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Biblical Hebrew is more than a language, it’s the key that opens the door to a new world of meaning, shedding light on the sacred accounts we thought we knew.
Every search for meaning starts with the basics; the first few lessons of our beginner’s course are dedicated to acquiring the Hebrew Alphabet and main vowels. From this point, we read the Bible verses together, discussing the hidden insights which Hebrew reveals, using the grammar as a guide. Our expert teachers give you essential tools to gain a deeper understanding of Scripture.
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Welcome! After introducing ourselves, we will start to learn about the history of the Hebrew alphabet. We will discuss its relationship with the Latin alphabet and learn our first 8 Hebrew letters.
In our second lesson we will continue to learn about the Hebrew alphabet and cover the rest of it. At the end of the lesson we will be able to recognize all 23 of the Hebrew letters.
After learning the letters and consonants we will begin to learn about the Hebrew vowels. We will start with the history of the Hebrew vowels notation and get familiar with the first vowel, [a].
In this lesson we will continue with the rest of the Hebrew vowels and learn about the vowels [e-i-o-u]. We can already start to read short verses from the story of the creation (Genesis 1).
After discussing the Hebrew consonants and vowels we will learn how Hebrew marks gemination (doubling of a consonant) and how to divide words into syllables. We will also read and discuss verses from the story of the tree of knowledge (Genesis 3)
Now, after we are able to read and pronounce the Hebrew sounds, we will turn to discussing the morphology of Hebrew words. We will start with the nouns and adjectives and learn about their basic forms and grammar. We will learn these issues while continuing. the discussion on the story of the tree of knowledge (Genesis 3)
In this lesson we will go back a little to the realm of the sounds and learn about another vocalic sign, the 'Shewa'. We will discuss this sign within the framework of the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11).
The question discussed in this lesson is - how does Hebrew create words? We will learn about the Hebrew terms 'Shoresh' (root) and Mishqal (pattern). We will also read and discuss a few verses from the story of the flood (Genesis 6-8).
In this lesson we will complete the phonological part by learning a few more vowels: the short vowel [o] ('Qamatz Qatan) and the reduced vowels. We will learn how to recognize them while discussing the story of Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28).
How does Hebrew mark the difference between “a boy” and “the boy”? This is the question that will we try to answer in lesson 10. We will return to reading and discussing verses from the story of the creation (Genesis 1) and the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11).
In this lesson we will continue to discuss some other aspects of the definite article. We will also learn how Hebrew combines the definite article with some prepositions, while discussing verses from the story of the tree of knowledge (Genesis 3).
What is the difference between “a wood chest” and “a chest of wood”? In this lesson we learn how Hebrew marks the “of” relationship. We will illustrate this relationship discussing some verses from Genesis.
How does Hebrew mark the “of” relationship in plural words? In this lesson we will answer this question. We will also read and discuss the story of Cain and Abel.
I, you, he, she… In this lesson we will learn about the Hebrew independent personal pronouns. We will illustrate these pronouns within the framework of the story of Cain and Abel.
In this lesson we will learn how Hebrew marks the differences between: “my horse”, “your horse” and “his horse”. We will also discuss how Hebrew symbolized the connection between the dove and Noah (Genesis 8).
The question that we will answer in this lesson is how Hebrew marks the difference between “THE son of Jesse” and “A son of Jesse.” We will illustrate these constructions within the framework of the story of Hagar (Genesis 21).
Why doesn't Hebrew need a verb in order to create a sentence? In this lesson we will learn how Hebrew creates nominal sentences. We will also discuss what happened between Jacob and Rachel near the well (Genesis 29).
In this lesson we will meet different ways to create nominal sentences in Hebrew. We will demonstrate how the author of Proverbs 6:23 plays with nominal sentences in order to design a challenging proverb.
The goal of this lesson is to slow down a little bit and to look backward to what we achieved until now. We will review the previous grammatical materials with the framework of the story of Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1). How can the characters’ names illuminate the story? – This will be one of the questions that we will ask ourselves.
After discussing Hebrew nouns and adjectives, in this lesson we will start the third part of the first course 'The verb'. We will learn about the morphology of the suffix conjugation called “Qatal“. We will see that there is a clear connection between the different persons and the independent pronouns.
What is the meaning of the Qatal form, and how do we translate it into English? These will be the questions that we will ask in this lesson. We will also learn how Hebrew marks the definite direct object. We will illustrate these topics using a variety of verses from the Bible.
In this lesson we will continue with the questions concerning the meaning and the translation of the Qatal form. We will discover how this form performs in different sentences and how Hebrew is different from English in this point.
Why did Naomi want to change her name to Mara? What happened to Ruth and Naomi when they returned from Moab? These will be part of the questions that we will answer in this review lesson. The discussion will enable us to review the previous lessons. (Ruth 1-2)
The second verbal form that we will learn is the prefix conjugation called “Yiqtol“. In this lesson we will learn how to recognize this form and how Hebrew marks the different persons in it. We will discover that also in this form there is a clear connection between the different persons and the independent pronouns.
What is the meaning of the Yiqtol form, and how do we translate it into English? These will be the questions that we will ask in this lesson. We will illustrate these topics using a variety of verses from the Bible.
In this lesson we will continue with the questions concerning the meaning and the translation of the Yiqtol form. We will discove how this form performs in different sentences and how Hebrew is different from English in this point.
What is the semantic connection between the “resting place” and Naomi’s plans for Ruth? (Ruth 3:1) How is the author of the book playing with the connotations of the verbs 'to know' and 'to lay down'? These will be some of the questions that we will answer in this review lesson. The discussion will enable us to review the previous lessons. (Ruth 3)
The third verbal form that we will learn is the form Wayyiqtol. In the first part of this lesson we will learn how to recognize this form. In the second part we will discover what the meaning of this form is and how to translate it into English. We will illustrate its usages using a variety of verses from the Bible.
The fourth verbal form that we will learn is the form Weqatal. In the first part of this lesson we will learn how to recognize this form. In the second part we will discover what the meaning of this form is and how to translate it into English. We will illustrate its usages using a variety of verses from the Bible.
“Where We've Been” is the name of our last meeting in this course. In this meeting we'll go back through the course and see the long way that we have come from our first lesson until now. Now that we are able to begin walking through the Bible, it is the time to say: Shalom!, and see you in our coming course!
Welcome to Course B! In this lesson, we’ll read selections from the first chapter of Jonah and use these verses to help us review some of the important material from Course A. In addition to grammatical topics like construct chains, the definite article, verbs, etc., we’ll also discuss the geographical, cultural and historical background of this story.
In this lesson we’ll continue reading and discussing the book of Jonah. In addition to reviewing important grammatical topics such as pronominal suffixes, Hebrew word structure, etc., we’ll
also learn something new about the Hebrew preposition ןמִ “from.” In our discussion about the cultural and historical background of the text, we’ll look at some aspects of Hebrew poetry.
In this lesson, we’ll continue our reading in the book of Jonah and see how the people of Nineveh respond to God’s warning. We’ll also discuss how (and why!) the writer of Jonah connects this story to various other biblical texts. During our reading, we’ll review some important Hebrew vocabulary related to things like kingdoms, body parts, animal groups, etc.
In this lesson, we’ll finish reading the book of Jonah and see how and why the author’s language here echoes other verses from this book. We’ll also spend some time reviewing important concepts about Hebrew nouns and adjectives, using examples from Jonah 4. In addition to our discussion of the grammar, we’ll learn about some Hebrew concepts of the natural world.
In this lesson, we’ll learn about the form of the Hebrew participle. We’ll also read some biblical texts to see how the participle can be used either as a noun, an adjective, or a verb. We will focus the second half of our discussion on how the participle functions within the relative verbal system of Hebrew.
In this lesson, we’ll learn about the form of the Hebrew imperative. We’ll also examine some biblical texts to see how the imperative can express the will of the speaker in different ways: direct command, request, permission, etc.
In this lesson, we’ll read selections from the story of Moses’ birth and discuss some of the cultural and historical background of this text. We’ll also use these verses to review various grammatical topics, especially the participle and the imperative.
In this lesson, we’ll learn about a nominal verb form called the “infinitive construct.” We’ll explore different ways in which this form can be combined with prepositions and suffixes. Throughout the lesson, we’ll also read texts about Abraham, Jehoshaphat, and other biblical characters to see how the infinitive construct is used in biblical Hebrew.
In this lesson, we’ll discuss the “absolute” form of the Hebrew infinitive. We’ll learn what this form looks like and how it is different from the infinitive construct. We’ll also explore some of the most common uses of the infinitive absolute in Hebrew, examining texts from all three major groups of biblical literature: the Torah, the Writings, and the Prophets.
In this lesson, we’ll begin reading the story of Joseph’s reunion with his brothers in Egypt. We’ll discuss Judah’s rhetorical skills and how he uses all the tools of “polite Hebrew” to make Joseph listen favorably to his speech. We’ll also learn how Hebrew gives an immediate prohibition (“don’t do!”) and how it expresses the concept “to have.”
In this lesson, we’ll review the pronominal suffixes we talked about in Course A and learn what these suffixes look like when they are attached to plural nouns. While we read biblical texts to see examples of these suffixes in action, we’ll discover that they can also appear on prepositions.
In this lesson, we’ll learn that if a pronoun is the direct object of a verb, it can be attached to that verb as a suffix. We’ll learn what these object suffixes look like and see examples of how they are used in the biblical text. We’ll also look at how they compare to other types of suffixes we have learned in previous lessons.
In this lesson, we will continue our discussion of Joseph’s reunion with his brothers in Egypt. We’ll encounter a special form of the Qatal verb in our reading and see how various prepositions take different forms of the pronominal suffixes. We’ll also discuss some new Hebrew idioms and see how the author’s cultural perspective affects his view of geography.
In this lesson, we’ll give a general orientation to how the Hebrew verbal system is structured. We’ll learn that just like with nouns, each Hebrew verb is made up of both a root and a pattern that help us to understand its meaning. We’ll discuss the relationship between the different Hebrew verb patterns (the binyanim) that we will meet in our upcoming lessons.
In this lesson, we will focus on the Piel binyan, the active member of the doubled stem. We will learn what the Piel verb looks like in the different conjugations (Qatal, imperative, etc.) we have already learned in the Qal binyan. During our discussion, we will read several verses from the book of Genesis so that we can see the Piel verb in action.
In this lesson, we will focus on the Pual binyan, the passive member of the doubled stem. We will learn what the Pual verb looks like in its different conjugations (Qatal, Yiqtol, etc.). By taking a look at the stories of Job and Samson, we will also be able to compare the forms of the Pual verb with the forms of the Qal and Piel binyanim.
In this lesson, we will begin reading the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38. We will discuss the cultural context of this narrative and explore its connections with the story of Ruth. As we read, we will review previous material like the object suffixes and the Piel and Pual binyanim. We will also learn how guttural letters can affect the form of Piel and Pual verbs.
In this lesson, we will focus on the Nifal binyan, the stem that is characterized by a prefixed letter נ. We will learn what the Nifal verb looks like in each of its different conjugations (Qatal, imperative, etc.). In our class exercises and in the biblical verses that we will read, we will see how the Nifal can express a passive, reciprocal, or reflexive voice.
In this lesson, we will learn about the Hitpael binyan, which is the third member of the doubled verb group. We will discuss its two primary voices, reflexive and reciprocal, and look at how this verb appears in its various conjugations. We will also examine several examples of this verb in the stories of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaiah.
In this lesson, we will continue reading the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38, and we will discuss how the writer purposefully chooses his words in this narrative. We will find examples of each of the binyanim we have learned up to this point, and we will discover that we can recognize these binyanim even when unusual letters like gutturals change their form slightly.
In this lesson, we return to our discussion of the Hebrew verbal system and learn about the Hifil verb, the activ causative binyan. While we learn about the unique morphology of this verb, we will also compare this form to the previous binyanim we have learned. Finally, we will read some examples of Hifil verbs in the biblical text and see how much we are now able to translate!
In this lesson, we will finish our discussion of the Hebrew binyanim by learning about the morphology and voices of the Hufal binyan, the passive member of the causative verb group. As we read biblical texts to find examples of the Hufal verb form, we will also be able to contrast this verb with its active counterpart, Hifil, and with the other binyanim we have learned.
In this lesson we will continue the story of Judah and Tamar. We will find examples in the text of the different verbs we have learned, and we will review the characteristics of all seven Hebrew binyanim. We will also discuss some peculiarities of the Hebrew language: Is the same root always used with the same meaning? Can the Hifil binyan have a passive that is not Hufal?
While we finish reading the story of Judah and Tamar in this lesson, we will encounter the participle in several unfamiliar forms. We will discover what the participle looks like in each one of the new binyanim we have learned. Returning to the final verses of Genesis 38, we will also examine how the characters and motifs here fit into the broader story from Abraham to David.
What do Hebrew adverbs look like? In this lesson, we will learn about some different ways in which adverbs are formed in the Hebrew language. We will find examples in the biblical text of each type of adverb. Our examples will include some verses that we read in Course A, but now have the Hebrew understanding to translate more completely!
In this lesson we will read and discuss the story of David, Nabal and Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. Wordplay, characterization and skillful rhetoric are a few of the literary techniques we see the writer use here. During our discussion, we’ll review some of the verb forms we have studied up to this point. We’ll also learn how Hebrew turns the Qal participle into a passive verb.
In this lesson we will learn how to understand “relative clauses,” phrases that describe a noun just like an adjective does. We will compare the Hebrew syntax to English in order to see how best to translate these phrases. We will also find examples of the two Hebrew relative particles in different genres of the biblical text and examine how they are used in various contexts.
In this lesson, we will learn what Hebrew numbers look like in both the masculine and feminine genders. We will also discover that Hebrew has a special suffix to mark nouns that come in pairs, and we will explore some different situations in which this “dual form” appears. As usual, we will look into the biblical text for examples.
In this lesson, we’ll read and discuss the creation story in Genesis 1-2, specifically the verses about the creation of the woman. We’ll hear some of the Jewish midrashim on this text and see how they interact with the Hebrew here. As we read, we’ll encounter several different kinds of pronominal suffixes, and we’ll learn what these suffixes look like on feminine plural nouns.
See how far we have come! In this meeting, we’ll begin by reading a few verses (without translation) about the patriarch Isaac. We’ll focus in on some verb forms and other grammatical subjects we find here and remind ourselves what we’ve learned this semester. Then we’ll return to the verses and see how much we can translate with all the Hebrew knowledge we now have.
Welcome to Course C! In our first lesson, we’ll read selections from 1 Samuel 16, the story in which we first meet King David as a boy in his father’s house. We’ll use these verses to help us review some of the important grammatical material from Courses A and B, especially the Hebrew verbal system. We’ll also learn about how a new king was anointed in biblical times.
In this lesson, we’ll continue our reading in 1 Samuel 16, the story about David being anointed as king. As we read, we’ll encounter more material from Courses A and B, such as the Hebrew number system and the interrogative ה. We’ll also see how the biblical writer chooses his words very carefully in order to connect this story with the surrounding narrative about King Saul.
In this lesson we’ll finish reading 1 Samuel 16 and find out how Saul meets David for the first time. We’ll encounter some new adverbs and continue to review how the different binyanim appear in their various conjugations. Do you know what the names “Saul” and “Jesse” mean?
In this lesson, we will begin our discussion of “weak verbs” in Hebrew and learn how we name these different verb groups. The first type of weak verb group we will study is the נ''פ “Peh-Nun” verb group, the one in which the letter נ is the first root letter of the verb. We will look through the biblical text to see what this verb looks like in the conjugations of the Qal binyan.
Now that we have learned what the נ''פ “Peh-Nun” verb group looks like in the Qal binyan, we will examine its form in the other binyanim. Can you guess which binyanim would allow the letter נ to assimilate if it were the first root letter? As usual, we will look into the biblical text for examples of all these new forms.
Today we’ll begin to read the famous story of David and Goliath. Who were the Philistines, where did this battle take place, and why did Goliath want to fight with one of the Israelites? While we answer these questions, we’ll also review some verb forms, especially the נ''פ group, and we’ll encounter a new verb group that will look very familiar.
In this lesson, we’ll learn how to use the different Hebrew lexicons so that you can look up any unfamiliar word for yourself. First we’ll return to some earlier material about Hebrew word structure (roots and patterns). Then we’ll see how this knowledge will help us to locate any word in a lexicon. We’ll also get an idea of what information the different lexicons can offer us.
This lesson will focus on the Peh-Guttural Verbs, verbs whose first root letter is a guttural. How might the guttural letters affect the verb form? Where will they have no effect at all? These are some of the questions we will explore. We will also learn that the letter א causes unique changes, most noticeably in a special group of א''פ verbs.
In this lesson we will turn our attention to verbs whose third root letter is a guttural. As we saw previously in the Peh- Guttural verb group, here too we will discover that the guttural א behaves in unique ways. In what situations is the א silent? When it is silent, how will this affect the verb form in different binyanim?
In this lesson we’ll continue our reading of the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. We begin where the narrative turns from Goliath at the battlefield to Jesse and his son David in Bethlehem. As we read, we’ll review the material from our previous lessons and discuss the geographic and cultural context in which this story takes place.
In this lesson, we will learn about verbs whose third root letter was originally י. In what conjugations does this י still appear, and is it used like a regular consonant or as a vowel? In what conjugations does the י not appear, and how does this affect the form of the verb? This week we will answer these questions for the basic formsof the Qal binyan.
In this lesson we will continue our discussion of י''ל verbs, completing the picture of this weak verb group for the Qal binyan. As we do so, we will discover why the Wayyiqtol form of these verbs is especially noteworthy. Finally, we will turn our attention to the other binyanim and see how the י''ל roots are treated in each one.
This lesson brings us to the climax of the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), as we discover the outcome of their battle. As we read, we’ll continue to review the verb groups from the previous lessons, and we’ll learn how the special root ח''קל fits into this picture.
In this lesson we’ll see what happens in the Qal binyan with verbs whose first root letter is י. In what conjugations do these roots behave like the strong verb, and in what conjugations do they do something different? Are there different kinds of י''פ verbs? These are the questions we’ll answer as we study these verbs and find examples in the biblical text.
Now that we’ve seen what the י''פ verbs look like in the Qal binyan, we’ll turn our attention to the other binyanim. In which three binyanim do these verbs behave like the strong verbs, and in which three do they do something unique? We’ll look at examples from different parts of the biblical text as we learn what happens to the letter י in these conjugations.
In this lesson we return to the story of David and Saul and discover what their relationship looks like in the aftermath of David’s victory against Goliath. How does Saul’s family get involved in this relationship, and how might this be reminiscent of another biblical story? As we read, we’ll review some of the weak verbs we’ve learned and see how one special root behaves uniquely.
We continue to meet the weak verb forms we’ve learned as we conclude our reading in the story of David’s escape (1 Samuel 19). In addition, we’ll take our first look at the system of Biblical Hebrew accents, or te’amim, that appear alongside the vowels in printed editions of the text. What roles do these te’amim play, and how will they be helpful for us as readers?
In this lesson we’ll learn about a new group of verbs, those whose second root letter is ו or י. How are these two root types similar to each other, and in what conjugations do they look slightly different? Why don’t verbs with these root letters behave like the strong verbs? These are the questions we’ll answer as we examine the behavior of these verbs in the Qal binyan.
In this lesson we’ll continue our discussion of the י"וע verbs, completing the picture of how these roots conjugate in the Qal binyan. We’ll see how the Wayyiqtol and infinitive forms relate to the Yiqtol form. We’ll also learn why knowing the location of a verb’s accent is so important for recognizing the conjugation, as we’ll see in some example verses from Genesis.
In 1 Samuel 20, we read the story of Jonathan, another child of Saul who sides with David against his father. As we read, we’ll review some of the weak verb forms we’ve encountered in this course. We’ll learn more details about the interrogative המ. Finally, we’ll return to the subject of the te’amim and see how a few of them might affect some word forms.
In Course B we learned that Hebrew uses the imperative form of the verb when the speaker wants to express his will toward the person to whom he is speaking. But what happens when the speaker wants to express his will about a third person, or even about himself? Hebrew has unique forms for each of these situations, as we’ll learn in this lesson.
In this lesson we return to the story of David and see what happens after he flees from Saul. To where does he escape, and what new problems will he encounter there? As we read, we’ll see a number of י''וע verbs and review those forms in the Qal binyan before we continue to other binyanim in the next lesson. We’ll also discover a special form of the Hitpael verb.
What happens to י''וע verbs in the doubled binyanim (Piel, Pual, Hitpael), in which the second root letter is supposed to be doubled? What about the H Stem (Hifil, Hufal) – how do the י''וע verbs take a unique form here? These are the questions we’ll answer in this lesson, finding examples in some familiar verses from the biblical text.
In this lesson we’ll continue to fill in the picture of the Hifil verbs in the י''וע verb group. We’ll also see how the Nifal binyan behaves in roots where the second root letter is ו or י. Now that we’ve seen all the important weak verb patterns, we’ll make sure we can distinguish these different forms, looking into verses from various biblical genres for
Before we leave the weak verbs for the remainder of this course, we’ll briefly touch on one last group. What does it mean to say that a verb has an “ayin-ayin” root? To what other weak verb group are some of these forms very similar? As we study these verbs, we’ll explore a few examples from various genres of the biblical text.
Now that we’ve completed our study of the morphology of Hebrew verb forms, we’ll turn our attention to how the different conjugations are actually used. We’ll review our Course A discussion of the Qatal and Wayyiqtol forms and expand this knowledge by exploring some additional ways in which these forms interact in the biblical text.
In this lesson we’ll return to the story of David and see what happens when Saul resumes his pursuit. In the caves of En Gedi, David gets an unexpected opportunity. What will his men advise, and what will he choose? As we read, we’ll review some weak verb forms and see what happens in one unusual root that combines two weak verb patterns.
We will begin this lesson by returning to our previous discussion of the Weqatal form. What are some characteristics of this verb that will help us to distinguish it from a simple Qatal form with the conjunction? Next we’ll return to the imperative form. Do you remember that we learned two different forms for the masculine singular imperative? Why might Hebrew have two forms here?
Now that we’ve learned all about how verb patterns can be affected by certain root letters, we’ll turn our attention back to the nouns. How do these same weak root letters affect the noun patterns? We’ll answer this question by comparing similar root types in nouns and verbs and by exploring some examples in the biblical text.
In our final lesson we’ll pull together all the tools we’ve acquired in this course – knowledge of the weak roots, familiarity with the Hebrew lexicons, etc. – and use them to translate a few verses from a psalm of David. Our examination of these few lines of poetry will set the stage for Course D, in which we’ll turn our attention to the different literary genres of the biblical text.
Welcome to Course D! In our first few lessons we’ll begin our study of the biblical genres by examining the narrative prose in the stories of Elijah. As we read our first story in 1 Kings 17 and discuss the historical background of this narrative, we’ll also review some of the weak verb groups we learned in Course C.
In this lesson we’ll continue the story of Elijah and read about his encounter with the widow at Zarephath. Where is Zarephath, and why is its location important? As we read, we’ll do some more practice with the different verb forms and their uses. We’ll also review some important material about the Hebrew lexicons and how to look up different kinds of words.
.Our discussion of Elijah and our review of Course C material brings us in this lesson to Mt. Carmel, where Elijah confronts the prophets of Baal. Who is Baal, and why is this significant in light of the three-year drought? We will also meet a Ugaritic text for the first time and learn how some of this extra-biblical literature can help us to understand the Hebrew narrative.
In this lesson, we’ll conclude our opening discussion of the Elijah narrative. We’ll do some final review of the noun and verb forms we’ve learned in our first three courses, and we’ll continue to develop our translating skills. We’ll also examine some interesting comparisions that the story in 1 Kings 19 draws between Elijah and Moses.
In this lesson we begin our discussion on the genre of biblical poetry. What is poetry in general? What are the major characteristics of biblical poetry in particular? Which biblical texts are considered to be poetic? We’ll answer these questions and look into the Psalms for examples of the most important structural feature of biblical poetry.
Now that we have explored how poetic verses are divided into units, we will turn our attention to the phenomenon of “parallelism.” What is parallelism? In what different ways can two (or more) parts of a verse be parallel to each other? We’ll draw examples from various categories of biblical poetry (religious, wisdom, prophetic, etc.) to illustrate the types of parallelism.
In our previous lesson we discussed the different types of parallelism from a semantic perspective, examining how the meanings of parallel terms can relate to each other. In this lesson we will look at parallelism from a linguistic perspective, examining the syntactic structures and word classes in each parallel unit of the verse.
Now that we have discussed various aspects of biblical poetry, especially parallelism, we will spend some time examining how these are used in a psalm. How are some of these poetic structures used on the level of the entire psalm as well as within the individual verses? What are some additional characteristics of biblical poetry?
As we have seen in the preceding lessons, parallelism is one of the most prominent characteristics of biblical poetry. What are some common pairs of parallel words, and what kinds of relationships do we see between these words? We’ll also look at a text from Ugarit in order to illustrate some common threads between biblical poetry and its wider Canaanite context.
Now that we have learned about the semantic and other linguistic ways to describe parallelism and have discussed some common word pairs, we’ll turn our attention to phonetics: How do the biblical writers use sound to create poetry? In what ways can two (or more) words be parallel because of their pronunciation? What is alliteration, and how is it used in biblical poetry?
In this lesson we meet a different type of poetry as we explore a passage in the Song of Songs. How is this similar to other forms of biblical poetry? How is it similar to prose? In what ways is it distinct from both? As we read, we will also discover a new use for the ללוֹפֵּ verb form.
In this lesson we turn our discussion away from parallelism and toward some of the unique syntactical features that distinguish biblical poetry from prose. What are the common elements that can be omitted from poetic sentences? What other peculiarities of syntax can be seen in biblical poetry? As always, we will look for examples in a variety of texts.
In this lesson we begin our study of another genre of biblical literature – the language of the law. We will examine the concepts of law and justice in the biblical text and explore the common roots and words used in these contexts. We will focus specifically on the root ט''פשׁ. What is the original meaning of this root, and how is it used in the field of justice (and elsewhere)?
In this lesson we continue our study of language of the law by examining the two primary categories into which biblical laws are organized: Casuistic Law and Apodictic Law. What are the main features of each type of law, and what kinds of linguistic structures do we see in each? We will find examples in the book of Exodus for both types of law.
Now that we have learned about the two basic types of biblical laws, we will discover where the major collections of these laws are located in the biblical text. We will also examine the most common specific linguistic formulas that are used to express each type of law.
In this lesson we will focus on the primary verb forms that are used in the language of the law in the biblical text: Yiqtol, Weqatal, and the participle form. What are the characteristics of these forms that make them the natural choice for language of the law? How is the use of these forms in the law texts similar to their common roles in regular narrative prose?
In this lesson we meet the common Hebrew grammar books, both the student grammars and the reference grammars. What are the differences between these two types of grammar books, and why are they so important for the independent Hebrew reader? As we look at some examples in class, we will learn how to use these grammars to solve difficulties we encounter in the text.
In this lesson we continue to practice with the Hebrew reference grammars Joüon-Muraoka and Gesenius, learning how to solve problems by using the table of contents. With the help of these grammar books, we will explore several new points of Hebrew morphology and syntax that we have not discussed before.
In this lesson we continue our study of the reference grammar books by learning how to use the indices in the back of the book to locate information. As we practice with examples from the biblical text, we will encounter some new grammatical material, including some special forms of the pronominal suffixes attached to certain prepositions.
In this lesson we begin our study of the genre of prophetic literature. Instead of opening with more general questions, our first few lessons will be case studies on specific examples of this genre. We begin in this lesson by reading the “prophetic parable” in Isaiah 5:1-7. What can we learn from this passage about the characteristics of prophetic literature?
Now that we have studied an example of a prophetic parable, we will turn our attention to another type of prophecy: the “prophecy of woe,” which is a particular variety of the “prophecies of rebuke.” How are these prophecies structured, and what linguistic features of prophetic literature can we see in our example in Isaiah 5:11-17?
In this lesson we address a third common type of prophecy. These “prophecies of consolation” describe the redemption of Israel after the divine punishment. As we read an example in the book of Jeremiah, we will continue to examine the linguistic features seen in prophetic literature.
Now that we have seen some specific examples of biblical prophecy, we will turn our attention to some more general questions. What is the origin of the root א''בנ? What do biblical prophecy and prophecy of the ancient Near East have in common? What kinds of prophets are described in the biblical text? How are these prophets similar to each other, and where do they differ?
In our final lesson on biblical prophecy, we will return to the subject of grammar and summarize the unique characteristics of prophetic language that we have observed in our readings over the last few weeks. What common formulas are used in prophecy? Where do the prophets follow the language of poetry, and where are their vocabulary and syntax uniquely prophetic?
In this lesson we return to the subject of the ע''ע verbs, whose second and third root letters are identical. What do these verbs look like in the Qal binyan? What do they look like in Nifal? How can understanding the process of “analogy” (and maybe even some Aramaic!) help us to better understand these forms?
In this lesson we will begin our study of the genre of “wisdom literature” by examining the book of Proverbs. We will see that though wisdom literature does have some poetic features, it is quite unique in its style and especially in its vocabulary. What are some of the terms used in wisdom literature for “instruction,” “wisdom,” “a wise person,” and “a fool”?
This week we turn our attention to a particular set of verses at the end of the book of Proverbs. How do these verses illustrate wisdom themes, and what do they reveal about the relationship between wisdom literature and poetry? We will also return to the subject of ע''ע verbs and see what these forms look like in the Hifil and Hufal binyanim.
Now that we have seen what typical wisdom literature looks like in the book of Proverbs, we will turn our attention to a unique book in the biblical wisdom texts: Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). Where does the title of the book come from? When was this book written, and how can we know? What makes it distinct from the other wisdom texts and from biblical prose in general?
Welcome to Course E! In this unit we introduce the basic concepts that will direct our discussions in this course. How does a “diachronic” description of the Hebrew language differ from the “synchronic” description that has guided our first four courses? What is “comparative Semitic linguistics,” and how can this help us to better understand the Hebrew?
As our course will follow the timeline of the Hebrew language from early to late, we begin by discussing the consonants of the Proto-Semitic language that preceded biblical Hebrew. How did the 29 original Semitic consonants become the 23 that we see in the Hebrew of the biblical text? How does this affect our understanding of Hebrew vocabulary?
In this unit we continue our discussion of consonant shifts in Semitic languages and how this phenomenon affects the vocabulary of biblical Hebrew. What are the “emphatic” consonants? How many were there in Proto-Semitic, and how did they enter biblical Hebrew? These are the questions we will answer as we look through biblical vocabulary for examples.
We conclude our discussion of consonant shifts by examining the history of the Proto-Semitic uvular
consonants [ġ] and [h] and their relationship to the Hebrew gutturals. What are “uvular” consonants? How can the Greek of the Septuagint teach us more about how these consonants shifted in the Hebrew language?
In this unit we begin to turn our attention to the earliest stage of Hebrew that we see in the biblical text: Archaic Biblical Poetry. What are the three distinct stages of Hebrew that we see in the text, and how can we distinguish archaic poetry from the other two? What are some of the methodological problems with identifying these texts as archaic?
We continue our study of the ancient Hebrew seen in the “Song of the Sea” (Exodus 15:1-18). What additional signs of archaic language are apparent in this poem? What are some ways in which comparison to other Semitic languages can help us here?
Continuing our discussion of archaic poetry, we move to the Song of Deborah in Judges 5. What are some of the signs of early language we see in this text? We’ll learn about an unusual verb form and examine some of the poetic structures used in this song.
In this unit, we expand our discussion of archaic poetry to include the larger question of different dialects in the biblical text. Did local dialects vary in different regions of ancient Israel, and how do we know? We will explore this issue of dialect by examining the relative pronouns used in archaic poetry and elsewhere.
Over the last four units, we have isolated specific linguistic phenomena in the Song of the Sea and the Song of Deborah to learn about the language of archaic poetry. What are some of the methodological problems with comparing this language to classical prose? What evidence about the linguistic history have we seen in the morphology, syntax, and vocabulary of these songs?
In this unit we turn our attention to the next stage of the Hebrew language: the “First Temple Period.” What are the historical boundaries of this stage, and where does it appear in the biblical text? What was this language called by its speakers? After addressing these general questions, we will begin to discuss how the vocabulary of this period is distinct.
In this unit we continue our discussion of Hebrew in the First Temple Period by turning to the verbal system. After giving a brief overview of the verb forms we discussed in our previous courses, we will focus on the sequential verb forms Wayyiqtol and Weqatal. How are these forms used in similar ways in First Temple prose, and where do they differ?
In this unit we will begin by continuing our discussion of the Wayyiqtol form. Does this verb always mark
chronological sequence, or does it also have other uses? We will then turn our attention to the unusual verb form ןוּל ְט ְק.Howִי ancient is this form, and does it have any special meaning in Biblical Hebrew?
The purpose of this unit is to summarize the distinguishing characteristics of the First Temple Period language that we have discussed. During what period of time was this stage of Hebrew written down? How do its vocabulary, syntax, and morphology set it apart from both archaic poetry and the language of the Second Temple Period?
How can we learn about First Temple Period Hebrew from sources outside the biblical text? Over the past
century, archaeologists have found a number of inscriptions from this time period that offer new insight
into the Hebrew language. After seeing a general overview of these inscriptions, we will focus on the
Siloam Tunnel Inscription found in Jerusalem.
In this unit we continue our discussion of First Temple Period inscriptions by examining several ostraca found in the Judean town of Arad and the Israelite town of Samaria. In addition to offering us a more detailed glimpse into the daily life of biblical times, these inscriptions can help us to address the question of the different dialects of First Temple Period Hebrew.
Our discussion of ancient Hebrew inscriptions continues with an ostracon found in a town near the Judean coast. In this letter of complaint to a local official, we will again find both similarities to the biblical text and some interesting variants. What can our observations teach us about the cultural and linguistic reality of the First Temple Period?
In this unit we will summarize what we have learned about Biblical Hebrew from the inscriptions we have
discussed in the last three lessons. What in these inscriptions is similar to Biblical Hebrew, and how are they different? What can the differences teach us about the history of the Hebrew in the biblical text?
We now turn the focus of our discussion to the Second Temple Period. When did this period begin, and what biblical books does it include? Why is the Aramaic language so significant for understanding the development of Hebrew during this time?
In this unit we continue our discussion of Second Temple Period Hebrew by examining its unique linguistic characteristics, such as vocabulary from sources outside the Hebrew language (e.g. Persian and Aramaic). How can we determine when an Aramaic word is actually a late element in Hebrew and not simply a reflection of the shared heritage of these two languages?
In this unit we explore the later stages of the Second Temple Period by examining the Isaiah Scroll (1st c.
B.C.E.) discovered at Qumran. What are the signs that this scroll reflects the language of its time, while the Masoretic version preserves more closely the original text of Isaiah? What can these signs teach us about the development of Hebrew in this period?
A significant change in the use of the infinitive construct form occurred in the Second Temple Period. In this unit we will examine some of the different contexts in which this form appears. Which verb form(s) fulfilled these roles in First Temple Period literature?
As with the infinitive construct, so too the use of the infinitive absolute went through a significant development in the Second Temple Period. After reviewing the common uses of this form in the First Temple Period, we will see which verb form(s) it can replace in later Hebrew and in which contexts this exchange is likely to occur.
In this unit we will summarize what we have learned over the last few units about Hebrew in the Second Temple Period. What are some of the unique linguistic features that characterize the language of this period and distinguish it from earlier and later stages of Hebrew, both in its vocabulary and in its syntax?
In the final section of our course, we will examine the language of the later Second Temple Period, as reflected in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Where and when were these scrolls found, and why are they so significant for our understanding of Hebrew? What can the phonetic spelling in these scrolls teach us about the Hebrew language of this period?
In this unit we continue our discussion of the Dead Sea Scrolls by examining the vocabulary used in these texts. Most of the vocabulary is familiar to us from Biblical Hebrew, but we will see that it shares a special affinity with late Biblical Hebrew. What can be said about the vocabulary that does not appear in the biblical text? Do we know it from any other sources?
We turn back to the Hebrew verbal system in this unit, examining a verb form that is widely used in the Dead Sea Scrolls: the הָ לְָטְָקָ אָוform. Do we see this form in any stage of Biblical Hebrew? How can a comparison between the different stages of Biblical Hebrew, and even between Hebrew and the Moabite language, help us to trace the history of this verb form?
In this unit we will summarize what we have learned about the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls. How does this language relate to both Late Biblical Hebrew and Rabbinic Hebrew? How is it unique within itself? Understanding more about the language of these scrolls gives us a broader picture of the historical development of the Hebrew language.
In this final unit we pause to look back at how far we’ve come since Unit 1. We have discussed over 1,000 years of the historical development of the Hebrew language, from pre-biblical consonant shifts to Biblical Hebrew (archaic poetry, First Temple Period, and Second Temple Period) to the later language of the Dead Sea Scrolls. What characterizes each of these stages?
Welcome! After defining the course goals, we begin in Genesis 11-12 with Abraham as he sets out on his journey of faith. Then the focus moves to the Covenant of the Pieces.
In this unit, we explore the birth of Ishmael including the name given to God by Hagar, and then read of the promise of the birth of Isaac and the command of circumcision.
The birth of Isaac is the focus of this unit, along with the departure of Ishmael from Gerar of the Philistines where the family lived – and the covenant with the king of Gerar.
This unit explores the Binding of Isaac and its conceptual and linguistic connections with Abraham’s early call to faith, and the surprising connection with the story of Balaam.
The content of Psalm 105 reminds the reader of Abraham in multiple ways, and it serves not only to reflect on the story of his life but also to make progress in poetic language.
This unit presents the first half of the story of finding Rebekah from Genesis 24, while connecting it to the stories of Abraham and Sarah as well as Jacob and Joseph.
The second half of the story of finding Rebekah appears here, and also draws connections between the promises given to her and those given to Abraham after the Binding of Isaac.
In this unit, the focus shifts to Judges 6 that tells of how Gideon emerged from the shadows in response to the call of God to become a warrior against the Midianites.
The story of Gideon continues with his plan to literally “lay out a fleece” ahead of battle, along with the actual conflict with the Midianites and its supernatural result.
This unit transitions to the law addressing preparations for war in Deuteronomy 20, which is connected to the story of Gideon. Verses from Psalm 18 dealing with war also appear.
The theme of war continues but the focus shifts to 2nd Chronicles 18 and the joint efforts of Jehoshaphat and Ahab, the failure of which was reluctantly prophesied by Micaiah.
This unit explores the Moabite-Ammonite attack against Judah in chapter 20 as well as the role of prophecy in difficult times, and is followed by verses of victory in Psalm 115.
The victory over Moab and Ammon is compared to the Exodus. Then Jehoshaphat’s wicked son, Jehoram, is introduced – as well as God’s promise of hope nonetheless.
This unit shifts to the story of Elisha in 1st Kings 19 and 2nd Kings 2-3, where his selection to replace Elijah is interwoven with the account of the crossing of the Jordan.
The struggle with Moab is revisited in the context of the story of Elisha, and it is followed by a comparison between miracles done on behalf of widows by Elisha and Elijah.
This unit presents Elisha’s promise of a son to the barren Shunammite woman, and compares between the son’s death and subsequent raising and a similar story with Elijah.
The Law of the Leper from Leviticus 13-14 is the theme of this unit, which also explores the surprising connection to the “living water” mentioned in the story of Isaac.
This unit reverts to the life of Elisha and specifically focuses on the story of Naaman the Leper along with a connection to the story of Miriam’s leprosy in the Torah.
The Aramean siege of Samaria in 2nd Kings 6 grants Elisha the opportunity to pray that his servant would be able to see the angelic protection, a theme continued in Psalm 34.
The hunger of Samaria’s residents of was only alleviated when four lepers discovered the abandoned Aramean camp. This miraculous provision is compared to Malachi 3 as well.
The focus shifts to the secretive anointing of Jehu as king in 2nd Kings 9, and then moves on to the death of Elisha – which paradoxically brought life to a dead man.
The theme of resurrection moves on to Ezekiel 37 and the prophecy of the valley of dry bones, while touching on this hope as mentioned in Hosea and Deuteronomy as well.
The style and structure of Proverbs 15 is the main focus of this unit, complete with the analysis of multiple idioms in Hebrew and comparisons to similar content in the Psalms.
This unit compares and contrasts the prophetic consecrations of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and explores the question of the Seraphim who appear in the story of Isaiah in chapter 6.
The Assyrian siege of Jerusalem in the time of King Hezekiah in Isaiah 36-37 includes the initial response of Hezekiah – along with his interaction with Isaiah himself.
This unit focuses on the prayer of supplication made by Hezekiah while making direct comparisons to the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple in 1st Kings 8.
In this unit, we look at the letter in Jeremiah 29 written by the prophet to the exiles in Babylon – which included a message of hope, although from unexpected directions.
Jeremiah 30-31 contain the promise of a return to the Land and of rebuilding from the ruins, and these words resemble a promise in Isaiah 58 as explored in this unit.
The greater part of Jeremiah 31 and Isaiah 35 are compared while focusing on promises given not only of arriving in the Land but also of protection and of blessing on the way.
The promise of final redemption including a messianic figure of salvation in Isaiah 11 and Jeremiah 33 provide the perfect way to bring the course to a close in its final unit.
We teach live classes online: a teacher and a small group of students meet once a week through their home computer. We use video conference technology that allows live student-teacher interaction. You can fully participate in the lesson by using the microphone or the chat box.
Don’t worry all the live lessons are also recorded and available on demand. You can review them at any time.
All our teachers have a teaching certificate and are approved by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. They are all scholars from leading universities around the world, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Harvard and Durham University.
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We teach Sunday to Friday according to your local time zone. You are welcome to check the schedule and assign yourself to a time that’s most suitable to you.
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Biblical Hebrew - Level A
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