Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Book: A Cultural History of Aramaic – From the Beginnings to the Advent of Islam


Holger Gzella, University of Leiden

Bezalel Porten at #SBLaar14 and a New Volume of Aramaic Ostraca

Folk interested in Aramaic ostraca should take note of this: On Friday morning, November 21, at 8:25 a.m., in the Diamond 2 room at the Westin San Diego, during the ASOR meetings, Prof. Porten will be making a presentation regarding this important new publication.

Textbook of Aramaic Ostraca from Idumea, Vol. 1

Textbook of Aramaic Ostraca from Idumea, Vol. 1
Dossiers 1–10: 401 Commodity Chits

EIS – Eisenbrauns
by Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni
Eisenbrauns, 2014
Pp. liv + 472 + CD, English
Cloth, 8.5 x 11 inches
ISBN: 9781575062778
List Price: $149.50
Your Price: $134.55

HT Jim West


In order to make way for the new lessons, I need to fiddle with the website theme a bit. The one I’m presently using, although it looks nice, interferes with a bit of code necessary for the new interactive lessons to work, so I must make alterations.

The site will be up and down over the course of the day, but in the end there will be a lot of fun stuff to enjoy. 🙂


Old Article by Yona Sabar in The Jewish Week

Back in 2009, Dr. Yona Sabar of UCLA wrote an article in The Jewish Week about his experiences as an Aramaic speaker. In recent light of the troubles facing Neo-Aramaic speakers in the Middle East it’s been circulating again, so I figured that I should re-share it.

“Burying My Mother Tongue”

Aramaic is my first language. I don’t get to speak it much with fellow native speakers in Los Angeles, where I live now. The number of Jewish Aramaic speakers has dwindled so much that we now quixotically call ourselves “The Worldwide Federation of Aramaic Speakers.” The group would fit in a small room.

Aramaic is considered the second holiest language after Hebrew. A language usually is not born holy. It becomes holy when it ceases being spoken and is mainly used as the language of scriptures, rituals and prayers. That is how Hebrew came to be called leshon ha-kodesh. After Hebrew faded as a spoken language around 200 BCE, myriads of Jews and Christians in Babylonia, Persia and the land of Israel picked up Aramaic, its Semitic sister. Two late books in the Bible, Daniel and Ezra, contain large sections in literary Aramaic. When Hebrew was waning as a spoken language, almost the entire Bible was translated into Aramaic for the benefit of the masses who couldn’t understand the original Hebrew. Aramaic became a part of the synagogue ritual for many centuries.

Read the rest here.