Aramaic (air-eh-MAY-ik): a northwest Semitic language closely related to Hebrew and written in Hebrew letters. From about 300 B.C.E. to 650 C.E. Aramaic was the lingua franca of southwest Asia and the everyday language of Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia.

balsam (BALL-sehm) comes from the Greek word opobalsamon, which means “balsam sap.” The talmudic term “apharsamon” has been mistranslated in modern times as “persimmon.” The only relationship of today’s persimmon fruit (a name of Algonquian Indian origin) to balsam is the phonetic similarity of “apharsamon” and “persimmon.”