Why do people learn a new language? To be closer to their heritage? To navigate a foreign country better? To add to their resume? These are all valid reasons. However, another common reason people polish up their language skills is to gain better access to ancient scripture.
Bible scholars have long been trying to master Biblical Hebrew to better understand the Hebrew Bible. This is quite a feat, mainly because there are no original copies of the Hebrew Bible left. The constant rewriting has left many grammatical errors and gaps that they have to work hard on filling themselves.
However, linguists today are trying to decipher older texts not through biblical Hebrew but through modern Hebrew. Here’s why!
Learning Modern Hebrew Improves Your Biblical Hebrew
Modern Hebrew is a great building block that allows you to be more fluent in your Biblical Hebrew knowledge. Instead of dealing with conjugation charts and other references, you can navigate text easily due to a more confident understanding of Hebrew morphology.
Additionally, learning modern Hebrew can help you strengthen your pronunciation. Many students learn Biblical Hebrew through textual sources, which may be helpful while reading or writing, but can prove to be a challenge once you start to read aloud. Modern Hebrew is a great way to elevate your knowledge of Biblical Hebrew.
Modern Hebrew Is A Crucial Research Language
If your research is tied to Hebrew, then it will also be inextricably connected to Israel. In Israel, most research articles are published in Hebrew, and by denying yourself knowledge of modern Hebrew, you are narrowing your research scope.
There are dedicated research article search engines in Israel that are filled with research articles and books that are written solely in Hebrew. The scholarly articles provide great insight into the conversation around biblical Hebrew as well as Bible scholarship.
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Modern Hebrew Essential To Study Jewish Interpretations
Modern Hebrew contains an amalgamation of Rabbinic, Biblical, and Medieval Hebrew. This mixture of languages can help you get better insight into the many Jewish interpretations of the Bible that are currently present in various texts.
The Mishnah, also known as the Oral Torah, was written in Rabbinic Hebrew and contained useful information that was cited by many Bible and Torah scholars. Additionally, if you hope to speak with or interview individuals for your written research, Biblical Hebrew or English can prove to be a disadvantage, leading to partial data with gaps.
If you’d like to get started with learning Hebrew, get in touch with Ulpan Or. The institute provides Hebrew language learning online from an Israeli teacher. Contact them today for more information on their services.