Giving the Gift of Hebrew for Christmas
You may be thinking what an odd gift to give someone for Christmas or the Holiday Season. However, there are a growing number of people who want to know the Bible in its original language. This interest also hit the mark a few years ago when the movie, “Passion of The Christ,” was released to packed movie theaters and church sanctuaries.
Although, this movie was spoken in Classical Aramaic, none the less, there were Hebrew root words from which some of the Aramaic was based upon. So yes, when you think about it, why not the gift of Hebrew for Christmas? Let’s explore this deeper…
Most people know that the so called “Old Testament” or Tanach in Hebrew was written almost entirely in Hebrew, especially, the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. And, while the “New Testament” was written in Koine Greek, the New Testament had its roots in Aramaic and ultimately – Hebrew.
A case in point…the Tanach calls the Holy Temple, Beit HaMikdosh. The Jews of the First Century of the Common Era would have called the Second Temple by that name as well. Even though they might speak Aramaic for common things, for Holy things, the language would have been Hebrew.
By that time, Hebrew had become for many Jews – the Holy Language (Lashon HaKodesh). Therefore, it was used almost entirely as a Liturgical language or for special days, times, environments, or things. Also, there are other Hebrew words found in the New Testament.
For example, the name Matthew comes from the Hebrew name, Mattithyahu. Also, our English word “Messiah” comes from the Hebrew word, Mashiach – meaning the anointed One. Perhaps many people might be surprised to know this, but the first “Messiah” mentioned in the Tanach was Aaron (or Aharon) the first High Priest: Exodus 30. 30. The word translated “anoint” is derived from a form of the word “Mashiach” – Tim’shach.
As one can see, there are connections between the Tanach and the New Testament that may not have been apparent at first. While the languages seem different, they have a common Hebrew heritage. It is this common heritage which makes Hebrew the perfect gift for a Bible student or scholar. As it turns out, Hebrew may not be so odd a gift to give for Christmas (or for Chanukah) after all!
However, as one who is not a “true” Bible scholar, you do not need to be a “professional” academic to enjoy Hebrew. You do not even need to be “student” per se; all you need is an open mind willing to learn. There are 3 great easy-to-use programs which will launch your studies into Hebrew; they are “At Home With Hebrew,” “Hebrew Kindergarten,” and “Shirei Ha-Shabbat.”
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