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The keys to understanding the basics of the Hebrew language

KEYS ARE MADE … so that anyone who has a key to open a lock can have access to whatever has been placed inside.  Typically things are placed inside of a locked area because they are of special value and they are to be preserved for only those who have been authorized to make use of the articles inside. In Matthew 6:19, Jesus tells Peter and the other disciples that He is giving them the keys to the Kingdom of God.  The “Key to the Kingdom” is of course, speaking of our coming to an understanding that Jesus is indeed not only the Son of God, but also God in the flesh come to be with us. Jesus is also the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  When we believe on Him, invite Him into our hearts, and commit ourselves to serving Him, it is only reasonable to assume that this “having the keys to the kingdom” privilege is passed on to us today as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

While there are no doubt other keys to the kingdom, the Bible, “The Written Word of God,” is the most precious and tangible key that one can possess when it comes to availing one’s self with access to the most prized possessions of the Kingdom of God. An incredible key to understanding the Bible is understanding the basics of the Hebrew language. In this lesson we are going to learn the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and thereby get a simple basic understanding of the Hebrew language.

THE UNIQUENESS OF PSALM 119: Ancient history tells us that Psalm one hundred nineteen was the textbook for the school of learning the Hebrew language.  There are several things about Psalm one hundred nineteen that makes it a very unique key to opening up the truths contained in the Bible. (To understand this lesson have your Bible open to Psalm 119) Skim through Psalm one hundred nineteen and take notice of four things:

ONE: Psalm 119 is divided into twenty-two sections of eight verses each.  Most Bibles have a symbol or the name of a Hebrew letter placed above each section.  These (symbols) names of letters are the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, listed in alphabetic order.  Hebrew is of course the language in which the Old Testament was originally written.

TWO:  What you cannot see in English, is that within each section of eight verses, each verse (in the Hebrew) begins with that coinciding letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  For instance, the first section is preceded by the Hebrew letter “Aleph.”  In each verse in that section of eight verses (verses 1 to 8) the first letter of the first word in each of those sentences is the letter “Aleph.”  Each section thereafter follows this same pattern right through the twenty- two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

THREE:  Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is a symbol that is actually a picture, and the picture depicts the meaning of that letter of the alphabet.  When Hebrew letters are placed together in a word, the meaning of that word can be understood by looking at the pictures. For instance, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “Aleph,” is the picture of an ox-head.  The ox-head is a picture that means “superiority, strength, number one.”  The second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “Beth,” is the picture of a house.  The house is a picture that means, “to house or contain something.”

EXAMPLE:  Take the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, “Aleph and “Beth.”  (By the way, “Aleph” and Beth” are the words used to make our English word “alphabet.”) When you place the two letters together they spell the word “Ab.”  The word Ab, of course, spells the word “Father” in Hebrew.  In Aramaic (which is very similar to Hebrew) the word father is “Abba.”  When you place those letters together you understand that the meaning of the word father is “The superior one, the strength, who houses us or holds us together. The resulting meaning can then be understood that your house is as strong as whomever it is that is holding your house together.  If God is your father, then your house is as strong as He is.  It means that the more that you make Father God the Lord of your life the stronger you become too.

FOUR:  In each section of eight verses, each of those eight verses also contains teaching about the meaning of the Hebrew letter that is placed above that section of eight verses. When you read for instance Psalm one hundred nineteen (verses one through eight), you are then being taught in that section of eight verses, about the meaning of superiority, strength, and the number one.  When you read Psalm one hundred nineteen (verses nine through sixteen), you are then being taught in that section of eight verses, about the meaning of housing or containing something.  This continues on through the Hebrew alphabet in Psalm one hundred nineteen.

Listed below is a chart of the twenty two sections of eight verses in Psalms one hundred and nineteen; the appropriate letter symbol; the way to pronounce the letter; their meanings; and they are listed in alphabetical order from top to bottom.

Note: this will take some patient studying to understand.

 

THE HEBREW ALPHABET

Vs. 1-8             א      ALEPH:     An ox head  ( Superiority, Strength, #1 )

Vs. 9-16           ב      BETH:        A house  ( to house something )

Vs. 17- 24        ג      GIMEL:      A camel  ( to be blessed )

Vs. 25-32         ד      DALETH:   A door  ( to enter )

Vs. 33-40         ה      HE:             A window  ( to let in light and wisdom )

Vs. 41-48         ו       WAW:        A nail or a hook  ( to secure )

Vs. 49-56         ז       ZAYIN:       A weapon  ( to carry out plans )

Vs. 57-64         ח      CHETH:      A hedge / fence  ( to surround, protect )

Vs. 65-72         ט      TETH:         A serpent  ( to whisper, to enchant )

Vs. 73-80         י      YODH:         A hand ( a man’s work )

Vs. 81-88         כ      KAPH:         A wing or hem  ( a move to cover )

Vs. 89-96         ל      LAMED:      An ox goad  ( to prod )

Vs. 97-104       מ      MEM:          An ocean wave ( rolling one to another

Vs. 105-112     נ      NUN:            A fish  ( to reproduce )

Vs. 113-120     ם     SAMECH:    A tent pole  ( to prop or support )

Vs. 121-128     ע      AYIN:          An eye  ( how you see things )

Vs. 129-136     פ      PE:              A mouth  ( mouth speaks from heart )

Vs. 137-144     צ     TZADE:       A signet  ( signature, decision )

Vs. 145-152     ק     QOPH:        An axe ( cut off in judgment )

Vs. 153-160     ר     RESH:         A head ( the leader’s choice )

Vs. 161-168     ש     SHIN:         Teeth ( sharpen, train, educate )

Vs. 169-176     ת        TAU:         The end  ( complete, finish )

(*See – Gesenius Hebrew Chaldea Lexicon of the Old Testament)

 

Once you have familiarized yourself, at least somewhat, with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, now you are ready to research any particular word in the Old Testament. This only works in the Old Testament because the New Testament was originally written in Greek.

In order to research the meaning of a word you will need a Strong’s concordance or similar teaching tool. Here is how it works.

  • You decide what word you want to research.
  • Look it up in a Strong’s concordance.
  • Find the word in the particular verse you want to study.
  • Note the number to the right of the word.
  • Look up that number in the Hebrew index in the back of the concordance.
  • To the right of the number you will see how the word is spelled in Hebrew.
  • Take each letter symbol (from right to left) and look up the meaning in the chart above.
  • As you write down each meaning you will be able to interpret the full meaning of that particular Hebrew word.

 

EXAMPLE: Take the word love.

  • The word love can be found in Deuteronomy 6:5.
  • In a strong’s concordance the number 157 can be seen to the right of love.
  • Look up the number 157 in the Hebrew index of a Strong’s concordance.
  • When you read the symbols to the right of number 157 from right to left you get an Aleph (א), a He (ה), and a Beth (ב). (Ox head, Window, & House)
  • The Hebrew word love is  אהב,  and is pronounced “ahab.”The Hebrew meaning of the word love is therefore: “The superiority and strength to let in light and wisdom to house and contain you.”
  • Now you know what God’s love can do for you!
  • May you find many blessed hours of unlocking Bible truths with these keys to open up the Word of God.

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