Words in modern western languages generally have clear, precise and well-defined meanings. But this is not the case with ancient Semitic languages such as Aramaic or Hebrew. In these languages a word can hold twenty or even thirty interconnected meanings, all influencing and interpenetrating each other. The primary meaning of a word will depend on its context, but it always carries with it a wealth of implications. This is why it is so hard to translate the Scriptures into a modern language.
Here is a translation of the phrase ‘Our father who art in heaven’ straight from the Aramaic by the biblical scholar Neil Douglas-Klotz:
O Thou, the One from whom
breath enters being in
all radiant forms
O parent of the universe, from your
deep interior comes the next wave
of shining life
O fruitful nurturing Life-giver!
Your sound rings everywhere
throughout the cosmos.
Father-Mother who births unity,
You vibrate life into form
in each new instant.