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The Hebrew language has a very long and unique History. Some scholars believe it originated longer than 12,000 years ago, and it is also the only language in human history ever to be revived into a modern spoken language.

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6y ago
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6y ago

Scientific Answer

No. Language has been spoken since the dawn of humanity, possibly further back than 1 million years. It is difficult to map and study ancient language though, because writing was not invented until around the 3rd Millennium BCE.

Christian Answer

If it is taken from The Bible, then Hebrew was the first language spoken. Language was not divided until after the Flood, when God divided the languages at the time of the Tower of Babel (Genesis ch.11). Since Shem was around 100 years old at the time of the flood and lived approximately 500 years after the flood and is of the ancestors of Abraham and they mostly lived in tribes of the same family, it is safe to assume that Shem spoke the original language since his ancestors lead directly to Adam. Remember that Shem did not die until Jacob was around 50 years old.

Jewish answer

Our tradition states that Hebrew was the language with which God created the world (Rashi commentary, Genesis 2:23, quoting the midrash); and it is the language in which He spoke on Mount Sinai.

Since it was considered a holy language and was used for prayer and the teaching of religious tradition, it was not spoken in mundane contexts and wasn't taught to just anyone. It was handed down from individual teachers to disciples as part of the original tradition; and the same goes for the art of writing (letters on parchment, as opposed to cuneiform or heiroglyphics). Thus, certain Hebrew Psalms (92 and 139) and teachings are attributed to Adam, the first man. The wider public, most of whom descended relatively quickly into idolatry and sin, were not given access to the treasures of the original tradition, since by their actions they implicitly repudiated it.

After the Flood, the Hebrew language had a brief period in which it was generally known, thanks to Noah (see Rashi commentary on Genesis 11:1). This is why many hundreds of Hebrew words have cognates in languages as diverse as German and Japanese. The alphabet, which secular scholars trace back to the Phoenicians, is according to our tradition actually one step older than that: it is from the Hebrew aleph-bet, which those of the Phoenicians and Greeks closely mimic. The earliest known Greek inscription (the Dipylon) was written from right to left.

After the Flood also, the knowledge of Hebrew eventually declined (see Genesis ch.11) and was preserved only among the Western Semites, the ancestors and cousins of Abraham. Eber, from whom our word "Hebrew" (Ivrit) is named, was a Semitic descendant of Noah and ancestor of Abraham. He was one of the major transmitters of the original traditions. He is credited with having broadened the Hebrew language, and some Hebrew grammatical constructs are attributed to him by certain Jewish researchers.

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10y ago

It is not based on any language, but it evolved from older Semitic languages, such as Akkadian.

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Our tradition states that Hebrew was the language with which God created the world (Rashi commentary, Genesis 2:23, quoting the midrash); and it is the language in which He spoke on Mount Sinai.

Since it was considered a holy language and was used for prayer and the teaching of religious tradition, it was not spoken in mundane contexts and wasn't taught to just anyone. It was handed down from individual teachers to disciples as part of the original tradition; and the same goes for the art of writing (letters on parchment, as opposed to cuneiform or heiroglyphics). Thus, certain Hebrew Psalms (92 and 139) and teachings are attributed to Adam, the first man. The wider public, most of whom descended relatively quickly into idolatry and sin, were not given access to the treasures of the original tradition, since by their actions they implicitly repudiated it.

After the Flood, the Hebrew language had a brief period in which it was generally known, thanks to Noah (see Rashi commentary on Genesis 11:1). This is why many hundreds of Hebrew words have cognates in languages as diverse as German and Japanese. The alphabet, which secular scholars trace back to the Phoenicians, is according to our tradition actually one step older than that: it is from the Hebrew aleph-bet, which those of the Phoenicians and Greeks closely mimic. The earliest known Greek inscription (the Dipylon) was written from right to left.

After the Flood also, the knowledge of Hebrew eventually declined (see Genesis ch.11) and was preserved only among the Western Semites, the ancestors and cousins of Abraham. Eber, from whom our word "Hebrew" (Ivrit) is named, was a Semitic descendant of Noah and ancestor of Abraham. He was one of the major transmitters of the original traditions. He is credited with having broadened the Hebrew language, and some Hebrew grammatical constructs are attributed to him by certain Jewish researchers.

As time passes, languages grow and adapt. Thus today we can identify many Hebrew words and types of usage that go all the way back (and these are the ones that are most likely to be found in the Hebrew Bible and to have cognates in other languages). And then there are Late Biblical Hebrew; the Hebrew of the Mishna; Medieval Hebrew, and so on. All of these have a broad overlap, but each has introduced its added vocabulary-words and usages.

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12y ago

The Hebrew language has a very long and unique History. It originated longer than 12,000 years ago, and it is also the only language in human history ever to be revived into a modern spoken language.

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10y ago

No. Spoken language has been around long before written language existed. Spoken language possibly goes back more than 1 million years. In comparison, Hebrew is about 10-12 thousand years old.

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6y ago

Linguistic answer

No. There has been spoken human language for at least 200,000 years, possibly more. Archaic Biblical Hebrew is first attested around 3000 BCE, but proto Hebrew is much older than that.

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12y ago

It is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family.

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12y ago

It is a semitic language on the Afro-Asiatic branch of languages.

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12y ago

There are no languages today that are directly descended from Hebrew, however Hebrew has several "cousins" such as Arabic, Aramaic, and Amharic.

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12y ago

If you are talking about languages used today, the answer is: Arabic, Aramaic, Amharic, and Maltese.

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Q: What is the history of the Hebrew language?
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