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Aramaic is a member of the ancient Semitic family of languages, which includes Hebrew and Arabic (although the names are similar, Aramaic and Arabic are not the same). The Aramaic alphabet consists of 22 letters, written from right to left. Originally the language of the Arameans who inhabited northwestern Mesopotamia/Syria, the various dialects of Aramaic were eventually widely used over a vast area, from Greece to India, which included Galilee in northern Israel. Aramaic was the everyday language of Jesus Christ, along with Hebrew and Greek.

Aramaic Aramaic was evident throughout Bible History:

Jacob spoke Hebrew, while Laban spoke Aramaic (see Jacob and Laban):

"So Jacob took a stone, and set it up as a pillar. And Jacob said to his kinsmen, "Gather stones," and they took stones, and made a heap; and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed." (Genesis 31:45-47 RSV)

The Assyrian forces (see Ancient Empires - Assyria) that attacked King Hezekiah of Judah (see Kings of Israel and Judah) spoke Aramaic:

"Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah, and Joah, said to the Rabshakeh, "Pray, speak to your servants in the Aramaic language, for we understand it; do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall." (2 Kings 18:26 RSV)

Those who opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Persians (see Ancient Empires - Persia) had allowed the people of Judah to return from the Babylonian captivity (see Why Babylon? and Ancient Empires - Babylon) spoke Aramaic:

"Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and made them afraid to build, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; the letter was written in Aramaic and translated." (Ezra 4:4-7 RSV)

The astrologers who served King Nebuchadnezzar spoke to the king in Aramaic. They were unable to reveal the meaning of the king's dream (see Daniel's Statue), but God revealed the meaning to Daniel:

"Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it." (Daniel 2:4 NIV)

The Writing On The Wall to Belshazzar was in Aramaic:

"Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN." (Daniel 5:24-25 RSV)

Well-known Bible Places have names in Aramaic:

"Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 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." (John 5:1-2 NIV)

"When Pilate [see Pontius Pilate] heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement, which in Aramaic is Gabbatha. It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. "Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify Him!" (John 19:13-15 NIV)

"Finally Pilate handed Him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers [see Roman Legions] took charge of Jesus. Carrying His own cross [see Cross or Stake?], He went out to the place of the Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha [see Calvary]. Here they crucified Him [see How Did Jesus Christ Die?], and with him two others - one on each side and Jesus in the middle." (John 19:16-18 NIV)

Jesus Christ spoke in Aramaic:

"He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, "So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas which means Peter." (John 1:42 RSV) [Note: Cephas is an Aramaic name, Peter is a Greek name]

"And He said, "Abba [the Aramaic word for Father], Father, all things are possible to Thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt." (Mark 14:36 RSV) (see The Fateful Night)

"And at the ninth hour Jesus cried [in Aramaic] with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabach-thani?" which means, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" (Mark 15:34 RSV)

"Jesus said to her, "Mary." [see Mary of Magdala] She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" which means Teacher." (John 20:16 NIV)

Fact Finder: The sign that was nailed to the cross above Jesus Christ was written in three languages - Aramaic, Latin and Greek. What did the sign say?
John 19:19-20

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