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.
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.
- Define frequently attested Hebrew vocabulary (approx. 700 words)
- Reproduce noun endings and the strong verb paradigms (all Qal forms and representative forms of the Niphal – Hophal)
- Parse all strong verb forms (Qal – Hophal)
- Read Hebrew aloud
- Translate a graded reader of Genesis 37-50 (Joseph narrative)
- Translate previously unseen texts with minimal recourse to language aids
- Display a comprehension of familiar texts when reading them in the original language (without having to translate them first)
For purposes of this course, we will be using Memrise to learn and memorize vocabulary and grammar. Do your best to practice these regularly.
- Alphabet: Symbols and Pronunciation. For learning the alphabet. Note that you only need to learn the block letters, although cursive Hebrew is useful for writing out Hebrew more quickly.
- Biblical Hebrew: Top 1000 Words. Covers the 1000 most frequent words that occur in the Hebrew Bible. For this course, you must learn at least the top 700.
- Classical Hebrew Conjugation of the Regular Verb. For memorizing the different forms of the Hebrew verb.
- Biblical Hebrew. A more comprehensive vocabulary list that covers the top 2000 words.
- Biblical Hebrew Grammar Review: Verb Stems, Usages. For memorizing the meanings of technical terms.
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.
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.
- Kutz, Karl V. and Rebekah Josberger. Learning Biblical Hebrew: Reading for Comprehension: An Introductory Grammar. Lexham Press, 2018. This will be the main textbook used throughout the course.
- Learning Biblical Hebrew Workbook: A Graded Reader with Exercises. Lexham Press, 2019. Provides the readings and exercises that go with the lessons in the textbook. It is highly recommended that you do each exercise after reading the lesson for the week.
- Brown, Francis, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Hendrickson Publishers, 1994. The standard Hebrew lexicon used in Old Testament studies. Originally published in 1906, but has held up well for its age. Everyone has to have one. (available for free on edu)
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).
- Van Pelt, Miles V., and Gary D. Pratico. Graded Reader of Biblical Hebrew: A Guide to Reading the Hebrew Bible. 2nd Zondervan Academic, 2020. Provides translation exercises from a broad swathe of OT texts, with accompanying notes on grammar and syntax.
- Chisholm, Robert B. A Workbook for Intermediate Hebrew: Grammar, Exegesis, and Commentary on Jonah and Ruth. Kregel Academic, 2006. Provides translation exercises from Jonah and Ruth.
- Cook, John A., and Robert D. Holmstedt. Intermediate Biblical Hebrew: An Illustrated Grammar. Baker Academic, 2020. Provides translation exercises from 1-2 Kings.
- Putnam, Frederic Clarke. Hebrew Bible Insert: A Student’s Guide to the Syntax of Biblical Hebrew. 2nd edition. Stylus Publishing, 1997. The most basic Hebrew syntax text. Only covers the bare minimum that you will need to know. (available for free on edu)
- Arnold, Bill T., and John H. Choi. A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, 2018. Provides more information on Hebrew syntax, without going into excessive detail.
- Waltke, Bruce K., and M. O’Connor. Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. Eisenbrauns, 1990. The most comprehensive Hebrew syntax book. Recommended if you really want to gain expertise in Hebrew. (available for free on edu)
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.
- Hardy, H. H. Exegetical Gems from Biblical Hebrew. Baker Academic, 2019. A good book to have if you would like to see examples of how knowing Biblical Hebrew helps in interpreting the Bible better. Also useful as a review grammar.
- Stuart, Douglas. Old Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors. 4th Westminster John Knox Press, 2009. Another handy book for applying one’s knowledge of Hebrew to Biblical interpretation.
- Chisholm, Robert. From Exegesis to Exposition: A Practical Guide to Using Biblical Hebrew. Baker, 1998. Combines Hebrew exegesis with homiletics. Primarily designed for clergy, but has some utility for laity as well.
- Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. German Bible Society, 2006. The standard critical edition of the Hebrew Bible. The BHS is currently being phased out by the newer Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ), although that project has not been completed yet.
- Kelley, Page H., Daniel B. Mynatt, and Timothy G. Crawford. The Masorah of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: Introduction and Annotated Glossary. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998. A guide to the Masoretic notes found in the BHS.
- Brotzman, Ellis R, and Eric J. Tully. Old Testament Textual Criticism: A Practical Introduction. Baker Academic, 2016. Covers the basics of OT textual criticism.
- Tov, Emanuel. Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. 3rd Fortress Press, 2011. The gold standard when it comes to OT textual criticism. Covers all the important issues and evidence.
- Ulrich, Eugene. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Developmental Composition of the Bible. Brill, 2015. Provides new research on OT textual criticism as gleaned from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Has a more liberal bent compared to the preceding two books.
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.
|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|