Hebrew is a Magical Language! (Or is it?)

The teaching known as Lashon Hakodesh (“the sacred language”) is multifaceted. It was originally a designation for Biblical Hebrew as such. But it later grew to have more implications that Hebrew is somehow a magical language. There are sub-legends that follow along with this:

1. That Hebrew is the language spoken in heaven.

2. That Hebrew is the primeval language and was the language of all human beings from Adam to the dispersion of the peoples in the Tower of Babel.

3. That Hebrew, as such, has magical properties. This gave rise to the medieval legend of the Golem – usually a statue that came to life when someone wrote the Hebrew letters of a name of God and put them in the mouth or the forehead of the Golem. There is a famous silent picture from 1920, “The Golem.” It can be viewed HERE.


4. That God communicates with people only in Hebrew – that is, that Jesus must have preached in Hebrew, that the apostles must have taught their churches in Hebrew. This is the error taught by the false version of the New Testament, the Código Real.

5. That the New Testament MUST have been written in Hebrew, because Greek – like Latin – is by definition a pagan, dirty and polluted language and cannot communicate God’s truth without twisting it into some pagan message.

6. That the only possible way to speak or expose the Bible is through Hebrew.

All of this is wrong.

1. I have no idea what language is spoken in heaven; in the book of Revelation, everyone speaks Greek, but I doubt that we can infer anything important from that!

2. I’m looking at a tourist guide to Israel that states, “The Hebrew language is one of the oldest languages on the planet.” There is no evidence in favor of that claim, and plenty of evidence to the contrary. There are known languages that had existed for millennia and millennia before Hebrew. Hebrew did not exist as such before about 1200 BC. Hebrew is simply a dialect – along with Moabite, Phoenician, Ammonite, Edomite – of the Canaanite language group. That is why Isaiah 19:18 teaches that Israelites spoke “the language of Canaan.” Only around the year 1200 BC did the Hebrew begin to develop its distinctive features. It is interesting to think that Ruth the Moabite and her Israelite mother-in-law might have communicated with little difficulty. Also – Hebrew is not a single language, it has been developing for more than 3000 years.

3. For my part, I don’t believe in magic! Be that as it may.

4. God spoke to Daniel in Aramaic and Hebrew. There is zero evidence that he spoke to the characters of the Bible before 1200 BC in Hebrew. For those who say, “But Genesis was written in Hebrew!” – well, and the Gospel of Mark was written in Greek, but I also don’t think Jesus taught in Greek. It’s a translation of what was said.

5. The Bible does not distinguish between clean and dirty languages. Again – why were parts of Ezra-Nehemiah, Daniel, the New Testament written in Aramaic, a language of idolaters, if that were impossible? How did the rabbis write the Mishnah in that “pagan” Aramaic language? And why would Jesus have addressed his father with the Aramaic “dirty word” Abba? (Mark 14:36)

6. The apostles laid out the Scriptures in Greek and used a Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Septuagint tradition) as authoritative, labeling it “it is written.” This is the Bible that Paul references when he says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” in 2 Tim 3:16-17.

People who don’t know a language tend to circulate messages labeled, “How cool is this?” HERE is an example of such exegesis. But “cool” doesn’t necessarily mean “true”!

“Hebrew is a Magical Language! (Or is it?),” by Gary S. Shogren, Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica

4 thoughts on “Hebrew is a Magical Language! (Or is it?)

    1. Yes, I saw yours at the bottom. The only comment I saw that questioned the whole premise, though admittedly I didn’t read through all of them.

  1. Re the link you posted, I’m not sure what’s more concerning: the article itself, or the comments section full of people who take the unreferenced article at face-value.

Comments are closed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: