Learning Languages with Legos: Hebrew

E-Vreet has finally rolled out its fourth course in Biblical Hebrew: Learn Hebrew with LEGOS. It seems that Legos are the perfect tools to demonstrate how Biblical Hebrew works. Although this is our fourth course, it will be the introductory course for students new to Biblical Hebrew. It’s got to be the only course that doesn’t actually teach you Biblical Hebrew but teaches you about Biblical Hebrew. It’s hard enough learning about an ancient language without having to learn the language itself at the same time. This course gives students insight into how Biblical Hebrew is structured using Psalm 23 in English. They also get insight into Psalm 23.

After this course, students will be ready for E-Vreet’s “Meet the Hebrew Alphabet.” Then they can learn about Hebrew roots through Biblical names in the Hebrew Roots course. Finally, they can actually learn how to read and make their own sentences in “Learn how to Read Hebrew through the Bible.”

We tried using the Lego method to teach Greek, but so far, it just doesn’t work as easily as it does for Hebrew. Hebrew really isn’t such a difficult language. It’s just that many who want to learn Hebrew have English as their mother tongue and were never forced to learn another language as many others need to do.

This course was designed for busy people who have jobs, growing families, and are legos logointimidated by the traditional Biblical Hebrew courses. E-Vreet is not trying to replace the traditional courses but E-Vreet hopes to guide and prepare students for these courses.



legos logo

While learning how to develop a course, we always had to remember the K.I.S.S. principle–Keep It Simple Sweetheart.  Actually they use Stupid for the last S. in the acronym.  And I was.  Stupid.  I had so much fun designing the Legos course for Biblical Hebrew–delighting in how it could help future students of Biblical Hebrew understand how Hebrew words that I got carried away.  Most teachers get carried away.  Most good teachers who are passionate about their subject get carried away.  That’s why we need students who feel that they can talk to us.

Some of my beta-testers had no problem in telling me that the course went from being very simple to very complicated.  Just because I was enjoying how I could play with the Legos doesn’t mean a new student would enjoy it.  The new student would feel overwhelmed.

So I had to do what I was taught to do in writing classes at University–murder your children.  That sounds awful.  It is awful.  It means that you have to delete a lot of work that you love, that you created, but is not relevant for the project.  Like Sherman in the South during the Civil War in America, I had to slash and burn.

I was annoyed with myself for losing the perspective of my students.  I had castigated other Biblical Hebrew teachers for doing the same thing–using material that was overwhelming for the normal student.  I was seduced by my own creativity and utter brilliance and innovation.  Yes, another leader in the field of Biblical Hebrew told me that the course was “revolutionary” and that he wanted to link it to his website when I had finished it.  But I needed to put the course on the alter, have a sacrifice, and see what was left over.

Well, I think I have the essence now.  I’m happy with the course.  I could probably continue to enhance it for years.  But instead, I’ll start doing the narration for the videos and upload it on Udemy with my other courses.  I’ll take a break for the summer.  Then perhaps I’ll find all the dead work that I murdered and ressurect it for another course.  Or maybe I’ll get a new idea.  Who knows.

Anyway, if you want to see it, it’s on my website as pdf files which I need to convert again from the powerpoint presentation–this time as jpg files, and then pdf files.  TMI?  Sorry, sorry, I’m suffering from P.I.D.S. Post Instructional Design Syndrome.

Here’s the website. http://evreet.wixsite.com/evreet


We all love to find the meaning of Biblical Hebrew names.  But some have no clear meaning.  Others don’t have one that looks good or simple for a Hallmark card.  From what I can see, the name Rivkah is one of them.  The name of Rivkah also shows us that you can’t do the word to word translation with Hebrew.

The best way to determine what a word means in Biblical Hebrew is to see how it is used in the Bible.  The verb רבק from Rivkah’s name isn’t actually used.  Instead, it is used as a noun.  Sometimes when Hebrew wants to make a noun out of a verb, it puts a מ in front.

Let me try to explain the concept here:  when a farmer planned to use an animal, usually a calf, for slaughter, he wanted it to be meaty or fat.  In order to get the calf fat, he would tie it up so it couldn’t exercise.  (This may make you want to go on an exercise program at the gym.)  He would fetter the animal in a stall in order that it would gain weight.  American Literature has the expression from the Christian New Testament to “kill the fatted calf” when the father knew the prodigal son was coming home.   This depicts a Jewish celebration/sacrifice.

Why is Rivkah’s name taken from this process?  Some commentators wax poetic and say that she was so beautiful that Isaac was captured or fettered by her beauty.  Others say it talks about the yolk of two animals.

I don’t know; maybe you do.  Perhaps it talks about her life being a life of sacrifice, of not being able to do what she wanted to do because her life would have the ultimate purpose.  Her marriage tied her to an ultimate purpose, giving birth to Jacob, who would father the twelve tribes of Israel.


rivka hebrew root

Let us reason together

quote-come-now-let-us-reason-together-lyndon-b-johnson-67-54-60During the Vietnam war crisis, LBJ used part of Isaiah 1:8 with the protestors who were against the USA’s involvement.  With the division among the people of faith, I thought I could use the same verse now.  But that’s the problem when using just a half a verse–you don’t have the right context. It’s not talking about about listening to each others’ viewpoint, as a kindly arbitrator, trying to be objective and compromising.  It’s talking about sin and how the LORD can settle the legal matter of our sins through cleansing.  As you read past the verse and even past the chapter, you’ll see the theme.

And then when I went into the Hebrew verb for “reason”, I found that God wasn’t trying to reason with anyone. The verb is yakakh.  It is used in the niphal form which means to correct or rebuke. In everyday parlance, that means God is telling people that they are plain wrong.  It’s not up for discussion.


To see what the verb means, let’s see how Isaiah uses this verb.


And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Isaiah 2:4


And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

Isaiah 11:3,4


Perhaps the LORD your God will hear the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, sent to mock the living God, and perhaps he will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard. So lift up a prayer for the remnant that still survives in this city.”

Isaiah 37:4


Who cause a person to be indicted by a word, And ensnare him who adjudicates at the gate, And defraud the one in the right with meaningless arguments.

Isaiah 29:21

I think that the psalmist in Psalm 141:5 gives us the best way to use this verb, but it may be lost in the KJV:

Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.

Let’s look at another translation to get the sense of it in modern thought:

Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it. But I pray constantly against the wicked and their deeds.

The Five Most Difficult Words in the English Language to Pronounce

When I facilitated International Business Communication classes with software developers, I would use the activity of a role-play scenario of two people: one who has hurt the other and needed to apologize. I observed senior managers stutter and hesitate, finding the five words “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” almost impossible to pronounce. To many in the Asian context, admitting that you were wrong is a sign of weakness. I also found this as a mantra in the Clinton campaign.

What has Yom Kippor, a Jewish Holiday, have to do with good business for Jews and non-Jews alike? Before Yom Kippor, Jews ask and receive forgiveness from each other. Good business is all about relationships. Employees and managers need to be trained to be first-responders in repairing not only client relationships but colleague and vendor relationships. It doesn’t come naturally to most of us. Either we choke on our self-righteousness, “I was NOT wrong” or we slink away in shame knowing that we were.

Now learn the three Hebrew words for forgiveness from this video. They are difficult in the same was as the English words.  http://www.aish.com/h/hh/video/Yom-Kippur-The-Three-Levels-of-Forgiveness.html?s=feat

YOU crown the year

I came across Tehillim (Psalm) 65:12 (11) and I thought it was perfect for Rosh HaShana, although I could find anyone else on the internet who thought so.  Rosh HaShana literally means “Head of the Year.”  In Beresheet 1:1, we the word for “In the beginning” as B’resheet.  The word resheet comes from the root word of rosh meaning head or beginning.


So David is saying here that the LORD crowns the year with goodness or harvest.  If you could look at Israel from an airplane right now, you could see the golden wheat ready to be harvested. It encircles Israel like a crown.  The Hebrew word for crown is like the word that we use for a woman’s crown–a tiara.  It is עטר or ATAR.  David uses this word again in Psalm 5:12, ” Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround (ATAR) them with your favor as with a shield.


He uses it again as a verb in Psalm 103:4, “the one who rescues your life from the pit, the one who crowns you with mercy and compassion”. 

To celebrate Rosh HaShana, I like the imagery of the LORD crowning this year, 5777, with His bounty and prosperity.  Shana Tova to you all.

How Job left his mark: The letter Tav

tav ת

The last letter of the Hebrew alphabet is called a Tav.
And it looks like this ת.
The letter Tav also means “mark” in Biblical Hebrew and the  word looks like this תו

Let’s see the word Tav תו used in Job 31:35. What word do you think means Tav תו or mark?

Oh that I had one to hear me!
Behold my signature:
let the Almighty answer me!
And let mine opponent write an accusation!

Job feels like he’s is in a legal battle. He uses Tav תו as we would an ID card, passport or credit card. So תו is translated as signature here. It could also mean his testimony or written account.  “Here’s my mark, my pledge.”  This is an official statement. Job wanted concrete evidence for his defense because he wanted to take his accusers to court. He wanted written statements from his accusers in order that he could defend himself.  He was being accused of many things, but didn’t have the accusations written and defined in order that he could deal with them.  Why did he want to go to court? He wasn’t sure the Lord was hearing his plea and dealing with his accusers, so he went to Plan B.

The KJV version translates תו”desire”–sort of misleading, don’t you think? Look at the verse for yourself:

Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.

Even one of the smallest words in Biblical Hebrew, the name for the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, can shed light on a verse for us, and in this case perhaps make Job come alive and his book easier to understand.

Perhaps you don’t read Hebrew.  And תו just looks like a mark to you.  That’s ok.  See if you can pick out תו in Job 31:35 below.

מי יתן־לי שמע לי

הן־תוי שדי יענני

וספר כתב איש ריבי׃

Oh, that I had one to hear me!
(Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)
Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!

מי יתן־לי שמע לי

הן־תוי שדי יענני

וספר כתב איש ריבי׃

Well, you just started reading Biblical Hebrew. If you’d like to get to know the Hebrew letters, consider our E-Vreet course called Meet the Hebrew Alphabet at UDEMY  https://www.udemy.com/hebrew-alphabet-evreet/learn/#/

If you’d like to learn more two-letter words in Biblical Hebrew, thus learning how to read, consider our E-Vreet course called Learn Hebrew from the Bible, where scriptures come alive.  Visit https://www.udemy.com/aleph-bait-soup-read-biblical-hebrew-a-letter-at-a-time/learn/



Defining words in Biblical Hebrew



I monitor a Facebook group called Hebrew Learn E-Vreet.  It’s always good when members participate.  We had one member talk about the meaning of El-Shaddai.  Well, there have been many discussions on this name of God by many scholars and rabbis for hundreds of years.

But you want to know the best way to define a Hebrew word in Biblical Hebrew?  See how the Hebrew word is used in the Bible.  First, see how it is used in Genesis.  Then, in the Torah, and finally, in the Tanakh.

But the most important thing is to let the whole verse, the whole chapter speak to you.  The reason we learn Biblical Hebrew is to understand what God is trying to tell us in the Bible.  So let’s look at El-Shaddai אל שדי in the first-mention, Genesis 17:1 in the JPS translation:

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine,

the LORD appeared to Abram,

and said unto him:

‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be thou wholehearted.

El אל is the short for for Elohim אלהים .  We cover this in our course, Learn Hebrew from the Bible.

The root verb of El-Shaddai is SDD שדד

The verb is not used in Genesis.  It’s not used in the Torah.  We don’t see it until Judges.  It is used in its negative sense–to destroy.  Hebrew verbs can be used negatively or positively.  You can use strength for good or bad.  Obviously, God uses it for good.

There are no easy answers for the meaning of Shaddai.  So let’s focus on what God is trying to tell us in the verse.  He’s talking to Abram, before the name change to Abraham.  He’s directing Abram to follow Him, follow in His ways, His manner.  He asked Abram to be wholehearted.  What does that mean?  The word in Hebrew is תמים T’MIM and it means integrity, not to be of two minds–be fully engaged.

This is just a quick blog to stir your heart.  Read the whole chapter; read the chapters surrounding Genesis 17, giving you context.  And that will give you the meaning of אל שדי

By the way feel free to join our Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/evreet/

Who’s coffee is it?

Bow-care Tov בוקר טוב
Shhh, you are talking way too loud. I’m just having my first coffee קפה. Care to join me for a little Hebrew עברית while brewing your coffee קפה? (Couldn’t resist the pun.)
Today (hi-yum היום) I want to talk about how Hebrew עברית makes possessives. English makes a possessive like this:  Mano’s coffee — with the apostrophe and the letter “s”.  Sometimes we say “the coffee of Mano” although it’s a bit old-fashion.  But hold on to the old-fashion way because this way will help you understand the Hebrew method of showing ownership.
To show ownership in Hebrew.
1.  Use the old fashion English way of showing possession:
2.  Drop the “THE” and “OF”
Note:  If we leave it like this, Mano is in desperate trouble.  He doesn’t own the coffee.  Anyone could take it, and he could have a bad start to the day.  Hebrew realizes this and has a solution.  So watch the video here.  It’s a clip from the UDEMY course “Learn Hebrew from the Bible”.