Hebrew Word of the Week:

עִברִית

Did you ever wonder what the original language was? Many scholars believe it was Hebrew. I agree that it may have been so, and in this post, I’m going to tell you why.

But first, let’s look at the word Hebrew in Hebrew.

Hebrew is a language based on roots, shoresh in Hebrew. Most roots have three consonants (and no vowels) but a few have two or four. The root for Hebrew is “ayin-vet-resh” and it looks like this:

While roots themselves are not pronounceable as words, the consonants are pronounced. So the root is pronounced ayin-vet-resh. The word derived from that root is pronounced ee-vreet.

I woke up this morning wondering when Hebrew was first spoken, and though of course, we don’t have a written record of who first spoke Hebrew and when it was first spoken, there is good reason that the answer is Adam and in the garden. Here’s why.

We know that at the tower of Babel, all the languages were “confounded.”

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth (Genesis 11:9).”

Interestingly, the very next verse introduces the lineage of Shem. As you’ll no doubt remember, Shem was one of the descendants of Noah. It is from Shem’s name that we get the word Semitic. In Genesis 10, he is called “the father of all the people of Eber.” The word Eber is the root ayin-vet-resh with vowels added (the second letter, vet, is also pronounced bet, so it can make the sound “v” or “b”).

The Hebrew verb avar is the same word as eber, and it means pass, cross, traverse, undergo. It implies being nomadic, which the Hebrew people were from the time Abram left Ur until they settled in the Promised Land.

After the tower of Babel, Noah’s three sons went in different directions and established their own civilizations with their own languages. (Apparently, God didn’t even leave Noah’s family speaking the same language!)

But what language was spoken before the flood? What was the original language of humanity? What language did God speak to Adam?

Here’s why it might have been Hebrew.

Despite what you may have been taught in “history” books, language did not evolve from grunts and groans that early cavemen spoke. God spoke to Adam in the Garden of Eden. The language of God was the language that Adam and Eve spoke with their Creator. Since one language was spoken by all the world until after the flood, it’s helpful to see what clues we can find in the Bible that would tell us what that language was.

One clue that might help us is looking at names. In Hebrew, every name has a meaning. If we consider the fact that all the names from Adam to Noah were Hebrew names, it follows that Hebrew was being spoken. Look at the following chart to see one of the names of Adam’s children and the meaning behind the name.

(Prophecy was fulfilled. Remember that Methuselah was named 969 years before the flood!)

It wasn’t until Noah’s grandchildren came along that the names were no longer Hebrew. For instance, Nimrod (spoken of in Genesis 11:18) is not a Hebrew name. That makes sense because he lived in ancient Sumer where Japheth’s descendants lived.

According to the roster of ancient names, Adam and his progeny spoke Hebrew!

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