The revival of the Hebrew Language is a beautiful element in God’s redemption of His chosen nation (Israel).
I don’t know what the original language in the garden of Eden was, or if God even allowed it to continue as one of the languages which persisted after the Tower of Babel:
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words… And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth. Genesis 11:6-9 ESV
All we know is that sometime after the dispersion incident, God called forth Abram to be set apart. Through Abram, God took a nation unto Himself to be His light in the world. I would assume that Abram spoke the language that was to be later known as “Hebrew”.
Hebrew was established as the national language of Israel right from the start, when the people entered the Promised Land under Joshua (approximately 3500 years ago). While other languages were learned by the Hebrews (Aramaic, Greek), Hebrew remained in common use until the Bar Kohba war in 135 AD.
From 135 AD – 1881 AD, Hebrew faded from use and was mixed with other tongues (mixed with German became Yiddish, and mixed with Spanish became Ladino). Hebrew became used exclusively in synagogues for Torah readings. Similar to Latin readings in Catholic mass, most Jews could not understand the Torah being read in Hebrew. The language had faded into virtual obscurity.
In 1881, a Jewish man named Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, along with his friends, decided to start exclusively speaking Hebrew. Eliezer had learned Hebrew as part of his childhood studies, with which he aspired to become a Jewish Rabbi. Eliezer learned of Zionism, and decided that a revival of the Hebrew language would further propel its’ goals:
At that time, it was believed that one of the criteria needed to define a nation worthy of national rights was its use of a common language spoken by both the society and the individual. In fact, Ben-Yehuda regarded Hebrew and Zionism as one and the same, writing that, “The Hebrew language can live only if we revive the nation and return it to the fatherland.”
(Source: Jerusalem Post)
Eliezer was so convinced of this purpose, that he refused to let his son speak any language other than Hebrew. While Eliezer’s efforts effectively “rebirthed” the Hebrew language, the First and Second Jewish Aliyahs cemented it into common use.
There are no other examples in human history of a “dead language” returning to regular usage.
In terms of end-times prophecy, God has foretold that after His time of wrath (the Day of the Lord / Daniel’s 70th Week), He will restore a common language:
For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord. (Zephaniah 3:9 ESV).
During the Millennial Kingdom, the curse from the original fall of Adam and Eve will be lifted. The curse from the Tower of Babel incident will also be lifted, and humanity will once again have a common tongue. Whether this language is Hebrew? God hasn’t said. But its’ revival over the last 1 1/2 centuries is surely a “type” to the future complete fulfillment of this prophecy.
Interestingly, the preceding verse (Zephaniah 3:8), contains every single letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This includes the five final sofit forms, which makes this verse unique – there is no other verse in scripture that contains all these! (Source: http://www.hiddenhouse.org/purelanguage.pdf)
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The Revival of the Hebrew Language
Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model
The Bible is infallible. I am not. Be a Berean – examine the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so!