Hebrew is an ancient language in the 3000s, belongs to the family of Afro-Asian languages, like its sister Arabic, Hebrew evolved from the Semitic language. Hebrew is the “language of the past” mentioned in the Bible as the ancient pain of the peoples of the region, including the people of Israel. The Bible says that “there” was the ancestor of “past”. From this we can understand the connection between the Semitic, which was the language of the “name” of the ancestor, and the Hebrew which is considered the language of the “past”. The book of Genesis calls our ancestor Abraham “the Hebrew Abraham”, and the sons of Abraham, the twelve tribes of Israel are called “the Hebrews”. It is assumed that this nickname came because Hebrew was the language of the Jews and the Samaritans at that time. According to the Bible, their origin was from an ethnic group in the ancient East who crossed the Jordan River and settled in Israel.
The uniqueness of Hebrew is that it connects the past with us and us today. The only one of all the ancient languages ​​that has survived, and it is spoken and lived to this day.

The author Ran Levy, presenter of the podcasts “Making History”, describes this wonderful and exciting phenomenon well. In one of his programs, Ran recounted a unique experience he had when he visited the archeology department of the Israel Museum, and these are his words: From what is known to us today – but still the contents of the tombstones could be deciphered effortlessly. Between me and my ancestors … this experience reminded me how truly ancient Hebrew is, and how fascinating and amazing the fact that we speak it today, thousands of years after it first appeared … “Ran says that the roots of Hebrew are in Mesopotamia, the area where we live today Iran and Iraq where the first reporter was born. It was a complex and cumbersome drawing. Over time, a peg script evolved from it that translated the hundreds of markings and shapes into short lines. But it still takes quite a bit of effort to decipher the script correctly and accurately. Ran says that a significant step in the development of writing took place around 1500 BC, a move that simplified and refined the Egyptian hieroglyphics to only twenty-two letters. Thus was born the ancient Canaanite scripture that fascinated Phoenician merchants and thanks to them spread throughout the Middle East.

About a thousand years BC this manuscript was adopted by our “Hebrew” ancestors. In the Land of Israel, Phoenician became a local dialect then known as the “Canaanite language” or “Jewish”, and today is called “Biblical Hebrew”. Even in our Hebrew today we can find the connection to the ancient Phoenician through the twenty-two letters, from which the roots of the word families are formed. For about four hundred years, the children of Israel spoke and wrote in biblical Hebrew, until the Assyrian uprising in 726 BC, in response to which the Assyrians exiled thousands of Jews from the Land of Israel and scattered them throughout the great kingdom. About a century after the revolt of the kingdom of Israel in Assyria, the people of the kingdom of Judah revolted against the Babylonian Empire, which replaced its predecessor. Of the Jewish independent state in the Land of Israel. Our Hebrew also had to pay a heavy price at the time. The language ceased to be a bee and living language.

While the exiled Jews stopped speaking Hebrew, new residents arrived in the country who settled in Samaria and were called “the Samaritans”. They adopted the language of the place and its customs, continued to write and speak in biblical Hebrew even after the destruction of the First and Second Temples. In contrast, the Jews were increasingly influenced by Aramaic, the language penetrated into their spoken language and the Aramaic manuscript took the place of the biblical Hebrew script among the Jews. After the destruction of the Second Temple, Hebrew almost completely ceased to be the everyday spoken language of the Jews. Two thousand years of exile caused Hebrew to become a written “sacred language.” Almost every Jew learned as a child to read and write A-B in a room. But the language was used for prayers and piyyutim and ceased to be a living and spoken language on a daily basis. Ran Levy says: “Hebrew was so dormant and abandoned that even the state contract, Benjamin Zeev Herzl, did not believe that he would ever come back to life – not even in the Jewish state that flourished in his imagination.” Who among us knows Hebrew sufficiently? “Even to ask for a train ticket in that language?”

Who would have believed that dormant Hebrew would be resurrected and come back to life after so many years? The first to contribute were dear Jews such as Moshe Mendelssohn, David Friedlander, Israel Jacobson and others, members of the Enlightenment movement. They wanted the Jews to leave the “Jewish ghetto”, stop studying Gemara and replace their traditional dress with modern clothes.
The stories of the Bible and the Bible were replaced by the writers of the Enlightenment movement and its poets with modern stories and poems, written in Hebrew.
In this way, they proved that works written in the present can be used in Hebrew, and not only in the holy books.

A significant impetus was given to the revival of Hebrew in the late 19th century, following the rise of the Zionist movement and the beginning of settlement in the Land of Israel. It was Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew, who argued that in the land of the patriarchs the language of the patriarchs should be spoken. Ben-Yehuda worked in a large number of fields to promote Hebrew speech in the Land of Israel. At home he made sure to speak only Hebrew with his family. So that his son could play and say what was on his mind, Ben-Yehuda began to invent new words in Hebrew. For example: ball, doll, ice cream, bicycle, gloves, hat. In the memoir he wrote about those days, he wrote that even in homes where the parents spoke Hebrew with the children, and although there was room for other languages, the children also spoke Hebrew. Ben-Yehuda believed that kindergartens and schools should also speak Hebrew and teach “Hebrew in Hebrew.”

For a real teaching method, Yitzhak Epstein developed this way. A student of the Zionist Lilienblum, a teacher and educator with all his heart. As early as 1891, he ran a girls’ school in Safed on the purity of Hebrew. The principles of his method formed the basis of the principles of education in Israel until the 1950s and also influenced the teaching method used in Hebrew studios today, including our “keys” method in Ulpan Adi, which was greatly inspired by the “Hebrew in Hebrew” principles of Epstein and his friends. The guidelines of his path: natural learning close to the way mother tongue is learned; Sharing all the senses; Learning through induction – from the individual to the general; Teaching is graded in various aspects: easy versus heavy, near versus far, familiar versus unfamiliar; Based on the child’s interests; Close with the natural environment; Combining singing and acting; Use of language as a national tool for the resumption of settlement in the country.

For the “Hebrew revival” project of Ben-Yehuda and his friends, quite a few opponents also arose alongside the supporters. Throughout the first decade of the twentieth century, tensions grew between the pioneers who wanted to revive Hebrew, and the country’s older generation who preferred to preserve their mother tongues. Tensions peaked in 1913. In the “war of languages” took part lovers of culture and the Hebrew language who saw language as a significant tier in the Zionist enterprise that aimed to build an independent Jewish state, whose citizens’ language in all areas of life of the individual and society is Hebrew. The quarrel broke out on October 26, 1913, following the decision of the German-Jewish “Ezra” company, which supported and promoted the establishment of educational institutions in the country, to introduce German as the language of instruction. The teachers in the country formed a large protest movement and declared that they would not teach in the schools where the language of instruction was German. The students went on strike and left the school bench. The demand was principled and sweeping: Hebrew is the language in which Jewish schools in the country should be taught and taught! In his article “The War of Languages”, the website of the National Library states that the members of the new settlement in Israel saw this decision as a reduction of Hebrew. The struggle against it was attended by Hebrew school students and their graduates, teachers, writers, educated people and various public representatives from all walks of life in the community. Ashkenazis and Sephardim, urban and peasants, workers and bourgeois, parties and organizations. Hebrew writers and journalists in Eastern Europe also supported the struggle. Within a short time, new schools were established all over the country in which only Hebrew was taught.

In the last two months of 1913, three new educational institutions on the purity of Hebrew were established. In December, as one man, students and teachers left an educational institution of the “Ezra” company in Jaffa and established a new independent Hebrew school in its place. Following this, the “First Hebrew Real School” was established in Haifa and the “Hebrew Teachers’ Seminary” in Jerusalem. The year 1914 brought victory to modern Hebrew! On February 22, 1914, the court of the Technion decided that the language of instruction in it would be Hebrew. The status of Hebrew in Israel was greatly strengthened, and among other things, it gained recognition of its Ottoman rule as the official language of instruction. Today our Hebrew is a rich and diverse language. It has words in abundance for almost everything. Today we can buy strawberries in Hebrew or train tickets. As well as playing football, watching TV, and listening to a lecture. It can be likened to a delicious layered cake, made up of the ancient Hebrew roots mixed together with new words that have been added to it and are constantly being added every day. The language of the Bible, the language of the Sages and the language of the Middle Ages along with new Hebrew words, foreign words that came in from foreign languages, and words and phrases from the slang. Everything together feels like one big celebration. Indeed, every year on the 22nd of Tevet, Ben-Yehuda, we lovingly celebrate and celebrate “Hebrew Language Day.” In memory of Ben-Yehuda and in honor of Hebrew, I wrote the story of the “Hebrew Forest.” I chose to end with an excerpt from it:

“… The forest grew for two thousand years or more. Many trees were in the forest, tall and low, they were thick and also thin. The fruits of the trees like honey were sweet. From the roots grew word trees, many words like leaves grew among the trees. Words that could tell about “The first root” of the Hebrew family. There were words that remembered the locals, speakers of the Hebrew language. The forest was sad, and the trees were sad. “We have no future, we have only roots and no new fruit.” The trees wept night and day, the earth wept with them. The good. She waited and waited until the day came. Until one bright day, with a light step and a loving hand, a young man named Eliezer entered the forest. Roots to gather in the new city. Days passed, and years also. Eliezer’s roots became words. Words that filled the Hebrew city, Words that reached all places of the country. Words that reached the houses of the people, connected with the sentences and started talking. Families Families went out into the forest. They wanted to plant new trees in the ancient Hebrew land … “(Excerpt from the story” The Hebrew Forest “by Adi Berger Ram)

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