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ATS Bible Dictionary

One of the distinguishing gifts of God to man, essential to all high enjoyment and improvement in social life, and to be prized and used in a manner worthy of its priceless value for the glory of God and the benefit of mankind. The original language was not the growth of a mere faculty of speech in man, but a creation of gift of God. Adam and Eve when created knew how to converse with each other and with the Creator. For some two thousand years, "the whole earth was of one language and of one speech," Genesis 11:1. But about one hundred years after the flood, according to the common chronology, and later according to others, God miraculously "confounded the language" of the Cushite rebels at Babel; and peopling the earth by these scattered families of diverse tongues, He frustrated the designs and promoted his own. There are now several hundreds of languages and dialects spoken on the earth, and infidels have hence taken occasion to discredit the Bible doctrine of the unity of the human race. It is found, however, that these languages are distributed in several great classes, which have striking affinities with each other; and as comparative philology extends its researches, it finds increasing evidence of the substantial oneness of the human race and of the truth of Scripture.

The miracle performed at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost was the reverse of that at Babel, Acts 2:1-18, and beautifully illustrated the tendency of the gospel to introduce peace and harmony where sin has brought discord, and to reunite all the tribes of mankind in one great brotherhood.

To the student of the Bible, one of the most important subjects is the character and history of the original languages in which that holy book was written. In respect to the original Greek of the New Testament, some remarks have been made under the article GREECE. The Hebrew language, in which the Old Testament was written, is but one of the cluster of cognate languages, as belonging particularly to the descendants of Shem. A proper knowledge of the Hebrew, therefore, implies also an acquaintance with these of the kindred dialects.

The Shemitic languages may be divided into three principal dialects, namely, the Aramaean, the Hebrew, and the Arabic. 1. The Aramaean, spoken in Syria, Mesopotamia, and Babylonia, is subdivided into the Syriac and Chaldee dialects sometimes called also the West and East Aramaean. 2. The Hebrew or Canaanites dialect, Isaiah 19:18, was spoken in Palestine, and probably with little variation in Phoenicia and the Phoenician colonies, as for instance, at Carthage and other places. The remains of the Phoenician and Punic dialects are too few and too much disfigured to enable us to judge with certainty how extensively these languages were the same as the dialect of Palestine. 3. The Arabic, to which the Ethiopic bears a special resemblance, comprises, in modern times, a great variety of dialects as a spoken language, and is spread over a vast extent of country; but so far as we are acquainted with its former state, it appears more anciently to have been limited principally to Arabia and Ethiopia.

These languages are distinguished from European tongues by several marked peculiarities: they are all, except the Ethiopic, written from right to left, and their books begin at what we should call the end; the alphabet, with the exception of the Ethiopic which is syllabic, consists of consonants only, above or below which the vowel-points are written; they have several guttural consonants very difficult of pronunciation to Europeans; the roots of the language are, in general, verbs of three letters, and pronounced, according to the various dialects, with one or more vowels; the verbs have but two tenses, the past and the future; and the pronouns in the oblique cases are generally untied in the same word with the noun or verb to which they have a relation. These various dialects form substantially one language, of which the original home was Western Asia. That they have all diverged from one parent stock is manifest, but to determine which of them has undergone the fewest changes would be a difficult question. The language of Noah and his son Shem was substantially that of Adam and all the antediluvians. Shem and Heber were contemporary with Abraham, and transmitted, as we have good reason to believe, their common tongue to the race of Israel; for it is not to be assumed that at the confusion of Babel no branch of the human family retained the primitive language. It does not appear that the descendants of Shem were among the builders of Babel, Genesis 10:8-10.

The oldest records that are known to exist are composed in the Hebrew language. It flourished in its purest form in Palestine, among the Phoenicians and Hebrews, until the period of the Babylonish exile; soon after which it declined, and finally was succeeded by a kind of Hebraeo-Aramaean dialect, such as was spoken in the time of our Savior among the Jews. The West Aramaean had flourished before this for a long time in the east and north of Palestine; but it now advanced farther west, and during the period that the Christian churches of Syria flourished, it was widely extended. It is at present almost a dead language, and has been so for several centuries. The Hebrew may be regarded as having been a dead language, except among a small circle of literati, for about the space of two thousand years. Our knowledge of Arabic literature extends back very little beyond the time of Mohammed. But the followers of this pretended prophet have spread the dialect of the Koran over vast portions of the world. Arabic is now the vernacular language of Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and in a great measure of Palestine and all the northern coast of Africa; while it is read and understood wherever the Koran has gone, in Turkey, Persia, India, and Tartary.

The remains of the ancient Hebrew tongue are contained in the Old Testament and in the few Phoenician and Punic words and inscriptions that have been here and there discovered. The remains of the Aramaean are extant in a variety of books. In Chaldee, we have a part of the books of Daniel and Ezra, Daniel 2:4-7:28 Ezra 4:8-6:18 7:12-26, which are the most ancient of any specimens of this dialect. The Targum of Onkelos, that is, the translation of the Pentateuch into Chaldee, affords the next and purest specimen of that language. The oldest specimen of this language that we have is contained in the Peshito, or Syriac version of the Old and New Testament, made perhaps within a century after the time of Christ. A multitude of writers in this dialect have flourished, many of whose writings are probably still extant, although but few have been printed in Europe. In Arabic, there exists a great variety of manuscripts and books, historical, scientific, and literary. A familiar knowledge of this and its kindred dialects throws much valuable light on the Old Testament Scriptures.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) Any means of conveying or communicating ideas; specifically, human speech; the expression of ideas by the voice; sounds, expressive of thought, articulated by the organs of the throat and mouth.

2. (n.) The expression of ideas by writing, or any other instrumentality.

3. (n.) The forms of speech, or the methods of expressing ideas, peculiar to a particular nation.

4. (n.) The characteristic mode of arranging words, peculiar to an individual speaker or writer; manner of expression; style.

5. (n.) The inarticulate sounds by which animals inferior to man express their feelings or their wants.

6. (n.) The suggestion, by objects, actions, or conditions, of ideas associated therewith; as, the language of flowers.

7. (n.) The vocabulary and phraseology belonging to an art or department of knowledge; as, medical language; the language of chemistry or theology.

8. (n.) A race, as distinguished by its speech.

9. (v. t.) To communicate by language; to express in language.

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-ma'-ik lan'-gwaj ('aramith; the King James Version Syrian, Syriac; SYRIAN in the Revised Version (British and American)):

1. Early Notices of Aramaic in Scripture

2. Extra-Biblical Evidences of Aramaic

3. The Script of Aramaic Inscriptions

4. Dialects of Aramaic

5. Grammatical Peculiarities

6. Comparison of Aramaic of Sinjirli with That of Bible

7. Comparison of Aramaic of Assouan with That of Daniel

8. Elephantine Papyri

9. Comparison with Aramaic of the Targums

10. Chief Differences in Latter


The name is given to a form of Semitic speech, most nearly related to Hebrew and Phoenician, but exhibiting marked peculiarities, and subsisting in different dialects. Its original home may have been in Mesopotamia (Aram), but it spread North and West, and, as below shown, became the principal tongue throughout extensive regions. After the return from the Captivity, it displaced Hebrew as the spoken language of the Jews in Palestine. In its eastern form it is known as Syriac. In its occurrence in the Old Testament, it formerly, though incorrectly, generally bore the name Chaldee. The present article deals with it chiefly in its. Old Testament relations.

1. Early Notices of Aramaic in Scripture:

If we neglect two words which occur in Genesis 31:47, the earliest notice of the use of this language in Scripture is in the request which the representatives of Hezekiah make to Rabshakeh: "Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syriac language" ('aramith, 2 Kings 18:26 Isaiah 36:11). The narrative from which we have made this excerpt, even if it stood alone, would prove that Aramaic, "the Syriac language," was so different from Hebrew, "the Jews' language," that it was not understood by the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Further, it shows that Aramaic was the ordinary language of Assyrian diplomacy. We next meet with Aramaic in Jeremiah 10:11 which appears to be an answer put into the mouths of the Jews as a reply to any attempt to seduce them to the worship of idols. If we assume the traditional date of Daniel to be correct, the six chapters in that book (Daniel 2:4-7:28), forming the greater part of the whole, are the next and most important occurrence of Aramaic in Scripture. There are, further, passages in Ezra 4:8-6:18; Ezra 7:12-26, amounting approximately to three chapters, in which Aramaic is used. In the New Testament several Aramaic words and phrases occur, modified by having passed through Greek

2. Extra-Biblical Evidences of Aramaic:

Formerly our knowledge of Aramaic earlier than the Targums and the Peshitta was restricted to the above-noticed passages of Scripture. Now, however, discoveries, still comparatively recent, have put us in a different position. In the closing decade of last century extensive inscriptions were discovered in Sibbaldia, in the neighborhood of Aleppo, dated in the reigns of Tiglathpileser and the Sargonid monarchs, and one that seems earlier. More recent has been the discovery of the Assouan papyri; these bear dates which synchronize with Ezra and Nehemiah. Earlier than these in discovery, but between them in date of origin, are weights of the reign of Sargon, with two inscriptions, one, official, in cuneiform, which not only gives the designation of the weight, but relates the name and titles of the king; the other, popular, in Aramaic, which only tells the weight. More striking is the fact that frequently, in regard to contract tablets, while the binding document is in cuneiform character and the Assyrian language, the inscription on the clay envelope which served as a docquet is in Aramaic, language and letter. This affords proof that at all events before the reign of Tiglath-pileser Aramaic was the general speech for commerce and diplomacy all over Southwest Asia.

3. The Script of Aramaic Inscriptions:

When we come in contact with it, Aramaic is a fully formed alphabetical language, and has attained a further stage of development than the Assyrian with its cumbrous cuneiform. To the end, Assyrian was largely ideographic and hieroglyphic. The same group of symbols represented very different sounds according to circumstances, and widely differing meanings were connected with the same sound, with the consequent necessity for determinatives. The alphabet employed in Aramaic is practically that found on the Moabite Stone. It evidently stands at the end of a long process of evolution. It is probable that a hieroglyphic stood behind it; whether it is derived from the Hittite (Conder), or from Egyptian (Rouge), or Assyrian (Delitzsch), or is of independent origin (Gesenius), cannot be determined. Aramaic is, like Hebrew and Assyrian, a North Semitic tongue, standing in a manner between them. It is more regular in its formation than either of the others, a character that may to some extent be due to its use as a lingua franca over so wide a territory. Aramaic was the official language of the extensive Persian empire, as it had been to some extent that of its predecessor, the empire of Assyria. It may be regarded as having been generally understood from Asia Minor on the North, to the Cataracts of the Nile on the South, and from the mountains of Media on the East, to the Mediterranean on the West. Its history has been long; spoken, as we learn by inscriptions, from before the days of Tiglath-pileser, it is still spoken on the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates.

4. Dialects of Aramaic:

These extensive limits, geographical and chronological, imply dialectic differences. Means of communication were so ineffective that the distance between the eastern and western limits would require greater time to traverse, than does that which separates America from Europe, or New York from Brazil. The primary dialectic distinction was between eastern Aramaic (Syriac) and western (formerly called Chaldee). The peculiarity which most prominently distinguishes these is the preformative of the imperfect; in the western, as in Hebrew and Arabic, it is yodh (y), while in the eastern it is nun (n) or lamedh (l). Each of these has sub-dialects. In Palestine, besides the Chaldee of the Jewish Targums, there was the Samaritan Pentateuch; in it, besides many foreign elements in the vocabulary, the use of `ayin instead of waw in the preterite of `ayin-waw verbs is the most striking feature. The sub-dialect of eastern Aramaic is Mandean; it is characterized by the use of the matres lectionis instead of vowel signs. From the inscriptions and the papyri it would seem to follow that the eastern peculiarities are the more recent-changes introduced through passage of time. In eastern Aramaic the script became more cursive than in western, which retained the square character we associate with Hebrew: except the Samaritan, which used a still earlier script, less removed from the angular style of the inscriptions. The script of the Assouan papyri indicated a tendency toward the later square character.

5. Grammatical Peculiarities:

Although an article like the present is not the place to give a full grammar of Aramaic, yet we may advert to some of the more prominent peculiarities, common to all branches of the language, which distinguish it from Hebrew, the best-known of north Semitic tongues. The peculiarity that most strikes the beginner in Aramaic is the want of the article, and the presence instead of the status emphaticus, which follows the syntactic rules of the Hebrew article. The next thing likely to attract attention is the use of the relative pronoun zi or di as if it were a preposition meaning "of." While in Hebrew the passive voice is generally indicated in the derived conjugations by internal vocalic changes, as the pu`al from the pi`el; in Aramaic the syllable 'eth (E) or 'ith (W) is prefixed (earlier hith). Instead of the Hebrew causative hiph`il there is the 'aph`el earlier haph`el with its passive 'ethtaph`al or 'ittaph`al (earlier hoph`al). The causative had also shaph`el and taph`el forms, which occasionally are found. While in the Targums and the Old Testament Peshitta the syllable yath is the sign of the accusative (earlier vath, as in the Sinjirli inscriptions), the letter lamedh serves that purpose in Aramaic which is not a translation from Hebrew. A characteristic of later Aramaic prominent in the Peshitta of the New Testament is the facility with which it adopted words and phrases from Greek which had already largely displaced it as the common language. New Syriac shows a similar facility in regard to Arabic and Persian.

6. Comparison of the Aramaic of Sinjirli with That of the Bible:

A question of very considerable importance to the Biblical student is the relation in which the Aramaic of Daniel and Ezra stands to that of the Sinjirli inscriptions and that of the more nearly contemporary Assouan papyri. In making the comparison we must bear in mind that the Hebrew Massoretic Text is the result of transcriptions extending the Bible over 1,500 or 1,200 years, according as we take the traditional or the critical dates for the books in question. This implies probably a score or more of transcriptions each with its quota of variations from the original. While the variations introduced by any one transcription might be few and unimportant, they would all be in the direction of lateness, and cumulatively might easily become very great. The late Hebrew of Ecclesiastes, notwithstanding its ascription to Solomon, shows how little the idea of the chronology of style entered into the thoughts of the scribes of those days, to check this tendency to modernization. It follows that while the presence of late peculiarities proves nothing but the inaccuracy of the copyist, early grammatical forms and modes of spelling are nearly indisputable evidences of antiquity.

The Sinjirli inscriptions, if we neglect the less important, are three, the Panammu inscription, the Hadad inscription and the Barrekab inscription (Bauenschrift, Sachau). The first and last of these are dated in the reign of Tiglath-pileser, the middle one is placed by Sachau in the preceding century. It ought to be noted that, when first discovered, it was a matter of doubt whether the inscriptions should not be reckoned as Hebrew, rather than Aramaic The close affinity between them and Hebrew is shown in various ways. By a relation among the north Semitic tongues similar to that among the Aryan languages expressed by Grimm's law, where letters with the s- sound appear in Hebrew, in later Aramaic we find corresponding letters with the t-sound. But in the Sinjirli inscriptions we do not find this mark of the later language; thus we have sheqel, not theqel, shelathin instead of telathin, zehabh for dhehabh, etc. That this is not due to the proximity of Hebrew is proved by the fact that on the weights in Sargon's palace we find sheqel. Thus, the Sinjirli inscriptions date from a period when Hebrew and Aramaic had not been completely differentiated. There are other points of likeness. Instead of the 'aph`el and 'ethtaph`al or 'ittaph`al of later Aramaic, there is haph`el and hoph`al; instead of the 'eth or 'ith as the sign of the passive, there is hith. The vocabularies also are nearly identical. In both, the syllable yath or wath, sign of the accusative, is present, as if a survival, only as the support of the oblique case of a pronoun (Daniel 3:12; Sinjirli, Had 28). The pronouns exhibit a similar resemblance to Hebrew and also to Biblical Aramaic. The 1st person pronoun is 'anokh (once 'anokhi in Pan. 1.19), as in the Phoenician and Moabite dialects of Hebrew; 'anah occurs occasionally as in Daniel. The most marked differences from later Aramaic is "z" instead of "dh" in the demonstrative pronoun; here there is relation to the Hebrew zeh. Another case in frequent evidence is 'arqa' instead of 'ar`a.

7. Comparison of Aramaic of Assouan with That of Daniel:

More nearly contemporary with the Aramaic of Daniel and Ezra is that of the Assouan papyri. These are carefully dated, and extend from 471 B.C. to 411 B.C.; these two dates include the whole reign of Artaxerxes I, the king whose cupbearer Nehemiah was, and who sent him as governor to Jerusalem, and a few years of his predecessor's and successor's reigns. These documents, as written with a reed pen on papyrus, and not cut with a chisel on stone, manifest a very different style of letter; as already said, there is some approximation to the later square character. The resemblance between the grammar and vocabulary of these papyri and those of Biblical Aramaic is closer than that of the latter to the Sinjirli grammar and diction. Where, in the more ancient Aramaic, we have "z," in these papyri we occasionally find the later "dh." It is not improbable that, as in Spain, a lisping pronunciation became prevalent; the "dh" pronounced as "th" in "then" would in that case represent more accurately the sound actually uttered than would "z."

The word already noticed, 'arqa' which generally appears in Biblical Aramaic as 'ar`a, is a similar case. In northern Palestine the Arabic qaf is pronounced much as if it were `ain, if not even the related sound hemzeh; instances of this spelling also are found in the Assouan papyri. Both of these differences are due to frequent transcription assimilating the spelling to the pronunciation. Another peculiarity is probably due to a different cause. In Biblical Aramaic the preformative of the 3rd person singular and plural of the imperfect of the substantive verb is lamedh. Of this peculiarity Dr. Bevan gives an ingenious explanation. If the yodh preformative were used, the resulting word would have a resemblance to the sacred name: to avoid this, he thinks, the yodh was changed into a lamedh.

Unfortunately this explains too much, therefore explains nothing. Had this been the explanation, the name "Jehu," which consonantally is nearly the same as the 3rd person singular and plural of the substantive verb, would never have been written as it is. Further, if Jewish reverence for the Divine name expressed itself in this way, we should expect to find this preformative in the Targums, which, however, we do not. Hundreds of cases in proof may be found in Onkelos alone. The truth is, it is a Mandean form, which proves that the Aramaic of Daniel and Ezra is eastern. A further peculiarity is the nun compensative; as tinda` (Daniel 4:23), which regularly would be tidda`. This also is found in the Mandean; it is, however, also found in papyri of Assouan, an evidence that the Mandean characteristic was a survival from an earlier time.

8. Elephantine Papyri:

Another interesting point of contact between the Aramaic of this period and that of Daniel is exhibited in the Elephantine papyri published by Sachau. These papyri, discovered in the island of Elephantine (opposite Assouan) in 1907, are three in number, and are dated in the 14th year of Darius II (407 B.C.). In the first, ll. 2, 27, 28, the second, l. 26, and the third ll. 3, 4, we have God called "the God of heaven," the title given to God throughout Daniel 2. This is also the appellation used in the Aramaic of Ezra (5:11, 12; 6:9 etc.) From the passages where it occurs it would seem that during the Babylonian and Persian rule this was the recognized governmental title of the God of the Hebrews.

9. Comparison with Aramaic of the Targums:

As it is frequently asserted that the Aramaic of Daniel and Ezra is that of the Targums, it is necessary to examine the truth of this statement. In considering this question son with we must have regard to the history of these paraphrases, as only in this way can we estimate truly the chronological value of this "great" resemblance, should it be found to exist. According to Talmudic tradition the Targums were delivered orally, and were not committed to writing till late in the 2nd century of our era. A traditional rendering was handed on from meturgeman (interpreter) to meturgeman. In such circumstances archaic forms, words and idioms, are perpetuated. The sacred always tends to preserve the antique; in illustration we need only refer to the song of the Fratres Arvales, a college of priests dating from primitive Latin times and continuing to the days of the Gordians. This sacred song of theirs preserves to us the most ancient form of the Latin tongue, though the inscriptions, from which we learn of it, date from the classic period. Hence the Aramaic of the Targums may represent the form of the language a couple of centuries before the Christian era.

10. Chief Differences in Latter:

We cannot attempt to give an exhaustive summary of the differences between Biblical and Targumic Aramaic, but indicate only some of the more obvious. Account need not be taken of yath, the sign of the accusative, as it appears only as representing the Hebrew 'eth. In verbs, reference has already been made to the "L" preformative in the substantive verb, a peculiarity which Biblical Aramaic shares with Mandean in distinction from other forms of the language: also to the fact that the hith of the earlier verbal forms is replaced by 'ith in the more recent 'ithpe`el and 'ithpa`al. This also is the case with 'aph`el (in earlier and Biblical Aramaic haph`el), the passive of which is hoph`al, not 'ittaph`al, as in Targumic. The importance of verbal forms in determining age is readily recognized; thus in English, if the 3rd person singular of the verbs in an English writing is in eth we decide that writing to belong, in fact or feigning, to a period not later than the 17th century. In regard to pronouns, while in Biblical Aramaic, as in Sinjirli and Assouan, the 1st person singular is 'an'a, in Targumic it is 'anah: the plural in Biblical Aramaic is 'anachna' akin to 'anachnah in Assouan, whereas in the Targums it is usually 'anan, though sometimes the Biblical form appears. The 2nd person singular in Biblical Aramaic is 'ant as in Assouan, with the plural 'antum (Assouan, 'antem): in Targumic it is 'att and 'attun.

To compare our own language, when we find "thou" and "ye" in a writing, we date it as not later than the 17th century. The ordinary vocabulary, though not without value in this respect, is not very important chronologically. Connective particles, however, are. Everyone acquainted with Hebrew knows how frequently yesh, "is" occurs; as frequent is 'ith in Targumic. In the Bible, the papyri, the form found is 'ithi. In the Targums 'i stands for "if"; in the Bible and papyri it is hen. Cognate with this, the Bible and the papyri have lahen, "therefore": this is not found in the Targums, which have instead `al-ken. In our own language the presence of "eke" in serious prose or poetry as a conjunction would prove the antiquity of the composition. The fact that the distinction between "c" and "s" has disappeared in the Targums, but is still preserved in the Bible, is a note of age that cannot be passed over. Other examples might be given, but these will suffice. Professor Bevan lightly dismisses many of these differences as mere matters of orthography; yet in French the presence of "l" for "u" or as strengthening the "u" in such words as alx, eulx, aultres is regarded as a note of old as distinct from modern French; yet probably the pronunciation was not different.

In pursuing this part of the subject the latter portion of Pusey's first Lecture (Daniel the Prophet) is worthy of study. Pusey had not the advantage of contemporary documents with which to compare Biblical Aramaic; he could only emphasize the nature and amount of the differences which separated the language of Daniel from that of the Targums. The argument can now be supplemented by a yet stronger argument from the resemblance between the former and the contemporary papyri of Assouan, and yet the earlier Sinjirli inscriptions. Seefurther, SYRIAC VERSIONS; LANGUAGES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; and compare the article "Aramaic" in Encyclopedia Biblica.


Numerous grammars and dictionaries of the two principal dialects of Aramaic, eastern (Syr) and western (Chaldee) may be seen in any catalogues. There is an excellent compendium of the grammar of Biblical Aramaic in Delitzsch's introduction to Baer's Text of Daniel and Ezra. For the Samaritan there is a small grammar by Nicholls, also one in the series "Porta Linguarum Orientalium." Noldeke has published grammars for Mandean and New Syriac

J. E. H. Thomson


e-thi-op'-ik lan'-gwaj:

The language commonly called Ethiopic is the language in which the inscriptions of the kings of the ancient Aksumitic (Axumite) empire and most of the literature of Christian Abyssinia are written. It is called lesana Ge`ez, "the tongue of Ge`ez," by the Abyssinians themselves, most probably because it was originally the dialect of the Ge`ez tribe, who in antiquity must have dwelt in or near Aksum (Axum).

The names Ethiopia and Ethiopians have been used in many different meanings by various peoples. To the Greeks, Ethiopia was a country South of Egypt, and in this sense the word is generally used in the histories of Egypt. The Ethiopian kings came from that country which is now called Nubia in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. In Hellenistic times the term received a wider meaning, and Ethiopia was the name of all the land between the Red Sea and the Nile, south of Egypt proper. Sometimes "Indian" and "Ethiopian" were synonymous, or Ethiopia was even considered to stretch as far as to the Atlantic Ocean in the West. But of these countries the Greeks and Romans had very little exact geographical knowledge.


The fact that Ethiopia at some time meant the country between the Red Sea and the Nile prompted the pagan kings of Aksum in northern Abyssinia to adopt this name for their own country and to give it a narrower sense than the one which it had at that time. Therefore in the bilingual inscription of King Aeizanas (`Ezana), the word Aithiopia, is a rendering of the Semitic Chabashat ("Abyssinia," but here more specially referring to Northern Abyssinia). Under this same king, about 350 A.D., Abyssinia became Christian; and after the Bible had been translated into the Ge`ez language, the Abyssinians found that Ethiopia was mentioned there several times. Their national pride was flattered by the thought that their country should be referred to in the Holy Scriptures, and for this reason they were all the more ready to apply the name in question to their own country. Up to the present day they call it Ethiopia ('Itiopiya), and themselves Ethiopians; their legends speak even of an ancestor Itiopis.

We may then, if we choose to do so, speak of a Nubian and an Abyssinian Ethiopia, but the term "Ethiopic language" has come into general usage as an equivalent of lesana Ge`ez, and should therefore be applied only to the ancient literary language of Abyssinia.

This language is closely allied to the languages of Southern Arabia: it represents the southwestern branch of the southern division of the Semitic languages. The most important branch of this division is, of course, the Arabic language, and with this Ethiopic has a great deal in common. On the other hand there are many words and forms in Ethiopic which are not found in Arabic, but in Hebrew or even in Babylonian and Assyrian. It has been held that the home of the Semites was in Africa; and if that were the case, the people who spoke the Ethiopic language may never have migrated very much. But the majority of scholars who have expressed their opinion upon the subject believe that Asia was the home of the Semites; this is the opinion of the writer of this article also. Then the Semitic inhabitants of Abyssinia must have come from across the Red Sea. Their migration must have begun many centuries B.C. It has hardly ever stopped, since Arabs in smaller, and sometimes in larger, numbers have been drifting into Abyssinia at all periods.

The Semitic conquerors of Abyssinia found peoples of two different races in the country where they settled: (1) African aborigines and (2) Kushites, a branch of the Hamitic family. Their languages were different from each other and, of course, different from that of the Semites also; some of them are spoken up to the present day. When the Semites first came and formed their literary language, they did not allow the languages of the country to influence their own speech very much; but gradually this influence grew stronger and stronger, and it is very evident in the modern Semitic languages of Abyssinia. An outline of the history of the Ethiopic language is as follows: Its oldest monument known so far is the Semitic part of the bilingual inscription of King `Ezana, which dates from the first half of the 4th century A.D. Before that time Ethiopic must have been spoken, without doubt, but it was not written: Greek and Sabean were written instead. At the time of King `Ezana the knowledge of the Sabean language seems to have been very little; but Sabean script was still used. The Semitic part of the inscription just mentioned is in the Ethiopic language, but carved once in Sabean script and a second time in the native Ethiopic script which had been derived from the Sabean. In the first of these two "editions" two or three Sabean words are used instead of their Ethiopic equivalents. A few other ancient inscriptions found in the Aksumitic empire may also be dated from the same period.

Possibly in the same 4th century the translation of the Bible into Ethiopic was begun; and this fact marks the beginning of a real Ethiopic literature. Perhaps the Psalms and the Gospels were translated first, being most needed in the service of the Christian church. The different books of the Scriptures were translated by different men, some of whom rendered literally, some more according to the sense, some having a good, some only a poor, knowledge of the language from which, and the language into which, they translated. Both Testaments were translated from the Greek by men whose mother-tongue was probably Aramaic. This is proved by the presence of Greek and Aramaic words and by the forms in which the Hebrew names appear in Ethiopic transliteration. The oldest influences which the Ethiopic language experienced were therefore:

(1) Sabean; a number of technical terms may have been adopted by the ancient Aksumites from the Sabean at the time when this was their literary language;

(2) African, i.e. Kushite and native African; the Semitic conquerors found a great many new animals and trees or plants, which they did not know, in their new country, and in many cases they adopted their African names;

(3) Aramaic, i.e. Jewish and Christian; these are mostly words referring to religious or theological matters;

(4) Greek; some of the Greek words found in Ethiopic refer to religious matters in the same way as the Aramaic, others denote objects or ideas which the ancient Abyssinians received from the civilized world, others again are mere transliterations of Greek words in the Bible and other religious books, which the translators did not understand.

The time of the Aksumitic empire was the time when the Ethiopic language flourished. This empire was overthrown probably in the 7th or 8th century A.D.; and we know very little indeed of the history of Abyssinia from about 700 until about 1300 A.D. In 1270 the so-called Solomonic Dynasty came to the throne again; the seat of the empire, however, was no longer Aksum but Gondar, North of Lake Tsana. Meanwhile the literary language had become a dead language; new dialects had sprung up and taken its place in everyday conversation. But Ge`ez continued to be the sacred language; it was the language of the Bible and of the church, and when in the 14th and 15th centuries a revival of Abyssinian literature came about, the literary language was Ge`ez. But it was influenced by the new dialects, especially by the Amharic, the language of Amhara, where Gondar was situated and where most of the books were written or translated. This influence affected in particular the spelling of Ge`ez in those books which dealt with religious matters and which therefore had to be written in pure Ge`ez. In historical books a great many words were taken from the Amharic; and this language, called lesana tarik, "the tongue of the chronicles," has often the appearance of mixed language.

In the 16th and 17th centuries European missionaries came to Abyssinia and tried to convert the monophysite Abyssinian Christians to Romanism. In order to come into close contact with the common people they used Amharic as a literary language, so that everybody, not only the learned, might understand their books. Their example was followed by the defenders of the native church; and since that time Amharic has become a recognized literary language in Abyssinia, although Ge`ez is still considered the real language of the church.

Amharic was derived from a sister language of the Ethiopic; the direct descendant of the Ethiopic language is modern Tigrina; a language derived from a dialect very closely related to Ge`ez is modern Tigre. LITERATURE.

Ludolf, Historia Aethiopica, 1681; id, Commentarius ad suam historiam Aethiopicam, 1691; Dillmann, Grammatik der athiopischen Sprache (translated into English by Crichton) 1907, Intro; Littmann, Geschichte der athiopischen Litteratur, 1907.

Enno Littmann




lan'-gwaj (Greek).



1. The Old Point of View

2. The Revolution

3. The Proof of the New Position

(1) The Papyri

(2) The Ostraka

(3) The Inscriptions

(4) Modern Greek

(5) Historical and Comparative Grammar

4. Characteristics of the Vernacular "Koine"






I. The Vernacular "Koine" the Language of the New Testament.

1. The Old Point of View:

The ghost of the old Purist controversy is now laid to rest for good and all. The story of that episode has interest chiefly for the historian of language and of the vagaries of the human intellect. See Winer-Thayer, Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament, 1869, 12-19, and Schmiedel's Winer, sectopm 2, for a sketch of this once furious strife. In the 17th century various scholars tried to prove that the Greek of the New Testament was on a paragraph with the literary Attic of the classic period. But the Hebraists won the victory over them and sought to show that it was Hebraic Greek, a special variety, if not dialect, a Biblical Greek The 4th edition of Cremer's Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek (translated by W. Urwick, 1892) quotes, with approval, Rothe's remark (Dogmatik, 1863, 238):

"We may appropriately speak of a language of the Holy Ghost. For in the Bible it is evident that the Holy Spirit has been at work, moulding for itself a distinctively religious mode of expression out of the language of the country which it has chosen as its sphere, and transforming the linguistic elements which it found ready to hand, and even conceptions already existing, into a shape and form appropriate to itself and all its own." Cremer adds: "We have a very clear and striking proof of this in New Testament Greek."

This was only twenty years ago and fairly represented the opinion of that day. Hatch in 1889 (Essays in Biblical Greek, 34) held that with most of the New Testament words the key lay in the Septuagint. But Winer (Winer-Thayer, 20) had long ago seen that the vernacular koine was "the special foundation of the diction of the New Testament," though he still admitted "a Jewish-Greek, which native Greeks did not entirely understand" (p. 27). He did not see the practical identity of New Testament Greek with the vernacular koine-("common" Greek), nor did Schmiedel in the 8. Auflage of Winer (I. Theil; II. Theil, erstes Heft, 1894-97). In the second edition of his Grammar of New Testament Greek (English translation by Thackeray, 1905, 2), Blass sees the dawn of the new day, though his book was first written before it came. Viteau (Etude sur le grec du Nouveau Testament, I, Le verbe, 1893, II, Le sujet, 1896) occupies wholly the old position of a Judaic Greek. An extreme instance of that view is seen in Guillemard's Hebraisms in the Greek Testament (1879).

2. The Revolution:

A turn toward the truth comes with H. A. A. Kennedy's Sources of the New Testament Greek (1895). He finds the explanation of the vocabulary of both the Septuagint and the New Testament to be the vernacular which he traces back to Aristophanes. It is a good exercise to read Westcott's discussion of the "Language of the NT" in DB, III (1888), and then turn to Moulton, "Language of the New Testament," in the 1-vol HDB. Westcott says: "The chief peculiarities of the syntax of the New Testament lie in the reproduction of Hebrew forms." Moulton remarks: "There is no reason to believe that any New Testament writer who ever lived in Palestine learned Greek only as a foreign language when he went abroad." Still better is it to read Moulton, "New Testament Greek in the Light of Modern Discovery" in Cambridge Biblical Essays (1909, 461-505); Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East (1911); or Angus, "The koine, the Language of the New Testament," Princeton Review, January, 1910, 42-92. The revolution has come to stay. It is now clear that the Greek of the New Testament is not a jargon nor a patois. In all essential respects it is just the vernacular koine of the 1st century A.D., the lingua franca of the Greek-Roman empire, the legacy of Alexander the Great's conquest of the East. This world-speech was at bottom the late Attic vernacular with dialectical and provincial influences. It was not a decaying tongue, but a virile speech admirably adapted to the service of the many peoples of the time. The able article in volume III of HDB on the "Language of the New Testament" by Dr. J. H. Thayer appeared in 1900, and illustrates how quickly an encyclopedia article may become out of date. There is a wealth of knowledge here displayed, as one would expect, but Thayer still speaks of "this species of Greek," "this peculiar idiom,.... Jewish Greek," though he sees that its basis is "the common or spoken Greek." The last topic discussed by him is "Problems." He little thought that the biggest "problem" so near solution was the character of the language itself. It was Adolph Deissmann, then of Heidelberg, now of Berlin, who opened the new era in the knowledge of the language of the New Testament. His Bibelstudien (zumeist aus den Papyri und Inschriften zur Geschichte der Sprache, des Schrifttums und der Religion des hellenistischen Judentums und des Urchristentums) appeared in 1895. In this epoch-making volume he proved conclusively from the papyri and the inscriptions that many of the seeming Hebraisms in the Septuagint and the New Testament were common idioms in the vernacular koine. He boldly claimed that the bulk of the Hebraisms were falsely so termed, except in the case of translating Greek from the Hebrew or Aramaic or in "perfect" Hebraisms, genuine Greek usage made more common by reason of similarity to the Semitic idiom. In 1897 he produced Neue Bibelstudien, sprachgeschichtliche Beitrage zumeist aus den Papyri und Inschriften zur Erklarung des Neuen Testaments.

In 1901 (2nd edition in 1903) these two volumes were translated as one by A. Grieve under the title Bible Studies. Deissmann's other volumes have confirmed his thesis. The most important are New Light on the New Testament (1907), The Philology of the Greek Bible (1908), Licht vom Osten (1908), Light from the Ancient East (translation by Strachan, 1910), Paul in the Light of Social and Religious History (1912). In Light from the Ancient East, Deissmann illustrates the New Testament language with much detail from the papyri, ostraka and inscriptions. He is now at work on a new lexicon of the New Testament which will make use of the fresh knowledge from these sources.

The otherwise helpful work of E. Preuschen, Vollstandiges griechisch-deutsches Handworterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der ubrigen urchristlichen Literatur (1908-10), fails to utilize the papyri and inscriptions while drawing on the Septuagint and the New Testament Apocrypha and other early Christian literature. But this has been done by Ebeling in his Griechisch-deutsches Worterbuch zum New Testament, 1913. The next step was made by A. Thumb, the great philologian, in his Griechische Sprache im Zeitalter des Hellenismus; Beitrage zur Geschichte und Beurteilung der "koine," 1901, in which the real character of the koine was for the first time properly set forth.

Winer and Blass had both lamented the need of a grammar of the koine, and that demand still exists, but Thumb went a long way toward supplying it in this volume. It is to be hoped that he will yet prepare a grammar of the koine. Thumb's interests cover the whole range of comparative philology, but he has added in this field "Die Forschungen fiber die hellenistische Sprache in den Jahren 1896-1901," Archiv fur Papyrusforschung, II, 396 f; "Prinzipienfragen der Koina-Forschung," Neue Jahrb. fur das kl. Alt., 1906; "Die sprachgeschichtliche Stellung des biblischen Griechisch," Theologische Rundschau, V, 85-99.

The other most important name to add is that of J. Hope Moulton, who has the credit of being the first to apply the new knowledge directly to the New Testament Greek His Grammar of New Testament Greek, I, Prolegomena (1906, 2nd edition, 1906, 3rd edition, 1908, German translation in 1911, Einleitung in die Sprache des New Testament) is a brilliant piece of work and relates the Greek of the New Testament in careful detail to the vernacular koine, and shows that in all important points it is the common Greek of the time and not a Hebraic Greek. Moulton probably pressed his point too far in certain respects in his zeal against Hebraisms, but the essential position of Deissmann and Moulton is undoubtedly sound.

Moulton had previously published the bulk of this material as "Grammatical Notes from the Papyri," The Expositor, 1901, 271-82; 1903, 104-21, 423-39; The Classical Review, 1901, 31-37, 434-41; 1904, 106-12, 151-55; "Characteristics of New Testament Greek," The Expositor, 1904.

In 1909 appeared his essay, Greek in the Light of Modern Discovery (see above). Since 1908, The Expositor has had a series of papers by J.H. Moulton and George Milligan called "Lexical Notes from the Papyri," which are very useful on the lexical side of the language. Thus the study is fairly launched on its new career. In 1900, A.T. Robertson produced a Syllabus on the New Testament Greek Syntax from the standpoint of comparative philology, which was rewritten in 1908, with the added viewpoint of the papyri researches, as A Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament (2nd edition, 1909, 3rd edition, 1912; translations in Italian in 1910, German and French in 1911, Dutch in 1912). In October, 1909, S. Angus published a good article in the Harvard Theological Review on "Modern Methods in New Testament Philology," followed in January, 1910, by another in the Princeton Review on "The koine, the Language of the New Testament." The new knowledge appears also in Jakob Wackernagel, "Die griechische Sprache" (pp. 291-318, 2nd edition, of Die griechische und lateinische Literatur und Sprache, 1907). L. Radermachcr has set forth very ably "die sprachlichen Vorgange in ihrem Zusammenhang," in his Neutestamentliche Grammatik: Das Griechisch des Neuen Testaments im Zusammenhang mit der Volkssprache. It is in reality the background of the New Testament Greek and is a splendid preparation for the study of the Greek New Testament. A full discussion of the new knowledge in grammatical detail has been prepared by A.T. Robertson under the title A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research. Moulton and Schmiedel are planning also to complete their works.

3. The Proof of the New Position:

The proof of the new position is drawn from several sources:

(1) The Papyri.

These rolls have lain in the museums of the world many years and attracted little attention. For lists of the chief collections of the papyri see Moulton, Prolegomena, 259-62; Milligan, Selections from the Greek Papyri, xi, xii; Mayser, Grammatik der griechischen Papyri aus der Ptolemaerzeit; Lautund Wortlehre, vii-x; Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 20-41; Robertson, Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Bibliography. New volumes of papyri as a result of recent explorations in Egypt are published each year. See PAPYRUS, and in the other encyclopedias under the word. Most of the papyri discovered belong to the period of the koine (the first three centuries B.C. and A.D. in round numbers), and with great wealth of illustration they show the life of the common people of the time, whether in Egypt or Herculaneum (the two chief regions represented). There are various degrees of culture shown, as can be seen in any of the large volumes of Grenfell and Hunt, or in the handbooks of Lietzmann, Griechische Papyri (1905), and of Milligan, Greek Papyri (1910). They come from the scrap-heaps of the long ago, and are mainly receipts, contracts, letters of business or love, military documents, etc. They show all grades of culture, from the illiterate with phonetic spelling to the man of the schools. But we have here the language of life, not of the books. In a most startling way one notes the similarities of vocabulary, forms, and syntax between the language of the papyri of the 1st century A.D. and that of the New Testament books. As early as 1778, F.W. Sturz, made use of the Charta Borgiana, "the first papyrus ever brought to Europe" (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 39), and in 1841 Thiersch likewise saw the value of the papyri for the philology of the Septuagint. But the matter was not pressed. Lightfoot threw out a hint about the value of letters of the people, which was not followed till Deissmann saw the point; compare Moulton, Prol., 242. It is not necessary here to illustrate the matter at length. Deissmann takes up in detail the "Biblical" words in Thayer's Lexicon, and has no difficulty in finding most of them in the papyri (or inscriptions). Thus plerophoreo, is shown to be common in the papyri. See Deissmann, Bible Studies and Light from the Ancient East, for extensive lists. The papyri show also the same meanings for many words once thought peculiar to the Bible or the New Testament. An instance is seen in the official sense of presbuteros, in the papyri, 5 ho presbuteros les komes (Pap. Lugd. A 35), "without doubt an official designation" (Deissmann, Bible Studies, 155). So adelphos, for members of the community, anastrophe, for manner of life, antilempsis, "help," leitourgia, "public service," paroikos, "sojourner," etc. (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 107). R. Helbing (Grammatik der Septuaginta, 1908) and H. John Thackeray (A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint, 1909) have applied the new knowledge to the language of the Septuagint, and it has been discussed with much ability in the first volumes. The use of the papyri for grammatical purposes is made easier by the excellent volume of E. Mayser, Grammatik der griechischen Papyri aus der Ptolemaerzeit; Laut-und Wortlehre (1906), though his "Syntax," is still a desideratum. Useful also is G. Cronert, Memoria Graeca Herculanensis (1903).

(2) The Ostraka.

The literature on this subject is still small in bulk. In 1899 Ulrich Wilcken published Griechische Ostraka aus Aegypten und Nubien, and in 1902 W.E. Crum produced his book of Christian ostraka called Coptic Ostraca from the Collections of the Egypt Exploration Fund, the Cairo Museum, and Others. This was followed in 1905 by H.R. Hall's Coptic and Greek Texts of the Christian Period from Ostraka, Stelae, etc. These broken pieces of pottery were used by the lowest classes as writing material. It was very widely used because it was so very cheap. Wilcken has done more than anyone else to collect and decipher the ostraka. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, 46) notes that Cleanthes the Stoic "wrote on ostraka or on leather" because too poor to buy papyrus. So he quotes the apology of a Christian for using potsherd for a letter: "Excuse me that I cannot find papyrus as I am in the country" (Crum, Coptic Ostraca, 55). The use of apecho, on an ostrakon for a receipt in full, illustrates well the frequent use of this word in the New Testament (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 111).

(3) The Inscriptions.

Here caution must be used since many of the inscriptions give, not the vernacular, but the literary language. The official (legal and military) decrees often appear in very formal style. But a number do preserve the vernacular idiom and often have the advantage of being dated. These inscriptions are chiefly on stone, but some are on metal and there are a few wax tablets. The material is vast and is constantly growing. See list of the chief collections in Deissmann's Light from the Ancient East, 10-20. Boeckh is the great name here. As early as 1779 Walch (Observationes in Matt. ex graecis inscriptionibus) made use of Greek inscriptions for New Testament exegesis, and R.A. Lipsius says that his father (K.H.A. Lipsius, author of Grammatische Untersuchungen uber die biblische Gracitat) "contemplated a large grammar of the Greek Bible in which he would have availed himself of the discoveries in modern epigraphy" (Deissmann, Light, etc., 15). Schmiedel has made good use of the inscriptions so far in his revision of Winer; H.A.A. Kennedy (Sources of New Testament Greek, 1895), H. Anz (Subsidia ad Cogn., etc., 1894), R. Helbing (Grammatik der Septuaginta, 1908), J. Psichari (Essai sur le Grec de la Septante, 1908), H. John Thackeray (A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint, 1909), and R. Meister (Prol. zu einer Grammatik der Septuaginta, 1907) turned to good account the inscriptions for the linguistic problems of the Septuagint, as indeed Hatch (Essays in Biblical Greek, 1889) had already done. W. Dittenberger added some valuable "Grammatica et orthographica" to his Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae (2 volumes, 1903, 1905). See also E. L. Hicks and G. F. Hill, Greek Historical Inscriptions (1901), and Hicks's paper "On Some Political Terms Employed in the New Testament," Classical Review, 1887, 4;, 42;. W. M. Ramsay's Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia (2 volumes, 1895, 1897) and his other works show keen insight in the use of the inscriptions. Deissmann's Bible Studies (1895, 1901) applied the knowledge of the inscriptions to the Septuagint and to the New Testament. In his Light from the Ancient East (1910) copious use is made of the inscriptions for New Testament study. Moulton (Prol., 1906, 258, for lists) is alive to the value of the inscriptions for New Testament grammar, as indeed was Blass (Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Griechisch, 1896) before him.

Compare further, G. Thieme, Die Inschriften von Magnesia am Maander und das Neue Testament (1906); T. Nageli, Der Wortschatz des Apostels Paulus (1905), and J. Rouffiac, Recherches sur les caracteres du Grec dans le New Testament d'apres les Inscr. de Priene (1911). Special treatises or phases of the grammar of the inscriptions appear in Meisterhans-Schwyzer, Grammatik der attischen Inschriften (1900); Nachmanson, Laute und Formen der magnetischen Inschriften (1896); Schweizer, Grammatik der pergamenischen Inschriften (1898).

Moulton and Milligan have drawn freely also on the inscriptions for their "Lexical Studies" running in The Expositor (1908 and the years following). The value of the inscriptions for the Greek of the New Testament is shown at every turn. For instance, prototokos, is no longer a "Biblical" word. It appears in a metrical inscription (undated) of Trachonitis on a tomb of a pagan "high priest" and "friend of the gods" (Deissmann, Light, etc., 88); compare Kaibel, Epigrammata Graeca, etc., number 460. Even agape, occurs on a pagan inscription of Pisidia (Papers of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2, 57). See , further, W.H.P. Hatch's "Some Illustrations of New Testament Usage from Greek Inscriptions of Asia Minor," Journal of Biblical Literature, 1908, 134-146.

(4) Modern Greek.

As early as 1834 Heilmeier saw that the modern Greek vernacular went back to the koine (Moulton, Prologoumena, 29), but it is only in recent years that it was clearly seen that the modern Greek of the schools and usually in the newspapers is artificial, and not the real vernacular of today. Mullach's work (Grammatik der griechischen Vulgarsprache, 1856) was deficient in this respect. But Jannaris' Historical Greek Grammar (1897) carries the history of the vernacular Greek along with the literary style. Hatzidakis, Einleitung in die neugriechische Grammatik, 1892, clears the air very much and connects the modern Greek with the New Testament. But it is to Thumb that we are indebted for the best knowledge of the vernacular (he demotike) as opposed to the literary language (he kathareuousa) of today. Mitsotakis (Praktische Grammatik, 1891) had treated both together, though Wied (Die Kunst, die neugriechische Volksprache) gave only the vernacular. But Wied is only elementary. Thumb alone has given an adequate treatment of the modern Greek vernacular, showing its unity and historical contact with the vernacular koine (Handbuch der neugriechischen Volkssprache, 1895; Thumb-Angus, Handbook of Modern Greek Vernacular, 1912). Thus one can see the living stream of the New Testament speech as it has come on down through the ages. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of modern Greek vernacular in the knowledge of New Testament Greek. The disappearance of the optative, the vanishing of the infinitive before hina, and itacism are but instances of many others which are luminous in the light of the modern Greek vernacular. See Psichari, Essais de grammaire historique neo-grecque (1886-89).

(5) Historical and Comparative Grammar.

From this source the koine gets a new dignity. It will take one too far afield to sketch here the linguistic revolution wrought since the publication of, and partly caused by, Bopp's Vergleichende Grammatik (1857), following Sir William Jones' discovery of Sanskrit. The great work of Brugmann and Delbruck (Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen, I-V, 1892-1909) marks the climax of the present development, though many workers have won distinction in this field. The point to accent here is that by means of comparative philology the Greek language is seen in its proper relations with other languages of the Indo-Germanic family, and the right interpretation of case, preposition, mode, tense, voice, etc., is made possible. The old traditional empiricism is relegated to the scrap-heap, and a new grammatical science consonant with the facts has taken its place. See Delbruck, Introduction to the Study of Language (1882), Giles, Short Manual of Comparative Philology (1901), for a resume of the facts. Wright, Comparative Grammar of the Greek Language (1912), applies the new learning to the Greek tongue. The progress in classical scholarship is well shown by Sandys in his History of Classical Scholarship (I-III, 1906-8) and by Gudeman, Geschichte der klass. Philologie, 2. Aufl, 1909. Innumerable monographs have enriched the literature of this subject. It is now feasible to see the Greek language as a whole, and grasp its historical unity. See n in this light the koine is not a dying tongue or a corrupt dialect. It is a normal and natural evolution of the Greek dialects into a world-speech when Alexander's conquests made it possible. The vernacular koine which has developed into the modern Greek vernacular was itself the direct descendant of the Attic vernacular which had its roots in the vernacular of the earlier dialects. The dialectical developments are closely sketched by Thumb, Handbuch der griechischen Dialekte (1909), and by Buck, Introduction to the Study of Greek Dialects (1910), not to mention the older works of Hoffmann, Meister, etc. Jannaris has undertaken in his Historical Greek Grammar (1897) to sketch and interpret the facts of the Greek tongue throughout its long career, both in its literary and vernacular aspects. He has succeeded remarkably well on the whole, though not quite seeing the truth about the modern Greek vernacular. Schanz is seeking to lay the foundation for still better work by his Beitrage zur historischen Syntax der griechischen Sprache (1882 and the years following). But the New Testament student must be open to all the new light from this region, and it is very great. See , further, Dieterich, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der griech. Sprache von der hellen. Zeit (1898).

4. Characteristics of the Vernacular "Koine":

As already indicated, the Greek of the New Testament is in the main just the vernacular koine of the 1st century A.D., though Greek as used by men of ability and varying degrees of culture. The most striking difference between the vernacular koine and the literary Attic is seen in the vocabulary. The writers in the literary koine show more likeness to the classic Attic, but even they reveal the changes due to the intervening centuries. There was, of course, no violent break. The changes came gradually and naturally. It is mainly at this point that Deissmann has done such brilliant work in his Bible Studies and other books. He has taken the lists of "Biblical" and "ecclesiastical" words, as given by Cremer and Thayer, and has shown from the papyri, ostraka, inscriptions, or koine writers that they are not peculiar to the Bible, but belong to the current speech of the time. The proof is so overwhelming and extensive that it cannot be given here. Some words have not yet been found in the non-Biblical koine, but they may be any day. Some few words, of course, belong to the very nature of Christianity christianos, for instance), but apostolos, baptismos, paroikos, sunagoge, and hundreds of others can no longer be listed as "Biblical." New meanings come to old words also. Compare daimonion. It is interesting to note that the New Testament shows many of the words found in Aristophanes, who caught up the vernacular of his day. The koine uses more words from the lower strata of society. Aristotle likewise has many words common in the koine, since he stands at the parting of the ways between the old dialects and the new koine of Alexander's conquests. The koine develops a fondness for compound and even double compound (sesquipedalian) words; compare, for instance, anekdiegetos; aneklaletos; anexereunetos; antapokrinomai; oikodespotes; oligopsuchos; prosanapleroo; sunantilambanomai; huperentugchano; chrusodaktulios, etc. The use of diminutives is also noteworthy in the koine as in the modern Greek: compare thugatrion; klinarion; korasion; kunarion; onarion; opsarion; ploiarion; otion, etc. The formation of words by juxtaposition is very common as in plerophoreo, cheiro-graphon. In phonetics it is to be noticed that "ei", "oi", "ee", "eei", "u", "i" all had the value of "ee" in "feet." This itacism was apparent in the early koine. So ai = e and o and oo were not sharply distinguished. The Attic tt became ss, except in a few instances, like elatto, kreitton. The tendency toward de-aspiration (compare Ionic) was manifest; compare eph' helpidi, for the reverse process. Elision is less frequent than in Attic, but assimilation is carried farther. The variable final consonants "n" (nu) and "s" (sigma) are used generally before consonants. We find "-ei-" for "-iei-" as in pein. outheis, and metheis, are common till 100 B.C., when they gradually disappear before oudeis, and medeis. In general there is less sense of rhythm and more simplicity and clearness. Some of the subtle refinements of form and syntax of the classic did not survive in the koine vernacular. In accidence only a few points may be noted. In substantives the Ionic "-res" is frequent. The Attic second declension vanishes. In the third declension forms like nuktan, show assimilation to the first. Both charin, and charita, occur. Contraction is sometimes absent (compare Ionic) as in oreon. Adjectives show forms like asphalen, and indeclinable pleres, appears, and pan, for panta (compare megan), dusi, for duoin. The dual is gone. Even the dual pronouns hekateros, and poteros, are rare. tis, is occasionally used like hostis. hos ean, is more frequent than hos an, in the 1st century A.D. The two conjugations blend more and more into one, as the -mi forms vanish. There is some confusion in the use of -ao and -eo verbs, and new presents occur like apoktenno, optano, steko. The forms ginomai, ginosko, are the rule now. There is much increase in aorists like escha, and imperfects like eicha. The form -osan (eichosan, eschosan) occasionally appears. Quite frequent is a perfect like dedokan, and the augment is often absent in the plu-perfect as in dedokei. Per contra, a double augment occurs in apekateste, and a treble augment in eneochthesan. The temporal augment is often absent with diphthong as in oikodomethe. The koine Greek has -tosan, not -nton. In syntax the tendency is toward simplicity, to short sentences, the paratactic construction, and the sparing use of particles. The vernacular koine avoids both the bombast of Asianism and the artificiality of Atticism. There is, indeed, more freedom in violating the rules of concord as to gender, number, and case. The nominativus pendens is common. The comparative does duty often for the superlative adjective, and the superlative generally has the elative sense. The accusative is increasingly common with verbs. The line between transitive and intransitive verbs is not a hard-and-fast one. The growth in the use of prepositions both with nouns and in composition is quite noticeable, but some of the older prepositions, like amphi, are vanishing. The cases used with various prepositions are changing. The instrumental use of en, is very common. Many new adverbial and prepositional phrases have developed. The optative is nearly dead and the infinitive (apart from the use of tou, en to, eis to, with the infinitive) is decaying before hina. The future participle is rare. me, begins to encroach on ou, with infinitives and participles. The periphrastic conjugation is specially common. The direct discourse is more frequent than the indirect. The non-final use of hina, is quite noticeable. There are, besides, dialectical and provincial peculiarities, but these do not destroy the real unity of the vernacular koine any more than do individual traits of separate writers.

II. Literary Elements in the New Testament.

Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, 245) is disposed to deny any literary quality to the New Testament books save the Epistle to the Hebrews. "The Epistle to the Hebrews shows us Christianity preparing for a flight from its native levels into the higher region of culture, and we are conscious of the beginnings of a Christian world-literature." He speaks of it also as "a work which seems to hang in the background like an intruder among the New Testament company of popular books." One feels that this is an extreme position and cannot be justified by the facts. It is true that Peter and John were agrammatoi kai idiotai (Acts 4:13), and not men of the schools, but this was certainly not the case with Luke and Paul who were men of literary culture in the truest sense. Luke and Paul were not Atticists, but that artificial idiom did not represent the best type of culture. Deissmann admits that the New Testament has become literature, but, outside of He, he denies any literary quality in its composition. Paul, for instance, wrote only "letters," not "epistles." But Romans and Ephesians confront us. See Milligan, Greek Papyri, xxxi, for a protest against the sweeping statement of Deissmann on this point. One need not go to the extreme of Blass, "Die rhythmische Komposition des Hebr. Brides," Theol. Studien und Kritik, 1902, 420-61; Die Rythmen der asiatischen und romischen Kunstprosa, 1905, to find in Hebrews and Paul's writings illustrations of the artificial rules of the Asianists. There is undoubtedly rhythm in Paul's eloquent passages (compare 1 Corinthians 13; 15), but it is the natural poetic quality of a soul aflame with high passions, not conformity to rules of rhetoric. To deny literary quality to Luke and Paul is to give a narrow meaning to the word "literary" and to be the victim of a theory. Christianity did make use of the vernacular koine, the wonderful world-speech so providentially at hand. But the personal equation figured here as always. Men of culture differ in their conversation from illiterate men and more nearly approximate literary style. It is just in Luke, Paul, and the author of He that we discover the literary flavor of men of ability and of culture, though free from artificiality and pedantry. The eloquence of He is that of passion, not of the art of Asianism. Indeed, the Gospels all show literary skill in the use of material and in beauty of language.

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pur'-shan, pur'-zhan,RATURE (ANCIENT):

I. LANGUAGE (Introductory)




1. Ordinary Ayestic

2. Gathic


1. His Date, etc.

2. Date of Avesta

3. Divisions of the present Avesta

(1) The Yasna

(2) The Vispered

(3) The Vendidad

(4) The Yashts

(5) The Khorda Avesta


1. Literature

2. Comparison


I. Language: (Introductory).

The Persian language, ancient and modern alike, is an Aryan tongue. In its ancient forms it is more closely connected with Vedic Sanskrit than with any other language except Armenian. Most of its roots are to be found also in Slavonic, Greek, Latin and other tongues of the same stock.


There were two main dialects in the ancient language of Iran (Airyanem),

(1) that of the Persians proper, and

(2) that of the Medes.

The former is known to us from the inscriptions of the Achemenian kings, the latter from the Avesta, and a few Median words preserved for us by Herodotus and other Greek writers.

II. Old Persian Inscriptions.

These fall between 550 and 330 B.C., and contain about 1,000 lines and 400 words. They are carved upon the rocks in a cuneiform character, simplified from that of the neo-Susian, which again comes from the neo-Babylonian syllabary. In Old Persian inscriptions only 44 characters are employed, of which 7 are ideographs or contractions. The remaining 37 phonetic signs are syllabic, each consisting of an open syllable and not merely of a single letter, except in case of separate vowels. The syllabary, though much simpler than any other cuneiform system, does not quite attain therefore to being an alphabet. It was written from left to right, like the other cuneiform syllabaries. Of Cyrus the Great only one Persian sentence has been found: Adam Kurush Khshayathiya Hakhamanishiya, "I am Cyrus the King, the Achemenian." Darius I has left us long inscriptions, at Behistan (Besitun), Mt. Alvand, Persepolis, Naqsh i Rustam, etc., and one at Suez, the latter mentioning his conquest of Egypt and the construction of the first (?) Suez canal:

Adam niyashtayam imam yuviyam kantanaiy haca Pirava nama rauta tya Mudrayaiy danauvatiy abiy daraya tya haca Parsa aiti.

("I commanded to dig this canal from the river named the Nile, which flows through Egypt, to the sea which comes from Persia.")

We have also inscriptions of Xerxes at Persepolis and many short ones of Artaxerxes I, Artaxerxes Mnemon, and Artaxerxes Ochus. From them all taken together we learn much concerning the history and the religion of the Achemenian period. It is from Achemenian or Old Persian, and not from the Medic or Avestic, that modern Persian has sprung through Pahlavi and Dari as intermediate stages. This is probably due to the political supremacy which the Persians under the Achaemenides gained over the Medes. The few words in the inscriptions which might otherwise be doubtful can be understood through comparison with Armenian and even with the modern Pets, e.g. yuviya in the above inscription is the modern vulgar Pets jub.

III. Medic Dialect.

1. Ordinary Avestic:

The Medic dialect is represented in literature by the Avesta or sacred books of the Zoroastrians (Parsis). The word Avesta does not occur in the book itself and is of uncertain meaning and signification. It is probably the Abashta of Beh. Inscr., IV, 64, and means either

(1) an interview, meeting (Sanskrit avashta, "appearance before a judge"; At. ava-sta, "to stand near"), or (2) a petition (Pahl. apastan, "petition"; Arm. apastan, "refuge," "asylum"),

in either case deriving its name from Zoroaster's drawing near to Ahura Mazda in worship.

This dialect represents a much greater decadence in grammar and vocabulary than does the Old Persian. Many of its consonants and most of its vowels are weakened. Its verbs have almost entirely lost the augment; its declensional system shows extreme confusion. It stands to Old Persian grammatically somewhat as English does to German Its alphabet, consisting of 43 letters, is derived from the Syriac (probably the Estrangela), and is written from right to left. As a specimen of the language of most of the Avesta we give the following extract (Yasna LXIV, 15(61)):

Daidi moi, ye gam tasho apasca urvarwsca

Ameretata, haurvata, Spenista Mainyu Mazda,

Tevishi, utayuiti, Mananha Vohu, senhe.

"Give me, O thou who didst make the bull (earth),

and the waters and the plants, immortality, health-

O most Bountiful Spirit, Mazda

-strength, might, through Vohu Mano, I say.")

2. Gathic:

There is a sub-dialect of Medic (Avestic) known as the Gatha-dialect, from the fact that the Gathas or "Hymns" (Yasna XXVIII-XXXIV, XLII-L, LII), and also the prayers (Yatha Ahu Vairyo, Ashem Vohu, Airyama Ishyo, and originally Yenhe Halam, and a few scattered passages elsewhere) are composed in it. This represents, speaking generally, an older form of the Avestic. It is probably the old language of Bactria or of Margiana Gatha I, 2, runs thus:

Ye vw, Mazda Ahura, pairijasai Vohu Mananha,

Maibyo davoi ahvw (astivatasca hyaTca mananho)

Ayapta AshaT haca, yais rapento daidiT hvathre.

"To me, O Ahura Mazda, who approach you two through Vohu Mano,

grant the benefits from Asha, (those) of both worlds,

both of the material (world)

and of that which is of the spirit, through which (benefits)

may (Asha) place in glory those who please him.")

The meter of the Gathas, like that of the other Avestic poems, is based on the number of syllables in a line, with due regard to the caesura. But the condition of the text is such that there is great difficulty in recovering the original reading with sufficient accuracy to enable us to lay down rules on the subject with any certainty. The first Gatha is composed of strophes of 3 lines each (as above). Each line contains 16 syllables, with a caesura after the 7th foot.

IV. Zoroaster.

1. His Date, etc.:

Many of the Gathas are generally ascribed to Zoroaster himself, the rest to his earliest disciples. They compose the most ancient part of the Avesta. It is now becoming a matter of very great probability that Zoroaster lived at earliest in the middle of the 7th century B.C., more probably a century later. The Arta Viraf Namak says that his religion remained pure for 300 years, and connects its corruption with the alleged destruction of much of the Avesta in the palace burned by Alexander at Persepolis, 324.B.C. This traditional indication of date is confirmed by other evidence. Zoroaster's prince Vishtaspa (in Greek Hustaspes) bears the same name as the father of Darius I, and was probably the same person. Vishtaspa's queen Hutaosa, who also protected and favored Zoroaster, bears the same name (in Greek Atossa) as Cambyses' sister who afterward married Darius, and probably belonged to the same family. Zoroastrianism comes to the fore under Darius, whereas Cyrus in his inscriptions speaks as a decided polytheist. Hence, we conclude that the earliest part of the Avesta belongs to circa 550 B.C. Of Zoroaster himself we learn much from the Avesta, which traces his genealogy back for 10 generations. It mentions his wife's name (Hvovi), and tells of his 3 sons and 3 daughters. His first disciple was Frashaostra, his wife's natural uncle. His own name means "Owner of the yellow camel," and has none of the higher meanings sometimes assigned to it by those who would deny his existence. Tradition says he was born at Ragha (Raga, Rai) about 5 1/2 miles South of the present Tehran, though some think his native place was Western Atropatene (Azarbaijan). Rejected by his own tribe, the Magi, he went to Vishtispa's court in Bactria. The faith which he taught spread to the Persian court (very naturally, if Vishtispa was identical with Darius' father) and thence throughout the country. Tradition (Yasht XIX, 2, etc.) says that the Avesta was revealed to Zoroaster on Mt. Ushi-darena ("intellect-holding") in Sistan. But it is not the composition of one man or of one age.

2. Date of Avesta:

Herodotus makes no mention of Zoroaster, but speaks of the Magi (whom he calls a Median tribe (i.101)) as already performing priestly functions. His description of their repetition of charms and theological compositions (i.132) would agree very well with recitation of the Gathas and Yasna. Mention of controversies with Gautama, Buddha's disciples (Yasht XIII, 16) who probably reached Persia in the 2nd century B.C., is another indication of date. The fact that in both the Yasna and the Vendidad heretics (zanda) are mentioned who preferred the commentary (zand) on the Avesta to the Avesta itself, is a sign of late date. Names of certain persons found in the Avesta (e.g. Atare-pata, a Dastur who lived under Hormuzd I, 273 A.D., and Rastare-Yaghenti, whom the Dinkarl identifies with the chief Mobed of Sapor II, 309-379 A.D., Aderpad Marespand, and who, according to the Patet, section 28, "purified" the revelation made to Zoroaster, i.e. revised the text of the earlier parts of the Avesta) enable us to prove that certain portions of the work as we now have it were composed as late as near the end of the 4th century of our era. It is said that the text was in confusion in the time of Vologases I (51-78 (?) A.D.). A reccnsion was then begun, and continued with much zeal by Ardashir Papakan, 226-240 A.D. According to Geldner (Prolegomena, xlvi) the final recension took place some considerable time after Yezdigird III (overthrown 642 A.D.). In the times of the Sasanides there were, it is said, 21 Naskas or volumes of the Avesta, and the names of these are given in the Dinkart (Book IX). Of these we now possess only one entire Naska, the Vendidad, and portions of three others.

3. Divisions of the Present Avesta:

The present Avesta is divided into 5 parts:

(1) The Yasna

The Yasna root yaz, Sanskrit yaj, "to invoke," "to praise") contains 72 chapters of hymns for use at sacrifices, etc., including the "Older Yasna" or Gathas.

(2) The Vispered

The Vispered (vispa, "every," "all," and radha, "a lord") is divided into 24 chapters in Geldner's edition; it is supplementary to the Yasna.

(3) The Vendidad

The Vendidad (van plus daea plus data, "law for vanquishing the demons") contains 22 chapters. The first chapter contains the Iranian myth about the order in which the provinces of the Iranian world were created by Ahura Mazda. It tells how the Evil Spirit, Anro Mainyus, created plagues, sins and death, to destroy the good creatures of the Good Spirit. The greater part of the book contains ceremonial laws and formulas, some of them loathsome and all rather petty and superstitious in character.

(4) The Yashts

The Yashts, 21 in all, are hymns, telling many mythological tales about Mithra, Tishtriya, etc.

(5) The Khorda Avesta

The Khorda Avesta ("Little Avesta") consists of a number of short compositions, hymns, etc., compiled by the Aderpad Marespand (Adharpadh Mahraspand, Atarobat Mansarspendan) already mentioned, in Sapor II's reign.

Much of the Avesta is said to have been destroyed by the Khalffah `Umar's orders when Persia was conquered by the Arabs after the battle of Nahavand (642 A.D.). Certainly `Umar ordered the destruction of Persian libraries, as we learn from the Kashfu'z Zunun (p.341).

V. Pahlavi.

1. Literature:

Under ancient Persian literature may be classed the Pahlavi

(a) inscriptions of Sapor at Hajiabad and elsewhere,

(b) legends on Sasanian coins,

(c) translations of certain parts of the Avesta, made under the Sasanides for the most part,

(d) such books as the Arta Viraf Namak, the Zad Sparam, Dinkart, Ormazd Yasht, Patet, Bundishnih, etc.

These are mostly of religious import. The Arta Viraf Namak gives a description of the visit of the young dastur Arta Viraf, to the Zoroastrian heaven. The Bundihishnih ("creation") tells how Ormazd and Ahriman came into being, and treats of the 9,000 years' struggle between them. Pahlavi, as written (the so-called Huzvaresh), contains an immense number of Aramaic words, but the Persian terminations attached to these show that they were read as Persian: thus yehabunt-ano is written, and dat-ano ("to give") is read. Pahlavi works that are no longer extant are the sources of the Vis o Ramin, Zaratusht Namah, Shahnamah, etc.

2. Comparison:

In order to understand the relation in which the Persian dialects and stages in the history of the language stand to one another, it may be well to subjoin a list of words in Old Persian, Avestic, Pahlavi and modern Persian. It will be seen that Ayestic is not the source of the Aryan part of the present tongue.


Friend.... zusta daushta dost dust

Hand...... zasta dasta dast dast

Bactreia.. Bakhdhi Bakhtri Bahr Balkh

Straight.. drva(sta) duruva(sta) drust durust

Greatest.. mazista mathishta mahist mahin Most right razista rasta rast rast

Abode..... nmana maniya man man-dan ("to remain")





Achaemenian inscriptions, Korsowitz, Spiegel, Rawlinson: Geiger and Kuhn (editors), Grundriss der iranischen Philologie; Darmesteter, Etudes iraniennes; Spiegel, Eranische Altertumskunde; Noldeke, Aufsatze zur persischen Geschichte; W. Geiger, Ostiranische Kultur im Alterium; Geldner's edition of Avesta; Professor Browne, Literary History of Persia; De Harlez, Manuel de la langue de l' Avesta, Manuel de la langue Pehlevie, and Introduction to the Avesta; Haug, Book of Artd Viraf; Cook, Origins of Religion and Language.

W. St. Clair Tisdall






sir'-i-an (the King James Version SYRIAC).


1258. dialektos -- speech, language
... speech, language. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: dialektos Phonetic
Spelling: (dee-al'-ek-tos) Short Definition: language, speech Definition ...
// - 6k

1100. glossa -- the tongue, a language
... the tongue, a language. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: glossa Phonetic
Spelling: (gloce-sah') Short Definition: the tongue, a language, nation ...
// - 7k

1673. Hellenikos -- Hellenic, ie Grecian (in language)
... Hellenic, ie Grecian (in language). Part of Speech: Adjective Transliteration:
Hellenikos Phonetic Spelling: (hel-lay-nee-kos') Short Definition: Greek, the ...
// - 6k

1444. Hebraikos -- Hebrew, the Jewish language.
... 1443, 1444. Hebraikos. 1445 . Hebrew, the Jewish language. ... Word Origin
from Eber Definition Hebrew, the Jewish language. Hebrew. ...
// - 6k

148. aischrologia -- abusive language
... abusive language. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: aischrologia Phonetic
Spelling: (ahee-skhrol-og-ee'-ah) Short Definition: filthy speech ...
// - 6k

3072. Lukaonisti -- in Lycaonian (speech)
... speech). Part of Speech: Adverb Transliteration: Lukaonisti Phonetic Spelling:
(loo-kah-on-is-tee') Short Definition: in the Lycaonian language Definition: in ...
// - 6k

1676. Hellenisti -- in Greek
... in Greek. Part of Speech: Adverb Transliteration: Hellenisti Phonetic Spelling:
(hel-lay-nis-tee') Short Definition: in the Greek language Definition: in the ...
// - 6k

1446. Hebrais -- Hebrew, the Aramaic vernacular of Pal.
... Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: Hebrais Phonetic Spelling:
(heb-rah-is') Short Definition: the Hebrew language, Aramaic Definition: the Hebrew ...
// - 6k

988. blasphemia -- slander
... Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: blasphemia Phonetic Spelling: (blas-fay-
me'-ah) Short Definition: abusive or scurrilous language, blasphemy Definition ...
// - 7k

5456. phone -- a voice, sound
... Noun, Feminine Transliteration: phone Phonetic Spelling: (fo-nay') Short Definition:
a sound, noise, voice Definition: a sound, noise, voice, language, dialect ...
// - 7k

Strong's Hebrew
797. Ashdodith -- in the language of Ashdod
... Ashdodith. 798 . in the language of Ashdod. Transliteration: Ashdodith Phonetic
Spelling: (ash-do-deeth') Short Definition: Ashdod. ... in the language of Ashdod. ...
/hebrew/797.htm - 6k

762. Aramith -- the language of Aram (Syria)
... the language of Aram (Syria). Transliteration: Aramith Phonetic Spelling:
(ar-aw-meeth') Short Definition: Aramaic. ... in the Syrian language, in Syriac. ...
/hebrew/762.htm - 6k

3066. Yehudith -- Jewish
... Judean. Word Origin fem. of Yehudi Definition Jewish NASB Word Usage Judean
(4), language of Judah (2). in the Jews' language. Feminine ...
/hebrew/3066.htm - 6k

8193. saphah -- lip, speech, edge
... unused word Definition lip, speech, edge NASB Word Usage babbling (2), bank (10),
binding (2), brim (9), edge (17), empty (2), gossip* (1), language (6), lip (1 ...
/hebrew/8193.htm - 6k

3961. lishshan -- tongue
... 3960, 3961. lishshan. 3962 . tongue. Transliteration: lishshan Phonetic
Spelling: (lish-shawn') Short Definition: language. ... language. ...
/hebrew/3961.htm - 6k

3956. lashon -- tongue
... Word Origin from an unused word Definition tongue NASB Word Usage bar (2), bark*
(1), bay (3), charmer* (1), language (14), languages (2), slanderer* (1 ...
/hebrew/3956.htm - 6k

3937. laaz -- to talk indistinctly or unintelligibly
... laaz. 3938 . to talk indistinctly or unintelligibly. Transliteration: laaz Phonetic
Spelling: (law-az') Short Definition: language. Word Origin a prim. ...
/hebrew/3937.htm - 6k

3887. luts -- ambassador, have in derision, interpreter, make a ...
... A primitive root; properly, to make mouths at, ie To scoff; hence (from the effort
to pronounce a foreign language) to interpret, or (generally) intercede ...
/hebrew/3887.htm - 6k

4911. mashal -- to represent, be like
... Denominative from mashal; to liken, ie (transitively) to use figurative language
(an allegory, adage, song or the like); intransitively, to resemble -- be(-come ...
/hebrew/4911.htm - 5k

1697. dabar -- speech, word
... decree, deed, X disease, due, duty, effect, + eloquent, errand, (evil favoured-)
ness, + glory, + harm, hurt, + iniquity, + judgment, language, + lying, manner ...
/hebrew/1697.htm - 8k


Language and Style.
Three, so here, the question at once arises, Is the Greek ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/language and style 2.htm

Language and Style.
The probability of a Semitic original lying in the background ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/language and style.htm

Language and Style.
[See corresponding title in Susanna.]. The indications of ...
/.../daubney/the three additions to daniel a study/language and style 3.htm

That the Original Language in Use among Men was that which was ...
... Chapter 11."That the Original Language in Use Among Men Was that Which Was Afterwards
Called Hebrew, from Heber, in Whose Family It Was Preserved When the ...
/.../augustine/city of god/chapter 11 that the original language.htm

Language of the New Testament. 1 in the Character of the Original ...
1. In the character of the original languages of the Bible... CHAPTER XXIV. ...
/.../barrows/companion to the bible/chapter xxiv language of the.htm

Dignity of the Scripture Language.
divine the joyous banquet ends; The Peans lengthen'd till the sun descends: ...
/.../sect vii dignity of the.htm

Bible in the Canarese Language.
... CHAPTER FOUR. BIBLE IN THE CANARESE LANGUAGE. ... The Scriptures are translated into
the Canarese language, and may be had everywhere at a very cheap rate indeed. ...
// daniel/chapter four bible in the.htm

The Figurative Language of Scripture.
... CHAPTER XXXV. THE FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE OF SCRIPTURE. ... Figurative language, then, is
that in which one thing is said under the form or figure of another thing. ...
/.../barrows/companion to the bible/chapter xxxv the figurative language.htm

Of the Apostle's Language Concerning Food.
... Chapter XV."Of the Apostle's Language Concerning Food. The apostle reprobates
likewise such as "bid to abstain from meats; but ...
/.../chapter xv of the apostles language.htm

Hear Therefore Its Own Language: "If any Man Will be My Disciple.. ...
... [Way-2-69] Hear therefore its own language: "If any man will be my disciple?
Hear therefore its own language: "If any man will ...
/.../law/the way to divine knowledge/way-2-69 hear therefore its own.htm

Language (112 Occurrences)
... 6. (n.) The suggestion, by objects, actions, or conditions, of ideas associated
therewith; as, the language of flowers. 7. (n.) The ...
/l/language.htm - 101k

Figurative (20 Occurrences)
... Figurative (20 Occurrences). Matthew 13:3 He then spoke many things to them in
figurative language. "The sower goes out," He said, "to sow. (WEY). ...
/f/figurative.htm - 12k

... 2. (n.) The language of ancient Ethiopia; the language of the ancient Abyssinian
empire (in Ethiopia), now used only in the Abyssinian church. ...
/e/ethiopic.htm - 17k

... Easton's Bible Dictionary Chaldee language: Employed by the sacred writers
in certain portions of the Old Testament, viz., Dan. ...
/c/chaldee.htm - 8k

Rabshakeh (15 Occurrences)
... See the speech he delivered, in the Hebrew language, in the hearing of all the people,
as he stood near the wall on the north side of the city (2 Kings 18:17-37 ...
/r/rabshakeh.htm - 14k

Interpret (27 Occurrences)
... 1. (vt) To explain or tell the meaning of; to expound; to translate orally into
intelligible or familiar language or terms; to decipher; to define; -- applied ...
/i/interpret.htm - 15k

Script (5 Occurrences)
... rest of his companions, to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter
was written in the Syrian character, and set forth in the Syrian language. ...
/s/script.htm - 8k

... 1. (a.) Of or pertaining to Arabia or the Arabians. 2. (n.) The language of the
Arabians. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. ARABIC LANGUAGE. ...
/a/arabic.htm - 17k

Barbarous (1 Occurrence)
... 4. (a.) Contrary to the pure idioms of a language. Int. ... With the spread of Greek
language and culture, it came to be used generally for all that was non-Greek. ...
/b/barbarous.htm - 9k

Barbarian (2 Occurrences)
... did not speak Greek. In 1 Corinthians 14:11, it simply refers to one speaking
a different language. The inhabitants of Malta are ...
/b/barbarian.htm - 10k

Is there a heavenly language? What language will we speak in heaven? |

What is praying in tongues? Is praying in tongues a prayer language between a believer and God? |

What language did Jesus speak? |

Language: Dictionary and Thesaurus |

Bible ConcordanceBible DictionaryBible EncyclopediaTopical BibleBible Thesuarus
Language (112 Occurrences)

Matthew 5:37
But let your language be, 'Yes, yes,' or 'No, no.' Anything in excess of this comes from the Evil one.

Matthew 9:3
"Such language is impious," said some of the Scribes among themselves.

Matthew 13:3
He then spoke many things to them in figurative language. "The sower goes out," He said, "to sow.

Matthew 13:10
(And His disciples came and asked Him, "Why do you speak to them in figurative language?"

Matthew 13:13
I speak to them in figurative language for this reason, that while looking they do not see, and while hearing they neither hear nor understand.

Matthew 13:34
All this Jesus spoke to the people in figurative language, and except in figurative language He spoke nothing to them,

Matthew 13:35
in fulfilment of the saying of the Prophet, "I will open my mouth in figurative language, I will utter things kept hidden since the creation of all things."

Matthew 15:15
"Explain to us this figurative language," said Peter.

Matthew 22:1
Again Jesus spoke to them in figurative language.

Matthew 24:15
"When you have seen (to use the language of the Prophet Daniel)

Matthew 26:65
Then the High Priest tore his robes and exclaimed, "Impious language! What further need have we of witnesses! See, you have now heard the impiety.

Mark 3:23
So He called them to Him, and using figurative language He appealed to them, saying, "How is it possible for Satan to expel Satan?

Mark 4:2
Then He proceeded to teach them many lessons in figurative language; and in His teaching He said,

Mark 4:10
When He was alone, the Twelve and the others who were about Him requested Him to explain His figurative language.

Mark 4:11
"To you," He replied, "has been entrusted the secret truth concerning the Kingdom of God; but to those others outside your number all this is spoken in figurative language;

Mark 4:34
But except in figurative language He spoke nothing to them; while to His own disciples He expounded everything, in private.

Mark 7:22
thefts, covetousness, wickednesses, deceit, licentiousness, a wicked eye, injurious language, haughtiness, folly;

Mark 12:1
Then He began to speak to them in figurative language. "There was once a man," He said, "who planted a vineyard, fenced it round, dug a pit for the wine-tank, and built a strong lodge. Then he let the place to vine-dressers and went abroad.

Luke 1:20
Now, see, you will be without voice or language till the day when these things come about, because you had not faith in my words, which will have effect at the right time.

Luke 4:32
And they were greatly impressed by His teaching, because He spoke with the language of authority.

Luke 4:36
All were astonished and awe-struck; and they asked one another, "What sort of language is this? For with authority and real power He gives orders to the foul spirits and they come out."

Luke 5:36
He also spoke in figurative language to them. "No one," He said, "tears a piece from a new garment to mend an old one. Otherwise he would not only spoil the new, but the patch from the new would not match the old.

Luke 6:39
He also spoke to them in figurative language. "Can a blind man lead a blind man?" He asked; "would not both fall into the ditch?

Luke 15:3
So in figurative language He asked them,

Luke 20:20
And having watched him, they sent out suborned persons, pretending to be just men, that they might take hold of him in his language, so that they might deliver him up to the power and authority of the governor.

John 8:44
You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and doesn't stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks on his own; for he is a liar, and its father.
(See NIV)

John 10:6
Jesus spoke to them in this figurative language, but they did not understand what He meant.

John 10:21
Others argued, "That is not the language of a demoniac: and can a demon open blind men's eyes?"

John 16:25
"All this I have spoken to you in veiled language. The time is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in veiled language, but will tell you about the Father in plain words.

John 16:29
"Ah, now you are using plain language," said His disciples, "and are uttering no figure of speech!

Acts 1:19
It became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem that in their language that field was called'Akeldama,' that is,'The field of blood.'

Acts 2:6
When this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because everyone heard them speaking in his own language.

Acts 2:8
How do we hear, everyone in our own native language?

Acts 2:11
Cretans and Arabians: we hear them speaking in our languages the mighty works of God!"

Acts 14:11
When the multitude saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voice, saying in the language of Lycaonia, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!"

Acts 15:15
And this is in harmony with the language of the Prophets, which says:

Acts 18:6
But upon their opposing him with abusive language, he shook his clothes by way of protest, and said to them, "Your ruin will be upon your own heads. I am not responsible: in future I will go among the Gentiles."

Acts 21:40
When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, beckoned with his hand to the people. When there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,

Acts 22:2
When they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they were even more quiet. He said,

Acts 26:14
When we had all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language,'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'

Romans 3:5
But if our unrighteousness sets God's righteousness in a clearer light, what shall we say? (Is God unrighteous--I speak in our everyday language-- when He inflicts punishment?

Romans 9:9
For the words are the language of promise and run thus, "About this time next year I will come, and Sarah shall have a son."

1 Corinthians 2:4
And my language and the Message that I proclaimed were not adorned with persuasive words of earthly wisdom, but depended upon truths which the Spirit taught and mightily carried home;

1 Corinthians 2:13
Of these we speak--not in language which man's wisdom teaches us, but in that which the Spirit teaches--adapting, as we do, spiritual words to spiritual truths.

1 Corinthians 5:11
But what I meant was that you were not to associate with any one bearing the name of "brother," if he was addicted to fornication or avarice or idol-worship or abusive language or hard-drinking or greed of gain. With such a man you ought not even to eat.

1 Corinthians 6:10
nor theives, nor avaricious people, nor any who are addicted to hard drinking, to abusive language or to greed of gain, will inherit God's Kingdom.

1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I made use of a child's language, I had a child's feelings and a child's thoughts: now that I am a man, I have put away the things of a child.

1 Corinthians 14:2
For he who speaks in another language speaks not to men, but to God; for no one understands; but in the Spirit he speaks mysteries.

1 Corinthians 14:4
He who speaks in another language edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the assembly.

1 Corinthians 14:10
There are, we will suppose, a great number of languages in the world, and no creature is without a language.

1 Corinthians 14:11
If, however, I do not know the meaning of the particular language, I shall seem to the speaker of it, and he to me, to be merely talking some foreign tongue.

1 Corinthians 14:13
Therefore let him who speaks in another language pray that he may interpret.

1 Corinthians 14:14
For if I pray in another language, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

1 Corinthians 14:19
However in the assembly I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in another language.

1 Corinthians 14:26
What is it then, brothers? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has another language, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to build each other up.

1 Corinthians 14:27
If any man speaks in another language, let it be two, or at the most three, and in turn; and let one interpret.

2 Corinthians 1:18
As certainly as God is faithful, our language to you is not now "Yes" and now "No."

2 Corinthians 11:21
I use the language of self-disparagement, as though I were admitting our own feebleness. Yet for whatever reason any one is 'courageous' --I speak in mere folly--I also am courageous.

Ephesians 4:31
Let all bitterness and all passionate feeling, all anger and loud insulting language, be unknown among you--and also every kind of malice.

Colossians 3:8
But now, put off, ye also, all these things, wrath, anger, malice, blasphemy, vile language out of your mouth.

Colossians 4:6
Let your language be always seasoned with the salt of grace, so that you may know how to give every man a fitting answer.

1 Thessalonians 2:5
For, as you are well aware, we have never used the language of flattery nor have we found pretexts for enriching ourselves--God is our witness;

1 Timothy 6:4
he is conceited, knowing nothing, but obsessed with arguments, disputes, and word battles, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,
(See NAS)

Titus 2:8
and healthy language which no one can censure, so that our opponents may feel ashamed at having nothing evil to say against us.

1 Peter 2:22
He never sinned, and no deceitful language was ever heard from His mouth.

2 Peter 2:11
Though the angels, who are greater in strength and power, do not make use of violent language against them before the Lord.

1 John 4:5
They are the world's children, and so their language is that of the world, and the world listens to them. We are God's children.

Revelation 5:9
They sang a new song, saying, "You are worthy to take the book, and to open its seals: for you were killed, and bought us for God with your blood, out of every tribe, language, people, and nation,

Revelation 7:9
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.

Revelation 9:11
They have over them as king the angel of the great deep: his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek language Apollyon.

Revelation 11:9
From among the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations people will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not allow their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.

Revelation 13:7
It was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. Authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation was given to him.

Revelation 14:6
I saw an angel flying in mid heaven, having an eternal Good News to proclaim to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation, tribe, language, and people.

Genesis 10:5
Of these were the islands of the nations divided in their lands, everyone after his language, after their families, in their nations.

Genesis 11:1
The whole earth was of one language and of one speech.

Genesis 11:6
Yahweh said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they intend to do.

Genesis 11:7
Come, let's go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."

Genesis 11:9
Therefore its name was called Babel, because there Yahweh confused the language of all the earth. From there, Yahweh scattered them abroad on the surface of all the earth.

Genesis 42:23
They were not conscious that the sense of their words was clear to Joseph, for he had been talking to them through one who had knowledge of their language.

Deuteronomy 28:49
Yahweh will bring a nation against you from far, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flies; a nation whose language you shall not understand;

2 Kings 18:26
Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah, and Joah, said to Rabshakeh, "Please speak to your servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it. Don't speak with us in the Jews' language, in the hearing of the people who are on the wall."

2 Kings 18:28
Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and spoke, saying, "Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria.

2 Chronicles 32:18
They cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten them, and to trouble them; that they might take the city.

Ezra 4:7
In the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his companions, to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian character, and set forth in the Syrian language.

Nehemiah 13:24
and their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people.

Esther 1:22
for he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to its writing, and to every people in their language, that every man should rule his own house, speaking in the language of his own people.

Esther 3:12
Then the king's scribes were called in on the first month, on the thirteenth day of the month; and all that Haman commanded was written to the king's satraps, and to the governors who were over every province, and to the princes of every people, to every province according its writing, and to every people in their language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus, and it was sealed with the king's ring.

Esther 8:9
Then the king's scribes were called at that time, in the third month Sivan, on the twenty-third day of the month; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded to the Jews, and to the satraps, and the governors and princes of the provinces which are from India to Ethiopia, one hundred twenty-seven provinces, to every province according to its writing, and to every people in their language, and to the Jews in their writing, and in their language.

Job 15:5
For your iniquity teaches your mouth, and you choose the language of the crafty.

Psalms 19:3
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

Psalms 19:4
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their language to the extremity of the world. In them hath he set a tent for the sun,

Psalms 55:9
Confuse them, Lord, and confound their language, for I have seen violence and strife in the city.

Psalms 81:5
He appointed it in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out over the land of Egypt, I heard a language that I didn't know.

Psalms 114:1
When Israel went forth out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of foreign language;

Proverbs 17:20
Nothing good comes to him whose heart is fixed on evil purposes: and he who has an evil tongue will come to trouble.
(See NAS)

Isaiah 19:18
In that day, there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan, and swear to Yahweh of Armies. One will be called "The city of destruction."

Isaiah 28:11
But he will speak to this nation with stammering lips and in another language;

Isaiah 33:19
You will no longer see the fierce people, a people of a deep speech that you can't comprehend, with a strange language that you can't understand.

Isaiah 36:13
Then Rabshakeh stood, and called out with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and said, "Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria!

Jeremiah 5:15
Behold, I will bring a nation on you from far, house of Israel, says Yahweh: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you don't know, neither understand what they say.



Language of all Mankind One at First

Language of some Nations Difficult

Language of the New Testament

Language: Ancient Kingdoms often Comprehended Nations of Different

Language: Ashdod

Language: Called: Speech

Language: Called: Tongue

Language: Chaldee

Language: Confusion of

Language: Confusion of a Punishment for Presumption

Language: Confusion of Divided Men Into Separated Nations

Language: Confusion of Originated the Varieties In

Language: Confusion of Scattered Men Over the Earth

Language: Dialects of the Jews

Language: Egyptian

Language: Gift of

Language: Great Variety of, Spoken by Men

Language: Greek

Language: Interpretation of a Gift of the Holy Spirit

Language: Interpretation of Antiquity of Engaging Persons For

Language: Interpretation of Most Important in the Early Church

Language: Interpretation of The Jews Punished by Being Given up to People of a Strange

Language: Kinds of, Mentioned: Arabic

Language: Kinds of, Mentioned: Chaldea

Language: Kinds of, Mentioned: Egyptian

Language: Kinds of, Mentioned: Greek

Language: Kinds of, Mentioned: Hebrew

Language: Kinds of, Mentioned: Latin

Language: Kinds of, Mentioned: Lycaonian

Language: Kinds of, Mentioned: Syriack

Language: Latin

Language: Lycaonian

Language: Many Spoken at Jerusalem

Language: Parthian and Other Lands

Language: Power of Speaking Different: A Gift of the Holy Spirit

Language: Power of Speaking Different: A Sign to Unbelievers

Language: Power of Speaking Different: Ceased when the Written Bible Completed

Language: Power of Speaking Different: Conferred by Laying on of the Apostles' Hands

Language: Power of Speaking Different: Followed Receiving the Gospel

Language: Power of Speaking Different: Given on the Day of Pentecost

Language: Power of Speaking Different: Necessary to Spread of the Gospel

Language: Power of Speaking Different: Promised

Language: Power of Speaking Different: Sometimes Abused

Language: Speaking in Inspired "Tongues" Forbidden

Language: Syrian

Language: The Term Barbarian Applied to Those Who Spoke a Strange

Language: Unity of

Vulgar Language

Related Terms

Figurative (20 Occurrences)



Rabshakeh (15 Occurrences)

Interpret (27 Occurrences)

Script (5 Occurrences)


Barbarous (1 Occurrence)

Barbarian (2 Occurrences)

Commonly (5 Occurrences)


Syrian (12 Occurrences)

Alphabet (2 Occurrences)


Confusion (71 Occurrences)

Latin (2 Occurrences)

Jew (34 Occurrences)

Judean (7 Occurrences)

Rab'shakeh (14 Occurrences)

Rab-shakeh (14 Occurrences)

Aramaean (13 Occurrences)

Abusive (7 Occurrences)


Clearly (67 Occurrences)

Jewish (49 Occurrences)


Provinces (40 Occurrences)


Veiled (23 Occurrences)

Baptist (16 Occurrences)

Lieutenants (4 Occurrences)

Lycaonia (2 Occurrences)

Word (8118 Occurrences)

Impious (19 Occurrences)

Fourth (87 Occurrences)

Translate (3 Occurrences)

Mouth (534 Occurrences)

Matthew (5 Occurrences)

Confound (9 Occurrences)

Chaldees (13 Occurrences)

Colors (12 Occurrences)

Charity (29 Occurrences)

Aramean (17 Occurrences)

Accad (1 Occurrence)

Satraps (12 Occurrences)

Secretaries (5 Occurrences)

Aramaic (12 Occurrences)

Color (18 Occurrences)


Tablets (31 Occurrences)


Except (236 Occurrences)

Lion (92 Occurrences)

People's (37 Occurrences)

Cross (157 Occurrences)

Eliakim (14 Occurrences)

Greek (19 Occurrences)

Three (5005 Occurrences)


Tell (3056 Occurrences)

Speaks (109 Occurrences)

Speech (107 Occurrences)

Cush (31 Occurrences)


Manasses (1 Occurrence)

Lip (20 Occurrences)

Bel (3 Occurrences)

Governors (43 Occurrences)

Susanna (1 Occurrence)


Shebna (9 Occurrences)

Pisidia (2 Occurrences)

Dragon (20 Occurrences)

Spoke (799 Occurrences)


Messenger (235 Occurrences)

Writing (194 Occurrences)


Languages (36 Occurrences)

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