How the Hebrew Language Grew
March 10, 2013
Author Edward Horowitz
Publisher KTAV Publishing
Publication Date 1993
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
I admit it: I got distracted by other life demands and didn’t get past page 50 of this book, but I really liked what I read, and it seems like a great resource for someone interested in the Hebrew language.
I began How the Hebrew Language Grew in order to get some historical perspective on Hebrew. And I did. In it I read, “Hebrew gradually ceased being a spoken language after 70 C.E., when the Jews were driven from the land of Israel by the Romans and were scattered throughout the world.” The author, Edward Horowitz, explains that it continued to be used as “the language of prayer, study, reading the Torah, and correspondence.”
Then, he continues, around 1880, “a young man was inspired with a vision that Hebrew could once again live as a spoken language.” The man was Eliezer ben Yehudah, who went to Israel to work.
“At first,” writes Horowitz, “he was thought an idle dreamer, but slowly and surely, something of the fire that burned within him spread to his friends and neighbors, and to wider and wider circles, until in a few years almost all Jews in Israel were speaking Hebrew. One of the greatest miracles of all modern times had come to pass. This was the very first time in all human history that a language which ceased being spoken in ancient times, came back to life on the lips of men and women and little children.”
I love when writers are passionate about their topic and when they don’t bury the allure of their subject in academic jargon.
You will enjoy and get much more out of How the Hebrew Language Grew if you are at least an advanced beginner and can read the language, because there are numerous Hebrew examples—and even exercises, too!