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Hebrew New Testament
(Brit Chadasha)
 
Compiled, Edited & Translated with consultation of both Ancient
and Modern Authorities including: The Khabouris Codex and the 1905 Edition
of the Syriac New Testament by the British and Foreign Bible Society.
 
 
 
Aramaic is a Semitic language that is a part of the Northwest Semitic group of languages, which also includes Canaanite languages such as Hebrew and Phoenician. Aramaic script was widely adopted for other languages and is ancestral to both the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets.
 
During its 3,000 year history, Aramaic has served variously as a language of administration of empires and as a language of divine worship.  It was the day-to-day language of Israel in the Second Temple period (539 BCE 70 CE), was the original language of large sections of the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, was the language spoken by Y'shua (Jesus), and is the main language of the Talmud.
 
The conquests of Alexander the Great could not destroy the unity of Aramaic language and literature.  Aramaic that bears a relatively close resemblance to that of the fifth century BCE can be found right up to the early second century BCE.  The Seleucids imposed Greek in the administration of Syria and Mesopotamia from the start of their rule.  In the third century BCE, Greek challenged Aramaic as the common language in Egypt and Syria. However, a post-Achaemenid Aramaic continued to flourish from Judaea, through the Syrian Desert and into Arabia and Parthia.

Biblical Aramaic is found in four sections of the Hebrew Bible:
Ezra 4:86:18 and 7:1226 documents from the Achaemenid period (fifth century BCE) concerning the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem.
Daniel 2:4b7:28 five subversive tales and an apocalyptic vision.
Jeremiah 10:11 a single sentence in the middle of a Hebrew text denouncing idolatry.
Genesis 31:47 translation of a Hebrew place-name.

Under the category of post-Achaemenid is Hasmonaean Aramaic, the official language of Hasmonaean Judaea (14237 BCE).  It influenced the Biblical Aramaic of the Qumran texts, and was the main language of non-biblical theological texts of that community.  The major Targums, translations of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic, were originally composed in Hasmonaean.  Hasmonaean also appears in quotations in the Mishnah and Tosefta, although smoothed into its later context.  It is written quite differently from Achaemenid Aramaic; there is an emphasis on writing as words are pronounced rather than using etymological forms.
 
Babylonian Targumic is the later post-Achaemenid dialect found in the Targum Onqelos and Targum Jonathan, the 'official' targums. The original, Hasmonaean targums had reached Babylon sometime in the second or third centuries CE.  They were then reworked according to the contemporary dialect of Babylon to create the language of the standard targums.  This combination formed the basis of Babylonian Jewish literature for centuries to follow.
 
Galilean Targumic is similar to Babylonian Targumic. It is the mixing of literary Hasmonaean with the dialect of Galilee. The Hasmonaean targums reached Galilee in the second century CE, and were reworked into this Galilean dialect for local use. The Galilean Targum was not considered an authoritative work by other communities, and documentary evidence shows that its text was amended.  From the eleventh century CE onwards, once the Babylonian Targum had become normative, the Galilean version became heavily influenced by it.
 
Babylonian Documentary Aramaic is a dialect in use from the third century CE onwards. It is the dialect of Babylonian private documents, and, from the twelfth century, all Jewish private documents are in Aramaic. It is based on Hasmonaean with very few changes. This was perhaps because many of the documents in BDA are legal documents, the language in them had to be sensible throughout the Jewish community from the start, and Hasmonaean was the old standard.
 
Nabataean Aramaic is the language of the Arab kingdom of Petra. The kingdom (c. 200 BCE106 CE) covered the east bank of the Jordan River, the Sinai Peninsula and northern Arabia. Perhaps because of the importance of the caravan trade, the Nabataeans began to use Aramaic in preference to Old North Arabic. The dialect is based on Achaemenid with a little influence from Arabic: 'l' is often turned into 'n', and there are a few Arabic loan words.  Some Nabataean Aramaic inscriptions exist from the early days of the kingdom, but most are from the first four centuries CE.  The language is written in a cursive script that is the precursor to the modern Arabic alphabet.  The number of Arabic loan words increases through the centuries, until, in the fourth century, Nabataean merges seamlessly with Arabic.
 
Palmyrene Aramaic is the dialect that was in use in the city of Palmyra in the Syrian Desert from 44 BCE to 274 CE. It was written in a rounded script, which later gave way to cursive Estrangela. Like Nabataean, Palmyrene was influenced by Arabic, but to a lesser degree.
 
Arsacid Aramaic, that in use during the Arsacid empire (247 BCE 224 CE), represents a continuation of Achaemenid Aramaic, widely spoken throughout the west of the empire. Aramaic continued as the scribal basis for Pahlavi as it developed for the needs of Parthian: using an Aramaic-derived script and incorporating many 'heterograms', or Aramaic words meant to be read as Parthian ones. The Arsacids saw themselves as a continuation of Achaemenid rule, and so Arsacid Aramaic, more than any other post-Achaemenid dialect, continued the tradition of the chancery of Darius I. Over time, however, it came under the influence of contemporary, spoken Aramaic.
 
Aramaic's long history and diverse and widespread use has led to the development of many divergent varieties which are sometimes treated as dialects. Therefore, there is no one singular Aramaic language, but each time and place has had its own variation. Aramaic is retained as a liturgical language by certain Eastern Christian churches, in the form of Syriac, the Aramaic variety by which Eastern Christianity was disseminated.
 
Modern Aramaic is spoken today as a first language by many scattered, predominantly small, and largely isolated communities of differing Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups of West Asiamost numerously by the Assyrians in the form of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and the Chaldean Christians in the form of Chaldean Neo-Aramaicthat have all retained use of the once dominant lingua franca despite subsequent language shifts experienced throughout the Middle East.
 
During the Neo-Assyrian and the Neo-Babylonian period, Aramaeans, the native speakers of Aramaic, began to settle in greater numbers in Upper Mesopotamia Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq, Syria and south eastern Turkey).  The influx eventually resulted in the Assyrian and Babylonian empires becoming operationally bilingual in written sources, with Aramaic used alongside Akkadian.  As these empires, and the Persian Empire that followed, extended their influence in the region, Aramaic gradually became the lingua franca of most of Western Asia and Egypt.  From the seventh century CE onwards, Aramaic was replaced as the lingua franca of the Middle East by Arabic. However, Aramaic remains a literary and liturgical language among Jews, Mandaeans and some Christians, and is still spoken by small isolated communities throughout its original area of influence. The turbulence of the last two centuries has seen speakers of first-language and literary Aramaic dispersed throughout the world.
 
Traditionally, Aramaic is considered a single language.  However, it could equally well be considered a group of closely related languages, rather than a single monolithic languagesomething which it has never been.  Its long history, extensive literature, and use by different religious communities are all factors in the diversification of the language. Some Aramaic dialects are mutually intelligible, whereas others are not.  Some Aramaic languages are known under different names; for example, Syriac is particularly used to describe the Eastern Aramaic of Christian communities.  Most dialects can be described as either "Eastern"' or "Western", the dividing line being roughly the Euphrates, or slightly west of it.  A kind of high Aramaic Standard Aramaic survived till the 9th century.  It is also helpful to draw a distinction between those Aramaic languages that are modern living languages (often called Neo-Aramaic), those that are still in use as literary languages, and those that are extinct and are only of interest to scholars.  Although there are some exceptions to this rule, this classification gives "Modern", "Middle" and "Old" periods, alongside "Eastern" and "Western" areas, to distinguish between the various languages and dialects that are Aramaic.
 
The earliest Aramaic alphabet was based on the Phoenician script. In time, Aramaic developed its distinctive 'square' style.  The ancient Israelites and other peoples of Canaan adopted this alphabet for writing their own languages.  Thus, it is better known as the Hebrew alphabet today.  This is the writing system used in Biblical Aramaic and other Jewish writing in Aramaic.  The other main writing system used for Aramaic was developed by Christian communities: a cursive form known as the Syriac alphabet.
 
It is generally believed that in the first century CE, Jews in Judaea primarily spoke Aramaic with a dwindling number using Hebrew as a native language.  Many learned Hebrew as a liturgical language.  Additionally, Greek was the international language of the Roman administration and trade, and was understood by those in the urban secular spheres of influence.  Latin was spoken in the Roman army, but had little or no impact on the linguistic landscape.
 
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 Y'shua's 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 Y'shua's home region, is only known from a few place names, the influences on Galilean Targumic, some rabbinic literature and a few private letters.  It seems to have a number of distinctive features: diphthongs are never simplified into monophthongs.  East of the Jordan, the various dialects of East Jordanian were spoken.  In the region of Damascus and the Anti-Lebanon mountains, Damascene Aramaic was spoken (deduced mostly from Modern Western Aramaic). Finally, as far north as Aleppo, the western dialect of Orontes Aramaic was spoken.
 
The three languages mutually influenced each other, especially Hebrew and Aramaic. Hebrew words entered Jewish Aramaic (mostly technical religious words but also everyday words like ēṣ 'wood').  Vice versa, Aramaic words entered Hebrew (not only Aramaic words like māmmn 'wealth' but Aramaic ways of using words like making Hebrew rāi, 'seen' mean 'worthy' in the sense of 'seemly', which is a loan translation of Aramaic ḥāz meaning 'seen' and 'worthy').
 
New Testament Greek texts preserve numerous non-Greek semiticisms, including transliterations of Semitic words:
 
Aramaic phrases in the Greek New Testament
 
Talitha kum Mark 5:41 And taking the hand of the child, he said to her, "Talitha kum", which translates as, "Little girl, I say to you, get up."  This is an Aramaic phrase.
 
A few Greek manuscripts (Codex Sinaiticus, Vaticanus) of Mark's Gospel have this form of the text, but others (Codex Alexandrinus, the Majority Text and the Vulgate) write κουμι (koumi) instead. The latter became the Textus Receptus, and is the version that appears in the Authorized Version.
 
The Aramaic is ţlīthā qūm. The word ţlīthā is the feminine form of the word ţlē, meaning "young". Qūm is the Aramaic verb 'to rise, stand, get up'. In the feminine singular imperative, it was originally 'qūmī'. However, there is evidence that in speech the final -ī was dropped so that the imperative did not distinguish between masculine and feminine genders.
 
Ephphatha Mark 7:34  And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," which is 'be opened'.  Once again, the Aramaic word is given with the transliteration, only this time the word to be transliterated is more complicated.  In Greek, the Aramaic is written εφφαθα. This could be from the Aramaic 'ethpthaḥ', the passive imperative of the verb 'pthaḥ', 'to open', since the 'th' could assimilate in western Aramaic. The guttural 'ḥ' was often omitted in Greek transcriptions in the Septuagint and was also softened in Galilean speech.  In Aramaic, it could be אתפתח or אפתח.
 
Abba Mark 14:36  "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."  Abba, an originally Aramaic form borrowed into Modern Hebrew (written Αββα in Greek, and 'abbā in Aramaic), is immediately followed by the Greek equivalent (Πατηρ) with no explicit mention of it being a translation. The phrase Abba, Father is repeated in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6.  In Aramaic, it would be אבא.
 
Barabbas is a Hellenization of the Aramaic Bar Abba (בר אבא), literally, "Son of the Father".
 
Raca  Matthew 5:22  But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (the bracketed text does not appear in all recensions and is absent in the Latin Vulgate) Raca, or Raka, in the Aramaic of the Talmud means empty one, fool, empty head.  In Aramaic, it could be ריקא or ריקה.
 
Mammon Matthew 6:24  No one can serve two masters: for either they will hate the one, and love the other; or else they will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (See also Luke 16:9-13)  In Aramaic and Hebrew, it could be ממון (or, in the typical Aramaic "emphatic" state suggested by the Greek ending, ממונא). This is usually considered to be an originally Aramaic word borrowed into rabbinic Hebrew, but its occurrence in late Biblical Hebrew and, reportedly, in 4th century Punic may indicate that it had a more general "common Semitic background".  In the New Testament the word Μαμωνᾶς Mamōns is declined like a Greek word, whereas many of the other Aramaic and Hebrew words are treated as indeclinable foreign words.
 
Rabbuni John 20:1 Yshua said to her, Maryam. And she turned around fully and said to him in Hebrew, Rabbuli! which means Teacher.  Also in Mark 10:51. Hebrew form rabbi used as title in Matthew 26:25,49; Mark 9:5, 11:21, 14:45; John 1:49, 4:31, 6:25, 9:2, 11:8.  In both Aramaic and Hebrew it would be רבוני.

Maranatha 1 Corinthians 16:22
Whoever does not love our Master Yshua the Mashiyach, let him be accursed: Maran atha (Our Master comes). In Aramaic (מרנא תא or מרן אתא).

Eli Eli lema sabachthani  Matthew 27:46
 And about the ninth hour, Yshua cried out with a loud voice and said, My El! My El! [Lemana shabakthani] Why have you spared me Mark 15:34. And in the ninth hour, Yshua cried out in a loud voice and said, Eil! Eil! lemana shabakthani, that is My El! My El! Why have you

spared me?

 
Overall, both versions appear to be Aramaic rather than Hebrew because of the verb שבק (bq) "abandon", which is originally Aramaic.  The "pure" Biblical Hebrew counterpart to this word, עזב (`zb) is seen in the first line of Psalm 22, which the saying appears to quote. Thus, Y'shua is not quoting the canonical Hebrew version (l l lm `azabtn); he may be quoting the version given in an Aramaic Targum (surviving Aramaic Targums do use bq in their translations of the Psalm 22).
 
The 4th century Church Founder Epiphanius of Salamis considered that l l was Hebrew and the rest of the sentence was in Aramaic.  Almost all ancient Greek manuscripts show signs of trying to normalize this text.  For instance, the peculiar Codex Bezae renders both versions with ηλι ηλι λαμα ζαφθανι (ēli ēli lama zaphthani). The Alexandrian, Western and Caesarean textual families all reflect harmonization of the texts between Matthew and Mark.  Only the Byzantine textual tradition preserves a distinction.  In Aramaic, it could be אלהי אלהי למא שבקתני.

Jot and tittle Matthew 5:18 
For truly I say to you that until heaven and earth pass away not one Yodh or one stroke will pass from Torah until everything happens.
 
The phrase relates to something of extremely minor detail.  English has jot and tittle translated from iota and keraia.  Iota is the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet (ι), but since only capitals were used at the time the Greek New Testament was written (Ι), it represents the Aramaic yodh (י) which is the smallest letter of the Aramaic alphabet. Keraia is a hook or serif, possibly accents in Greek but more likely referring to hooks on Aramaic letters, (ב) versus (כ), or additional marks such as crowns (as Vulgate apex) found in the Torah.
 
 Korban  Matthew 27:6 Now the chief priests picked up the silver and said, It is not Lawful to put it in the house of offerings, because the price of it is blood.  In Aramaic (קרבנא) it refers to the treasury in the Temple in Jerusalem, derived from the Hebrew Korban (קרבן), found in Mark 7:11 and the Septuagint (in Greek transliteration), meaning religious gift.  The Greek κορβανᾶς is declined as a Greek noun. Greeks regularly added endings to Semitic and Hebrew words when transliterating Hebrew words in the Septuagint.

Sikera  Luke 1:15
  For he will be great before Master YHWH. And he will not drink strong drink and wine, and he will be filled with the Ruach haKodesh while he is in the womb of his mother.  Note that this word is used in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. This word entered Jewish Greek from Hebrew שכר, and like many cases in the Greek translation of Hebrew Bible, it adopted a more Aramaic sounding form (שכרא).

Hosanna  Mark 11:9 
And those who were in front of him and those who were behind him were crying out and were saying, Ushanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of Master YHWH.  This word is derived from הושע נא. It is generally considered to be a quote from Psalms 118:25 "save us", but the original Biblical Hebrew form was הושיעה נא. The shortened form הושע could be either Aramaic or Hebrew, perhaps influenced by Aramaic, where a long form like the Biblical Hebrew one is non-existent.
 
Aramaic personal names in the Greek New Testament
 
Personal names in the New Testament come from Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. The most prominent feature in Aramaic names is 'bar' some examples are:

Matthew 10:3
Bartholomew (from bar-Tlmay, perhaps 'son of furrows' or 'ploughman').
 
Matthew 16:17 Simon bar-Jona (im`n bar-Yn, 'Simon son of Jonah').
 
John 1:42 Simon bar-Jochanan ('Simon son of John').
 
Matthew 27:16 Barabbas (from bar-Abb, 'son of the father').
 
Mark 10:46 Bartimaeus (from bar-Ţim'ay, perhaps 'son of defilement' or 'son of a whore').
 
Acts 1:23 Barsabbas (from bar-abb, 'son of the Sabbath').
 
Acts 4:36 Barnabas (from bar-Nav meaning 'son of prophecy, the prophet'; usually translated as 'son of consolation/encouragement').
 
Acts 13:6 Bar-Yesu (from bar-Y`, 'son of Jesus/Joshua').
 
Mark 3:17 Boanerges (Sons of Thunder.)
 
John 1:42 Cephas (kf, meaning 'rock' or 'stone'.)
 
John 11:16 Thomas (tm, "twin".)
 
Acts 9:36   Tabitha (Ţbth means 'gazelle'.)
 
Aramaic place names in the Greek New Testament
 
Matthew 26:36 Gethsemane ('Gath-mn', 'the oil press' or 'oil vat' (olive oil).
 
Mark 15:22 Golgotha ('Glgalt' is the Aramaic for 'skull'.)
 
John 19:13  Gabbatha (Gabath, Aramaic for high place, or elevated place.)
 
Acts 1:19 Akeldama ('ḥql dm', Aramaic 'field of blood')

Pool of
Bethesda - Bethesda was originally the name of a pool in Jerusalem, on the path of the Beth Zeta Valley, and is also known as the Sheep Pool. It is associated with healing. In John 5, Y'shua healed a man at the pool.  According to Syriac-English Dictionary by Louis Costaz and A Compendious Syriac Dictionary by J. Payne Smith, the word hesdo in Syriac (or hesda in older Aramaic) has two opposite meanings: 'grace' and 'disgrace'. Hence, Bethesda was both a house of disgrace, as many invalids gathered there, and a house of grace, as they were granted healing.
 
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