Biblical Hebrew or Modern Hebrew?

People always ask, “Should I learn Biblical Hebrew or Modern Hebrew first?”  If you are into the Bible, you know some Hebrew anyway, so you might want to start with Biblical Hebrew.  The Bible is meaningful to you, so you will learn faster.  Then when you go to learn Modern Hebrew, you’ll have a basis.  Let me show you what I mean:

In my course “Learn Hebrew Through the Bible, ” I teach you simple words that go with the letters you learn in order that you can read simple sentences right away.  For instance, you learn the word for horse, SOOS, like Dr Seuse.  You learn the word for life, XHAI, like the saying “L’Hai’im!”  Then you learn the word for beautiful, ya-FAH from the city of Jaffa. These words are all in the Bible and come from words you may already know.

So let’s say you go to Israel and you are off the beaten path in Galilee and you see a herd of horses.  You want to say: Horses are beautiful animals.

horses are beautiful animalsWhat you need to know:

Make a plural in Hebrew: add IM at the end of the noun (unless it’s all female).  When you add IM at the end of SOOS, the IM steals the last S, so you say soo-SIM for horses.

You have to say “they.”  In Hebrew, you really say, “Horses, they are beautiful animals.” The word for “they” here is HEM like the hem of a skirt.

In fact, in Hebrew, you are really saying, “Horses, they (are) living-beings beautiful.  There is no “are”.  The word for animals comes from the word for living.  And the adjective comes after the noun.

So you know that living is XHAI (like Hi! but with a hard H in the back of your throat.) Now since we made horses plural, we have to make living-beings plural. BUT this word has to be in the feminine. Feminine plural is OT.  Again, the OT steals the last sound, so you have XHA-YOT.

Yaffa is also feminine plural, so it needs the OT.  Again, the OT steals the last sound, so you have ya-FOT.

Soo-SIM HEM CHA-YOT YA-FOT.  Horses are beautiful animals.

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