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Pope, Israeli premier differ on security wall, Jesus' language

May 26, 2014

Pope Francis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disagreed openly on two topics during their meeting on May 26.

During an exchange observed by reporters, the Israeli leader mentioned that Jesus lived in Israel and spoke Hebrew. Gently correcting him, the Pope said: “Aramaic.” Netanyahu shot back: “He spoke Aramaic, but He knew Hebrew.” Jesus would undoubtedly have been familiar with Hebrew, the language of the Scriptures, but used Aramaic in ordinary conversation.

Netanyahu told reporters that he had spoken to Pope Francis about the security wall that runs through Palestinian territory, saying that the wall had saved lives by protecting people from terrorism. The Israeli leader’s comments were prompted by the dramatic gesture the Pope had made during his trip to Bethlehem, stopping to pray at the security wall. Netanyahu pointedly remarked that Christians as well as Jews had died in terrorist raids.

Pope Francis declined to respond to Netanyahu’s comment on the security wall until reporters had cleared the room and the two men were speaking privately.


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  • Posted by: normnuke - May. 27, 2014 2:50 PM ET USA

    The fact that Matthew felt the need to translate the Aramaic word 'raca' suggests gently and politely to me that Jesus preached in Koine.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - May. 26, 2014 9:20 PM ET USA

    I would really like to know what Pope Francis said in response to the PM's observation. It's hard to believe anyone doesn't think the wall prevented killings by terrorists. If security measures, even though they are a nuisance, are logical in this country after the attacks of 2001, why should Israelis be denied protection from attacks by those who vow to wipe them off the map?