In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Hebrew

  • Introduction
  • Encyclopedia Reference, General Hebrew
  • Introductory Works, General Hebrew
  • Dictionaries, General Hebrew
  • Bibliographies, General Hebrew
  • Journals, General Hebrew
  • Collected Works, General Hebrew
  • History Sources, General Hebrew
  • Writing System, General Hebrew
  • Onomastics, General Hebrew
  • Hebrew as a Semitic Language
  • Introductory Works, Biblical Hebrew
  • Dictionaries, Biblical Hebrew
  • Collected Works, Biblical Hebrew
  • Grammar, Biblical Hebrew
  • Phonology, Biblical Hebrew
  • Morphology, Biblical Hebrew
  • Syntax, Biblical Hebrew
  • Semantics, Biblical Hebrew
  • Pragmatics, Biblical Hebrew
  • Discourse Analysis, Biblical Hebrew
  • Onomastics, Biblical Hebrew
  • Introductory Works, Second Temple Period
  • Collected Work, Second Temple Period
  • Grammar in General and Lexicon, Second Temple Period
  • Introductory Works, Rabbinic Hebrew
  • Collected Works, Rabbinic Hebrew
  • Grammar, Rabbinic Hebrew
  • Phonology, Rabbinic Hebrew
  • Morphology, Rabbinic Hebrew
  • Syntax, Rabbinic Hebrew
  • Onomastics, Rabbinic Hebrew
  • Introductory Works, Medieval Hebrew
  • Grammar in General, Medieval Hebrew
  • Morphology, Medieval Hebrew
  • Syntax, Medieval Hebrew
  • Introductory Work, Oral and Written Traditions
  • Grammar, Oral Traditions
  • Phonology, Oral Traditions
  • Lexicon, Oral Traditions
  • Introductory Works, Modern Hebrew
  • Dictionaries, Modern Hebrew
  • Collected Works, Modern Hebrew
  • Language “Revival,” Modern Hebrew
  • Grammar, Modern Hebrew
  • (Articulatory) Phonetics, Modern Hebrew
  • Phonology, Modern Hebrew
  • Morphology, Modern Hebrew
  • Syntax, Modern Hebrew
  • Semantics, Modern Hebrew
  • Pragmatics, Modern Hebrew
  • Discourse Analysis, Modern Hebrew
  • (Meta-)lexicography, Modern Hebrew
  • Onomastics, Modern Hebrew
  • Sociolinguistics, Modern Hebrew
  • Psycholinguistics, Modern Hebrew
  • Spoken Language, Modern Hebrew

Jewish Studies Hebrew
Tsvi Sadan, Ora (Rodrigue) Schwarzwald
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 August 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 July 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199840731-0084


Hebrew belongs to the family of Semitic languages, which is part of the larger family of Afroasiatic languages. It spans more than three millennia, paralleling the history of the Jewish people—first in the Land of Israel, then in the Diaspora, and again in the Land of Israel and the State of Israel. It is customary to divide the language into the following four historical periods: Biblical Hebrew, Rabbinic Hebrew (also known as Mishnaic Hebrew), Medieval Hebrew, and Modern Hebrew (alternatively referred to as Contemporary Hebrew, Israeli Hebrew, or even simply Israeli). Two further divisions should also be noted: Hebrew of the Second Temple period, and oral traditions of Hebrew. Biblical Hebrew in its narrow sense (c. 1000–530 BCE) is attested mainly in the pre-exilic books of the Hebrew Bible. Hebrew in the Second Temple period (530 BCE–70 CE) is a transient stage between Biblical Hebrew and Rabbinic Hebrew; the post-exilic books of the Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls are its main corpora. Rabbinic Hebrew (70–c. 500 CE) is further divided, according to whether it was still spoken or not, into Tannaitic Hebrew or Rabbinic Hebrew I (70–c. 200 CE), which is the language of the Mishna, and Amoraic Hebrew or Rabbinic Hebrew II (c. 200–500 CE), which is the language of the Hebrew part of the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds. Medieval Hebrew (c. 500–c. 1850) includes various works of poetry and prose produced in major Jewish communities. Oral traditions of Hebrew refer to recitations of the Hebrew Bible and the Mishna in traditional Jewish communities after Biblical Hebrew and Rabbinic Hebrew ceased to be spoken; these traditions are still preserved among certain circles. Modern Hebrew in its narrow sense (c. 1850 to the present) is a planned and unplanned amalgam of the earlier phases of Hebrew (as well as Jewish Aramaic), with a heavy grammatical and lexical influence from Yiddish, Russian, etc. It now fulfills all the social functions of a modern society, both in speech and in writing as well as online. It is also an important lingua franca of Hebrew linguistics (and many other areas of Jewish studies). In each of these divisions of Hebrew, as well as in the first group of sections (dealing with the language in general), selected important works in the following areas are mentioned, where relevant: encyclopedia, introductory works, dictionaries, bibliographies, journals, collected works, history, writing system, language “revival,” grammar in general, (articulatory) phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse analysis, (meta-)lexicography, onomastics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and the spoken language.

Encyclopedia Reference, General Hebrew

Khan 2013 is an important milestone in the history of Hebrew linguistics, covering major historical periods of the Hebrew language and areas and subareas of Hebrew linguistics.

  • Khan, Geoffrey, ed. Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics. 4 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013.

    An impressive collection of over 850 entries by about 400 researchers, covering such diverse thematic categories as periods of Hebrew, areas and subareas of Hebrew linguistics, foreign influence on Hebrew, loanwords in Hebrew, Hebrew loanwords in other languages, traditions of Hebrew in Jewish communities, and the Hebrew component in Jewish languages; there is also an online version, with access available through purchase or by subscription.

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