Acts 21:40 English Standard Version And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:

John 5:2 English Standard Version Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades

What's the difference between Hebrew and Aramaic?

  • This question would be better suited for Linguistics.SE. It is also unclear what can be said on the topic, that is not already covered by encyclopedic articles on the subject.
    – Lucian
    Aug 10 '20 at 22:18

John was a Jew who wrote in Koine Greek.

NIV John 5:2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.

in Aramaic
Ἑβραϊστὶ (Hebraisti)
Strong's Greek 1447: In the Hebrew, or rather, in the Aramaic dialect. Adverb from Hebrais; Hebraistically or in the Jewish language.

Luke wrote the Book of Acts. He was a Gentile.

NIV Acts 21:40 After receiving the commander's permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic

Ἑβραΐδι (Hebraidi)
Adjective - Dative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 1446: The Hebrew language, or rather: Aramaic. From Eber; the Hebraistic or Jewish language.

In https://biblehub.com/acts/21-40.htm, 8 out of 29 versions translate Ἑβραΐδι as Aramaic.

Both the adverb Ἑβραϊστὶ and the adjective Ἑβραΐδι comes from the noun Ἑβραΐς.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon
STRONGS NT 1446: Ἑβραΐς

Ἑβραΐς (WH Αβραΐς, see their Introductory § 408), ἑβραιδος, ἡ, Hebrew, the Hebrew language; not that however in which the O. T. was written, but the Chaldee (not Syro-Chaldaic, as it is commonly but incorrectly called; cf. A. Th. Hoffmann, Grammat. Syriac., p. 14), which at the time of Jesus and the apostles had long superseded it in Palestine

So both verses refer to the local vernacular language, often labeled as Aramaic by modern people.


My own understanding is that during the captivity the captives from Judah, who spoke Hebrew, were exposed to a dialect (Chaldee) spoken by certain in Babylon, the Chaldeans, who were religious, even priest-like and who advised royalty.

It is probable that the Chaldeans imitated what was delivered divinely in Israel and spoke Hebrew as a means of associating themslevs with what was originally divine. But their language was not pure and was a dialect of Hebrew, not pure Hebrew.

Daniel who was a boy when taken captive, may well have been bilingual speaking Hebrew from his infancy and childhood, yet tutored in Chaldee whilst in Babylon, dwelling almost exclusively in the court.

On the return to Israel, some spoke a dialect, now called Aramaic, which was Hebrew but with added influence. Whereas some kept their pure Hebrew, who had not associated so much with Chaldeans.

  1. Hebrew (Ivri, עברי) and Aramaic are written and read - RTL (Right-To-Left).

  2. Both languages have 22 Letters. [ Refer to : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aramaic_alphabet ]

  3. Similarities of Imperial-Aramaic to Hebrew Font: Alef (א) = Alap (𐡀) .

  4. In [Ezra 7] we learn that around 560 BC the Hebrew Scribe Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah (עֶזְרָא֙ בֶּן־שְׂרָיָ֔ה בֶּן־עֲזַרְיָ֖ה בֶּן־חִלְקִיָּֽה ) was among last Hebrew scribes to understand Biblical Ivri during Persian oppression. Ezra helped create the modern Tanakh using Imperial-Aramaic font for Hebrew characters, to reintroduce Yisraelites of the Babylonian exile to the Torah. - Hebrew words like 'David' (𐤃𐤅𐤃) were then written by Ezra in Imperial-Aramaic font 'דיד'. * Archeology has proven this by discovering a Seal of Ezra's grandfather Azariah - dating to 605BC. [https://www.bible.ca/bulla/bible-archeology-jeremiah-clay-bullae-seal-inscription-Belonging-to-Azariah-son-of-Hilkiah-high-priest-1Chron-6-12-15-2Chron34-14-Jer-1-1-605bc.htm]

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