Abba is an Aramaic word meaning "the father." This word was borrowed by Hebrew speakers and used in the sense of "Daddy." In lesson five, the word Abba is used to teach another Hebrew letter.
Abba is an Aramaic word meaning “the father.” This word was borrowed by Hebrew speakers and used in the sense of “Daddy.” Today the word abba lives again on the streets and in the homes of Israel. Children say, “Abba, come here!” “Abba, give me some of that!” “Abba, do this!” “Abba, do that!” No child, even after he or she is grown, addresses his or her father by the Hebrew word for father, but rather uses the Aramaic loan-word, abba.
Aramaic and Hebrew are sisters, both were Semitic languages that existed in close proximity in the time of Jesus in the lands at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Aramaic was as similar to Hebrew as Swedish is to Norwegian, or Portuguese is to Spanish.
Aramaic and Hebrew shared much of their vocabulary, and despite the fact that idioms are usually unique to each language, first-century Hebrew had many idioms in common with Aramaic. Aramaic speakers freely borrowed vocabulary from the Hebrew language, and Hebrew speakers likewise freely borrowed words from the Aramaic language. Abba, for instance, is an Aramaic word, but it is also a bona fide Hebrew word, used frequently by native Hebrew speakers of Jesus’ day.
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David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew… [Read more about author]