Hebrew is part of a large family of languages that, from the end of the century. XVIII, they are called Semitic languages. Semitic were the languages spoken in Mesopotamia such as the Babylonian and Assyrian, but it is also a Semitic language of ancient Arabic and that of today, which has remarkable similarities with Hebrew. Scholars classify the different Semitic languages by grouping them into three geographical areas: Eastern, North-Western and Southern. The former is identified with Mesopotamia, while the third includes Arabia and Ethiopia. The Hebrew is part of the second, that is the north-western area that goes from the Mediterranean coast up to the Euphrates. During the first millennium BC one of the North-Western Semitic languages, Aramaic, will gradually become the international language of the whole ancient Near East and will be used as an official language in the Persian empire.
Within the north-western area there were many Semitic languages or dialects, as, for example, Ugaritic, that is the language used in the city of Ugarit, in Syria, or the language of Ebla, of which Italian archaeologists have recently discovered and deciphered texts dating back to the middle of the third millennium. Hebrew is part of a sub-group of the north-west Semitic area, the Canaanite, which includes languages and dialects spoken in the land of Canaan and in the neighboring regions. The Phoenician (the Phoenician of the colonies such as Carthage), the moabitic, the ammonite (of which we have testimony in few inscriptions) and, indeed, Hebrew, are part of the Canaanite Semitic. Especially in the spoken language there were further differences between the Hebrew of Judea and that of the northern regions, but we lack the possibility of deciding whether they were really distinct dialects.
The affinity between these different languages made it possible for the most educated to understand and also to easily speak various languages of the same group, while the less cultured people knew only their dialect well. Through the insertion of vowels, the possible doubling of a consonant, the addition of prefixes or suffixes, respectively before and after, all the words derived from the root are formed as well as the various forms of the noun and the verb. Knowing the fundamental sense of the root one can easily realize the sense of the forms derived from it. Many simple sentences can be formed without the need for the verb: the simple juxtaposition “I Lord” suffices to say “I am the Lord”. With the modifications of a single verbal stem the action can be expressed in a normal, reflective, intensive, causative form. To say, for example, “to offend” one can use the causative form of the verb “to be grieved” which means to make grieved Read more