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Question about Jesus speaking Hebrew?

Submitted: 2/9/2008
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Question: You said that Jesus spoke to His disciples in Hebrew. According to my understanding, as well as several other historical sources, the lauguage used in Palestine during the time of Jesus was Aramaic. This was supposedly considered the 'Lingua Franca', the common lauguage. Please give a detailed explanation about this to clairfy my confusion, thank you.

Answer: Some recent scholars have proposed that Jesus spoke Aramaic, but others believe the more traditional view that His primary language with His disciples was Hebrew. There is no doubt that Jesus was capable of speaking Hebrew and Aramaic as well as Greek. Different venues required the use of different languages, much as it is in certain countries today. For example, in southern Congo, it is not uncommon to find people who speak French, English, and Swahili.

The words Jesus uttered from the cross in Mark 15:34
(Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani) are certainly Aramaic. But as a Jewish holy man speaking of holy things to His disciples, Jesus probably would have conversed with them in Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament Scriptures. Since we have no recording, this question cannot be answered with absolute certainty. The one other point we would make, however, is that in Acts 21:40 when Paul was in Jerusalem, the Bible says, 'He spoke to them in the Hebrew language....' Paul's audience was religious Jews, who seemed to be impressed that Paul was speaking to them in Hebrew, which they all obviously understood. So Hebrew was definitely still in common usage in those days.