It was on this day, in 1930, that the New York Public School System first introduced Hebrew as a curriculum. This was not the first time Hebrew had been studied in America. The study of the Hebrew language had long been established in America, going back to colonial times. In fact, Harvard University taught Hebrew from its inception in 1636. At that time, Harvard University was in what was called the Massachusetts Bay Colony. For some time, many people in the colony felt that Hebrew should be the official language of the colony. Not too far from Harvard, in the Plymouth Plantation, Governor William Bradford espoused the notion that Hebrew was the language of the angels and of the Creator. The point is that, in the very early years of American history, Hebrew was an important component in the lives of many colonialists.
Personally, I don’t believe that this fascination with Hebrew was misspent. Hebrew is obviously the language God chose in order to reveal His Word to us, at least initially. Judaism is of the opinion that Hebrew is the language God used to speak the universe into existence. The prophet Zephaniah implies that Hebrew is the language God will restore to all of His people. He says:
“For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord.” (Zephaniah 3:9)
If He is going to restore a pure language to His people, that would infer the languages they currently speak are impure, in other words, they are mixed and mingled with other languages. It would imply that something happened in the past that caused the language they currently speak to become polluted and confused (see Genesis 11). The point is, if He is to restore to us a pure language, most of the languages spoken, today, cannot the one He intends to restore to His people. This is why I believe Zephaniah hints that God will restore to us the pure Hebrew language — the one He used to reveal His Word to His people. Furthermore, I believe that this is a very important aspect of the restoration of all things because, as Peter says in Acts 3, all things will be restored at the coming of the Messiah.
That being said, you don’t have to know Hebrew to appreciate the Scripture. I don’t believe that you have to know Hebrew to understand the depth of Scripture. I do believe that a basic knowledge of Hebrew enhances one’s study of the Scripture and, for this reason, it merits our attention. The fascination with the Hebrew language and customs we see being revived, today, is just another indicator that we are living in the times of the restoration of all things. And if we’re seeing these ancient things being restored, that’s another sign that the Messiah’s return is very close.