Biblical Hebrew eMagazine
Ancient Hebrew Research Center

November, 2017        Issue #080

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In This Issue

Biblical Hebrew Word - Breath
Modern Hebrew Word - Dead Sea Scrolls
Featured AHRC Book or DVD
Name Study - Jordan
Verse Study - Genesis 3:14
Q & A - Pictographs
In the News
MT Excerpt
AHRC Excerpt
AHRC Updates
Comments & Editorial

Biblical Hebrew Word - Breath

The Biblical Hebrew word for "breath" is נשמה (neshema, Strong's #5397). This word literally means the inhalation and exhalation of air in our bodies such as we see in the following passage.

All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; (KJV, Job 27:3)

Also in this passage is the word "spirit," which is the Hebrew word רוח (ru'ahh, Strong's #7307). The word ru'ahh literally means "wind," but it is also used for "breath."

The word neshemah can also be used figuratively, such as we see in the following passage.

By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed. (KJV, Job 4:9)

In this passage the word "blast" is the word neshemah, and the word "breath" is the word ru'ahh. Anyone who has been following my teachings for any length of time has heard me say time and again that a translation of the Bible should be consistent. There is no reason to translate neshemah as "breath" in one place and then "blast" in another. Or translate the word ru'ahh as "wind" in one place and "breath" in another. In order for the reader of the Bible to read the Bible correctly, they should be given a consistent translation of the Bible, not a translators' opinion of what the text is saying. Enough of me on my "soap box," in this passage the words neshemah and ru'ahh are not God's literal "breath," but is being used figuratively for his "power."

The word neshemah is also used for anyone or anything that has "life."

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (KJV, Genesis 2:7)

Neshemah is also used for a "person," or "one who has "breath."

And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword (KJV, Joshua 11:11)

Here the word neshemah is translated as "souls," but in the Hebrew it is written as haneshemah. The prefix ha means "the," so this literally means "the ones who have breath."

Derived from the word neshemah is the Hebrew word שם (shem, Strong's #8034), which means "name." The Hebrew people gave "names" to people and places based on their character. For instance, the name Jerusalem means "they will teach peace." The Hebrew word shem can also mean "character," and in the Hebrew mind your "breath" is figuratively your "character."

Modern Hebrew Word - Dead Sea Scrolls

The Hebrew for the "Dead Sea Scrolls" is מגילות ים המלח (magilot yam hamelahh). The word מגילות (magilot) is the plural form of the noun מגילה (m'gilah, Strong's #4040), which means "scroll." The Hebrew word ספר (sepher, Strong's #5612) also means "scroll," but in Modern Hebrew, sepher is generally used for a "book" and m'gilah for a "scroll." Because m'gilah is a feminine noun, the feminine plural suffix ות (ot) is used rather than the masculine plural suffix ים (iym).

The word ים (yam, Strong's #3220) means "sea." The word המלח (hamelahh) is the word מלח (melahh, Strong's #4417) meaning "salt" with the prefix ה (ha) meaning "the." So המלח (hamelahh) means "the salt." But when Hebrew puts two nouns together they are usually in the construct state, which means that we would put the word "of" between the two nouns. Also, when the prefix ha, meaning "the," is prefixed to the second word in the construct, the translation "the" is added to the beginning of the first word in the construct in English. So the phrase ים המלח (yam hamelahh) means "the sea of salt" not "sea of the salt." I should also note that the Hebrew name for the "Dead Sea" is the "Salt Sea."

When we put all of this together, the phrase מגילות ים המלח (magilot yam hamelahh) means, "scrolls of the sea of salt." Note that there are three nouns put together, which means that we have two constructs in this phrase; "scrolls of..." and "the sea of salt."

Featured AHRC Product

Mr. Benner's New on-line Video Course
Learn to Read the Ancient Hebrew Alphabet and Language

The Modern Hebrew alphabet is only about 2,000 years old, but the Hebrew alphabet has a very long and interesting history that goes back another two thousand years. Prior to this modern alphabet, the Hebrew language was written with a more pictographic script, similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs, where each letter was a picture. These pictures help to define the letter within its original Hebrew culture and thereby help to define the words that these letters are written with.

This course will examine the history and evolution of the Ancient Semitic/Hebrew alphabet from its early pictographic origins to its modern forms, as well as its adoption into the Greek and Latin alphabets. You will learn the origins of our numbering system in the Hebrew alphabet, the meanings of each Hebrew letter, how to recognize the letters in ancient inscriptions and writings, and have a basic knowledge of Hebrew word structure. You will also learn about the root system of Hebrew words, how to interpret them, and how the Ancient Hebrew philosophy and culture influence their definition and meanings. With this course, you will have the ability to go at your own pace, repeat lectures as often as necessary, access the course from any computer or device, download the lectures for viewing offline and have a lifetime access to the course and its resources.

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Name Study - Jordan

While the word Jordan is used today for the "Jordan" river as well as the nation of "Jordan," in the Bible this word is only used for the river. The Jordan River is a 156 mile long river that runs North to South, and flows through the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. In Hebrew this name is spelled ירדן (yarden, Strong's #3383). This word is derived from the verb ירד (Y.R.D, Strong's #3381), which means "to go down," or "descend." The name yarden means "descender."

The Jordan River

Verse Study - Genesis 3:14

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶל־הַנָּחָשׁ כִּי עָשִׂיתָ זֹּאת אָרוּר אַתָּה מִכָּל־הַבְּהֵמָה וּמִכֹּל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה עַל־גְּחֹנְךָ תֵלֵךְ וְעָפָר תֹּאכַל כָּל־יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ׃
And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: (ASV)

וַיֹּאמֶר (vai-yo-mer) The base word is אמר (A.M.R) meaning "to say." The prefix י (y) identifies the verb as third person, masculine, singular and the tense of the verb as imperfect tense and would be translated as "he will say" or "he says." The prefix ו (v) means "and" and when prefixed to a verb will usually reverse the tense, in this case from imperfect to perfect tense and would be translated as "and he said."

יְהֹוָה (YHWH) This is the Tetragramaton, the four letter name of the God of the Hebrews, usually pronounced Yahweh. There are many theories as to the origin and meaning of this name but most likely comes from the verb הוה (hawah) meaning to exist. The yud added to the beginning identifies the subject of the verb as third person, masculine, singular and the tense of the verb as imperfect tense or "he exists."

אֱלֹהִים (e-lo-hiym) The base word is אלוה (e-lo-ah), which is commonly translated as "God" or "god," but more literally means "one of power and authority." The suffix ים (iym) is the masculine plural so this word means "gods" or "ones of power and authority." However, this plural noun is often used as a name for YHWH. Because this is being used as a name, it should be transliterated as "Elohiym" rather than translating it with the English word "God."

אֶל (el) This word is a preposition meaning "to" or "toward."

הַנָּחָשׁ (ha-na-hhash) The base word is the noun נחש (nahhash) meaning a "serpent," with the prefix ה (ha) meaning "the" – the serpent.

כִּי (kiy) This word means "for" or "because" and is used to explain what came previously.

עָשִׂיתָ (a-siy-ta) The base word is the verb עשה (A.S.H) meaning "to do," but often in the sense of "making." The suffix ת (ta) identifies the verb as being in the perfect (completed) tense – "did," and the subject of the verb as second person, masculine, singular – "you did."

זֹּאת (zot) This word means "this."

אָרוּר (a-rur) This is the verb ארר (A.R.R) literally means to "spit upon," but is often translated as "curse." This verb is written in the past participle form and means "spat upon" or "cursed."

אַתָּה (a-tah) This Hebrew word is the 2nd person, singular pronoun meaning "you."

מִכָּל (mi-kol) The base word is כל (kol) meaning "all." The prefix מ (mi) means "from," but can also mean "more than." Combined, this means "more than all."

הַבְּהֵמָה (ha-be-hey-mah) The base word is בהמה (behemah) meaning "livestock." The prefix ה (ha) means "the" – "the livestock."

וּמִכֹּל (u-mi-kol) The base word is כל (kol) meaning "all." The prefix מ (mi) means "from," or "more than," and the prefix ו (u) means "and." Combined, this means "and more than all."

חַיַּת (hhai-yat) This is the feminine noun חיה (hhai’yah), derived from the masculine noun חי (hhai), both words meaning "living." This word is written in the construct state so the ה (ah) is changed to ת (at).

הַשָּׂדֶה (ha-sa-deh) This is the noun שדה (sadey) meaning "field" with the prefix ה (ha) meaning "the" – the field.

עַל (al) This word means "over" or "upon."

גְּחֹנְךָ (ge-hhon-kha) The base word is the noun גחון (gahhon) meaning "belly." The suffix ך (kha) means "your" (masculine, plural) – "your belly."

תֵלֵךְ (tey-leykh) This base word is the verb הלך (H.L.K) meaning to "walk." The prefix ת (t) indicates the verb is in the imperfect tense and the subject of the verb is second person, masculine, singular – "you will walk."

וְעָפָר (ve-a-phar) This is the noun עפר (aphar) meaning "dust" with the prefix ו (v) meaning "and" – "and dust."

תֹּאכַל (to-khal) The base word is the verb אכל (A.K.L) meaning "to eat." It is prefixed with the letter ת (to), which identifies the tense of the verb as imperfect–will eat, and the subject of the verb as 2nd person, masculine, singular – "you will eat."

כָּל (kol) This word means "all."

יְמֵי (ye-mey) The base word is יום (yom) meaning day, with the plural suffix ים (iym). But because this word is part of a construct, the letter ם (m) is dropped from the suffix.

חַיֶּיךָ (hha-yey-kha) This is the noun חי (hhai) meaning "living," but in the plural form, which means "life." The suffix ך (kha) means "your" – "your life."

The following is a literal rendering of this verse from its Hebraic meaning.

And YHWH Elohiym said to the serpent, because you did this, cursed are you, more than all the livestock and more than all the living ones of the field, upon your belly you will walk, and dust you will eat all the days of your life.

Q & A - Pictographs?

Q: The following question was asked on Quora. "Was the Hebrew "Bible" ever written in Hebrew pictographs?"

A: Here is my response to this question on Quora.

The Hebrew alphabet has gone through four stages: Early, Middle, Late and Modern. The Early alphabet, also called Proto-Siniatic and Proto-Semitic, is the pictographic script, which is the script that you are referring to. We know this alphabet existed in 2,000 BC and is found on such inscriptions as the Wadi El-Hhol inscriptions and those found in Serabit El-Khadim in the Sinai Peninsula. It is called a pictographic alphabet because each letter is a picture of something. For instance the word aleph means "ox" and the Hebrew letter aleph is a picture of an ox.

Around 1000 BC the alphabet transformed into the Middle Hebrew, which is usually called Paleo-Hebrew. These letters are still pictographic, but written in a simpler form. For instance, the Paleo-Hebrew aleph is a simpler form of the letter, but still looks like the head of an ox. This Paleo-Hebrew alphabet was used by all peoples, Semitic and non-Semitic peoples in the Near East including the Hebrews, Phoenicians, Arameans, Moabites, Amorites, etc.

When the Israelites were taken into Babylonian captivity around 400 BC, they adopted the Aramaic script of that land. The Aramaic script is an evolved form of the Paleo-Hebrew and this is the alphabet that was predominately written with the Aramaic, or "Late" Hebrew. While the Hebrews used this Late Hebrew script, they still continued to use the Paleo-Hebrew script into the 1st Century AD and can be seen in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and coins minted at this time.

The Modern Hebrew is very similar to the Late Hebrew and anyone who can read Modern Hebrew can read the Late Hebrew with just a little bit of guidance.

So to your original question; It will depend on when the Bible was written as to which alphabet was used. It is largely accepted by Biblical scholars that the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, was written around 1200 BC, which means that it would have been written with either the Early or Middle alphabet, but probably a form that is similar to both. The later books of the Bible would have definitely been written in the middle Hebrew.

In the News

Researcher gives seal of approval to 53 biblical characters' existence

Lawrence Mykytiuk looks for ancient personalities who have made an impression -- be it on a signet ring or a monument

Thanks to a researcher's unique system, 53 individuals in the Hebrew Bible have been proven as genuine historical characters through material evidence of their existence. The system's creator, Lawrence Mykytiuk, an associate professor of library science at Purdue University, calls it "a way to develop historicity."

It sounds like an unlikely project: a professor in the Midwest verifying ancient names from the Mideast. Yet Mykytiuk's training as a librarian and interest in the Bible help him do what he says on-the-scene archaeologists are too busy to -- pore through journals and books, scrutinize inscriptions discovered on digs and attempt to match names in the historical record with names in the Bible.

MT Excerpt

Genesis 19:14-20

19:14&and "Loth [Covering]" went out and he spoke to his in-laws, ones taking his daughters, and he said rise, go out from this place given that "YHWH [He exists]" will destroy the city and he was like one greatly laughing in the eyes of his in-laws, 19:15&and as the dawn had come up, then the messengers compelled "Loth [Covering]" saying, rise, take your woman and your two daughters, the ones being found, otherwise you will be consumed in the iniquity of the city, 19:16&and he lingered himself and the men seized his hand and the hand of his woman and with the hand of his two daughters, "YHWH [He exists]" with compassion upon him and they brought him out and they left him outside the city, 19:17&and it came to pass as they brought them out unto the outside and he said, slip away upon your being, you will not stare behind you and you will not stand in all of the roundness, slip away unto the hill, otherwise you will be consumed, 19:18&and "Loth [Covering]" said to them, please no my lord, 19:19&please look, your servant found beauty in your eyes and you magnified your kindness which you did by me, making my being live and I will not be able to slip away unto the hill otherwise dysfunction will adhere to me and I will die, 19:20&please look, this city is near, to flee unto there and she is few, please, I will slip away unto there, is she not few, and my being will live,

AHRC Excerpt

How are the meanings of the Ancient Hebrew letters determined?

In my Ancient Hebrew Alphabet Chart I identify the different meanings of each Hebrew letter. How are these meanings determined? Each Hebrew letter was originally written as a picture, a pictograph. As an example, in the modern Hebrew alphabet the letter peh is written as פ, but in the ancient pictographic script this letter was a picture of a mouth (see below). The letter ayin, written as ע in modern Hebrew, was originally a picture of an eye.

The ancient letter peh (mouth) The ancient letter ayin (eye)

How do we know that these pictures are of a mouth and eye? The names of the Hebrew letters are also Hebrew words. The Hebrew word פה (pey) means "mouth" and the Hebrew word עין (ayin) means "eye."

Yea, they opened their mouth (פה / pey) wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye (עין / ayin) hath seen it. (KJV, Psalm 35:21)

I also explain that each picture represented different ideas and concepts. In the case of the letter peh, the meanings of this letter are mouth, speaking (as done with the mouth) and edge (from the lips being the edge of the mouth). How do we know that these are meanings of the letter peh? Because the Hebrew word פה (peh) also has these very same meanings.

And the sons of Israel did so, and Joseph gave to them wagons according to the mouth (the spoken words) of Pharaoh, and he gave them food for the road. (Genesis 45:21, my translation)  

And Joshua prostrated Amelek and his people by the mouth (the edge) of the sword. (Exodus 17:13, my translation)

In the same way, the Hebrew letter ayin has the meanings of eye, see (the function of the eye) and knowledge (as gained from seeing). Again we can see that the Hebrew word עין (ayin) has these same meanings.

And Aaron spoke all the words that YHWH spoke to Moses, and he did the signs to the eyes of (in the sight of) the people. (Exodus 4:30, my translation)  

And it will be, if with the eyes (knowledge) of the congregation it was done in error... (Numbers 15:24, my translation)

AHRC Updates

New web content, articles, books, videos and DVDs produced by AHRC as well as any new events.

Guest Article: The Angel of Yahweh - 9/3/2017

Is Anc. Heb. a Dead Language? - 8/30/2017

Comments & Editorial

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