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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Van Pelt, Miles V., 1969_ Biblical Hebrew : a compact guide / Miles V. Van Pelt. p. cm. ISBN 978 – 0 – 310 – 32607 – 6 (softcover) 1. Hebrew language — Grammar. I. Title. PJ4567.3.V348 2012 492.4'82421 — dc23 2012004858
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Cover design: Tammy JohnsonTypeset by Miles V. Van Pelt
Printed in China
12 13 14 15 16 17 /CTPS/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Basic PhonologyAlphabet 1
Direction 2Begadkephat Letters 2Gutturals 2Modern Pronunciation 2
AppendicesVerb Paradigms and Charts 154Hebrew-English Lexicon 169
This little book was written in order to provide stu-dents with a “compact guide” to biblical Hebrew. Be-ginning students will find the presentation of material convenient for review. Intermediate students can use this mini-grammar as a practical tool for translation. Even the veterans of this biblical language will find thecompact guide helpful for blowing off the dust, filling in the cracks, and keeping fit in biblical Hebrew.
The utility of a compact guide is offset by limitations related to page length and size. The selection of con-tent will not satisfy everyone’s preferences, but we didtake careful aim. The best way to access the book’s content is through the extended table of contents. The material presented in this book is derived primarily from Basics of Biblical Hebrew, 2nd edition, by Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt (Zondervan, 2007).
Thanks again to my friend and editor, Verlyn Ver-brugge, for all of his expert help with the production of this guide. My teaching assistants, Kelley Baldridge and Josh Drake, make it possible for me to write in the midst of a full schedule. Thanks to Paul Sumner for hiscareful proofreading. Finally, I am indebted to a spe-cial team of Hebrew language consultants who pro-vided expert proofreading and content checking: Jane E. Baynard, William Baynard, Chapel Baynard, Leigh Ann King, William King, May Hudson King, and Charlie King. You guys saved my bacon!
Letter Final Name PronunciationForm
א Alef (silent)ב Bet b as in boyג Gimel g as in Godד Dalet d as in dayה He h as in hayו Waw w as in wayז Zayin z as in Zionח Het ch as in Bachט Tet t as in toyי Yod y as in yesכ ך Kaf k as in kingל Lamed l as in lionמ ם Mem m as in motherנ ן Nun n as in nowס Samek s as in sinע Ayin (silent)פ ף Pe p as in pastorצ ץ Tsade ts as in bootsק Qof k as in kingר Resh r as in runש Sin s as in sinש Shin sh as in shipת Taw t as in toy
1. Direction. Hebrew is written from right to left, not left to right as in English.
א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ ל מ נ ס ע פ צ ק ר ש ש ת2. Begadkephat Letters. Six Hebrew consonants
have two possible pronunciations. The presence or absence of the Daghesh Lene distinguishes be-tween the hard or soft pronunciations of the consonant.
ב b as in boy כ k as in kingב v as in vine כ ch as in Bach
ג g as in God פ p as in pastorג gh as in aghast פ ph as in alphabet
ד d as in day ת t as in toyד dh as in the ת th as in thin
3. Gutturals. The guttural consonants are ע ,ח ,ה ,א and ר (a semi-guttural). Gutturals (1) prefer a-class vowels, (2) reject Daghesh Forte, and (3) take Hateph vowels instead of Vocal Shewa. The semi-guttural ר may take Vocal Shewa.
4. Modern Pronunciation. Israeli Hebrew differs in a number of ways from what is considered to be the traditional or ancient pronunciation.
Traditional ModernConsonant Pronunciation Pronunciation
ג gh as in aghast g as in Godד dh as in the d as in dayת th as in thin t as in toyו w as in way v as in vine
Hebrew Alphabet ※ 2
Hebrew vowels can be divided into two groups: regu-lar vowels and vowel letters. In each group, there are as many as five vowel classes (a, e, i, o, u). The regular vowels are presented in three major categories: long, short, and reduced. The vowel letters are organized bythe consonant with which they appear (He, Waw, and Yod).
Regular VowelsLong Vowels
a-class ב Qamets a as in father
e-class ב Tsere e as in they
o-class ב Holem o as in roleShort Vowels
a-class ב Pathach a as in bat
e-class ב Seghol e as in better
i-class ב Hireq i as in bitter
o-class ב Qamets Hatuf o as in bottle
u-class ב Qibbuts u as in rulerReduced (Hateph) Vowels
a-class ב Hateph Pathach a as in amuse
e-class ב Hateph Seghol e as in metallic
o-class ב Hateph Qamets o as in commit
Vowel LettersVowel Letters Written with ה (He)
a-class הב Qamets He a as in father
e-class הב Tsere He e as in they
הב Seghol He e as in better
o-class הב Holem He o as in roleVowel Letters Written with ו (Waw)
o-class וב Holem Waw o as in role
u-class וב Shureq u as in rulerVowel Letters Written with י (Yod)
e-class יב Tsere Yod e as in they
יב Seghol Yod e as in better
i-class יב Hireq Yod i as in machine
Notes on Hebrew Vowel Letters
1. Vowel letters written with ה (He) occur only at the end of a word, as in התור (law) and היבנ (he will build).
2. Vowel letters written with ו (Waw) and י (Yod) are often referred to as unchangeable or histori-cally long vowels.
3. Defective writing is that phenomenon in which certain vowel letters are written without their consonant. There are three patterns of defective writing.
Hebrew Vowels ※ 4
וב ➣ ב Holem Waw written as Holem
וב ➣ ב Shureq written as Qibbuts
יב ➣ ב Hireq Yod written as Hireq
Other Vowel Symbols
1. Daghesh Lene (ב) appears as a small dot only in a begadkephat consonant in order to distinguish between the hard and soft pronunciations.
2. Daghesh Forte (ב) doubles the consonant in which it appears. It can occur in any consonant except the gutturals and ר.
3. Silent Shewa (ב) has a zero value and is never pronounced and never transliterated.
4. Vocal Shewa (ב) maintains a hurried pronuncia-tion and sounds like the a in amuse.