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Audio Tanakh

Hebrew for Christians
Why Study Hebrew?

So Why Study Biblical Hebrew?

Some Reasons for the Christian include...

1. The Holy Language
Hebrew is the original language of the Bible. It is called the "Holy Language" (lashon ha'kodesh). It is the language in which the Almighty spoke forth the Torah to Moses and it is also the language in which the prophets expressed their revelations. If you want to know the Tanakh (Old Testament) better, you will want to study Hebrew.

2. The Lord Jesus Knew Hebrew
Jesus both spoke and read Hebrew (see Matt. 5:18, Luke 4:16-20, Acts 26:14). Hebrew is the Foundation of the New Testament: in fact, all of the original authors of the New Testament were Jews who spoke and read Hebrew (see Acts 21:40, 22:2; John 5:2; Luke 23:28; Acts 15:13-21). Studying Hebrew will give you new insight into the meaning of the New Testament writings.

3. The Language of the Synagogue
At the time of Jesus, the Torah was regularly read at the synagogues (Acts 15:21). In fact, throughout the nearly 2,000-year Diaspora, the study and recitation of Hebrew has helped unite the Jewish people with a common form of expression and worship. Jews have been praying the same blessings, chanting the same Scriptures, and studying the same texts for literally thousands of years. Studying Hebrew will help you appreciate the Jewish roots of Christianity and make you a sensitive witness to God's Chosen people.

"Jots" and "Tittles"

The Lord Jesus told his disciples that not one "jot" or "tittle" will pass away from the Law until all is fulfilled (see Matt. 5:18). The word translated "jot" (iota in the Greek New Testament) refers to the smallest Hebrew letter ("Yod"), and the word translated "tittle" (keraia in Greek) refers to the "horn," or smallest stroke of a Hebrew letter, probably something like a "serif" in our modern English typefaces.

Jots and Tittles

The smallest stroke of the smallest letter of the Hebrew text was important to the Lord Jesus, and, if we esteem the Scriptures as He did, we also will pay attention to the details of the Sacred Writings. But how can we determine what a "jot" or a "tittle" is without having a knowledge of the original Hebrew text? It's my hope that this site will help you to both read and write basic Hebrew words and sentences, and thereby become aware of the "jots" and "tittles" that "shall in no way shall pass until all is fulfilled"
(Matt. 5:18).

4. The Language of Modern Israel
Hebrew is the only ancient language to have been revived as a modern spoken language. Today Hebrew still serves as the language of Judaism, and is also the official language of the state of Israel. Your study of Hebrew will help you better appreciate modern Jewish culture and the people living in Israel.

5. Bible Study
The study of Hebrew, and especially obtaining a sense of fluency in the underlying Hebraic / Jewish mindset that informs Scripture, will make you a better student of the Bible. The Bible (both the Old and New Testaments) is a decidedly Jewish book, and the authors of the pages of Holy Scripture were all Jews who were familiar with the Hebrew language and Jewish thinking. As it is written in the New Testament:

    "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim 2:15)

It is my earnest contention that you simply cannot readily understand the meaning of the New Testament authors without understanding of the Hebraic mindset that hermeneutically underlies their message. Many problems in exegesis and doctrine arise because non-Jews have imposed a Greek/Western mindset onto the pages of the Jewish Scriptures.

6. Jewish Literacy
The study of Hebrew will enable you to better comprehend Jewish concepts and literature. You will be able to better appreciate the struggle of the Jewish people over the millennia and more effectively sympathize with their collective plight. You will begin to delight in your shared destiny as a child of Abraham by faith, enjoying the covenantal blessings given to the patriarchs. You will understand the importance of Shabbat, the Jewish Holidays, and how they are best understood from a Messianic perspective.

7. Christian Leaders
Most Christian leaders who revere the Scriptures encourage digging into the Hebrew text. Even Martin Luther, who sadly became overtly anti-Semitic later in life, wrote:

    "The Hebrew language is the best language of all ... If I were younger I would want to learn this language, because no one can really understand the Scriptures without it. For although the New Testament is written in Greek, it is full of Hebraisms and Hebrew expressions. It has therefore been aptly said that the Hebrews drink from the spring, the Greeks from the stream that flows from it, and the Latins from a downstream pool."

    --Martin Luther, Table Talk, quoted in Pinchas E. Lapide, Hebrew in the Church, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984).

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Hebrew for Christians
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