Greek vs Ibriy in the First Century Yisra'el

What Common Language was Spoken Everyday?

Greek vs Ibriy in the First Century Yisra'el

Greek and Kasdiy (Aramaic) vs Ibriy in the First Century Yisra'el

Many scholars of languages and scripture have stated authoritatively that Yahushua, whom they invariably and incorrectly call Jesus or Yeshua, and all other Yisra'eliym living at the time He walked the earth, did not speak the Ibriy (Hebrew) language but instead spoke Koine Greek or Kasdiy (another Semitic language similar to the Ibriy). They further claim that the Ibriy language by the time of Yahushua was a "dead" language that has only recently been restored to its once proud place among languages of the world.

There is much evidence to say that these hypotheses are not only untenable but also deny the truth that is staring these people straight in the face from their own documents.

If you accept that the Dead Sea Scrolls were the work of ascetics who lived in Qumran, which most of these scholars do accept, then those scrolls are proof beyond measure that Ibriy was the language of choice immediately prior to and far into the first century CE, for even their secular record keeping documents are written in Ibriy.

Extra-scriptural Evidence
For those of you who don't know this, Flavius Josephus was an Ibriy historian of the first century. The books he wrote are accepted, and rightly so, as authoritative documents of extreme accuracy concerning the times in which he lived. He also wrote much about other periods that are excellent dissertations of some history of the Yahudiym.

In one of his books, Antiquities of the Jews, he gives us a point-blank statement regarding the language his people used in the first century and why they used it.

"I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understanding the elements of the Greek language although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own language, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness: for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations." (Ant. 20:11:2)

Not only does he say that first century Yisra'eliym could not even speak or understand Greek, but that they spoke "their own language" and that language was Ibriy.

Scriptural Evidence

MattiythYahuw 27:46-47 And about the ninth hour Yahushua cried with a loud voice saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" That is to say, "My Elohiym, my Elohiym, why have You forsaken me?" {47} Some of them that stood there, when they heard, said, "This calls for EliYahuw."

Something of note is that some people of "them that stood there" did NOT understand what He had said. If they used Kasdiy in their everyday life, why not? Kasdiy IS what He spoke in that passage and it is a direct fulfillment of Psalms 22:1 where Dawiyd (David) used the Ibriy phrase, "Eli, Eli. Lamach Tsabataniy," which is very similar to the Kasdiy.

Luke 23:38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Ibriy, "THIS IS THE KING OF THE YAHUDIYM." (See also Yahuchanan 20:19).

If Kasdiy and Greek were the primary languages of this period and Ibriy was a dead language, what was Pilatos doing using it in the superscription? That would make no sense at all for nobody would have known what it said.

Yahuchanan (John) 5:2 Now there is at Yeruwshalaim by the sheep marketa pool which is called in the Ibriy language Bayith Chesed (House of Kindness) that has five porches.

Yahuchanan 19:13 When Pilatos therefore heard that saying, he brought Yahushua forth and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Ibriy, Gabbatha.

Yahuchanan 19:17 And he bearing his stake went forth into a place called the Skull, which is called in the Ibriy Gulgoleth:

Revelation 9:11 And they had a king over them, the messenger of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Ibriy language is Abaddown, but in the Greek language has the name Apollyon.

Revelation 16:16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Ibriy language Har-Meggidown.

All of the above passages show the writer explaining to the reader the difference in two common languages of the time. Remember that these books were written primarily for the edification of the assembly, just as were Sha'uwl's (Paul) letters, and most of those people who were the intended recipients spoke Greek.

Acts 21:37 And as Sha'uwl was to be led into the barracks he said to the high commander, "May I speak to you?" Who said, "Can you speak Greek?"

The commander was surprised that Sha'uwl spoke Greek. If Greek was the primary language spoken by the Ibriy of that time, that would seem a little incongruous.

Acts 21:40 When he had given him permission, Sha'uwl stood on the stairs and beckoned with the hand to the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spoke in the Ibriy language saying,

Acts 22:2 (And when they heard that he spoke in the Ibriy language to them, they kept the more silence, and he said,)

Sha'uwl was speaking to the native people in their native language and they understood every word. Dead language? I think not!

Acts 26:14 And when we were all fallen to the earth I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Ibriy language, 'Sha'uwl, Sha'uwl, why do you persecute Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'

If Ibriy was a dead language, then why was our Savior using it to converse with His chosen delegate to the Gentiles?

There is much more evidence both in scripture and historical literature to show that the Ibriy language never died but has always been a vital and powerful language, but this small amount of proofs should be enough to make the point that the so-called scholars are incorrect again. Of course, you must realize that since they have positions to maintain they will defend their statements with every gun they can bring to bear. The scripture is a strong shield against all of their shots though. Believe scripture and check it out for yourself.

C.F. Castleberry