Hebrew Beginnings: Kumi Ori

For your listening pleasure, here is a version of Kumi Ori.  One of the biggest steps in learning a new language is training the ear.  Listen to as much as you can, as often as you can.  The lyrics to the song are Isaiah 60:1-2.  You can find the lyrics here.
א  קוּמִי אוֹרִי, כִּי בָא אוֹרֵךְ; וּכְבוֹד יְהוָה, עָלַיִךְ זָרָח.

1 Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
ב  כִּי-הִנֵּה הַחֹשֶׁךְ יְכַסֶּה-אֶרֶץ, וַעֲרָפֶל לְאֻמִּים; וְעָלַיִךְ יִזְרַח יְהוָה, וּכְבוֹדוֹ עָלַיִךְ יֵרָאֶה.

2 For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but upon thee the LORD will arise, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.
Keep in mind that a basic meaning of the word זרח is “shone” or “shined.”  It can also have to do with the rising of the sun.
‎זרח
‎האיר, נתן אור
‎השמש זורחת בשמים
‎לזרוח / ז.ר.ח. / פעל / זרחתי, זורח, אזרח, יזרח, זרח

zarach
he’ir, natan ‘or
hashemesh zorachat bashamayim
lizro’ach / (shoresh) / pa’al (stem) / zarachti, zore’ach, ezrach, yizrach, zrach!

it shined
lit up, gave light
The sun is shining in the sky.
to shine / (shoresh) / pa’al (stem) / I shined, is shining, I will shine, it will shine, Shine!

‎ערפל is the word for fog.  Deep darkness is associated with it here, probably in connection to the ערפל on Sinai.

‎ערפל
‎1. אוויר מלא במים
‎בבוקר היה ערפל כבד, אי אפשר היה לראות שום דבר
‎2. מצב לא ברור
‎העתיד מכוסה בערפל

arafel
avir male bemayim
baboker hayah arafel kaved, ee efshar hayah lir’ot shum davar
matzav lo barur
he’atid mekhuseh ba’arafel

fog
air filled with water
In the morning there was a heavy fog, it was impossible to see anything.
an unclear situation, obscurity
The future is covered with obscurity.

Here’s the song.

Hebrew Beginnings: Habrit Hachadashah

In case you are unaware of it, UBS has for decades been publishing Habrit Hachadashah (The New Covenant) in Hebrew.  In 1959, their copy of the scriptures was the first Hebrew bible to be published in HaAretz.  Read the story here.

Recently, they have released a dramatized reading of the Hebrew New Testament.  I have yet to acquire a copy, but my guess is that it is top notch.

Click here.

The point of this is that if you consider yourself a “New Testament” scholar, or an “Old Testament” scholar, or just someone who enjoys both, either way, this is a great way to study Hebrew while at the same time studying the scriptures you love.  A win-win situation if you ask me.

Here’s a free online version of the Hebrew New Testament for your perusing pleasure!

Hebrew Beginnings: Mechon Mamre

Barukh Haba (welcome) to the world of Hebrew language. Ideally, you would have the funding and privilege to move to Israel for five to ten years and live in an environment in which the Israelis only spoke to you in Hebrew.  They would be kind enough to work with you and help you with mistakes in your speaking in nothing but a loving manner.  Unfortunately, we do not live in such a utopia.  You are probably much like me, lacking the funding for such an endeavor.  For the time I spent in Israel, I was forced to scrimp and save for several years.  Even if the finances were not an issue, once you arrived, you would be thrust into Israeli society.  Just to give you a heads up, Israelis are very kind hearted, sensitive people, but if you are not family or a close friend, it is likely that they will come across as course and blunt.  Between the mixture of Israeli politics and the straight forwardness of Hebrew, there is little to no patience.  Fear not, and do not be dismayed.  There still remains hope for you to learn the language of the prophets.

Today’s resource is great for those who find themselves infatuated with the deep, mystifying, kabbalistic concept of FREE.  That’s right, F-R-E-E.  Mechon Mamre offers the biblical text coupled with the JPS translation.  Audio files accompany the text and are available to be streamed or downloaded to your computer for easy listening on the go.  When it comes to readings of the entire Hebrew bible, this is the best, and again, it’s free.  The only readings that I have found that are of higher quality are Randall Buth’s “500 Friends.”  Unfortunately, his only covers select readings, and not the entire bible.  More on his products later.

Until next time, have fun listening!
Click here to visit Mechon Mamre!

Hebrew Beginnings: Animated Hebrew

If you don’t have Adobe Shockwave on your computer, you’ll need to download it in order to check out AnimatedHebrew.com.  For beginners, especially those in Seminary Hebrew 1 & 2, this site is a MUST.  Charles Grebe has adapted Philip Williams’ Jonah carton to include the written and audio text of Sepher Yonah.

On a positive side, the comic features a slow paced reading available in manual and autoplay, so you can go at your own pace.  The text is available in unpointed formats of the Aramaic, Cursive, and Paleo-Hebrew scripts.  Below the comic, Grebe has included translations in pointed Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Greek, Latin, Arabic, German, French, KJV, ESV, and NET bible.

On a negative side, not much can be said.  The comic helps keep your attention while you read and the reading is at an excellent pace for beginners.  After ten minutes, Micheal Johnson from Criswell College was able to read the first two verses.  Previously, it took him 30 seconds to a minute to sound out one word.  Impressive.  Well done Michael!  Keep up the good work.

Thanks Charles for the excellent resource and to Dr. Kevin Warstler, Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Criswell College, for showing it to me.  I look forward to Charles Grebe and Philip Williams partnering up for more biblical cartoons with audio.

WWW.ANIMATEDHEBREW.COM

Hebrew Beginnings: Dialects, Pronunciations, and Intonations

In this, and future blog posts, I invite you to come along with me as we enter the world of the Hebrew language.  Over the course of these blogs I hope to introduce you to useful resources for learning the language and some it would behoove you to stay away from.  Additionally, I hope to write to you and illuminate your eyes to points of intrigue within the Hebrew bible that you would only be able to see if you were familiar with the language.  Along the way, it is highly probable that we will rabbit trail into the domains of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the rabbis, as well as Sesame Street and Curious George.

Wait, wait.  Relax.  I know you’re thinking, “But Eric, my Hebrew’s not good enough to read Curious George.  Can’t you just stick to the biblical material so that I can cross reference with my bible software and appear to be scholarly and knowledgeable of the languages?”  Frankly, I cannot.  To miss out on the profundity of Sesame Street and its correlation to the biblical text would be to do you a great disfavor.

Yet that will need to wait for a future date.  Today, we are starting with dialect, pronunciation, and one of the greatest resources for learning Hebrew since the advent of the ulpan.  That being none other than the “Youtube(s).”

First, let’s check out dialect options.  In the world of Hebrew speakers there are three primary dialects; Ashkenaz, Sephardi/Mizrachi, and Temani.  From these three come various subcategories involving mild idiosyncrasies in pronunciation.  In the realm of the Ashkenazim (Jews whose descendancy is from Northern Europe), the greatest differences will be noticed.  This is primarily due to the impact of Yiddish.  As a result, the accent is moved back towards the beginning of the word, both the kametz and kametz chatuf are pronounced with an “o” or “oy” sound, and the tav without a mappik is said like a samekh.  Therefore the word “Shabbat” is many times pronounced as “Shobbos” or “Shabbas.”  This dialect can be found most prominently on the streets of Crown Heights or Me’ah She’arim.  While this dialect is not the best choice for finding your way around the streets of Tel Aviv, as a result of its modified accent and “S” sounding Tav, it does have the benefit of making it easier to intersperse Hebrew words into your English speech.  Which comes in handy if you are teaching Torah in English, yet need to mention key Hebrew terms in the text.  To hear a sample check out this lesson on Ha’azinu.

The second dialect is the Sephardi/Mizrachi.  Most Israelis speak in one of the subcategories of this dialect.  As a result, this is the dialect I prefer for everyday conversation in Hebrew and for reading Modern Hebrew literature.  It is also the easiest for people to start with when trying to learn to read the bible.  When listening to people speaking in Sephardi Hebrew, you will notice that the accent is towards the end of the word.  The multitude of vowel sounds that you learned in your seminary courses are reduced to five sounds; aw, ey, ee, o, and oo.  In regards to the BeGaD KePhaT letters, the Beit, Kaf, and Peh retain their distinguishing characteristics of hard and soft sounds depending on whether or not there is a mappik.  The Gimmel, Dalet, and Tav only have a hard sound, whether or not there is a mappik.  To hear a sample, check out this reading from 1 Samuel 15.

The third dialect is the Temani.  This is my favorite dialect of the three, probably because of its exotic nature, and is what I use for reading Torah and praying from the Siddur.  The Temani (Yemenite) Jews are a very unique group.  As a result of their geographical region, for much of the time since the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, they have been cut off from the rest of the Jewish world.  Their tradition is that they descend from the tribe of Dan and did not return at all during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.  As a result, their Hebrew lines up most closely to what scholars think the Hebrew of biblical times sounded like.  First, every vowel has a different sound.  Additionally, the BeGaD KePhaT letters all retain a hard and soft sound.  Therefore you will hear differences between a Gimmel and Jimmel, Daleth and Dhaleth, and Taw and Thaw.  The Vav, unlike in Ashkenazi and Sephardi, is pronounced with a “W” sound.  Hince a Waw instead of a Vav.  Much like some subcategories of Sephardi, Alef and Ayin are distinguished in their sounds as well as Chet and Khaf.  To hear a sample check out this version of “Yigdal.”