Hebrew language

Semitic language spoken primarily in Israel
(Redirected from Hebrew)

Hebrew is a Semitic language. It was first spoken in Israel. Many Jewish people also speak Hebrew, as Hebrew is part of Judaism. The Academy of the Hebrew Language is the main institution of Hebrew.

עִבְרִית ʿIvrit
Pronunciation[(ʔ)ivˈʁit] - [(ʔ)ivˈɾit][note 1]
Native toIsrael, Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria;[1] used globally as a liturgical language for Judaism
Native speakers
5.3 million [2] (1998)
Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew Braille
Official status
Official language in
Regulated byAcademy of the Hebrew Language
האקדמיה ללשון העברית (HaAkademia LaLashon HaʿIvrit)
Language codes
ISO 639-1he
ISO 639-2heb
ISO 639-3Either:
heb – Modern Hebrew
hbo – Ancient Hebrew
"Israel" written in the Hebrew alphabet.

It was spoken by Israelites a long time ago, during the time of the Bible. After Judah was conquered by Babylonia, the Jews were taken captive to Babylon and started speaking Aramaic. Hebrew was no longer used much in daily, but it was still known by Jews who studied religious books.

In the 20th century, many Jews decided to make Hebrew into a spoken language again. It became the language of the new country of Israel in 1948. People in Israel came from many places and decided to learn Hebrew, the language of their common ancestors, so that they could all speak one language. However, Modern Hebrew is quite different from Biblical Hebrew, with a simpler grammar and many loanwords from other languages, especially English.

As of today,[when?] Hebrew has been the only dead language that had been made into a living language again.[3]

The Bible was originally written in Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic and Koine Greek.


Hebrew is a Semitic language and so that it is a lot like Arabic. Hebrew words are made by combining a root with a pattern. In Israeli Hebrew, some words are translated from European languages like English, French, German, and Russian. Many words from the Old Testament were given new meanings in Israeli Hebrew.[4] People learning Hebrew need to study the grammar first so that they can read correctly without vowels.

In Israeli Hebrew, there is no verb "to be" in the present tense, but only in the future and the past tenses. In Biblical Hebrew, there are no tenses but only two aspects: imperfect and perfect. The imperfect is something like the future and the present tenses. The perfect is something like the past tense. Mishnaic Hebrew was spoken as well as Judeo-Aramaic in the time of Jesus and in the time of the Bar-Kokhba revolt (2nd century AD) until the Byzantine Empire of Justinian (6th century AD).

The Hebrew alphabet has been adapted to write Yiddish, another Jewish language. However, Yiddish sounds different from Hebrew since it is a Germanic language.


The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters.[5] Five of them change when they are at the end of a word. Hebrew is read and written from right to left.[6] The first three letters, aleph, beth and gimel, are also used in mathematics in the context of transfinite numbers.[7]

The Hebrew alphabet is an abjad and so only the consonants are written, and readers must supply the vowels. Since that can be difficult, the vowels can be marked as dots called “nikkud” or “tnuah” (plural ”nikkud” signs and “tnuot” respectively.) In Modern Hebrew, some letters can denote vowels, which are called matres lectionis (mothers of the reading) since they greatly help reading. Vav (or Waw) can make the 'oo' sound (/u/ in IPA) like in food. Yodh (or Yud) can make the 'ee' sound (/i/ in IPA) like in feed.

Aleph Bet Gimel Dalet Hey Vav Zayin Heth Teth Yodh Kaf
א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ
Lamed Mem Nun Samekh Ayin Pe Tsadi Kuf Resh Shin Tav
ל מ נ ס ע פ צ ק ר ש ת
ם ן ף ץ


  1. Standard Israeli (Sephardi) [ʕivˈɾit]; Iraqi [ʕibˈriːθ]; Yemenite [ʕivˈriːθ]; Ashkenazi [ˈivʀis]

Related pagesEdit


Wikibooks has more about this subject:
  1. CIA's World Fact Book
  2. "Hebrew language report". Ethnologue. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  3. "Hebrew | Foreign Languages | Monroe Community College". www.monroecc.edu. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  4. Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2003). Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. England: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781403917232.
  5. "Hebrew alphabet | writing system". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  6. "The Hebrew Alphabet (Aleph-Bet)". www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  7. "Greek/Hebrew/Latin-based Symbols in Mathematics". Math Vault. 2020-03-20. Retrieved 2020-10-02.