Did Jesus Speak Hebrew? Pope Says No – Bibi Says Yes

June 2, 2014 at 9:28 PM 1 comment

popebibiRecently, during a meeting with Prime Minister (Bibi) Netanyahu and the current Pope, Bibi mentioned that Jesus spoke Hebrew. The pope corrected him publicly stating “Aramaic.” This lapse in protocol was uncalled for and it speaks to the fact that Pope Francis dislikes (at the very least) Netanyahu or lacks respect for him.

I’m sure that was embarrassing for Bibi, especially considering the fact that he was 100% correct. The pope seems to be someone who at least some Muslims believe to be an important man, one who may be able to help their plight in the Middle East. After learning of the correction, one Muslim woman tweeted out her haughtiness over the incident.

Occ2Unfortunately, in her zeal (or maybe hatred of Netanyahu), she got it wrong because she simply believed what the current pope stated, believing it to be fact, when it is not. There is a good amount of anecdotal and Scriptural evidence that Jesus spoke more than one language. Certainly, He spoke Aramaic and very likely Greek, but the idea that He did not speak Hebrew is asinine.

The Torah was written originally in Hebrew (with some small sections being originally written in Aramaic. For Jewish individuals and especially males, Hebrew was the language of choice. In fact, the numerous times Jesus read Scripture while at synagogue or in the Temple, He would have done so in Hebrew. We’ll provide specifics in a moment, but it is important to note that with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it becomes at once clear that many manuscripts that Jesus would have studied, learned, and even memorized were written in Hebrew. “The scrolls demonstrate that Hebrew was being used in the time of Jesus, and had not been completely eclipsed by Aramaic.”[3]

In fact, it is very likely that Matthew was written entirely in Hebrew, recording the words of Jesus in Hebrew. “Jesus spoke Hebrew. His mother-tongue would have been Hebrew – the language of Jews in Israel and the language of their Scriptures.” [1] But Jesus also spoke Greek, Aramaic, and quite possibly Latin. In conversing with Pontius Pilate, the two would have conversed in Pilate’s tongue – Latin.

As Jesus hung on the cross, with the sign over His head indicating that He was the “king of the Jews,” the first language used was Hebrew. Underneath that would have been Latin and Greek. Since Alexander the Great had been the ruler of the known world prior to the Roman Empire, (Koine) Greek had become a well-known language during that day and spoken by most common people within the Roman Empire.

There are numerous words in Aramaic that are also similar to words in Hebrew. Throughout the Gospels, we see a mix of usage by Jesus. It is clear from historical culture that the elite of Israel during Jesus’ day spoke Hebrew. In order to converse with them, Jesus also would have had to speak in Hebrew. “Many stories in the Gospel also support the theory that Jesus could use Hebrew when it suited his purposes. Jesus frequently found himself in conversations and debates with Jewish religious leaders. These dialogues usually happened in Hebrew, even among those for who Aramaic was a first language. For Jesus to be credible as a debate partner, and for him to impress his audience as a learned teacher, in all likelihood he would have used Hebrew when engaging in theological discourse with the Pharisees, the Scribes, and other Jewish leaders.”[3]

When people (including popes) point to what they believe to be fact concerning the specific language that Jesus spoke, which did not include Hebrew, it is usually because these individuals have “westernized” Jesus. They have removed much of His Jewish heritage and culture from Him. Unfortunately, many in the western church have done that and too many almost see Jesus as a Gentile. He was Jesus, born of a Jewish household, was educated as a Jewish boy and with that education, learned to read and write in Hebrew in order to better study the Torah. This is simply what any Jewish boy at the time would have done as part of their learning process.

To say that Jesus did not know or speak Hebrew is ridiculous. This would suggest that Jesus would have had no need for Hebrew and that was not the case at all. Because of the existence of the Aramaic Targums, people believe this means that Jews during Jesus’ time would have needed a translation from the Hebrew to Aramaic. “At this point in time, a widespread, first-century Aramaic Targum practice in Israel remains speculation and the evidence available, meager though it is, actually points away from such an assumption.” [4]

There appears to be clear evidence that while Jesus did not speak Hebrew exclusively, He did speak it and read it. As someone who was called “Rabbi,” He would have been expected to read and speak Hebrew. The likelihood that Jesus spoke only Aramaic is wishful thinking on the part of those who wish to remove the Jewishness from Jesus.

Will this article (or any other for that matter) convince anyone, especially people like the Muslim woman quoted above? Doubtful. People will believe what they want to believe. It is easier than having to study and possibly even change one’s position.

Jesus was not only a Person who had memorized much of the Torah, but He would have done all He could to be able to adequately share His knowledge in several languages. He did not speak Aramaic only. The Jewish culture spoke, read, and wrote Hebrew and Jesus would have most likely done that as well, especially given the fact that during Jesus’ time, there were no Aramaic versions of the Torah. To not know Hebrew would have made Jesus dependent upon others.


[1] http://www.differentspirit.org/blog/what-language-did-jesus-speak

[2] http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/markdroberts/2010/07/did-jesus-speak-hebrew.html

[3] Ibid

[4] http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.596687


Entry filed under: Islamofascism, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - Theology.

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1 Comment

  • 1. Reuel  |  June 8, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    Read the Bible.
    Luke whose mother tongue was Greek in Luke 23:38 identified the 3 languages as Greek, and Latin, and HEBREW
    John (an Israelite) identified the 3 languages in John_19:20 as HEBREW, and Greek, and Latin
    Jesus spoke to Saul (=Paul) in Hebrew.
    Act 26:14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the HEBREW tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
    Aramaic is NON-SCRIPTURAL conjecture by fallible men (including Francis)

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