As a traditionalist, I believe that the books of Scripture were written largely as we now have them-- when it comes to the Torah itself, I believe that it is an essential belief that this is the Torah as dictated by God to our Master Moses. While Talmudic sources already concede that there likely have been slight errors in transmission, it is part of my understanding of the faith commitment of Judaism that we believe the Torah is fundamentally the same Torah as given to Moses (at Sinai or, perhaps, starting at Sinai and being completed just before his death on the edge of the Jordan river).
As for other books of Scripture, some have Aramaic elements to them-- those were written that way-- and some do not. But, as far as I know it, the language in which we have them is the language in which they were conveyed by God to those authors who wrote them.
The Torah, which is the first and most sacred portion of the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, was indeed originally written in Hebrew. Aramaic was the colloquial language spoken by Jews both in Babylonia and Israel in the centuries surrounding the dawn of the first millennium. The first Aramaic translation of the Torah is attributed to Onkelos, a 1st century convert to Judaism.
The sections of the Hebrew Bible following the Torah, namely the Prophets and Writings, are also considered holy texts, yet to a slightly lesser degree than the Torah itself. This is because the Torah is the only book (or set of books) which is uniquely designated as revealed by God at Mt. Sinai. The remaining books of the Hebrew Bible are holy writ, traditionally understood to be authored by prophets and wise sages rather than unmediated revelation by God. Interestingly, however, part of the Book of Daniel is actually written in Aramaic and some speculate whether it was all originally written in Aramaic. One other interesting note is that next to the Torah, the Book of Psalms is the most popular biblical book among Jews, for 58 of the 150 psalms are found in Jewish prayer and are commonly sung and memorized. Finally, after the Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic literature, including the Mishnah, Midrash, and Talmud occupy the next layer of sacred literature for Jews.
Your question also compels me to address authorship. In Conservative Judaism, the authorship of the Hebrew Bible is a complicated topic that bears deep study beyond this response. For our purposes here, I will simply state that Conservative Judaism affirms what many believe is an untenable paradox. That is to say, Conservative Judaism affirms the sacred value and validity of the Hebrew Bible, while simultaneously supporting and utilizing modern biblical criticism. Modern biblical criticism assumes that the entire Bible was written by human authors and must be understood within its original cultural and historical contexts.
In order to gain perspective about genuine Jewish views of the Torah, however, let me end with a wise, guiding quote: The Torah is not holy because it is the last word, but because it is the first word of Judaism which reveals the direction of its moral thrust (Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis).
Question: “Was the Torah originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic? What are your/Jewish beliefs on the other books written after the Torah?”
From what we understand, the original composers of the Torah wrote in a paleo-Hebrew alphabet, but the language was Hebrew. Hebrew originally belonged to the languages spoken by the ancient Canaanite peoples, which were part of the Northwest Semitic family of languages. Aramaic became the language of the people – the ‘language of the street,’ as it were – in the later years of the first millennium BCE. And although there are Aramaic expressions in the Torah (a result of it being redacted in a period of time – 500 – 300 BCE) when Aramaic was becoming common, the main language of the Torah was Hebrew.
As far as the other books of the Bible are concerned, they are written primarily in Hebrew with smatterings of other languages, such as Egyptian (the Egyptian name of Joseph from the book of Genesis) and Aramaic (most prominent in the book of Daniel). The fact that we find Aramaic in the Torah might indicate a later editing than the events recorded there, signifying that the Torah was not completed until long after the events related in that book.
For our information: Jews do not consider the collection of Jewish holy books called the Apocrypha as part of the Hebrew bible, as do Catholics and Protestants; the Hebrew bible was codified by the year 100 CE, and it was determined that these books should not be included in the canon. Many of the books in this collection are written in Greek, and this may or may not have been the reason that the books did not become part of the Bible.
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