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Biblical Hebrew A COMPACT GUIDE

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Page 1: Biblical Hebrew - Zondervan Blog

Biblical HebrewA C o m pA C t G u i d e

Page 2: Biblical Hebrew - Zondervan Blog

Books by Miles V. Van Pelt with Gary D. Pratico

Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar

Basics of Biblical Hebrew Workbook

Charts of Biblical Hebrew

A Graded Reader of Biblical Hebrew

The Vocabulary Guide to Biblical Hebrew

Old Testament Hebrew Vocabulary Cards

Biblical Hebrew Laminated Sheets (Zondervan Get an A! Study Guide)

Basics of Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary Audio

Other Books by Miles V. Van PeltEnglish Grammar to Ace Biblical Hebrew

Basics of Biblical Aramaic: Complete Grammar, Lexicon, and Annotated Text

Page 3: Biblical Hebrew - Zondervan Blog

Biblical HebrewA C o m pA C t G u i d e

miles V. Van pelt

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Biblical Hebrew: A Compact Guide Copyright © 2012 by Miles V. Van Pelt

Requests for information should be addressed to:Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

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

Any Internet addresses (websites, blogs, etc.) and telephone numbers in this book are offered as a resource. They are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement by Zonder-van, nor does Zondervan vouch for the content of these sites and numbers for the life of this book.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be repro-duced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other — except for brief quotations in printed reviews, with-out the prior permission of the publisher.

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

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Preface xi

Basic PhonologyAlphabet 1

Direction 2Begadkephat Letters 2Gutturals 2Modern Pronunciation 2

Vowels 3Regular Vowels 3Vowel Letters 4Other Vowel Symbols 5

Syllabification 6Two Rules of Syllabification 6Syllable Classification 6The Daghesh and Syllabification 7The Shewa and Syllabification 8Rules of Shewa 9Qamets and Qamets Hatuf 11Furtive Pathach 11Quiescent א 11Hebrew Diphthongs 12Hebrew Vowel Rules 12Additional Vowel Characteristics 13Sqnmlwy 13


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Nominal SystemNouns 14

Noun Paradigm 14Noun Pluralization and Vocalization 15

Definite Article 18Morphology 18Syntax 20

Conjunction Waw 22Morphology 22Syntax 24

Prepositions 26Basic Grammar 26Types of Hebrew Prepositions 27Spelling of Inseparable Prepositions 29The Preposition מן 30

Adjectives 33Adjective Paradigm 33Adjectival Inflection 34Syntax 36

Independent Personal Pronouns 38Morphology 38Syntax 38

Demonstratives 40Morphology 40Syntax 41

Relative Pronoun 42The Relative Pronoun אשר 42The Relative Pronoun ש 42

Interrogative Pronouns 44

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The Interrogative מה 44The Interrogative מי 44The Interrogative מה למה/ל 44The Interrogative איך/איכה 45The Interrogative אי/איה 45

Pronominal Suffixes 46Morphology 46With Masculine Nouns 48With Feminine Nouns 49With Monosyllabic Nouns 50With Prepositions 51With כ and מן 52With את/את־ 53As a Resumptive Pronoun 54With Perfect Verbs 55With Imperfect (Imperative) Verbs 56

Construct Chain 57Basic Grammar 57Vowel Reduction in Closed Syllables 59Vowel Reduction in Open Syllables 60Masculine Plural Nouns 60Feminine Singular Nouns 60Plural Segholate Nouns 60Monosyllabic Nouns 61Diphthongs 61Nouns Ending with Seghol He 61Tsere Changes to Pathach 62First Rule of Shewa 62


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Numbers 63One through Ten 63Eleven through Nineteen 65Twenty through Ninety Nine 66One Hundred and Up 67Ordinal Numbers 68

Particles 70Interrogative Particle ה 70Directional Particle נה 71Particle הנה 71Particle of Existence יש 73Particle of Non-Existence ין א 74

Verbal SystemQal Perfect 75

Strong Verbs 75Stative Verbs 76Weak Verbs 77Syntax of the Perfect 79

Qal Imperfect 83Strong Verbs 83Stative Verbs 85Weak Verbs 86Syntax of the Imperfect 91

Qal Imperative 94Strong Verbs 94Lengthened Imperative 95The Particle נא 95Weak Verbs 96

Qal Infinitive Construct 98

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Strong Verbs 98Weak Verbs 99Syntax of the Infinitive Construct 102

Qal Infinitive Absolute 105Strong Verbs 105Weak Verbs 105Syntax of the Infinitive Absolute 107

Qal Active Participle 109Strong Verbs 109Weak Verbs 110Syntax of the Participle 112

Qal Passive Participle 114Strong Verbs 114Weak Verbs 115Syntax of the Participle 116

Niphal Stem Verbs 118Meaning of the Niphal Stem 118Strong Verb Paradigms 119Weak Verb Diagnostics 121

Piel Stem Verbs 124Meaning of the Piel Stem 124Strong Verb Paradigms 125Weak Verb Diagnostics 127Loss of Daghesh Forte (Sqnmlwy) 129

Pual Stem Verbs 130Meaning of the Pual Stem 130Strong Verb Paradigms 130Weak Verb Diagnostics 132


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Hiphil Stem Verbs 133Meaning of the Hiphil Stem 133Strong Verb Paradigms 134Weak Verb Diagnostics 136

Hophal Stem Verbs 139Meaning of the Hophal Stem 139Strong Verb Paradigms 139Weak Verb Diagnostics 141

Hithpael Stem Verbs 143Meaning of the Hithpael Stem 143Strong Verb Paradigms 144Weak Verb Diagnostics 145Metathesis in the Hithpael Stem 147Assimilation of ת in the Hithpael Stem 147

Other Derived Stem Verbs 148Polel Stem 148Polal Stem 149Hithpolel Stem 150Hishtaphel Stem 152

AppendicesVerb Paradigms and Charts 154Hebrew-English Lexicon 169

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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!


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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


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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

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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


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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

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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.

Hebrew Vowels ※ 5