How to do a Hebrew Word Study Without Knowing Hebrew
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- Define Hebrew words based on their original cultural context
- Have a basic understanding of the philosophy and thought process of the Hebrew people allowing for proper Biblical interpretation.
- Use a Bible concordance and dictionary to define Hebrew words and roots.
- Use E-Sword to do an in-depth study of Hebrew words.
- Know how to use various Hebrew lexicons to do a study of Hebrew words and roots.
- Know how to navigate through a Hebrew-English interlinear Bible.
- Find the definition of a word based on the context of how it is used in the Bible.
- Have a digital library of free resources that will assist you in digging into the Hebrew language of the Bible.
- There are no requirements for taking this course, except for a desire to expand your knowledge of the Bible.
- No materials are required to take this course as you will be provided everything you need, but if you have a Bible, dictionary, lexicon, interlinear or other word study related material will be helpful.
Shalom, my name is Jeff Benner. I am the founder of the Ancient Hebrew Research Center and have written over a dozen books on Biblical Hebrew including the Mechanical Translation of Genesis and Exodus and the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible. Through years of study, research and teaching others, I have developed a method of studying Hebrew words that will benefit you in seeking a deeper understanding of the Bible.
The Hebrew Bible (called the Tanakh by Jews and the Old Testament by Christians) was written by Hebrews whose language and culture was very different from our own. A language is closely tied to the culture of those who speak the language. In the case of the Hebrews, who were a nomadic and agrarian people, their language was closely connected to that culture and lifestyle. When we read the Bible, our 20th Century culture and lifestyle will often influence how we interpret it, therefore it is essential that we read and study the Bible from their culture and perspective so that we can better understand the Bible.
When most people do a word study they will open up Strong's dictionary, look up the word they are studying, read that definition and then move on. But there is much more to a thorough study of a Hebrew word, which will open up a whole new world to the reader. This course will teach you how to dig deeper into the meanings of the words of the Bible to uncover the more in-depth understanding of the words in the Bible. Even if you do not know any Hebrew, the resources and tools available to you will provide you with a wealth of information.
- This course will interest anyone who desires to dig deeper into the meaning of the words in their Bible.
- This course is designed to be used by anyone, even if they have no prior knowledge or instruction in Hebrew.
- The methods demonstrated in this course will benefit both beginning and advanced students in Hebrew and Biblical Studies.
- This course focuses on Biblical Hebrew, the language of the Tanach (Old Testament).
- This course is not suited for Biblical Greek, the language of the New Testament.
A short introduction about myself and my research into the Hebrew language of the Bible. I will also introduce the importance of understanding the Bible form a Hebrew perspective and give a brief overview of what to expect in this course.
In this lecture you will learn the difference between abstract and concrete words. Because the Hebrew language uses concrete words instead of abstracts, it is important to learn the concrete meanings of Hebrew words to better be able to interpret Biblical passages correctly.
Many Hebrew words can be used in a literal or figurative sense. As an example, the Hebrew word mateh, meaning branch, can be a literal branch of a tree or it can be a figurative branch of a family lineage. In this lecture we will look at the literal and figurative meanings of the Hebrew word that is often translated as "bless."
The Bible was written by an ancient people in a land and time, whose culture and philosophy is very different from our own. It is paramount that the reader of the Bible view the text from the culture and perspective of the writers and not from their own culture and perspective, which will cause misinterpretations and misunderstandings of the text.
The Bible is full of descriptions, but if we use our own perspectives of descriptions, we will misinterpret the text. When we describe something, we generally describe its appearance. But as the Hebrews of the Bible had a very different philosophy than our own, we need to learn that they described things in a way that is very different from our own.
In this section you will need a Bible and a concordance and dictionary keyed to Strong's numbers. If you do not have these on hand, I will provide you with free resources that are available to complete this section. These resources include
- Strong's Hebrew Dictionary (PDF file)
- Link to an online Bible
- Link to eSword, a free downloadable Bible program
- link to Blue Letter Bible, an online Bible program
A Bible concordance and dictionary is essential for Hebrew word studies and they are easy to use, once you learn how. In this lecture you will learn how to use a standard Bible concordance and dictionary to be able to;
- Find the Hebrew word behind the English translation
- Look up a Hebrew word in the dictionary
- Understand the information provided in the dictionary
- Learn how to use the dictionary to find the more concrete meaning of a Hebrew word
E-Sword is a free Bible program that you can download and use on your computer (mobile versions are also available). With this program you can quickly and easily look up Bible passages, find the Hebrew word behind the English translations and look up other verses using that word. In this lecture I will show you how to use the program to;
- Look up a Bible verse
- Identify the Strong's number of the Hebrew word behind the English
- Learn how to use the dictionary to find the more concrete meaning of a Hebrew word
- How to download the concordance and use it
- How to do a simple Hebrew word study on any given word
As useful as Strong's and other similar dictionaries are, they do have their limitations that must be understood to prevent misunderstandings of Hebrew words and their translations. In this lecture we will focus on Strong's inability to identify all of the words that are derived out a given root word. In a future lecture we will look at some other resources that can help with this issue.
Another limitation of Strong's Dictionary is that it does not include the many prefixes and suffixes that are attached to Hebrew words, which will effect how one understands the Hebrew word. In this lecture I will show some examples of these prefixes and suffixes using Genesis 1:1. But don't worry, in a future lecture I will provide you with some tools to help with identifying these prefixes and suffixes.
One other major limitation of Strong's Dictionary is that it does not provide the different forms of Hebrew verbs. Strong's will only identify the simple form, but in the Hebrew text a verb can take on many different forms, which will drastically change how that verb will be translated. But again, don't worry as in a future lecture I will provide resources to help with understanding the basics of Hebrew verbs.
This lecture is an introduction to the Strong's Dictionary exercise that you will complete in the next lecture where you will be given Psalm 23 and and all the Strong's numbers associated with each English word. In this lecture I will provide an example of how to;
- Look up a Hebrew word in the dictionary
- Use the dictionary to find the more in-depth meaning of the word
- Apply the definition to the text to bring out its more Hebraic meaning
In this article I will explain how to look up words in Strong's Dictionary to find the more in-depth meaning to the words in Psalm 23. Once you you have found these meanings you will create your own paraphrase of Psalm 23 using the Hebraic meanings of the words.
The resource attached to this lecture is the worksheet that will be needed to complete the exercise and will include;
- The King James Bible text for Psalm 23
- The Strong's numbers associated with each word
- All of Strong's dictionary entries associated with the words in Psalm 23
Now that you have completed your exercise, let's compare notes. In this article is my own paraphrase of Psalm 23 using Strong's Dictionary to determine the more in-depth meaning of the words in this chapter, along with a detailed description of how I derived at my paraphrase.
There are many lexicons available to assist you with doing a Hebrew word study. In this article I will provide you with details on some of these lexicons, some of which are free as they in the Public Domain. The resources provided with this lecture are;
- Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon
- Benjamin Davidson's Lexicon
- Gesenius' Lexicon
- The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible
One of the limitations of Strong's was the inability to identify all the words derived out of one root, an important aspect when doing Hebrew word studies. In this lecture I will show you how the Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon will overcome this problem. But as this lexicon requires one to find a Hebrew word alphabetically, I show how to use the New Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon, which is keyed to Strong's numbers to allow you to find the Hebrew words easily.
Another limitation of Strong's was its inability to identify the prefixes and suffixes attached to Hebrew words. In this lecture I will show you how to use Benjamin Davidson's lexicon to find the Hebrew word as it appears in the Bible and decipher the prefixes and suffixes added to the word. The only drawback is that you must know the Hebrew alphabet to use this lexicon so you can look up the Hebrew words alphabetically.
In this lecture you will learn about the two-letter and three-letter roots of Hebrew words and how they relate to each other. I will also show you how to look up a Hebrew word in the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon by its Strong's number.
The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon will provide the cultural background of a Hebrew word by looking at all of the words and roots that are related to it. In this lecture you will learn;
- The mechanics of the Hebrew word and root entries
- How to Identify the root of a word
- How to Identify all of the words derived out of a common root
- How to find a common theme found in all the words related to one root
Once you have completed the exercise from the previous lecture, you will evaluate your work by comparing it to my own observations about the words provided. Your evaluation of the words may vary from mine, but you should at least be able to see some similarities and some observations that you may have missed.
An interlinear Bible may appear complicated at first, but learning how to navigate through and read an interlinear is fairly simple and will greatly improve your understanding of a given Bible passage, phrase or word. In this lecture you will be given an overview of the interlinear and;
- How to properly follow the interlinear text
- The basics of Hebrew sentence structure
- How to identify the prefixes and suffixes in Hebrew words
- How to identify and interpret Hebrew verbs
While Strong's Dictionary only provides a limited look at the words of the Hebrew Bible, an interlinear Bible will present a more accurate understanding of the words. In this lecture we will examine each word in Psalm 23:1 in the interlinear Bible to better refine our understanding and translation of this verse.
The translations provided for each Hebrew word will assist you with interpreting Hebrew verbs. While Strong's Dictionary is only able to provide the simple verb form, the interlinear can help with identifying different aspects of Hebrew verbs, refining your understanding of the words used in the Bible.
bible Dictionaries are an invaluable resource for researching and studying the manners, customs, lifestyle and culture of the Hebrew people of the Bible. In this lecture I will provide you a few examples of how a Bible Dictionary can help your understanding of Hebrew words and provide a cultural background. The resources provided in this lecture are in the public domain and include;
- Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Piercy's Bible Dictionary
- Smith's Bible Dictionary
Besides the Bible dictionaries that are written specifically for the Bible, there are many other resources available, such as encyclopedias, history books and the internet, for studying the culture and lifestyle of the Hebrew people. While these resources are not specific to the Bible, they can still be a valuable resource.
The translators of the Bible used specific English words to convey the meaning of the Hebrew words behind them. So when defining a word from the Biblical text, the first step is to determine the meaning of the English word. However, because the Hebrew language is so different from our own, English is extremely limited and cannot completely convey the meaning of a given Hebrew word.
In previous lectures we have learned how the study of the root of a given word will help to define the word that you are studying. By also looking at how the root of the word you are studying is used in its context you will better be able to define the root and thereby define the word you are studying.
You are now equipped with the tools and knowledge you need to do your own Hebrew word study, but don't worry, I'm not leaving you to defend for yourself just yet. In this exercise you will do your own Hebrew word study on a specific word, using the methods described in this course. Once you have completed your word study, I will go through my own study of this word in the next lecture to help you evaluate your own work.
Congratulations, you have just completed your first Hebrew word study. Now its time to compare notes. In this lecture, divided into three parts, I will go through my own study on the word righteousness. Compare your word study with my own, looking for things you may have missed, or maybe even something that I may have missed.