a Northwest Semitic language that was the lingua franca throughout the Near East from c. 300 to c. 650: it replaced Hebrew as the language of the Jews, and one of its dialects was spoken by Jesus and his disciples
A Semitic language originally of the ancient Arameans but widely used by non-Aramean peoples throughout southwest Asia. Also called Aramean, Chaldean.
- A subfamily of languages in the Northwest Semitic language group including (but not limited to):
- The language of the Aramaeans from the tenth century BC: often called Old Aramaic.
- The language of the administration in the Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian empires from the seventh to fourth centuries BC: often called Imperial Aramaic or Official Aramaic.
- The language of portions of the Hebrew Bible, mainly the books of Ezra and Daniel: often called Biblical Aramaic.
- The language of Jesus of Nazareth: a form of Galilean Aramaic.
- The language of Jewish targums, Midrash and the Talmuds.
- The liturgical language of various Christian churches: often called Syriac.
- The liturgical language of the Mandaeans: usually called Mandaic.