View Full Version : Learning Hebrew

08-22-2006, 03:11 PM
I would like to learn Hebrew, even at my age. Of course I mainly want to for Bible study. Rosetta Stone offers Hebrew, but will it be too modern? Of course, just reading and pronouncing seem like a great advantage to me. Rosetta: http://www.rosettastone.com/en/individuals/languages/hebrew/level-1?_session_id=38e9ac58e2289c877123b0b0f334d929&commit=More+Information
If you have any advice, please share it. Thank you.

Ewan MacLeod
08-22-2006, 03:41 PM
BibleWorks provides all the resources you need to go from complete beginner, to a thorough understanding of the Hebrew text. The best place to start would be Futato's Basic Hebrew for Bible Study, which is available in BibleWorks 7 from the Resources menu, then Hebrew Grammars.

If you are past the stage of beginning grammar, the best way to proceed is to start tackling vocabulary. You can do that using the Hebrew vocabulary in the Vocabulary Flashcards Module. As you are learning words, start looking for them in the Hebrew text. Take one of the simple narrative texts, a story that you know well such as something in Kings or Chronicles where the grammar and vocabulary is simple, and look at the Analysis Window to see how the words are broken down. You will soon spot words you have learned in the vocabulary. Then you can start to see how the grammar, that you have learned, works out in practise.

The biggest obstacle in learning Hebrew is the alphabet. It looks different, and therefore difficult. But once you get past that, Hebrew is much, much, easier than Greek. There are no complicated noun endings for different cases. You will make progress faster than Greek, as long as you get past the alphabet.

08-22-2006, 09:10 PM
Thank you, Ewan. Yes, the alphabet, and reading "backwards" are the stumbling point. I began years ago, but haven't retained the alphabet I learned then. I will investigate Futato, and I know there are sound files available, too.

08-23-2006, 08:17 AM
I assume Rosetta Stone teaches modern Hebrew (Ivrit), which is different from Old Testament Hebrew.

Self-study is possible, but at least to get started (alphabet, pronunciation, basic grammar concepts) a teacher (classroom atmosphere, opportunity to ask questions, homework accountability etc.) is helpful if not indispensable.

May be a seminary near by would let you sit in for the first few weeks. At least browse your local seminary bookstore for study ideas.



08-23-2006, 05:19 PM
Thanks, Ingo. I thot "modern" Hebrew wouldn't exactly match OT Hebrew, certainly modern Greek bears 2000 years of change.
I do have a seminary about 5 miles away, and i will pursue your counsel.

David Kummerow
08-23-2006, 05:53 PM
Check out this site, too:


08-23-2006, 06:26 PM
Thanks, Ingo. I thot "modern" Hebrew wouldn't exactly match OT Hebrew, certainly modern Greek bears 2000 years of change.

Shalom Paul,

There is a V A S T difference between learning a language and learning grammar. There are very many today who have learned grammar but have not learned Hebrew or Greek.

It is also a great misnomer to believe that a native Greek or Israeli can't understand biblical Greek or Hebrew. The exact opposite is the case.

Native Greeks grow up with the Greek Scriptures. In addition to that, by the time they reach our equivalent of high school they are already reading all the classics, and they have zero problem understanding the Greek of the New Testament and zero problem understanding Classical Greek.

The same is true with native Hebrew speakers. They grow up with the Old Testament. Further, modern Hebrew is simply a derivative of biblical Hebrew. Just as in an English bible you won't find the word "automobile," so in the Hebrew bible you won't find "mekhonit." But you will find "table" in an English bible, and you will find "shulkan" in the Hebrew bible.

If you want to learn Hebrew, then learn HEBREW, not Hebrew grammar, per se. If you could speak modern Hebrew fluently, you would no problem whatsoever reading the Old Testament.

Just as any English speaker may have to look up a word here or there in reading an English bible, the same is true of a native Hebrew or Greek speaker, but that's about it.

By learning to speak the language, you will learn grammar intuitively, and you will learn vocabulary light years faster than by pouring over flash cards.

I had the forturne of a native Hebrew speaker living across the street from me, who also happened to be a Hebrew teacher in the Jewish Community Center and various synagogues. She gave me freely of her time -- many weeks and hours -- and provided me with an outstanding foundation.

If possible, seek out a Jewish Community Center in your area, or failing that, call around to the synagogues and see if they offer anything. However, also be aware that some of the Jewish entities will gear their teaching strictly for Jewish religious practices and not really for speaking Hebrew. You don't want that. You want a full-fledged program.

Rossetta Stone is not bad, but like all languages, it takes work. And that's the bottom line -- if you want to learn a language, it will take W O R K. There's no way around it.

However, studying grammar and vocabulary cards is the least effective way. I'll give you just one short example --

In a very popular Greek grammar, the author, who is reputed to be an expert in Greek, states with regard to 1 Corinthians 6:11, "The neuter is used to express the horror of depravity, as if they had been subhuman before conversion."

In fact, the reason the neuter case is used here is because this happens to be THE most common idiom in the Greek language. But since the author can't speak Greek, he was completely unaware of THE most common idiom in the Greek language. He knows grammar, but he doesn't know Greek, as any native Greek who is fluent in English will tell you, and that's just one example of a plethora of examples.

Learning language is far more than grammar and definitions, and as I said, it takes work -- real work.

The site David pointed you to, if it's the site I think it is, is also a good place to start.


08-23-2006, 09:02 PM
I would have to say that (for once) I agree with Scott, tenatively, though I'd temper the statements about direct correspondence. Having studied both Modern Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew, I'd say that learning to speak and write a language will help you out more in the long run provided that you use a good grammatical resources that point out the differences (such as Lambdin's grammar and Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax). The latter is available on Bibleworks.

That said, there are huge differences that most native Israeli's are unaware of.... but these changes in the grammar can be learned with relative ease (such as ptpc = present in MH, no distinction between Yaqtul's and Yaqtulu's, matre's, and Ezekiel didn't see electricity in Eze. 1). I say this as probably the biggest advocate for diachronic study of historical Hebrew grammar on this board.

08-24-2006, 12:38 AM
Brothers, thank you very much for your advice. I've studied the Bible over 30 years, and because i was a science major in college, Greek and it's alphabet have come easily to me. I'm not by any means an expert, but i can read articles and commentaries and my interlinear all to great personal profit.
But the unfamiliar and "backward" Hebrew is a higher barrier. That said, God's Word is a miraculous revelation to hold in my lap, and i am attracted by the Hebrew's picturesque and terse means of precision. I feel i need the interaction of a class to keep me on task, but the software linked above looks very usable.
You've helped to strengthen my appetite. Thank you.

John Parsons
09-11-2006, 03:30 PM
Shalom Paul,

My site www:hebrew4christians.com (http://www.hebrew4christians.com) is intended to help BEGINNERS become acquainted with Biblical Hebrew, and might prove to be of some help to you. It is not a replacement for a thorough study of Biblical Hebrew grammar, nor is it intended to teach modern Ivrit, but it's a start.....

kol tuv,