Cedars of Lebanon:
Bilingualism in Jewish Literature
Pick up an old Jewish book—pick up the Bible, the book of books, for example. You will immediately perceive that we Jews have not always been content with one literary language; for, in addition to Hebrew, there are sections in the Bible that are written in Aramaic (parts of Ezra, Daniel). Recall, again, how the twenty-four books of the canon were published in the early days of printing: alongside the original Hebrew the medieval printers set the Targum translation, in Aramaic. As for the Talmud, the continuation of the Bible, the original itself is a very monument to bilingualism: Aramaized Hebrew in the Mishnah, on the one hand, and Hebraized Aramaic in the Gemara, on the other hand. During the Talmudic period Hebrew and Aramaic, the two Jewish literary languages of the time, were close neighbors, as it were, a divinely ordained marriage, a couple fated for one another.
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