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Most of us first encounter the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament) in translation. We, therefore view it through the lens of someone else’s interpretation, however venerable that interpretation may be. But for many centuries, before translations made the text of the Bible accessible to people around the world, it was read and interpreted in its original language, ancient Hebrew. Jews continue to read the Bible in that language today, and so can you.
Biblical Hebrew was the language of ancient Israel. It is an archaic form of the modern Hebrew that is spoken on the streets of present-day Jerusalem; the relationship between the two is akin to that between Shakespearean English and modern English. Biblical Hebrew is no longer used in casual conversation, but it remains at the heart of Jewish worship.
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