Aramaic Compared to Hebrew
The two languages are related (both are Northwest Semtic languages) and eventually shared a script. Hebrew, prior to the exile used its own script called Paleo-Hebrew. It was still used afterwards in isolated places and instances, but what we now call Aramaic Square replaced it for the most part. Though they share many common words and large pieces of grammar (noun states are the same and verbal stems are similar), there are differences.
- The definite article changes. In Hebrew, the definite article is prefixed to the noun as a he. In Aramaic, the definite article is attached to the end of the noun as an aleph.
- Aramaic has a particle "diy" that can be used in at least 5 ways (Hebrew does not use this until postexilic times and even then rarely).
- To mark the genitive - Daniel 4:23 "roots of the tree."
- As a particle of relation (who, which, that) - Dan 2:24 "whom the king had appointed."
- As the conjunction "as"- Dan 4:23 "And as it was commanded...".
- To function as opening quotation marks - Dan 2:24 "Said to him, 'I found...".
- As an idiom - Dan 2:29 "whatever will be".
- Aramaic uses "l" in 3 ways.
- As a preposition, "to, for" - Dan 3:20 "to the furnance."
- To mark the infinitive - Dan 3:20 "ordered to bind...".
- As the mark of the accusative - Dan 3:20 "to bind Shadrack." (Yes, it gets a lot of use in that verse.)
- Aramaic can use "diy" and "l" to mark that part of a construct chain is indefinite (in Biblical Hebrew, such a chain must be either all definite or all indefinite). Dan 6:15 "Remember, O King, that a law of the Medes and Persians.. does not change." The "a" comes from law being indefinite even though Medes and Persians is not (by definition, even without the article). However, the "l" prefixed to Medes tells us that the first part is not definite.
- The participle can be used in Aramaic in ways that Hebrew does not.
- With immediate future meaning "about to" Dan 4:22 "About to be driven."
- As a 'past tense' — very common in the phrase "answered and said."
- There are letter changes. Hebrew words with "sh" will often appear in Aramaic spelt with a "t." For example, Daniel 5:25 contains "mene, mene, teqel upharsin." "teqel" is the Aramaic spelling of "sheqel."