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  • The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible


    Hebrew Letters, Words and Roots Defined Within Their Ancient Cultural Context

    Jeff A. Benner

  • AcknowledgmentsI would first like to thank my wife Denise for her patience and encouragement. I am extremely blessed to have been privileged with her as a gift from above and the one who has been my continual companion and confidant. She has always supported me in this endeavor and allowed me the space and time for research and writing. Without her devotion and inspiration this work would never have come to fruition.

    I am also grateful to Dr. Larry S. Hirsch. Without his initial introduction into Hebrew thought and language and his instruction in Biblical studies I would never have started this journey into the Ancient Hebrew thought, culture and language.

    Also my friend Michael Calpino who continually supported my studies in the Hebrew language, listened to my discoveries and assisted me by working out many word and root origins and meanings.

    I would also like to thank the hundreds of people who have supported my work at the Ancient Hebrew Research Center Website with their suggestions, corrections and encouragement.

    There are also many great Hebrew scholars who, with their research and work, have laid the foundations for me and others interested in the Hebrew culture and language who are much deserving of our thanks.

  • The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible



    Purpose of the Lexicon

    In order to demonstrate the need for an Ancient Hebrew lexicon let us examine the word PPI (halel), how it is written and what it means.

    The written word The Hebrew word PPI, as it appears here, in Hebrew dictionaries and in Hebrew Bibles, is written with the Modern Hebrew script. But where did the Modern Hebrew script come from? Hebrew was originally written with a pictographic script similar to Egyptian Hieroglyphs but, when Israel was taken into captivity in Babylon they adopted the Aramaic script of the region and used it to write Hebrew. The Modern Hebrew script used today is in fact Aramaic in origin, not Hebrew.

    The word meaning According to Hebrew dictionaries and lexicons the word PPI is translated as "praise". The Ancient Hebrew language is a concrete oriented language meaning that the meaning of Hebrew words are rooted in something that can be sensed by the five senses such as a tree which can be seen, sweet which can be tasted and noise which can be heard. Abstract concepts such as "praise" have no foundation in the concrete and are a product of ancient Greek philosophy.

    Where is the Hebrew? If the word PPI is written with the Aramaic script and the definition "praise" is from the Greek, where is the Hebrew in this word? The purpose of the "Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible" is to restore the original Hebrew to the Hebrew language of the Bible.

    The original Hebrew The word PPI would have been written as PPI in the Early Hebrew script (over 3200 years ago) or as PPI in the Middle Hebrew script (between 3200 and 2500 years ago). The original pictographic letters of the parent root PI is a man with his arms raised "looking" at something spectacular and a shepherd staff that is used to move the flock

  • The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible


    "toward" a place. When these are combined the idea of "looking toward" something is represented. The original meaning of PI is the North Star, a bright light in the night sky that is "looked toward" to guide one on the journey.

    If we are going to read the Bible correctly it must be through the perspective of the Ancient Hebrews who wrote it, not from a Modern Aramaic or Greek perspective. The word PPI in its original concrete meaning is a bright light that guides the journey and we "praise" Yah by looking at him to guide us on our journey through life.

    Perspective of the Lexicon

    The first and foremost concept that a reader of the Biblical text must learn is that the ancient Hebrews were products of an eastern culture while you as the reader are the product of a western culture. These two cultures are as different as oil and vinegar, they do not mix very well. What may seem rational in our western minds would be considered irrational to an easterner of an ancient Near East culture. The same is true in the reverse, what may be rational to an ancient Easterner would be completely irrational in our western mind.

    The authors of the Biblical text are writing from within their culture to those of the same culture. In order to fully understand the text one needs to understand the culture and thought processes of the Hebrew people.

    All existing Hebrew Lexicons of the Bible convert the vocabulary of the ancient Hebrews into a vocabulary compatible to our modern western language. The greatest problem with this is that it promotes western thought when reading the Biblical text. In this Lexicon the mind of the reader is transformed into an eastern one in order to understand the text through the eyes of the ancient Hebrews who penned the words of the Bible.

    One of the greatest differences between this lexicon and others is the use of the ancient pictographic script which Hebrew was originally written in. Because the Ancient Hebrew language is based on these pictographs, they are used rather than the Modern Hebrew script.

  • The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible



    The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible has its own website with additional material and information such as verb charts, listing of Biblical Hebrew words in order of their frequency, common Hebrew roots and updates to the lexicon and much more. The author is also available for questions, comments and requests.

    Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible website http://ahlb.ancient-hebrew.org

  • The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible


    Ancient Hebrew Thought The definition of a word is going to be directly related to the culture in which that word is being used. One word may have different meanings depending on the culture that is using it. In order to place the correct context to a Hebrew word from the Ancient Hebrew language one must first understand Ancient Hebrew thought.

    Abstract and Concrete

    Greek thought views the world through the mind (abstract thought). Ancient Hebrew thought views the world through the senses (concrete thought).

    Concrete thought is the expression of concepts and ideas in ways that can be seen, touched, smelled, tasted or heard. All five of the senses are used when speaking, hearing, writing and reading the Hebrew language. An example of this can be found in Psalms 1:3; He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. In this passage the author expresses his thoughts in concrete terms such as; tree, streams of water, fruit and leaf.

    Abstract thought is the expression of concepts and ideas in ways that cannot be seen, touched, smelled, tasted or heard. Examples of Abstract thought can be found in Psalms 103:8; The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger, abounding in love.The words compassion, grace, anger and love are all abstract words, ideas that cannot be experienced by the senses. Why do we find these abstract words in a passage of concrete thinking Hebrews? Actually, these are abstract English words used to translate the original Hebrew concrete words. The translators often translate this way because the original Hebrew makes no sense when literally translated into English.

    Let us take one of the above abstract words to demonstrate the translation from a concrete Hebrew word to an abstract English word. Anger, an abstract word, is actually the Hebrew word 4E (aph) which literally means nose, a concrete word. When one is very angry, he begins to breathe hard and the nostrils begin to flare. A Hebrew sees anger as the flaring of the nose (nostrils). If the translator literally translated the above passage slow to nose, the English reader would not understand.

  • The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible


    Appearance and Functional Descriptions

    Greek thought describes objects in relation to its appearance. Hebrew thought describes objects in relation to its function.

    A Greek description of a common pencil would be; "it is yellow and about eight inches long". A Hebrew description of the pencil would be related to its function such as "I write words with it". Notice that the Hebrew description uses the verb "write" while the Greek description uses the adjectives "yellow" and "long". Because of Hebrew's form of functional descriptions, verbs are used much more frequently then adjectives.

    To our Greek way of thinking a deer and an oak are two very different objects and we would never describe them in the same way. The Hebrew word for both of these objects is PME (ayil) because the functional description of these two objects are identical to the Ancient Hebrews, therefore, the same Hebrew word is used for both.

    The Hebraic definition of PME is "a strong leader". A deer stag is one of the most powerful animals of the forest and is seen as "a strong leader" among the other animals of the forest. The wood of the oak tree is very hard compared to other trees and is seen as a "strong leader" among the trees of the forest.

    Notice the two different translations of the Hebrew word PME in Psalms 29:9. The NASB and KJV translates it as "The voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve" while the NIV translates it as "The voice of the LORD twists the oaks". The literal translation of this verse in Hebrew thought would be; "The voice of the LORD makes the strong leaders turn ".

    When translating the Hebrew