An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
The study of Hebrew is an important part of satisfying and fruitful study of the Hebrew Bible and its exegesis.
This Introduction to Biblical Hebrew offers a simple introduction to Hebrew for beginners. These easy lessons will give you confidence to learn, step by step, the basics of Biblical Hebrew.
We begin with some Hebrew language basics...
a. Hebrew Aleph-bet Lessons 1-5 start HERE.
b. The CURSIVE form of the Hebrew letters. Lesson 6 HERE.
c. Hebrew vowels and nikkud. Lesson 7 HERE.
d. An introductory vocabulary. Start HERE.
Learning the Hebrew alphabet is a prequisite to all Hebrew language studies. This task will be made easier if you also practice writing the letters. ...We suggest that you photocopy the downloadable sheets provided since you will need to practice writing these new letters many times. Follow the guidelines on the sheets so that you form the letters correctly.
If you are serious about learning Hebrew, and if you wish to, one day [perhaps], study with Jewish professors in Israel, you will need some familiarity with the handwritten CURSIVE form of Hebrew. The cursive form of written Hebrew, like cursive print in English, is faster and easier to write. It is important that you learn to recognize the letters when they are written in cursive, and recommended that you practice writing in the cursive right from the start of your encounter with the Hebrew language. You will need to be able to read and recognize the letters in formal PRINT form also, although it is not necessary to learn to write the print form of the letters.* There is another form, a BLOCK printing style, which is helpful to know also.
* The PRINT form of Hebrew lettering is generally reserved for printed materials. You can learn how to reproduce this form using your word processor HERE.
The Hebrew alphabet (or aleph-bet) consists of twenty two letters, all of which are consonants. Five of these consonants are written differently when they appear as the last letter of a word. These ‘end’ letters are called ‘sofit’ letters—a word that means final. The letter is pronounced in the same way whether it appears as a regular letter or a sofit letter. This use of the sofit letters will become clear to you as you progress to learning vocabulary.
In Ancient Hebrew, and now also in Modern Hebrew, the letters were written without any ‘vowelization’. However, the Hebrew Bible now uses a series of indicators called nikkudot so that we know how to pronounce the words with the correct vowels.
Once you are familiar with the letters of the aleph-bet and the nikkud system (the use of nikkudot) you will be ready to learn a few Hebrew words. As you gain confidence you will be able to build upon your vocabulary.
Enjoy your Introduction to Biblical Hebrew. Use the menu [on the left] to navigate your way through your introductory Hebrew course.
If you have any questions or clarifications at any time, or would like some help contact Etz Hayim—"Tree of Life." [email]