Hebraism is the identification of a usage, trait, or characteristic of the Hebrew language. By successive extension
Synecdoche , meaning "simultaneous understanding") is a figure of speech in which a term is used in one of the following ways:* Part of something is used to refer to the whole thing , or...

 it is sometimes applied to the Jewish people
Hebrews is an ethnonym used in the Hebrew Bible...

, their faith
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, national ideology
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

, or culture
Secular Jewish culture
Secular Jewish culture embraces several related phenomena; above all, it is the international culture of secular communities of Jewish people, but it can also include the cultural contributions of individuals who identify as secular Jews...


Idiomatic Hebrew

There exist in the Hebrew language numerous idiomatic terms that don't translate easily to more widely used languages. To the extent those broader cultures rely for cultural meaning on Hebrew-language-based scriptures
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, those idioms sometimes prove puzzling.

Writer David Bivin gives examples of some difficult Hebrew idioms: "be'arba enayim, literally 'with four eyes,' means face to face without the presence of a third person, as in, 'The two men met with four eyes.' [The term] lo dubim ve lo ya'ar is literally '[There are] neither bears nor forest,' but means that something is completely false. And taman et yado batsalahat, 'buried his hand in the dish,' means that someone idles away his time."

Hebrew etymologies

The word Hebraism may also describe a word in another language that has Hebrew etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

. The word "Carob" is an English-language example of this etymology.

Several common-place phrases in English have Hebrew origins. Some examples are "The way of women," "Flowing with milk and honey," and "stiff-necked."

Distinctive language

Beyond simple etymology, both spoken and written Hebrew is marked by peculiar linguistic
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 elements that distinguish its semitic roots. These Hebraisms include: Word order, chiasmus
In rhetoric, chiasmus is the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted parallelism...

, compound prepositions, and numerous other distinctive features.

At least one writer finds Hebraisms in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, suggesting that the work was originally written in Hebrew, rather than Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, as others argue.

Systematic Hebraisms

Finally, the word Hebraism describes a quality, character, nature, or method of thought
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

, or system of religion
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 attributed to the Hebrew people
Hebrews is an ethnonym used in the Hebrew Bible...

. It is in this sense that Mathew Arnold (1869) contrasts Hebraism with Hellenism
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

. Feldman's response to Arnold expands on this usage.
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