These are some of the books that have helped me grow in learning and using biblical Hebrew in my Bible study and devotional time. (Each link below opens in a new window on Amazon.)
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia by Karl Elliger, Willhelm Rudulph, et al. This is the Old Testament in Hebrew. It’s a beautiful paperback version that’s easy to use. The Hebrew lettering is very clear and easy to see. I’ve used this Hebrew Bible as my starting point for translating verses from Hebrew into English. All the vowels are marked, which is a feature I love. Those markings help you to pronounce each word. Remember to use your Hebrew Bible from right to left, as the Hebrew language reads in that direction.
Beginning Biblical Hebrew: A Grammar and Illustrated Reader by John A. Cook and Robert D. Holmstedt. (For beginners) This is a comprehensive text for learning biblical Hebrew — a full first semester book. You start out by learning the alphabet and pronunciation. Then each lesson introduces a new grammar concept (nouns, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, etc.), along with new vocabulary words from the Hebrew Old Testament.
The book also has a great section at the back with three stories from the Bible, written in Hebrew. The stories are repeated several times. The first time, the language is simplified and basic vocabulary is introduced. Each time the story is repeated, the language becomes more complex and closer to the full Bible version. What I love about these stories is you can compare them to the translation you have in your own language. That makes it easier to recognize and understand the words in Hebrew — because you already know what’s happening in the story.
Charts of Biblical Hebrew by Miles V. Van Pelt and Gary D. Pratico. (For beginners through advanced) If you decide to learn biblical Hebrew grammar, you will love this reference guide. Each page has a large print chart of different grammar patterns, a quick reference guide for noun endings, verb patterns, how to use pronouns, adjectives, etc. It also comes with a CD-ROM that contains all the charts as well. My book is filled with paper clips for frequently referenced pages, but I also recommend adding tabs with labels for easy reference.
A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by William L. Holladay. (For beginners through advanced) This is a good, dependable lexicon that’s easy to use. This Holladay lexicon will help you find the meaning of Hebrew words in the Bible. (Aramaic too, as the Old Testament contains some Aramaic words in sections of Daniel and Ezra.) What’s a lexicon? It’s like a dictionary, where you look up a biblical Hebrew word to find the meaning.
If you know the root of a biblical Hebrew word, you can look it up in this Holladay lexicon. (If you don’t know the root, you can look it up on Bible Hub by googling the Bible verse plus “Hebrew Text Analysis.” That’ll bring up a page with each word of that verse in English and Hebrew. Click on the Strong’s number on the left to find the root of that word, known as the lexical form — the form that appears in the lexicon.)
Under each word entry in the Holladay lexicon, you’ll find meanings of the word based on the Bible verse where that word is found. The meaning of a biblical Hebrew word is specific to the Bible verse where the word is found. The same word may have a slightly different meaning depending on the verse. You want to be super careful to get the right meaning, and the Holladay lexicon helps you do that by separating meanings based on verses.
When you start using the lexicon, you’ll realize the importance of learning and memorizing the Hebrew alphabet. If you know the order of the letters in the alphabet, you’ll find the section of the lexicon that you’re looking for much faster. Have you already learned the Hebrew alphabet but need help memorizing the order of the letters? This little song will help: Aleph Beth — Hebrew Alphabet Song by Josh Tyra. I literally hear this song in my mind each time I look for a word entry in the lexicon. It really helps! I don’t recommend trying to use that song to learn the alphabet — that would be overwhelming. But once you know the Hebrew alphabet, this song will definitely help you remember the order of the letters. (Like the “A, B, C, D” song in English.)
A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax by Bill T. Arnold and John H. Choi. (For intermediate through advanced) After you’ve learned first-semester Hebrew and are moving into the intermediate level, this book is wonderful for reviewing and digging deeper into the different ways words are used in sentences — with lots of specific references from Hebrew Bible verses under each entry. You’ll get into the nitty gritty of all the different ways grammatical cases are used, a deep dive into verbs, details on particles, an overview of types of clauses, and much more. This intermediate reference guide will deepen your understanding of a Hebrew Bible verse for clearer meaning. If your hope is to be able to translate and interpret more of what you read from the Hebrew Bible, this guide is essential. I refer to it over and over.
Hebrew for Life: Strategies for Learning, Retaining, and Reviving Biblical Hebrew by Adam J. Howell, et al. (For intermediate through advanced) You invest a lot of time and energy in learning biblical Hebrew, but then you move on with your life, and what you learned starts to fade. In the midst of a busy life, how can you keep up with your biblical Hebrew understanding after your classes are over? This book offers simple strategies for fitting Hebrew review into your daily life. It’s meant to be inspiring and motivational as well as practical. Feeling like you’re losing your grasp of biblical Hebrew? Pick a chapter and find a way to reengage.
Devotions on the Hebrew Bible: 54 Reflections to Inspire and Instruct, Milton Eng and Lee M. Fields, editors. (For intermediate through advanced) After you’ve learned first-semester biblical Hebrew, you might enjoy these devotionals that focus on Hebrew Bible verses. Written by many different authors, the devotionals offer mini lessons on points of grammar or interpretation that are relevant to the devotional verse, and they also tie it back to practical aspects of life and ministry. With 54 reflections, you could easily set aside time to read one per week for a year. Each entry is short but significant, making this book a very accessible way to keep biblical Hebrew on your mind and engage deeply with God’s Word.
Exegetical Gems from Biblical Hebrew by H. H. Hardy II. (For intermediate through advanced) If you’re more advanced in biblical Hebrew, this book will help you grow in understanding as well as review what you’ve learned. Each chapter highlights a particular grammatical concept that is important for a deeper understanding of biblical Hebrew, along with reference to verses where you can apply that understanding. It’s a great way to sharpen your skills in biblical Hebrew, while staying refreshed on the grammar you’ve already learned.
I invite you to visit the next page in this series: Biblical Hebrew Resources.
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