Online Encyclopedia

CHALDEE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V05, Page 805 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CHALDEE, a term sometimes applied to the Aramaic portions of the biblical books of Ezra and Daniel or to the vernacular paraphrases of the Old Testament (see TARGUM). The explanation formerly adopted and embodied in the name Chaldee is that the change took place in Babylon. That the so-called Biblical Chaldee, in which considerable portions of the books of Ezra and Daniel are written, was really the language of Babylon was supposed to be dear from Dan. ii. 4, where the Chaldaeans are said to have spoken to the king in Aramaic. But the cuneiform inscriptions show that the language of the Chaldaeans was Assyrian; and an examination of the very large part of the Hebrew Old Testament written later than the exile proves conclusively that the substitution of Aramaic for Hebrew as the vernacular of Palestine took place very gradually. Hence scholars are now agreed that the term " Chaldee " is a misnomer, and that the dialect so called is really the language of the South-Western Arameans, who were the immediate neighbours of the Jews (W. Wright, Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Languages, p. 16). (See SEMITIC LANGUAGES.)
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