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Encyclopaedia Judaica
Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 2. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007.
p342-359. COPYRIGHT 2007 Keter Publishing House Ltd. Eduard Yecheskel Kutscher
Full Text:


Page 342

ARAMAIC, an ancient northwestern *Semitic language spoken (to some extent) to this day. The
entry is arranged according to the following outline:


Syria and Its Neighboring Countries
Iraq and Iran
Biblical Aramaic
The Aramaic of the Elephantine Documents
The Aramaic of the Driver Documents
Aramaic Texts of the Sect
The Aramaic Bar Kokhbar Letters
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Galilean Aramaic
Palestinian Christian Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic
Babylonian Aramaic

Aramaic is divided into several dialects which historically fall into five main groups:

Ancient Aramaic

Ancient Aramaic is the language of the ancient Aramaic inscriptions up to 700 B.C.E. (from Upper
Mesopotamia, northern Syria, and northern Israel).

Official Aramaic

Official Aramaic was in use from 700 to 300 B.C.E. It includes inscriptions from the Syria-Iraq area;
biblical Aramaic (though opinions vary as to its origin in the different biblical passages, see below
Ancient and Official Aramaic, and the Origin of the Aramaic Portions in Ezra and Daniel); the
*Elephantine documents; the Driver documents; and the Hermopolis documents. This particular
Aramaic dialect served not only as the official language of Persia but also as the lingua franca of
the Near East.

Middle Aramaic

Middle Aramaic was used from 300 B.C.E. to the early centuries C.E. Included are documents, in
somewhat corrupt Aramaic, from Persia, India, Afghanistan, and the Caucasus. The Aramaic
inscriptions of Jerusalem, Aramaic words found in the New Testament, the Nabatean Aramaic, the
Palmyrean Aramaic, that of Hatra, of Dura-Europos, and (partly) the Aramaic ideograms of Middle
Persian are all in Middle Aramaic. The Onkelos translation of the Bible (see *Targum ) also seems
to belong to this period, as does the language of most of those scrolls from the *Dead Sea Scrolls
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written in Aramaic. The Uruk document which dates from this period is the only Aramaic document
written in cuneiform. While the common denominator of all these dialects is their effort to imitate
Official Aramaic, they also contain elements of Late Aramaic. Most of these versions were
apparently not spoken.

Late Aramaic

Late Aramaic may be divided into two dialectal groups: Western Aramaic including Galilean
Aramaic, Palestinian-Christian Aramaic, and Samaritan Aramaic; and Eastern Aramaic consisting
of three dialects: Syriac, the language of the Babylonian Talmud, and Mandaic.

Modern Aramaic

Regarding Modern Aramaic see *Neo-Aramaic .



1) The Aramaic parts of the Bible: Genesis 31:47 (two words); Jeremiah 10:11; Daniel 2:47:28;
and Ezra 4:86:8; and 7:1226.

(2) Aramaic epigraphical material, spread over an area which extended north to Sardes in Asia
Minor; south to the oasis Tm in the north of the Arabian Peninsula; southwest to southern Egypt
(the Elephantine documents); and east to Persia (The Driver documents). The documents, some of
them carved on stone, written on leather, papyrus, ostraca, clay, etc., include memorial inscriptions,
contracts, bills, letters, official documents, seals, and legends written on weights, and as "dockets"
in Akkadian legal documents, etc. All, except the Uruk document (see Middle Aramaic ), are written
in an Aramaic alphabet which is a branch of the Canaanite alphabet (see *Alphabet , North-West
Semitic The Rise of Aramaic Script).
Documents were found in the following regions:
Syria and Its Neighboring Countries
The inscriptions from the reigns of kings: PNMW, HAD-YITHI, BIR-RKWB, ZKR, and BIRHADAD (HOD),
which were all found in northern Syria, a very long inscription discovered in Sefre, an AssyrianAramaic bilingual from Tell Fekherye, an inscription from Tell Dan, and two in Asia Minor.
Iraq and Iran
Most of the inscriptions found are short "dockets" written in Akkadian documents; there is, however,
one fairly extensive letter (the Assur). There is a document from Bukan in Iranian Azerbaijan.
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Aramaic papyri as well as a number of ostraca Aramaic papyri were discovered on the isle of
Elephantine near Syene (Aswan). The papyri are comprised of bills, letters, official documents
(among them parts of a translation of a Behistun inscription), and parts of the Book of *Aikar (see
*Elephantine ). A number of recently published documents also originated in Elephantine. Other
Aramaic papyri discovered in Egypt come from Hermopolis; their language, more than that of any
of the other material, resembles the language prevalent in Syria during that period. More than a
dozen letters, and parts of letters, which were sent from the eastern part of Persia, probably from
Shushan and Babylonia to Egypt, were also found in Egypt (see below; most of this material is from
the fifth century B.C.E.).


Biblical Aramaic

To stress the main characteristics of Official and Ancient Aramaic as they manifested themselves
through the history of the language and in the countries in which they were current, a comparative
study of some aspects of Aramaic, Hebrew, and Arabic is necessary.

The consonantal phonemes of Hebrew and Aramaic are identical (though not historically, see
below). This is apparently due to the influence which caused Official Aramaic to lose the four
additional consonantal phonemes still existing in Ancient Aramaic (see Ancient Aramaic below). In
biblical Aramaic, the pronunciation of the phonemes ( bgd kpt) are governed practically
by the same rules as in Hebrew. Traces of this double pronunciation can be detected in the modern
dialects. It remains however to be determined which language influenced which.

The Hebrew , which equals the Arabic ( dh), corresponds to the Aramaic in Hebrew , in
Arabic ( dhahab), and in Aramaic "( gold"); the Hebrew , which parallels the Arabic ( ),
corresponds to the Aramaic in Hebrew , in Arabic ( ar), in Aramaic "( land"); the
Hebrew which parallels the Arabic ( ), corresponds to the Aramaic in Hebrew , in Arabic
( ia), in Aramaic "( counsel"); the Hebrew , which equals the Arabic ( th), corresponds
to the Aramaic in Hebrew ,
in Arabic ( thalth), in Aramaic "( three"); the has
become weakened in Aramaic to such an extent that when beside the letter it also serves as a
mater lectionis.

The Hebrew o which parallels the Arabic , is also in Aramaic Aramaic ,

Hebrew ,

Arabic salm ("peace"). In Aramaic as in Hebrew, the accent may fall either on the penultimate
or on the final syllable; the effect in Aramaic however is different from that in Hebrew: a short ProtoSemitic vowel cannot appear in an open non-accented syllable (as opposed to Hebrew where
under certain conditions it may be lengthened cf. the Arabic ( salm), Aramaic ,
It is mainly these characteristics which distinguish Aramaic from Hebrew and from the other
Semitic languages.

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Examples of the Aramaic script. (1) Exodus fragment; (2) Bar Kokhba letter; (3) Bet Mashko letter;
(3a) Signatures of witnesses to no. 3; (4) Signatures of witnesses on no. 4; (5) Dura-europos
fragment; (6, 7) Bet She'arim tomb inscriptions (14a from Wadi Murabba't, i.e., before 135 C.E.;
57 of the third century C.E.).

Aramaic has no niphal. The conjugations pual and hophal have practically disappeared, except
for the participles. In biblical Aramaic, a few remnants of the internal passive of paal (qal) have
survived. Aramaic has the additional conjugation of hi/itpel which serves as a passive and a
reflexive of paal. The Aramaic conjugations pal, pael, and haphel correspond to the Hebrew
qal, piel, and hiphil, but they differ in form.
Some archaic forms in biblical Hebrew may be similar to or even identical with forms in Aramaic,
e.g., ktv "they

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The Paradigm of the Strong Verb (Qal):

Masculine Masc./Fem.

Singular ()/

not attested

not attested

( )
Masculine Masc./Fem.

not attested

not attested

Participle Active
Masculine Masc./Fem.


Past Passive
Masculine Masc./Fem.


Masculine Masc./Fem.

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not attested

(fem.) wrote" (cf. Heb. , I Sam. 4:15); " she wrote" (compare: Deut. 32:36;
Hebrew ,= Aramaic ,) , such forms with final n (" )"occasionally appear in
the Bible, cf. ( Ex. 21:35) Hebrew = Aramaic but compare ( Gen. 30:38).

The Aramaic passive participle of pal is while its infinitive is formed with the prefix , e.g.,
Instead of a geminated consonant, we quite often find + a simple consonant (dissimilation,
e.g., ) = ,
and even ( from the root )instead of . (The double dagger
indicates a reconstructed form.) (See Table: Paradigm of Strong Verb.)

In the pronoun there is the tendency to exchange the final for ( cf. Hebrew
= Aramaic ) .
The demonstrative pronoun of proximity is ( masc.), ( fem.), , ,( )(plur.). The
objective pronouns are attached to the imperfect by inserting a or a . The definite article has the
suffix " ;the king" = ;
"the queen" = ;
the plural " kings" becomes " the kings"
(with a geminated " ;)queens" appears determined as ( in the construct state ) .
relative pronoun "( which" and "who") is also employed as a genetive particle. The phrase
"( the king's house") is therefore also found as
"( the house of the king") and also
in the prolepsis form:
( literally: "his house, of the king").

Biblical Aramaic is rather free as regards word order (as opposed to Arabic and Hebrew), e.g.,
"( the king the dream will (shall) tell" Dan. 2:7). (See Table: Biblical Hebrew and

The Aramaic vocabulary resembles the Hebrew more than that of any of the other Semitic
languages. This is due to the fact that they are cognate languages (North-Semitic), and to the
mutual influence of Canaanite Hebrew and Aramaic on each other. On the other hand, for centuries
Aramaic and Akkadian coexisted and vied for dominance in the region known today as Iraq,
Aramaic finally gaining ascendancy. The symbiosis led to the mutual influence of the two
languages. Official Aramaic, which became the lingua franca throughout the Persian Empire (first
half of the sixth century B.C.E.), and Eastern Aramaic borrowed many words from Akkadian, e.g.,
"( the letter"), "( a chair"), "( a high official"). Aramaic also absorbed grammatical
elements from Akkadian; it seems that the free word order is also the outcome of Akkadian
influence. Since Aramaic was also the official language in Persia, it is not surprising that it
comprises some Persian words, e.g., "( word").
The Aramaic of the Elephantine Documents
The Aramaic of the Elephantine documents, except for slight differences, resembles biblical
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Aramaic. The variation in the Aramaic spelling in these documents seems to indicate a more
archaic language, but not differences in pronunciation, e.g., instead of ( d) which corresponds to
Hebrew ( z) and Arabic dh, there is found sometimes ( in biblical Aramaic); instead of which
corresponds to the Hebrew ( ) and Arabic , there is sometimes found ( q) (compare =

"earth" Jer. 10:11); instead of ( t) that corresponds to Hebrew ( ) and Arabic th, there is
sometimes found ( sheqel). The

A Comparative Table of Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic Conjugation



Pal Pil

Piel Pual

Hitpael Hiphil Hophal

Hophal Shaphel Hishtaphel
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lack of vocalization (except in biblical Aramaic) and defective spelling (with sparse use of and as
matres lectionis) make it difficult to establish the definite structure of this Aramaic dialect. The plural
suffix of the masculine noun and participle is usually spelled defectively without the , e.g., =
" kings." The rather free word order of biblical Aramaic obtains also in Elephantine Aramaic;
however in Elephantine deeds it tends to be: predicate, subject, object. The same is true of Ancient
The Aramaic of the Driver Documents
These documents come from the eastern parts of the Persian Empire and exhibit some traits
typical of Late Aramaic dialects which originated and flourished in the very same regions centuries
later. The characteristics common to the Driver documents and to Late Eastern Aramaic dialects
are (1) free word order (see above Biblical Aramaic and Elephantine); (2) many borrowings from
the Persian; (3) the appearance for the first time of the construction "( I have heard"), the
passive participle + + possessive suffix (due to Persian influence) eventually led to an entirely
different verbal system in Eastern Aramaic which is in use in Neo-Aramaic still today. The
construction was discovered later in other texts as well.


There are differences between the various documents, particularly in the HDD and PNMW
inscriptions, which represent an earlier dialect. In the old inscriptions (cf. Elephantine) an original d
is substituted by a )( in Aramaic, " to grasp" in Hebrew; an original t is transcribed by a
)( in Aramaic, "( the summer") in Hebrew; an original d is transcribed by a = in
Aramaic, e.g., ;an original t is transcribed as = in Aramaic, e.g., "( = Assyria").
Despite these spelling variations, it cannot be said that the Proto-Semitic consonants d, t, d, t
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changed into , , ,, but, in the absence of other more suitable consonants, they served to
indicate these ancient phonemes. It seems that in the HDD and in the PNMW documents (as in
literary Arabic in the singular) the case endings were retained in the plural. It should be noted that
in parts of the Sefre documents, the independent infinitive was found to have a similar usage to
that of the Hebrew (for emphasis). This is unknown in the Aramaic dialects (except for that of the
Onkelos translation). In the Tell Fekherye inscription is represented by and the infinitive of Peal
is ( cf. in Sefre).


When Aramaic documents began to be discovered in Asia Minor, Egypt, etc. (i.e., in countries that
had never been inhabited by Arameans), it became clear that Aramaic had been an official
language in the Persian Empire and that to some extent it had been a lingua franca. Aramaic
apparently was also the lingua franca of the Assyrian Empire. Thus King Hezekiah's ambassadors
implore the Assyrian commander Rab-Shakeh, "Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Aramean
language" (i.e., rather than in Hebrew or in Assyrian; Isa. 36:11; II Kings 18:26). This status of
Aramaic is also reflected by the fact that the Nabateans, and the Palmyreans, who were Arabs and
therefore not likely to use Aramaic as a spoken language, nevertheless wrote their inscriptions
(mainly from the first century C.E.) in an Aramaic still based on Official Aramaic (see Middle Aramaic
). This also explains why Pahlavi (Middle Persian), which was the official tongue in Persia during
the Sassanian dynasty, destroyed by the Arab conquest, employed Aramaic in written ideograms
(the words were written in Aramaic, but read as Persian; cf. the English "e.g.," which stands for the
Latin exempla gratia but reads "for instance"). Some of these ideograms go back to Official
Aramaic of the days of the first Persian kings. Forms that originated in Official Aramaic can also be
found in Jewish legal deeds that go back to the time of the Talmud and the *geonim.


S.R. Driver was the first to maintain that Aramaic portions of Ezra and Daniel were written neither in
the Aramaic of the fifth and sixth centuries B.C.E. nor in Eastern Aramaic (where they were
purported to have come from). Accordingly, he claims that these documents in Ezra must be
forgeries. On a basis of comparison with (mainly) the Elephantine texts, the same conclusion was
arrived at regarding the Aramaic chapters in Daniel. H.H. Schaeder, however, established that the
differences between the Elephantine Aramaic and biblical Aramaic are mainly in the spelling and
that in Jerusalem a "modernization" in the spelling of biblical Aramaic had occurred. This
modernization accounts for the differences; consequently there is no basis for the assumption of a
forgery. Furthermore, it was clarified that at that period many of the characteristics that distinguish
Western Aramaic and Eastern Aramaic, dialects of a later period, were not yet in existence.
Therefore, neither the date nor the origin of these chapters can be determined. But the free word
order possibly points to an Eastern origin.


This influence is mainly prevalent in the vocabulary, morphology, and possibly in the syntax of
biblical Hebrew. However, both the dating and the extent of this influence have not yet been
sufficiently determined. In the early biblical books, certain roots and grammatical forms which
deviate from the standard are not to be regarded as Aramaisms, but rather as representing a
common heritage which in Hebrew had survived mainly in poetry and in Aramaic in the everyday
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(spoken) language. Among these words are " came" (Deut. 33:2), (( )Deut. 32:36;
instead of the standard Hebrew ) . However,
( instead of
in Ezekiel 46:17, a book
replete with Aramaisms) goes back to Aramaic. It is therefore possible that a certain word or form
appearing in an early biblical book, where it is archaic Hebrew, may disappear for a time and

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reappear in a later biblical book as a result of Aramaic influence. Other Aramaic roots and forms,
not to be considered Aramaisms, are to be found in those biblical passages where the author
deliberately gives an Aramaic texture to his words when, for example, he wants to emphasize the
"foreignness" of a gentile speaker; e.g., different archaic forms of the verb , which is mainly
Aramaic, given as , as well as the forms ,"( demand") which look like pure
Aramaic (Isa. 21:1114; the reference is to the Edomites).
It seems that Aramaic in the Bible was used as a poetic form, e.g., in Deborah's song (Judg. 5:26)
there are the words and ( ibid. 11) both Aramaic forms: being the presumed Ancient
Aramaic parallel of the Hebrew "( deal a severe blow"; compare Ancient Aramaic), while
("to repeat") is the Aramaic cognate of the Hebrew . The same is true of the Book of Proverbs
where the Aramaic "( son") appears three times (31:2).

The ordinary Jerusalemite of Isaiah's time did not know Aramaic and only the kings' counselors and
ministers understood it (see above). Nevertheless, we find in the Book of Isaiah the Aramaic noun
pattern haql: (" )the show" (of their countenance; 3:9), and " to sift" (30:28); it is
possible that the same is true concerning the noun pattern qtl. The existence of an Aramaic
element per se in the Bible cannot (as has been shown here) always serve as proof of the late
origin of a book. The books in which the Aramaic influence is most obvious are Ezekiel and certain
chapters in Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the
Books of Chronicles. The influence is recognizable (1) in the usage of certain Aramaic roots, e.g.,
( Ezek. 25:6), the cognate Hebrew is "( dealt a severe blow"); ( Neh. 3:15), the cognate
Hebrew is "( to roof "); ( Job 16:19), in Hebrew "( witness"); (2) in idioms translated into
Hebrew (a loan translation): ( Dan 1:10) meaning "why," in Aramaic "( ; male
sheep") instead of the standard Hebrew , because of the Aramaic which means both
"male" and the "male of the sheep"; (3) in an Aramaic noun pattern: e.g., ( Ezek. 14:26);
and (4) in syntax: perhaps in the regression of the conversive in the Books of Chronicles and in
Ezra, etc.; and in its final disappearance from mishnaic Hebrew. Other syntactical forms in these
books which deviate from standard biblical Hebrew may also be due to the influence of Aramaic.



Found mainly in Afghanistan (the edicts of King Aoka), in Turkmenistan, and in Caucasus
(Russia), the language of these inscriptions cannot be considered pure Aramaic; it does contribute
however to our knowledge of Aramaic of the period, e.g., in one of the Aoka inscriptions the first
person of the (later) ittaphal (here spelled thpyl!), and the ending (w)n in the perfect plural
masculine, are found. The ostraca of Nis (Turkmenistan) are written in (faulty) Aramaic. Some
scholars believe that these had been written in Persian with Aramaic logograms; their assumption
is, however, without serious substantiation.


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Apparently at this period the Aramaic Onkelos translation of the Pentateuch and Targum Jonathan
of the Books of the Prophets came into being in more or less the form in which they are known
today. The place of origin of Middle Aramaic seems to have been Palestine (according to Dalman,
Noeldeke, and Kutscher, as opposed to Kahle), but it was transmitted and vocalized (with the
Babylonian vocalization) in Babylonia. Until the discovery of reliable manuscripts from Yemen
(other texts are corrupt), no real study of its grammar could be made. Its vocalization apparently
reflects some Eastern Aramaic dialect; thus the perfect was reshaped on the basis of the third
person singular, e.g., the feminine third person singular "she transmitted" is msarat (as apparently
in the Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud, see below) and not misrat as, e.g., in biblical Aramaic.
There are other features which it shares with the Eastern Aramaic dialect, e.g., the fact that the
determined form which originally was employed apparently correctly (as in the dialects of Western
Aramaic) does not function properly any more. Sometimes the Eastern plural ending (instead of
-ayy) is employed. Peculiar to the dialect of the two Targums is the form of the first person singular
of the perfect qal of the verbs, e.g.,
"( I called," instead of ;)
as well as the verbal
ending -an (instead of -ayin, -en, etc., in the other dialects), e.g., " the call," " you (fem.) will
(shall) call" (instead of biblical Aramaic; ( ( Galilean Aramaic; Syriac).


Among the Dead Sea Scrolls which have been discovered since 1947, there are scrolls, and
fragments of scrolls, in Aramaic. These texts are of two types: (1) those which belong to the sect
(or its library texts not written by them), dating from the end of the Second Temple period; and (2)
Aramaic letters from the days of Simeon bar Kokhba (the century following the destruction of the
Temple); the language is different from the Aramaic of the texts of the sect.
These texts, written in biblical Aramaic, include a fragment containing the prayer of the Babylonian
king Nabonidus, fragments of various Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (e.g., Tobias, the Book of
Enoch, The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, etc.), and part of a translation of the Book of Job.
The language of the last resembles, to some extent, Eastern Aramaic. The longest Aramaic
passages from these texts, published to date, are those of the Genesis Apocryphon. The language
is indicative of a transitional stage between biblical Aramaic and the later Aramaic dialects. At the
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same time, many traces of Palestinian Aramaic can be detected, as well as a few of Eastern
Aramaic. The Genesis Apocryphon scroll made it possible to establish that Onkelos originated in
Palestine, since the Aramaic of the scroll and Palestinian Christian Aramaic closely resemble that
of Onkelos. There is also a strong Aramaic influence in the Hebrew of the Dead Sea scrolls, which
is evidenced especially in the spelling and in the morphology, e.g., in Hebrew "( takes
away"), Isaiah 3:1; and in the vocabulary, e.g., "( his cleaning"), in Hebrew ;found in the
Manual of Discipline.

These documents are of major linguistic importance for, without a doubt, they represent the spoken
Palestinian Aramaic possibly of Judea. A close resemblance was discovered between this Aramaic
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and Targum Onkelos, another proof that the latter originated in Palestine. Documents written in
Nabatean were also discovered among the scrolls of the sect.


The few short Aramaic inscriptions dating from before the destruction of the Second Temple, e.g.,
the one dealing with transferring King Uzziah's bones, are written in Official Aramaic. The
language, however, is already influenced by Late Aramaic.


Among the few Aramaic words in the New Testament, rabbni reflects the form , found in the
Cairo *Genizah fragments of the Palestinian Targum (see below).


This text (second century B.C.E.) found in Iraq and written in cuneiform, gives a glimpse into the
"vocalization" of Aramaic of that time (cuneiform writing can clearly indicate several vowel qualities
and quantities). Early traits seem to be preserved, e.g., spelled as : amlat =
("garment"), but late forms also appear, e.g., the ending - for the masculine determined plural,
e.g., rabrabe "( elders").


The *Nabatean inscriptions, mainly on tombs (dating from about 100 B.C.E. to approximately the
second century C.E.) are for the most part in Official Aramaic. However, they already contain
elements of a Late Aramaic on the one hand, and of Arabic on the other (on the evidence of their
names, it is assumed that the Nabateans were Arabs). The use of , the accusative particle, which
is rare in Official Aramaic, points to a later language, whereas the word , Arabic ghaira
("different"), and certain syntactic characteristics, points to Arabic influence.


The Palmyrene inscriptions were also written (end of the first century B.C.E.third century C.E.) in an
Aramaic which was based on Official Aramaic. Traces of Arabic, which was the language of the
writers, who according to their names are assumed to have been Arabs, are also detected in these
inscriptions. The Palmyrean language was also influenced by an Eastern Aramaic dialect, e.g., the
plural " merchants" instead of ( as in the Uruk text).


These texts, found in Iraq (second century C.E.), show the influence of Eastern Aramaic: ( instead
of )is prefixed to the third person in the imperfect.


The Aramaic of these inscriptions (Syria, third century C.E.) was also influenced by Later Aramaic,
as evidenced by, e.g., " = this," in Official Aramaic.
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Under the influence of Official Aramaic, many Aramaic ideograms (i.e., words written in Aramaic
but read in Persian, e.g., " his son" in Aramaic is pus "son" in Persian) were absorbed into the
Middle Persian dialects. While they are mostly derived from Official Aramaic, some of them indicate
changes, due both to the influence of Late Eastern dialects and to errors made by the Persian
scribes who no longer knew the Aramaic language.


The two dialectal groups of Late Aramaic Western Aramaic and Eastern Aramaic have several
common characteristics: (1) " this" (masc.) is replaced by other forms; (2) the prefix ( + vowel)
of haphel (and other conjugations) is replaced by ( + vowel); (3) all the dialects seem to possess
the new conjugation ittaphal passive of aphel (see Middle Aramaic ); (4) the original form of the
relative pronoun has almost entirely disappeared; instead the proclitic is employed; (5) the
internal passives of qal and hophal (see The Main Characteristics of Ancient and Official Aramaic
Differences in the Verb) have disappeared; (6) in all dialects the passive participle seems to
be employed with certain verbs in the active voice (rare in Middle Aramaic), e.g., "( carrying");
(7) in all the dialects, the participle has more or less (in some entirely) replaced the imperfect as the
future tense, the imperfect being employed as a subjunctive (after the relative pronoun), a
cohortative, and a jussive; (8) the prolepsis form is also found with the verb, e.g.,
literally "he did it the thing," when the object is determined; (9) many borrowings from Greek (less
from Latin) are to be found in the dialects of Late Aramaic.


It was a spoken language until the Arab conquest and even for a time after. (For differences
between it, Eastern Aramaic, and Official Aramaic see above.) Differences between Western and

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Official Aramaic that do not occur in Eastern Aramaic, or only in some of its dialects, are (1) the
third person plural feminine has in all the Western Aramaic dialects the form (( )see below), as
opposed to in Official Aramaic (according to the qre the way it is read), and ( according
to ketib the way it is spelled); (2) the adverbial construction ,
e.g., " standing" is
common to all of Western Aramaic dialects; (3) tenses (see above): beside , + infinitive may
serve as future tense; (4) vocabulary: e.g., the verb (" )replied" is used (and not ,;)
instead (or besides) "( he saw") we have (5) ; freedom in the word order, so prevalent in
Official Aramaic, seems to be absent here.
Galilean Aramaic
(Only this dialect will be dealt with extensively here.) This is the dialect of the Aramaic parts of the
Jerusalem Talmud, of the aggadic Midrashim, the Palestinian deeds, the Aramaic documents of the
geonic period (found in the Cairo *Genizah ), and synagogue inscriptions discovered in Ere Israel.
The Palestinian Targum and the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan of the Pentateuch are written in a dialect
which, for all practical purposes (except for a few details), is that of Galilean Aramaic.

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Galilean Aramaic covers a period from the first amoraim of the Jerusalem Talmud (third century
C.E.) to the last geonim (beginning of the second millennium C.E.). It seems (on the evidence of
manuscripts), that the Aramaic of the Mishnah also very closely resembles (or is identical to)
Galilean Aramaic.

Galilean Aramaic was regarded as an appropriate name because most of the known texts in this
dialect originate in the Galilee. The Bar Kokhba letters, originating in Judea, are linguistically closer
to the Onkelos Targum, while the Aramaic of synagogue inscriptions, e.g., from Jericho and
Noaran in Judea, is identical to the language of those of Galilee (cf. the ending of the perfect third
pers. plur., which in good texts and in the above inscriptions always appears with a in the
printed versions this form was "corrected" to ). The form is employed in the Palestinian
Targum fragments published by Kahle. The language of these fragments is yet uncorrected, but
since the verbs even there have a final ( in contrast to the printed "corrected" versions of the
Palestinian Targum), it seems clear that the Palestinian Targum fragments represent a dialect
which is slightly different from Galilean Aramaic. To date, only two inscriptions were found which do
not have : one at Um-el-Amed, in the north of Galilee, and the other at Maon (near Nir Yiak), in
the south of the country; they, therefore, apparently do not represent the main dialect. This
assumption is supported by the fact that the Um-el-Amed inscription has additional linguistic forms
alien to Galilean Aramaic, e.g., "the gate" is given as =( without the " ;)the sky" as
(and not ). Both forms are typical of Samaritan Aramaic where laryngeals have almost
completely disappeared and are therefore liable to be dropped in writing altogether. On the basis of
most of the inscriptions found outside Galilee, it is possible to assume that at the time when the
Jerusalem Talmud was compiled (thirdfifth century C.E.) there was one common standard
language in almost all of (Jewish) Palestine. However, this cannot be clearly proven since the
material is scanty the name Galilean Aramaic has, therefore, remained, though many today
prefer the name Jewish Palestinian Aramaic.

Dictionaries. S. Lieberman's works including his studies on tannaitic texts (e.g., Tosefta
ki-Feshutah) have improved this aspect of the research. See now Sokoloff 's dictionary on Jewish
Palestinian Aramaic.

Dalman's grammar is outdated, Stevenson's work is of little significance, while in Odeberg's work
only the chapters dealing with the syntax of Genesis Rabbah are useful. Fassberg's grammar deals
with the Palestinian Targum Fragments, and Sokoloff 's work describes the language of the
Genizah fragments of *Genesis Rabbah .

Dalman's study is based on the corrupt printed version of the Jerusalem Talmud and Midrash, and
is thus unreliable. Copyists and printers, unfamiliar with the Aramaic of the Jerusalem Talmud, had
emended it according to the Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud (and that of Onkelos) the main
source studied by European Jewry. Discoveries in the last few decades have helped to clarify
certain points in the research of this dialect. In fragments of the Jerusalem Talmud and of the
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Midrashim (mainly from the Cairo Genizah), the vulgar type vocalization, which substitutes for
and for (and vice versa) is sometimes found. Fragments of the Palestinian Targum also have this
vocalization, which is practically identical with that of Galilean Aramaic (see above ). These
texts come from the east and therefore cannot be suspected of having been emended by European
copyists. A comparison between their language and that of Aramaic inscriptions of Palestine (see
Middle Aramaic Jerusalem Inscriptions) and between the other two Palestinian Aramaic dialects
(see below) also proves their reliability. In the following tentative survey, which is mainly based on
manuscripts, only those forms whose vocalization is attested to in the sources are vocalized:

Spelling. One of the signs of good Galilean Aramaic manuscripts is the fact that , at the end of a
word, was ordinarily indicated by ( the same applies to the inscriptions). Spelling tends to be
plene, especially in the case of ( vav) which indicates even the short vowel , and sometimes
which also indicates a short vowel; in manuscripts, the indicates in the middle of a word.
Consonantal and might be spelled ,.

(1) Consonants. Contrary to common opinion, only a few examples in the manuscripts hint at the
weakening of the laryngeals and pharyngeals. There is however one remarkable shift the may

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become an . The Midrash states clearly: "In Galilee they call a snake ( ( .
That is why Rabbi
Judah Ha-Nasi referred to Rabbi iyya as ".
(without the dagesh) merged with ( cf., e.g., the
spelling of with , the name of a country, and the reverse ( = Yavneh), a place
name). The final ( mem), may appear as , e.g., "( = clever"). An open syllable at the end
of a word may be closed with a , e.g., ( instead of " how many"). (2) Vowels. The
vocalization found occasionally in fragments indicates that the short i and the short u have
disappeared almost completely. Instead we find e and o, e.g., )= ,
"from") and =( ,
"pit"). The e also appears as a variant of a; e.g., =( , "sea"). These phenomena remind us of
the Greek transliteration of the Septuagint and of the Hexapla as well as of the Latin transliteration
of Jerome from the Hebrew. (There may be remnants of this pronunciation in various manuscripts
of Mishnaic Hebrew.) The labials and the in a closed preceding syllable tend to turn a into o, e.g.,
" =( Sabbath");
(pael perfect of < arr "he began"). (3) Diphthongs. The diphthong
ay was preserved rather widely, e.g.,
" his house." There also appears the diphthong aw, e.g.,
, "the mountain" (= in the other dialects).

(1) Pronouns. (a) The Independent Pronoun. Besides " you" (fem. sing.), also survived. The
other forms are (?) ," you" (masc. plur.); " we" (masc. plur.); )(, )(," )(they"
(masc. plur.); ," they" (fem. plur.). With various prepositions (prefixes) these pronouns (and
others) may undergo change, e.g., " and we." (b) The Objective Pronouns. There is also a third
person plural (as opposed to biblical Aramaic and other Aramaic dialects). (c) The Independent
Possessive Pronoun. It is formed from the base + the possessive suffix " mine," etc. (d)
The Demonstrative Pronoun. The demonstrative pronoun of proximity is ,( )(masc. sing.);
,( fem. sing.); , ,( masc. and fem. plur.), etc. Forms without the in the
masculine are: )(, , etc.; demonstrative pronouns of distance: masculine , feminine
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. The form , etc., is unique in Aramaic; in biblical Aramaic it appears as )(,

in Aramaic
inscriptions as . (e) The Interrogative used attributively. The forms of "which" are ( sing.
( sing. fem.), ( masc. and fem. plur.). (f) The relative pronouns. The form ( rare)
and ,( cf. Syriac) also written plene: "( of orphans"). The presentative is .

(2) The Verbs. (a) The Perfect and Imperfect of qal. The perfect of qal (mainly of the strong verb)
has only two types: , e.g., .
In the imperfect the vowel o spreads at the expense of
a, e.g., "( he will buy") is a survival of the third type (which has an i > e). The vocalic
structure of the verb resembles, but is not identical with, biblical Aramaic, and is totally different
from the Onkelos Targum, e.g., instead of ( perfect first per. sing. in Onkelos), we find .
These forms even look more archaic than those of biblical Aramaic: which seems to go back
to .
The third person feminine plural ending is thus identical (except the )to the suffix of Samaritan
and Christian Aramaic (and to Syriac). (See Table: Aramaic 1 and Table: Paradigm of Qal.)

The Paradigm of Qal in the Perfect

Masculine Masc./Fem. Feminine



The Paradigm of Qal in the Imperfect

Masculine Masc./Fem. Feminine

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Masculine Masc./Fem. Feminine

From the present participle a new "tense" has evolved in Galilean Aramaic by prefixing the
independent pronoun (as found in maalula): e.g., " = you walk" and =
, etc. In
Eastern Aramaic the pronoun is enclitic (see below Eastern Aramaic, par. 1).

(b) The imperative (O verbs in the imperfect). The forms are ( masc.), ( masc. plur.). The
-n is missing in the Palestinian Targum fragments (except for verbs). The original o in other
words has been preserved in the first syllable (cf. the Syriac and Mandaic imperative with the
pronominal object).

(c) Infinitive. The second vowel is apparently always identical with that of the imperfect, e.g., ,

(d) Other Conjugations. The infinitive always has the prefix m + vowel, as in the Book of Aikar (cf.
Syriac, i.e., pael instead of etc.). Note the following forms of verbs: in the participle
we find the form alongside the form ( as in biblical Aramaic), e.g., , . The same applies to
the imperfect second person feminine singular ,.
(3) The Declension. As in other Western Aramaic dialects, Galilean Aramaic has preserved the
differentiation between the definite and the indefinite forms in gender and in number. (See Table:
Noun Declension Wall.)

Note especially the forms


which differ from biblical Aramaic. The nouns ,

appearas - - when they are declined and take the plural suffixes, e.g., ,
, ,
etc. (but in first person: ,))!( .
(4) Prepositions. Prepositions worth mentioning are: "( like") ;, , , all = ("to"); ,
"( before," "in front of ") from the root , with the apparently assimilated; "( behind,"
"after"); "( because").

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The Noun Declension ("Wall")


Masc./Fem. Feminine

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Masc./Fem. Feminine


, ,


(5) Adverbs. Worthy of note are "( now"), "( again"),

("today"), "( so"), ,

("where"), and "( from where").
(6) Conjunctions. Conjunctions to be noted are -"( since," "because"), - ,-
("because"), "( also"), "( but"), and -"( if").

As in biblical Aramaic, there is, alongside the regular construct, also a construct + used often with
a proleptic suffix. Before a proper noun, a demonstrative pronoun may appear: =

(See above first paragraph of Late Aramaic.) The participle + conjugated is used in the past
and in the future to indicate repetition, durativity, etc. When the direct object is a determined noun
(noun with a definite article) is added and when a pronoun is added, the latter may fuse with
the verb and form one word, i.e., "( = he saw him"). A proleptic suffix may precede
both the direct and the indirect object, e.g., "( he took the messenger"). A verb may
take as an object and infinitive: "( he wants to rebel"), also an imperfect plus
("he wanted to rebuke"), or a participle "( he started to weep").

There are borrowings from Akkadian; from Greek, which since the conquests of Alexander the
Great became the dominant tongue in the whole Near East especially among the educated ruling
classes; from Latin, as a result of the Roman conquest; and from Hebrew. Borrowings from
Akkadian are "( the tenant farmer"), "( to gather"), etc. There are a great number of
borrowings from Greek, e.g., "( the air"), "( the pair"), "( price"), "( robber,"
misread as )!. Some have given rise to verbs, i.e., "( to dry oneself "). According to
Lieberman, Greek was widely employed, even among the sages. Not only single words, but whole
sentences in Greek may appear in our sources. Borrowings from Latin mainly belong to the
governmental and military spheres, e.g., "( legion"), "( road, way"), "( coin"),
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(a certain "tax"). It is assumed that these borrowings came into Aramaic from Latin via Greek. The
Hebrew influence on Galilean Aramaic is very small (it is felt more in the Palestinian Christian
Aramaic, see below), e.g., "( advice") and "( felt sorry") are from the Hebrew. Galilean
Aramaic vocabulary resembles that of the other two Western dialects and differs markedly from that
of Babylonian Aramaic. Even the very same noun may appear in a different form in these dialects,
e.g., (), in Babylonian Aramaic "( blood"); "( small"); compare Rabbi in the
Jerusalem Talmud as opposed to Rabbi in the Babylonian Talmud. Roots found only in
Galilean Aramaic besides "( saw"), are, e.g., "( answered"), "( knocked"),
Palestinian Christian Aramaic
This dialect, probably spoken by converted Jews living in Judea, employs one of the Syriac scripts.
Texts in this dialect were first discovered in the nineteenth century. The language is attested in texts
translated from Greek and in some inscriptions.

In contrast to its sister dialects, final is always indicated by ( influence of the Syriac script!).
Plene spelling with ( not with )!are to be found both for long and short vowels, and apparently
even for half-vowels () , e.g., " =( great"), " =( only"), " =( all,"
"every"), " =( boys"), and " =( are able"). The texts are unvocalized, except for
dots to indicate the different pronunciations of , also to mark the Greek II and to
differentiate between homographic grammatical forms; they may indicate different colors of vowels
(e.g., of the i, e type, as against a type).
The following grammatical sketch does not follow in every case the grammar of Schulthess (which
is not always reliable and is now outdated).

The pharyngeals and laryngeals are generally well preserved. Labials tend to color neighboring
vowels toward o (or u), e.g., " =( Sabbath"), as in Galilean Aramaic. As sometimes in
Galilean Aramaic, a in a closed syllable tended apparently to become a kind of e, e.g., =(
" his soul"). Prosthetic vowels appear (cf. = Greek drkon, "dragon").

(1) Pronouns. Personal Note plural etc., and " <( we"). Suffix pronouns the plural ,
etc., also " <( our"; see above the independent pronoun). The independent possessive
pronoun is based upon , e.g., "( mine").
(2) Noun. This is the only Aramaic dialect which has a qutul pattern (= qotel in Hebrew), e.g.;
("stick," also , etc., cf. Hebrew , and the transliteration of the Hebrew in the Septuagint
= Moloch).
(3) Verb. Due to lack of vocalization, it cannot be ascertained how, e.g., the perfect of peal has to
be vocalized (cf. biblical Aramaic as against Galilean Aramaic). The third person masculine and
feminine plural of the perfect is ,( rarely + n). The imperfect is very often spelled

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. The imperfect frequently has forms that apparently are identical to Hebrew pausal forms,
e.g., " =( they will be able"), apparently influenced by Mishnaic Hebrew. Very rarely are
suffixed objective pronouns employed; instead we find or ( e.g., ," him"). The infinitive of
the peal has sometimes the form ( obviously= ) , as in Ancient Aramaic (above); in the
pael the form is the same as in Syriac in apel = Syriac, but also without the prefixed m. The
infinitive of all the conjugations in Christian Palestinian Aramaic has the prefix m- (always in the
peal and the pael, and sometimes in the aphael and the suffix u (except in the peal)).

Besides borrowings from Greek and Latin, those from Hebrew, e.g., "( to be about"; from
mishnaic Hebrew) and from Syriac, e.g., "( ][he became angry") should be mentioned.
Samaritan Aramaic
Spoken by Samaritans till about the tenth century C.E. (?), this dialect also did not develop a full
vocalization system. The studies of Ben-ayyim (who edited texts with transliteration, according to
the Samaritan reading tradition), however, have made it possible to reconstruct a grammar of this

It is not very plene: final is indicated only by ( never by ).


The original pronunciations of the different pharyngeals and laryngeals has nearly disappeared;
they are therefore constantly mixed up in writing or omitted altogether. have (today)
survived only with one pronunciation except for , which appears as b when geminated and mainly
as f elsewhere. The n appears assimilated only in "old" roots and forms (e.g., " he brought out"
from the root ), but not in "late" roots and forms. The short u has disappeared; the half vowel
() , where it survives, appears as a full vowel. The old phonemes (-, -) have merged, and
their quality and quantity is conditioned by stress and syllable (open or closed), e.g., rbbon
("lord"), but rabbuni "my lord." The stress is penultimate.
The Verb

Ben-ayyim's work does not yield enough material to establish beyond any doubt the "vocalization"
of certain basic verb forms (e.g., perfect first pers. sing., whether it is ,
as in Galilean Aramaic;
as in biblical Aramaic; or as in the Onkelos Aramaic). This dialect seems to have been
influenced (after it died out as a spoken language?) very much by Hebrew.


Eastern Aramaic dialects were spoken by Christians, Jews, and Mandeans (a religious sect in
southern Iraq) in what today is mainly Iraq. Syriac however was also a literary language used
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outside this region. Eastern Aramaic dialects were apparently still spoken several hundred years
after the Arab conquest. In contrast to Western Aramaic, the differences between Eastern Aramaic
and Official Aramaic are quite conspicuous. The main differences are (1) l- or n- served as the
prefix of the third person imperfect; (2) -e for common Aramaic -ayya, as the ending of the
masculine plural determinate (appears already in the Book of Aikar); (3) the loss of the
determinative force of -a; (4) the elimination of n bearing pronominal suffixes of the imperfect (H.L.
Ginsberg); (5) unaccented open syllables at the end of a word tend to disappear, e.g., (6) ;>

the negation is very common (mainly before nouns); (7) the construction qtil (passive participle)
+ l- + the suffix pronoun is employed quite often to express the perfect, e.g., " I have heard"
(see The Aramaic of the Driver Documents); (8) the indeterminate active and passive participle
may coalesce with an enclitic pronoun of the first and second person singular and plural (rare in
Western Aramaic); (9) the word order seems to be much freer than in Western Aramaic; (10) the
relative clauses are very conspicuous; (11) all Eastern Aramaic dialects abound in words borrowed
from the Akkadian, the language spoken in that territory before the Arameans, and from the
Persian, the language of the rulers of most of this area at that time. (Only the dialect of the Jews
will be treated extensively here.)
Syriac is comprised of two dialects: Western Syriac, current in Syria (as a literary vehicle only?),
and Eastern Syriac. The main differences are: the Eastern Syriac vowels , , = the Western
Syriac vowels , , , = in Eastern Syriac, but in Western Syriac. They use different (but very
similar) scripts and different vocalization systems (which indicate semi-vowels or the vowel zero (as
in Hebrew)).
Since Syriac is the only Late Aramaic dialect to have a standardized vocalization (there are two
systems, see above), its importance for Aramaic in general, and Eastern Aramaic in particular is
very great.
Spelling and Phonology

Long final vowels that disappeared in speech are in certain cases nearly always preserved in
writing (, , ), e.g., pronounced " my teacher" (also see verb below). Even the short u is
spelled plene, while the short i is on the whole spelled defectively.

(1) Pronouns. Note the forms , , ,"( you" in the masc., the fem., the sing. and, the
plur.), all to be read at, etc. (without n). The possessive (and objective) suffixes clearly distinguish
between masculine and feminine, singular and plural except for the second person plural with the
suffix of the singular (the spelling is different). (See following table.)

(2) Verb. The verbal suffixes of Syriac are closer to earlier Aramaic than those of the sister dialects.

Note: in Western Syriac. Final vowels in the third person plural could be preserved by
adding n. The final n stays in the imperfect (dropped in Babylonian Aramaic). The infinitive of all the
conjugations in Syriac have the prefix m and, except in the peal, also the suffix u.

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"( judgment") with Possessive Suffixes


Masc./Fem. Masculine
( read )

( read )


( read )

( read )

( read )


Syriac has created a past perfect by combining the perfect and the postpositive auxiliary verb
("was"), e.g.,
"( which I had said to you"). This combination as well as that of the
imperfect + is also employed in other, sometimes not clearly definable, uses. The word order is
quite free: relative sentences abound. The Syriac found in inscriptions has preserved some earlier
traits, e.g., the letter (sin = )which disappeared nearly entirely from Late Aramaic and the
imperfect prefix ( yod), instead of the standard n-. (See Table: Eastern Syriac.)

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Eastern Syriac

Masc./Fem. Feminine



) (
This dialect is close to Babylonian Aramaic.

Mandaic has developed plene spellings more than any other Aramaic dialect; it uses the letters
both alone and in combination as matres lectionis. They indicate long, short, and even
semi-vowels () , e.g., "( = lying"), "( = he eats"), "( = to me"), =
"( name"). Mandaic is the only Aramaic dialect to have preserved (apparently only as (archaic)
spellings) for d (Ar. dh), e.g., "( = gold"), and for (+ emphatic), e.g., =

("earth" see above).


The situation is practically identical with that of Babylonian Aramaic, except for the fact that (1) if
there are two emphatics in a word, one tends to lose the emphasis, e.g., "( = truth");
(2) instead of a geminate consonant in certain cases we find dissimilation by n or m, as in Official
Aramaic (see above The Main Characteristics of Official and Ancient Aramaic. Differences in the
Verb), e.g., "( = knowledge"), "( = vault"), both features go back to the
Akkadian substrate. (3) Quite often we find anaptyctic vowels, e.g., =
("he was
taken"), apparently more often than in Babylonian Aramaic. Prosthetic vowels appear quite often,
e.g., "( = son").

(1) Pronouns. "( you") singular, "( you") plural. It distinguishes better between masculine
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and feminine, and singular and plural of the pronominal suffixes than does Babylonian Aramaic.
Note that here also >

(= ) . The demonstrative pronoun: masculine, feminine

("this"); masculine feminine ("that"), masculine , feminine "( those"). (These
forms are as yet unexplained.)

(2) Verb. Due to the apocope of the last (unaccented) vowel, many forms have merged, e.g.,
"he-they went out" (masc., fem.). For the last two forms there are to be found (only in Mandaic) the
ending ( masc.), ( fem.).

The language of the incantation texts of the magical bowls that were found in Iraq and Persia is
more or less identical with those of the other texts. Note the ending of the perfect third person
plural masculine.
Babylonian Aramaic
This is the dialect of the Aramaic parts of the Babylonian Talmud, the geonic texts, and the writings
of Anan, the founder of the Karaite sect. The language of the incantation texts of Nippur (and other
places) is very close (but not quite identical) to it.

It dates back at least to the days of the first amoraim, Rav and Samuel (third century B.C.E.), and
goes up to the end of the geonic period (11th century C.E.).

Considering its duration, it is not surprising to find earlier forms alongside later ones. It is difficult to
ascertain why the language (reflecting an earlier stage) of the tractates Nedarim, Nazir, Me'ilah,
Keritot, and Tamid differs from the other tractates; and the language of the geonim deviates in
certain parts from the language of the Talmud.

(see bibliography). There are very few grammars and dictionaries.


The earliest surviving complete dictionary is the Arukh of R. Nathan of Rome (11th century C.E.;
fragments of Kitab al-Hw, an earlier important dictionary compiled by R. Hai Gaon in the tenth
century were discovered in the Cairo Genizah, part of them were published by A. Maman, Tarbiz
2000). It is important even today both because its material, to a large extent, goes back to geonic

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sources and because of the good readings preserved in it. The entry system has been followed by
all lexicographers up to modern times: i.e., the mishnaic, talmudic, and midrashic vocabulary is all
concentrated in one volume, though the material represents at least four different dialects: (1)

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Mishnaic Hebrew; (2) Galilean Aramaic; (3) Babylonian Aramaic; (4) The Aramaic of the Onkelos
(and other) translation. The Arukh is a comparative dictionary. Besides Aramaic with its different
dialects, it also adduces Arabic, Greek, Latin, and Persian as comparisons with its material. The
first modern dictionary is by J. Levy, and it is still of some use today. Arranged according to Hebrew
and Aramaic entries, Arabic and Syriac are presented as the main Semitic linguistic parallels;
Persian, Greek, and Latin are adduced to interpret borrowings from these languages. The addenda
and corrigenda of H.L. Fleischer are still important but often antiquated. The Arukh ha-Shalem of A.
Kohut, intended as a scholarly edition of the Arukh with additions by B. Musafiah (17th century C.E.),
and an up-to-date scholarly dictionary, is rich in material but not well organized. Hebrew and
Aramaic entries are not separate. Kohut's tendency to look for Persian etymology, even for words
found only in Palestinian sources (from a time when there was no Persian rule there) is
exaggerated. This tendency was sharply criticized by W. Bacher. In M. Jastrow's dictionary, the
material is arranged according to Hebrew and Aramaic entries, but he tries to find Hebrew
etymologies for words which obviously are of Greek, Persian, or Latin origin. The first volume of
Krauss's work, dealing with the grammar of Greek and Latin loan words, was sharply criticized by
S. Fraenkel, a Semitic linguist and expert in Aramaic. The second volume (a dictionary) has
however retained its importance to this day due mainly to the addenda and corrigenda by I. Loew,
who read the proofs of this volume. The most up-to-date scholarly dictionary is that of M. Sokoloff.
Akkadian was deciphered in the 19th century and it has been established (see Zimmern and more
recently Kaufman) that there are many Akkadian borrowings, especially in Babylonian Aramaic
(see above). To bring the Arukh ha-Shalem up to date, the Tosefet Arukh ha-Shalem was edited by
S. Krauss who was supposed to include the new material discovered since the Arukh ha-Shalem
was published, especially that of the Cairo Genizah. However, this new work was criticized by S.
Lieberman in his review (see bibl.), as it did not account for all the new material. Its importance lies
in the contribution of an eminent Iranist, B. Geiger, who corrected many of Kohut's "etymologies"
and filled in, to a large extent, the cognate material from Akkadian, Arabic, and Mandaic. B.M.
Levin's Oar ha-Ge'onim and Kassovski's Concordance of the Babylonian Talmud, both as yet
unfinished, are also important to the study of Babylonian Aramaic. Only Loew's work in the field of
flora is a full and up-to-date scholarly study (of both Hebrew and Aramaic) Loew also published
many other important articles in the field of realia. There is, however, a great need for a scholarly
comparative semantic-historical dictionary, which will comprise all the material, and categorize it
Hebrew and Aramaic (Babylonian Aramaic, Galilean Aramaic, the Targum of Onkelos, and others).
S. Fraenkel's study of Aramaic borrowings from Arabic and C. Brockelmann's Syriac dictionary are
still very important. Nowadays, however, one must consult Drower-Macuch's Mandaic dictionary
(see below).

Th. Noeldeke's Mandaic Grammar contains many observations which are important for the
understanding of Babylonian Aramaic grammar. The unreliability of C. Levias' works (in English and
in Hebrew) were shown by the reviews of S. Fraenkel and C. Brockelmann. Margolis' Grammar
comprises little material and does not give the sources. J.N. Epstein's posthumous book has also
been criticized both because of its method and the incompleteness of the material. (For above, see
bibl.). On the Yemenite tradition of Babylonian Aramaic see S. Morag on the verb and Morag and Y.
Kara on the noun.

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The above grammars are defective mainly for two reasons: (1) Not all the authors were linguists;
(2) they did not base their studies on good manuscripts, and sometimes used them only in a
by-the-way fashion. The printed versions are all corrupt and even manuscripts of European origin
are not entirely reliable; there is reason to believe that they (including the Munich Ms.) were, to
some extent, "corrected." The only trustworthy manuscripts apparently are those which originated
in the east, but their linguistic nature (with the help of certain criteria) needs first to be determined.
In an article published in Leshonenu, Kutscher identified four new forms in the paradigm of the first
(qal) conjugation on the basis of these manuscripts. A comparison with Syriac and Mandaic has
confirmed these findings. The problem of the grammar of Babylonian Aramaic will only be solved
by a series of monographs based upon reliable manuscripts. A thorough study of the Babylonian
Aramaic vocalized texts, as begun by Sh. Morag, is highly desirable. Of great importance is the
clarification of various contemporary reading traditions, especially that of the Yemenites (dealt with
by Morag). However, as long as there is no proof to what extent these reading traditions have
preserved their original characteristics, and to what extent they represent internal changes of a
later period (mentioned by Morag), their use is as yet problematic.

The following tentative survey is based on manuscripts. The main deviating forms of the above
tractates and the language of the geonim will be noted here, while the standard language of the
Talmud will be described in the actual survey.

The salient features of that language are (1) the preservation of the n in the suffixes, e.g.,
(instead of " to them"); (2) the demonstrative and personal pronouns appear in their earlier form,
e.g., ( as opposed to " this"); (3) certain differences in the vocabulary, e.g., =(

Consonantal and are also spelled ,.


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(1) The laryngeals , and the pharyngeals , have weakened, as in Mandaic. (To some extent,
the conservative spelling does not reveal this phenomenon, mentioned explicitly by the geonim.)
These letters are therefore mixed up, e.g., " = <( bone"), " = <( returned"), or
dropped altogether: " = <( under"), " = ( conversation"). (2) The consonants
, , , , , tend to disappear as word finals, e.g., in " <( again"), " <( we shall
make"), " <( went away"), " <( it shall stand") " <( he said"). This
phenomenon " <( to you," plur.), is especially prominent concerning the n of the pronouns,
e.g., " <( to them") and in the verbal suffixes, e.g., " <( you shall write"). (3)
(without the dagesh) may appear as )( , e.g., " <( got lost"). (4) The accent, it seems, was
rather strong; its position was apparently different from the one known to us in biblical Aramaic (see
above <
first par. Eastern Aramaic).

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(See following table.) (1) Pronouns. (a) Personal Pronouns. (b) The Copula. Special forms serve as
copula: ( masc.), ( fem.), ( masc. plur.), ( fem. plur.). (c) The Demonstrative
Pronouns (ordinary): of proximity ( masc.), ( fem.), ( plur.); of distance ( masc.),
(fem.), ( plur.); ( masc.), ( fem.) ( plur.); ( masc. and fem.), ( plur.). (d) The
relative pronoun is . (e) The interrogative pronoun is "( who"), "( what"). (f) The Possessive
Pronoun. The base is , plus suffixes, e.g., ,"( mine").

Masculine Masc/Fem. Feminine



(2) The Verb. Lately, some new forms were discovered in the basic paradigm (they will be noted
with , see above the Problem of Babylonian Aramaic). (a) It would also seem that the vocalization
(of the perfect) is identical to that of the Onkelos tradition which differs from the other Aramaic
dialects. In the past of qal we found the three types , , and =( , , in
Hebrew). (The paradigm below is only hypothetically vocalized and accentuated.)


( )(? )
(?) , ,

( )

(?) , ,


, ,

In the imperfect of qal we find mainly the pattern , =( , in Hebrew) and

only a few verbs of the pattern =( the pattern of in Hebrew).

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Masculine Masc/Fem. Feminine

( )

( )/

(b) Imperative, ( masc. sing.),

( fem. sing.), ( masc. plur.), and (?)
( fem.).
(c) Infinitive. ( and )? . (d) Present and Past Participle. (( )masc. plur.), (/( )fem.
plur.) (passive fem. ((/ ). The forms ,( fem. plur.) are new (the same in Mandaic).
As to the other conjugations, the following ought to be noted: The infinitive is formed on the model
of in pael, in af el, etc. (The same is true of Mandaic and Palmyrean and the new
modern eastern dialects). (e) The weak conjugations. Verbs whose second radical is are
sometimes conjugated like those of , e.g., ( participle of , "asks"). The verbs pattern in
pael as strong roots (the second radical is geminated) and some forms of the ( geminate) verbs
also pattern like that class, e.g., )= > , "he enters"). The aphel of sometimes patterns
like that of , e.g., ( root , "he erected").
(3) The Noun. Few noun patterns (and these are rare) have been added, as those with the
derivational suffix ,, e.g., " a small fence" and " a small ram's horn."

(4) The Declension. The noun with pronominal suffixes. In a number of persons the plural suffixes
are used for the singular as well (and apparently vice versa). This is especially noticeable in the
first person singular where ( < see > above), and therefore the form was taken
over from the plural.


Masc/Fem. Feminine
, ,
, ,
, ,

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(5) Particles. (a) Prepositions. (The vocalization is mainly hypothetical) - <( , "upon," etc.),
("before"), "( with"), "( between"),
, ,"( because"), "( like"), "( because
of," "through").

(b) Adverbs and Conjunctions.

"( immediately"),
"( at any rate," "from itself "),
the contrary"), "( still"), "( with regard to what"), ( introducing a question), ,"( if"),
,"( therefore"), ,"( well, then"), ,"( well, then"), "( consequently"), ,
,"( at any rate"), "( also"), "( even if").

The perfect appears also in the wish form, e.g.,

"( may his master forgive him"). To

denote a continuous and a habitual action in the present, the participle is used plus "( he says" =
) .
Note the following use of the infinitive: "( as for going you need not
go") employed when the verb is the logical subject. The direct and indirect objects are denoted by a
prolepsis, that is, besides
"( he did the thing") one finds also
"( he did it
the thing"). In a nominal sentence, instead of the copula we may find the construction ( e.g.,
" are we stalk destroyers in a lake, are we?") Relative clauses serve to
emphasize the logical subject, as "( )( it is Raba who said"). The relative sentence is
very much in use even in cases like
"( the world to come" "the next world"), etc. The
verb is negated by , other negations are usually accompanied by .

Borrowings from (1) Akkadian (and Sumerian): These are mostly in the fields of building,
agriculture, and commerce, etc., e.g., "( ship"),
("architect"), "( gate"), "( gap,
flood"), ( originally "bill," "legal document," but mainly "bill of divorce"), "( a kind of coin"),
"( city"), "( dowry"), "( handle"), "( yard"), "( skeleton"), "( chicken").
(2) Persian, e.g.,
("ring"), "( thanks"), "( a kind of coin"). (3) Latin, e.g.,
The original vocabulary is, of course, close to that of Mandaic and that of Syriac, e.g., "( fly"),
Targum Onkelos, but in Babylonian Aramaic and in Mandaic. On the other hand, this dialect
has words which are lacking in Galilean Aramaic, e.g., ,"( small"), "( to exaggerate").



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Mishnaic Hebrew
The Hebrew language continued to absorb Aramaic elements during that period as well.
(1) Pronouns, e.g., "( your word," masc. sing.), "( your word," fem. sing.),
masc. sing.), these suffixes come from Aramaic. (2) Verbs, e.g., "( happened"). (3) Nouns, e.g.,
"( traveling company," "followers"). (4) Particles, e.g., "( because," Hebrew = Aramaic
Changing of Meaning Under Aramaic Influence
Sometimes, under the influence of Aramaic, a cognate Hebrew word might have acquired a
different meaning: mainly "male" in biblical Hebrew = " male," "ram" in Aramaic; therefore
the Hebrew " male," quite frequently found in mishnaic Hebrew, has also the meaning of ram
(already to be found in biblical Hebrew).
Aramaic Noun Patterns in Hebrew
Nouns built according to Aramaic noun patterns appear more often in mishnaic Hebrew than in
biblical Hebrew, e.g., "( general rule"). Syntactic traits such as " = Lord of
the world," with the proleptic suffix of )( come from the Aramaic. It is possible that the whole
mishnaic Hebrew tense system was shaped by Aramaic.

Classical Arabic

Aramaic elements were also absorbed into the vocabulary of classical Arabic. Aramaic words are
already found in ancient Arabic poetry and in the Koran, e.g., in religious terms the word islm
("Islam," as well as "Moslem"); the verb sjd ("to worship") from which is derived masjid ("mosque");
d ("holiday"); mas ("Messiah"); alt ("prayer"). Among them are words which Aramaic borrowed
from other languages, e.g., maskn ("poor") which comes from the Akkadian, zawdj ("pair") which is
of Greek origin.

Aramaic Influence on Spoken Arabic Dialects

Aramaic influence on the different Arabic dialects persisted in Syria, Ere Israel, and in Iraq even
after the Arab conquest. The local population continued to speak their own language for some time,
but at last Arabic superseded Aramaic, and the latter disappeared almost completely. Aramaic
elements, however, were retained in the spoken Arabic dialects of these regions. So far, these
Arabic dialects have not been thoroughly studied from this point of view (for an exception see
Arnold and Behnstedt on Qalamun in Syria), but the influence in the field of vocabulary cannot be
denied. In Ere Israel and in Syria, this fact is also of great importance as regards Hebrew since
Aramaic had absorbed Hebrew elements and passed them on to Arabic. An example possibly is
"( a field watered by rain and not by irrigation"). At times colloquial Arabic inherited from
Aramaic a word of European origin, e.g., furn ("baking oven"), a word in colloquial Arabic which
goes back to the Latin furnus ("oven" = "furnace" in English). Aramaic elements in colloquial Arabic
have helped to identify especially plant names found in Jewish sources (as shown by I. Loew and
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G. Dalman).

Aramaic in European Languages

A few Aramaic words reached Europe through Christianity, e.g., "( father" > "monk"), Abt in
German, abbot in English, etc. Arabic of the Middle Ages gave Europe a few Aramaic words, e.g.,
miskn (= "poor" from the Akkadian), which passed through Arabic into Italian as meschino and into
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French as mesquin, etc. The Semitic root "( to go") had strange adventures. In Akkadian it is
alku, from which the noun ilku ("fief") was derived. From here it passed into Aramaic where it took
on an Aramaic form: in biblical Aramaic. From Aramaic it passed into Persian where it changed
its form and returned to the Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud as "( head-tax"), passed into
Arabic as hardj ("landtax"), from it into Turkish from where it was absorbed by the European
languages spoken in the Turkish Empire. It acquired several meanings in Slavic: in Polish e.g.,
haracz ("tax," "tribute"). This is where the Hungarian word harcsolni ("to make (grab?) money by
dishonest ways") comes from.

Aramaic in Contemporary Spoken Hebrew

Contemporary spoken Hebrew drew on Aramaic elements as the need arose. This refers both to
Aramaic words in their original meaning, e.g., "( indifferent"), and to those whose original
meaning has been extended or changed, e.g., "( he answered," of the Palestinian Aramaic)
which is employed in the Hebrew as "( reacted"); "( to send") has been adapted to the
needs of the broadcasting system: "( to broadcast"). Generally, these new words have been
morphologically Hebraized, e.g., Aramaic "( learning"), has become "( center for study of
Hebrew by new immigrants"). There are, however, elements, mostly those which passed through
Yiddish, which kept their Aramaic form: e.g., "( reciprocal"). There are also those words and
forms which in the beginning had kept their original Aramaic form in Hebrew, yet in time took on a
Hebrew form: "( probably"), today: ;
but "( father") and "( mother"), both
already found in mishnaic Hebrew, are not showing any signs of Hebraization.

A. All the literature until the mid-1930s may be found in F. Rosenthal, Die aramaistische Forschung
seit Th. Nldeke's Verffentlichungen (1939); review by H.L. Ginsberg, in JAOS, 62 (1942), 22938
(only a few important titles listed in Rosenthal's work will be mentioned below). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY:
J.A. Fitzmyer and S.A. Kaufman, An Aramaic Bibliography, Part I: Old, Official, and Biblical Aramaic
(1992). B. 1. Old Aramaic. (a) Grammar: G. Garbini, L'aramaico antico (ANLM series VIII, vol. 7, fasc.
5, 1956), is now outdated. R. Degen, Altaramische Grammatik (in Abhandlungen fr die Kunde
des Morgenlandes, XXXVIII, 3, Wiesbaden 1969). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J.C. Greenfield, "The Dialects
of Early Aramaic," in: JNES, 37 (1978), 9399. For the position of Aramaic among North-Western
Semitic languages see: W.R. Garr , Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine, 1000586 B.C.E. (1985).
A very short survey of the scholarly literature may be found in the article by G. Garbini, "Semitico
nord-occidentale e aramaico," in G. Levi Della Vida (ed.), Linguistica semitica: presente e futuro
(1961), 5960; F.M. Cross Jr. and D.N. Freedman, Early Hebrew Orthography (1952), 2134; also
see Fitzmyer (see below), 177232. (b) Texts: The collections of Aramaic Inscriptions in M.
Lidzbarski, Handbuch der nordsemitischen Epigraphik (1889) as well as in G.A. Cooke, A
Text-Book of North Semitic Inscriptions (1903) are still valuable. The material since Rosenthal's
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volume: J.A. Fitzmyer, The Aramaic Inscriptions of Sefre (1995); H. Donner and W. Rllig,
Kanaanische und aramische Inschriften, 3 vols. (196669; vol. 1, rev. 2002); J.J. Koopmans,
Aramische Chrestomatie, 2 vols. (1962); F. Rosenthal (ed.), An Aramaic Handbook, 4 parts (1967,
comprises texts from Old Aramaic to New Aramaic dialects). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: P.-E. Dion, La
langue de Ya'udi (1974); J. Tropper, Die Inschriften von Zincirli (1993); J.C.L. Gibson, Textbook of
Syrian Semitic Inscriptions, vol. 2: Aramaic Inscriptions (1975); A. Abou-Assaf et al., La statue de
Tell Fekherye et son inscription bilingue assyro-araminne (1982); A. Biran and J. Naveh, "The Tel
Dan Inscription: A New Fragment," in: IEJ, 45 (1995), 118; M. Sokoloff, "The Old Aramaic
Inscription from Bukan," in: IEJ, 49 (1999), 105115. (c) Dictionaries: J. Hoftijzer and K. Jongeling,
Dictionary of the North-West Semitic Inscriptions (1995); I.N. Vinnikov, Slovar arameyskikh
nadpisey ("A Dictionary of the Aramaic Inscriptions"), in Palestinsky Sbornik, 3 (1958); 4 (1959); 7
(1962), 9 (1962); 11 (1964); and 13 (1965). 2. Official Aramaic. (a) Grammar: P. Leander, Laut-und
Formenlehre des gyptisch-Aramischen (1928); H. Bauer and P. Leander, Grammatik des
Biblisch-Aramischen (1927); H.B. Rosn, "On the Use of the Tenses in the Aramaic of Daniel," in:
JSS, 6 (1961), 183203. W. Baumgartner, H.H. Schaeder and H.L. Ginsberg (Rosenthal above A,
6670, 70 note 3) are still important. S. Morag, "Biblical Aramaic in Geonic Babylonia," in Studies in
Egyptology and Linguistics in Honour of H.J. Polotsky, ed. by H.B. Rosn (1964), 11731; Z.
Ben-ayyim, "The Third Person Plural Feminine in Old Aramaic," in Eretz-Israel, 1 (1951), 1379
(Heb.). Also see F. Altheim and R. Stiehl, Die aramische Sprache unter den Achaimeniden (1963).
ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Muraoka and B. Porten, A Grammar of Egyptian Aramaic (20032); M.L.
Folmer, The Aramaic Language in the Achaemenid Period (1995); V. Hug, Altaramaeische
Grammatik der Texte des 7. und 6. JH.S.V. Chr. (1993); F. Rosenthal, A Grammar of Biblical Aramaic
(19956); E. Qimron, Biblical Aramaic (20022); E.Y. Kutscher, "Aramaic," in: T. Sebeok (ed.), Current
Trends in Linguistics (1971), vol. 6, 347412. (b) Texts: A.E. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth
Century B.C. (1923); E.G. Kraeling, The Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri (1953); G.R. Driver,
Aramaic Documents of the Fifth Century B.C. (1954), a second revised and abridged edition, Oxford
1957. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: B. Porten and A. Yardeni, Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient
Egypt (198699); B. Porten and J. Lund, Aramaic Documents from Egypt: a Keyword-in-Context
Concordance (2002). (Also see above 1b). (c) Dictionaries: (see above 1c) and L. Koehler and W.
Baumgartner, The Hebrew & Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (2001), vol. 2, 18052010; (the
Aramaic part compiled by Baumgartner). 3. Middle Aramaic. (a) Grammar. Dead Sea Scrolls: J.A.
Fitzmyer, The Genesis Apocryphon of Qumran Cave I (19712); E.Y. Kutscher, The Language of the
Genesis Apocryphon (1958), 173206 (= Scripta Hierosolymitana, 4 (1958), 135). ADD.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: K. Beyer, Die aramaeischen Texte vom Toten Meer (1984; Ergaenzungsband 1004).
Onqlos type Targumim, see Dalman (below); P. Kahle, Masoreten des Ostens (1913), 20332.
ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Tal, The Language of the Targum of the Former Prophets and its Position
within the Aramaic Dialects (1975). Uruk: C.H. Gordon, "The Uruk incantation texts," in Archiv fr
Orientforschung, 12 (1938), 10517, idem, in Orientalia, 9 (1940), 2938. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M.J.
Geller, "The Aramaic Incantation in Cuneiform Script (AO 6489-TCL 6,58)," JEOL, 35/36
(19972000), 12746. Nabatean: J. Cantineau, Le nabaten, 1 (1930); Palmyrean: J. Cantineau,
Grammaire du palmyrnien pigraphique (1935); F. Rosenthal, Die Sprache der palmyrenischen
Inschriften und ihre Stellung innerhalb des Aramischen (1936). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: D.R. Hillers
and E. Cussini, Palmyrene Aramaic Texts (1996). Hatra: A. Caquot, in: Groupe linguistique
d'tudes chamito-smitiques, 9 (196063), 8789; R. Degen, in: Orientalia, 36 (1967), 7680. (b)
Texts. Various inscriptions: above 1b; Donner-Rllig, Koopmans, Rosenthal. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y.
Yadin et al., The Documents from the Bar Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters (2002); A. Yardeni,
Textbook of Aramaic, Hebrew and Nabataean Documentary Texts from the Judaean Desert (2000);
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S. Abdal-Rahman al-Theeb, Aramaic and Nabataean Inscriptions from North-West Saudi Arabia
(1993). Onqlos type Targumim: A. Sperber, The Bible in Aramaic, 3 vols. (195962; The
Pentateuch, the Latter Prophets). Place of origin: Kutscher, The Language , above (a). Dead Sea
Scrolls: Fitzmyer, above (a), bibliography, ibid., p. 24, note 67; Nabatean: Cantineau, above (a) 2
(1932); Revue Biblique, 61 (1954), 16181; IEJ, 12 (1962), 23846. Palmyrene: Rosenthal, above
(1b); various publications mainly in the periodicals Syria and Berytus and Inventaire des
inscriptions de Palmyre, 11 fascicules, by various editors (1930 ). Hatra: Rosenthal, above (1b);
Degen above (a), p. 76, note 1. Dura-Europos: Koopmans above (1b) 1 (1962), p. 219; E.L.
Sukenik, The Synagogue of Dura-Europos and its Frescoes (Hebrew 1947). Nisa: I.M. Diakonov
and V.A. Livshitz. Dokumenty iz Nisi ("Documents from Nsa," Moscow 1960); M. Sznycer, in:
Semitica, 12 (1962), pp. 10526; Leonnu, 34 (1969/70); Inscriptions of Jerusalem: M. Avi-Yonah
(ed.), Sepher Yerushalayim 1 (1956), 34957. Aramaic in the New Testament: H. Ott, in: Novum
Testamentum, 9 (1967), 125 (Ger.; bibliography). Important are G. Dalman, Die Worte Jesu
(19302) and H. Birkeland, The Language of Jesus (1954). (c) Dictionaries: Hoftijzer and Jongeling,
above (1c); M. Sokoloff, A Dictionary of Judean Aramaic (2003). Dead Sea Scrolls: M.G. Abegg et
al., The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance (2003), vol. 2, 775946. Targum: Levy's dictionary of the
Targumim is outdated, but G.H. Dalman, Aramisch-neuhebrisches Handwrterbuch (1922) is still
important. J. Cantineau, Le nabaten above (a) 2 (1932). Glossaries are to be found in various
volumes listed above (a) and (b). 4. New Aramaic. I Western Branch. (a) Grammars. Galilean
Aramaic: G. Dalman, Grammatik des jdisch-palstinischen Aramisch (Leipzig, 19052); W.B.
Stevenson, Grammar of Palestinian Jewish Aramaic (Oxford, 19622; not important); H. Odeberg,
The Aramaic Portions of Bereshit Rabba, part 2 Short Grammar of Galilaean Aramaic, in section 1,
vol. 36; no. 4 (1940); E.Y. Kutscher, "Studies in Galilaean Aramaic" (Hebrew) in: Tarbiz, 21 (1950),
192205; 22 (1951), 5363, 185192; 23 (1952), 3660. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: S.E. Fassberg, A
Grammar of the Palestinian Targum Fragments (1990). Christian Aramaic of Palestine: F.
Schulthess, Grammatik des christlich-palestinischen Aramisch (1924). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M.
Bar-Asher, Palestinian Syriac Studies (1977); C. Mller-Kessler, Grammatik des ChristlichPalaestinisch-Aramaeischen (1991); Samaritan Aramaic: No up-to-date grammar of Samaritan
Aramaic exists. See E.Y. Kutscher 's short sketch in Tarbiz, 37 (1968), 399403 (Hebrew); A.E.
Cowley The Samaritan Liturgy2 (1909), XXXVXLI is now outdated. (b) Texts: L. Ginzberg,
Yerushalmi Fragments from the Genizah (Hebrew), 1 (1909). Other fragments were published
mainly by J.N. Epstein in Tarbiz (Hebrew) vol. 3 (1932). Several scholarly editions of Midrash used
Genizah material (Bereshit Rabbah, Va-Yikra Rabbah, Pesikta de Rav Kahana), see respective
entries. A. Diez-Macho, Neophyti, 1 (196879). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M.L. Klein, Genizah
Manuscripts of Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch (1986); M. Sokoloff and J. Yahalom, Jewish
Palestinian Aramaic Poetry from Late Antiquity (1999); M. Sokoloff, The Geniza Fragments of
Bereshit Rabba (1982). Documents ( )from the Genizah: mainly S. Assaf, in: Tarbiz, 9 (1938),
1134. Inscriptions: J.B. Frey, Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaicarum, 2 (1952; many misprints); Sefer
ha-Yishuv, 1, pt. 1 (1939), passim, and various Israel periodicals. As to the importance of most of
the texts listed above see Kutscher , above (a). Christian Aramaic of Palestine: M. Black, A
Christian-Palestinian Syriac Horologion (1954). Samaritan Aramaic: A. Tal, The Samaritan Targum
of the Pentateuch (198083). Very important is Z. Ben-ayyim, The Literary and Oral Tradition of
Hebrew and Aramaic amongst the Samaritans, 3 pt. 2 (Hebrew, 1967), which contains texts
transliterated according to the orally preserved reading tradition of the Samaritans, cf. my review in
Tarbiz above (a); J. Macdonald, Memar Marqah, vol. 1 Text, vol. 2 Translation (1963) (without
transliteration); cf. review by Z. Ben-ayyim, in Bibliotheca Orientalis, 23 (1966), 18591 (Eng.); Z.
Ben-ayyim, Tibat Marque: A Collection of Samaritan Midrashim (1988). Also see Z. Ben-ayyim ,
Studies in the Traditions of the Hebrew Language (1954), 1129 (with the transliteration and
English notes). (c) Dictionaries: M. Sokoloff, A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic (1990); see
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also the works of Levy, Jastrow, Kohut, Dalman, and the Additamenta to Kohut. Review of the
Additamenta: S. Lieberman, in Kirjath Sepher (Hebrew). Important remarks are to be found in
various works of J.N. Epstein and S. Lieberman and Yalon. Bibliography: Tarbiz 20 (1949), 550
(Epstein); Hadoar (Heb.), 43 (1963), 3814; (Lie berman, in: H. Yalon Jubilee Volume (1963),
114). Very important is I. Lw, Die Flora der Juden, 4 vols. (192434), see also Rosenthal above
(1b), Part 1/2, Glossary. Problems of the lexicography see infra II (c) (Kutscher). Samaritan
Aramaic: A. Tal, A Dictionary of Samaritan Aramaic (2000); important is the Hebrew-ArabicSamaritan Aramaic glossary (HMLYS) published by Z. Ben-ayyim, The Literary and Oral Tradition
(above b), vol. 2 (Jerusalem 1957), 439616. Christian Aramaic of Palestine: Only F. Schult
hess, Lexicon Syropalaestinum (1903), is available and the glossary in his Grammatik, above (a). II
The Eastern Branch. (a) Grammar. Syriac. Th. Nldeke's Kurzgefasste syrische Grammatik (18982)
was reprinted by A. Schall (1966), with a few additions (from Nldeke's copy); J.B. Segal, The
Diacritical Point and the Accents in Syriac (1953); C. Brockelmann, Syrische Grammatik (19608); F.
Rundgren, "Das altsyrische Verbalsystem" in: Sprakvetens kapliga Sallskapets i Uppsala
Forhandliger (195860), 4975. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Muraoka, Classical Syriac (1997). Syriac
inscriptions: K. Beyer, ZDMG, 116 (1966), 24254. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: H.J.W. Drijvers and J.F.
Healey, The Old Syriac Inscriptions of Edessa & Osrhoene (1999). Mandaic: R. Macuch, Handbook
of Classical and Modern Mandaic (1965), but, Th. Nldeke, Mandische Grammatik (1875), is still
very important. See also E.M. Yamauchi, Mandaic Incantation Texts (1967), 69152. Aramaic of
Talmud Bavli: J.N. Epstein, A Grammar of Babylonian Aramaic (Hebrew, 1960), cf. E.Y. Kutscher's
review in: Leonnu (Hebrew), 26 (1961/62), 14983. M.L. Margolis, Lehrbuch der aramischen
Sprache des Babylonischen Talmuds (1910) is still useful. (There exists also an English edition.);
M. Schlesinger, Satzlehre der aramischen Sprache des Babylonischen Talmuds (1928). Also
important are the reviews of Levias' both editions (see Rosenthal ) by S. Fraenkel, in: Zeitschrift fr
hebrische Bibliographie, 5 (1901), 9294; C. Brockelmann, in: MGJW, 76 (1932), 1738. B.
Kienast, in: Mnchner Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft, 10 (1957), 7276. The Language of the
Geonim and Anan: J.N. Epstein, in JQR, 5 (1914/15), 23351; (1921/22), 299390. Yemenite
Tradition: S. Morag, in: Phonetica, 7 (1962), 21739; Tarbiz, 30 (1961), 1209 (Hebrew), English
summary p. 11 of the issue; Henoch Yalon Jubilee Volume (1963), 182220 (Hebrew); Leonnu,
32 (1968), 6788. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Babylonian Aramaic: The Yemenite Tradition (1988); Morag
and Y. Kara, Babylonian Aramaic in the Yemenite Tradition: The Noun (2002). Incantation texts:
W.H. Rossell, A Handbook of Aramaic Magical Texts (1953); Epstein in REJ, 73 (1921), 2758; 74
(1922), 4082. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Naveh and S. Shaked, Amulets and Magic Bowls (1985);
idem, Magic Spells and Formulae (1993). (b) Texts. Syriac. Only inscriptions discovered mainly by
J.B. Segal are worth mentioning; E. Jenni in: Theologische Zeitschrift, 21 (1965), 37185
(bibliography pp. 3717); Segal in BSOS, 30 (1967), 293304; also see J.A. Goldstein , in: JNES, 25
(1966), 116. Mandaic: See the list of Abbreviations of Macuch, supra (a), pp. XXXVIIXLI. Aramaic
of Talmud Bavli: S. Sassoon (ed.), Sefer Halakhot Pesukot (1950) (Gaonic Literature). As to the
Talmud itself: Sh. Abramson has published a manuscript of Tractate Avodah Zarah (1957); M.S.
Feldblum, Dikdukei Soferim, Tractate Gittin (1966) continues the series. To Oar ha-Ge'onim, ed by
B.M. Lewin, Berakhot-Bava Kamma 1943 (12 vols.) was added part of Bava Mei'ah
(posthumously, no editor and other data are given), as well as Ch. T. Taubes, Sanhedrin (1966). (c)
Page 359 |

Dictionaries. Syriac: No new dictionary has appeared. C. Brockelmann, Lexicon Syriacum (19282)
is the best lexicon of any Aramaic dialect. Mandaic: E.S. Drower and R. Macuch, A Mandaic
Dictionary (1963). The Aramaic of Babylonian Talmud see above (Ic); M. Sokoloff, A Dictionary of
Jewish Babylonian Aramaic (2002). Problems of a new dictionary of Jewish Aramaic (and Mishnaic
Hebrew) dialects: E.Y. Kutscher, in: Hebrische Wertforschung ed. by B. Hartmann and others
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(1967), 15875; Rosenthal (1b) part 1/2 (Glossary). .J. Kassovski, Thesaurus Talmudis,
Concordantiae Verborum, 18 vols. (1954 ). Foreign influences upon Aramaic. Akkadian: H.
Zimmern, Akkadische Fremdwrter als Beweis fr babylonischen Kultureinfluss (1917). ADD.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: S.A. Kaufman, The Akkadian Influences on Aramaic (1974); see also the remarks of
B. Geiger in the Additamenta ad Aruch Completum above (Ic). Persian: Geiger, ibid.; Widengreen
Hebrew-Canaanite needs a monograph. Greek and Latin: S. Krauss, Griechische und lateinische
Lehnwrter in Talmud, 2 vols. (189899) is outdated, but cannot be dispensed with. Reviews:
Fraenkel, in: ZDMG, 52 (1898), 290300; 55 (1901), 3535 with S. Lieberman, Greek in Jewish
Palestine (1950), as well as his Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1950), and many other books and
articles, see his bibliography in Hadoar, 43 (1963), 381 ff. A. Schall, Studien ber griechische
Fremdwrter im Syrischen (1960). Aramaic influences upon other languages. Akkadian: W.V.
Soden, Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik (1952), 192, 193, 196; idem, in: Orientalia, 35
(1966), 120; 37 (1968), 26171. Biblical Hebrew: G.R. Driver, "Hebrew Poetic Diction," in:
Congress Volume, Supplements to Vetus Testamentum, 1 (1953), 2639. M. Wagner, Die
lexikalischen und grammatikalischen Aramaismen im Alttestamentlichen Hebrisch (1966). Also
see E. Kautzsch , Die Aramismen im A.T. (1902). Canaanite-Punic: E.Y. Kutscher, in: Leonnu,
33 (1969), 1057; Dead Sea Scrolls: E.Y. Kutscher, The Language and Linguistic Background of
the Isaiah Scroll (Hebrew, 1959), 813, 14163. Mishnaic Hebrew: H. Albeck, Introduction to the
Mishnah (Hebrew, 1959) lists (pp. 13452) words parallel in both languages. Arabic: S. Fraenkel,
Die aramischen Fremdwrter im Arabischen (1886) is still very important. M.T. Feghali, Etude sur
les emprunts syriaques dans les parlers arabes du Liban (1918); G. Dalman, Arbeit und Sitte im
Palestina 7 vols. (192842) passim. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: W. Arnold and P. Behnstedt, ArabischAramaeische Sprachbeziehungen im Qalamn (Syrien) (1993). European languages: K. Lokotsch,
Etymologisches Wrterbuch der europischen Wrter orientalischen Ursprungs (1927), 241;
W.B. Henning, in: Orientalia, 4 (1935), 2913; E.Y. Kutscher, Words and their History (1961),
1316. The influence of Aramaic on Modern Hebrew: I. Avinery, The Achievements of Modern
Hebrew (1946), 7280. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Bar-Asher, in: Evolution and Renewal: Trends in the
Deveolpment of the Hebrew Language (1996), 1476.
[Eduard Yecheskel Kutscher]

Source Citation (MLA 7th Edition)

Kutscher, Eduard Yecheskel. "Aramaic." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred
Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 342-359. Gale Virtual Reference
Library. Web. 20 July 2016.
Gale Document Number: GALE|CX2587501230

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