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Encyclopedia Judaica, Second Edition (21 Volume Set)
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Aramaic - a Jewish language?

Looking for a good Aramaic book?

Aramaic was the lingua franca (common language) of the ancient near east. Not originally a Jewish language, it now exists mostly in Jewish books. There is some Aramaic in the Hebrew Bible (especially in Daniel), and the Talmud is primarily in Aramaic. Some prayers we recite to this day are in Aramaic - most notably the Kaddish. Aramaic and Hebrew share the same alphabet.

Today, Aramaic is not much of a living language. It's spoken by a small number of - believe it or not - Jews, Moslems, and Christians from various parts of the Middle East.

Is it Aramaic, or is it Hebrew?

However, Aramaic lives on in Jewish books. If you're not sure if a text is Hebrew or Aramaic, try this quick rule-of-thumb: Hebrew words have the letter hay in the beginning for a definite article ("the"). The Aramaic equivalent is to put an aleph at the end of the word. For example, "father" in Aramaic is abba. Wait a minute, you say? That's Hebrew? No, it's really Aramaic. The Hebrew word for "father" is av. But just to confuse you, or so you might be excused for thinking, modern Hebrew borrows abba and ima ("mother") from Aramaic!

Books on Aramaic

Here are more books to help you learn, or learn about, Aramaic. Many of them are for serious scholars of Aramaic texts.


A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament: Based upon the Lexical Work of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner

Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Babli, Yerushalmi, and Midrashic Literature


Student's Vocabulary for Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic


The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Unabridged 2-Volume Study Edition)


Aramaic Made EZ


A Grammar of Neo-Aramaic: The Dialect of the Jews of Arbel


Ritual Practices to Gain Power: Angels, Incantations, and Revelation in Early Jewish Mysticism


Grammar of Palestinian Jewish Aramaic


A Key-Word-In-Context Concordance to Targum Neofiti: A Guide to the Complete Palestinian Aramaic Text of the Torah


Qumran and Apocalyptic: Studies on the Aramaic Texts from Qumran


Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek Documentary Texts from Nahal Hever and Other Sites: With an Appendix Containing Alleged Qumran Texts


A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of the Byzantine Period (Publications of the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project)


Literature of Formative Judaism: The Targumim and Other Jewish Writings in Late Antiquity (Origins of Judaism, Vol. 12)


A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic of the Talmudic and Geonic Periods (Publications of the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project)


A Manual of Babylonian Jewish Aramaic


Studies in Targum Jonathan to the Prophets


Grammar of Palestinian Jewish Aramaic


Targum Studies, Volume One


The Targum of Judges


Classical Aramaic: Book 1


A Grammar of Egyptian Aramaic


The Elephantine Papyri in English: Three Millennia of Cross-Cultural Continuity and Change


Al Kanfei Yonah: Collected Studies of Jonas C. Greenfield on Semitic Philology


Studies in the Aramaic legal papyri from Elephantine


Studia Aramaica: New Sources and New Approaches

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