Learning from scratch

A place for those new to Biblical Hebrew to ask basic questions about the language of the Hebrew Bible.
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jdhadwin
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2015 2:45 pm

Learning from scratch

Postby jdhadwin » Sun Aug 30, 2015 6:40 pm

Hi everyone,

I have no funds available for school or books or any official resources, but I'm betting there is a place that you might be able to refer me to where I could get a solid foundation and learn Hebrew. I currently have zero Hebrew knowledge. Can you guys share some of the free online resources that you used or have found over the years?

Thanks,
~John Hadwin

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Galena
Posts: 144
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2015 8:55 am
Location: Ireland

Re: Learning from scratch

Postby Galena » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:13 pm

I found this a few years ago, from all the resources I use to hunt down, this one gave me the best grammatical foundation that I am aware of on the web.
http://www.animatedhebrew.com/lectures/index.html
For books I highly recommend: Page H Kelly, not because he is better or more knowledgeable, but because his books are very intuitive, the approach to his teaching method gets you straight into the language, you learn grammar within its context, the website is grammar "pure" and the manner in which the book presents information is excellent in my opinion, I recommend you combine the website and the book. Still available on amazon I would imagine.
kind regards
chris
Chris Watts

kwrandolph
Posts: 752
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Learning from scratch

Postby kwrandolph » Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:07 am

Galena wrote:I found this a few years ago, from all the resources I use to hunt down, this one gave me the best grammatical foundation that I am aware of on the web.
http://www.animatedhebrew.com/lectures/index.html


I hesitated answering this question, because, quite frankly, my learning started with a year, two semesters, of formal training. Most of my learning after that, though was mostly self-taught, was before the internet era. Oh, I was using CP/M with a 300 baud acoustic modem in the early days of the internet, no way to show up Hebrew in those days.

We should ask first why John Hadwin wants to learn Hebrew. Does he want to become a Hebrew scholar, knowing all forms of Hebrew? Then starting with medieval Hebrew, with all the dots and other such as this site gives, would be a good start. Medieval Hebrew, with all its points, is possibly the most complex dialect of Hebrew, so for a scholar it would be good place to start.

My purpose was merely to read God’s Word, and I discovered I had to unlearn a lot in order to know Biblical Hebrew. None of the letters sound the same in Biblical Hebrew (chapter 1) nor was there a furtive patach (chapter 2), the shewa didn’t exist (chapter 3) nor any of the accents (chapter 4) nor the dagesh, let alone the differences between forte and lene (chapter 5). There’s no perfect tense (chapter 10) nor imperfect tense (chapter 17), rather in Biblical Hebrew the Qatal and Yiqtol are modal. It’s a lot harder to unlearn than to learn correctly in the first place. If John’s purpose for learning Hebrew is the same as mine, then if he studies from this site, he’ll spend a lot of time and effort learning things he’ll have to forget in order to master Biblical Hebrew.

The nouns and adjectives in medieval Hebrew, with the exception of the points, are pretty much the same as in Biblical Hebrew. But the syntax is not always the same.

There are other differences between the medieval dialect of Hebrew as referenced by the Masoretic points, and Biblical Hebrew that I didn’t mention.

As for me, I’ve forgotten most of the medieval Hebrew that I knew as I concentrated on Biblical Hebrew. But I don’t know of a good source for the self-study of Biblical Hebrew. Unfortunately.

Karl W. Randolph.

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Galena
Posts: 144
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2015 8:55 am
Location: Ireland

Re: Learning from scratch

Postby Galena » Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:14 am

I share an agreement with you Karl. The imperfect and perfect tense are arbitrary grammatical terms that are with faults when applied to BH, I fully go along with the modality concept as well. I also agree that the most effective way to learn is to read from page one and understand each verb encountered, within context most definitely, without running through the most complex and infuriating belief that one needs to memorize and understand the paradigms. I went through this stage and actually memorised quite some conjugations, only to discover that after a 3 month break I had forgotten almost everything. So this encouraged me to forget the grammatical approach, which was actually not conducive to my temperament which can become easily volcanic if I don't understand something in less than 2 minutes, :oops: (which was influenced by every book I bought, being naive believing that there was know other way to master BH other than grammar grammar grammar) and I decided just to read and not even bother with those ridiculous differences between pronouncing the seghol and the tsere, the patach and the qametz. Realising indeed that even in Dutch one can hear three different ways of pronouncing the word for milk in three different towns. That language is not set in cement as far as pronounciation is concerend. Even where the stress is on a particular syllable at the end of a verse is arbitrary and does not reflect reality. Pronouncing PatriciAH or PaTRICiah, depends on who you speak with. So it must have been with BH. And the list of personal realisations goes on. However, and this is a BIG however, I would advise anyone that they have to start at this point of learning the vowels and where the stress usually should go, and become aquainted with the imperfect and perfect differences, and aquaint themselves with general grammar, not specifics and complexities, Why? because where else can people like us start? So I do recommend this website above as being an excellent source of reference, and at least he demonstrates very clearly the necessary concepts. Please understand that I am in agreement with what you say, but where else can a beginner, who is isolated and has no interaction with other students or a tutor to guide him begin?
Kindest regards
Chris

I think that if our OP is reading this he might want to have a browse over this article, I think it sums things up actually, what do you think?
http://www.sbl-site.org/publications/ar ... icleId=771
Chris Watts

kwrandolph
Posts: 752
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: Learning from scratch

Postby kwrandolph » Wed Sep 02, 2015 1:54 pm

John Hadwin asked for materials. I hesitate recommending my own dictionary, as such as action I consider as being somewhat gauche. On the other hand, I do have a grammar appended that gives my observations concerning Biblical Hebrew grammar which can be used as a guide on how to understand Hebrew words, the paradigms and within the dictionary itself I include many of the unusual forms and where to look for their meanings. As such, it is more aimed at the student than to the scholar.

Just a reminder if John wishes to get a copy of my dictionary, he can request an electronic .pdf copy using my handle of kwrandolph that I use on this site, send to my email server of gmail.com.

What Naama Zahavi-Eli mentioned is basically how I learned Hebrew, on two levels:
1) I had learned the basic patterns, the standard verbs, the prefixes and suffixes and the patterns of the binyanim, what is the construct case, etc.
2) where I really learned Hebrew was when I opened up Genesis and started reading. It took me four years to read to the end, even when I skipped over many verses that completely flummoxed me. I had an analytical lexicon to help me to decipher the various forms, a lexicon that fell apart from use. When it fell apart, I had learned how to recognize Hebrew spellings and their patterns.

Karl W. Randolph.


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