In the modern linguistic school of thought, are Ancient Hebrew and Ancient Greek related? Hebrew is classified as Afroasiatic->Semitic, while Greek is Indo-European->Hellenic. However, in Jewish tradition, they are considered related.

A Sefer Torah (special scroll with the 5 Books of Moses) is allowed to be written in Greek, due to being able to translate it perfectly. (See answer to this question; see my question here about if it was ever done.) However, this Greek that was mentioned is an extinct language (per Maimonides, mentioned in the question).

The Talmud occasionally makes references to Greek words in interpreting Biblical verses as well. I don't have specific examples right now, but i know they exist.

Is this view shared by modern linguists?

Related: Is Classical Hebrew an Indo-European language? and Can Modern Hebrew be considered an Indo-European language?

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    One verse with a few Greek words is Daniel 3:5 for the instruments, e.g. the kithara. Interestingly, at least one commentary cites the argument that this suggests the inauthenticity of Daniel, though I don't think that's commonly believed now. Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 13:18
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    But kithara is considered a pre-Greek word (i.e., A loan word in proto-Greek from an unknown other language). Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 13:45
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    @jknappen I don't know the history much myself - I just know that verse is often written about as having Greek instruments with names that look like transliterations and don't appear elsewhere in the Bible. Perhaps the commentaries are wrong, though. Actually, Barnes goes on to agree with your point: "That such names are found given to instruments of music by the Greeks is certain; but it is not certain from where they obtained the name." Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 14:01
  • Can we protect this question? The amount of low quality answers is astounding.
    – dROOOze
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 13:44

4 Answers 4


You are using related in two different senses.

When linguists refer to languages being related, they almost always mean "genetically related" - stemming ultimately from the same linguistic source. Most linguists today do not regard Hebrew and Greek as genetically related, but there is a respectable minority who believe that we can trace relationship further back than Afro-Asiatic and Indo-European to a superphylum, such as Nostratic, or Eurasiatic, depending on the particular theory. In those linguists' conception, Hebrew and Greek are related, but very distantly, in the way that a horse and a fly are very distantly related.

Whatever kind of relationship the Jewish tradition talks about it is nothing like the linguistic conception of genetic relationship. It sounds from your account that it is something to do with suitability for use in particular contexts. Such a concept is purely a product of thinking about languages and not about their innate or historical properties, whereas the idea genetic relationship is predicated on there being an objective historical relationship, that of common descent.

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    My guess is that the notion of suitability in question could also have to do with the status of Greek as a highly developed literary language and in particular with the availability of translations for all relevant Hebrew words -- or at least an established process for coining new Hebrew-based words in Greek. (But this is just a semi-educated guess based on superficial knowledge.)
    – user4938
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 11:56
  • This framing of common descent (i.e. the same parents, not just some shared ancestors) leads to various problems, first of all the assumption of a (necessarily small) unique Proto Indo European homeland, which stands in contrast with many if not most existing languages that are an amalgamation of various language dialects. Why is English noted as a Germanic language, but does use do inflationary, a manner it took on from Celtic!?
    – vectory
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 6:42
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    @vectory: because do-support is notable specifically because borrowings from Celtic into English (especially grammatical borrowings) are so rare.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 23:42
  • @vectory or people who claim that English is a Scandinavian/North Germanic language because it uses a word order that is closer to modern Danish than modern German. In reality this is because Old English came under heavy linguistic influence from Old Norse due to Viking colonization in the British Isles. Commented May 1, 2019 at 19:29

The Indo-Semitic hypothesis maintains that a genetic relationship exists between Indo-European and Semitic and that the Indo-European and the Semitic language families descend from a prehistoric language ancestral to them both. The theory has never been widely accepted by contemporary linguists in modern times, but historically it has had a number of supporting advocates and arguments, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries.


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    People can hypothesize anything, though; is there any real evidence for this one? I don't know any current linguists who actually believe in "Nostratic".
    – Draconis
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 3:11
  • @Draconis There are at least a few en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nostratic_languages#21st_century en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_R._Bomhard
    – b a
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 12:17
  • Welcome to the site, Sorb! Please edit your answer with some content, posting a link and adding a quote from the link is not really a useful answer.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Apr 6, 2019 at 12:05

I don't know maybe in the letters. Alef= Alph(a) (ph and f make same the sound) bet= bet(a) Gimmel= Gamm(a) Dalef= Delt(a) Heh= Epsilon ? Vav= Upsilon? Zayin= Zeta ? Chet= Et(A) Tet= Thet(a) yod= iot(a) (d to t to d iod(a)) Yoda :). Kaf= Kapp(a) ( f and ph f and p make the same sounds) Lamed= Lambd(a) Mem= Mu Nun= Nu Samech =Xi? Ayin= Omicron? Peh= Pi or Phi Rho= Resh (no sh sound in Greek also so Reh) Sigma= Shin Tau= Tav Psi= Tsadeh? Chi and Omega?

So also transliteration. If you notice this letter are identical I put the (a) so to show how to Bet and just add an "a" Beta. I put questions because some are not as similar, but shin is transliterated sigma in Greek. Well, maybe the alphabet or alef-bet see it is similar. So I know of people who teach Biblical Hebrew and Greek, well on Facebook one Izzy Avraham and one of his lessons showed how Greek was familiar with Hebrew in letters. Then How even the Latin alphabet was familiar with Hebrew. I mean you can see it on Youtube.

Then another thing notice how in Hebrew Chet is also Het but in Frankish the name Childeric so it is really Hildr then how Charles is Karl it seems to be similar to Chet. Then how I and J in Old Norse are pronounced like y like Jorvic is Yorvic or York. Sorry of the topic I don't know but anyone can see there are similarities in the names of these letters.

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    They both use alphabets originating in the Phoenician alphabet. That does not tell us much about the languages themselves. Our Latin script then originates from the same via the Greek alphabet. Commented Aug 18, 2019 at 18:00
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    As Vladimir F says, both the Greek and the Hebrew writing systems are descended from the Phoenician abjad (a sort of consonant-only alphabet). That's why the letter names are similar. Unfortunately, this doesn't tell us anything about the relationship of the languages themselves; Swahili, Nahuatl, and English are all written in the same alphabet, for example, but there's no genetic relationship between those languages (at least as far back as current methods can reconstruct).
    – Draconis
    Commented Aug 18, 2019 at 20:09

Allow me. Greek is actually called Hellenic and the name of the country is call Hellas or actually hEllas (h substituted an ancient toning system of middle ages). Ελλάς is made of El and las ie the land/nation of El. Sounds too Hebrew?

Hebrew is found in Bible yet it also has its Greek word HObreos that became Hebreoos. Again the H is a tone. Obrios Οβριος was actually means “the above waters sent by Zeus” as Dias the ....God of gods in mythology was the god that gave the flood and the living rain. Sounds too Greek?

Equally main Greek words like truth , αλήθεια al-ethos combines the divine Semitic Lamda aleph and Greek ethos which means both «the appearance or the character “ So for Hellenic alethia/truth means the appearance of the divinity or the ethics of El. Even sacred words and mysteries (ELefsinean) use L even the Sun in Greek is Helios ie El-ios where again Semitic L comes as the light.

Bottom line is Greek and Hebrew have too many things in common that modern nationalist linguistics do not want to either admit or mention as if we are two different people. We are not. We are more connected that one can today imagine.

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    Do you have any credible source to support what you are saying? This is not something that is being tought in universities.
    – Midas
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 20:35
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    I don't know why you say /h/ was a tone. It was a consonant like any other, which is clear from prefix mutation and Grassmann's Law. Hellēn comes from a pre-Greek source but you'd need more evidence than two letters to claim it was from Hebrew, especially since those two letters come right in the middle. And you're mixing up your Greek letters: alētheia has an eta, as in lēthē, while ethos has an epsilon.
    – Draconis
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 21:52
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    Similarly, you're claiming Hellēn with an epsilon, alētheia with an alpha, and hēlios with an eta all come from Semitic el. In other words, you seem to be claiming that having literally any vowel followed by lambda is evidence of a relationship with Hebrew. Would you say English "alone", "olive", "bell", "tile" prove that English is related to Hebrew?
    – Draconis
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 21:54
  • @Draconis, can lengthening of epsilon to eta, or vice versa, not be explained with metrics, stress, prosody and the like? With further reconstruction, most vowels are represented as PIE *e anyhow, later vowels rather reflecting the ominous laryngeals, also semivowels, and I don't know what other processes.
    – vectory
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 17:23
  • @ΑθανάσιοςΚαπράλος it would be much more agreeable to assume that it's just well difficult. Roots like el- are just too short and too frequent for a simple analysis. I could as well propose that it relates to ile (island) given the many islands of Greece, especially crete. And I have at least two other derivations in the back of my mind. I wouldn't count on folk names deriving from a single source, because they are prone for glorifying folk etymology. That makes it extraordinarily opaque. Assume phonetic consonant lengthening for /l/ and you are left with he or just e.
    – vectory
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 17:39

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