Aramaic

Concise Bible Dictionary:

This word occurs 2 Kings 18:2626Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and talk not with us in the Jews' language in the ears of the people that are on the wall. (2 Kings 18:26); Ezra 4:77And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. (Ezra 4:7); and Isaiah 36:1111Then said Eliakim and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and speak not to us in the Jews' language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall. (Isaiah 36:11), where it is translated “the Syrian language” or “tongue”; also in Daniel 2:44Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation. (Daniel 2:4), where it is “Syriack.” Aramaic is the language of Aram, and embraces the language of Chaldee and that of Syria. Mesopotamia, Babylonia and Syria were its proper home. The first time we meet with it in scripture is in Genesis 31:4747And Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed. (Genesis 31:47), where Laban called the heap of witness “Jegar-sahadutha,” which is Chaldee; whereas Jacob gave it a Hebrew name, “Galeed.” In 2 Kings 18:2626Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and talk not with us in the Jews' language in the ears of the people that are on the wall. (2 Kings 18:26) and Isaiah 36:1111Then said Eliakim and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and speak not to us in the Jews' language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall. (Isaiah 36:11) the heads of the people asked Rab-shakeh to speak to them in Aramaic that the uneducated might not understand what was said. In Ezra 4:77And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. (Ezra 4:7) the letter sent to Artaxerxes was written in Aramaic, and interpreted in Aramaic, that is, the copy of the letter and what follows as far as Ezra 6:1818And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses. (Ezra 6:18) is in that language and not in Hebrew. So also is Ezra 7:12-2612Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time. 13I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. 14Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand; 15And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, 16And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem: 17That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. 18And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God. 19The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem. 20And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house. 21And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily, 22Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. 23Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? 24Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them. 25And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. 26And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment. (Ezra 7:12‑26).
This language differs from the Hebrew in that it avoids the sibilants. Where the Hebrew has ז z, ש sh, צ tz, the Aramaic has ? d, ? n, ? th, and ? t. Letters of the same organ are also interchanged, the Aramaic choosing the rough harder sounds. The latter has fewer vowels, with many variations in the conjugation of verbs, etc.
When the ten tribes were carried away, the colonists, who took their place, brought the Aramaic language with them. The Jews also who returned from Babylon brought many words of the same language. And, though it doubtless underwent various changes, this was the language commonly spoken in Palestine when our Lord was on earth, and is the language called HEBREW in the New Testament, and is the same as the Chaldee of the Targums. In the ninth century the language in Palestine gave way to the Arabic, and now Aramaic is a living tongue only among the Syrian Christians in the district around Mosul.