BIBLICAL HEBREW (Hebrew : עִבְרִית מִקְרָאִית
Ivrit Miqra'it or לְשׁוֹן הַמִּקְרָא Leshon
ha-Miqra), also called CLASSICAL HEBREW, is an archaic form of Hebrew
, a Canaanite Semitic language spoken by the
Israelites in the area
Israel , roughly west of the
Jordan River and east of the
Mediterranean Sea . The term "Hebrew" was not used for the language in
the Bible, which was referred to as CANAANITE or JUDAHITE, but the
name was used in Greek and
Mishnaic Hebrew texts.
Biblical Hebrew is
attested from about the 10th century BCE, and persisted through and
Second Temple period
Second Temple period , which ended in the siege of
Jerusalem (AD 70) .
Biblical Hebrew eventually developed into
Mishnaic Hebrew , which was
spoken until the second century CE.
Biblical Hebrew is best-attested in the
Hebrew Bible , the collection
of Judaic religious and historical texts which reflect various stages
Hebrew language in its consonantal skeleton , as well as a
vocalic system which was added in the
Middle Ages by the
There is also some evidence of regional dialectal variation, including
Biblical Hebrew as spoken in the northern Kingdom
Israel and in the southern
Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah .
Biblical Hebrew has been written with a number of different writing
systems. The Hebrews adopted the
Phoenician alphabet around the 12th
century BCE, which developed into the
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet . This was
retained by the
Samaritans , who use the descendent Samaritan alphabet
to this day. However, the
Aramaic alphabet gradually displaced the
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet for the Jews, and it became the source for the
Hebrew alphabet . All of these scripts were lacking letters to
represent all of the sounds of Biblical Hebrew, though these sounds
are reflected in Greek and
Latin transcriptions/translations of the
time. These scripts originally only indicated consonants, but certain
letters, known by the
Latin term matres lectionis , became
increasingly used to mark vowels. In the Middle Ages, various systems
of diacritics were developed to mark the vowels in Hebrew manuscripts;
of these, only the
Tiberian vocalization is still in wide use.
Biblical Hebrew possessed a series of "emphatic" consonants whose
precise articulation is disputed, likely ejective or pharyngealized .
Biblical Hebrew possessed three consonants which did not have
their own letters in the writing system, but over time they merged
with other consonants. The stop consonants developed fricative
allophones under the influence of Aramaic , and these sounds
eventually became marginally phonemic . The pharyngeal and glottal
consonants underwent weakening in some regional dialects, as reflected
in the modern
Samaritan Hebrew reading tradition. The vowel system of
Biblical Hebrew changed dramatically over time and is reflected
differently in the ancient Greek and
Latin transcriptions, medieval
vocalization systems, and modern reading traditions.
Biblical Hebrew had a typical Semitic morphology with
nonconcatenative morphology , arranging Semitic roots into patterns to
Biblical Hebrew distinguished two genders (masculine,
feminine), three numbers (singular, plural, and uncommonly, dual).
Verbs were marked for voice and mood , and had two conjugations which
may have indicated aspect and/or tense (a matter of debate). The tense
or aspect of verbs was also influenced by the conjugation ו, in the
so-called waw-consecutive construction. Default word order was
verb–subject–object , and verbs inflected for the number, gender,
and person of their subject. Pronominal suffixes could be appended to
verbs (to indicate object ) or nouns (to indicate possession ), and
nouns had special construct states for use in possessive
* 1 Nomenclature
* 2 History
* 3 Classification
* 4 Eras
* 5 Dialects
* 6 Orthography
* 7.2 Vowels
* 7.2.1 Sound changes
* 188.8.131.52 Proto-Central-Semitic
* 184.108.40.206 Proto-Hebrew
* 220.127.116.11 Loss of final unstressed vowels
* 18.104.22.168 Short vowel lengthening (esp. pretonic), lowering
* 22.214.171.124 Reduction of short open stressed syllables
* 126.96.36.199 Pre-stress reduction of short vowel
* 188.8.131.52 Later developments
* 7.3 Stress
* 8 Grammar
* 8.1 Nouns and adjectives
* 8.2 Verbs
* 8.3 Word order
* 8.4 Tense and Aspect
* 9 Sample text
* 10 Notes
* 11 References
* 12 Bibliography
* 13 External links
The earliest written sources refer to
Biblical Hebrew by the name of
the land in which it was spoken: שפת כנען 'the language of
Canaan' (see Isaiah 19:18). The
Hebrew Bible also shows that the
language was called יהודית 'Judaean, Judahite' (see, for
example, 2 Kings 18:26,28). In the Hellenistic period Greek writings
use the names Hebraios, Hebraïsti (Josephus, Antiquities I, 1:2,
etc.), and in
Mishnaic Hebrew we find עברית 'Hebrew' and לשון
עברית 'Hebrew language' (Mishnah Gittin 9:8, etc.). The origin
of this term is obscure; suggested origins include the biblical
the ethnonyms Ḫabiru , Ḫapiru, and ˁ
Apiru found in sources from
Egypt and the near east, and a derivation from the root עבר "to
pass" alluding to crossing over the Jordan River. Jews also began
referring to Hebrew as לשון הקדש "the Holy Tongue" in Mishnaic
The term Classical Hebrew may include all pre-medieval dialects of
Hebrew, including Mishnaic Hebrew, or it may be limited to Hebrew
contemporaneous with the Hebrew Bible. The term
Biblical Hebrew refers
to pre-Mishnaic dialects (sometimes excluding Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew).
The term 'Biblical Hebrew' may or may not include extra-biblical
texts, such as inscriptions (e.g. the
Siloam inscription ), and
generally also includes later vocalization traditions for the Hebrew
Bible's consonantal text, most commonly the early medieval Tiberian
Ancient Hebrew writings
Ancient Hebrew writings Coin issued during the Bar
Kokhba revolt . The
Paleo-Hebrew text reads שמעון "
Simeon " on
the front and לחרות ירושלם "for the freedom of Jerusalem"
on the back.
The archeological record for the prehistory of
Biblical Hebrew is far
more complete than the record of
Biblical Hebrew itself. Early
Northwest Semitic (ENWS) materials are attested from 2350 BCE to 1200
BCE, the end of the
Bronze Age . The Northwest Semitic languages,
including Hebrew, differentiated noticeably during the Iron Age
(1200–540 BCE), although in its earliest stages
Biblical Hebrew was
not highly differentiated from
Ugaritic and the Canaanite of the
Amarna letters .
Hebrew developed during the latter half of the second millennium BCE
between the Jordan and the
Mediterranean Sea , an area known as Canaan
. The Israelite tribes established a kingdom in
Canaan at the
beginning of the first millennium BCE, which later split into the
Israel in the north and the kingdom of Judah in the south
after a dispute of succession. The earliest Hebrew writing yet
discovered was found at
Khirbet Qeiyafa and dates to the 10th century
The kingdom of
Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BCE. The
kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, its
higher classes were exiled into the
Babylonian captivity and
Solomon\'s Temple was destroyed. Later the Persians made Judah a
province and permitted Jewish exiles to return and rebuild the Temple.
According to the
Gemara , Hebrew of this period was similar to
Imperial Aramaic ; in Pesahim , Tractate 87b,
Hanina bar Hama said
that God sent the exiled Jews to Babylon because " language is akin to
Leshon Hakodesh ".
Aramaic became the common language in the north, in
Samaria . Hebrew remained in use in Judah; however the returning
exiles brought back Aramaic influence, and Aramaic was used for
communicating with other ethnic groups during the Persian period.
Alexander conquered Judah in 332 BCE, beginning the period of
Hellenistic (Greek) domination. During the Hellenistic period Judea
became independent under the
Hasmonean dynasty , but later the Romans
ended their independence, making
Herod the Great
Herod the Great their governor. One
Jewish revolt against the Romans led to the destruction of the Second
Temple in 70 CE, and the second
Bar Kokhba revolt
Bar Kokhba revolt in 132–135 led to
a large departure of the Jewish population of Judea.
Biblical Hebrew after the
Second Temple period
Second Temple period evolved into Mishnaic
Hebrew, which ceased being spoken and developed into a literary
language around 200 CE. Hebrew continued to be used as a literary and
liturgical language in the form of
Medieval Hebrew , and Hebrew began
a revival process in the 19th century, culminating in Modern Hebrew
becoming the official language of
Israel . Currently, Classical Hebrew
is generally taught in public schools in
Israel , and Biblical Hebrew
forms are sometimes used in
Modern Hebrew literature, much as archaic
and biblical constructions are used in Modern English literature.
Modern Hebrew contains many biblical elements, Biblical Hebrew
is fairly intelligible to
Modern Hebrew speakers.
The primary source of
Biblical Hebrew material is the Hebrew Bible.
epigraphic materials from the area of Israelite territory are written
in a form of Hebrew called Inscriptional Hebrew, although this is
meagerly attested. According to Waltke Hebrew had already ceased
being used as a spoken language around 200 CE.
Biblical Hebrew as
reflected in the consonantal text of the Bible and in extra-biblical
inscriptions may be subdivided by era.
The oldest form of Biblical Hebrew, Archaic Hebrew, is found in
poetic sections of the Bible and inscriptions dating to around 1000
BCE, the early Monarchic Period . This stage is also known as Old
Hebrew or Paleo-Hebrew, and is the oldest stratum of Biblical Hebrew.
The oldest known artifacts of Archaic
Biblical Hebrew are various
sections of the
Tanakh , including the
Song of Moses (Exodus 15) and
Song of Deborah
Song of Deborah (Judges 5). Biblical poetry uses a number of
distinct lexical items, for example חזה for prose ראה 'see',
כביר for גדול 'great'. Some have cognates in other Northwest
Semitic languages, for example פעל 'do' and חָרוּץ 'gold'
which are common in Canaanite and Ugaritic. Grammatical differences
include the use of זה, זוֹ, and זוּ as relative particles,
negative בל, and various differences in verbal and pronominal
morphology and syntax.
Biblical Hebrew (such as is found in prose sections
of the Pentateuch, Nevi\'im , and some
Ketuvim ) is known as 'Biblical
Hebrew proper' or 'Standard Biblical Hebrew'. This is dated to the
period from the 8th to the 6th century BCE. In contrast to Archaic
Biblical Hebrew is more consistent in using the
definite article ה-, the accusative marker את, distinguishing
between simple and waw-consecutive verb forms, and in using particles
like אשר and כי rather than asyndeton .
Biblical Hebrew from after the Babylonian exile in 587 BCE is known
as 'Late Biblical Hebrew'. Late
Biblical Hebrew shows Aramaic
influence in phonology, morphology, and lexicon, and this trend is
also evident in the later-developed
Tiberian vocalization system.
Qumran Hebrew, attested in the
Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls from ca. 200 BCE to
70 CE, is a continuation of Late Biblical Hebrew. Qumran Hebrew may
be considered an intermediate stage between
Biblical Hebrew and
Mishnaic Hebrew, though Qumran Hebrew shows its own idiosyncratic
Dialect variation in
Biblical Hebrew is attested to by the well-known
shibboleth incident of Judges 12:6, where
Jephthah 's forces from
Gilead caught Ephraimites trying to cross the Jordan river by making
them say שִׁבֹּ֤לֶת ('ear of corn') The Ephraimites'
identity was given away by their pronunciation: סִבֹּ֤לֶת.
The apparent conclusion is that the Ephraimite dialect had /s/ for
standard /ʃ/. As an alternative explanation, it has been suggested
that the proto-Semitic phoneme */θ/, which shifted to /ʃ/ in most
dialects of Hebrew, may have been retained in the Hebrew of the
trans-Jordan. However, there is evidence that the word
שִׁבֹּ֤לֶת had initial consonant */ʃ/ in proto-Semitic,
contradicting this theory.
Hebrew as spoken in the northern Kingdom of Israel, known also as
Israelian Hebrew , shows phonological, lexical, and grammatical
differences from southern dialects. The Northern dialect spoken
Samaria shows more frequent simplification of /aj/ into /eː/
as attested by the
Samaria ostraca (8th century BCE), e.g. ין (=
/jeːn/ < */jajn/ 'wine'), while the Southern (Judean) dialect instead
adds in an epenthetic vowel /i/, added halfway through the first
millennium BCE (יין = /ˈjajin/). The word play in Amos 8:1–2
כְּלוּב קַ֫יִץ... בָּא הַקֵּץ may reflect this:
given that Amos was addressing the population of the Northern Kingdom,
the vocalization *קֵיץ would be more forceful. Other possible
Northern features include use of שֶ- 'who, that', forms like
דֵעָה 'to know' rather than דַעַת and infinitives of certain
verbs of the form עֲשוֹ 'to do' rather than עֲשוֹת. The
Samaria ostraca also show שת for standard שנה 'year', as in
The guttural phonemes /ħ ʕ h ʔ/ merged over time in some dialects.
This was found in Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew, but
Jerome attested to the
existence of contemporaneous Hebrew speakers who still distinguished
Samaritan Hebrew also shows a general attrition of these
phonemes, though /ʕ ħ/ are occasionally preserved as .
Biblical Hebrew orthography
The earliest Hebrew writing yet discovered, found at Khirbet Qeiyafa
, dates to the 10th century BCE. The 15 cm x 16.5 cm (5.9 in x 6.5
in) trapezoid pottery sherd (ostracon ) has five lines of text written
in ink written in the
Proto-Canaanite alphabet (the old form of the
Phoenician alphabet). The tablet is written from left to right,
indicating that Hebrew writing was still in the formative stage.
The Israelite tribes who settled in the land of
Israel adopted the
Phoenician script around the 12th century BCE, as found in the Gezer
calendar (c. 10th century BCE). This script developed into the
Paleo-Hebrew script in the 10th or 9th centuries BCE. The
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet's main differences from the Phoenician script
were "a curving to the left of the downstrokes in the "long-legged"
letter-signs... the consistent use of a Waw with a concave top,
x-shaped Taw." The oldest inscriptions in
Paleo-Hebrew script are
dated to around the middle of the 9th century BCE, the most famous
Mesha Stele in the
Moabite language (which might be
considered a dialect of Hebrew). The ancient Hebrew script was in
continuous use until the early 6th century BCE, the end of the First
Temple period. In the
Second Temple Period the
gradually fell into disuse, and was completely abandoned among the
Jews after the failed
Bar Kochba revolt . The
the ancient Hebrew alphabet, which evolved into the modern Samaritan
By the end of the First Temple period the Aramaic script , a separate
descendant of the Phoenician script, became widespread throughout the
region, gradually displacing Paleo-Hebrew. The oldest documents that
have been found in the Aramaic Script are fragments of the scrolls of
Exodus, Samuel, and Jeremiah found among the Dead Sea scrolls, dating
from the late 3rd and early 2nd centuries BCE. It seems that the
earlier biblical books were originally written in the Paleo-Hebrew
script, while the later books were written directly in the later
Assyrian script. Some Qumran texts written in the Assyrian script
write the tetragrammaton and some other divine names in Paleo-Hebrew,
and this practice is also found in several Jewish-Greek biblical
translations. While spoken Hebrew continued to evolve into Mishnaic
Hebrew , the scribal tradition for writing the Torah gradually
developed. A number of regional "book-hand" styles developed for the
purpose of Torah manuscripts and occasionally other literary works,
distinct from the calligraphic styles used mainly for private
Ashkenazi book-hand styles were later
adapted to printed fonts after the invention of the printing press.
Hebrew alphabet , also known as the Assyrian or Square
script, is a descendant of the Aramaic alphabet.
The Phoenician script had dropped five characters by the 12th century
BCE, reflecting the language's twenty-two consonantal phonemes. As a
result, the 22 letters of the
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet numbered less than
the consonant phonemes of ancient Biblical Hebrew; in particular, the
letters ⟨ח, ע, ש⟩ could each mark two different phonemes.
After a sound shift the letters ח, ע could only mark one phoneme,
but (except in Samaritan Hebrew) ש still marked two. The old
Babylonian vocalization system wrote a superscript ס above the ש to
indicate it took the value /s/, while the
Masoretes added the shin dot
to distinguish between the two varieties of the letter.
Hebrew alphabet consisted only of consonants , but
gradually the letters א, ה, ו, י, also became used to indicate
vowels, known as matres lectionis when used in this function. It is
thought that this was a product of phonetic development: for instance,
*bayt ('house') shifted to בֵּית in construct state but retained
its spelling. While no examples of early Hebrew orthography have been
found, older Phoenician and Moabite texts show how First Temple period
Hebrew would have been written. Phoenician inscriptions from the 10th
century BCE do not indicate matres lectiones in the middle or the end
of a word, for example לפנ and ז for later לפני and זה,
similarly to the Hebrew
Gezer Calendar , which has for instance
שערמ for שעורים and possibly ירח for ירחו. Matres
lectionis were later added word-finally, for instance the Mesha
inscription has בללה, בנתי for later בלילה,
בניתי; however at this stage they were not yet used
Siloam inscription זדה versus אש (for
later איש). The relative terms defective and full/plene are
used to refer to alternative spellings of a word with less or more
matres lectionis, respectively.
Hebrew Bible was presumably originally written in a more
defective orthography than found in any of the texts known today. Of
the extant textual witnesses of the Hebrew Bible, the Masoretic text
is generally the most conservative in its use of matres lectionis,
Samaritan Pentateuch and its forebearers being more full and
the Qumran tradition showing the most liberal use of vowel letters.
The Masoretic text mostly uses vowel letters for long vowels, showing
the tendency to mark all long vowels except for word-internal /aː/.
In the Qumran tradition, back vowels are usually represented by
⟨ו⟩ whether short or long. ⟨י⟩ is generally used for
both long and (אבילים, מית), and final is often written as
יא- in analogy to words like היא, הביא, e.g. כיא,
sometimes מיא. ⟨ה⟩ is found finally in forms like
חוטה (Tiberian חוטא), קורה (Tiberian קורא)
while ⟨א⟩ may be used for an a-quality vowel in final position
(e.g. עליהא) and in medial position (e.g. יאתום).
Pre-Samaritan and Samaritan texts show full spellings in many
categories (e.g. כוחי vs. Masoretic כחי in Genesis 49:3)
but only rarely show full spelling of the Qumran type.
In general the vowels of
Biblical Hebrew were not indicated in the
original text, but various sources attest them at various stages of
development. Greek and
Latin transcriptions of words from the biblical
text provide early evidence of the nature of
Biblical Hebrew vowels.
In particular, there is evidence from the rendering of proper nouns in
Septuagint (3rd–2nd centuries BCE ) and the Greek
alphabet transcription of the Hebrew biblical text contained in the
Secunda (3rd century CE, likely a copy of a preexisting text from
before 100 BCE ). In the 7th and 8th centuries CE various systems of
vocalic notation were developed to indicate vowels in the biblical
text. The most prominent, best preserved, and the only system still
in use, is the
Tiberian vocalization system, created by scholars known
Masoretes around 850 CE. There are also various extant
manuscripts making use of less common vocalization systems (Babylonian
and Palestinian ), known as superlinear vocalizations because their
vocalization marks are placed above the letters. In addition, the
Samaritan reading tradition is independent of these systems, and was
occasionally notated with a separate vocalization system. These
systems often record vowels at different stages of historical
development; for example, the name of the Judge
Samson is recorded in
Greek as Σαμψών Sampsōn with the first vowel as /a/, while
Tiberian שִמְשוֹן /ʃimʃon/ with /i/ shows the effect of the
law of attenuation whereby /a/ in closed unstressed syllables became
/i/. All of these systems together are used to reconstruct the
original vocalization of Biblical Hebrew.
At an early stage, in documents written in the paleo-Hebrew script,
words were divided by short vertical lines and later by dots, as
reflected by the Mesha Stone, the Siloam inscription, the Ophel
inscription, and paleo-Hebrew script documents from Qumran. Word
division was not used in Phoenician inscriptions; however, there is
not direct evidence for biblical texts being written without word
division, as suggested by
Nahmanides in his introduction to the Torah.
Word division using spaces was commonly used from the beginning of
the 7th century BCE for documents in the Aramaic script. In addition
to marking vowels, the Tiberian system also uses cantillation marks,
which serve to mark word stress, semantic structure, and the musical
motifs used in formal recitation of the text.
While the Tiberian, Babylonian, and Palestinian reading traditions
are extinct, various other systems of pronunciation have evolved over
time, notably the Yemenite , Sephardi ,
Ashkenazi , and Samaritan
Modern Hebrew pronunciation is also used by some to read
biblical texts. The modern reading traditions do not stem solely from
the Tiberian system; for instance, the Sephardic tradition's
distinction between qamatz gadol and qatan is pre-Tiberian. However,
the only orthographic system used to mark vowels is the Tiberian
The phonology as reconstructed for
Biblical Hebrew is as follows:
Consonants lost and gained during the lifetime of
Biblical Hebrew are
BIBLICAL HEBREW CONSONANTS
The phonetic nature of some
Biblical Hebrew consonants is disputed.
The so-called "emphatics" were likely ejective , but possibly
pharyngealized or velarized. Some argue that /s, z, sʼ/ were
affricated (/ts, dz, tsʼ/).
Originally, the Hebrew letters ⟨ח ⟩ and ⟨ע ⟩ each
represented two possible phonemes, uvular and pharyngeal, with the
distinction unmarked in Hebrew orthography. However the uvular
phonemes /χ/ ח and /ʁ/ ע merged with their pharyngeal ones /ħ/ ח
and /ʕ/ ע respectively c. 200 BCE.
This is observed by noting that these phonemes are distinguished
consistently in the
Septuagint of the Pentateuch (e.g.
= Ἰσαάκ versus
Rachel רחל = Ῥαχήλ), but this becomes
more sporadic in later books and is generally absent in Ezra and
The phoneme /ɬ/, is also not directly indicated by Hebrew
orthography but is clearly attested by later developments: It is
written with ⟨ש⟩ (also used for /ʃ/) but later merged with /s/
(normally indicated with ⟨ס⟩). As a result, three etymologically
distinct phonemes can be distinguished through a combination of
spelling and pronunciation: /s/ written ⟨ס⟩, /ʃ/ written
⟨ש⟩, and /ś/ (pronounced /ɬ/ but written ⟨ש⟩). The
specific pronunciation of /ś/ as is based on comparative evidence
(/ɬ/ is the corresponding
Proto-Semitic phoneme and still attested in
Modern South Arabian dialects) as well as early borrowings (e.g.
balsam < Greek balsamon < Hebrew baśam). /ɬ/ began merging with /s/
in Late Biblical Hebrew, as indicated by interchange of orthographic
⟨ש⟩ and ⟨ס⟩, possibly under the influence of Aramaic, and
this became the rule in Mishnaic Hebrew. In all Jewish reading
traditions /ɬ/ and /s/ have merged completely; however in Samaritan
Hebrew /ɬ/ has instead merged with /ʃ/.
Allophonic spirantization of /b ɡ d k p t/ to (known as begadkefat
spirantization) developed sometime during the lifetime of Biblical
Hebrew under the influence of Aramaic. This probably happened after
the original Old Aramaic phonemes /θ, ð/ disappeared in the 7th
century BCE, and most likely occurred after the loss of Hebrew /χ,
ʁ/ c. 200 BCE. It is known to have occurred in Hebrew by the 2nd
century CE. After a certain point this alternation became contrastive
in word-medial and final position (though bearing low functional load
), but in word-initial position they remained allophonic. This is
evidenced both by the Tiberian vocalization's consistent use of
word-initial spirants after a vowel in sandhi, as well as Rabbi Saadia
Gaon 's attestation to the use of this alternation in Tiberian Aramaic
at the beginning of the 10th century CE.
The Dead Sea scrolls show evidence of confusion of the phonemes /ħ
ʕ h ʔ/, e.g. חמר ħmr for Masoretic אָמַר /ʔɔˈmar/ 'he
said'. However the testimony of
Jerome indicates that this was a
regionalism and not universal. Confusion of gutturals was also
attested in later
Mishnaic Hebrew and Aramaic (see Eruvin 53b). In
Samaritan Hebrew, /ʔ ħ h ʕ/ have generally all merged, either into
/ʔ/, a glide /w/ or /j/, or by vanishing completely (often creating a
long vowel), except that original /ʕ ħ/ sometimes have reflex /ʕ/
before /a ɒ/.
Geminate consonants are phonemically contrastive in Biblical Hebrew.
In the Secunda /w j z/ are never geminate. In the Tiberian tradition
/ħ ʕ h ʔ r/ cannot be geminate; historically first /r ʔ/
degeminated, followed by /ʕ/, /h/, and finally /ħ/, as evidenced by
changes in the quality of the preceding vowel.
The vowel system of
Biblical Hebrew has changed considerably over
time. The following vowels are those reconstructed for the earliest
stage of Hebrew, those attested by the Secunda, those of the various
vocalization traditions (Tiberian and varieties of Babylonian and
Palestinian ), and those of the Samaritan tradition, with vowels
absent in some traditions color-coded.
TIBERIAN, BABYLONIAN, AND PALESTINIAN HEBREW
ă3 ɔ̆3 (ɛ̆)3
* possibly pronounced , as the orthography alternates ⟨α⟩ and
* merges with /e/ in the Palestinian tradition and with /a/ in the
* merges with /a/ or /o/ in the Palestinian tradition
* The Tiberian tradition has the reduced vowel phonemes /ă ɔ̆/
and marginal /ɛ̆/, while Palestinian and Babylonian have one, /ə/
(pronounced as in later Palestinian Hebrew)
* /u/ and /o/ only contrast in open post-tonic syllables, e.g.
ידו /jedu/ ('his hand') ידיו /jedo/ ('his hands'), where /o/
stems from a contracted diphthong. In other environments, /o/ appears
in closed syllables and /u/ in open syllables, e.g. דור /dor/
* results from both /i/ and /e/ in closed post-tonic syllables
The following sections present the vowel changes that Biblical Hebrew
underwent, in approximate chronological order.
Proto-Semitic is the ancestral language of all the Semitic languages
, and in traditional reconstructions possessed 29 consonants; 6
monophthong vowels, consisting of three qualities and two lengths, */a
aː i iː u uː/, in which the long vowels occurred only in open
syllables; and two diphthongs */aj aw/. The stress system of
Proto-Semitic is unknown but it is commonly described as being much
like the system of Classical
Latin or the modern pronunciation of
Classical Arabic : If the penultimate (second last) syllable is light
(has a short vowel followed by a single consonant), stress goes on the
antepenultimate (third last); otherwise, it goes on the penultimate.
Various changes, mostly in morphology, took place between
Proto-Semitic and Proto-Central-Semitic, the language at the root of
Semitic languages . The phonemic system was inherited
essentially unchanged, but the emphatic consonants may have changed
their realization in Central Semitic from ejectives to pharyngealized
The morphology of Proto-Central-Semitic shows significant changes
compared with Proto-Semitic, especially in its verbs, and is much like
Classical Arabic . Nouns in the singular were usually declined in
three cases: /-u/ (nominative), /-a/ (accusative) or /-i/ (genitive).
In some circumstances (but never in the construct state ), nouns also
took a final nasal after the case ending: nunation (final /-n/)
occurred in some languages, mimation (final /-m/) in others. The
original meaning of this marker is uncertain. In Classical Arabic,
final /-n/ on nouns indicates indefiniteness and disappears when the
noun is preceded by a definite article or otherwise becomes definite
in meaning. In other languages, final /-n/ may be present whenever a
noun is not in the construct state . Old Canaanite had mimation, of
uncertain meaning, in an occurrence of the word urušalemim (Jerusalem
) as given in an Egyptian transcription.
Broken plural forms in
Arabic are declined like singulars, and often
take singular agreement as well. Dual and "strong plural" forms use
endings with a long vowel or diphthong, declined in only two cases:
nominative and objective (combination accusative/genitive), with the
objective form often becoming the default one after the loss of case
endings. Both Hebrew and
Arabic had a special form of
nunation/mimation that co-occurred with the dual and masculine sound
plural endings whenever the noun was not in the construct state. The
endings were evidently felt as an inherent part of the ending and, as
a result, are still used. Examples are
Arabic strong masculine plural
-ūna (nominative), -īna (objective), and dual endings -āni
(nominative), -ayni (objective); corresponding construct-state endings
are -ū, -ī (strong masculine plural), -ā, -ay (dual). (The strong
feminine endings in
Classical Arabic are -ātu nominative, -āti
objective, marked with a singular-style -n nunation in the indefinite
Hebrew has almost lost the broken plural (if it ever had it), and any
vestigial forms that may remain have been extended with the strong
plural endings. The dual and strong plural endings were likely much
Arabic forms given above at one point, with only the
objective-case forms ultimately surviving. For example, dual -ayim is
probably from *-aymi with an extended mimation ending (cf. Arabic
-ayni above), while dual construct -ē is from *-ay without mimation.
Similarly, -īm < *-īma, -ōt < *-āti. (Note that expected plural
construct state *-ī was replaced by dual -ē.)
Feminine nouns at this point ended in a suffix /-at-/ or /-t-/ and
took normal case endings. (When the ending /-at-/ became final because
of loss or non-presence of the case ending, both Hebrew and Arabic
show a later shift to /-ah/ and then /-aː/.)
Hebrew shows the
Canaanite shift whereby */aː/ often shifted to
/oː/; the conditions of this shift are disputed. This shift had
occurred by the 14th century BCE, as demonstrated by its presence in
Amarna letters (c. 1365 BCE).
As a result of the Canaanite shift, the Proto-Hebrew vowel system is
reconstructed as */a aː oː i iː u uː/ (and possibly rare */eː/).
Furthermore, stress at this point appears to have shifted so that it
was consistently on the penultimate (next to last) syllable, and was
still non-phonemic. The predominant final stress of Biblical Hebrew
was a result of loss of final unstressed vowels and a shift away from
remaining open syllables (see below).
Loss Of Final Unstressed Vowels
Final unstressed short vowels dropped out in most words, making it
possible for long vowels to occur in closed syllables. This appears to
have proceeded in two steps:
* Final short mood, etc. markers dropped in verbal forms.
* Final short case markers dropped in nominal forms.
Vowel lengthening in stressed, open syllables occurred between the
two steps, with the result that short vowels at the beginning of a
-VCV ending lengthened in nouns but not verbs. This is most noticeable
with short /a/: e.g. *kataba ('he wrote') > /kɔˈθav/ but *dabara
('word' acc.') > /dɔˈvɔr/.
The dropping of final short vowels in verb forms tended to erase mood
distinctions, but also some gender distinctions; however, unexpected
vowel lengthening occurred in many situations to preserve the
distinctions. For example, in the suffix conjugation, first-singular
*-tu appears to have been remade into *-tī already by Proto-Hebrew on
the basis of possessive -ī (likewise first singular personal pronoun
*ʔana became *ʔanī).
Similarly, in the second-singular, inherited *-ta -ti competed with
lengthened *-tā -tī for masculine and feminine forms. The expected
result would be -t or -tā for masculine, -t or -tī for feminine, and
in fact both variants of both forms are found in the Bible (with -h
marking the long -ā and -y marking the long -ī). The situation
appears to have been quite fluid for several centuries, with -t and
-tā/tī forms found in competition both in writing and in speech (cf.
Secunda (Hexapla) of
Origen , which records both pronunciations,
although quite often in disagreement with the written form as passed
down to us). Ultimately, writing stabilized on the shorter -t for both
genders, while speech choose feminine -t but masculine tā. This is
the reason for the unexpected qamatz vowel written under the final
letter of such words.
The exact same process affected possessive *-ka ('your' masc. sing.)
and *-ki ('your' fem. sing.), and personal pronouns *ʔanta, *ʔanti,
with the same split into shorter and longer forms and the same
Vowel Lengthening (esp. Pretonic), Lowering
The short vowels */a i u/ tended to lengthen in various positions.
* First, short vowels lengthened in an open syllable in pretonic
position (i.e. directly before the stressed syllable).
* Later, short vowels lengthened in stressed open syllables.
In the process of lengthening, the high vowels were lowered. In the
Secunda, the lengthened reflexes of /a i u/ are /aː eː oː/; when
kept short they generally have reflexes /a e o/.
Reduction Of Short Open Stressed Syllables
Stressed open syllables with a short vowel (i.e. syllables consisting
of a short vowel followed by a consonant and another vowel) had the
vowel reduced to /ǝ/ and the stressed moved one syllable later in the
word (usually to the last syllable of the word). Stress was
originally penultimate and loss of final short vowels made many words
have final stress. However, words whose final syllable had a long
vowel or ended with a consonant were unaffected and still had
penultimate stress at this point. This change did not happen in pausal
position, where the penultimate stress is preserved, and vowel
lengthening rather than reduction occurs.
The previous three changes occurred in a complex, interlocking
* Shift of stress to be universally penultimate.
* Loss of final short vowels in verbs, pre-stress lengthening in
open syllables. Pre-stress lengthening/lowering becomes a surface
filter that remains as a rule in the language, automatically affected
any new short vowels in open syllables as they appear (but ultra-short
vowels are unaffected).
* Stress movement from light syllable to following heavy syllable
when not in pausa , with newly unstressed light syllable reducing the
* Tonic lengthening/lowering in open syllables.
* Loss of final short vowels in nouns.
Possible derivation of some nominal/verbal forms
\'KILLING/KILLER (MASC. SG.)\'
\'THEY KILLED\' (PAUSA )
\'YOU (MASC. SG.) KILL\'
\'YOU (FEM. SG.) KILL\'
FINAL SHORT VOWEL LOSS (VERB)
STRESS SHIFT / DE-STRESSED REDUCTION
FINAL SHORT VOWEL LOSS (NOUN)
FEMININE /-AT/ > /Aː/
SHORT VOWEL LOWERING
LAW OF ATTENUATION
TIBERIAN /Aː/ > /ɔː/
LOSS OF PHONEMIC VOWEL LENGTH; ATTESTED TIBERIAN FORM
Note that many, perhaps most, Hebrew words with a schwa directly
before a final stress are due to this stress shift.
This sound change shifted many more originally penultimate-stressed
words to have final stress. The above changes can be seen to divide
words into a number of main classes based on stress and syllable
* Proto-Hebrew words with an open penult and short-vowel ending:
Become final-stressed (e.g. /qɔˈṭal/ ('he killed') < PHeb.
* Proto-Hebrew words with a closed penult and short-vowel ending:
Become penultimate due to segholate rule (e.g. /ˈmɛlɛx/ ('king') <
* Proto-Hebrew words with an open short penult and longer ending:
Become final-stressed due to sress shift (e.g. /qɔṭǝˈlu/ ('they
killed') < PHeb. /qaˈṭaluː/).
* Proto-Hebrew words with a closed penult and longer ending: Remain
penultimate (e.g. /qɔˈṭalti/ ('I killed') < PHeb.
* Proto-Hebrew words with an open long penult and longer ending: ???
Pre-stress Reduction Of Short Vowel
*/a i u/ were reduced to /ə/ in the second syllable before the
stress, and occasionally reduced rather than lengthened in pretonic
position, especially when initial (e.g. σεμω = שמו /ʃəˈmo/
'his name'). Thus the vowel system of the Secunda was /a e eː iː o
oː uː ə/.
The later Jewish traditions (Tiberian, Babylonian, Palestinian) show
similar vowel developments. By the Tiberian time, all short vowels in
stressed syllables and open pretonic lengthened, making vowel length
allophonic. Vowels in open or stressed syllables had allophonic
length (e.g. /a/ in יְרַחֵם /jǝraˈħem/ ('he will have
mercy') < previously short < by Tiberian degemination of /ħ/ < PSem
*/juraħˈħimu/). The Babylonian and Palestinian vocalizations
systems also do not mark vowel length. In the Tiberian and
Babylonian systems, */aː/ and lengthened */a/ become the back vowel
/ɔ/. In unaccented closed syllables, */i u/ become /ɛ⁓i ɔ⁓u/
(Tiberian), /a⁓i u/ (Babylonian), or /e⁓i o⁓u/ (Palestinian) –
generally becoming the second vowel before geminates (e.g.
לִבִּי) and the first otherwise. In the Tiberian tradition
pretonic vowels are reduced more commonly than in the Secunda. It does
not occur for /*a/, but is occasional for /*i/ (e.g. מסמְרים
/masmǝˈrim/ 'nails' < */masmiriːm/), and is common for /*u/ (e.g.
רְחוֹב /rǝˈħoβ 'open place' < */ruħaːb/). In Tiberian
Hebrew pretonic /*u/ is most commonly preserved by geminating the
following consonant, e.g. אדֻמּים /ăðumˈmim/ ('red' pl.)
(cf. /ăˈðom/ 'red' sg.); this pretonic gemination is also found in
some forms with other vowels like אַסִּיר⁓אָסִיר
The Babylonian and Palestinian systems have only one reduced vowel
phoneme /ə/ like the Secunda, though in Palestinian Hebrew it
developed the pronunciation . However the Tiberian tradition
possesses three reduced vowels /ă ɔ̆ ɛ̆/ of which /ɛ̆/ has
questionable phonemicity. /ă/ under a non-guttural letter was
pronounced as an ultrashort copy of the following vowel before a
guttural, e.g. וּבָקְעָה , and as preceding /j/, e.g.
תְדֵמְּיוּ֫נִי , but was always pronounced as under
gutturals, e.g. שָחֲחו, חֲיִי. When reduced,
etymological */a i u/ become /ă ɛ̆⁓ă ɔ̆/ under gutturals (e.g.
אֲמרתם 'you said' cf. אָמר 'he said'), and generally /ă/
under non-gutturals, but */u/ > /ɔ̆/ (and rarely */i/ > /ɛ̆/) may
still occur, especially after stops (or their spirantized
counterparts) and /sʼ ʃ/ (e.g. דֳּמִי /dɔ̆ˈmi/).
Samaritan and Qumran Hebrew have full vowels in place of the reduced
vowels of Tiberian Hebrew.
Samaritan Hebrew also does not reflect etymological vowel length;
however the elision of guttural consonants has created new phonemic
vowel length, e.g. /rɒb/ רב ('great') vs. /rɒːb/ רחב ('wide').
Samaritan Hebrew vowels are allophonically lengthened (to a lesser
degree) in open syllables, e.g. המצרי , היא , though this is
less strong in post-tonic vowels. Pretonic gemination is also found
in Samaritan Hebrew, but not always in the same locations as in
Tiberian Hebrew, e.g. גמלים TH /ɡămalːim/ SH /ɡɒmɒləm/;
שלמים TH /ʃălɔmim/ SH /ʃelamːəm/. While Proto-Hebrew long
vowels usually retain their vowel quality in the later traditions of
Samaritan Hebrew */iː/ may have reflex /e/ in closed
stressed syllables, e.g. דין /den/, */aː/ may become either /a/ or
/ɒ/, and */oː/ > /u/. The reduced vowels of the other traditions
appear as full vowels, though there may be evidence that Samaritan
Hebrew once had similar vowel reduction. Samaritan /ə/ results from
the neutralization of the distinction between /i/ and /e/ in closed
post-tonic syllables, e.g. /bit/ בית ('house') /abbət/ הבית
('the house') /ɡer/ גר /aɡɡər/ הגר.
Various more specific conditioned shifts of vowel quality have also
occurred. Diphthongs were frequently monopthongized, but the scope and
results of this shift varied among dialects. In particular, the
Samaria ostraca show /jeːn/ < */jajn/ < */wajn/ for Southern /jajin/
Samaritan Hebrew shows instead the shift */aj/ > /iː/.
Original */u/ tended to shift to /i/ (e.g. אֹמֶר and
אִמְרָה 'word'; חוץ 'outside' and חיצון 'outer')
beginning in the second half of the second millennium BC. This was
carried through completely in
Samaritan Hebrew but met more resistance
in other traditions such as the Babylonian and Qumran traditions.
Philippi\'s law is the process by which original */i/ in closed
stressed syllables shifts to /a/ (e.g. /*bint/ > בַּת /bat/
'daughter'), or sometimes in the Tiberian tradition /ɛ/ (e.g.
/*ʔamint/ > אֱמֶת /ɛ̆mɛt/ 'truth'). This is absent in the
transcriptions of the Secunda, but there is evidence that the law's
onset predates the Secunda. In the Samaritan tradition Philippi's law
is applied consistently, e.g. */libː-u/ > /lab/ ('heart'). In some
traditions the short vowel /*a/ tended to shift to /i/ in unstressed
closed syllables: this is known as the law of attenuation . It is
common in the Tiberian tradition, e.g. */ʃabʕat/ > Tiberian
שִבְעָה /ʃivˈʕɔ/ ('seven'), but exceptions are frequent.
It is less common in the Babylonian vocalization, e.g. /ʃabʕɔ/
('seven'), and differences in Greek and
demonstrate that it began quite late. Attenuation generally did not
occur before /i⁓e/, e.g. Tiberian מַפְתֵּחַ /mafˈteaħ/
('key') versus מִפְתַּח /mifˈtaħ/ ('opening '), and often
was blocked before a geminate, e.g. מתנה ('gift'). Attenuation is
rarely present in Samaritan Hebrew, e.g. מקדש /maqdaʃ/. In the
Tiberian tradition /e i o u/ take offglide /a/ before /h ħ ʕ/.
This is absent in the Secunda and in
Samaritan Hebrew but present in
the transcriptions of Jerome. In the Tiberian tradition an
ultrashort echo vowel is sometimes added to clusters where the first
element is a guttural, e.g. יַאֲזִין /jaʔăzin/ ('he will
listen') פָּעֳלוֹ /pɔʕɔ̆lo/ ('his work') but
יַאְדִּיר /jaʔdið/ ('he will make glorious')
רָחְבּוֹ /ʀɔħbo/ 'its breadth'.
The following charts summarize the most common reflexes of the
Proto-Semitic vowels in the various stages of Hebrew:
ɛ, i8, a3
e, i8, a3
e, i, a3
a, ɒ, i
a, ɒ, i
* Samaritan vowels may be lengthened in the presence of etymological
guttural consonants. /ə/ results from both /i/ and /e/ in closed
* under the conditions of the law of attenuation
* under the conditions of Phillipi's law
* Samaritan /o u/ are nearly in complementary distribution (/o/ in
open syllables, /u/ in closed syllables)
* lengthening occurs in some open pretonic syllables and some
stressed syllables; precise conditions depend on the vowel and on the
* reduction occurs in the open syllables two syllables away from the
stress and sometimes also in pretonic and stressed open syllables
* effectively in most closed syllables
* more common before geminate consonants
Samaritan Hebrew has full vowels when the other traditions have
reduced vowels, but these do not always correlate with their
Proto-Hebrew generally had penultimate stress. The ultimate stress
of later traditions of Hebrew usually resulted from the loss of final
vowels in many words, preserving the location of proto-Semitic stress.
Tiberian Hebrew has phonemic stress, e.g. בָּנוּ֫ /bɔˈnu/
('they built') vs. בָּ֫נוּ /ˈbɔnu/ ('in us'); stress is most
commonly ultimate, less commonly penultimate, and antipenultimate
stress exists marginally, e.g. הָאֹ֫הֱלָה /hɔˈʔohɛ̆lɔ/
('into the tent'). There does not seem to be evidence for stress in
the Secunda varying from that of the Tiberian tradition. Despite
sharing the loss of final vowels with Tiberian Hebrew, Samaritan
Hebrew has generally not preserved
Proto-Semitic stress, and has
predominantly penultimate stress, with occasional ultimate stress.
There is evidence that Qumran Hebrew had a similar stress pattern to
Medieval grammarians of
Arabic and Hebrew classified words as
belonging to three parts of speech :
Arabic ism ('noun'), fiʻl
('verb'), and ḥarf ('particle'); other grammarians have included
more categories. In particular, adjectives and nouns show more
affinity to each other than in most European languages. Biblical
Hebrew has a typical Semitic morphology, characterized by the use of
roots. Most words in
Biblical Hebrew are formed from a root, a
sequence of consonants with a general associated meaning. Roots are
usually triconsonantal, with biconsonantal roots less common
(depending on how some words are analyzed) and rare cases of quadri-
and quinquiconsonantal roots. Roots are modified by affixation to
form words. Verbal patterns are more productive and consistent, while
noun patterns are less predictable.
NOUNS AND ADJECTIVES
The most common nominal prefix used is /m/, used for substantives of
location (מושב 'assembly'), instruments (מפתח 'key'), and
abstractions (משפט 'judgement'). The vowel after /m/ is normally
/a/, but appears sometimes as /i/, or in the case of מושב as /o/
(contracted from */aw/). The prefix /t/ is used to denote the action
of the verb it is derived from, more common for initial-/w/ verbs,
e.g. תודה ('thanksgiving'; < ydy). Prefixed /ʔ/ is used in
adjectives, e.g. אכזב ('deceptive'), and also occurs in nouns with
initial sibilants, e.g. אצבע ('finger'). In the latter case this
prefix was added for phonetic reasons, and the א prefix is called
either "prothetic" or "prosthetic". Prefixed ע often occurs in
quadriliteral animal names, perhaps as a prefix, e.g. עֳטלף
('bat'), עכבר ('mouse'), עקרב ('scorpion').
In proto-Semitic nouns were marked for case: in the singular the
markers were */-u/ in the nominative , */-a/ in the accusative (used
also for adverbials), and */-i/ in the genitive , as evidenced in
Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Arabic. The
Amarna letters show that this was
probably still present in Hebrew c. 1350 BCE. In the development of
Hebrew, final */-u, -i/ were dropped first, and later */-a/ was elided
Mimation , a nominal suffix */-m/ of unclear meaning, was
found in early Canaanite, as shown by early Egyptian transcriptions
(c. 1800 BCE) of
Jerusalem as Urušalimim, but there is no indication
of its presence after 1800 BCE. Final */-a/ is preserved in
לַ֫יְלָה /ˈlajlɔ/, originally meaning 'at night' but in
prose replacing לַ֫יִל /ˈlajil/ ('night'), and in the
"connective vowels" of some prepositions (originally adverbials), e.g.
עִמָּ֫נוּ ('with us'); nouns preserve */-i/ in forms like
Construct state nouns lost case vowels at an
early period (similar to Akkadian), as shown by the reflexes of
*/ɬadaju/ (שָֹדֶה in absolute but שְׂדֵה in construct)
and the reflexes of */jadu/ (יָד and יַד) However forms
like יָדֵ֫נוּ show that this was not yet a feature of
Biblical Hebrew has two genders, masculine and feminine, which are
reflected in nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and verbs. Hebrew
distinguishes between singular and plural numbers, and plural forms
may also be used for collectives and honorifics. Hebrew has a
morphological dual form for nouns that naturally occur in pairs, and
for units of measurement and time this contrasts with the plural
(יום 'day' יומים 'two days' ימים 'days'). A widespread
misconception is that Hebrew plural denotes three or more objects. In
truth, Hebrew plural denotes two or more objects. However adjectives,
pronouns, and verbs do not have dual forms, and most nominal dual
forms can function as plurals (שש כנפַים 'six wings' from
Isaiah 6:2). Finite verbs are marked for subject person, number, and
gender. Nouns also have a construct form which is used in genitive
Nouns are marked as definite with the prefix /ha-/ followed by
gemination of the initial consonant of the noun. In Tiberian Hebrew
the vowel of the article may become /ɛ/ or /ɔ/ in certain phonetic
environments, for example החכם /hɛħɔˈxɔm/ ('the wise man'),
האיש /hɔˈʔiʃ/ ('the man').
The traditions differ on the form of segolate nouns, nouns stemming
from roots with two final consonants. The anaptyctic /ɛ/ of the
Tiberian tradition in segolates appears in the
Septuagint (3rd century
BCE) but not the
Hexapla (2nd century CE), e.g. גֶּתֶר
/ˈɡɛθɛr/ = Γαθερ versus כֵּסֶל /ˈkesɛl/ = Χεσλ
(Psalms 49:14). This may reflect dialectal variation or phonetic
versus phonemic transcriptions. Both the Palestinian and Babylonian
traditions have an anaptyctic vowel in segolates, /e/ in the
Palestinian tradition (e.g. /ʔeresʼ/ 'land' = Tiberian אֶרֶץ
Deuteronomy 26:15) and /a/ in Babylonian (e.g. /ħepasʼ/ 'item' =
Tiberian חֵפֶץ Jeremiah 22:28). The Qumran tradition sometimes
shows some type of back epenthetic vowel when the first vowel is back,
e.g. ⟨אוהול⟩ for Tiberian ⟨אֹהֶל⟩ /ˈʔohɛl/
Biblical Hebrew has two sets of personal pronouns: the free-standing
independent pronouns have a nominative function, while the pronominal
suffixes are genitive or accusative. Only the first person suffix has
different possessive and objective forms (-י and -ני).
Verbal consonantal roots are placed into derived verbal stems , known
as בנינים binyanim in Hebrew; the binyanim mainly serve to
indicate grammatical voice . This includes various distinctions of
reflexivity, passivity, and causativity. Verbs of all binyanim have
three non-finite forms (one participle , two infinitives ), three
modal forms (cohortative , imperative , jussive ), and two major
conjugations (prefixing, suffixing). The meaning of the prefixing
and suffixing conjugations are also affected by the conjugation ו,
and their meaning with respect to tense and aspect is a matter of
The default word order in
Biblical Hebrew is commonly thought to be
VSO , though one scholar has argued that this is due to the
prevalence of clauses with a wayyiqtol verb form compared to other
less marked forms that use SVO either more often or at least to a
comparable degree. Attributive adjectives normally follow the noun
they modify. In Biblical Hebrew, possession is normally expressed
with status constructus , a construction in which the possessed noun
occurs in a phonologically reduced, "construct" form and is followed
by the possessor noun in its normal, "absolute" form. Pronominal
direct objects are either suffixed to the verb or alternatively
expressed on the object-marking pronoun את.
TENSE AND ASPECT
Biblical Hebrew has two main conjugation types, the suffix
conjugation, also called the Perfect, and the prefix conjugation, also
called Imperfect. The Perfect verb form expressed the idea of the verb
as a completed action, viewing it from start to finish as a whole, and
not focusing on the process by which the verb came to be completed,
stating it as a simple fact. This is often used in the past tense,
however there are some contexts in which a Perfect verb translates
into the present and future tenses .
The Imperfect portrays the verb as an incomplete action along with
the process by which it came about, either as an event that has not
begun, an event that has begun but is still in the process, or a
habitual or cyclic action that is on an ongoing repetition. The
Imperfect can also express modal or conditional verbs, as well as
commands in the Jussive and Cohortative moods. While often future
tense, it also has uses in the past and present under certain
Biblical Hebrew tense is not necessarily reflected in the
verb forms per se, but rather is determined primarily by context. The
Participles also reflect ongoing or continuous actions, but are also
subject to the context determining their tense.
The verbal forms can be Past Tense in these circumstances :
* Perfect, Simple Past: in narrative, reflects a simple completed
action, perception, emotion or mental process, and can also be past
tense from the perspective of a prior verb which is used in future
* Imperfect, Waw Consecutive Preterite: simple past tense which
takes the וַ prefix as a conjunction, appears at the beginning of a
clause when it's connected in a narrative sequence with previous
clauses, where the conjunction can be translated as 'and then',
'then', 'but', 'however', sometimes is not translated at all, and can
even have a parenthetical function as if suggesting the clause is like
a side note to the main focus of the narrative
* Imperfect, Past: reflecting not just a past action but also
suggesting the process with which it was being done, e.g: "I brought
the horse to a halt", "I began to hear"
* Imperfect, Cyclic Past: reflecting a habitual or cyclic action
over time, e.g "this is what Job would always do"
Participle in Past Tense: an active or passive
used in its imperfect verbal sense in the past, e.g "and the Spirit of
God was hovering"
The verbal forms can be Present Tense in these circumstances :
* Perfect, Proverbial/General Present: a general truth in the
present tense which is not referring to a specific event, e.g "the sun
sets in the west"
* Perfect, Stative Present: present tense with verbs that depict a
state of being rather than an action, including verbs of perception,
emotion or mental process, e.g "I love", "I hate", "I understand", "I
* Perfect, Present Perfect: a Present Perfect verb, e.g "I have
* Imperfect, Present Condition: an Imperfect verb in the present,
one which implies that an action has been going on for some time and
is still ongoing in the present, especially used of questions in the
present, e.g. "what are you seeking?"
* Imperfect, Cyclic Present: an Imperfect verb in the present,
reflecting a cyclic action in the present, e.g. "it is being said in
the city", "a son makes his father glad"
Participle in Present Tense: an active or passive
used in its imperfect verbal sense in the present, e.g "I am going"
The verbal forms can be Future Tense in these circumstances :
* Perfect, Waw Consecutive Future: by analogy to the Preterite, a
simple future tense verb which takes the וְ prefix as a conjunction,
appears at the beginning of a clause when it's connected in a
narrative sequence with previous clauses, where the conjunction can be
translated as 'and then', 'then', 'but', 'however', sometimes is not
translated at all, and can even have a parenthetical function as if
suggesting the clause is like a side note to the main focus of the
* Perfect, Waw Consecutive Subjunctive: takes the וְ prefix as a
conjunction to continue the Subjunctive Mood in a narrative sequence
* Perfect, Waw Consecutive Jussive/Cohortative: takes the וְ
prefix as a conjunction to continue the Jussive and Cohortative Moods
in a narrative sequence
* Perfect, Promise Future: the completeness of the verb form here
expresses an immanent action in the context of promises, threats and
the language of contracts and covenants in general, e.g "I will give
you this land", "will I have this pleasure?"
* Perfect, Prophetic Future: the completeness of the verb form here
expresses an immanent action in the context of prophecy, e.g "you will
go into exile"
* Imperfect, Future: reflects a future event which has not yet come
into completion, or one that has not yet begun, or future tense from
the perspective of a prior verb which is used in past tense
* Imperfect, Subjunctive: reflects a potential, theoretical or modal
verb, such as in conditional clauses, e.g "If you go...", "she should
* Imperfect, Jussive/Cohortative: reflects a non-immediate command,
invitation, permission or wishful request, e.g "let there be light",
"you may eat from the tree", "let's go", "O that someone would get me
The following is a sample from
Psalm 18 as appears in the Masoretic
text with medieval Tiberian niqqud and cantillation and the Greek
transcription of the Secunda of the
Hexapla along with its
29 כִּֽי־אַ֭תָּה תָּאִ֣יר נֵרִ֑י
יְהוָ֥ה אֱ֝לֹהַ֗י יַגִּ֥יהַּ
30 כִּֽי־בְ֭ךָ אָרֻ֣ץ גְּד֑וּד
31 הָאֵל֮ תָּמִ֪ים דַּ֫רְכֹּ֥ו
אִמְרַֽת־יְהוָ֥ה צְרוּפָ֑ה מָגֵ֥ן
ה֝֗וּא לְכֹ֤ל ׀ הַחֹסִ֬ים בֹּֽו׃
32 כִּ֤י מִ֣י אֱ֭לֹוהַּ מִבַּלְעֲדֵ֣י
יְהוָ֑ה וּמִ֥י צ֝֗וּר זוּלָתִ֥י
29. χι αθθα θαειρ νηρι YHWH ελωαι αγι οσχι
30. χι βαχ αρους γεδουδ ουβελωαι
31. αηλ θαμμιν (*-μ) δερχω εμαραθ YHWH
σερουφα μαγεν ου λαχολ αωσιμ βω
32. χι μι ελω μεββελαδη YHWH ουμι σουρ
ζουλαθι ελωννου (*-ηνου) PRONUNCIATION (SECUNDA)
* ^ This is known because the final redaction of the
Talmud , which
does not mention these additions, was ca. 600 CE, while dated
manuscripts with vocalization are found in the beginning of the tenth
century. See Blau (2010 :7)
* ^ However it is noteworthy that
Akkadian shares many of these
sound shifts but is less closely related to Hebrew than Aramaic. See
Blau (2010 :19)
* ^ However, for example, when Old Aramaic borrowed the Canaanite
alphabet it still had interdentals, but marked them with what they
merged with in Canaanite. For instance 'ox' was written שר but
pronounced with an initial /θ/. The same phenomenon also occurred
when the Arabs adopted the Nabatean alphabet. See Blau (2010
* ^ As a consequence this would leave open the possibility that
other proto-Semitic phonemes (such as */ð/) may have been preserved
regionally at one point See Rendsburg (1997 :72)
* ^ Such contraction is also found in Ugaritic, the El-Amarna
letters, and in Phoenician, while the anaptyctic vowel is found in Old
Aramaic and Deir Alla. Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :44)
* ^ At times the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and Philistines
would also use the
Paleo-Hebrew script. See Yardeni (1997 :25)
* ^ Though some of these translations wrote the tetragrammaton in
the square script See Tov (1992 :220)
Ktiv male , the Hebrew term for full spelling, has become de
rigueur in Modern Hebrew.
* ^ There are rare-cases of ⟨א⟩ being used medially as a true
vowel letter, e.g. דָּאג for the usual דָּג 'fish'. Most
cases, however, of ⟨א⟩ being used as a vowel letter stem from
conservative spelling of words which originally contained /ʔ/, e.g.
רֹאשׁ ('head') from original */raʔʃ/. See Blau (2010 :86).
There are also a number of exceptions to the rule of marking other
long vowels, e.g. when the following syllable contains a vowel letters
(like in קֹלֹוֹת 'voices' rather than קוֹלוֹת) or when a
vowel letter already marks a consonant (so גּוֹיִם 'nations'
rather than *גּוֹיִים), and within the Bible there is often
little consistency in spelling. See Blau (2010 :6)
* ^ The Secunda is a transliteration of the Hebrew biblical text
contained in the
Hexapla , a recension of the Old Testament compiled
Origen in the 3rd century CE. There is evidence that the text of
the Secunda was written before 100 BCE, despite the later date of the
Hexapla. For example, by the time of
Origen ⟨η, αι⟩ were
pronounced , a merger which had already begun around 100 BCE, while in
the Secunda they are used to represent Hebrew /eː aj/. See Janssens
* ^ The Palestinian system has two main subtypes and shows great
variation. Blau (2010 :7) The
Babylonian vocalization occurred in two
main types (simple / einfach and complex / kompliziert), with various
subgroups differing as to their affinity with the Tiberian tradition.
Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :97–99)
* ^ In the Babylonian and Palestinian systems only the most
important vowels were written. See Blau (2010 :118)
* ^ Almost all vocalized manuscripts use the
Masoretic Text .
However there are some vocalized Samaritan manuscripts from the Middle
Ages. See Tov (1992 :40)
* ^ Or perhaps Hurrian , but this is unlikely See Dolgoposky (1999
* ^ According to the generally accepted view, it is unlikely
begadkefat spirantization occurred before the merger of /χ, ʁ/ and
/ħ, ʕ/, or else and would have to be contrastive, which is
cross-linguistically rare. However Blau argues that it is possible
that lenited /k/ and /χ/ could coexist even if pronounced
identically, since one would be recognized as an alternating allophone
(as apparently is the case in Nestorian Syriac). See Blau (2010 :56).
* ^ The vowel before originally geminate /r ʔ/ usually shows
compensatory lengthening, e.g. הָאָב /hɔˈʔɔv/ 'the father' <
/*haʔːab/; with /ʕ/ preceding /*i/ tends to remain short; with /h/
original /*a/ also remains short, and /ħ/ generally does not cause
compensatory lengthening, e.g. יְרַחֵם ('he will have
compassion'). See Blau (2010 :81–83)
* ^ A B In this respect the Palestinian tradition corresponds to
the modern Sephardi pronunciation , and the Babylonian tradition to
the modern Yemenite pronunciation .
* ^ While the vowels /a e i ɔ o u/ certainly have phonemic status
in the Tiberian tradition, /ɛ/ has phonemic value in final stressed
position but in other positions it may reflect loss of the opposition
/a ː i/. See Blau (2010 :111–112)
* ^ In fact, its scope of application is different in Samaritan and
Tiberian Hebrew (e.g. פה 'here' Tiberian /po/ vs. Samaritan /fa/),
see Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :83–86). Even in
Tiberian Hebrew doublets are
found, e.g. /kʼanːo(ʔ?)/ = /kʼanːɔ(ʔ?)/ ('zealous'). See
Steiner (1997 :147)
* ^ Parallels to Aramaic syllable structure suggest pretonic
lengthening may have occurred in the
Second Temple period. See Blau
* ^ Long /aː eː oː/ were written as ⟨α η ω⟩, while short
/a e o/ were written ⟨α/ε ε ο⟩. This length distinction is
also found in the LXX. See Blau (2010 :110–111), Janssens (1982
:54), and Dolgopolsky (1999 :14)
* ^ In the Secunda /*a *i *u/ are preserved as short in syllables
closed by two consonants and in the third syllable before the stress.
See Janssens (1982 :54, 58–59)
* ^ The Secunda also has a few cases of pretonic gemination. See
Janssens (1982 :119).
* ^ In fact, first all stressed vowels were lengthened in pause,
see Janssens (1982 :58–59). This can be seen by forms like Tiberian
כַּף /kaf/ < */kaf/, pausal כָּף /kɔf/ < */kɔːf/ < */kaːf/
< */kaf/. The shift in
Tiberian Hebrew of */aː/ > */ɔː/ occurred
after this lengthening, but before the loss of phonemicity of length
(since words like ירחם with allophonically long don't show this
* ^ This is attested to by the testimony of Rabbi Joseph Qimḥi
(12th century) and by medieval
Arabic transcriptions, see Janssens
(1982 :54–56). There is also possible evidence from the cantillation
marks' behavior and Babylonian pataḥ, see Blau (2010 :82).
* ^ The Palestinian reflexes of Tiberian /ɔ/ (/a/ and /o/) thus
reflect the qamatz gadol-qamatz qatan distinction.
* ^ See אֳנִי /ɔ̆ˈni/ ('ships') אֲנִי /ăˈni/ ('I'),
חֳלִי /ħɔ̆ˈli/ ('sickness') חֲלִי /ħăˈli/
('ornament'), עֲלִי /ʕăˈli/ ('ascend!') (Num 21:17) and
בַּעֱלִי /baʕɛ̆ˈli/ (' pestle'; Prov 27:22). Blau (2010
:117–118) /ɛ̆/ alternates with /ă/ frequently and rarely
contrasts with it, e.g. אֱדוֹם /ʔɛ̆ˈðom/ ('
Edom ') versus
אֲדֹמִי /ʔăðoˈmi/ ('Edomite'). Blau (2010 :117–118)
/ɔ̆/ is clearly phonemic but bears minimal functional load .
Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :110) /ă/ is written both with mobile šwa
⟨ְ ⟩ and hataf patah ⟨ֲ ⟩. Blau (2010 :117)
* ^ For /w-/ > /j-/, see above. The Semitic form */wajn-/ was
borrowed into Proto-Indo-European as */wojn-om/, eventually yielding
Latin vīnum and English wine.
* ^ Note that this /a/ does not become /ɔ/ in pause, thus בת has
a patah vowel in pause as well as in context. Eblaitica: essays on the
Ebla archives and Eblaite language, Volume 1. Eisenbrauns. 1987. p.
20. ISBN 978-0-931464-34-8 .
* ^ The only known case where Philippi's Law does not apply is in
the word קן /qen/ < */qinn-u/ ('nest'). The shift */i/ > /a/ has
been extended by analogy to similar forms, e.g. */ʃim-u/ > /ʃam/
('name'; but */ʃim-u/ > /ʃem/ 'reputation'!). Ben-Ḥayyim (2000
* ^ Verbal forms such as יפקד = Samaritan /jifqɒd/ < */jafqud/
may be examples of Barth's law rather than attenuation.
* ^ This is known as pataḥ furtivum, literally 'stolen pataḥ'
and perhaps a mistranslation of Hebrew פתח גנובה ('pataḥ of
the stolen '), as if אֵ were being inserted. See Blau (2010 :83)
* ^ It is evident that this epenthesis must have been a late
phenomenon, since a short vowel preceding a guttural is preserved even
though it becomes in an open syllable, see Blau (2010 :85).
* ^ This is less common when the consonant following the guttural
is a begadkefat letter, e.g. תֵּחְבֹּל /taħbol/ ('you take
in pledge'). This suggests that begadkefat spirantization was no
longer automatic by the time that this epenthesis occurred, see Blau
* ^ For the purposes of vowel quality shifts, words in the
construct state are treated as if the stress fell immediately on the
first syllable following the word. See Janssens (1982 :52)
* ^ Additionally, short stressed vowels in open syllables were
reduced and lost stress, leading to ultimate stress in forms like
קטלו < */qaˈtʼaluː/. In
Tiberian Hebrew some words have
penultimate stress in pause (before a break in reading), but ultimate
stress in context, such as שָמָ֫רָה and שָמְרָה ('she
watched'), because the penultimate vowel in the original form
*/ʃaˈmaru/ lengthened in pause, while in context it was not
lengthened, and then lost the stress and was reduced due to this sound
shift. See Blau (2010 :146–148, 154)
* ^ It is not clear that a reduced vowel should be considered as
comprising a whole syllable. Note for example that the rule whereby a
word's stress shifts to a preceding open syllable to avoid being
adjacent to another stressed syllable skips over ultrashort vowels,
e.g. עִם־יוֹ֫רְדֵי בוֹר /ʕim-ˈjorăde vor/ ('with
those who go down into the pit') מְטֹ֫עֲנֵי חָ֫רֶב
/măˈtʼoʕăne ˈħɔrɛv/ ('pierced with a sword'). See Blau (2010
* ^ It has been suggested that the construct forms אבי, אחי
have long /iː/ lacking in the absolute אב אח because the later
stem from forms like */ʔabuːm/ > */ʔabum/ (because Proto-Semitic
did not allow long vowels in closed syllables) > */ʔab/ (loss of
mimation and final short vowel), see Blau (2010 :267)
* ^ The unstressed suffix -ה in words like ארצה ('to the
earth'), occurring also in exclamations like חללה and used
ornamentally in poetry, e.g. ישועתה, may have originally
terminated in consonantal */-h/ which was later elided, following the
suffix */-a/. This is evidenced by
Ugaritic orthography, almost purely
consonantal, where ארצה appears with /h/, see Blau (2010 :91–92,
* ^ The modal forms may be taken to form a single volitional class,
as cohortative is used in first person, imperative (or prefixing) in
second person positive, jussive (or prefixing) in second person
negative, and jussive in third person. They also overlap semantically,
for example a jussive form like 'May my soul ...' is semantically
equivalent to a cohortative like 'May I ...'. However, the three moods
stem from different classes in proto-West-Semitic. As preserved in
Classical Arabic, there were originally three prefix tenses,
indicative yaqtulu, jussive yaqtul, and subjunctive yaqtula, which
existed for every person. In Biblical Hebrew, yaqtulu developed into
the prefixing class, while yaqtul remained the jussive and yaqtula the
cohortative. For most roots in Biblical Hebrew, the jussive form is
identical to the indicative form. (Differentiation is typical of forms
with "long" and "short" forms, e.g. indicative יכרִית, jussive
יכרֵת; indicative יראה, jussive יֵרֶא) See Waltke
-webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type:
* ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank,
Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Ancient Hebrew".
Glottolog 2.7 . Jena: Max
Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
* ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank,
Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Samaritan".
Glottolog 2.7 . Jena: Max Planck
Institute for the Science of Human History.
* ^ A B C The Biblical World, John Barton, Taylor & Francis, 2004,
p7 Quote: "Interestingly, the term 'Hebrew' (ibrit) is not used of the
language in the biblical text"
* ^ A B C D Feldman (2010)
* ^ A B C D Shanks (2010)
* ^ Budge (1920 :119)
* ^ A B C D E F Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :1–2)
* ^ Rainey 2008 .
* ^ A B Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :6–7)
* ^ A B Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :8–9)
* ^ A B C D E F Steiner (1997 :145)
* ^ A B C D Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :112–113)
* ^ History of the Jewish People: From Yavneh to Pumbedisa, Meir.
* ^ One-minute History Lessons: Six Millennia of Great Jewish
Leaders, Moshe Goldberger, p79
* ^ Aramaic: the
Yiddish of the Middle East
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :166, 171)
* ^ Blau (2010 :11–12)
* ^ A B C Blau (2010 :10)
* ^ A B Waltke this "dialect" is not strikingly different from the
Hebrew preserved in the Masoretic text. Unfortunately, it is meagerly
* ^ A B Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :16)
* ^ A B Yardeni (1997 :17–25)
* ^ Tov (1992 :118)
* ^ A B C D E Blau (2010 :7)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :25–40)
* ^ Frank (2003 :12)
* ^ Rendsburg (1997 :65)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos 1993 , p. 29.
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L Sáenz-Badillos (1993
* ^ Dolgopolsky (1999 :57–59)
* ^ Blau (2010 :76)
* ^ A B Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :8)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :18)
* ^ Blau (2010 :21)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :136–137)
* ^ Garnier & Jacques (2012)
* ^ Blau (2010 :7, 11)
* ^ A B C Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :52)
* ^ A B C D Rendsburg (1997 :66)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :56)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :60)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :61)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :57–60)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :71)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :55)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :132)
* ^ A B C D Blau (2010 :8,40–41)
* ^ Rendsburg (1997 :70)
* ^ Rendsburg (1999 :255)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :8,96–97)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :8)
* ^ A B C Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :83, 137–138)
* ^ A B Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :38–39)
* ^ Blau (2010 :6,69)
* ^ Rendsburg (1997)
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q Blau (2010 :69)
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L Rendsburg (1997 :70–73)
* ^ Yardeni (1997 :15)
* ^ Hanson (2011)
* ^ A B Yardeni (1997 :13,15,17)
* ^ A B C D E Tov (1992 :218–220)
* ^ A B C Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :16–18)
* ^ Yardeni (1997 :23)
* ^ A B C D Yardeni (1997 :18,24–25)
* ^ Yardeni (1997 :42,45,47–50)
* ^ A B C Yardeni (1997 :65,84–91)
* ^ Blau (2010 :74–75,77)
* ^ Sperber (1959 :81)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :77)
* ^ A B C D E F Tov (1992 :221–223)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :6)
* ^ Tov (1992 :96,108,222)
* ^ A B C Tov (1992 :108–109)
* ^ A B Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :136)
* ^ Tov (1992 :96–97)
* ^ Jobes & Silva (2001)
* ^ Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :5)
* ^ A B C Rendsburg (1997 :68–69)
* ^ Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :6)
* ^ Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :25)
* ^ A B C Tov (1992 :208–209)
* ^ Blau (2010 :7,143)
* ^ Yeivin (1980 :157–158)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :110–111)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :68)
* ^ A B Rendsburg (1997 :73)
* ^ Rendsburg (1997 :73–74)
* ^ Blau (2010 :56, 75–76)
* ^ Dolgopolsky (1999 :72)
* ^ Dolgopolsky (1999 :73)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :78–81)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :137–138)
* ^ Janssens (1982 :43)
* ^ Blau (2010 :82–83)
* ^ A B Steinberg (2010)
* ^ A B C D Janssens (1982 :54)
* ^ Blau (2010 :105–106, 115–119)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :88–89, 97, 110)
* ^ Sperber (1959 :77,81)
* ^ Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :43–44, 48)
* ^ A B C Janssens (1982 :173)
* ^ Blau (2010 :112)
* ^ A B C D E F Blau (2010 :118–119)
* ^ A B Yahalom (1997 :16)
* ^ A B Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :44, 48–49)
* ^ A B Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :49)
* ^ Blau (2010 :111)
* ^ Blau (2010 :151)
* ^ Blau (2010 :267)
* ^ Steiner (1997 :147)
* ^ LaSor (1978 , Part 2, §14.11)
* ^ Janssens (1982 :56–57)
* ^ Janssens (1982 :54, 118–120, 132)
* ^ Janssens (1982 :56–57).
* ^ A B Janssens (1982 :120)
* ^ Steiner (1997 :149)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :82, 110)
* ^ Janssens (1982 :54–56)
* ^ A B C Rendsburg (1997 :77)
* ^ Bergstrasser & Daniels (1995 :53)
* ^ Blau (2010 :129,136)
* ^ Blau (2010 :124, 136)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :97)
* ^ Blau (2010 :117–118)
* ^ Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :110)
* ^ Yeivin (1980 :281–282)
* ^ Blau (2010 :105–106)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :84–85)
* ^ Yeivin (1980 :282–283)
* ^ A B Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :160)
* ^ A B Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :45, 47–48) (while Ben-Hayyim notates
four degrees of vowel length, he concedes that only his "fourth
degree" has phonemic value)
* ^ Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :62)
* ^ Janssens (1982 :54, 123–127)
* ^ A B Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :83)
* ^ A B Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :156)
* ^ A B Sáenz-Badillos (1993 :138–139)
* ^ Blau (2010 :133–136)
* ^ Janssens (1982 :66)
* ^ Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :79)
* ^ A B C Blau (2010 :132)
* ^ Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :81)
* ^ Blau (2010 :83)
* ^ Janssens (1982 :43,133)
* ^ Janssens (1982 :52)
* ^ Blau (2010 :143–144)
* ^ Janssens (1982 :53)
* ^ Ben-Ḥayyim (2000 :68)
* ^ A B Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :66–67)
* ^ A B C Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :83)
* ^ Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :84)
* ^ A B C D E F Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :90–92)
* ^ Blau (2010 :266)
* ^ Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :17)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :267–268)
* ^ Blau (2010 :122, 268–269)
* ^ Blau (2010 :119–120, 268)
* ^ Blau (2010 :268)
* ^ Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :95)
* ^ Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :118)
* ^ A B Waltke ">(Google eBook) (2nd ed.). New York : Thos. N.
Stanford. p. 14.
OCLC 11717769 . Retrieved 2013-06-11. The singular
means but one thing, the plural two or more things, the dual things
which are two by nature or art, as eyes, ears, hands, feet, &c. &c.
* ^ Blau (2010 :164)
* ^ Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :346)
* ^ Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :138)
* ^ Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :237)
* ^ Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :238)
* ^ A B Blau (2010 :274–275)
* ^ Sperber (1966 :445)
* ^ Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :291)
* ^ A B C Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :302)
* ^ A B Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :455–456)
* ^ Doron (2005 :3)
* ^ Robert Holmstedt. Basic Word Order in the Biblical Hebrew
Verbal Clause, Part 3. 2011-05-16. Accessed 2012-06-16.
* ^ Waltke & O\'Connor (1990 :258)
* ^ Zuckermann (2006 :74)
* ^ Rosén (1969)
* ^ Glinert (2004 :52)
* ^ "Bible Search and Study Tools - Blue Letter Bible".
www.blueletterbible.com. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
* ^ A B C Arnold, Bill T.; Choi, John H. A Guide to Biblical Hebrew
Syntax by Bill T. Arnold. doi :10.1017/cbo9780511610899 .
* Ben-Ḥayyim, Ze'ev (2000). A Grammar of Samaritan Hebrew.
Jerusalem: The Hebrew University Magnes Press. ISBN 1-57506-047-7 .
* Bergstrasser, Gotthelf; Daniels, Peter T. (1995). Introduction to
the Semitic Languages: Text Specimens and Grammatical Sketches.
München: Max Hueber Verlag München. pp. 50–75. ISBN 0-931464-10-2
* Bergsträsser, G. (1983). Introduction to the Semitic Languages.
Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. ISBN 978-0-931464-10-2 .
* Blau, Joshua (1981). The renaissance of modern Hebrew and modern
standard Arabic. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-09548-0 .
* Blau, Joshua (2010).
Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew.
Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. ISBN 1-57506-129-5 .
* Budge, E. A. Wallis (1920). An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary,
in Two Volumes. 1. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. ISBN
* Davis, Craig (2007). Dating the Old Testament. New York: RJ
Communications. ISBN 978-0-9795062-0-8 .
* Dolgopolsky, Aron (1999). From
Proto-Semitic to Hebrew. Milan:
Centro Studi Camito-Semitici di Milano.
* Doron, Edit (2005), "VSO and Left-conjunct Agreement: Biblical
Hebrew vs. Modern Hebrew", in Kiss, Katalin É., Universal Grammar in
the Reconstruction of Dead Languages (PDF), Berlin: Mouton, pp.
239–264, ISBN 3-11-018550-4
Rachel (2010). "Most ancient Hebrew biblical inscription
deciphered". Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 15
* Frank, Yitzhak (2003). Grammar for
Gemara and Targum Onkelos.
Jerusalem, Israel: Ariel United
Israel Institutes. ISBN 1-58330-606-4
* Garnier, Romain; Jacques, Guillaume (2012). "A neglected phonetic
law: The assimilation of pretonic yod to a following coronal in
North-West Semitic". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African
Studies. 75.1: 135–145. doi :10.1017/s0041977x11001261 .
* Glinert, Lewis (2004). The Grammar of Modern Hebrew. Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 0-521-61188-1 .
* Hanson, K. C. (2011). "The Gezer Almanac". Archived from the
original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
* Janssens, Gerard (1982). "Studies in Hebrew historical linguistics
based on Origen's Secunda". Orientalia Gandensia. Uitgeverij Peeters.
9. ISBN 2-8017-0189-0 .
* Jobes, Karen H.; Silva, Moises (2001). Invitation to the
Paternoster Press . ISBN 1-84227-061-3 .
* LaSor, William Sanford (1978). Handbook of Biblical Hebrew. Grand
Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. ISBN 978-0-8028-0444-0 .
* Rainey, Anson (2008). "Shasu or Habiru. Who Were the Early
Israelites?". Biblical Archeology Review. Biblical Archaeology
Society. 34 (6 (Nov/Dec)).
* Rendsburg, Gary A. (1997), "Ancient Hebrew Phonology", in Kaye,
Alan, Phonologies of Asia and Africa, Eisenbrauns, pp. 65–83, ISBN
1-57506-019-1 , archived from the original on 20 July 2011
* Rendsburg, Gary A. (1999), "Notes on
Israelian Hebrew (I)", in
Avishur, Yitzhak Avishur; Deutsch, Robert, Michael: Historical,
Epigraphical and Biblical Studies in Honor of Prof. Michael Heltzer,
Tel Aviv: Archaeological Center Publications, pp. 255–258, archived
from the original on 20 July 2011
* Rosén, H. (1969). "
Israel Language Policy and Linguistics".
Ariel. 25: 48–63.
* Sáenz-Badillos, Angel (1993). A History of the Hebrew Language.
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-55634-1 .
* Shanks, Hershel (2010). "Oldest Hebrew Inscription Discovered in
Israelite Fort on Philistine Border". Biblical Archaeology Review. 36
* Sperber, Alexander (1959). A Grammar of Masoretic Hebrew.
Copenhagen: Ejnar Munksgaard.
* Sperber, Alexander (1966). A Historical Grammar of Biblical
Hebrew. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
* Steinberg, David (2010). "History of the Ancient and Modern Hebrew
Language". Retrieved 15 June 2011.
* Steiner, Richard C. (1997), "Ancient Hebrew", in Hetzron, Robert,
The Semitic Languages, Routledge, pp. 145–173, ISBN 0-415-05767-1
* Tov, Emanuel (1992). Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.
Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress. ISBN 978-0-8006-3429-2 .
* Waltke, Bruce K.; O'Connor, M. (1990). An Introduction to Biblical
Hebrew Syntax. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. ISBN 0-931464-31-5 .
* Yahalom, Joseph (1997). Palestinian Vocalised
in the Cambridge Genizah Collections. Cambridge University. ISBN
* Yardeni, Ada (1997). The Book of Hebrew Script. Jerusalem: Carta.
ISBN 965-220-369-6 .
Israel (1980). Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah.
Scholars Press. ISBN 0-89130-373-1 .
* Zuckermann , Ghil'ad (2006), "Complement Clause Types in Israeli",
in Dixon, R. M. W.; Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y., Complementation: a
cross-linguistic typology .
BIBLICAL HEBREW TEST of at Wikimedia Incubator
Wikisource has original text related to this article: GESENIUS\\'
Biblical Hebrew Resources
* Resources for the Study of Biblical Hebrew, Prof. E. Ben Zvi,
University of Alberta
University of Alberta
Brown–Driver–Briggs Hebrew Lexicon – with an appendix
Biblical Aramaic (Wikisource)
* Free resources to study
Biblical Hebrew online, eHebrew.net
* Grammar, vocabulary and writing
* The Handy-Dandy Hebrew Grammar Chart, Prof. Shawn Madden,
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary .
Biblical Hebrew Grammar (introductory)
* Learn to write the
Biblical Hebrew characters
* The Alphabet of Biblical Hebrew
* Transliteration to English / from English
* Biblical (northern dialect )
Mizrahi (Syrian )
* Tiberian (extinct)
* Palestinian (extinct)
* Babylonian (extinct)
Kubutz and Shuruk
* Sin/Shin Dot
Niqqud / missing / full
* Philippi\'s law
* Law of attenuation
* Verbal morphology
* Semitic roots
* Hebrew / ancient / modern Israeli literature
Unicode and HTML
Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament
EAST SEMITIC LANGUAGES
WEST SEMITIC AND CENTRAL SEMITIC LANGUAGES
* Jewish Palestinian