A name applied to the Israelites in Scripture only by one who is “a foreigner (Gen. 39:14, 17; 41:12, etc.), or by the Israelites” “when they speak of themselves to foreigners (40:15; Ex. 1:19),” or when spoken of an contrasted with other peoples (Gen. 43:32; “Ex. 1:3, 7, 15; Deut. 15:12). In the New Testament there is the” same contrast between Hebrews and foreigners (Acts 6:1; Phil. 3:5). “Derivation. (1.) The name is derived, according to some, from “Eber (Gen. 10:24), the ancestor of Abraham. The Hebrews are” sons of Eber (10:21). “(2.) Others trace the name of a Hebrew root-word signifying “to “pass over,” and hence regard it as meaning “the man who passed” “over,” viz., the Euphrates; or to the Hebrew word meaning “the” “region” or “country beyond,” viz., the land of Chaldea. This” latter view is preferred. It is the more probable origin of the designation given to Abraham coming among the Canaanites as a man from beyond the Euphrates (Gen. 14:13). “(3.) A third derivation of the word has been suggested, viz., “that it is from the Hebrew word ‘abhar, “to pass over,” whence” “‘ebher, in the sense of a “sojourner” or “passer through” as” “distinct from a “settler” in the land, and thus applies to the” condition of Abraham (Heb. 11:13).
“The language of the Hebrew nation, and that in which the Old” “Testament is written, with the exception of a few portions in” “Chaldee. In the Old Testament it is only spoken of as “Jewish” “(2 Kings 18:26, 28; Isa. 36:11, 13; 2 Chr 32:18). This name is” first used by the Jews in times subsequent to the close of the Old Testament. “It is one of the class of languages called Semitic, because they were chiefly spoken among the descendants of Shem. “When Abraham entered Canaan it is obvious that he found the language of its inhabitants closely allied to his own. Isaiah “(19:18) calls it “the language of Canaan.” Whether this” “language, as seen in the earliest books of the Old Testament,” “was the very dialect which Abraham brought with him into Canaan,” or whether it was the common tongue of the Canaanitish nations “which he only adopted, is uncertain; probably the latter opinion” is the correct one. For the thousand years between Moses and the Babylonian exile the Hebrew language underwent little or no modification. It preserves all through a remarkable uniformity of structure. From the first it appears in its full maturity of “development. But through intercourse with Damascus, Assyria, and” “Babylon, from the time of David, and more particularly from the” “period of the Exile, it comes under the influence of the Aramaic” “idiom, and this is seen in the writings which date from this” period. It was never spoken in its purity by the Jews after their return from Babylon. They now spoke Hebrew with a large “admixture of Aramaic or Chaldee, which latterly became the” predominant element in the national language. “The Hebrew of the Old Testament has only about six thousand “words, all derived from about five hundred roots. Hence the same” word has sometimes a great variety of meanings. So long as it “was a living language, and for ages after, only the consonants” of the words were written. This also has been a source of “difficulty in interpreting certain words, for the meaning varies” according to the vowels which may be supplied. The Hebrew is one of the oldest languages of which we have any knowledge. It is essentially identical with the Phoenician language. (See MOABITE “STONE.) The Semitic languages, to which class the Hebrew” “and Phoenician belonged, were spoken over a very wide area: in” “Babylonia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Arabia, in all the” “countries from the Mediterranean to the borders of Assyria, and” from the mountains of Armenia to the Indian Ocean. The rounded “form of the letters, as seen in the Moabite stone, was probably” that in which the ancient Hebrew was written down to the time of “the Exile, when the present square or Chaldean form was adopted.”
“(Acts 6:1) were the Hebrew-speaking Jews, as distinguished from” those who spoke Greek. (See GREEKS.)
(1.) Its canonicity. All the results of critical and historical research to which this epistle has been specially subjected abundantly vindicate its right to a place in the New Testament canon among the other inspired books. “(2.) Its authorship. A considerable variety of opinions on this subject has at different times been advanced. Some have “maintained that its author was Silas, Paul’s companion. Others” “have attributed it to Clement of Rome, or Luke, or Barnabas, or” “some unknown Alexandrian Christian, or Apollos; but the” “conclusion which we think is best supported, both from internal” “and external evidence, is that Paul was its author. There are,” “no doubt, many difficulties in the way of accepting it as” Paul’s; but we may at least argue with Calvin that there can be “no difficulty in the way of “embracing it without controversy as” “one of the apostolical epistles.” “(3.) Date and place of writing. It was in all probability “written at Rome, near the close of Paul’s two years'” “imprisonment (Heb. 13:19, 24). It was certainly written before” the destruction of Jerusalem (13:10). “(4.) To whom addressed. Plainly it was intended for Jewish “converts to the faith of the gospel, probably for the church at” “Jerusalem. The subscription of this epistle is, of course,” “without authority. In this case it is incorrect, for obviously” Timothy could not be the bearer of it (13:23). “(5.) Its design was to show the true end and meaning of the “Mosaic system, and its symbolical and transient character. It” “proves that the Levitical priesthood was a “shadow” of that of” “Christ, and that the legal sacrifices prefigured the great and” all-perfect sacrifice he offered for us. It explains that the “gospel was designed, not to modify the law of Moses, but to” “supersede and abolish it. Its teaching was fitted, as it was” “designed, to check that tendency to apostatize from Christianity” and to return to Judaism which now showed itself among certain Jewish Christians. The supreme authority and the transcendent “glory of the gospel are clearly set forth, and in such a way as” to strengthen and confirm their allegiance to Christ. “(6.) It consists of two parts: (a) doctrinal (1-10:18), (b) and practical (10:19-ch. 13). There are found in it many references to portions of the Old Testament. It may be regarded as a treatise supplementary to the Epistles to the Romans and “Galatians, and as an inspired commentary on the book of” Leviticus.