Did You Know?
What language did Jesus speak?
Scholars disagree as to what language Jesus spoke. However, as a man on earth, it appears that Jesus could well have used a form of Hebrew and a dialect of Aramaic. When Jesus came to Nazareth in Galilee and entered the synagogue there, he read from the prophecy of Isaiah, evidently as written in Hebrew. Nothing is said about Jesus’ translating this passage into Aramaic.—Luke 4:16-21.
Concerning languages used in Palestine when Jesus Christ was on earth, Professor G. Ernest Wright states: “Greek and Aramaic were evidently the common tongues . . . Roman soldiers and officials might be heard conversing in Latin, while orthodox Jews may well have spoken a late variety of Hebrew with one another.” No wonder the sign that Pilate had posted on Jesus’ torture stake was written in three languages—Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.—John 19:20.
Alan Millard in his book Discoveries From the Time of Jesus says: “In the course of their daily duties the Roman governors certainly spoke Greek, and Jesus may have answered Pilate’s questions at his trial in Greek.” Although the Bible does not indicate whether this was the case, it is interesting to note that there is no mention of an interpreter being used for this conversation.—John 18:28-40.
According to Professor Wright, “we have no certain way of knowing whether [Jesus] could speak Greek or Latin, but in his teaching ministry he regularly used either Aramaic or the highly Aramaized popular Hebrew.”—Biblical Archaeology, 1962, page 243.
How large were the temple stones in Jerusalem?
When talking to Jesus about the temple in Jerusalem, the disciples said: “Teacher, see! what sort of stones and what sort of buildings!” (Mark 13:1) Just how large were some of those stones?
By the time that Jesus was on earth, King Herod had doubled the size of the Temple Mount as compared to that of Solomon’s time. It was the largest man-made platform in the ancient world, measuring about 1,575 feet [480 m] by 910 feet [280 m]. Some of the building stones, or ashlars, reportedly were 35 feet [11 m] long, 15 feet [5 m] wide, and 10 feet [3 m] high. A few weighed more than 50 tons each. One even weighed close to 400 tons and was “unequaled in size anywhere in the ancient world,” according to one scholar.
In reply to his disciples’ statement, Jesus said: “Do you behold these great buildings? By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.” (Mark 13:2) Many of these huge stones can still be seen lying where they landed after being pried loose and pushed down by Roman soldiers in 70 C.E.
[Picture on page 26]
Temple stones thrown down outside the temple mount, Jerusalem