Jump to: ISBEWebster'sThesaurusLibrarySubtopicsTermsResources
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (a.) Of or pertaining to Arabia or the Arabians.

2. (n.) The language of the Arabians.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

ar'-a-bik lan'-gwaj: For the student of the Bible the Arabic language is of interest, first, as one of the members of the Semitic group of languages, to which belong the Hebrew and Aramaic tongues of the Bible; secondly, as one of the languages into which the Bible and other church literature were early translated and in which a Christian literature was produced; and thirdly, as the vernacular of Mohammed and his followers, the classical tongue of that religious system which is the offspring of a degenerate Judaism and Christianity.

1. Philological Characterization:

Scholars are generally agreed in grouping the Arabic and Ethiopic together as a South-Sem branch of the Semitic stock. For the geographical and ethnological background of the Arabic language, see ARABIA. A general characteristic of this tongue of the desert is its remarkable retention into a late historical period, of grammatical features obliterated or in process of obliteration in the other Semitic tongues at their earliest emergence in literature; so that in the period since the golden age of its literature, the Arabic has been undergoing changes in some respects analogous to those which its sister-dialects underwent in their pre-literary or earliest literary stage. Thus, for example, the case-endings of nouns, lost in Aramaic and Canaanitish (including Hebrew), all but lost in the Abyssinian dialects, beginning to be disregarded in even the early (popular) Babylonian, lost also in the dialects of modern Arabic are in full vitality throughout the classical period of Arabic literature.

The Arabic language itself, ancient and modern, divides into a vast number of dialects, many of which have attained the distinction of producing a literature greater or less. But the dialect of the tribe of Koreish, to which Mohammed belonged, is the one that, naturally, by the circumstance of the Koran's composition and diffusion, has become the norm of pure Arabic. Old Arabic poems, some of them produced in "the Ignorance," that is, before the days of Mohammed, are in substantially the same dialect as that of the Koran, for it appears that Bedouin tribes ranging within the limits of the Arabian desert spoke an Arabic little differentiated by tribal or geographical peculiarities. On the other hand the inhabitants of the coast of the Indian Ocean from Yemen to Oman, and of the island of Socotra off that coast, spoke an Arabic differing widely from that of the northern tribes. The various dialects of this "South-Arabic," known partly through their daughter-dialects of today (Mehri, Socotri, etc.), partly from the numerous and important inscriptions ("Minaean" and "Sabaean") found in Yemen by recent travelers, notably Halevy and Glaser, show a closer affinity than do the "North-Arabic" with the Abyssinian dialects (Ge'ez, i.e. "Ethiopic," Tigre, Tigrina, Amharic, etc.), as might indeed be expected from the admitted South Arabian origin of the Habesh-tribes or Abyssinians.

For the interpretation of the Old Testament the Arabic language has been of service in a variety of ways. In the department of lexicography it has thrown light not only on many a word used but once in the Bible or too seldom for usage alone to determine its meaning, but also on words which had seemed clear enough in their Biblical setting, but which have received illustration or correction from their usage in the immense bulk and range of Arabic literature with its enormous vocabulary. For the modern scientific study of Hebrew grammar, with its genetic method, Arabic has been of the greatest value, through the comparison of its cognate forms, where, in the main, the Arabic has the simpler, fuller and more regular morphology, and through the comparison of similar constructions, for which the highly developed Arabic syntax furnishes useful rubrics.

In addition to this the Arabic language plays a prominent part, perhaps the foremost part, in the determination of those laws of the mutation of sounds, which once governed the development and now reveal the mutual relationships of the various Semitic languages.

The script which we know as Arabic script, with its numerous varieties, developed out of the vulgar Aramaic alphabet in North Arabia; diacritical points were added to many of those letters, either to distinguish Arabic sounds for which no letter existed, or to differentiate letters the forms of which had become so similar as to create confusion. In Yemen another script arose early, that of the inscriptions above mentioned, admirably clear and adapted to express probably all the chief varieties of consonantal sounds in actual use, though quite without vowels.

2. Christian Arabic Literature:

For Arabic versions of the Bible, see ARABIC VERSIONS. Outside of the Scriptures themselves there was most felt by Christian communities living in the Arabic-speaking world (primarily, though not exclusively, in Egypt and Syria) the need of a Christian literature suited to the tastes of the time and region. Apocryphal and legendary material makes up a large part, therefore, of the list of Christian Arabic literature. See APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS. But this material was not original. With the small degree of intellectual activity in those circles it is not surprising that most of such material, and indeed of the entire literary output, consists of translations from Syriac, Greek or Coptic, and that original productions are few in number.

Of these last the most noteworthy are the following: theological and apologetic tracts by Theodore, bishop of Haran, the same who held the famous disputation with Mohammedan scholars at the court of Caliph Al-Mamun early in the 9th century; apologetic and polemic writings of Yahya ibn Adi of Tekrit, and of his pupil Abu All Isaiah ibn Ishaq, both in the 10th century; the Arabic works of Bar Hebraeus, better known for his numerous Syriac compositions, but productive also of both historical and theological works in Arabic (13th century); in Egypt, but belonging to the same Jacobite or Monophysite communion as the above, the polemic and homiletic productions of Bishop Severus of Eshmunain (10th century), and, a generation earlier than Severus and belonging to the opposing or Melkite Egyptian church, the chronicle of Eutychius, patriarch of Alexandria, continued a century later by Yahya ibn Said of Antioch; large compilations of church history, church law and theological miscellany by the Coptic Christians Al-Makin, Abu Ishaq ibn Al-Assal, Abu'l-Barakat and others, the leaders in a general revival of Egyptian Christianity in the 13th century; on the soil of Nestorianism, finally, the ecclesiastical, dogmatic and exegetical writings of Abulfaraj Abdallah ibn At-Tayyib, (11 century), the apologetic compositions of his contemporary, Elias ben Shinaya, the historian, and the Nestorian church chronicle begun in the 12th century by Mari ibn Suleiman and continued two centuries later by Amr ibn Mattai and Saliba bar Johannan. After this date there is no original literature produced by Arabic-speaking Christians until the modern intellectual revival brought about by contact with European Christianity.

3. The Literary Vehicle of Islam:

What Aramaic, Greek and Latin have been successively in the history of Christianity, all this, and more, Arabic has been in the history of Islam. The language of its founder and his "helpers," the language of the Koran "sent down" from God to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel, the language therefore in which it has always been preserved by the faithful, untranslated, whithersoever it has spread in the wide world of Islam, Arabic is identified with Islam in its origin, its history, its literature and its propaganda. All the points of contact between the religion of the Bible and the religion of the Koran, literary, historical, apologetic and missionary, are alike in this, that they demand of the intelligent student of Christianity a sympathetic acquaintance with the genius and the masterpieces of the great Arabic tongue.

J. Oscar Boyd


ar'-a-bik vur'-shuns: Arabic translations of the Bible must have been made at a very early date, for Christianity and Judaism had penetrated far into Arabia by the 6th century of our era, but the oldest of which a copy has come down to our time is that of Sasdish the Gaon (942 A.D.). This version was made directly from the Massoretic Text and is said to have covered the whole of the Old Testament, but much of it is no longer extant. It is characterized by an avoidance of anthropomorphisms (e.g. Genesis 6:2, "sons of nobles" and "daughters of common people") and by giving modern equivalents, e.g. Turks, Franks, Chinese, for the Hebrew names. Saadiah's Pentateuch was first printed at Constantinople in 1546 and was incorporated into the Paris (1629-45) and London (1657) Polyglots.

When, after the rise of Islam, Arabic became the common language of Syria, Egypt and North Africa, translations were made from the Septuagint, from the Peshitta and from Coptic. In the Polyglots the translation of Joshua is, like the Pentateuch, made from the Massoretic Text, as also portions of Kings and Nehemiah, with interpolations from the Peshitta. Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings (in parts), 1 and 2 Chronicles (?), Nehemiah (in parts) and Job have been translated into Arabic from Syriac. The remaining books (Prophets, Psalms, Proverbs, etc.) are from the Septuagint, and that according to Codex Alexandrinus. In the New Testament the Gospels have been translated from the Vulgate, and the remaining books, although from the Greek, are late. A revised edition of the versions in Walton's Polyglot was published by J. D. Carlyle, professor of Arabic in Cambridge, and printed at Newcastle by Sarah Hodgson in 1811. A very fine translation of the entire Bible in classical Arabic has been issued by the Jesuit Fathers in Beirut, and a simpler version in Arabic which can be understood by the common people, educated and uneducated alike, was made by the late Dr. Cornelius Van Dyck of the Syrian Protestant College and published by the American Press in Beirut. Dr. Van Dyck had the benefit of the help and advice of the Sheikh Nacif al-Yaziji.

A large number of manuscripts of the Bible in Arabic, in whole or in part, are to be found in the British Museum, the Bibliotheque Nationale and the great libraries of the Continent, but none of them are of sufficient age to make them of value for the criticism of the text.

Thomas Hunter Weir






The Captions of the Arabic Canons Attributed to the Council of ...
... The Captions of the Arabic Canons Attributed to the Council of Nice. Canon I.
[109] ... of Echellensis's Nova Versio LXXXIV. Arabic. Canonum Conc. ...
/.../schaff/the seven ecumenical councils/the captions of the arabic.htm

The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour
The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour. <. The Arabic Gospel
of the Infancy of the Saviour Unknown. Alexander Walker, Esq. ...
/.../ arabic gospel of the infancy of the saviour/

The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour (Nt Apocrypha)
The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour. <. ... The Arabic Gospel
of the Infancy of the Saviour (NT Apocrypha). Introduction ...
/.../the arabic gospel of the infancy of the saviour/the arabic gospel of the.htm

The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour
The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour. <. ...
/.../unknown/the arabic gospel of the infancy of the saviour/title page.htm

Excursus on the Number of the Nicene Canons.
... The ms. is in Arabic, and was discovered by JB Romanus, SJ, who first made its contents
known, and translated into Latin a copy he had made of it. ...
/.../schaff/the seven ecumenical councils/excursus on the number of.htm

And Jesus Knew Within Himself that his Disciples were Murmuring ...
... the Father. [6] [Arabic, p.78] [1409] And because of this word many of his
disciples turned back and walked [7] not with him. [1410 ...
/.../hogg/the diatessaron of tatian/section xx and jesus knew.htm

The Israelites
... Kelb is "dog" in modern Arabic as kalbu was in ancient Babylonian, and
the modern Arabic tayyib, "good," is the Babylonian tabu. ...
/.../sayce/early israel and the surrounding nations/chapter i the israelites.htm

And the Pharisees Went Out, and Consulted Together Concerning Him. ...
... [622] And he healed many, so that they were almost falling on [Arabic,
p.31] him [623] on account of their seeking to get near him. ...
/.../hogg/the diatessaron of tatian/section viii and the pharisees.htm

And Jesus Departed Thence, and came to the Side of the Sea of ...
... me three days, having nothing to eat; and to send them away fasting I am not willing,
lest they faint in the way, [1612] some of them having [6] [Arabic, p.89 ...
/.../hogg/the diatessaron of tatian/section xxiii and jesus departed.htm

The Birth of Jesus the Messiah was on this Wise...
... The Text of the Diatessaron. Section II. the birth of Jesus the Messiah was on this
wise? [1] [Arabic, p.7] [173] Now [174] the birth of Jesus the Messiah ...
/.../hogg/the diatessaron of tatian/section ii the birth of.htm

... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. ARABIC LANGUAGE. ... For the geographical and
ethnological background of the Arabic language, see ARABIA. ...
/a/arabic.htm - 17k

Ass (95 Occurrences)
... as (chamowr or chamor, compare Arabic chamar, apparently connected with Arabic root
'achmar, "red," but referred by some to root hamal, "to carry"; also, but ...
/a/ass.htm - 48k

Threshingfloor (18 Occurrences)
... The instruments of the threshing-floor referred to in 2 Samuel 24:22 were probably:
(1) the wooden drag or sledge, charuts or moragh, Arabic lauch eddiras; (2 ...
/t/threshingfloor.htm - 15k

Threshing-floor (36 Occurrences)
... The instruments of the threshing-floor referred to in 2 Samuel 24:22 were probably:
(1) the wooden drag or sledge, charuts or moragh, Arabic lauch eddiras; (2 ...
/t/threshing-floor.htm - 21k

Coal (7 Occurrences)
... kol (pecham, "charcoal"; compare Arabic fachm, "charcoal"; gacheleth, "burning coal"
or "hot ember"; compare Arabic jacham, "to kindle"; shechor, "a black coal ...
/c/coal.htm - 14k

Locust (25 Occurrences)
... lo'-kust: The translation of a large number of Hebrew and Greek words: 1. Names:
(1) 'arbeh from the root rabhah, "to increase" (compare Arabic raba', "to ...
/l/locust.htm - 34k

Deer (15 Occurrences)
... der ('ayyal, feminine 'ayyalah, and 'ayyeleth (compare Arabic, 'ayyal and 'iyal,
"deer" and 'ayil, "ram," and Latin caper and capra, "goat," caprea, capreolus ...
/d/deer.htm - 17k

Acacia (28 Occurrences)
... Easton's Bible Dictionary (Hebrews shittim) Exodus 25:5, RV probably the Acacia
seyal (the gum-arabic tree); called the "shittah" tree (Isaiah 41:19). ...
/a/acacia.htm - 16k

Beast (243 Occurrences)
... The commonest Hebrew words behemah and chai have their counterpart in the Arabic
as do three others less often used, be`ir (Genesis 45:17 Exodus 22:5 Numbers 20 ...
/b/beast.htm - 50k

Mountain (298 Occurrences)
... gibh`ah = Gibeah (Judges 19:12); compare Geba, gebha` (1 Samuel 13:3); Gibeon,
gib`on (Joshua 9:3), from root gabha`, "to be high"; compare Arabic qubbeh, "dome ...
/m/mountain.htm - 48k

What happened in the Six-Day War? |

What is the Qur'an? |

Who is Allah? What is the origin of belief in Allah? |

Arabic: Dictionary and Thesaurus |

Bible ConcordanceBible DictionaryBible EncyclopediaTopical BibleBible Thesuarus


Arabic Gospel of the Infancy

Arabic History of Joseph the Carpenter

Arabic Language

Arabic Versions

Related Terms

Ass (95 Occurrences)

Threshingfloor (18 Occurrences)

Threshing-floor (36 Occurrences)

Coal (7 Occurrences)

Locust (25 Occurrences)

Deer (15 Occurrences)

Acacia (28 Occurrences)

Beast (243 Occurrences)

Mountain (298 Occurrences)

Cattle (277 Occurrences)

Lizard (3 Occurrences)

Lion (92 Occurrences)

Wood (226 Occurrences)

Reservoir (1 Occurrence)

Mole (2 Occurrences)

Pond (2 Occurrences)

Porcupine (3 Occurrences)

Bee (1 Occurrence)

Cave (40 Occurrences)

Cord (47 Occurrences)

Dog (19 Occurrences)

Horseleach (1 Occurrence)

East (228 Occurrences)

Serpent (40 Occurrences)

Goat (92 Occurrences)

Thorn (30 Occurrences)

Nuts (2 Occurrences)

Lamb (124 Occurrences)

Grass (92 Occurrences)

Worm (22 Occurrences)

Trees (179 Occurrences)

Tortoise (1 Occurrence)

Earth (10501 Occurrences)

Myrrh (22 Occurrences)

Millet (1 Occurrence)

Mice (5 Occurrences)

Mouse (2 Occurrences)

Parched (37 Occurrences)

Pits (13 Occurrences)

Bar-jesus (1 Occurrence)

Barjesus (1 Occurrence)

Coast (70 Occurrences)

Chaff (24 Occurrences)


Shittah (2 Occurrences)

Shittim (34 Occurrences)



Silk (4 Occurrences)

Slime (6 Occurrences)

Capernaum (16 Occurrences)


Jackal (3 Occurrences)


Bason (3 Occurrences)

Dye (1 Occurrence)

Camel (13 Occurrences)

Salt (45 Occurrences)

Languages (36 Occurrences)

Nehelamite (4 Occurrences)

Tree (245 Occurrences)


Potter (14 Occurrences)

Language (112 Occurrences)

Wild (147 Occurrences)

Pottery (11 Occurrences)

Basin (37 Occurrences)

Oak (22 Occurrences)

Desert (322 Occurrences)

Flesh (468 Occurrences)



Oil (281 Occurrences)

Village (21 Occurrences)

Zion (169 Occurrences)

Zoheleth (1 Occurrence)

Kine (24 Occurrences)

Kedar (11 Occurrences)

Top of Page
Top of Page