Biblical Hebrew is the only language in the world which expresses complex ideas through the structure of each Hebrew letter, the combining of these letters into words and the numerical value of each letter and word. Though considered a “dead” language for nearly 2,000 years following the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans, Hebrew has experienced techiyat haMetim, a “revival of the dead”.
With the establishment of the State of Israel 68 years ago, Hebrew today is spoken by more than 5 million people in the Holy Land. Furthermore, there are about 2 million people outside of Israel who speak Hebrew, mostly in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, Panama, the UK and USA.
Clearly, not all of these 7 million people are of Jewish origin. What pulls people of all denominations to learn Hebrew?
Roni Segal, the academic advisor for eTeacher, the the world’s foremost online language academy, explained to Breaking Israel News that they have successfully taught tens of thousands of people Hebrew. “There is a real awakening happening all over the world,” she said. “People want to learn the Bible in its original language and they appreciate that our teachers are living in the Holy Land and use Hebrew in their daily lives.”
Segal noted that for people seeking to enrich their Bible studies, the importance of doing this in its original Hebrew language cannot be stressed enough. Here are a few of her reasons why:
Hebrew is the original language of the Bible.
Jewish tradition states that Hebrew is the Godly language from which the world was created. This is one of the reasons why the essence of Biblical Hebrew words are contained in the word itself and also reveal Godly secrets through the mathematical Bible codes. Biblical Hebrew words are filled with hidden meanings that are revealed through learning the text in its original language.
For example, a dog in Hebrew is called “calev”. “Ca” means “like” and “lev” means heart. It is an accepted maxim that a dog is man’s best friend, as it is connected to man “like his heart”.
Studying the Bible in Hebrew is like hearing God’s voice without distortion.
The first Torah was written by Moses in 1312 BCE. Since that time, and later, throughout the Israelites’ many exiles and persecutions, Torah scrolls have been written worldwide. There are meticulous Jewish dictates for creating a kosher Torah scroll. The process includes a scribe hand-copying a previous scroll which takes approximately 2,000 hours (a full-time job for one year).
It is striking to note that of the 304,805 letters in the Torah making up nearly 79,000 words, a total of only nine differences in letters have been found from the most ancient Torahs until today. Of these spelling differences, none of them change the meaning of the word. (Much like “color” in American English “colour” in British English). Over thousands of years, this is an actual miracle which is a testament to the faithful Jewish scribes who would not dare change God’s holy word.
To truly understand the Old Testament, one must study it in Hebrew.
All Biblical translations are subject to the interpretation of the translator. Therefore, to receive an accurate understanding of God’s word, one needs to study the holy text in its original language.
For example, here are three samples of English translations of Isaiah 53:4:
The Complete Jewish Bible: “In fact, it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered, yet we regarded him as punished, stricken and afflicted by God.”
God’s Word Translation: “He certainly has taken upon himself our suffering and carried our sorrows, but we thought that God had wounded him, beat him, and punished him.”
The Message Bible: “But the fact is, it was our pains he carried – our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.”
One connects to the ancient Israelites through their language.
In numerous places in the Bible, the prophets (Isaiah 19:18, 36:11, 13, 2 Kings 18:26, 2 Chronicles 32:18 and Nehemiah 13:24) refer to Hebrew as “the language of Canaan”, the “Judean” language and the “language of the Jews”.
Knowledge of Hebrew grammar enhances the depth of meaning of Biblical text.
For example, did you know that adding the Hebrew letter vav to the beginning of a verb changes the word from future to past tense and past tense to future?
“Not only is learning Hebrew fun and exciting but it also deepens the relationship that people have with scripture and God,” explained Segal to Breaking Israel News. “Just by dedicating some time each day to studying the Bible in its original Hebrew, a person can gain tremendous clarity on God’s creations and the purpose of life.”