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Aramaic is a Semitic language with a 3,000-year history. It has been the language of administration of empires and the language of divine worship. It is the original language of large sections of the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, and is the main language of the Talmud and Zohar. Aramaic was the native language of Jesus (see Aramaic of Jesus). Modern Aramaic is spoken today as a first language by numerous, scattered communities, most significantly by the Assyrians. The language is considered to be endangered.

Aramaic's long history and diverse and widespread use has led to the development of many divergent varieties, or dialects, of the language. Thus, there is no one Aramaic language, but each time and place has had its own variety.

Aramaic belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family. Within that diverse family, it belongs to the Semitic subfamily. Aramaic is a part of the Northwest Semitic group of languages, which also includes the Canaanite languages (such as Hebrew). It is also related to Arabic, being part of the more diverse Central Semitic languages. Aramaic script was widely adopted for other languages, and is ancestral to the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets.

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