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Aramaic Script
Excerpt from the Lexham Bible Dictionary, the most advanced Bible dictionary.
Developed by the Aramaeans and later adopted throughout the ancient Near East.In 2 Kings 18:26, Hezekiah’s officers say to the leaders of the Assyrian army, “Speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it.” Centuries later, when Aramaic became the official language of the Persian Empire and the common language of the ancient Near East, the majority of Hebrew people would not just understand Aramaic, but speak it.Aramaeans adopted the Phoenician script around 1100 bc. Because the Aramaic language had more consonantal sounds than what was provided by the 22 letters of the Phoenician script, some Phoenician letters represented multiple sounds. Early Aramaean inscriptions—often termed the Aramaic Lapidary script—are almost indistinguishable from Phoenician texts. However, around 750 bc, the Aramaeans developed a distinctive script. This is evidenced by inscribed bricks found at Hamath, which have cursive scripts and a single bar about the ḥet (Naveh, Early History of the Alphabet, 80).When the Assyrians conquered the Aramaic kingdoms in the eighth century bc, the Aramaic language was made one of the official languages of the Assyrian Empire. Due to the relative ease of using the Aramaic script (versus cuneiform), the Aramaic language and script became the dominant language of communication.The Persian Empire adopted the Aramaic as the official language. As non-native speakers adopted the Aramaic language and script, letter forms were simplified. This led to the development of the cursive script (Cross, Development of the Jewish Scripts, 135). Both the Aramaic language and script were standardized by the Persian Empire. While the Aramaic script changed little at the formal level, as it was taught and maintained by royal scribes, a free version of the script was soon developed (Cross, Development of the Jewish Scripts, 136–140). In the Jewish community, the Aramaic script gradually replaced the Hebrew abjad in the postexilic period.After the third century bc, Greek replaced Aramaic as the official language in the ancient Near East due to Alexander’s conquests. Though Aramaic remained strongly entrenched locally, the standardization of the language and script from the Persian Empire began to wane. The Aramaic script developed into multiple branches: the Iranian, the eastern branches (including south Mesopotamian, north Mesopotamian, and Palmyrene-Syriac sub-branches), the Nabatean and Arabic branch, and the Jewish script (Naveh, Early History of the Alphabet, 125–174).The post-biblical Hebrew scripts, such as the Jewish square script, were developed from the Aramaic script. Today, published editions of the Hebrew Bible are usually in the Jewish square script.Changes to the Aramaic script have aided the paleographic dating of archaeological finds, including the dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran.
Dictionaries
The Lexham Bible Dictionary
Aramaic Script
Aramaic Script (עֲבָדֶ֙יךָ֙‎, avadeikha). Developed by the Aramaeans and later adopted throughout the ancient Near East.In 2 Kings 18:26, Hezekiah’s officers say to the leaders of the Assyrian army, “Speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it.” Centuries later, when Aramaic became the official
The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary
Aramaic Script
ARAMAIC SCRIPT. About 1100 b.c. the Aramaeans adopted the alphabetic script which was employed at that time by the Canaanites and Phoenicians. They wrote in this same script until the mid-8th century b.c. Moreover, at the beginning they may even have written in the Phoenician language as well, because
The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Volumes 1–5
ARAMAIC SCRIPT
ARAMAIC SCRIPT air´uh-may´ik. About 1100 bce, the Arameans adopted the Canaanite/Phoenician script. Used locally at first, it became, under the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian empires, a medium of international communication. From the 3rd cent. bce, various offshoots developed in the East (e.g., Syriac)
C. Aramaic Versions
C. Aramaic VersionsAramaic (see ARAMAIC, ARAMAISM) has a wider variety of extant ancient translations of the Bible than any other language. Aside from the Samaritan Targum (see §B), 11Q10 (a pre-Christian translation of Job sometimes misnamed a “Targum”), and the Christian Palestinian Aramaic version,