Aramaic was the language
of the Semitic
peoples throughout the ancient Near East
. It was the language of the Hebrew
peoples. Because Aram
sprang from the same stock, the Hebrew patriarch
s, of Aramaic origin, married with the tribes of Aram
, keeping their Aramaic names and speaking Aramaic.
The word Aramaic
comes from Aram
, who was the 5th son of Shem
, who in turn was the firstborn of Noah
. (cf. Gen. 10:22]. The children of Aram lived in the fertile valley called Padan-aram
or Beth Nahreen
. The language remained pure in Padan-aram and became the lingua franca
for the Semitic clans. By the 8th century B.C. Aramaic was the major language from Egypt
to Asia Minor
. The empires of Assyria
used it as did the Persian
in their western province
s. The language of the Jews in their ancient
homeland shifted from Hebrew
to Aramaic between 721-500 B.C.
It is thought that Aramaic has gone through these changes:
- Old Aramaic 975-700 B.C.
- Standard Aramaic 700-200 B.C.
- Middle Aramaic 200 B.C.-200 A.D.
- Late Aramaic 200-700 A.D.
The language became the official language
of the Mesopotamia
n imperial government
and was in general use until the spread of Greek
(331 B.C.). Still the language continued to be used in the East
until it was replaced by Arabic
in the 7th century. However, the Christian
s of Iraq
continued to use Aramaic at home
and in the church