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God wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger, on tablets of Stone, in Hebrew.

When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God. -Exodus 31:18

He also frequently spoke to His people in Hebrew. And of course, we now have Hebrew records of all of these divine words.

My question is: Why Hebrew? (I am assuming this is not because God speaks Hebrew in Heaven...)

  • Is it because Hebrew was the ideal language for communicating the truths of the Old Testament?

  • Is it simply because His people happened to speak that language?

  • Are there any Old Testament passages which show God speaking (or writing) in a different language?

I would also love it if you could include a comment about whether this teaches us anything about the nature of God. Thanks.

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With all due respect I must say that this is a rather silly question.. He was the one who gave all the languages at tower of Babel, remember? He listens to my prayers in Russian. Of course he speaks all languages. –  Monika Michael Jul 8 '12 at 7:00
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I bet he writes traditional Chinese backwards and mirrored, encrypted with RSA256 just for fun.. –  Monika Michael Jul 8 '12 at 7:02
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@MonikaMichael Please don't take it as a silly question. Many people have wondered what the answer to this question is. If you have an answer, please post it. I am interested in the implications of the correct answer as much as the correct answer. –  Jas 3.1 Jul 8 '12 at 7:16
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This is a simple question, not a silly one. –  Joe Jul 8 '12 at 18:08
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This question does not show any research effort I think is probably the reason it's getting down votes. The fact that the accepted answer begins with "Here's the obvious answer" would lend weight to this theory. –  Flimzy Jul 9 '12 at 3:58
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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Oftentimes, the simplest answer is the correct one. So here's the obvious answer: He spoke and wrote in Hebrew because he was dealing with Hebrew-speaking people at the moment. Had God spoken to them in English, Latin, or Chinese, they would not have understood him!

God, being omniscient, knows all human languages. This means that he has no trouble communicating with the Hebrews in Hebrew, or with you and me in whatever our native tongues may be. So why make it more difficult than it has to be, especially given people's tendency to get his commandments all wrong even when they're spelled out in perfect plainness?

There's a parallel to be found in the Day of Pentecost, where the Gift of Tongues was dramatically made manifest as the Apostles preached their sermon. People from a wide variety of nations and regions were present, and all heard the sermon in their own language. But remember that these were people who had traveled to Jerusalem. It's not at all unreasonable to assume that most of them knew at least enough Hebrew (or whatever language was commonly in use at Jerusalem at the time) to get by. And yet, the Lord gave them the message in the language that they were most familiar with, to facilitate effective communication.

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Excellent. Thanks. –  Jas 3.1 Jul 8 '12 at 21:00
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The prophecies of Daniel are chiefly written in Aramaic, thereby providing a non-Hebrew example of a revelation, ergo God spoke to Daniel in a language other than Hebrew. If they were first written in Aramaic by an Aramaic and Hebrew speaker (The Book of Daniel is actually written using both languages in different chapters), then it seems a stretch to argue that the vision itself had to be in Hebrew.

Likewise, John the Revelator most likely did not speak Hebrew (he also spoke Aramaic and possibly some Greek), suggesting that when John received the vision, Jesus was probably not speaking to him in Hebrew.

Finally, Jesus himself raised Jairus' daughter in Mark 5:41 using the words "Talitha Cumi" which are in Aramaic, not Hebrew. (I realize this is NT, but if Hebrew were God's ideal language, I'm surprised that Jesus himself wouldn't choose to use it, especially when evidencing his divinity.) Indeed, when quoting the 22nd Psalm, as he was dying on the cross, he cried out, "Eli, Eli, Lama Sabbatchani" in, you guessed it - Aramaic.

There is a tradition that God spoke Hebrew in the Garden of Eden, but there is nothing Scriptural to assert even that "fact."

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Thanks - very good points. If you would humor me, though... can you add a "Summary" to the top which directly answers the question as to why He spoke Hebrew so often? (I realize it might not be clear why I am asking this question, but I think the implications of the answer will become more clear once the answer is clearly stated.) –  Jas 3.1 Jul 8 '12 at 20:59
    
With all due respect, I should think it obvious that I find the premis of the question off-base. You need to prove to me that God actually does speak Hebrew more oft than not. –  Affable Geek Jul 9 '12 at 0:56
    
I don't believe that He speaks Hebrew more of than not. Let me try this a different way. Do we see God speaking Hebrew a lot in the OT? Yes. ... Why is that? –  Jas 3.1 Jul 9 '12 at 1:07
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I think Mason Wheeler did an excellent job of answering that. –  Affable Geek Jul 9 '12 at 1:10
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The first identification of Hebrew as a language was around the time of Noah after the flood and before the tower of babel.

At the tower the bible states all men spoke the same language (Hebrew). God punished the builders by confounding their ability to communicate not only with each other but also with God. During the time that followed we see the chosen people communicating in Hebrew with God until Pentecost, when all language and peoples were blessed.

Until Pentecost the will and nature of God was only given through Jewish followers (Hebrews). Simple Christian understanding with assumption that Adam and Eve were also given Hebrew as a way to communicate with their creator. So, yes, I would assume it is the language of Gods choosing.

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Welcome to Christianity.SE. Can you edit this answer and add some references for the ideas you forward, particularly showing who holds such a doctrinal position and what their basis is? In particular the idea that the language issue at Babel affected people's ability to communicate with God as that is not a mainstream Christian understanding. See What makes a good supported answer? for more ideas on how to formulate answers for this site. Thanks. –  Caleb Oct 15 '12 at 6:47
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Agreed. A claim like this should be backed up with sources of some sort. The Bible says that all men spoke the same language before Babel, but it does not specifically identify that language as Hebrew. And in fact, a literal reading of the text--that the languages of all men were confounded--would seem to indicate that the original language no longer existed after God finished his work there. If you could add some references to clear up this point, it would greatly improve the quality of your answer. :) –  Mason Wheeler Oct 15 '12 at 23:52
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