Biblical Hebrew: 3 More Words from Joseph’s Story

I hope you have enjoyed spending time with Joseph’s story this past week. Here, you can review the 5 Hebrew words we learned in the previous lesson about Joseph. As a reminder, Joseph’s story begins with Genesis 37. While we still have Joseph on our hearts, let’s learn three more words in biblical Hebrew. Continue reading “Biblical Hebrew: 3 More Words from Joseph’s Story”

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. Continue reading “Joseph’s Story: 5 Biblical Hebrew Words”

Psalm 23:1 in Hebrew: A Very Real Relationship with a Very Real God

This is one of my favorite verses in biblical Hebrew – Psalm 23:1:

יְהוָה רֹעִי לאֹ אֶחְסָר

(YHWH ro-’ee lo ekh-sar.)

As a student of biblical Hebrew, it takes me several rounds of translation before arriving at smooth-sounding English. I love the first stage of this process, and I really don’t ever want to lose that. It’s the stage where I just make very literal connections between the Hebrew words and a raw understanding in English. Why do I like this part? Because it brings God front and center. Continue reading “Psalm 23:1 in Hebrew: A Very Real Relationship with a Very Real God”

Biblical Hebrew Qal Verbs: Yatza and Matza (but not Matzah)

Let’s look at two Qal verbs in biblical Hebrew: יָצָא (“yatza”), which means “to go forth,” and מָצָא (“matza”), which means “to find.” (Remember, Qal is a type of Hebrew verb stem, or “binyan.” If you don’t know what that means yet, that’s okay – you can still learn these verbs and their meanings.)

I have found it easiest to learn these two words, “yatza” and “matza,” together because the sounds are similar and the meanings can be easily related. Think of it this way: “Go forth and find it!”

As you would expect from me, I also came up with my own ways of remembering each word. Continue reading “Biblical Hebrew Qal Verbs: Yatza and Matza (but not Matzah)”

Biblical Hebrew Prepositions: Over and Under

Here are two helpful prepositions to learn in Biblical Hebrew – the words for “over” and “under.”


This word is pronounced like “all.” It means “over.”


This word is pronounced “ta-khat” (with the stress on the first syllable). It means “under.”

As usual, I came up with a way to remember these words. Continue reading “Biblical Hebrew Prepositions: Over and Under”

“Before” We Learn More Biblical Hebrew Prepositions, Let’s Learn This One

Prepositions are great to learn. They help us get around.

We can use prepositions spatially and temporally, and sometimes both.

For example, you could say,

“I am standing before the door.”

“I will be there before you get there.”

The same word is used — the preposition “before.”

But it acts in two different ways. Continue reading ““Before” We Learn More Biblical Hebrew Prepositions, Let’s Learn This One”

A Hebrew Practice Exercise: Jeremiah 31:3-4

A friend asked what Jeremiah 31:3-4 looks like in Hebrew. I thought these might be good verses to look up in the lexicon, to practice translation and analysis.

Following is my attempt. Remember, I am also a student. I am learning every day.

I encourage you to make your own attempt. Enjoy writing out the words in Hebrew, looking them up in the lexicon, parsing the verbs (I know that takes time, but it is great practice), writing your translation using the lexicon, and comparing your translation with prominent Bible translations. Continue reading “A Hebrew Practice Exercise: Jeremiah 31:3-4”

A Few Thoughts on Biblical Hebrew from a Neophyte

I just completed a semester of Biblical Hebrew. In my lifetime, I’ve had the privilege to study 17 languages, and Biblical Hebrew was by far the most difficult.

I’m not sure why I struggled so much, but every time I looked at a sentence for translation, the first thing I did was cry! Then, I just went to work deciphering each word at a time, working backwards as Hebrew is written from right to left, until I had enough written down to try and make sense of the sentence. It reminded me of deciphering code, which should have been a fun challenge if I weren’t pressed for time and stressed about grades.

Each sentence took me about half an hour to translate. When I say “translate,” that means I gave my best rendition. It doesn’t mean I got it right. On the final exam, I noticed each sentence only took 20 minutes. That was either a sign of improvement through the semester, or a sign of the professor’s mercy in crafting the sentences. Probably a little of each. Continue reading “A Few Thoughts on Biblical Hebrew from a Neophyte”