The Old Testament, not including the Apocrypha, is written in Hebrew, with the exception of Daniel 2:4 to 7:28, Ezra 4:8 to 6:18,
and 7:12-26, which are written in Aramaic, called also Chaldee. One verse of Jeremiah (10:11) is also written in Aramaic.
The Hebrew language is one of a large group of dialects embraced under the term Semitic, from Shem, the oldest son of Noah. The
Semitic language, or languages, includes the Assyrian, Babylonian, Hebrew, Samaritan, Aramaic, Syriac, Phoenician, Punic or language of Carthage,
Ethiopic, and a few other dialects known only from monumental inscriptions.
Old Testament Hebrew was closely related to the languages of the nations bordering on Palestine in early times, as is shown
by the inscription on the Moabite stone, and by many Phoenician inscriptions. As a spoken language it was subject to certain provincialisms, as all
languages are; but as a written language, and especially for sacred purposes, it remained comparatively unchanged from the time of Moses to the captivity.
After the captivity the language was considerably affected by intercourse with foreign peoples.
The Aramaic, in which portions of Ezra and Daniel are written, was the speech of Aram (Padan-Aram), or that part of Syria
included between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. But, being a trade language, it spread among many nations, and encroached upon the Hebrew in northern
Palestine. Some have thought that the Jews brought back the Aramaic language with them from the captivity, and for this reason the Aramaic portions of the
Bible are sometimes called Chaldee, but there is nothing in the language to connect it with Chaldea. In later times, two or three centuries before Christ,
the Greek language threatened to displace both the Hebrew and Aramaic in Palestine, but this was prevented by a reaction brought about through the Rabbinic
The language of the New Testament is Greek. It is not, however, the Greek of classical writers, but a mixed Greek, called
Judaeo-Greek or Hellenistic, a dialect aptly described as "Hebrew thought in Greek clothing." The Septuagint version was written in this language,
and it was largely used in Egypt, Asia Minor and Palestine, though it varied greatly in the Asiatic and African provinces subject to Macedonian rule. We
have but an imperfect knowledge of this language as spoken, but it seems to have been absorbed by contact with other languages better adapted for commerce.