אז אהפך אל עמים שפה ברורה
לקרא כלם בשם י-ה-ו-ה לעבדו
שכם אחד"Kee-az ehpokh el-ameem safah verurah likro khulam besheym YHVH l'avdo shekhem
echad (I will change the [Israelitish] people to a pure language [Hebrew] that they all be able [together] to call on the
Name of ADONAI, and to serve [Adonai] as one responsibility)." ZEPHANIAH 3: 9
INDEX of this page
THE NATURE OF THE HEBREW LANGUAGE
THE ETYMOLOGY OF BIBLICAL HEBREW
REAL TORAH CODES
LEARN BIBLICAL HEBREW AT HOME
SOME BASIC HEBREW EXPRESSIONS
THE HEBREW CONSONANTS
In Classical Hebrew, several consonants have a 'soft' (lenis) and
'hard' (fortis) pronounciation. Some Sephardic communities (Babylonian, Persian, Yemenite, etc.) do not differentiate between
the 'hard' and 'soft' beyt ('b' and 'v'), pronouncing both as 'b'. However, these communities often do differentiate the 'hard'
and 'soft' gimmel ('g' and 'gh'), kof ('k' and 'kh'), peh ('p' and 'f'), and tav ('t' and 'th'). Some even sound the 'hard'
and 'soft' daleth ('d' and 'dh').
א Alef = is silent, only the vowel under or over it
is pronounced. Gematria numerical value = 1
Beyt = 'B'; Veyt = 'V'. Value = 2
Gimmel = 'G'; Ghimmel = 'Gh'. Value = 3
Daleth = 'D'; Dhaleth = 'Dh'. Value = 4
Heh = 'H'; sometimes silent at the beginning or the end of a word. Value = 5
ו Vav or (Waw) = 'V' or ('W'). Value = 6
ז Zayin = 'Z'. Value = 7
ח Cheth = 'Ch' as in Scottish 'Loch'. Value = 8
ט Teth = 'T'. Value = 9
י Yudh = 'Y'. Value = 10
כ Kaf = 'K'; Khaf = 'Kh'. Value = 20
ל Lammedh = 'L'. Value = 30
מ Mem = 'M'. Value = 40
נ Nun = 'N'. Value = 50
Sammech = 'S'. Value = 60
= 'mostly silent', some as 'gn'. Value = 70
Peh = 'P'; Feh = 'F'. Value = 80
צ Tzaddik = 'Tz'.
Value = 90
ק Qof = 'K'. Value = 100
ר Resh = 'R'. Value = 200
ש Shin = 'Sh'; Sin = 'S'. Value = 300
Tav (Taw) = 'T'; Thav (Thaw) = 'Th'. Value = 400
THE HEBREW VOWELS
The Hebrew vowels are lines and dots positioned over or under the Hebrew consonate. Pronounciation is usually 'consonant
first- then the vowel'. However, the 'Cheth' consonant with the 'Patach' vowel under it at the end of a word is pronounced
as 'ach'; as in 'Bach'.
Kamatz = a shortened 't' under the consonant; pronounced 'A' as in yAcht.
Patach = a horozontal line under consonant; pronounced 'A' as in yAcht.
Tzereh = two horozontal dots under consonant; pronounced 'AY' as in hAY
Segol = three dots in upside down triangle under consonant; pronounced 'EH' as in bEd
Cheerik = single dot under consonant; pronounced "I' as in sIt; If the single dot follows a Yudh consonant it is
pronounced 'EE' as in bEE
Shurek = a 'Vav' with a dot in it's center; pronounced 'OO' as in pOOl
Cholam = a 'Vav' with a dot over it or just a dot over the consonant; pronounced 'O' as in rOw
Kibutz (or Melupum [Babyl.]) = three dots in diagonal line under consonant; pronounced 'U' as in pOOl
Sheva (Shewa) = two dots, one above the other, under the consonant; pronounced 'slight E' as in bEtween OR, if in first
syllable, 'slight pause'
Chataf Kamatz = a 'Sheva' with a 'Kamatz' next to it; pronounced 'O' as in rOw
Chataf Segol = a 'Sheva' with a 'Segol' next to it; pronounced 'slight E' as in bEtween
Chataf Patach = a 'Sheva' with a 'Patach' next to it; pronounced as a 'slight A'.
To view the THE HEBREW ALPHABET CHARACTERS (click here)
THE NATURE OF THE HEBREW LANGUAGE
Hebrew is the tribal language of the Jewish people, just as Dine'
is the tribal language of the Navajo. It is the one tongue that, throughout history, all of the various groups of Jews scattered
throughout the "four corners" of the world had in common with each other. It has even been suggested that Hebrew was the GLUE
that kept the Jewish people Jewish.
Hebrew has entered into other languages through religion and translation.
Many Psalms have made certain Hebrew words every day expressions. But, mistranslation has also been problematic.
the English word "TO SIN" (to go astray) is thought to derive from the Hebrew root ז-נ-ה
(Zana - to commit fornication; to go astray). Because this one particular word, out of the several Hebrew words meaning "
to sin," was chosen, we can understand that subconciously, sexual activity was seen as a basically sinful behavior by those
who translated the Hebrew Bible into English.
Knowing Hebrew is IMPORTANT to understanding the TRUTHS that the Hebrew
Bible contains, which book is the CONSTITUTION and SOURCEBOOK of the Israelite peoples. These truths do not come across in
any other language or medium. Knowing Hebrew thought processes also helps one to have an understanding of any of the deep
seated psychological hang-ups inherent in a culture and language based upon its Hebrew roots.
Every Hebrew word is
derived from a three letter (in some older cases, a two letter) root; in Hebrew called a SHORESH. These two or three letter
root consonants form the template or basic structure of a family of related words. The addition of vowels, prefixes or suffixes
to the basic root creates variations of meaning, tense, and parts of speach. For instance, the three consonants ד-מ-ה meaning TO RESEMBLE; and pronounced DAMAH,
is the shoresh to the words DIMAH דימה (he
imagined), D'MUT דמות (an image or likeness),
(a simile or comparison), DIMYON דמיון
(imagination or fantasy), MIDUMAH מדומה
(fictitious), KIMDUMANI כמדומני
(seemingly), NIDMAH נדמה (it seems).
All words that contain the same root are in some way (often difficult for English thinkers to discern) related to
every other word containing the same root.
Due to the fact that often Hebrew consonants can be interchanged for another
COGNATE consonant, many Hebrew words with related cognant roots are also related to each other, e. g. צבה meaning "to swell"; שפח
meaning "to join"; and ספק, meaning to feed.
famed Hebrew grammarian, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch taught that certain Hebrew consonants, particularly those which sound
alike, are related in meaning as well as in sound. An example would be the letters א,
and ע which are called gutteral consonants. When these consonants
appear in similar roots, the resulting words have related meanings (Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew, by Matityahu
As an illustration, Rabbi Hirsch explains the first two words in the Hebrew Torah (Genesis 1: 1) thus; " BERESHIT
BARA (ברשית ברא); "At the Beginning was created..." The word BERESHIT ברשית comes from the root ראש.
The root ראש is related to the roots רחש and רעש,
both of which indicate some type of movement. The root רחש
is an emotional type of movement, a feeling, an internal stirring. The root רעש
is a physical movement, a quaking, noisy, shaking type of activity. By extension, the root ראש as in ברשית
means more than a beginning, as most commentators state; it denotes a beginning of a motion, a start of activity.
The second word of the Torah, BARA (ברא), is related to the roots פ-ר-ח
(to blossom), ב-ר-ח (to flee) and פ-ר-ע (to loosen), all of which have the underlying meaning
of "emerging" or "freeing from constraints". ברא
therefore means "to bring something forth from a vacuous state" or "to create from nothingness".
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) taught that the Hebrew
of the Torah owed nothing from borrowing from other languages. He felt that the Hebrew Torah was totally based in the Semitic
Hebrew-Aramaic language structure.
It is widely accepted that the language of the Egyptian kingdom that oppressed
the Israelites was a Semitic language expressed in hieroglyphic characters. The Proto-Sinaitic inscription spoken of at length
below shows the transition from the Egyptian characters to the early proto-Hebrew characters.
Rabbi Hirsch also taught
that each letter/consonant of Hebrew has a meaning of its own that represents what was previously expressed before the creation
of the Alef-Beyt characters in a hieroglyphic character. For example, in his commentary on Genesis 5: 30, he assumes
that the consonants ע and ח indicate opposing concepts. The ע
indicates movement while the ח refers to an arresting of
that movement. Thus, for example, נוע means
"to move", while נוח denotes rest and the cessation
of movement. A similar idea is found in the roots נעח
(to attract, to please) and נחם (to change attitude)
where the movement or curtailing of movement refers to an internal shift rather than a physical movement.
A group's language registers and reflects its experiences through
modes of thought and attitudes as seen in the way they understand the words and idioms of their common language. There is
absolutly no way that these words and idioms can be accurately reflected in a language so totally unrelated to Hebrew as is
English. English is as conceptually related to Hebrew, in thought patterns and mental visualizations, as the Japanese language
is to the Cherokee language.
For instance, the Hebrew word SHALOM שלום
has little in common with its English translation of "PEACE." SHALOM שלום
does not have the passive, even negative, connotation of the word "peace." שלום does not mean merely the absence of strife. It is pregnant with positive, active
and energetic meaning and association. שלום
connotes "totality," "health," "wholesomeness," "harmony," "balance," "success," "the completeness and richness of living
in an integrated social milieu." When people meet or part they wish each other שלום,
or they inquire about each other's שלום.
the Hebrew word RUACH [spirit] רוח and NEFESH
[soul] נפש do not have the implications of a
disembodiment, such as are indicated by the English translation. There is no dichotomy in the Hebrew mind between body and
spirit or soul. One is not the antithesis of the other. These Hebrew words have dynamic, life-giving and motor-urgent connotations.
Every living being has a רוח, even the beast possesses
a רוח (Ecclesiastes 3: 21). The same is true
of the synonym נפש, which is generally rendered in
English by the word "SOUL." But נפש, too, is the
property of all living beings (Job 12: 10), including beasts (Proverbs 12: 10). Even the neitherworld is portrayed as having
a נפש (Isaiah 5: 14). Furthermore, every living
creature, man as well as animal, is designated as נפש
(Genesis 1: 20, 21, 24, 12: 5, 14: 21, etc.). Also, both נפש
and רוח often signify strength and vigor, both
in a material and in a spiritual sense. Voracious dogs are said to possess a strong נפש (Isaiah 56: 11); and the horses of Egypt, the prophet warns, are weak; they are "flesh
and have no רוח" (ibid., 31: 3).
likewise a far cry between the Hebrew word TZEDAKAH [righteousness] צדקה),
from the root צדק, "to be just or righteous," with
its implications of social justice, and it's English translation of "charity." In the case of "charity" the recipient sees
himself beholden to the donor, whose action is voluntary. צדקה,
on the other hand, has to be performed as a matter of obligation and the recipient is in no way indebted to the donor. The
needy have a right to צדקה, while those possessing
means have a duty to give it. Indeed, even a poor person who recieves money as צדקה must in turn give money as צדקה
(Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 7b). [William Chomsky, HEBREW: The Eternal Language]
THE ETYMOLOGY OF BIBLICAL HEBREW
Click the link below to view the characters of the Hebrew alphabet in a mystical kabbalistic rendition.
Click here to view the Mystical significance of the Hebrew Letters