Hebrew is one of the world’s ancient languages, although there was a period in which it nearly ceased to exist in written form. The Hebrew language is the primary tongue for Israelites and Jewish people all over the world. There are currently almost 10 million Hebrew speakers in the world, with the vast majority residing in Israel and surrounding regions. The nation of Poland recognizes Hebrew as one of the main secondary languages in that country. There are several hundred thousand speakers in the United States also, and a few in both Canada and Great Britain.
Officially, Hebrew and Arabic are both considered official languages in the nation of Israel. There are a few different dialects of Hebrew depending on how/where/when it is/was used. They include, according to Wikipedia:
- Archaic Biblical Hebrew is represented by specific texts in the Hebrew Bible. Also called Old Hebrew or Paleo-Hebrew, it was written in a form of the Canaanite script, a derivative of which is still spoken by the Samaritan people today.
- Standard Biblical Hebrew is represented by much of what we know as the Hebrew Bible. Also called Biblical Hebrew, Early Biblical Hebrew, Classical Biblical Hebrew, or Classical Hebrew.
- Late Biblical Hebrew is represented by certain texts in the Hebrew Bible and similar to Classical Biblical Hebrew, aside from a few foreign words adopted for mainly governmental terms and some syntactical innovations. Modern Hebrew script comes from Imperial Aramaic script.
- Israelian Hebrew is a proposed northern dialect of Biblical Hebrew and in some cases competes with late Biblical Hebrew as an explanation for non-standard linguistic features of Biblical texts.
- Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew is represented by the Qumran Scrolls that form most (but not all) of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Commonly abbreviated as DSS Hebrew, also called Qumran Hebrew.
- Mishnaic is represented by the bulk of the Mishnah and Tosefta within the Talmud and by the Dead Sea Scrolls. Also called Tannaitic Hebrew or Early Rabbinic Hebrew.