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.



Udemy Sale: Get E-Vreet courses for $15

Udemy hosts my online Biblical Hebrew courses.  This week they are having a Black Friday sale where you can get a hold of the E-Vreet courses at a real bargain.  E-Vreet means Hebrew in Hebrew.  So already you know an important word.

E-Vreet courses are non-academic, non-traditional courses.  They use about a dozen cutting-edge methods to not only present the material but teach you the material and help you study.  Each lesson builds upon what you just learned.  E-Vreet takes the new material and applies it to what you just learned, so there is a constant review.  E-Vreet engages you in the process of learning.  There are not any lectures–it’s all hand-on activities and games.  A character, Ben Avraham, not unlike Bart Simpson helps you learn Hebrew.  Sometimes he gets his mom, dad, and sister to help.

My first course, “Meet the Hebrew Alphabet,” is a preparatory course for the reading course.  This course uses cutting-edge methodologies.This is a quick course that gets you used to seeing and distinquishing the wierd shapes of the Hebrew letters.  The second part of the course introduces you to the sounds of the letters through words that you already know.  You don’t have to “study.”  The course does all the work for you.  It maps your brain with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet with music.   It has games after each unit.

The next course, “Learn Hebrew through the Bible“, you will be searching the Hebrew scriSlide01ptures in the very first lesson.  You will also visit Israel without having to get on a plane.  E-Vreet will take you to all part of Israel where you will search for the target letter of the lesson on signs on shop windows in Jerusalem and various cities.

As soon as you learn a few letters, E-Vreet puts them together and immediately shows you how to make simple words. It doesn’t stop there, like  Legos, E-Vreet puts together the words to make sentences.  By your second word, you can make a sentence.  When the letters have meaning for you, you can remember them much better.

In later units, E-Vreet translates the Hebrew verses in English, but using Hebrew grammar.  This helps you get under the hood of Hebrew, and lets you see how it words.  By seeing the English reflecting the Hebrew style of sentences, you will be prepared for an advanced Hebrew course.  You learn some grammar without trying.

At the end of this course, you will be able to not only read simple sentences, but you will be able to make your own.  You will be ready for the traditional Biblical Hebrew courses.

Learning Biblical Hebrew: Masoretes were the first Geeks

Ok, to be honest, I am not a big fan of the dots and dashs (aka nikudim) on the Hebrew letters for most people just beginning to learn Hebrew.  Studies have shown that people who read Arabic have to use different parts of their brains due to interpreting all their little dots and dashes.  I would venture to say that more Arabic readers need glasses.  Hebrew didn’t have the dots and dashes until the Masoretes came along.  They had good intentions.  They did not live in the digital age.  They couldn’t record how the language sounded.  So they devised their own system that would represent the vowels.  Today, they would have been working for Microsoft, writing code.  They were technically accurate.  The work they did was tremendous and essential.  But it was not necessarily the greatest teaching methodology.

But when you are first starting out learning Hebrew, it can be a bit daunting to find that one letter has eight sounds, depending on how many dots and dashes it has.  Many teachers end up teaching Hebrew linguistics instead of the Hebrew language.

The dots and dashes show how the vowels work in Hebrew.  But let’s talk about words–words mean something to you.  When you learn a word, your brain grabs it as language, and you’ll pick up how the vowels work along the way.

Let me show you what I mean: you all know the Hebrew name Adam which means “man” in Hebrew.  First of all Hebrew doesn’t have any capital or small letters, so it’s ADAM.  A-DAM has two syllables.  The stress is on the first syllable, so Hebrew swallows up the unaccented vowel, and this is the result: ADM.

There are other features about the sylhebrew morphlables,  but one of the best ways to learn about how Hebrew works is to watch what I call the Hebrew Morph.  (Can someone write a song called “The Hebrew Morph?) The Hebrew Morph shows you the process of how an English word can be morphed into Hebrew.  To watch the Hebrew Morph in action, take the free course at Udemy called Learn Hebrew through the Bible.