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Mishnaic Hebrew

Mishnaic Hebrew is the Hebrew of the Mishnah. Understanding Mishnaic Hebrew can give valuable insight into the oral law and hence the culture and literature of early Judaism.

Mishnaic Hebrew differs slightly from Biblical Hebrew in that it borrows words from the surrounding koine Greek language as well as some words from Latin and Biblical Aramaic. Mishnaic Hebrew proper was a spoken language. It is sometimes referred to as Tannaitic Hebrew or Mishnaic Hebrew I). Mishnaic Hebrew was also used in the Amoraic era and this was a literary language only (termed Mishnaic Hebrew II or late Rabbinic Hebrew).

Mishnaic Hebrew is also utilized by other works of Tannaitic literature. These include the halachic Midrashim and the Tosefta. The Talmud contains excerpts from these works, as well as further Tannaitic material not attested elsewhere; the generic term for these passages is Baraitot. The language of all these works is very similar to Mishnaic Hebrew.


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