Darius in Aramaic

Darius the Great or Dārayavahuš in Old Persian was ruler of  the Persian Empire (Achaemenid) at its hight in the 5th century B.C.His name is mentioned in varius Aramaic documents like the Petition to Bagoas-a letter from the Elephantine Papyri.

Two versions of his name are known in Aramaic ,the first-Daryush (drywsh) -meaning 'possesor' and the longer version Daryawahush (Darius) meaning 'holding firm the good'.In the video below you can see them written in the Imperial Aramaic script.

דָּֽרְיָ֥וֶשׁ מַלְכָּ֖א

Ezra 6
 א בֵּאדַ֛יִן דָּֽרְיָ֥וֶשׁ מַלְכָּ֖א שָׂ֣ם טְעֵ֑ם וּבַקַּ֣רוּ | בְּבֵ֣ית סִפְרַיָּ֗א דִּ֧י גִנְזַיָּ֛א מְהַֽחֲתִ֥ין תַּמָּ֖ה בְּבָבֶֽל

ʾbēʾdayin dārǝyāweš malkāʾ śām ṭǝʿēm ûbaqqarû | bǝbêt siprayyāʾ dî ginzayyāʾ mǝhaḥătîn tammâ bǝbābel. 

1.Then King Darius gave an order, and they searched in the library in which the archives were stored in Babylon.

the Elephantine Papyri

The Elephantine papyri is a body of texts from 5 B.C. mostly written in Imperial Aramaic from Elephantine-a Jewish fortress on an island in the Upper Nile near Aswan in Persian-ruled Egypt.The name Elephantine is what Greek called it.Jews called it Yebu. These texts are manuscripts of Jewish soldiers and their community who were settled there by the Persians to defend the borders with Nubia.

What are the Elephantine manuscripts about.
The manuscripts number hundreds and most of them are written in the Aramaic language,apparently the mother tongue of the local Jews.Though some of them are in Ancient Egyptian (Demotic and Hieratic) ,Coptic and Greek.These are mostly documents of the local Jewish community concerning many matters  such as legal,marriage,commerce,religion and politics.Some are letters,like the letter below from the local Jewish community to Persian king Bagoas-governor of Judaea asking him to rebuild the Jewish temple in Yebu-Elephantine which Egyptian troops with the help of others looted and destroyed.

Elephantine papyri in English

Petition to Bagoas

"Petition to Bagoas",an Elephantine letter requesting from the Persian King to build a Jewish temple.

The circled word in red is the name Daryawahush-Darius spelled as DRYWHWŠ.The word circled in yellow is malkā -king spelled MLK'.

Here are the first  lines of the 'Petition to Bagoas' in English in free translation

1 To our Lord Bagohi,governor of Judaea,your servants Idnih and his partners who are in the fortress of Yeb (Elephantine).
2.May the god of heaven provide for the welfare of our Lord always generously and may you win the favour of Darius King because of him.
3.And of his court more abundantly than now a thousand fold and may he give you long life and may you always be strong and healthy. READ MORE

Who lived in Yeb-Elephantine.
Jews were not the only peoples that lived there -Aramaens and Greeks were settled there as well and there are some recorded cases of intermarriage of Jews with them.An Elephantine papyrus written in Greek provides insight into how the Jews settled in Egypt.They were invited by king Psammeticus to help him fight against the Nubians.

Darius from the manuscript

  • The task of the Jewish military garrison in Elephantine ,an island fortess in the Upper Nile,was to defend the frontier against Nubian attacks and secure the undisturbed flow of goods from Egypt to Nubia and vice versa.The fortress was an important outpost located between where Lower and Upper Egypt were divided.

Many of the papyri are in excellent condition-the dry climate of Upper Egypt was ideal for the preservation of papyrus.On top of that the owners of the documents kept them in vessels and pots and as a result some documents  were discovered neatly folded and sealed.Nowadays the Elephantine papyri lie in collections around the word.
Darius in modern Imperial Aramaic fonts
DRYWHWŠ MLK'-Darius King.Detail from the manuscript.

Here you can download Elephantive Papyrus Cursive fonts.

"Syriac language" in Syriac

"Syriac language" in Syriac is leshana suryaya .In the image below it is written in the Estrangelo script.

Syriac was a dialect of Aramaic which first appeared in writting in the 1st century A.D and flourished between the 4th-8th centuries.


Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me,a sinner

This is the beginnig of Psalm 102 Jesus Prayer in Syriac.

Mar Yeesho Msheeha breh
d Alaha rahhem al xattaya
Lord Jesus Christ Son
of God have mercy on me,a sinner

Yeesho Msheeha-Jesus Christ
breh-son,an older word for son is bar
rahhem (verb)- to show mercy,to love


malka vs melka-same writing different meaning

In the Syriac script  a dot is positioned over or under the letter to mark a vowel.If you do not use such a dot sometimes ambiguities arise .Such is the case of the words malka-king and melka-advise.They are written  exactly the same way but pronounced different.The only way to differentiate between them is by using a dot to mark the different vowels.

mlk' or malka or melka
king or advise

Read also vowels in Aramaic.


The name Martha in Aramaic

The name Martha is thought to come from Hebrew and it means 'mistress'.Here is how it is written in the Aramaic block script (Hebrew) and the Syriac Estrangelo.

Martha appears in the New Testament as the sister of Lazarus and Mary of  Bethany.According to the text she witnessed her brother's resurrection by Jesus.

Fish in Syriac is nuna.In the image below the word is written in Syriac Estrangelo.


God for this I was spared? and the Lamsa Bible

The Lamsa Bible is an English translation of the Old and New Testament based on the Syriac Aramaic Peshitta.

It was translated by George M Lamsa in 1933 who claimed that his translation of the New Testament is more accurate than all those based on Greek texts because,according to him, the Syriac version is older and it is the original.

This claim is not accepted by mainstream scholars which maintain that the New Testament was originally written in Greek.

Between his translation and the others based on Greek texts,say King James' translation,differences can be found.Take for example the famous phrase cried out by Jesus on the cross:God why have you forsaken me?In the Lamsa Bible this phrase is rendered as Eli,Eli lema sabachtan? -God for this I was spared?Lamsa claim that the Greek phrase was a mistranlation of the original Syriac and therefore his version is more accurate.


God,why have you forsaken me?

These two phrases both mean God why have you forsaken me?They can be found in Matthew's and Mark's Gospel.This is what Jesus-being on the cross- cryied out to God.

Eli,Eli lema sabakhtani?

Matthew 27:46
46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”

Mark 15:34
34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Elohi, Elohi, lema sabachthani?”

Eloi,Eloi  lema  sabakhtani

Eli or Elohi or Eloi=God,Gr.ηλί,ελοϊ
lama or lema or even lmana (Syriac) =why ,Gr.λαμά,λιμά
sabachthani or sabachtani=root shbq meaning to forgive,to allow,to leave,Gr.σαβαχθανί

Mark 15:34
Greek Ελωί,Ελωί, λιμά σαβαχθανί;
Aramaic אַלָהי אַלָהי למָנָא שׁבַקתָּני 
 ܐܰܠܳܗܝ ܐܰܠܳܗܝ ܠܡܳܢܳܐ ܫܒ݂ܰܩܬ݁ܳܢܝ ܀ 
transcriptionElohi,Elohi lema sabaktani


alphabetical Aramaic vocabulary list

In this post I am compiling a short vocabulary list in Aramaic (Classical Syriac) ,kind of like a dictionary.

I will be updating the list,so come back later.

Here are the first words in alphabetical order.The English translation comes first.

and, w-
angel, malakha
assembly, edta

bed, maḍmho (ܡܰܕܡܟܳܐ)
big, raḇ
bird, ṭayrā, ṣefrā
black, ʾukkāmā

child, talya
church, (the building) edta
citty, mditta ,mḏinttā

daughter, bartā 
death, mawta
drink (to),štā

earth, ʾarʿā
egg, béʿθâ
eye, ʿaynā

father, ˀaḇā
fire,nurā, ʾeššāθā
from, men
fruit, pérā

god ,alaha,alah,Eli,Elohi
good, taba/tobo (adj.)

hand, ˀiḏā
house, vayta/vayto

Jesus,Yeesha, Jesus Christ (yeesha mshiha)

king,malka,king of kings (malka d malke)
kingdom, malkuta,malkutakh,thy kingdom

know (to), yðaʿ

lord ,mar ,our lord=maran

man,ʾnāšā (human being) , gabra (male)
Mary, Mariam

name,šmā , what's your name?, ma shmakh?
night,lēlyā/ lilyo ,good night-lilyo tobo

queen, malkta

river, nahrā

of, d'
or, ˀaw

sea, yammā
see (to),ħzā
sky, šmayyā
snake, ħewyā
stone,kefā, ʾavnā, šoʿā

tongue,leššānā, aramaic language-leššānā suryaya


why,le'ma,la'ma ,Why have you forsaken me? - le'ma sabakthani?
word, mellṯā 


Aramaic fonts resources

Here are some resources with Aramaic fonts.

So download and install the fonts.The simplest way to install the fonts is this:

In Windows.
zip file
Download and unpack the fonts in the Windows/fonts directory.

exe file
Just run it and the fonts will be installed automaticaly

In Linux
In your home directory create a folder by the name ".fonts".Unpack there and you are good to go.

You may need to restart browser.

How to type vowels
Vowels are also included in the Syriac fonts of course.To type a vowel just press SHIFT and without releasing press the corresponding vowel key.

fonts resources.


Imperial Aramaic


Colors in Syriac

Here are some colors in Syriac:

Click on the image

Colors drill








King Ashoka's bilingual inscription from Afghanistan

During the  reign of the Indian king Ashoka the Maurya Empire was vast.It stretched from Afghanistan and Pakistan ,covering almost all the Indian subcontinent and up to Bangladesh.

One of his edicts was a bilingual inscription in Greek and Aramaic carved in stone,dated 3rd century B.C.The inscription was discovered at Kandahar and is now lying in the National Museum of Afghanistan.

Greek text
    δέκα ἐτῶν πληρη[....]ων βασι[λ]εὺς
    Πιοδασσης εὐσέβεια[ν ἔδ]ε[ι]ξεν τοῖς ἀν- 
    θρώποις, καὶ ἀπὸ τούτου εὐσεβεστέρους 
    τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐποίησεν καὶ πάντα 
    εὐθηνεῖ κατὰ πᾶσαν γῆν• καὶ ἀπέχεται 
    βασιλεὺς τῶν ἐμψύχων καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ δὲ 
    εἲ τινες ἀκρατεῖς πέπαυνται τῆς ἀκρα- 
    σίας κατὰ δύναμιν, καὶ ἐνήκοοι πατρὶ 
    καὶ μητρὶ καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων παρὰ 
    τὰ πρότερον καὶ τοῦ λοιποῦ λῶιον 
    καὶ ἄμεινον κατὰ πάντα ταῦτα 
    ποιοῦντες διάξουσιν.
Aramaic text
שנן 10 פתיתו עביד זי מראן פרידארש מלכא קשיטא מהקשט
מן אדין זעיר מרעא לכלהם אנשן וכלהם אדושיא הובד
ובכל ארקא ראם שתי ואף זי זנה כמאכלא למראן מלכא זעיר
קטלן זנה למחזה כלהם אנשן אתהחסינן אזי נוניא אחדן
אלך אנשן פתיזבת כנם זי פרבסת הוין אלך אתהחסינן מן
פרבסתי והופתיסתי לאמוהי ולאבוהי ולמזישתיא אנסן
איך אסרהי חלקותא ולא איתי דינא לכלהם אנשיא חסין
זנה הותיר לכלהם אנשן ואוסף יהותר
Latin transcription

English text
    Ten years (of reign) having been completed, King
    Piodasses (Ashoka) made known (the doctrine of)
    Piety (εὐσέβεια, Eusebeia) to men; and from this moment he has made
    men more pious, and everything thrives throughout
    the whole world. And the king abstains from (killing)
    living beings, and other men and those who (are)
    huntsmen and fishermen of the king have desisted
    from hunting. And if some (were) intemperate, they
    have ceased from their intemperance as was in their
    power; and obedient to their father and mother and to
    the elders, in opposition to the past also in the future,
    by so acting on every occasion, they will live better
    and more happily." (Trans. by G.P. Carratelli)

Which Aramaic should I learn?

Not one language.
One important thing you should know about Aramaic is that it was not uniform.It went through many different phases and developed into numerous dialects which were written in various versions of the Aramaic script.

Some parts of the Bible were written in Aramaic-the books of Daniel and Ezra.The material there, is limited which means that it will take you less time to study it.Thus Biblical Aramaic is good start for you,but you will need to learn the Aramaic square script (Hebrew) to read it.

On the other hand Classical Syriac Aramaic has a vast body of texts of all kinds written in it.Actually it is the third largest corpus,after Greek and Latin ,which survived from late antiquity.Syriac is written is the Syriac script ,the earliest version of it being the Estrangelo.The other two are Madnkhaya and Serto.

In my opinion the Estrangelo is a very beautiful script and if you also like it,then Syriac is a good place to start your Aramaic.

You can even combine Classical Syriac with one of the Neo-Aramaic dialects like Assyrian Neo-Aramaic (the most popular in terms of speakers),many of which descended from it or were influenced by it.Neo-Aramaic is a number of contemporary languages and if you are lucky enough you may even come across a native speaker of it.The live mainly in Aramaic-speaking enclaves in the Middle East and in many western countries.

Language of Jesus
Now,if you want to study what Jesus spoke then Galilean Aramaic is the dialect for you.BUT. That is not possible in the monent actually.Galilean Aramaic is an obscure language and poorly attested. Efforts are being made to reconstruct it but they far from reaching this goal. The closest living descendant of Jesus's Aramaic is the Maalula Neo- Aramaic dialect spoken in some villages in South-Western Syria. Both Galilean Aramaic and the Maalula dialect belong to the Western Aramaic branch.

Knowledge of  Hebrew,or Arabic,or any other Semitic language would be a great help,since they share a large common vocabulary and characteristics,being in the same language family.

So,it is up to you to decide which Aramaic to learn.If you are still in confusion where to start ,don't worry.Keep reading this blog and it will come to you later where to focus on.

Good luck with your studies!

You can start here.
What is Aramaic?
the Aramaic script

Matres lectionis-mothers of letters in Aramaic

The Phoenician script was mainly a consonantal script marking only consonants and because of that many ambiguities arised.In a few cases consonant letters were used both for consonants and vowels to help clarify what is being written.Its descendant the Aramaic script used them widely.These letters are called matres lectionis and despite the wide use of this system it never developed into a full-fledged alphabetic script like Greek.

The phrase matres lectionis comes from Latin and it means  'mothers of letters'.These letters indicate mostly long vowels.In Biblical Aramaic mainly four letters functioned as such while in Syriac three.


What's popcorn in Aramaic?

By Tim Downling for The Guardian.

Its alleged anti-semitism isn't the only problem with Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. There's also the small matter of it being in Aramaic. To help enrich your enjoyment, here is a handy glossary of useful terms.
The Passion of the Christ... Mel Gibson's film has become a media punch bag

B-kheeruut re'yaaneyh laa kaaley tsuuraathaa khteepaathaa, ellaa Zaynaa Mqatlaanaa Trayaanaa laytaw!
It may be uncompromising in its liberal use of graphic violence, but Lethal Weapon II it ain't.

Da'ek teleyfoon methta'naanaak, pquud. Guudaapaw!
Please turn off your mobile phone. It is blasphemous.

Shbuuq shuukhaaraa deel. Man ethnaggad udamshaa?
Sorry I'm late. Have I missed any scourging?

Aykaa beyt tadkeetha? Zaadeq lee d-asheeg eeday men perdey devshaanaayey haaleyn!
Where is the loo? I need to wash my hands of this popcorn.

Een, Yuudaayaa naa, ellaa b-haw yawmaa laa hweeth ba-mdeetaa.
Yes, I'm Jewish, but I wasn't there that day.

Demketh! Udamaa lemath mtaynan b-tash'eetha d-khashey?
I fell asleep! What station of the cross are we up to?

Ma'hed lee qalleel d-Khayey d-Breeyaan, ellaa dlaa gukhkaa.
It sort of reminds me of Life of Brian, but it's nowhere near as funny.

Ktaabaa taab hwaa meneyh.
It's not as good as the book.

Puuee men Preeshey, puuee!
Boo, Pharisees! Boo!

Etheeth l-khubeh 'almeenaayaa d-Maaran Yeshu Msheekhaa, ella faasheth metool Moneeqaa Belluushee!
I came for the everlasting love of our Lord Jesus Christ, but I stayed for Monica Bellucci.

Aamar naa laak dlaa yaada' naa haw gavraa. B-aynaa feelmaa hwaa?
I tell you I do not know the man. What's he been in?

Feelmaa haanaa tpeelaw! Proo' lee ksef dmaa!
This film is terrible. I want my blood-money back.

D-tetbuun deyn men yameen u-men semaal, la hwaat deel l-metal, ellaa l-ayleyn da-mtaybaa.
To sit at my right or my left is not for me to grant; it is for those to whom it has already been assigned.

Saabar naa da-mhaymen beh, ellaa la haymneth b-haw meemsaa d-beh.
I suppose I believe in Him, but I didn't believe him in it.

Saggee shapeer! Laa tsaabey naa d-esakkey l-mapaqtaa trayaanaaytaa.
Brilliant! I can't wait for the sequel (second coming).

Eeth lee 'ayney, ellaa layt lee d-ekhzey la-kteebaataa takhtaayaataa. Neqruuv leh?
I have eyes but I cannot see the subtitles. Can we sit closer?

Ayleyn enuun Oorqey?
Which ones are the Orcs?

Laa, haw Shem'uun Qooreenaayaa eethaw! Ezdar!
No, that's Simon of Cyrene! Pay attention!

Waay! Haw 'aalmeenaayaa hwaa!
Well, that was eternal.

Lebba deel daaleq, ellaa teezaa deel daamek.
My heart is on fire, but my bum is asleep.

Enaa mqatreg naa l-Ruumaayey.
I blame the Romans.

Tev attuun men qdaamaa!
Down in front!

B-zabnaa d-qeenduunos, tayyeb lkuun uurkhaa d-mapaqtaa.
In case of emergency, prepare ye the way of the exit.

Laa baakey naa-eeth gelaa b-'ayna deel.
I'm not crying; I've just got a mote in my eye.

Spreet mets'aayaa deelaak huu. [Or, if addressed to a woman, Spreet mets'aayaa deelek huu!]
Thine is the medium Sprite.

Peletaa kuullaah da-Qraabay Kawkbey.
It's all an allegory of Star Wars.

Shluukh kleelaa d-kuubayk, pquud. Laa meshkakh naa d-ekhzey l-ketaan tsuur- aathaa.
Could you take off your crown of thorns, please? I can't see the screen.

Baseem, ellaa saabar naa d-etstebeeth yateer b-Lebeh d-Gabaaraa!
Not bad, but I think I preferred Braveheart.


Nouns in Aramaic

I have started studing Aramaic grammar and this is what I have learned so far.If you have knowledge of Aramaic grammar feel free to comment.

Nouns in Aramaic decline according to gender,state and number.They come in
  • two genders (masculine and feminine)
  • two numbers (singular and plural)
  • three states (absolute,construct and emphatic)
 There are no case endings  but there is evidence that they did exist in very early Aramaic.

Aramaic noun states

absolute state-most common and basic form.
E.g. nūn (fish),ketab (book),malk (king)

construct state-it mainly indicates possesion like genitive.

Only difference is that the possessed changes in form not the possesor-The fish (possessed) of the queen (possessor).It often has the same form as the absolute

Masculine often same as absolute .E.g.bar (son of)-Bar elaha is the Son of God.
Feminine takes a suffix.(t).E.g.malkat (queen of)
empthatic state-In early Aramaic it functioned like a definite article (the fish).
E.g. nūnā -the fish(very early Aramaic) ,fish (Imperial Aramaic and henceforth)
ketaba-the book
malka-the king
tura-the mountain

Aramaic gender

example of a masculine noun declension




mountain of
mountains of
the mountain
the mountains

Days of the week in Aramaic

Days of the week in Targumic Aramaic

In the table below are the days of the week in Targumic Aramaic.In other dialects there might be some minor differences in the pronounciation.

Day in Targumic Aramaic is yom (יום ) ,the same as in Hebrew and Arabic  (يوم).Note that Saturday in Targumic Aramaic literally means the holy day (holiday)-shvat kudsha,shvat meaning holy.Week is shavya yomin.

yom had
יוםא חד
yom tinian
יום תנן
yom tlitai
יום תליתאי
yom revivai
יום רביעאי
yom hamishai
יום הםישאי
yom shtitai
יום שתיתאי
shvat kudsha
שבה כדשא

Days of the Week in Syriac Aramaic

The word for day in Syriac is yum instead of Targumic yom.The names of the days are formed by simply saying day one (Sunday),day two (Monday),day three and so on.

yum habshabo

yum tren

yum tloto

yum arbobshabo

yum hamshobshabo

yum rubto

yum shabto


The Aramaic alphabet

Aramaic was written mostly in consonants from right to left just like Phoenician from which it derived .It was originally used for the Aramaic language which was actually a whole group of  West Semitic languages. Later two great empires the Assyrian and Achaemenid adopted the language and its script as official (6-4 BC).

It was the anscestor of many alphabets of the Middle East and most of Semitic alphabets such as Jas Samaritanewish, Palmyrene, Nabataean, Syrian, Palestinian, Mandaic and Manichaean.

9th century stele of king Kilamuwa,kingdom of Yadiya found in Turkish Zincirli (Sam'al)

Parent alphabet of many others
The Aramaic writing system was parent even to some Central Asian scripts such as Parthian, middle Persian, Sogdian, and Khorezmian.

It also gave birth to Uighur, Mongolian, and the Orkhon-Yenisei alphabets through Sogdian. It has also being hypothesized that the Brahmi writing system and Kharosthi of the Indian subcontinent originated from the Aramaic script as well.

Appearence and spreading
Aramaic culture appeared at the city of Damascus and later spread to Palmyra and Edessa in nowadays Urfa in Turkey. Aramaeans  wherever they lived,were not isolated but mingled with the locals and in many cases they relativy  it releasily assimilated them. Aramaic, after Akkadian, became a kind of international and diplomatic language of the Near East in antiquity.

 In Palestine the same time the Gospel was spoken Aramaic, so it is likely that the early Christians (including Jesus himself) spoke in it. In addition, the Aramaeans - the only ancient people of Middle East, which, along with the Persians lived up to the present day.

Early Aramaic script-Phoenician
Initially, the Aramaic alphabet did not differ from the Phoenician, but then the Aramaeans simplified some of the letters, thickened and rounded their lines. A specific feature of Aramaic letters is the distinction between d and r.Aramaic writing, spread quickly from Africa to India and China.

Aramaic literature is quite wide: religious, philosophical and philological works were written in it.

In the Middle Ages the Jewish Aramaic alphabet was used to write a mystical book called 'Zohar', which evolved the numerological ideas of ​​"Kabbalah."

The Bar-Hadad inscription from North Syria (9. BC) and Zakir from Hamata (c. 800 BC). In both the word boundary is implemented by vertical lines, while in the inscription of Bar-Rakib Zendzhirli (late 8th century. BC. E.) points are used for this purpose.On the stela of the Sephira (late 8th century. BC . e.) there is no word boundary at all.

Lingua Franca
Aramaic language and the Aramaic script began to be used in the New-Assyrian and Persian period as international means of communication for the entire Near East up to Egypt, Asia Minor and India. Such an example are the Aramaic-Persian  and Aramaic-Lydian bilingual texts from Sardis (5. BC).

Aramaic inscription from Elefantine,the Jewish military colony in Egypt (5 B.C.)

Aramaic writing and Aramaic supplanted Babylonian cuneiform and Akkadian language, even in their homeland in Mesopotamia. The wide spread of Aramaic letters led to the fact that it was used not only in monumental inscriptions, but also on papyrus and potsherds. An example of Aramaic writing on potsherds can serve as a crock of Ashur. Aramaic papyri found in large numbers in Egypt. Especially a lot of papyri found at Elephantine the so-called Elephantine papyri , among them are official and private documents of the Jewish military settlement in 5 BC.In the Aramaic papyri and potsherds words are separated usually by a small gap, as we do.

At the turn of the century 2 and 3. BC the up-to-then uniform Aramaic letters develeped new forms as a result of dialectal and political fragmentation in several subgroups. The most important of these is the so-called square Hebrew block script, followed by Palmyrene, Nabataean, and the much later Syriac script.

The adoption of the square Aramaic letters by the Jews occurred during Ezra (mid-5th century BC) and is an external manifestation of Israel's accession to the common Semitic culture of the time. The square letters become the main writting system for Hebrew for the most part  and was widely used for religious and secular literature of the Jews. 

The name of the script is connected with the desire to give signs of a square shape.Unfortunately,we do not have any surviving written monuments of the early period of this script.  In the Dead Sea scrolls (2 BC - 1 AD),it  already had a fully developed form.

Later,the more rounded Sephardi (Eastern Spanish) and more angular Ashkenazi (German-Polish) types developed from the square Aramaic letters. In the 9th century the Italian cursive handwriting appears called Rashi, named after Rabbi Rashi (contraction of the words of Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak). More changes and abbreviations underwent signs of various cursive handwritings of the time.


What language did Jesus speak?

It is generally agreed that Jesus spoke Galilean Aramaic,what scholars call Jewish Palestinian Aramaic.It is also hypothesized that he also spoke Hebrew and even some Greek and Latin.

At the time Aramaic was a major language and a lingua franca among the population in the Near East.It was widely spoken in Palestine even among the Jews which had long become their primary language,the langauge of the people.By that time Hebrew was only the language of the elite mainly for religious purposes.

In the New Testament ,the Greek original,there are some utterances of Jesus in Aramaic which is clear evidence  about his native tongue.

Jesus grew up in Galilea,a region where  many cultures existed and many languages were spoken.But Aramaic and Hebrew were not the only ones spoken by the local population.Around Nazareth ,especially in the city of Sephoris lived the Greek-speaking Gentiles.So Jesus might have picked up some Greek.Latin was the official language of the region being under Roman occupation.

Talmud Yerushalmi

The main work that survives in Galilean Aramaic is the Jerusalem Talmud written in 2 A.D.. in Israel.It is older than the Babylonian Talmud by 2 centuries.Other important texts in the dialect are early works of Kabbalah.

Linguistically it belongs to West Aramaic related more closely to Samaritan and Christian Palestine.

Nowadays in Israel some efforts are being made to revive the language that Jesus spoke.

The word for sun in Syriac Aramaic

The sun in Syriac Aramaic is šemšā (ܫܡܫܐ).The root of the word is šm(š).We have many Aramaic names with the šamaš element dating from the Neo-Assyrian,Neo-Babylonian and Achaemanid Empire periods.


Aboon Dbashmayo - Gracious Lord's Prayer in Aramaic.

The Lord's prayer in Galilean Aramaic,the native language of Jesus Christ himself does not exist as in an original form.There are, though, linguistic reconstructions of it since Galilean Aramaic remains to this day a very scarsely attested language.

What it does exist is its version from Syriac Christianity and in various other Aramaic dialects from later times.

Below you can read:
  • The Lord's Prayer in Syriac Aramaic
  • a linguistic reconstruction of The Lord's Prayer in Galilean Aramaic.
  • The Lord's Prayer in Chaldean Aramaic (Sureth)

The Lord's prayer in Syriac Aramaic
Some branches of the Eastern Church still use in their liturgy the Syriac language,which is very close to the Aramaic spoken by Jesus."Our Lord's Prayer'" in Syriac it exists in several versions.I have put some of them up here for you to listen.The prayer in Syriac is called Abwoon D' Bashmayo.

the Lord's Prayer in Syriac Aramaic

The Lord's prayer sung in Syriac.

ܐܒܘܢ ܕܒܫܡܝܐ
Abun dbašmayo
Our father
ܢܬܩܕܫ ܫܡܟ
Nethqadaš šmokh
Hallowed be Thy name
ܬܐܬܐ ܡܠܟܘܬܟ
Tithe malkuthokh
Thy Kingdom come
ܢܗܘܐ ܣܒܝܢܟ
Nehwe sebyonokh
Thy will be done
ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܒܫܡܝܐ ܐܦ ܒܪܥܐ
ykano dbašmayo oph bar`o
On earth as it is in heaven
ܗܒ ܠܢ ܠܚܡܐ ܕܣܘܢܩܢܢ ܝܘܡܢܐ
Hab lan laħmo dsunqonan yowmono
Give us this day our daily bread
ܘܫܒܘܩ ܠܢ ܚܘܒܝܢ ܘܚܬܗܝܢ
Wašbuq lan ħawbayn waħtohayn
And forgive our debts
ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܐܦ ܚܢܢ ܫܒܩܢ ܠܚܝܒܝܢ
ykano doph ħnan šbaqan lħayobayn
As we have forgiven our debtors
ܠܐ ܬܥܠܢ ܠܢܣܝܘܢܐ
Lo ta`lan lnesyuno
Lead us not into temptation
ܐܠܐ ܦܨܐ ܠܢ ܡܢ ܒܝܫܐ
Elo paşo lan men bišo
But deliver us from evil
ܡܛܠ ܕܕܠܟ ܗܝ ܡܠܟܘܬܐ
Meţul ddilokh hi malkutho
For Thine is the Kingdom
ܘܚܝܠܐ ܘܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ
Wħaylo wtešbuħto
Power and the Glory
ܠܥܠܡ ܥܠܡܝܢ
L`olam `olmin
For ever and ever

Here is some vocabulary from the prayer
Abbun - Our Father

d'Bashmayo - In Heaven

Shmoch -name (probably)

malkutoch - Kingdom

sebyonoch - Will

aykano - like (as)

baro - Earth

bisho - evil

metul = because
d-dheelakh = of which - "yours" (it's a grammatical construct signifying ownership)

hee = is

u-khaila = and - power

u-theshbooktha = and glory

The Lord's Prayer in Galilean Aramaic.
Galilean Aramaic-the language of Jesus Christ is an obscure language.What we know of it is very little.The Galilean version of the prayer is not attested.There are only reconstructions of it most of them with many flaws due to the scarceness of texts in Galilean.Below there is a more scientific reconstruction of the beginning of the prayer in Galilean Aramaic from this site.

Yəṯqadaš šəmaḵ.
May thy name be holy.
Teṯe malḵuṯaḵ.
May thy kingdom come.

Here is another reconstruction of the Lord's prayer in Galilean Aramaic.

The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) -

אבנן דבשמייא׃ יתקדש שמך׃ תאתה מלכותך׃ תהווה רעותך׃ בארעה כנל דבשמייא׃ פיתן דצורך הב לן יומדן׃ ושבוק לן חובנן׃ הך אנן שבקין וחיבנן׃ ולה תעל לן לנסיון׃ ברם פצי לן מן בישה׃ אמין׃

/ʔabənan dəvəšᵘmaya. Yəṯqadaš šəmaḵ. Teṯeh malḵuṯaḵ. Tehəwe raˁuṯaḵ, bəarˁah kənal dəvəšᵘmaya. Pitṯan də-ṣoraḵ, hav lan yoməden. Wa-švuq lan ḥovenan. Heḵ ʔənan šəvaqin lə-ḥaivenan. Wə-lah taˁel lan lə-nisyon. Bəram pəṣi lan men bišah, ʔamên/

The Lord's Prayer in Chaldean Aramaic (Sureth).

Baban deele beshmaya,
payesh mkodsha shimukh, athya malkothokh,
hawe ojbonokh, dikh deele bishmaya hawe ham bara.
Halan lokhman sumqana didyou.
Shwoq talan gnahan wkh-tiyathan,
dikh d-ham akhnee shwiqlan ta
ana dim-tu-dela ellan.
La mab-yeretan bjoraba,
ella mkhalislan min beesha,
bsabab deokh ela malkotha,
hela wtesh-bohta, laalam almeen,

There is some controversy as to what language the original Lord's Prayer was written in. Mainstream scholars maintain that it was written in Koine Greek and this is due to the fact that many Jews and especially Galileans of the time in the Middle East were bilingual in Aramaic and Greek.

Greek at the time was a major language of prestige, commerce,common people in vast areas in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was one of the two major languages of the Roman Empire the other being Latin.

And this why Galilean Aramaic has Greek-like traits like no guttural or ejected sounds  unlike Eastern Aramaic dialects and many Greek loanwords . More on this read Was Jesus a Hellenized Jew?

Various claim have being made to 'prove' that the Peshitta version was the original prayer or that there was an original Aramaic prayer translated into Greek.

The Peshitta translation in Syriac Aramaic came much later and there is no scientific evidence that shows that there was an Aramaic original prayer. Nevertheless Aramaic texts may have been used as a resource.

Son of God in Aramaic

  In Biblical Aramaic Son of God (ܐܠܗܐ) was bar  'elaha (ܒܪ ܐܠܗܐ) .The genitive case did not exist and it was formed simply by putting two nouns one after the other.In Syriac Son of God would be bar d alaha.

bar elaha in the Hebrew script

 The phrase is said in Mel Gibson's movie the Passion of the Christ.Watch and listen carefully.The High Priest asks 'bar elaha hai?The Son of living God?'

bar elaha in Syriac Madnkhaya script

'Son of God' is first attested in the so-called Aramaic Apocalypse-a short text in Aramaic found in a cave in Qumran.


Some Aramaic greetings

I have collected some greetings in various Aramaic dialects.

So far I have found these phrases.In the future I will be updating the post should I find more.

Galilean Aramaic
Galilean Aramaic was the language Jesus Christ spoke. It belongs to the Western branch of Aramaic. The sole survivor of the Western branch in modern times is the Aramaic dialect spoken in the Syrian village of Maalula.

Shlamlak -hello (to a man)
Shlamlek-hello (to a woman)
שְׁלָמ לְךְ‏ / ܫܠܵܡܠܸܟ݂ܝ - (šlāmleḵ)

Shlama(eastern Syriac) 
Shlomo(western Syriac)

šlama/ šlomo in the Syriac MadnKhaya script

Ejdar bo hat?
How are you?


Aloho amich/amoch
Bye (God be with you)

Basic Syriac Aramaic greetings.

ܝܰܘܡܳܐ ܛܳܒܳܐ
Yaumo tobo
Good day!

ܒܪܺܝܟ ܨܰܦܪܳܐ
Brikh ṣafro
Good morning!

ܒܪܺܝܟ ܪܰܡܫܳܐ
Brikh ramsho
Good evening!

ܠܺܠܝܳܐ ܬܳܒܳܐ.          
Lilyo tobo
Good night!

Assyrian Neo-Aramaic

Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is the most widely spoken of the Neo-Aramaic languages with an estimate of between 500 hundred to one million speakers. 

Not to be confused with ancient Assyrian ,also a Semitic language but not Aramaic. Assyrian was eventually completely supplanted by Aramaic due to various reasons, both languages being spoken in the Assyrian empire, widespread bilingualism and close affiliation between the two being both Semitic.

shlamalukh (to a man)

shlamalakh (to a woman)

Shlama ilokhun


Keidomtukh brikhta
Good Morning

Dakhee vit/vat?
How are you?
(vit is for a male,vat for a female)

Dakhee toon? (formal)
How are you?

Spay vin/van,merci.
I am good,thank you.

Good thank you.

At dakhee vit/vat?
And you?

Chaldean Neo-Aramaic.
Chaldean is the sister language of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic. 

Shlama (to one person)

Shlama ilokhen (to more people)

Dekh-e-yat? (to a female)
Dekh-e-yit? (to a male)
How are you?

Turoyo (Surayt)
Turoyo also known as the mountain Aramaic from the word tur - mountain is traditionally spoken at the Northeast border between Turkey and Syria.

B shayno.
Hello.(in response to shlomo)

Targumic Aramaic
Targumic is the language of the targums, translations of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic. These translations were a necessity because Hebrew falling out of use as a spoken language by the 3rd century AD being replaced by Aramaic.

Targumic Aramaic was written in the so-called square Aramaic alphabet from which the Hebrew one derived. Nowadays the morden Hebrew alphabet is used to write Targumic due to their closeness and for ease of use.

Good morning!
צפרא טבא
tsafra tava

Good evening!
רמשא עבא
ramsha tava

Peace to you!
שׁלם לכין
Shlam lekhon

With heaven's help!
Besiata deshmaya.
בּסיעתא דשׁמיא

May you live forever!
Le-almin hii!
לעלמן היי

Samaritan Aramaic
שׁביכון טבין יסי
Shabbikon taben yesi
(Shabbat greeting)

Also read a bit about the Samaritan alphabet.


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