The History of Hebrew in Israel
For a long time, Old Hebrew was the liturgical and official language of the Jews and was in competition with Aramaic, which exerted a great influence on Old Hebrew. Early on, numerous scientific, poetic, philosophical, and liturgical texts were written in Old Hebrew, which have been preserved in that form to this day.
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The Revival of Hebrew
In the late 19th century, the Hebrew language underwent a renaissance. Expanding from Jerusalem outward, Jews around the world began to revive their ancient language. The goal was to reform Hebrew, which had only been used in synagogues for centuries. They wanted to modernize and develop it into a language suitable for everyday use. Thus, Modern Hebrew began to take shape.
Modern Hebrew is also called Ivrit. It’s the revival of the language of the Torah that happened under the influence of enlightened Zionism, so it was also strongly influenced by modern European languages. As a result, there are many ancient Hebrew forms and phrases that are still taught in schools and used in the liturgy today, but which don’t play a role in the everyday use of Modern Hebrew.
Ivrit is considered to be the language of Moses, a sacred language that was successfully transformed into an everyday standard language through linguistic efforts. Thus, Modern Hebrew preserves the traditional Semitic phonetics only in its orthography, but differs significantly in its modern pronunciation from the other Semitic languages.
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Hebrew script is both the alphabet of the Talmud and that of today's modern Israeli media. It’s based on the Hebrew book face type that had been developed in the second century CE (AD) by rabbis for the preparation of canonical texts. It’s written and read from right to left.
In Hebrew writing, there’s no distinction between uppercase and lowercase letters. However, in Modern Hebrew, numbers are now written as Arabic numerals.
Five million people worldwide speak Modern Hebrew, Ivrit, as a native language. It’s the official language of the State of Israel (in addition to Arabic).
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