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Why did the Gospel writer indicate the Aramaic words of Jesus?

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.  Mark 5:40-42

After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.  Mark 7:33-35

            The people of Jesus’ time spoke three languages:

1.      Greek, a universal language left over from the Greek empire, which lasted from the time Alexander the Great defeated Egypt in 331 BC to Rome defeating Greece in 146 BC.  The New Testament was written in Greek, a more stripped down, common Greek called Koine Greek.

2.      Hebrew, spoken by the Jews in Israel, was a cultural language, used in their temple and the synagogues by the elite Jewish class.  The Old Testament was written in Hebrew.

3.      Aramaic, the local common language. 

Aramaic dates back to the Old Testament, as early as 2 Kings 18.  The Assyrians spoke the language and apparently some Jews understood while others only understood Hebrew.  In Ezra, during the reign of the Persians, the king wrote a letter in Aramaic.  By the time of Jesus, Aramaic hung on as the street language.

The New Testament writers wrote in Greek but some sayings by Jesus the Gospel writers quoted in the Aramaic, because of the power of the words.  Talitha koum means “get up little girl” and shows Jesus’ compassion for this little child.  The writers felt the Aramaic expressed something the Greek language did not.