There are a handful of Aramaic passages in the Bible; notably in Daniel and Ezra. Since the writing system of these two was the same, how are the Aramaic sections identified?
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The two languages are related (both are Northwest Semtic languages) and eventually shared a script. Hebrew, prior to the exile used its own script called Paleo-Hebrew. It was still used afterwards in isolated places and instances, but what we now call Aramaic Square replaced it for the most part. Though they share many common words and large pieces of grammar (noun states are the same and verbal stems are similar), there are differences.
It is these differences in grammar that allow us to tell them apart:
They are both west Semitic and have a very obvious shared root language. They also use the same script. However, there are a handful of differences in the way they developed. For instance, the long 'a' was retained in Aramaic but changed to a long 'o' in Hebrew in some words.
Also, where we see a tav in Aramaic, there is often a shin in Hebrew. This is likely because the original "hl" (voiceless L) pronunciation of shin shifted to "th" in some areas and "sh" in others.
Hebrew and Aramaic are both West Semitic languages with common ancestry in Phoenician and Canaanite roots. Hebrew is about 200 years older, and based on a Canaanite dialect spoken around Jerusalem. Aramaic originated in Damascus, Syria, not Assyria which is modern day Iraq. Aramaic was used by the conquering Assyrians and Persians in their occupied lands because it was easier to teach than their own languages. Hebrew stopped being spoken and written after the Exile. Aramaic became the lingua franca. Later replaced by Greek.
Ezra's copyists transferred the Hebrew content of the OT to newer manuscripts with Aramaic script! But everyone spoke Aramaic, not Hebrew!
Torah was recopied during Ezra's time using a different script. Different reasons are given for the change:
protected by Dan♦ Mar 16 '14 at 21:47
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