Difference between Biblical and Modern Hebrew

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Youjay
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Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:46 pm

Difference between Biblical and Modern Hebrew

Postby Youjay » Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:08 pm

Hello, I just started studying Biblical Hebrew and was wondering if I would be doing myself a disservice to listen to modern Hebrew at the same time. I would like to immerse myself in the language as much as possible. Any suggestions?

kwrandolph
Posts: 909
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Difference between Biblical and Modern Hebrew

Postby kwrandolph » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:07 am

Youjay wrote:Hello, I just started studying Biblical Hebrew and was wondering if I would be doing myself a disservice to listen to modern Hebrew at the same time. I would like to immerse myself in the language as much as possible. Any suggestions?


The pronunciation of Biblical Hebrew was forgotten, forgotten long ago, so the only pronunciation we have is modern based on medieval Hebrew. So there’s no problem as far as pronunciation is concerned.

The difficulty lies in that modern Israeli Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew are different languages. They have different grammars. Many of the words have different meanings. I specifically asked Israelis who are not linguists nor Bible scholars, if they could read Tanakh and they replied that it was difficult to impossible. I don’t know modern Hebrew, but there are some things that have been told me about it.

Biblical Hebrew, conjugations were modal; modern Hebrew conjugations are tense based
Biblical Hebrew, the binyamim varied the meanings of the roots; modern Hebrew verbs in their different binyamim are treated as separate entries.
Because I have not studied modern Israeli Hebrew, I can’t begin to list all the words whose meanings differ between the two languages.

If you really want to become a Biblical Hebrew scholar, or even just have good comprehension of Tanakh, I’d recommend to avoid modern Hebrew entirely. Otherwise you may end up, as even professors of Hebrew languages, thinking that by adding a few archaisms to modern Hebrew, you learn Biblical Hebrew. That’s not true.

Karl W. Randolph.


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