September 21, 2020

Hebraic Jews and Grecian Jews


In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. Ac 6:1

According to Acts 6, there are Grecian Jews and Hebraic Jews. Let us find out who the Hebraic Jews and the Grecian Jews are respectively.

The Hebraic Jews are the Jews who speak Hebrew (Aramaic in the days of the early Church) and the Grecian Jews are those who speak Greek.

Aramaic and Jews

Around 600 B.C. the Jews were taken captive to Babylon, where they lived as slaves for 70 years. After they were defeated by the Babylonians, they began to speak Aramaic, the official language of the Babylonian empire, instead of the pure Hebrew of their ancestors. Even when they returned to Jerusalem, they continued to speak Aramaic and it was also used in the days of Jesus.

Jesus called Simon son of John “Cephas,” which means “rock” in Aramaic. When Jesus saved the daughter of the synagogue ruler in the region of the Gerasenes, He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which in Aramaic means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” Mary Magdalene called the risen Jesus “Rabboni,” which is also the Aramaic word for “teacher.” Besides these words, many other Aramaic words were used, such as Gethsemane (oil press) and Golgotha (place of the skull) which are the names of places.

Greek and Jews

Among the Jews who were taken captive to Babylon, many of them settled down in Gentile regions where they were living. They mainly spoke Aramaic, but they began to use Greek as the Greek language came into wide use after the expedition of Alexander the Great.

The Jews who were living in the Gentile regions formed their own community to retain their faith. They continued to gather in a specific place to study the law of Moses and teach it to the people, and later it developed into the synagogue.

When some of them returned to Canaan, the land of their ancestors, there were only a small number of Jews who spoke Greek, because most of them spoke Aramaic.

In the days of the early Church, the majority of the Church members were Aramaic-speaking, Hebraic Jews, while only a minority of them were Greek-speaking, Grecian Jews.

At that time, there was a custom to help widows in need. As the widows of the Grecian Jews were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food, there rose a complaint on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the Hebrew-speaking Jews. This happened because the apostles were unable to take good of the financial affairs of the church and of the widows in need, as a result of devoting themselves fully to the preaching of the gospel.

So, they chose from among them seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and entrusted them with the finances and all other affairs of the church, and they began to work even harder to preach the gospel (Ac 6:1-7).