It’s time once again to help out a seeker on Ask MetaFilter, namely greengrl, who says:

I’ve just started studying Hebrew (the class has a focus on “Biblical Hebrew”), and I’m looking for some additional resources outside of class. Does anyone know of software, internet sites, or books that might be helpful in learning a language so different from English? So far the class hasn’t been too bad, but I’d like to do additional learning at home.

I’m quite sure my readership will have some good suggestions. (When I studied Biblical Hebrew, I used the wretched Teach Yourself, so I’m not much use here.)


  1. I’ve done my own study of Biblical Hebrew, and I took a year of Modern Hebrew as well. I wish I had more time to devote to studying it. If I did, here’s what I would do:
    1. Get a Tanakh to read the Bible in its original language. Of course, it will be a while before you can read it, but even if you just sound out words without knowing their meaning, it’ll start to rub off on you.
    2. Get some instruction CDs. Audio-Forum has language resources for a lot of different languages, Hebrew included. The cost is high ($150-200 for a CD set), but so is the quality. They’re online at http://www.audioforum.com/
    3. Check for more resources at a fellow blogger’s site: http://www.eh43.com/hebrew/ (Emeth doesn’t blog anymore, but the site’s still up).
    That’s all I can think of right now, but I have more resources at home. I’ll try to remember to post more later. Hope this helps!

  2. (1) As far as book’s go, I found Page Kelley’s “Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar” to be very clear and useful
    (2) I have a two page reference sheet at http://audhumla.org/documents/hebrew_summary.pdf which I made when studying for my Hebrew I final that might be useful.

  3. Hey, thanks much for the suggestions, and to languagehat for posting this here. It’s going pretty well so far, but then again, I’ve only learned six letters and four vowels. It can’t get too complicated when there’s only eight possible options. 🙂

  4. I gather from your posting that you aren’t Jewish; neither am I. Perhaps like you, I think I’ve always wanted to read The Book in its own language without having to rely on an interpreter. To date, I’ve learned what I know of Biblical Hebrew entirely on my own. I do sanity checks every now and then by going to a synagogue: if I still can follow the service, I’m more-or-less on track, I figure. I admit, just like I did with English – my mother tongue – I may have to take formal Hebrew classes eventually. But so far, so good. I’ll bet the following approach will work for you, too. Like Michael’s posting, I’ve found that just The Book itself rubs off if you attempt to read it. Unfortunately, I – like him – am time-challenged about this, since so many other things in life have gotten in the way. Doing it this way does take time.
    First hurdle was the aleph-bet. This is the book I used to learn the letters:
    I’m glad to see it is still available. Interesting: I notice they’re calling it “Adult Education” book now, whereas it was introduced to me in the context of “kindergarten material”. Whatever they call it, the workbook was fairly easy to do. It’s about a quarter-inch thick with relatively large type.
    The book I used next to learn to read Biblical Hebrew, was “Green’s Interlinear Old Testament” in 3 volumes. Basically, I picked up the Genesis volume, and started to read only the Hebrew without cheating (too much). I got better with practice; the first day it took me a half-hour to read a single line of text, but within a month or two, I could read most of a page in half-hour. I got the Green’s Interlinear at a Christian bookstore. If your local bookstore doesn’t have it, I’ll bet a nearby university/seminary does.
    Following that, the best reference book I own is Wigram’s “The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament”, also from a Christian bookstore, or wherever.
    Way down the list is a Hebrew grammar, which I also own, but which I only use when I have questions, rather than using it to try to learn anything. Grammar books are fairly hopeless that way, in my experience. I’d rather learn straight from the Bible if possible.

  5. Thomas O. Lambdin’s An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew is very highly regarded. I used it and found it unusually clear.

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