JESUS SPEAKS HEBREW
Jesus is a Hebrew speaking Israeli Jew born in Israel to an Israeli mother who was an observant Jew (Lk 2:4-41). Although Jesus said He was the "THE SON OF GOD", some Israelites referred to Him as "THE KING OF ISRAEL" (Jn 10:36; 12:13). Jesus said God sent Him only to "THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL" (Mt 15:24 IC). Some people who have a demonically inspired hatred for God's Jewish people, try to discredit Jesus' Jewish roots by claiming that Jesus spoke a foreign language when He walked the earth.. Jesus spoke the language God gave His people with the recording of the first books of the bible and God used when He gave the first manageable alphabet to humanity. Many people today who consider themselves educated are deceived into thinking Aramaic was Jesus language. Many believe that the Children of Israel in Jesus day spoke a foreign language and in times of worship and instruction had to have the Hebrew scriptures followed by a Aramaic translation or paraphrase, called a "Targum". These decptions are not consistent with the facts.
Jesus, born in Israel in the town of Bethlehem, was a relative of King David. The Hebrew Bible used (aka the Old Testament or the TANAKH) mentions the Aramaic language four times ( 2 Kings 18:26; Ezra 4:7; Isaiah 36:11; Daniel 2:4). In every mention, Aramaic is used as a foreign language and even contrasted with the Hebrew "the language of Judah" (NRS).
Closer to the time of Jesus' birth, we find that the overwhelming majority of The Dead Sea Scrolls are in Hebrew, not Aramaic.
In the stories recorded about Jesus, Aramaic is not even mentioned but Hebrew is mentioned 5 times (Lk 23:38; Jn 5:2; 19:13, 17, 20) in the majority of Greek manuscripts available. Paul even tells how, after Jesus rose from the dead, He spoke to him in Hebrew (Ac 26:14). As Jesus is alive and having spoke to Paul in Hebrew after He returned to heaven, it valid to say Jesus speaks in Hebrew in the present tense. A few years later, Paul wanted to get the attention of a crowd of Jews in Jerusalem and spoke to them in Hebrew (Ac 21:40; 22:2). Also, in the Aramaic translation of the Bible (aka The Syriac Vulgate or the Peshitta) the word Hebrew, not Aramaic, is found in the same 9 scriptures. It is wonderful that some translators or copiers respected God enough to record a word accurately.
As Jesus was growing up, we find a culture that was strong in their Hebrew roots. His family, relatives and friends made a long journey that took more than a day, every year to Jerusalem for Passover. When Jesus was 12, it is recorded in Luke 2:41-52 that He spent significant time in the Temple with the religious teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. It is valid to believe that the religious teachers, especially at the Temple, would converse only in Hebrew.
During Jesus ministry, there are recorded more than twenty eight times that He conversed, often with lengthy dialogue, with Jewish religious leaders ( aka Scribes, Pharisees, teachers of the Law, Priests, elders, etc.). These discussions or even debates would definitely be in the Hebrew language, the language of the Bible that their discussions centered around.
Also in Jesus teachings and conversations, He quoted or referred to passages in the Bible or the TANAKH over 96 times from 21 different books. Since the reference was to what Jesus and His listeners knew from Hebrew Scriptures, the discussions would be expected to be in Hebrew. There is never a suggestion of explaining anything from another language.
The most concrete example that Jesus read and spoke Hebrew is recorded in Luke 4:16-21 where He read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue in His hometown. There was definitely not even a hint of needing to translate it into Aramaic for His listeners.
Is it possible that Jesus also knew Aramaic? The answer would be yes. In many societies both then and now, people are multilingual. In Galilee, which was very cosmopolitan at that time with a heavy non-Jewish influence, Jesus, as a skilled craftsman prior to the start of His ministry, may have needed Greek and Aramaic to deal with His customers.
It is valid to consider that Jesus had a working knowledge of Greek. Greek was the main governing language in the eastern Roman Empire, which included Israel. It is considered likely that Roman administrators like a Roman centurion or Pontius Pilate would have used Greek when talking to Jesus. Greek turns up on a fifth of the Jewish inscriptions from the region and on a majority of the burial inscriptions. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which are just before the time of Jesus, also include some Greek manuscripts and some in Aramaic. The seventh cave discovered at Qumran contained only Greek texts.
Regarding words that are transliterated into the Greek recording of Jesus words in the bible, since Hebrew and Aramaic are so close, it is hard to be sure the original language. In one instance, the placement of the definite article might indicate Aramaic. As we consider the subject matter and the listener in influencing the language utilized, it is highly possible that Jesus spoke in Aramaic in some situations. A transliteration of an Aramaic word would further support it's uniqueness, as the writers of the gospel recorded words in Greek, from the Jewish oral tradition decades after Jesus originally spoke the words in Hebrew.
During Jesus ministry, His main focus was to lead the people of Israel closer to God. The Hebrew people that represented over 99% of the people to whom Jesus was communicating and the subject matter, which constantly referred to what is written in the Hebrew Bible, would also lead to the strong conclusion that the primary language Jesus used in His ministry was Hebrew.
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