Biblical Hebrew

When the LORD scrambled the languages, He did a signature work (Genesis 11:9). No two languages are more different than Greek and Hebrew. Although they have nearly the same amount of letters (Greek – 24; Hebrew – 23), there the similarity ends. Hebrew is an Oriental language – it reads from right to left; Hebrew is a pictorial and musical language – each individual Hebrew letter is a pictogram (a small picture of an object like a house, the Hebrew letter Beth, or a door, the Hebrew letter Daleth, etc.) and the text contains meticulous notations, including musical notations in the Psalms and poetic sections, how a reader or singer must pronounce each consonant and vowel; Hebrew also loves repetition – Greek detests it.

Hebrew makes abstract things concrete, – gives unseen spiritual powers a face so that beings in a body, like man, can understand them. Hebrew desires a student to see, taste, hear, even smell distinctions in life. Think of all the rich, side-by-side comparisons in the Psalms and the Proverbs. The favorite Hebrew teaching tool is the parable: putting two things next to each other for prolonged comparison and contrast. The Greeks liked to formulate; the Hebrews loved to illustrate.

The Bible’s greatest portraits are in the Old Testament. They are so striking and clear that even our children readily understand them (hence, the tendency to teach Old Testament in Sunday School and, unfortunately, to neglect it thereafter). The Creation, Noah’s Ark, the life of Joseph, the Exodus Plagues, the life of David, Solomon’s Temple, the prophecies and proclamations of the prophets and the exile and return from Babylon come to us in the perfect language: Hebrew.