Hebrew belongs to the semitic languages and developed as an independent language of the Israelites around the year 1200 BC.

After the Babylonian captivity the Aramic language started to replace Hebrew as the spoken language. Later parts of the Tenach, the book Daniel and the book Ezra also were written for an important part in Aramic. In rabbi schools Hebrew remained in use (the so-called Misjna-Hebrew) until around 200, when it was replaced by Aramic there as well.

As a literary language Hebrew was preserved in later centuries. Texts on ceremonial objects and tombstones and parts ot the documents of the Jewish communities were written in Hebrew. The birth of the zionist movement around the end of the nineteenth century went hand in hand with a revival of the ancient language, because of idealistic motivations but also because it was the only language Jews in the diaspora had in common. In Israel modern Hebrew, or Ivrit is the national language.

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