Transition and Translation

The Bible is the most translated book in the world.  Translation was necessary hundreds of years before the coming of Jesus Christ and the propagation of His kingdom via the church.  Hebrew, the original language of the Scriptures was gradually replaced in the everyday lives of God’s people, initially by Aramaic and then by Greek.

Transition into Aramaic became necessary in the years following Israel’s return from their captivity in Babylon.  After years of exile Cyrus, the Persian leader, allowed the Jews to return to their homeland to rebuild their temple and their city.  Aramaic was the official language of the Persian Empire, and most of God’s people had adopted this language for their everyday lives.  The transition from Hebrew to Aramaic was evident.

Two men were crucial to the survival of God’s people during this time: Ezra, who helped them in the reformation of their spiritual lives, and Nehemiah, who guided them politically.  Ezra arrived in Jerusalem with a copy of the Law of Moses in the original Hebrew.  These Jews had lost touch with their heritage and their language.  Ezra began reading from the scroll that was written in Hebrew.  Thirteen Levites were scattered throughout the gathered assembly to “give the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.”(Nehemiah 8:5-8)  They all spoke Aramaic.  Their translation initiated the transition into Aramaic for the next 400 tears when Messiah would come speaking that very language.

The New Testament would eventually be translated into Greek, which was a common language of the people during the time of Alexander the Great.  It is still being translated to this day.  The same Spirit who inspired the original documents of Scripture is at work superintending the translation of it.

Note: As evidenced by the meanings of the Aramaic names of the thirteen Levites who translated for Ezra, God’s message accurately transitioned from one language to another.

  • Jeshua- God delivers
  • Bani-Our God births and builds
  • Sherebiah-God is holy
  • Jamin-God the strong ruler
  • Akkub-God our protector
  • Shabbethai-God our rest
  • Hodiah-The majestic one
  • Masseiah-Works of God
  • Kelita-God avenges
  • Azariah-God our hope and expectation
  • Jozabad-God protects and comforts
  • Hanan-God is mercy
  • Pelaiah-God is wonderful