Off the charts with popularity, the Geico ad campaigns make everyone chuckle. My favorite is the caveman series, “So Easy a Caveman Can Do It.”
Hebrew, one of the most ancient languages on the planet, is so easy a caveman can speak it. In fact, maybe they did.
As a Semitic language (deriving from Noah’s son Shem), Hebrew is specific to the Jewish people and can be traced back about 4000 years. Rudimentary forms of Hebrew are rooted in an ancient Canaanite language and used by the Jewish nation before the Babylonian Exile up to the sixth century before Yeshua.
Classical or Biblical Hebrew developed later and was used to write the Torah and Biblical texts as well as legal documents, letters, important papers, and poetry. It was the spoken language in Palestine until the third-century before Yeshua.
Around the time of the Roman occupation, Jews spoke Aramaic. Although not spoken, Hebrew continued to be the written language for the Biblical and other important texts.
A visionary named Eliezer ben Yehuda, born in Lithuania in 1858, had a dream to resurrect the Hebrew language. He joined another man’s vision, Theodor Herzl, who some twenty years earlier believed that Jews should return to Palestine and make it their homeland. The dreams of these two men took flight.
Eliezer ben Yehuda moved to Palestine and started a Hebrew newspaper where each week he introduced a new Hebrew word. He spent 50 years compiling a modern-day Hebrew dictionary, working with the old Hebrew roots and coining modern words. After much ridicule and years of hard work, ben Yehuda’s vision became a reality. By 1913 teachers in Palestine spoke and taught in Hebrew in the Jewish schools.
Jews from all over the world began to flock to Palestine and made it their homeland, calling it Israel; and they spoke Hebrew on the streets, in the schools, and in their homes. It is a modern-day miracle, breathed on by the Holy Spirit, and a direct fulfillment of the Isaiah 11:12: “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
In 1948 Israel became a sovereign state, recognized by the United Nations; and Hebrew became the official language of Israel. Today fifteen million people speak Hebrew around the world, and seven million people speak it in Israel.
Hebrew is both ancient and modern. The alphabet is comprised of 22 symbols for consonants and only small “jots and tittles” below the words to mark the vowel sounds. An fluent speaker does not need the vowel markings to read. Hebrew-speakers love the richest terms expressed in the easiest mode. Many words are formed by compounding words and adding prefixes and suffixes. Although guttural, Hebrew is very poetic in sound when the feminine and masculine forms of the nouns, adjectives, and verbs are in agreement.
Hebrew is so easy a caveman can do it because God knew that Jews from all over the world would return to Israel someday and need to learn Hebrew rapidly to make a cohesive, vibrant society. And they have done it-from the Russian babushkas to the French businessmen to the American youths! They have done it!