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.


What does the word Hebrew mean?

In our UDEMY course, Learn Hebrew from the Bible, a student of mine asked this question: what does the word Hebrew mean.  As usual, students inspire teachers.

Interestingly, you won’t find the word “Hebrew” used in the Bible for the Hebrew language. Hebrew comes from the word EVRI עברי. It’s like Eber’s name in Genesis 10:12

For word origin, I always like to go to the verb because that is where the root meaning is. So that takes us to ABAR עבר.

עבר means to pass over, to cross a national border. IVRI people were sort of known as “the people who passed over from the other side.”

The best way to understand a word in Biblical Hebrew is to see how it is used in the Bible. The first time it is used is always significant. Let’s look and see for yourself:

Genesis 8:1

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind TO PASS OVER the earth, and the water subsided.

(This gives you the basic characteristic of the word.)

Genesis 12:6

Abram PASSED THROUGH the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.

Genesis 14:3

And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew–now he dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; and these were confederate with Abram.

(Now you see how people talk about Abram as the “overpasser” or “passerover”. It’s the same root: עבר

E-Vreet goes over this later in the course. By the way, עברית (E-Vreet) is the feminine form of עברי. The feminine form is used in Modern Hebrew to refer to the language. In Biblical Hebrew, עברית is talking about a female Hebrew. See Exodus 1:19.


Why French Fries are Important in Learning Hebrew

boardwalk friesLearning how to say french fries is a very important word to know!  I love french fries and love to go to to get them at Boardwalk Fries because they use only the best oil.  French fries are called chips in the UK.  Now as you may remember, there is no CH sound in Hebrew.  There is no Channukah, Chutzpah, Chai, Choopah, etc.  There is no ch like in church. This could be very sad–for how could you order your chips???

Well this is what E-Vreet (Hebrew) does with such a word–it gives it its own sound–a funny sound–TS.  Ok, you are saying, that’s really difficult.  Hold on, I’m telling you that you say it all the time, especially if you have cats.  Get it?  caTS.  You also say it if you say “Bar MiTSva”.  Or think of the word the Japanese gave us: TSunami.tsunami

So, back to french fries or chips because I know you are hungry.  In E-Vreet (Hebrew) you say Tsipps.  Click on the link and listen to the word pronounced in Hebrew for a couple of times.  Don’t try to say it until you have listened to it ten times.  Then listen to it and only say it in your mind ten times.  THEN and only then, say it if you want.  But don’t worry if you don’t get it right.

Remember, “pronunciation is caught and not taught”.  It will take time.  You will be able to say this sound when you don’t realize it.  It’s not crucial, because as long as you are in the ballpark, like Camden Yards, Oriole Park at Camden Yardsballpark, E-Vreet (Hebrew) speakers will get what you are talking about.  As you can see, that’s a pretty big ballpark.  So even if you don’t get the sound just right, you can still get your fries or chips or tsips. Why?  Because Context is King.  If you are standing in a fast food restaurant in Tel-Aviv and you are saying this word the best you can, (hopefully Boardwalk Fries will open one there soon), the waiter will know you want chips…or french fries. Enjoy!

Why English as a mother tongue is a language learning disability

At the Superbowl, there were thousands of people: most who spoke English as their mother tongue.  It would be inconceivable in the USA to think that the Patriots and Seahawks couldn’t understand each other.

If English is your mother tongue and you are not one of those “one out of twenty” people who has a natural gift for languages, you probably struggled in French class, had difficulties in German, or you felt you just got by in Spanish.  You might have thought you just didn’t have the gift of languages and that’s that.  If you have any EU friends, they probably told you the joke:  What do you call someone who speaks three languages?  Trilingual.  Two languages?  Bilingual.  One language?  American, (or British, Canadian, Australian etc.).

Well, unless you came from an immigrant family, you didn’t grow up listening to other languages the way you would in a lot of multi-cultural societies like India.  In India, you might speak one language to your mother’s side of the family, another to your father’s side of the family, another one to the maid, another one at school.  Your brain has built-in channels to go from one language to another, while the English-speaking person has to start digging a tunnel to learn each word of a new language.

Let’s say you are the adventurous type and you visit other countries outside of the Western world.  You even stay there longer than a tourist.  You learn a bit of the local language and try it out.  You want to make friends and find the fastest way of making friends is to speak English with the locals.  Once they figure out you’re an English speaker, it’s all over.  You suddenly become an English teacher perhaps to the horror of your English teacher back home.

If you are an American, you can travel literally for hundreds of miles in America and find everyone speaks almost exactly the way you do.  If you try that kind of travelling in Europe, you’d have to speak a different language for every state that you passed.  America is geographically isolated like few other countries are.  It has oceans on each side.  It even has   So unless you are close the Mexico, you may not have a lot of opportunities to hear the foreign language you want to learn.

People who speak English as their native tongue just don’t have the same motivation to learn a foreign language as others.  Motivation is one of the key factors that helps even the most disadvantaged student to learn a foreign language.
And then you try to learn Hebrew.  Even if you were brought up with listening to Hebrew prayers, people said them so fast that you didn’t get what they meant.  So you try to learn.  For both Jews and Gentiles, the struggle to learn Hebrew is something they both have in common.


So this is my poinchunnelt:  if you are struggling to learn Hebrew and are losing hope, and English is your mother tongue, realize that you have a language learning disability.  Give yourself plenty of room to learn.  It’s going to take special methods to build those tunnels in your brain.  Think of the English channel.  You need special tools.  E-Vreet offers these tools.

Why are there so many good Jewish comedians?

saac literally means “He laughs” in Hebrew…or he’s laughing…I mean, he’s having fun!

If you want to pronounce his name in Hebrew, you have to say “Yeetz-Hack”. (Root is “tsa-xhak”). The word is meant to sound like what it means–hahahahahhah! Literally. I’m serious. I did not make this up. You can check Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon. So now do you believe me?

By the way, just for the record, Sarah was NOT the first to laugh at the angels, or to just laugh when the angels gave the prophecy of Isaac. It was actually Avraham. Gen17:17, Avraham actually fell on his face isaking (tsa-hak). Then Sarah isaked (tsa-hak). And the Lord asked her why she tsa-haked.

So you know where this is going–they called the kid “He laughs.” “”And Sarah said, “God hath made me to isaac (tsa-hak), so that all who hear will isaac (tsa-hak) with me.” So make sure you tsa-hak with Sarah.

Playing with Isaac’s name doesn’t end there! When Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, Hagar ws mocking. Hagar was isaaking (tsa-hak)!

But this is my favorite verse: Gen26:8 “And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife.” Isaac himself was isaaking (tsa-hak)! The Hebrew literally reads Yits-hak tsa-hak Rivkah (Rebekah). It means they were goofing around. Isaac was living up to his name! What a gene pool. And that’s why there are so many brilliant Jewish comedians. Now you know. Because you study Biblical Hebrew.

Rose of Sharon or Saffron of Sharon?

sos 2 v 1

This famous verse reads a bit differently in the Hebrew.  The Hebrew does not use the word for rose.  Instead it may use the word for saffron.  Sharon by the way means plain, as in the plains, but these are not in Spain but in Northern Israel.  The Hebrew word for lily is where we get our word for the name Susannah.  In Hebrew, you say Shushannah.  And in Hebrew the word doesn’t really mean valley as in the valley of the shadow of death.  Instead, the Hebrew word means vale.  This is Hebrew poetry in action.  Hebrew poetry doesn’t rhyme.  It has parallel meanings.  So here we have a saffron on the plains, and a lily on a vale.  Hebrew poetry repeats the same idea using another example.

The Family Families of the Hebrew Alphabet

It’s your first lesson in Hebrew.  Perhaps you are in a classroom situation, or perhaps you are trying to learn from a book or online.  For some reason, in the first lesson, they think it is ok to throw 22 letters at you and pretend that they will stick on your brain.  They throw 22 different shapes at you and insist that you not only should know them but be able to manipulate them into words by the next lesson.  

Any teaching course will tell you that students learn in clusters of five to seven items.  That is why I have developed a method for you to learn the Hebrew letters in terms of their shapes.  It makes sense.  if you don’t know the alphabet yet, the letters are only weird shapes to you.  The idea is to make it all less overwhelming.  

I have been able to break down the letters of the Hebrew alphabet into five categories of shapes.  I like to call them The Five Families because everything about Hebrew is about families.  You have the Horn family, the Square family, the circle family, the Staff family, and of course, the Unique family.  

For instance, א is part of the Horn family.  Why?  Because it has two horns.  There are only three letters in the Hebrew alphabet who have horns.  א  ע  צ

So right now, if you looked at the Hebrew alphabet, you could pick out the Horn family.

א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ ל מ נ ס ע פ צ ק ר ש ת

By learning to see the shapes of the Hebrew alphabet, you are mapping your brain and preparing it to learn how to recognize the letters by name.



Hebrew Meditation is Noisy

When you think of the word meditation, the stereo-type image that comes to mind is perhaps transcendental meditation, or a guru in India in a lotus position clearing out his mind, or monks in a seminary praying in silence.  In my exploration of Biblical Hebrew, it seems to me that the psalmist in Psalm 1 might have been a bit noisy. As opposed to the Hindu who is told to empty his mind, the psalmist is instructed to interact with the Torah until it is his, his Torah.  He reads it out loud. Today’s psalmist might sound like this, “Wow!”  or “Mmmmm…..”  or even “”What?” showing incomprehension or even mourning while reading the Torah.  What is he doing? He is having a dialogue with the scriptures.  He is talking back to them.  He is so into his studies that he is no longer self-conscious about making noises.

The Hebrew root word for meditation is הגה

In Modern Hebrew, it means sound, steering wheel, rudder.

In Job, the Lord is the Actor of this verb.  In this verse, it’s talking about thunder going out of his mouth.  (BTW, I love the double Shema, Shema for “Hear attentively.”  It reminds me of the British Parliment, declaring, “Hear, hear!”)

Job 37:2 Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that goes out of his mouth.
Job 37:2 שמעו שמוע ברגז קלו והגה מפיו יצא׃

The best way to learn the meaning of a Hebrew word it to see it in context in the scriptures.  Let’s have a look at some English verses using  הגה .  When you see the different English words used for this Hebrew word, you may be doing some hegehing yourself:  muttering, talking to yourself…

Ps 35:28 ​​​​​​​Then I will tell others about your justice, ​​​​​​and praise you all day long.
Ps 35:28 ולשוני תהגה צדקך כל היום תהלתך׃

Ps 63:6 ​​​​​​​whenever I remember you on my bed, ​​​​​​and think about you during the nighttime hours.
Ps 63:6 אם זכרתיך על יצועי באשמרות אהגה בך׃

Ps 90:9 For, all our days, decline in thy wrath,––We end our years like a sigh.
Ps 90:9  ט   כי כל-ימינו פנו בעברתך    כלינו שנינו כמו-הגה

Prov 15:28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
Prov 15:28  כח   לב צדיק יהגה לענות    ופי רשעים יביע רעות

Prov 24:2 For, violence, their heart muttereth, and, mischief, their lips do speak.
Prov 24:2  ב   כי-שד יהגה לבם    ועמל שפתיהם תדברנה

Isa 31:4 For, Thus, hath Yahweh said unto me––Like as a lion or a young lion growleth, over his prey. Who––though there be called out against him a multitude of shepherds––Will not, at their voice, be dismayed, Nor, at their noise, be daunted, So, will the Lord of hosts come down, to make war over Mount Zion, and over the hill thereof.
Isa 31:4  ד כי כה אמר יהוה אלי כאשר יהגה האריה והכפיר על טרפו אשר יקרא עליו מלא רעים מקולם לא יחת ומהמונם לא יענה כן ירד יהוה צבאות לצבא על הר ציון ועל גבעתה

Isa 38:14 Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me.
Isa 38:14  יד כסוס עגור כן אצפצף אהגה כיונה דלו עיני למרום אדני עשקה לי ערבני

Jer 48:31 Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; mine heart shall mourn for the men of Kirheres.
Jer 48:31  לא על כן על מואב איליל ולמואב כלה אזעק  אל אנשי קיר חרש יהגה