Joseph’s Story: 5 Biblical Hebrew Words

As you are learning to read biblical Hebrew, you might find it helpful to focus on a Bible story. Stories often repeat key words. The vivid action, setting, and dialogue of stories help you to memorize words. Perhaps the biggest plus (at least, it was for me) is that you already know how the story goes. So it’s easier to piece the Hebrew words together.

Today, let’s learn (or review) five words found in the story of Joseph. This story begins in Genesis 37.

Dream

As you know, a recurring theme in the Joseph story is “dreams.” That’s a good biblical Hebrew word to learn, and it will help you start reading the Joseph story.

A dream (the noun) is

חְַלוֹם

chah-lohm (the “ch” is pronounced like a hard “kh” that scrapes in your throat, like the “ch” in the name Bach)

To dream (the verb) is

חָלַם

chah-lahm

Pit, Well, Cistern

Another word that occurs early in the Joseph story – and has great symbolism – is the pit (well, cistern) into which Joseph’s brothers throw him.

A pit (well, cistern) (noun) is

בּוֹר

Pronounced like the English word “bore” — and an easy way to remember this word is that you might bore a hole in the ground to make a well or cistern.

Shepherd and Flock

If you recall, Joseph is a shepherd who helps tend his father’s flock.

A shepherd (the noun) is

רֹעֶה

roh-eh

To shepherd (the verb) is

רָעָה

ra’ah

A flock (noun) is

צאֹן

tzohn

Once you memorize these words and learn to recognize the way they look, see if you can find them in your Hebrew Bible. It might help to look at your English Bible first, and see which verses have these words. Then look at the same verses in Hebrew and see if you can recognize the words. Remember, you can always use your lexicon and other online tools to help you find them.

I hope learning some of the Hebrew words in the Joseph story will inspire you to read the whole story again in English (what a great time to spend with God!), and to learn more of the words in Hebrew.

Shalom.

שָׁלוֹם

Ready for more? Here are 3 more words from the Joseph story.

Interested in getting a taste of biblical Hebrew? There’s more to learn on my biblical Hebrew blog.

Want to jump into the basics of biblical Hebrew? Here’s a beginning biblical Hebrew course I offer online.