Basics of Biblical Hebrew with Luis Dizon

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About the Lecturer

J. Luis Dizon has an MTS from the Toronto School of Theology, and is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations. His areas of research specialty revolves around comparing the Abrahamic Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). He is has done extensive study on topics pertaining to Biblical Studies, such as historical backgrounds, archaeology, textual criticism, and study of the original languages.

COURSE DESCRIPTION 

An introduction to Classical Hebrew grammar, stressing vocabulary acquisition, noun and verb morphology, proficiency in oral reading and translation, and familiarization with Hebrew language tools.

This class includes a strong focus on the historical development of the Hebrew language so that students understand the principles of word formation rather than having to rely solely on rote memory. Students will be translating slightly modified passages taken from Genesis 37‑50 (the Joseph narrative), as well as the books of Jonah and Ruth, and will learn frequently attested Hebrew vocabulary.

EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES    

  1. Define frequently attested Hebrew vocabulary (approx. 700 words)
  2. Reproduce noun endings and the strong verb paradigms (all Qal forms and representative forms of the Niphal – Hophal)
  3. Parse all strong verb forms (Qal – Hophal)
  4. Read Hebrew aloud
  5. Translate a graded reader of Genesis 37-50 (Joseph narrative)
  6. Translate previously unseen texts with minimal recourse to language aids
  7. Display a comprehension of familiar texts when reading them in the original language (without having to translate them first)

 Memrise Courses

For purposes of this course, we will be using Memrise to learn and memorize vocabulary and grammar. Do your best to practice these regularly.

Essential

 Optional

Note: Duolingo also has a course on Modern Hebrew. Although the grammar is quite different from Biblical Hebrew, I have found it to be helpful for internalizing how to read and write in Hebrew characters. There is also significant overlap in vocabulary between BH and MH.

Required Texts

If you’re going to follow along with this course, you ought to have these textbooks. You can get a better deal if you buy them digitally on Verbum Bible Software. If you are still too strapped for cash, you can use this grammar for free. However, it is very rudimentary, and you won’t be getting nearly as much out of it as you would if you obtain the Lexham textbooks.

Recommended Texts

You don’t need these for the course, but they will help immensely with mastering Hebrew, and are essential if you plan on working with the language on a regular basis. Note that some of these will be required texts later on when doing intermediate Hebrew.

Reader’s Hebrew Bibles

  • Vance, Donald A., George Athas and Yael Avrahami, eds. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: A Reader’s Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, 2015. Comes with a running dictionary that covers words that occur 70x or less. You can obtain this OR…
  • Brown, Philip A., and Bryan W. Smith, eds. A Reader’s Hebrew Bible. Zondervan Academic, 2008. This edition has a more comprehensive running dictionary than the previous one (100x vs. 70x). Compare the two texts and choose the one that you find more suitable.

Supplementary Grammar and Vocabulary

  • Van Pelt, Miles V. English Grammar to Ace Biblical Hebrew. Zondervan Academic, 2010. Provides a simplified explanation of Hebrew grammar using English grammar as its basis. Very useful if you are having trouble grasping certain grammatical concepts.
  • Joüon, Paul and T. Muraoka. A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. Subsidia Biblica. 2nd Biblical Institute Press, 2006. Unlike the Lexham textbook, this is a reference grammar, and thus explains Hebrew grammar more comprehensively. Provides extra information that isn’t necessary to know for this course, but will be very helpful for Hebrew exegesis.
  • Andersen, Francis I., and A. Dean Forbes. Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized. Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic. Eisenbrauns, 2012. An advanced grammar that approaches Biblical Hebrew from the perspective of corpus linguistics. For experts only.
  • Van Pelt, Miles V., and Gary D. Pratico. The Vocabulary Guide to Biblical Hebrew. Zondervan Academic, 2003. If Memrise isn’t your thing and you want to learn vocabulary the old-fashioned way, this is the book you should use. Vocabulary cards are also available on Amazon (link).

Translation Exercises

Hebrew Syntax

Hebrew Dictionaries and Lexicons

  • Clines, David J. A. The Concise Dictionary of Classical Hebrew. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2009. More up to date than the BDB and HALOT, as it incorporates data from newly discovered texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The unabridged edition comes in eight volumes. Should be used as a supplement rather than a replacement for the BDB.
  • Koehler, Ludwig, et. al., eds., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. 2 volumes. Brill, 2001. Another updated lexicon. Considered one of the best lexicons for Hebrew and Aramaic. Very expensive, however.
  • Helmer Ringren, G. Johannes Botterweck. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. 3 volumes. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1972. Provides a comprehensive survey of how each Hebrew word is used theologically in the Old Testament, but has a liberal bent, and is somewhat dated.
  • Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody Publishers, 2003. More conservative and up to date than the TDOT, although slightly less detailed.

Hebrew Exegesis

Textual Criticism

 

Further Reading (for aspiring scholars)

While none of these articles are necessary to read, they will help you gain an in-depth knowledge of the historical development and mechanics of Biblical Hebrew. Taken from the Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd edition. Articles are uploaded online so no purchase is necessary.

  • Brovender, Chaim, Joshua Blau, Eduard Yecheskel Kutscher, Yochanan Breuer, Esther Goldenberg, Eli Eytan, and Uzzi Ornan. “Hebrew Language.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 620-683. Vol. 8. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. Gale eBooks.
  • Naveh, Joseph, Solomon Asher Birnbaum, David Diringer, Zvi Hermann Federbush, Jonathan Shunary, and Jacob Maimon. “Alphabet, Hebrew.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, 689-728. Vol. 1.
  • Weingreen, Jacob, Zeev Ben-Hayyim, and Uzzi Ornan. “Hebrew Grammar.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, 554-620. Vol. 8.
  • Morag, Shelomo. “Pronunciations of Hebrew.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, 547-562. Vol. 16.
  • Loewinger, David Samuel, Ephraim Kupfer, and Abraham I. Katsh. “Manuscripts, Hebrew.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, 488-495. Vol. 13.

Lesson Plan

Session no. Topic Reading

(from LBH)

Homework

(from workbook)

1 Intro, alphabet and vowels chs. 1-2; Appendix A Exercises 1-2
2 Syllables ch. 3 Exercise 3
3 Gender and number ch. 4 Exercise 4; ch. 4
4 Vowel changes and noun functions chs. 5-6 Exercise 5
5 Construct nouns ch. 7 Exercise 7; ch. 7
6 Possessive suffixes ch. 8 Exercise 8; ch. 8
7 Numbers chs. 9-10 chs. 9-10
8 Intro to verbs ch. 11-12 chs. 11-12
9 Qal perfect ch. 13 Exercise 13; ch. 13
10 Qal imperfect ch. 14 Exercise 14; ch. 14
11 Qal volitionals ch. 15 Exercise 15; ch. 15
12 Qal participle and infinitive ch. 16 Exercise 16; ch. 16
13 Qal waw consercutive ch. 17 Exercise 17; ch. 17
14 Niphal ch. 18 Exercise 18; ch. 18
15 Piel-Hithpael ch. 19 Exercise 19; ch. 19
16 Hiphil-Hophal chs. 20-21 Exercise 20; ch. 20
17 Suffixes on verbs chs. 22-23 Exercise 23; chs. 22-23
18 Intro to weak verbs ch. 24 Exercise 24; Ruth 1:1-10
19 III-Waw/Yod ch. 25 Exercise 25; Ruth 1:11-22
20 I-Waw/Yod ch. 26 Exercise 26; Ruth 2
21 II-Waw/Yod (part 1) ch. 27 Exercise 27; Ruth 3
22 II-Waw/Yod (part 2) ch. 28 Exercise 28; Ruth 4
23 Geminates ch. 29 Exercise 29; Jonah 1
24 I-Nun ch. 30 Exercise 30; Jonah 2
25 I-Guttural / I-Aleph ch. 31 Exercise 31; Jonah 3
26 II-Guttural ch. 32 Jonah 4
27 III-Guttural ch. 33 None