The Revival of the Hebrew Language
The news in Hebrew--is this a sign of the times--is this the Bible in the news?
Friday, July 08, 2011
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This is Dave Billington with you for this weeks Bible in the News. Hebrew was once a language considered holy and not for every day use, but today it is the living national language of the modern state of Israel. Jews returning home from the four corners of the earth speaking diverse languages, are able to learn the language of the bible, the language of their nation, a language that binds them together.
Walking down Ben-Yehuda street in Jerusalem one can see Jews of every type conversing in the language of the prophets. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda who the street is named after, was the man who dedicated his life to Zionism and principally the resurrection of the Hebrew language. In his words: "...the rebirth of the nation of Israel in its own land, speaking its own language." was his goal. Eliezer saw that a nation needed a common language in order to function and he moved to Jerusalem where he set to work. He started publishing a Hebrew newspaper called "The Deer"; the first issue was published in October, 122 years ago. When Eliezer and Deborah had their first child, he was brought up in an environment that was strictly only Hebrew speaking, becoming the first native Hebrew speaker in about 2000 years. Eliezer ran the newspaper, taught Hebrew and worked on his Hebrew dictionary as if possessed, however, there was a greater unseen hand at work.
After Jesus Christ ascended to heaven he was found worthy to loose the seals of the seven sealed scroll. Opening the seal unleashes the event recorded on the scroll: "And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see." The events in the book of Revelation are the events that will reveal Jesus Christ the King of Israel to the world. Hebrews 2:7 tells us God made Jesus Christ "...a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands". So it is the hand of Jesus Christ that is preparing the world for his return as king. It is his hand that has brought the Jews back to the land, it is his hand that has brought the land back to life and it is his hand that has worked to revive the Hebrew Language.
Scholars have told us that Aramaic was the language that Jesus spoke and the language that was used at that time. However, some are beginning to speak out differently--but don't expect a big change of opinion, the movie "The Passion" was all in Aramaic, and with rising world-wide anti-semitism and many attempts to remove historical ties of the Jewish people to Israel, I can hardly see it becoming popular to promote a Hebrew speaking Jesus. The Dead Sea Scrolls present a very different picture than the old Aramaic theory, with approximately 80% written in Hebrew; including day-to-day letters, general commentaries and literature.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ uses Hebrew on two occasions, once in chapter 9:11 where we read: "And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon." This is a Hebrew word used in Job 31:12 and translated "destruction". This indicates that when the New Testament uses the term "Hebrew" it means Hebrew. It is clear that the Apostle Paul used Hebrew to address the Jewish people in Acts 22: "Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence...)" It simply does not make sense that the Jews kept the "more silence" when they heard he spoke Aramaic. Jesus himself had used the same technique years before to make a deep impression on Paul--then Saul--on the road to Damascus: "And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." (Acts 26:14)
Some people think that it is a matter of speculation whether the language of the restored kingdom of Israel will be Hebrew--I can't think what other language would be substituted; English, French or German? However, the revival of the tongue of the prophets is a notable sign of the times and heralds the advent of the Hebrew King of Israel!
Come back next week for more Bible in the News!
Printed: Friday, July 08, 2011
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