Hebrew language

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He ( Hebrew)

Heb ( Hebrew)

Heb ( Modern Hebrew ), hbo ( Biblical, Rabbinic Hebrew)

Hebrew ( עברית ' Ivrit, Hebrew pronunciation modern? / I ) belongs to the Canaanite group of the Northwest Semitic and thus the Afro -Asiatic language family, also called Semitic- Hamitic language family.

The basis of all later forms of development of the Hebrew is the language of the sacred books of the Jews, the Hebrew Bible, whose source fonts were developed in the course of the 1st millennium BC and continuously edited and expanded and finally codified by the time of Christ. (Old ) Hebrew is therefore often equated with the term " Biblical Hebrew ", even if it is justified less historical linguistics, as literary history: ancient Hebrew as the language of the Bible. In the Bible, the language שְׂפַת כְּנַעַן is Sefat Canaan ( " language of Canaan, Isaiah 19:18 " ) called. After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BC and the subsequent Babylonian exile, the local official language of Aramaic came into circulation among the Jews, so the Hebrew henceforth compete for stood Aramaic and recorded many influences of this.

After the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, the center of Jewish life shifted from Judea to Galilee and into exile. From about the year 200 heard in Hebrew, to act as an everyday language. It remained, however, a sacred language, but was never used exclusively for liturgical purposes, but also for composing philosophical, medical, legal and poetic texts, so that the vocabulary of Hebrew means could expand over the centuries. It is also attests to the scattered Jewish communities to each other served the Hebrew for understanding.

The renewal of Hebrew as a mother tongue began in the late 19th century, Eliezer Ben- Yehuda. In 1889 he founded in Jerusalem as "the Council of the Hebrew language ", the precursor to the Academy of the Hebrew language, with the aim of reviving hardly spoken language in the Bible since about 1700 years. In this way the modern Hebrew ( Ivrit ), whose differences from the biblical Hebrew typeface and the morphology is extremely low, in the syntax and vocabulary, for example, but are serious originated.

  • 3.1 Nouns 3.1.1 Status Constructus
  • 3.1.2 genera
  • 9.1 Individual studies
  • 9.2 grammars
  • 9.3 dictionaries
  • 9.4 Textbooks
  • 9.5 to language history


There are three stages: Old, Middle and Modern Hebrew. There is also a more literary -defined classification in Hebrew Bible, Mischnahebräisch, medieval Hebrew and modern Hebrew. This classification is common in academic teaching Hebrew.

Ancient Hebrew

The Ancient Hebrew is related closely with the Phoenician - Punic language and the other Semitic varieties of the Near Eastern Mediterranean coast; Most linguists today consider the Canaanite ( with Hebrew as one of several dialects ) and the Phoenician as one and the same language. Linguistically, is seen (old) Hebrew südkanaanäischer a dialect of the 1st millennium BC, which stood in a dialect continuum with the Canaanite languages ​​Moabite, Ammonitisch, Edomite, Ugaritic, Phoenician, etc.. The oldest known Hebrew text is written down on a clay tablet, Gezer calendar of 925 BC, which is now on display in Istanbul. There are older testimonies of other related dialects.

The most famous work in ancient Hebrew language is the Jewish Bible, the Tanakh (referred to in the Christian parlance Old Testament). The oldest surviving copies of biblical texts, the scrolls from the Dead Sea. They were found in 1947 in Qumran and date from the period between the 3rd century BC and the late first century AD They have a number of differences to the current codified Jewish Bible and include writings of the canon Jewish Bible are not addressed.

Hebrew means

Means Hebrew is the language spätbiblischer texts and the Hebrew parts of rabbinic literature and medieval Jewish literature. It was significantly influenced by the Hebrew -Aramaic Diglossieverhältnis that was determinative of the Babylonian exile to the end of the rabbinic era.

The Persian Empire was Aramaic, in the form of so-called Reichsaramäisch, language of administration. Core area of ​​this language was previously the Syrian space around Damascus. Aramaic established for about 700 years as ethnic and political borders of the Middle East border vernacular, came to the since the victory of Alexander the Great over the Persians in the Greek competition. It was not until the appearance of the Arabian urged both languages ​​back almost completely. The Jews used for Aramaic translations of the Bible and the Talmud Targum. How the Hebrew Aramaic belongs to the northwestern branch of the Semitic languages, which is closely related to Hebrew. In the middle phase of numerous Hebrew Aramaic words and phrases were taken into Hebrew, but especially the Aramaic script, which to date is as the square font in use, while the Syrians further developed their writing to different tasks italics and the square script. Also, the syntax changed in this phase fundamental (transition from the structure predicate - subject-object, to subject-predicate - object and of the paratactic, ie main clauses preferable syntax towards the hypotactic principle, ie main clause - subordinate clause constructions ). The Hebrew means comprises Late Biblical Hebrew and the Hebrew of Rabbinic literature, ie the works of Jewish scholars in particular Palestine and Babylonia after the destruction of the Second Temple (70 AD).

While almost two millennia Hebrew was not spoken as a mother tongue language, but usually a second or third language of the Jews, that is usually formed by Jewish men, in all parts of the Diaspora. In traditional Jewish education much time has been spent Torah, Mishna, Gemara and rabbinic comments in Hebrew ( and partly Aramaic ) original to read. The most important contribution to the preservation of Biblical Hebrew comes from the Masoretic vowels, accents and so-called Teamim added from the 7th to the 10th century AD to the written only with consonants Bible text, that is, information on the liturgical singing in worship. Since the corresponding characters mainly consist of points, it is called " punctuation " (Hebrew " Nikud "). The most important Masoretes worked in 9-10. Century AD in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee.

There are two main families are here important: Ben Asher and Ben Naftali. After texts already had been in Babylonia and Palestine have been dotted, Aaron ben Moshe ben Asher created the most detailed and thorough Punktationssystem, which eventually prevailed. The generally accepted Jewish Hebrew Bible text, which is set in the 16th century by Christian theologians of the exegetical work on the Old Testament is based, goes back to the Ben Asher family. In the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia the Masoretic text is printed for the oldest complete manuscript of this writing, the Codex Leningradensis. The works of Paul Kahle at various Masoretic systems and the comparison with Greek transcriptions of Hebrew in the Septuagint and the Hexapla of Origen have shown that the Masoretes of Tiberias did not go out in their punctuation of the common vernacular, but partly an ideal philological construct created, that should be enough, especially religious needs.

Modern Hebrew

The medieval Hebrew, which can boast a rich literature, and the Hebrew of the modern era together form the Modern Hebrew. The modern Hebrew again divided into two periods, but did not possess valid for the entire Jewry. Major innovations ( a move away from the rabbinic tradition and emphasis on the supposed purity and authenticity of the biblical style of language ) brought the Jewish Enlightenment in 18-19. Century. Another new beginning that eventually led to the re-establishment as a mother tongue further given idiom, caused the Zionists at the end of the 19th century. This form of language is usually referred to as Modern Hebrew or Ivrit. However, the term referred to in today's Ivrit Hebrew the entire Hebrew language of all periods.

Modern Hebrew ( Ivrit )

Under Ivrit is outside Israel's most recent developments phase of modern Hebrew understood: The resulting consequence of the Enlightenment and of Zionism Israeli Hebrew is the result of a revival of the development status of biblical language, the Masoretes of Tiberias have developed with their Vokalisationssystem, but on the basis of a later, more medium Hebrew syntax, which also has influences of European languages ​​.

The relatively few specific ancient Hebrew forms are understood in Israel and taught in school, but is not used in everyday language (eg Pausalformen ); also have numerous biblical words today a different meaning. In particular, the ancient Hebrew System aspect of the verb has given way since medieval Hebrew a tense system; the ancient Hebrew aspects were not taken at the return to the Hebrew Bible in the modern era in the modern language.

However, the Hebrew considered by many today as an example of a successful conversion of a sacred language into a modern national language. This was narrated by David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, as saying: "If Moses now came back and begged for a piece of bread, you understand him. " Such a view was also partly of Hebrew scholar and Semitists represented ( Ullendorff ) but is controversial ( Brockelmann ).

Critics point here inter alia to the untypical of Semitic languages ​​pronunciation of the present Hebrew, which has only in spelling, but not in phonetics specifically Semitic sounds ( ie between Aleph and Ayin, coffee and QOF, Thet and Taw, Chet and Khaf etc. is different ) and thus has substantially fewer sounds available than any other Semitic languages ​​. The pairs of letters are called homophonic today. Only Israeli with Arabic mother tongue differentiate occasionally even some of these sounds.

Hebrew Scriptures

See Hebrew Alphabet and the entries under each letter, from Aleph to Tav. Writing from right (top) to the left.


For the grammar of Modern Hebrew Ivrit see.


The ancient Hebrew belongs, like all Semitic languages, generally considered to be Kasussprachen. Since the failure of the case inflection in the Canaanite group of Semitic language, however, BC for the distinction of subject and object are already from the 10th century no more cases used, but the object can optionally be marked with a special nota objecti, the is only possible in deterministic objects. However, inflection plays an important role in the formation and dissipation of verbs, nouns, the genitive construction status of the construct, which in Hebrew Smichut ( סְמִיכוּת - " support " ) is called.

Status Constructus

Examples of Smichut:

Bayit ( בַּיִת ) = house; lechem ( לֶחֶם ) = bread; Bēt lechem ( בֵּית - לֶחֶם ) = House of Bread ( Bethlehem ). This occurs, according to gender and number, usually a change in the vocalization of a.

In the Smichut is the article inserted in contrast to the Indo-European languages, the last nominal attribute:

Alija ( עֲלִיָּה ) = immigration; nó `ar (, נוֹעַר, נֹעַר ) = Youth; aliyát Hano `ar ( עֲלִיַּת הַנּוֹעַר ) = the immigration of young people.

The ownership ratio can be reproduced (especially in modern Hebrew ) by a short form and a long form. The short form is to hitch a personal suffix ( as expressed in the ancient Hebrew ), the longer form by derivatives of the preposition shel שֶׁל ("from ").

The preposition shel turn itself is composed of two components: the Reflexium שֶׁ ... linen and the preposition לְ ... le, which means at. example:

That the Hebrew script is a consonantal script, is no accident: In the Hebrew language there is a word root only of consonants. The various derived forms arise by the addition of different vowels and by means of prefixes and suffixes.


The Hebrew language has two grammatical genders and generations: male and female. Feminine nouns and names usually end with ... a ( ה ... ) or ... t ( ת ... ). Example: Sarah ( שָׂרָה ), ` Ivrith ( עִבְרִית ). However, there are some exceptions, for example the word " Layla " ends ( לַיְלָה - night) with the letter " He" and is still grammatically masculine. It can also wear feminine nouns masculine endings.

Emphasis is usually the last syllable, in some cases, the penultimate syllable in words of foreign origin other syllables ( אוּנִיבֶרְסִיטָה Università " University "). The emphasis is ( in modern Hebrew ) weak phonemic, so there are occasional pairs of words that differ only by the emphasis ( בִּירָה Bira "capital", בִּירָה bira 'beer' ). Some personal names can be emphasized in two ways and thereby receive a respective different emotional connotation.

Hebrew nouns and adjectives can " ha " can be defined with the definite article ... הַ. Indefinite nouns or adjectives bear no products. The definite article is written together with the associated word. Example: נוֹעַר no `ar = Youth, הַנּוֹעַר hano ` ar = the youth. If the item is appended, the following consonant usually receives a point ( " Dagesch forte " ), which indicates that soft consonants are to be pronounced hard.


Except in the Hebrew Bible Hebrew verbs have three tenses: past, future and present. Strictly speaking, only the past and future real conjugations with forms for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person singular and plural, while the participle is used for the present. Here, every verb has as the Hebrew adjective four forms: masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine plural, feminine plural. The person will be indicated by adding the personal pronoun. An example of the formation of the participle:

In ancient Hebrew is a clear separation between "present", "past" and " future " is not possible. In the finite verb two action types are distinguished, spread over two conjugations, which are traditionally called " perfect " and " imperfect ":

In addition, there are in the Bible Hebrew derivations of these two conjugations, which operate their meaning completely:

The respective Consecutivum - form differs from the normal form of the perfect or imperfect in that the copula is " and " is prefixed. In the case of imperfect Consecutivum also the following consonant is doubled (Hebrew מְדֻגָּשׁ, m'duggash ), and the emphasis shifts often on the penultimate syllable. In Imperfect Consecutivum be on the penultimate syllable stressed Perfect forms endbetont. Because of the upstream "and" can Consecutivum forms are never more than at the beginning of the sentence or sentence; no other part of the sentence, no negation must be installed.

Modern grammars have the traditional terms " perfect " and " imperfect " abandoned, as they try to describe the type of action content, which fails due to the respective Consecutivum variant. The Perfectum Consecutivum just does not describe a "perfect", completed action, but rather an " imperfect " unfinished. So the term "Perfect" is inaccurate. The same applies analogously for " imperfect ". The new names will no longer describe the contents, but only the outward form: The Perfect now called Afformativ conjugation (abbreviated AK) and the past tense conjugation preformative (PK). AK points out that all forms of conjugation ( except for one ) have an ending, so an affix or Afformativ ( sing.: Katav -ti, Katav - ta, Katav -t, Katav, katew -a; pl:. Katav -nu, ketaw system, ketaw th, katew -u); PK has the prefix or preformative, the prefix, towards receiving all forms of conjugation ( sing.: e - chtow, ti - chtow, ti - chtew -i, ji chtow, ti - chtow; pl: ni. chtow, ti - chtew -u, ti - chtow -na, ji chtew -u, ti - chtow -na ). The Consecutivum forms are AK and PK with Waw conversivum, so umkehrendem Waw called. The letter Vav represents the copula "and", which is written in Hebrew with that letter. PK with Waw conversivum ( imperfect Consecutivum ) is the typical narrative tense of the biblical texts and is therefore also called narrative.

The conversivum of Vav function is only assigned for the Hebrew Bible and found in other Semitic languages ​​, such as Arabic or Aramaic, no equivalent.

The basis for the derivation of all conjugations is the " root " ( root word ), which is composed of the consonants that occur in most forms of the verb and its derivatives in all or. In the Hebrew verb for "to write", they are: כָּתַב, ie " ktw ". Depending on which form is to be formed, the typical form of the vowels in between will be set; in many forms also come konjugationstypische pre-and / or suffixes added (see the above forms of the participle and of AK and PK). Thus, conjugation takes place in Hebrew, as in all Semitic languages ​​before, during and after the usually purely consonantal root word instead; Most roots consist of three consonants. In contrast, the root word is in European languages ​​of vowels and consonants, which remain unchanged in all shapes, see "sag " in " say ", " say ", " said", " told ", etc.; Conjugation before and / or after the tribe takes place. ( The only exceptions are the irregular strains, such as " write ", belonging to " wrote" in some forms is, or "go ", which " walked " to or can be "gang". )

In addition to AK, PK and participle knows the Hebrew infinitive and imperative forms. Occludes and Futur II, however, are unknown. Also, there are almost no specific Modalformen ( subjunctive ); they are almost always identical with PK (or due to slight variation thereof derived ).

Unlike verb stems about Latin or German Hebrew roots can be conjugated for a specific pattern, eg as " critical strain" or " causative ". So there is apart from the conjugations designated as AK and PK, the type of action or tense denote further conjugations, each of which is a separate AK and PK and infinitives and imperatives. These additional conjugations ( intensive stem, causative ) the basic meaning of the root is varied; they are the most important instrument in the formation of new words and prolifically. Here are three examples of infinitives the root " ktw " in different conjugations:

  • לִכְתּוֹב lichtów: write ( basic meaning )
  • לְהִתְכַּתֵּב lëhitkatéw: " write to each other ", ie correspond ( intensive stem )
  • לְהַכְתִּיב lëhachtíw: " write post", that is, dictate, prescribe ( causative )

The conjugations are also the basis of many noun formations, such as:

  • מִכְתָּב michtáw: letter
  • הַכְתָּבָה hachtawá: Dictation
  • הִתְכַּתְּבוּת hitkatwút: Correspondence

( The change from k to ch in some of the mentioned forms is a common Hebrew consonant shift and occurs in the flexion of many words; actually the same letter is written in Hebrew. )

Language example

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1:

Languages ​​with strong Hebrew influences

In the centuries of the Diaspora Jews used many languages ​​such as Yiddish, Ladino or Judezmo, Karaim, Judeo - Arabic, and others, while not directly descended from Hebrew, but have numerous Hebrew loanwords and were almost always listed with the Hebrew alphabet. Furthermore, there are some languages ​​of social groups ( sociolects ) with clear influence Hebrew (mostly secondary on the Yiddish ), for example Rotwelsch and Jenischhaus.

Connectedness of today's language with the Bible

To this day, biblical quotations and allusions are used in everyday language, especially in believing milieu. The verses of the Song of Songs have been set to music in countless ways; is at the entrance of spring often chapter 2, verse 11 quotes: "For behold, the winter is past, the rain is gone, the flowers appear on the earth. "

In addition, there are a number of proverbs and sayings, their biblical origin has been largely forgotten. So, for example, goes the saying " He who digs a pit for others falls into it himself " on a verse from Proverbs 26.27 back. Likewise, terms such as " Adam's apple " and " fig leaf " of the Bible are borrowed.

Influence of Hebrew on the German and vice versa

Through the Bible translation by Martin Luther, some words and phrases have been included with biblical background in the German language. Examples: safe as in Abraham's bosom, Jubilee, mark of Cain.

Name of Hebrew origin are widely used: Achim, Benjamin, Daniel, David, Hannah, Jacob, Joachim, Joel, John, Johanna, Jonas, Jonathan, Joseph, Judith, Mary, Michael, Miriam, Rebecca, Samuel, Sarah, Susan and many other.

Some Hebrew words have fallen on the Yiddish in the German language, such as Tacheles from Hebrew tachlis = purpose, meaningful, meschugge from Meshuga = mad / crazy, malochen from Melachah = work, Kosher from kascher = pure, fit, probably dufte from tov = good, possibly well-heeled from batuach = sure nonsense from nonsense schtut = (from: [ old ] ). Numerous phrases may have a Hebrew origin. For example, the greeting Happy new year is considered the year as a corruption of the Hebrew Rosh Hashanah = beginning of the year. Also, the term It runs like pike soup can be traced back to a Hebrew origin ( hech suppa = strong wind).

For historical reasons, many words from the business are lower. Since the Jews in Christian Europe, hardly any other sources of income were allowed for centuries as a trading or financial matters, these areas are important linguistic interfaces. This subheading includes the expressions gravel in the sense of ( bags ) money from kis = bag; Bankruptcy from Peleta = escape, escape; A killing from rewach = profit, or expressions of crime, for example hoodlum (from Hebrew ganav = thief ). See also Hebraism.

In the creation of Ivrit since the late 19th century expressions were borrowed from most European languages. The modern name of the month in Israel comply with German names: Jan, Feb, Mar etc. The only modification arises when the month of August, the Ogust is pronounced as the vowel combination au in Hebrew is unusual. The formation iton (newspaper) from et = time is based on the German word. The German as the language of education in Eastern Europe played, indirectly, in the revival of Hebrew in Palestine by the Central and Eastern European Zionists a significant role, particularly in the expansion of vocabulary. Also the colloquial Hebrew has taken a number of German and Yiddish expressions, such as " injection ", " drink ", " Spitz", " wiper " ( for windshield ), etc. Also in the artisanal sector, there are some German expressions, such as For example,. " plug " or " anchors", which however - is pronounced " Diebel " - due to the lack in Hebrew OB sound.