Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Source: Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations Office in Geneva


Native Name

Total Speakers
4,612,000 (1995)

Usage By Country
Official Language: Israel Home Speakers: United States of America

It belongs to the Afro-Asiatic family, Semitic group, north-western (or Canaanitic) subgroup, and is spoken by 4.5 million people in Israel. 500,000 are second language speakers. Some who use it as primary language now in Israel, learned it as their second language originally. Classical Hebrew is the religious language of Judaism and has a century-old literary tradition. It is the language (Ancient Hebrew) in which most of the Old Testament of the Bible was written. Mishnaic or rabbinical Hebrew, dating from about 200 AD, succeeded Ancient Hebrew since it was more adaptable to practical use. However, as an everyday language (both written and spoken) Hebrew was revived only during this century with the establishment of the State of Israel. The renaissance of the language may be ascribed to a large extent to the efforts of Eliezer ben Yehudah, who devoted his life to the revival of the language, and at the same time adapted it for modern use through the introduction of thousands of modern terms. The vocabulary of Modern Hebrew is based on the ancient language, whereas the syntax on Mishnaic Hebrew. English words of Hebrew origin include amen, hallelujah, sabbath, rabbi, cherub, seraph, kosher, manna, shibboleth, and behemoth.

Received 5/25/1998
Posted 9/29/1998
Checked 11/12/1998