Poetry translated into Aramaic, the Semitic Afro-Asian language of the Near East. A language very common in the early centuries (in Persia), there are still some dialectals groups in Syria and Lebanon. Aramaic was the language spoken in Jerusalem at the Christ epoch. Today the modern Aramaic has about 400,000 speakers and is on the verge of extinction. Its name comes from the Syrian region which is its cradle. It is a close relative of the Phoenician and the Hebrew, but it also presents some resemblances with Arabic. It is also characterized by a very rich vocabulary with many borrowings from Akkadian and Persian. This language has been the main language of the Middle East during many centuries, and that of the Persian Empire. It was the language of the ancient East until the conquest of Alexander. It is divided into two main branches: Western Aramaic (Samaritan etc.), and Eastern Aramaic (Syriac etc, and modern Aramaic languages).