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Speaking Yahweh's Language
Adam was created as a mature man who was able to speak, walk and care for himself. Many Bible scholars believe Adam was created in his early twenties, having the knowledge and understanding of early manhood. Adam was able to carry on a conversation with his Creator, for he was told that he could eat of every tree of the garden except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam could speak the Creator's language.
Genesis 3:8 relates that both Adam and Eve were able to hear the voice of Yahweh while they were walking in the garden in the cool of the day. We learn that Yahweh spoke to them and they responded to Him. Both Adam and Eve spoke in the heavenly tongue of Yahweh. Even the serpent was able to speak with Eve and communicate in a known tongue.
There can be little doubt that as the first parents spoke the language of their Creator, they in turn taught their children the same tongue. Even today, parents converse with their children in their native tongue from infancy. No doubt the children of Adam continued to speak the heavenly language down to the time of the flood. Genesis 11:1 tells us that the "whole earth was one language and one speech."
The language spoken up to the time of Babel was the same as Adam and Eve spoke in the Garden of Eden. The Bible shows that Eve is the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20). Her name is Chavvah in Hebrew, meaning life or life-spring. All human life came from Eve, and she in turn would naturally teach her children her own language, just as mothers have done down through history.
The Original Language: Hebrew
We now have a picture of the original tongue spoken to Adam and Eve and how it was passed down: Adam and Eve spoke to their Creator in His language, then taught their children the same language, who in turn brought it down to the time of the flood when Noah and his sons repopulated the earth—all speaking the same tongue.
One of Adam's initial jobs was to give names to all the animals in accordance with their appearance and characteristic. Therefore, in Genesis 2:19-20, Adam was able to observe the animals, note their behavior, and give them names according to the nature of each beast.
From the names of the people mentioned in Genesis, as well as the names Adam gave to the animals and creatures, we see that the language of the time was Hebrew. These lower creatures all have Hebrew names, each with special significance, because names in Hebrew reveal something of the character or distinguishing feature or trait. Names in Hebrew have meaning.
Among the most interesting of Hebrew names with meaning are those of the 12 sons born to Jacob. His first wife, Leah, was not Jacob's favored wife, but she bore him a son. Hoping to kindle his love for her she exclaimed to Jacob, "Behold, a son," which explains the name Reuben. Because Yahweh heard she was hated, Leah called her second son Simeon, meaning "hearing." Because she felt the third son would cause Jacob to become joined with her, she named him Levi, meaning "joined." Her fourth son was called Judah, meaning "praise Yahweh," because she had now borne four sons to her husband.
The meaning of the others born to Jacob are: Dan, "judge"; Naphtali, "my wrestling"; Gad, "victory" or "troop"; Asher, "happy"; Issachar, "there is hire, wages"; Zebulun, "dwelling place"; Joseph, "may He add"; and Benjamin, "son of my right hand."
The first man, Adam, means “red clay, red earth “ (from which he was made). An interesting parallel exists in the names of the first people of the Bible, and Bible students have seen prophecy in the dual lines of Cain and Seth.
Whenever Yahweh's heavenly agents spoke to mankind, it was in the Hebrew tongue and only to those who understood Hebrew. We do not find angelic emissaries speaking to Chinese, Greek or Germanic peoples. Therefore, in referring to the Father or the Son, it was always "Yahweh" and "Yahshua," the names first given to man in the Hebrew tongue.
All living languages are subject to change over the years. The Hebrew language, being given to Adam, would gradually change during the 4,000 years it was in use. Dead languages do not change. Therefore, we can understand the addition of phrases and variations in the nuances of meaning of some words and expressions in Hebrew. Even some root words are either unknown or uncertain. Up to the time of the Messiah, the Hebrew language would have undergone change, but would still be recognized as Hebrew.
The Mother of All Languages
The vitality, conciseness, simplicity and fertility of the Hebrew language, as well as its relationship to many oriental languages, shows it to be an ancient tongue. Many believe that Hebrew is the mother tongue of all the languages on earth. Regarding Greek, Bruce, in The Books and the Parchments, says, "Not only the forms of the Greek letters, but the names of most of them betray their Semitic origin. Alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and so on, are meaningless in Greek except as names of the letters which they denote; but the Phoenician names which lie behind them, which are practically identical with the Hebrew forms 'aleph, beth, gimel, daleth, and so on, are not only the names of letters but have a meaning of their own besides—they appear for the most part to denote the objects originally represented by the shapes of the respective letters in the earliest form of the Semitic alphabet, namely, ox, house, throw-stick, door, etc."
Linguists agree that even the noun "alphabet" derives ultimately from the Hebrew "aleph-bet." Bruce points out that originally many languages, like Hebrew, were written from right to left, including Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Indian Nagari, ancient Latin, and early Etruscan. There is actually less variation between biblical Hebrew and modern Hebrew than there is between modern English and English spoken in 1066, according to Bruce.
There is something special about the Hebrew tongue. Read what McClintock and Strong's Bible Commentary says: "The Hebrew language takes its name from Abraham's descendants, the Israelites, who are ethnographically called Hebrews. ... In the Old Testament it is poetically called the language of Canaan, Isaiah 19:18, emphatically the language of the holy land consecrated to Yahweh as contrasted with that of the profane Egypt. In its earliest written state, it exhibits in the writings of Moses a perfection of structure which was never surpassed."
The richness of the language is emphasized in Girdlestone's Old Testament Synonyms, "The Hebrew language, though poor in some respects, e.g. in tenses, is rich in others, and probably no better language could have been selected for the purpose of preparing the way of Messiah." He shows the language through examples, such as seven Hebrew words being rendered black in the King James Version, eight words translated axe; 12 words for body; 14 for dark; 18 are rendered fear; 22 for branch; 26 for cover; 42 for cut; 60 for break; 66 for bring, and 74 are rendered take.
The language Adam spoke to his sons and his sons’ sons obviously was Hebrew, the tongue Yahweh spoke not only to him and Eve, but also to Cain when he killed his brother Abel. The offspring of Cain and Seth, as well as Adam's other offspring, would naturally continue speaking the same language.
It was upon the birth of Seth's son Enos ("weak, frail") that man began in sincerity to call upon the Name of Yahweh. The separation of those who pursued the way of the world, as did the progeny of Cain in their pride and arrogance (Gen. 4:17-24), is contrasted with the offspring of Seth, verses 25-26. To "call upon the Name of Yahweh" is used for a solemn calling as in worship, see 12:8, 13:4.
Yahweh had seen that what He had made was good. He had made Adam and Eve and given them a pure and holy language. He then revealed His Name Yahweh to them in the Hebrew language. More often than any other adjective, His name is described as holy.
The progeny of Cain began building their worldly empire of pleasure and perverseness. There were now two separate family lines: the sons of Cain and the sons of Seth. Calling upon Yahweh, realizing they were weak and frail, the Sethites became known as the sons of Elohim because they kept His way of life. (See Interpreter's Bible, by Keil and Delitzsch.)
Yahweh's Name Lost in Confusion at Babel?
Genesis 6 opens with the account of the proliferation of the nations over the earth. The sons of Elohim (those who acknowledged a higher Power) saw the daughters of men (those who felt man was the ultimate in himself). The righteous men of Yahweh saw the reprobate daughters of men, "that they were fair and they took them wives of all which they chose," verse 2. From this union came the giants (nephilim, from naphal, to fall upon) who were the degraded ones, the violent ones. Genesis 6 has nothing to do with angels marrying women.
From this union of the wicked Cain line with the righteous off-spring of Seth, the population became increasingly wicked. Finally, Yahweh decided to destroy His human creation with the exception of Noah and his family, who were of the righteous sons of Elohim. (Noah worshipped Yahweh after coming out of the ark, Genesis 8:20.)
Shortly after being saved from the deluge, Noah's son Ham sinned (Genesis 9:22-27), but his two other sons, Shem and Japheth, were blessed. Chapter 10 gives us the offspring of Japheth in verses 2 to 5. Ham's history is by far the most detailed and reaches from verses 6 through 20. Included in his off-spring was Nimrod.
Known as a "mighty hunter" before (better rendered "in opposition to") Yahweh, Nimrod became involved in a movement to build a tower as a monument to mankind. Nimrod was credited with building many cities, including Babylon. He was the leader of a group of people who totally disregarded Yahweh and set out to glorify man. Therefore, the Bible refers to them as "sons" (adherents, followers) of men. Also referred to are "daughters" of men, that is, following man's philosophy, Genesis 11:5. The righteous ones who followed Yahweh are known as "sons of Elohim," Genesis 6:2, 6:4, Psalm 73:15, and Proverbs 14:26.
The sons of men planned to build this tower, not the sons or the children of Elohim, which were of the tribe of Shem. Genesis 10 lists the progeny of Noah with Shem first because of his favored position. Chapter 11 deals with the tower of Babel.
Verse 10 again reviews the genealogy of Shem, noting that he was the father of Eber (verses 14-17), who was the progenitor of faithful Abram, verse 26. It is from Eber that our word Hebrew comes, meaning "to cross over." All nations on the earth have descended from the three sons of Noah. All others, including the Cain line, were destroyed in the flood.
Genesis 10:10 informs us that Nimrod, the son of Cush, who was the son of Ham, began his kingdom in Babel in the land of Shinar. The people decided to build the tower at the plain of Shinar, Genesis 11:2, and at Babel, 11:9, where the city was being built.
Genesis 10:5 tells us that the offspring of Japheth settled in the "isles" (coastlands) near the plains of Shinar. Shem's descendants settled in the foothills and mountains of the plateau of Mesha, verse 30. Furthermore, it is quite doubtful that the righteous Shemites as a whole would follow the "sons of men" in the plain of Shinar and cooperate on a project that was completely devoid of Yahweh and His desire for them. The building of the tower was primarily a project involving the sons of Ham and Japheth. The Shemites, therefore, continued to use their native tongue, Hebrew. Their language was not confounded.
Today, we find many who build their own tower of vanity, devoid of any admonition of Yahweh to remember His Name or to retain Him in their thinking. Many will use the excuse that names change from language to language and country to country, and therefore no one knows what the Name of the Heavenly Father is because it was lost at the confusion of tongues at Babel. But names do not change from language to language.
True, someone born in another country would have a different version of our English name Charles. He would be called Karl in German or Carlos in Spain. But even Charles deGaulle retained his given name Charles and was not known as Karl in Germany or Carlos in Spain. The local papers listed him as Charles wherever he traveled. His name was not translated.
Hebrew Language Brought Down Through Shemites
Shem's lineage proves that Hebrew is indeed the heavenly language. Shem means "name" in Hebrew, and it was the Shemites who continued to use Hebrew as their language. They have brought the Name of Yahweh down to us.
Shem lived 600 years, spanning the time before the flood and living 98 years during his great-grandfather Methuselah's life. For nearly 100 years he could learn and discuss many things with his venerable great-grandfather.
Methuselah shared a 243-year lifespan with Adam, and his first son Lamech was the father of Noah, with whom he shared another 600 years. Noah lived 350 years after the flood, dying but two years before the birth of Abraham. Noah's son Shem shared a 150-year span of life with Abraham and 50 years with Isaac.
From Adam to Shem and down to Abraham is a record of a family who spoke to the Creator in His language, Hebrew, and continued on through Abraham's progeny— Isaac and Jacob. Even today parents teach their children their native tongue. There is no reason to assume that Adam spoke any other language, for we learn that the whole earth was of one tongue, Genesis 11:1.
It was the Japhethites and Hamites that were involved in the building of the tower, and their Hebrew language was taken from them. Because they rebelled against Yahweh, they were given another language and no longer understood Hebrew, the tongue through which He revealed His Name, His covenant, and salvation.
According to Genesis 10:21, Shem is the father of all the children of Eber or Hebrew. Abraham himself is referred to as a Hebrew, Genesis 14:12-13. From Abraham ultimately came Moses who wrote the first five books of the Bible. One has but to look at the names and places of the Pentateuch as well as its expressions to recognize they are all definitely Hebrew.
The writers of the Old Testament wrote in Hebrew. From Genesis to Malachi the words are Hebrew with the exception of portions of Daniel (2:4 to 7:28) and Ezra (4:8 to 6:18). While in Babylonian captivity, the Israelites began assimilating Aramaic into their speech, which is a very close dialect of Hebrew.
According to The Books and the Parchments, "Hebrew is the official language of the young state of Israel, and during the period of the British Mandate it was one of the three official languages of Palestine, Arabic and English being the other two." Aramaic is still used by some peoples in the Middle East and its influence on Hebrew is apparent since the Babylonian exile.
"Hebrew is not so referred to in the Old Testament itself, however. There it is variously called the Jews' 'tongue' (Isaiah 36:11; Nehemiah 13:24) and 'the lip of Canaan' (Isaiah 19:18). In the New Testament it is called 'Hebrew' in Revelation 9:11; 16:16."
Even though reared in a foreign country, children learn the language used by their parents. Because of the difficulties of language, it is not uncommon for ethnic groups to cluster together where native customs and cultures can continue and their language can be understood by the social group.
Many immigrants to America gravitated to towns and areas where their native customs and language could be enjoyed, making an easy transition to the new country. Enclaves of the Spanish-speaking, German, Chinese, and other nationalities are often found in many of our large cities. They are known as Germantown, Chinatown, Little Italy, etc. This practice was also true of the biblical Hebrews.
And it was true with those we call Jews, the Hebrew-speaking people. When they returned to the new state of Israel, the immigrants were all expected to learn Hebrew. Eliezer Ben-Yehudah was instrumental in reviving Sephardic Hebrew as the national language for the new state of Israel in 1948.
As shown before, Shem lived 98 years before the flood and 502 years afterwards. He was able to see Abraham's entry into Canaan, for he lived 75 years following that event. Abraham talked with Yahweh and was given a special position in a covenant relationship with Him. Called "the Hebrew" in Genesis 14:13, Abraham and his progeny were the family with whom Yahweh was to fulfill His promises. Through this Hebrew man would all the promises of Yahweh be channeled to this earth.
Moses received the Ten Commandments directly from Yahweh and written with the Creator's own finger on two tables of stone, obviously in the Hebrew language. All Israel gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai and listened as His voice thundered His words in the Hebrew tongue, which they all could understand. Later, Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (known as the Pentateuch) in Hebrew as a permanent record for Israel. His writings helped establish Hebrew as the language of worship.
Even today Hebrew is the language of worship in the synagogues as it was in the Temple. Sephardic Hebrew is the language of the Bible and is used in worship. Ashkenazic Hebrew is younger, from eastern Europe with Germanic sounds. Sephardic Hebrew is customarily required for young Jewish boys to get their bar-mitzvah and girls for their bat-mitzvah.
Hebrew in the New Testament
While some Bible scholars feel that Yahshua may have spoken Aramaic, it is also clear that He was conversant in Hebrew. Luke 2 relates that He was found by His mother discussing the Hebrew Scriptures with the doctors of the law. He may have been preparing for His bar-mitzvah, which traditionally is given at age 13. He was articulate with the Hebrew Bible, for those who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers, Luke 2:47.
Yahshua quoted the Hebrew Scriptures, for we find Him prophetically proclaiming the "acceptable year of Yahweh" that He had located in Isaiah 61. Undoubtedly this was on the day of Atonement, which would begin the Sabbatical year according to Leviticus 25: 1-10. Hebrew continues as the language of worship and prayer in the synagogue.
Yahweh and His messengers spoke to mankind in the Hebrew tongue in both the Old and New Testaments. Luke, chapter one, tells of the priest Zachariah being visited by the angel of Yahweh as he was performing his duties in the Temple. The angel proclaimed that his wife Elizabeth would soon have a son who would be called John. Conversant with the Hebrew Scriptures because of his leadership role in temple activities, Zachariah would obviously be addressed in the Hebrew tongue.
Gabriel later addressed both Miriam and Joseph and proclaimed the coming birth of the Redeemer of Israel, Yahshua. Both parents were descended from King David, the ruler of Israel from the tribe of Judah. What other language would the angel address Miriam and Joseph in to give them the Good News of the Israelites if it wasn't Hebrew?
Luke continues his account of the birth of Yahshua in chapter two. The shepherds are keeping watch over their flocks by night in the Judean hills. Undoubtedly, the language was Hebrew, their native tongue, which would be easily understood by a pastoral, rural people who were looking for the salvation of Israel.
Both Matthew 3 and Luke 3 carry the account of the baptism of Yahshua. The son of a priest, and obviously schooled in Hebrew, John heard a voice from heaven declaring that this was the beloved Son in Whom He was well pleased— evidently in Hebrew.
Luke 4 and Matthew 4 both carry the account of the tempting of Yahshua by Satan, the fallen angelic being. The adversary tried three different times to thwart Yahshua's determination to carry out Yahweh's plan. And each time Yahshua answered him with a quotation from the Hebrew Scriptures. Their conversation would obviously be in Hebrew.
Job, chapters 1 and 2, record the conversation between Satan and Yahweh, having to do with the testing of Job. Satan talked with Yahweh as did Job, which would be in Hebrew, the heavenly language.
Savior Used Hebrew After He Was Resurrected
Paul talked with the resurrected Messiah when he was struck down on the Damascus road in Acts 9. Recounting this experience to King Agrippa, Paul states that the voice from heaven spoke to him in the Hebrew tongue (Acts 26:12-14), asking, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" Yahshua spoke Hebrew while here on earth as a human and continued speaking in Hebrew from heaven following His resurrection.
Yahshua promised (Matthew 19:28) that those who followed Him in the regeneration would sit upon thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel. He also said that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be in the Kingdom, Matthew 8:11. Yahshua will be given the throne of His father David, and will reign from Jerusalem. Yahweh is already moving on his prophecy by having a nation already there that speaks Hebrew!
Hebrew is the heavenly language spoken by Yahweh to the patriarchs in the Bible. The prophets were given their message from on high in the Hebrew language. When a foreign nation such as Assyria was to undergo judgment, Yahweh spoke to men like Jonah and Nahum who both understood Hebrew, and they in turn gave the message to the nation under judgment.
Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, it is increasingly evident that the spoken and written language of the Israelites in Palestine at the time of Yahshua was Hebrew. Most of the apocryphal books and other Jewish literature of the period that have come down to us in the Greek version have been found to be translations from Hebrew into Greek for the Greek-speaking Jews of the dispersion.
Hebrew influences such as these were inevitable when believers acknowledged Paul's words that we are no longer strangers and sojourners (in the commonwealth of Israel) but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of Yahweh. Built upon the foundation of the (Hebrew) apostles and (Hebrew) prophets, Ephesians 2:12, 22.
Bible Understanding Enhanced Through Hebrew
While any True Believer in Yahshua the Messiah can accept His salvation without the knowledge of
Hebrew, a much richer and deeper understanding is ours if we understand the meaning of the Hebrew words. Many people have obtained salvation without the knowledge of the Hebrew tongue. But to grow in grace and knowledge is to have a better understanding of biblical Hebrew and the deeper and fuller meanings its Hebrew words and nuances contain.
Knowing even a smattering of Hebrew words helps immensely in gaining a better understanding of the scriptural meaning. We get a far broader perspective of what Yahweh's Word is revealing when we can see the Hebrew root in many truths.
Hebrew is based on a relatively simple three-letter root system that provides a rapid memory recall in the formation of verbs and nouns. It is nowhere near as complex as our modern English. The English language is one of the most difficult of all languages to learn because it is made up of words from various languages such as Celtic, Medieval French, Anglo-Saxon, as well as Greek and Latin.
In addition, British sailors absorbed Hindu, Chinese and Arabic into the language. Hebrew in its modern, revived form does have loan words that have come from the international vocabulary. Basically, however, it is a relatively simple language primarily of phonetic sounds, although rich in diction.
In Acts 3, Peter gave a discourse to the Israelites, saying to them in verse 19 that they were to repent and be converted in preparation for the times of the presence of Yahweh. He goes on to say in verses 20 and 21 that Yahshua must remain in the heavens, returning when the time of restoration is established. It is obvious that Yahweh will re-establish the Edenic paradise on earth that was here before the fall of mankind, once Yahshua returns.
Beforehand, Malachi 3, and verses 2-5, reveal that the one Who comes will be like a refiner's fire and a fuller's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver and purify the sons of Levi in order for them to make a pure offering of righteousness unto Yahweh. Malachi 4:5 warns, Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahweh. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. Certainly a time is coming when a special language understood by all people will be spoken in the Kingdom.
|Hebrew: Soon to Be Spoken Worldwide
Zephaniah 3:9 tells us about the time when Yahweh sets up the Kingdom,
For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of Yahweh to serve Him with one consent.
Yahweh Himself knows that the unifying of the people will be brought about by having them all speak one language. The Living Bible in Zephaniah 3:9 shows that this language will be Hebrew:
At that time I will change the speech of My returning people to pure Hebrew so that all can worship Yahweh together.
Zechariah 14:9 says,
And Yahweh shall be King over all the earth: and in that day shall there be one Yahweh and His Name one.
The people will all be speaking one language and will all call upon Yahweh as the Mighty One of the Hebrews.
Start now to call upon the Heavenly Father in the Name He chose to reveal Himself: Yahweh. He selected the Hebrew language to reveal His covenant, His Redeemer, and His Name. He has revealed His truth to a Hebrew-speaking people down through history, and will again restore the Hebrew language. Enjoy a bit of the Kingdom now by acknowledging Yahweh's Name, and show that you look forward to His returning Son by calling upon the Hebrew name of Yahshua the Messiah,
The only Name under heaven given among men whereby you can be saved, Acts 4:12.
Be thinking of ways you can proclaim His Name to others, as did Yahshua, Psalm 22:22. Get others to stand in awe of Him, and to think of the depth of meaning in His Name Yahweh, so that your name will be written down as a remembrance as well, Malachi 3:16. May the door of life be open unto you as you keep His Word and do not deny (renounce, Berkley) His Name, Revelation 3:8.
Upon being resurrected, the saints will not be limited to spoken words, but will evidently be able to read thoughts and intents of the heart of humans. The spirit beings (which will be those in the first resurrection) will be able to understand the speech of any tongue because they will be able to read the thoughts of the speaker. However, calling on Yahweh's Name now shows that we are His people ("If My people which are called by My name. . .") and, like the early apostles, are willing to suffer shame for His Name, Acts 5:41.
-Elder Donald R. Mansager
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