A couple of years ago I started to learn Biblical Hebrew - I still only know the very basics. Lately I've been starting to learn Arabic.
Often when I learn a new word in Arabic, I notice that it is cognate with a Hebrew word that I've already been exposed to. For example, "al-Kitab" and "Ketovim" (the book, books). This happens so often that I'm starting to get suspicious that the two languages are actually dialects of the same language.
On the other hand, I heard that phenomena such as syncretism and cultural influences cause languages to change greatly over even a few centuries. Based on two assumptions/observations -
Modern Arabic is supposed to be close to Classical Arabic, perhaps due in part to the cultural influence of the Quran
Hebrew was dead as a vernacular language between the 4th and 19th century. Modern Hebrew has dropped the distinction between certain tenses or inflections which are separate in Biblical Hebrew
My question - is Modern Hebrew still closer to Biblical Hebrew than is Modern Arabic?
And if the answer is the obvious - "yes" - then, can we salvage the question and ask, is there any significant way in which learning Arabic would benefit a hypothetical student of Biblical Hebrew, who already knows Modern Hebrew?