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גמרא מגילה יח עמוד א ____________ Gemara Megilla 18a

מיתיבי קראה גיפטית עברית עילמית מדית יוונית לא יצא

[The Gemara is discussing languages for reading the Megilla... It is taught in a baraita: If one read the Megilla in Coptic [Giptit], Ivrit, Elamite, Median, or Greek, he has not fulfilled his obligation.

הא לא דמיא אלא להא גיפטית לגיפטים עברית לעברים עילמית לעילמים יוונית ליוונים יצא

It was taught in a different baraita: If one reads the Megilla in Coptic to Copts, in Ivrit to Ivrim...he has fulfilled his obligation.

What language is called by the Gemara עברית / Ivrit and who were the עברים / Ivrim?

Suggested meaning:

Could the Gemara be reffering to languages like what is today known as "Yiddish"? Over the years of history, Jews in various countries have spoken a "Yiddish" version of the local language or of the language of their origin. One example of such a "Jewish language is LADINO.

"Jewish languages"

Jewish communities were dispersed around the world in the diaspora which followed the Jewish-Roman wars. Some adopted the languages of their neighbors, but many developed new varieties of these languages, collectively termed "Jewish languages".

  • The first few times I learned it, I had assumed it referred to Phoenician, but I never had a source for that. – DonielF May 28 '18 at 17:20
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Jastrow's dictionary (s.v. עברי) glosses עברית לעבריים as "an Aramaic translation read before Aramaean Jews."

Some explanation:

Abraham was called העברי because he came from the other side (עבר) of the river and spoke לשון עברי (Bereshit Rabba 42:8). "The other side of the river" refers to the northeast side of the Euphrates (as in Joshua 24:2). (The more common usage of "the other side" is the southwest side of the Euphrates, as in Ezra 4:16, because it comes from the perspective of someone situated on the northeast side.)

When the Talmud asks why Israel was exiled to Babylon (Pesachim 87b), one of the answers is that "their language (Aramaic) is close to the language of the Torah." Another answer is that "he sent them back to their mother's house" (according to Rashi, a reference to Abraham's origin from Ur of the Chaldeans). We can see from here that the people of Babylon were described as having spoken Aramaic, so that is likely the לשון עברי which Abraham was said to have spoken, and also the עברית in this barayta about reading the megilla in different languages.

Since Aramaic is usually referred to as ארמית (a quick search gives one attestation in the Mishnah in Shekalim 5:3), I imagine (just as speculation) that the word עברית might be used to distinguish the Aramaic spoken in Babylon from that spoken in the land of Israel (since that instance of ארמית refers explicitly to language used in the Temple, whereas עברית is clearly more related to עבר הנהר, i.e. the area beyond the Euphrates).

  • @b a Is there any record of Aramaic being spoken in Israel after the times of the Patriarchs? If not then the only Aramaic which still existed in the time of the Gemara was the Babylonian Aramaic, which, as you have pointed out, is probably NOT what IVRIT means. – RibbisRabbiAndMore May 28 '18 at 12:46
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    @RibbisRabbiAndMore How about the Aramaic of the Mishnah (בעקבות משיחא חוצפא יסגא) and Jerusalem Talmud? And I was pointing out the opposite, that עברית probably means Babylonian Aramaic as opposed to the Aramaic of the land of Israel – b a May 28 '18 at 12:50

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