew—12th to 2nd century BC. Scholars agree that the oldest form of Hebrew is that of the Old Testament poems, especially the “Song of Deborah” in chapter 5 of Judges.

Mishnaic (Rabbinic) Hebrew—written from AD 200. It is the language of the Mishna (a collection of Jewish traditions). This form of Hebrew was solely a written language but was more adaptable to practical use than biblical Hebrew. The vocabulary and syntactic innovations were strongly Aramaic, and words were borrowed from Greek, Latin, and Persian.

Medieval Hebrew—6th to 13th century AD. Hebrew vocabulary was further augmented in the Middle Ages by the Arabic influence on philosophic writing and through translations of Arabic philosophical and scientific works. An addition of about 2,000 to 3,000 scientific, philological, and philosophical terms were adapted. The cult of the liturgical poem called a piyyut (itself a Greek word) in the 6th-9th century enriched the written vocabulary by giving fresh meanings to old words and coining new ones, especially in the so-called Kalirian style. The Spanish-Hebrew poets of the period 900-1250 followed suit.

Modern Hebrew—revived at the turn of the 20th century by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the Lithuanian-born scholar, who single-handedly coined 4,000 new words from Biblical Hebrew roots. The language contains many innovations designed to meet modern needs. The syntax is based on that of the Mishna.

The language is written from right to left in a Semitic script of 22 letters.

If you need Hebrew fonts for your browser there is a collection here.

 

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