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HEBREW LANGUAGE

כי 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

 ב        Beyt = 'B'; Veyt = 'V'. Value = 2 

ג     Gimmel = 'G'; Ghimmel = 'Gh'. Value = 3

ד    Daleth = 'D'; Dhaleth = 'Dh'. Value = 4

ה   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

ס   Sammech = 'S'. Value = 60

ע   'Ayin = 'mostly silent', some as 'gn'. Value = 70

פ   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

ת   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.
For instance; 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), DIMUY דמוי (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.

The 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, ה, ח, 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 Clark).

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.

Similarly, 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).

There is 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

BIBLICAL HEBREW

Biblical Hebrew is the Hebrew of the books found in the Hebrew Tanakh (Bible), what the Christian world calls erroneously "The Old Testament.". Hebrew represents a living language that did not remain stagnant during the wide time-frame represented within the Hebrew texts.

The original Hebrew of the 15th and 14th centuries B.C.E. was written in the proto-Sinaitic script; a script created by the Hebrew scribes shortly after the Hebrew people left the Egyptian exile with the Prophet Moses. This script was the way Hebrew was written until the Hebrew people were taken into the Babylonian exile in the 6th century B.C.E. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were written in this script, and in a couple of scrolls the Tetragammaton; [the Sacred י-ה-ו-ה Name of God], is written in the Proto-Sinaitic script, while the rest of the scroll is written in the Aramaic script that was used after the Babylonian exile.

The Hebrew of the Bible represents no single dialect of Hebrew, but represents clues to several dialects, periods of time, areas of speaking, and genres. The majority of words used represent the language as understood by the writer, and reader, during the time period and local in which the text was written. Many words that would have been used to discribe everyday items and expressions are missing due to the nature of the book as a sacred document. This does not mean that the Hebrews did not have words for these missing expressions or items, but that, for one reason or another, they did not find their way into the Bible.

Petrie and Grimme date the ancient Hebrew alphabet as being created by the Hebrew speaking Israelite people after they had fled Egypt in about 1500 BCE.

Evidence of the transition from Egyptian hieroglyphics to a "proto-Sinaitic" alphabetic script has been found in the Sinai desert engraved on a sandstone sphinx found in the Temple of Hathor on the plain of Serabit el Khadim.

William F. Albright and his students research as published in "The Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions and Their Deciferment," dates the proto-Sinaitic texts to the reign of the Egyptian queen Hatshepsut and Thothmes III, c. 1500 BCE.

This is in the middle of the Eighteenth Dynasty, which coincides with the enslavement of the Hebrews in Egypt and the exodus that led them to Mt. Sinai and the giving of the laws of the Torah there.

Frank M. Cross used Professor Albright's work as the starting point in his attempt to definitively link proto-Phoenician writing (13th century BCE), which he called proto-Canaanite, back to proto-Sinaitic and forward to paleo-Phoenician (11th century BCE).

The interesting aspects of the differences between the proto-Sinaitic script and the Egyptian hieroglyphics, both of which are inscribed between the paws and on the right shoulder of the sphinx, is that the proto-Sinaitic script represents a transition away from the pictorial Egyptian hieroglyphic script, which it is a translation of, towards a less pictorial alphabet.

Rabbi Marc-Alain Ouaknin, in his book "Mysteries of the Alphabet," posits that the proto-Sinaitic script represented an example of the transition from pictogram (hieroglyph) to ideogram (alphabetic character), wherein the single character would now convey the entire idea previously conveyed by the hieroglyphic picture.

He states: "Some authors call this dual, inverse, and paradoxical movement (from "writing a thing" to "writing an idea") "iconic augmentation." We prefer to call it an iconic paradox, since it more accurately reflects the dual inverse movement, the intricate crossover of the image and the meaning."

Carlo Suares, in "The Cipher of Genesis," writes: "The twenty-two graphs which are used as letters in the Hebrew alphabet are twenty-two proper names originally used to designate different states or structures of the one cosmic energy, which is ESSENCE and SEMBLANCE, of all that is. Even though they correspond to numbers, symbols, and ideas, those twenty-two vastly exceed all the most exhaustive sets of classes: they cannot be distributed among things because they factually ARE that which they designate."

In other words, the letter-symbols of each of the Hebrew alphabet consonants ARE the entire message and meaning as was in the original Egyptian hieroglyphic that they replaced.

Unlike the English letters A - B - C - D, ect., whose "names" Ayee, Bee, Cee, Dee, ect., mean nothing , except in combination with other English consonants and vowel letters, Hebrew consonants have an inner meaning that is represented in any word root that the letter helps to make up; i. e. adding an "'Ayin-ע" as a prefix to a root verb creates a noun that also describes an animal's characteristic most apparant to the name giver. An example is "khavar" כבר (to hide); add an ע as a prefix, (ע represents a scurrying motion), and you have the Hebrew word "Akhbar," עכבר(mouse).

Rabbi Ouaknin believes that the reason for the HEBREWS making the transition from the Egyptian hieroglyphics to the proto-Sinaitic characters, that was the creation of the alphabet, which was later used by the Phoenicians AND the Israelites, was due to the traumatic experience encountered by them at the giving of the Torah Law on Mt. Sinai!

He sees the passage from a pictorial form to a nonpictorial form as directly due to the prohibition on making pictorial representations in the Second of the Ten Commandments.

He states that "this led to a cultural revolution that deleted the image and produced the invention of the letter as a more or less abstract sign."

ARE THERE CODES IN THE TORAH - REAL TORAH CODES

There are many claims for there being CODES in the Torah, some factual, and some bogus. Most of those who make such claims do so from a position of having an agenda other than simply trying to understand how the authors and editors of the Torah thought and believed.

For example, the creator of the text of the Book of Genesis believed that the Hebrew Deuteronomic concept of God was as ONE GOD. "Shma' Yisrael, YHVH Elohaynu, YHVH echad" שמע ישראל י-ה-ו-ה אלהינו י-ה-ו-ה אחד (Hear O Israel, Adonai our Creative Power, Adonai is ONE)!

How do we know this?

The NUMBER VALUE of the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, ALEPH א, is 1. The letters spelling YAH (יה), one of God's Names; equal the numerical value of 15. The 15th letter from the beginning letter of the Book of Genesis is Aleph א- the numerical value of which is 1.

The י-ה-ו-ה Name of God (the Tetragrammaton) equals 26; the 26th letter of Genesis is Aleph א - 1.

The Name of God, El אל equals 31. The 31st letter of Genesis is Aleph א- again 1.

The Name of God, ELOHIM אלהים, equals 86 and the 86th letter of the Book of Genesis is Aleph א -1.

Another example is the use of the Hebrew code word SHESHEKH - ששך(meaning "confusion"); spelled Sheen ש, Sheen ש, Khaf sofeet ך, in Jeremiah 25: 26 & 51: 41, where it is ATBASH (a code where Alef א= Tav תand Beyt ב= Sheen ש) for BABYLON בבל, spelled Beyt ב, Beyt ב, Lamed ל(meaning "the place of the mixed up one"). Similarly, the name GOG גג and MEGOG מגג are code for "the leader of Babylon." Gog = Gimel ג, Gimel ג. Megog = Mem מ, Gimel ג, Gimel ג. This code actually is referring to the previous letter in the Hebrew alphabet and then reverses it. Thus, Gimel ג really equals Beyt ב and Mem מ really equals Lamed ל. So you have Gimel ג (Beyt-ב), Gimel ג (Beyt-ב), Mem מ (Lamed-ל), Gimel ג (Beyt), Gimel ג (Beyt-ב). Reversed, this reads the code as Beyt, Beyt בב= which means "Gate of," or "leader of," (leaving the Vav- ו for "and/of/from" unchanged) Beyt, Beyt, Lamed בבל = which means "Babylon." בב ובבל

There are many other TRUE Torah and Biblical codes that are derived at through a knowledge of the Hebrew language and mind-set, through kabbalah, and tradition.

EXAMINING THE CLAIMS ON TORAH CODES (link-click here)

THE BIBLE "CODES": A TEXTUAL PERSPECTIVE

LEARN BIBLICAL HEBREW AT HOME

Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, you can obtain the materials to learn how to read Biblical or Prayerbook Hebrew in just a few short weeks.

After that, you can also obtain the materials needed to learn to chant your own Torah portion like a pro. This is a great tool for those who are seeking to have an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah or who are involved in getting their child Bar/Bat Mitzah'd.

LEARNING TO READ HEBREW MATERIALS (EKS Publishing LINK)

MATERIALS TO LEARN TO CHANT YOUR TORAH/HAFTARAH PARASHAH, ect. (Davka Link)

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Teach Yourself to Read Hebrew - Simon; EKS Publishing (see link)

Reading Hebrew: A Programmed Instruction Book - Adler; Behrman House

How to Read Hebrew (And Love It!) - Ducoff; Heinle and Heinle

L'Shonee I, Haveri I - Scharfstein; KTAV Publishing

A Reading and Prayer Primer - Scharfstein; KTAV Publishing

Alef-Bet: A Hebrew Primer - Shumsky; U.A.H.C.

FURTHER STUDY

There are several good books that will give you a more complete and thorough introduction to the details and specifics of Hebrew grammer than those mentioned above. These are:

The First Hebrew Primer for Adults - Simon, EKS Publishing (see link above)

Introduction to Hebrew - Greenberg, Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Introduction to Biblical Hebrew - Lambdin, Charles Scribner's Sons

SOME BASIC HEBREW EXPRESSIONS

**Verbs in Hebrew change their endings according to whether the subject of the sentence is a man or a woman (singular), or several men or women (plural). Ten women and one man is MASCULINE PLURAL.**

The ENGLISH WORDS are followed by the HEBREW WORDS that mean what the English is trying to convey. (In Sephardi pronounciation, Beyt ב [B sound] and VEYT ב [V sound] are often both sounded as "B"). CH together is pronounced as the CH in the Scottish word LOCH and represents the Hebrew consonants ( ח -כ ).


Yes = כן ken; No = לא lo;
Please = בבקשה bevakaSHA;
Thank you = תודה toDA;
Thank you very much = תודה רבה toDA raBA;
That's all right/ You're welcome = על לא דבר-בבקשה al lo daVAR/bevakaSHA;
Good morning = בוקר טוב BOker tov;
Good afternoon = שלום shaLOM;
Good evening = ערב טוב Erev tov;
Good night = לילה טוב LAYla tov;
Goodbye = שלום shaLOM;
See you later = להתרות lehitraOT; Hello/Hi = שלום shaLOM;
This is Mr./Mrs./Miss = תכיר taKIR (תכירי-taKIri) את מר-גברת-גברת et mar/gVEret/gVERet;
How do you do? (Pleased to meet you.) = נעים מאד naIM meOD; How are you? = מה שלומך ma shalomKHA (shaloMEKH);
Very well, thank you. And you? = ? טוב תודה ואתה? ואת tov toDA. veaTA (veAT)?
How is life treating you? = איך הענינים eykh hainyaNIM;
Fine/ok = בסדר beSEder;
I beg your pardon? = סליחה sliCHA?;
Excuse me. (May I get past you?) = סליחה sliCHA;
Do you speak English? = ? אתה- את מדבר-מדברת אנגלית aTAH (at) medaBER (medaBEret) angLIT?;
Does anyone here speak English? =?  משהו כאן מדבר אנגלית MIshhu kan medeBER angLIT?;
I don't speak much Hebrew = אינני מדבר עברית טובה eyNEni medaBER (medaBEret) ivRIT toVA;
Could you speak more slowly? = ?  אפשר לדבר יותר לאט efSHAR ledaBER (ledaBEret) yoTER leAT?;
Could you repeat that? = תוכל לומר זאת שנית tuKHAL (tukhLI) loMAR zot sheNIT?;
Could you spell it? = תוכל לאית זאת tuKHAL (tukhLI) leaYET zot?;
How do you pronounce this? = איך מבטאים את זה eykh mevaTIM et ze?; Could you write it down, please? = תוכל לכתוב זאת בבקשה tuKHAL (tukhLI) likhTOV zot, bevakaSHA?;
Can you translate this for me? = תוכל לתרגם זאת בשבילי tuKHAL (tukhLI) letarGEM zot, bishviLI?;
I'm sorry. I don't understand. = סליחה אינני מבין sliCHA, eyNEni meVIN (meviNA).

Click here if you are interested in LEARNING HEBREW IN ISRAEL AT AN ULPAN

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