There is little consensus for the etymology of "ivrit." And I can find no discussion as to the potential connection between "ivrit" and "berit", and more closely, "livrit," as found in Gen 17:7.

The word "ivrit" is used mean the hebrew language. The biblical term "berit", rendered as "livrit", "for a covenant" in Genesis 17:7 is unusually close to the term "ivrit" for hebrew language.

Is there an acknowledged connection known between these terms "ivrit" and "livrit" (berit)?

1 Answer 1


לִבְרִית (livrit) is the noun בְּרִית (b(ə)rit) 'covenant, alliance' with the preposition לִ (l-) 'to, for', so לִבְרִית (livrit) means 'to/for covenant, to/for alliance' and corresponds to the English 'for an everlasting covenant' in King James Version Gen. 17:7. The letter ב is pronounced as [b] at the beginning of the word and as [v] inside the word. The [b] reading is marked with a dagesh, a dot inside the letter בּ in the word b(ə)rit.

The word עִבְרִית‎ (ivrit) comes from עֵבֶר‎ (ʻéver) 'Eber', the ancestor of the Israelites. Probably related to עָבַר‎ (ʻavár, “to cross”), from the crossing of the river Euphrates or Jordan to Canaan. עֵבֶר‎ (ʻéver) 'Eber' has the root ע־ב־ר‎ (ʻ-b-r) meaning 'to pass, to cross'.

In Hebrew, as it is usual in a Semitic language, the root of the verb consists of consonants only, vowels are inserted between those consonants to make different forms of the word. Since in בְּרִית (b(ə)rit) the first root consonant is ב (b) and in עִבְרִית (ivrit) the first root consonant is ע (ʻ) – that is a pharyngeal Semitic consonant which is not pronounced now by most Modern Hebrew speakers, – we see that the two words have different roots, so they are not related.

  • 5
    More accurately, Ivrit ('iḇriṯ) is traditionally derived from ʻéḇer. There's no evidence that such a person ever existed. But the more important point is that Ivrit and Ever begin with 'ayin, a pharyngeal consonant which is not present in livrit. This sound has disappeared in European Jewish traditions, and so also for most Hebrew speakers in Israel. But historically (and still for some) it was present.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 20, 2020 at 20:43
  • "probably [I don't know] ... we see that [I have no idea]" poof, it's nothing
    – vectory
    Jul 24, 2020 at 3:01

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