Research topic: Hebrew

Hebrew is a Semitic language in the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is spoken by more than seven million people in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world.

The majority of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible that in general corresponds to what Christians call the Old Testament, was originally written in Classical Hebrew. Much of the Tanakh in its current form is written in the dialect of Biblical Hebrew, which is believed to have been spoken around 500 BC.

Following the Roman Empire's expulsion of the Jewish population from Jerusalem in 100 AD, Hebrew gradually ceased to be used as a spoken language, but continued to be an important written language. Letter and contracts, scientific, philosophical and medical treatises, poems and laws continued to be written in Hebrew.

Hebrew was revived as a literary language by the Haskalah movement in the late 18th century. Towards the end of the 19th century the Jewish language researcher Eliezer Ben-Yehuda – influenced by Zionist ideology and operating in an environment in the present state of Israel where Sephardi Hebrew was already well established as a language for doing business – began to reintroduce Hebrew as an everyday language for use at home and as a modern spoken and written language.

Modern Hebrew – together with English and Arabic – was adopted as an official language in the British Mandate of Palestine and in 1948 become an official language in the newly declared State of Israel.

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Published Feb. 7, 2013 2:29 PM - Last modified Nov. 23, 2017 12:49 PM