Bible Prophecy Revealed

What Language Did Jesus Speak? Not Aramaic

by Michael Fortner

The “scholars” tell us that Jesus spoke Aramaic. Wikipedia gives the standard view:

Most scholars believe that historical Jesus primarily spoke Aramaic, with some Hebrew and Greek, although there is some debate in academia as to what degree. Generally, scholars believe that the towns of Nazareth and Capernaum where Jesus lived were Aramaic-speaking communities, that he was knowledgeable enough in Hebrew to discuss the Hebrew Bible, and that he most likely knew Greek through commerce as a carpenter in nearby Sepphoris and because Greek was the common language of the eastern part of the Roman Empire. Accordingly, Jesus is believed to have addressed primarily Aramaic-speaking audiences.

One of the reasons for this view is his statement on the cross: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? (My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?)

What they fail to notice is, if Jesus is speaking mostly Aramaic, why are those the only Aramaic words in the New Testament? You say because the New Testament was written mainly for speakers of Greek. My question still reamins. The use of this Aramaic, followed by the Greek translation is there because it is different from what he commonly spoke.

We use many Latin phrases today, but we do not speak or read in Latin as our common language. For example, we even have Latin phrases on our money, such as E PLURIBUS UNUM. But that does not mean we can speak Latin. Jesus was doing the same, he was speaking an Aramaic phrase, the way we speak Latin phrases: Carpe diem, means “seize the day.” And Caveat Emptor means “buyer beware.”

With the Jews having suffered great persecution for many centuries, the phrase that Jesus spoke was likely a very old phrase which originated in Aramaic, but that is not evidence of current usage.

When Pilot made a sign and put it above Jesus, JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS, it was written in three languages: Greek, Latin, and Hebrew (John 19:19-20). If the majority of the Jews of that time and place were speaking Aramaic, he would have written it in Aramaic. This is powerful evidence that the main language of the Jews of Israel during the first century was Hebrew!

But WAIT! There’s more!

In the book of Acts it says that Paul spoke HEBREW:

Act 21:40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying: 22:1 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.” 2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. :

Here was a huge crowd of people in Jerusalem that were trying to kill Paul, so the Roman soldiers showed up to protect him, and allowed him to speak to the crowd. He was not speaking only to the Jewish rulers or Sanhedrin, but the common folk living in Jerusalem, and he spoke Hebrew to them. Here is another passage:

Act 26:14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

 This passage tells us that when Jesus appeared to Saul (Paul) on the road to Damascus, that Jesus spoke to him in Hebrew. This indicates that Hebrew was Saul’s preferred language.

Paul spoke Hebrew, and since the crowd understood Hebrew, they must have spoken it as well, and even the Roman governors understood Hebrew. If Paul’s primary language was Hebrew, then it is likely that Jesus also spoke Hebrew as his primary language.

Also, in Revelation it gives a word in Hebrew and Greek:

They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. (Rev: 9:11 )

If the primary language of the Jewish people of that era was Aramaic, WHY didn’t John give the name in Aramaic? Odd, don’t you think? And again later:

And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. (Rev: 16:16)

Therefore, the primary language of Jesus and the Apostles was most likely NOT Aramaic, but Hebrew.

3 Thoughts on “What Language Did Jesus Speak? Not Aramaic

  1. terry buddrow on December 23, 2013 at 9:37 am said:

    I agree, now tell me the name of Jesus.

  2. Jesus spoke in frustration, as he traveled from place to place, he realized the people had been led so long that the knowledge was only understandable to the few who had learned to think for themselves, and did not allow someone to think for them.

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Copyright 2014 by Michael D. Fortner