Archives For Biblical Hebrew

For a few weeks now, I have been intensely examining occurrences in the Hebrew OT of elohim with plural verbs. In the process, I have learned a lot about how to use the GSE in BibleWorks 10 to do Hebrew searches.

The following PDF shows what the search query is that finds all occurrences of elohim preceded by a plural verb form with exactly 3 words between:

GSE Elohim Plural Verb Preceding Exactly 3.

This query finds occurrences that occur after a 3rd person plural perfect, imperfect, waw-consecutive perfect, or waw-consecutive imperfect verb. It also finds occurrences after an active participle or a passive participle.

Copyright © 2011-2022 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Through information from some language references and my ongoing research in the Hebrew OT, I have learned that there are at least 3 clear instances where elohim is the subject of a plural verb form and signifies the true God:

Gen. 20:13  And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.

Gen. 20:13  ἐγένετο δὲ ἡνίκα ἐξήγαγέν με ὁ θεὸς ἐκ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ πατρός μου καὶ εἶπα αὐτῇ ταύτην τὴν δικαιοσύνην ποιήσεις ἐπ᾽ ἐμέ εἰς πάντα τόπον οὗ ἐὰν εἰσέλθωμεν ἐκεῖ εἰπὸν ἐμὲ ὅτι ἀδελφός μού ἐστιν

Gen. 20:13 וַיְהִ֞י כַּאֲשֶׁ֧ר הִתְע֣וּ אֹתִ֗י אֱלֹהִים֘ מִבֵּ֣ית אָבִי֒ וָאֹמַ֣ר לָ֔הּ זֶ֣ה חַסְדֵּ֔ךְ אֲשֶׁ֥ר תַּעֲשִׂ֖י עִמָּדִ֑י אֶ֤ל כָּל־הַמָּקוֹם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נָב֣וֹא שָׁ֔מָּה אִמְרִי־לִ֖י אָחִ֥י הֽוּא׃

 

Gen. 35:7  And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.

Gen. 35:7  καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν ἐκεῖ θυσιαστήριον καὶ ἐκάλεσεν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ τόπου Βαιθηλ ἐκεῖ γὰρ ἐπεφάνη αὐτῷ ὁ θεὸς ἐν τῷ ἀποδιδράσκειν αὐτὸν ἀπὸ προσώπου Ησαυ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ

Gen. 35:7 וַיִּ֤בֶן שָׁם֙ מִזְבֵּ֔חַ וַיִּקְרָא֙ לַמָּק֔וֹם אֵ֖ל בֵּֽית־אֵ֑ל כִּ֣י שָׁ֗ם נִגְל֤וּ אֵלָיו֙ הָֽאֱלֹהִ֔ים בְּבָרְח֖וֹ מִפְּנֵ֥י אָחִֽיו׃

 

2 Sam. 7:23  And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?

2 Sam. 7:23  καὶ τίς ὡς ὁ λαός σου Ισραηλ ἔθνος ἄλλο ἐν τῇ γῇ ὡς ὡδήγησεν αὐτὸν ὁ θεὸς τοῦ λυτρώσασθαι αὐτῷ λαὸν τοῦ θέσθαι σε ὄνομα τοῦ ποιῆσαι μεγαλωσύνην καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν τοῦ ἐκβαλεῖν σε ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ λαοῦ σου οὗ ἐλυτρώσω σεαυτῷ ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἔθνη καὶ σκηνώματα

2 Sam. 7:23 וּמִ֤י כְעַמְּךָ֙ כְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל גּ֥וֹי אֶחָ֖ד בָּאָ֑רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הָלְכֽוּ־אֱ֠לֹהִים לִפְדּֽוֹת־ל֙וֹ לְעָ֜ם וְלָשׂ֧וּם ל֣וֹ שֵׁ֗ם וְלַעֲשׂ֙וֹת לָכֶ֜ם הַגְּדוּלָּ֤ה וְנֹֽרָאוֹת֙ לְאַרְצֶ֔ךָ מִפְּנֵ֣י עַמְּךָ֗ אֲשֶׁ֙ר פָּדִ֤יתָ לְּךָ֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם גּוֹיִ֖ם וֵאלֹהָֽיו׃

Observations about these verses

1. The plural Hebrew verb of which elohim functions as the subject in each verse precedes it in all three verses.

2. The KJV correctly renders elohim as God in all three verses even though it is the subject of a plural verb in the Hebrew text.

3. The Septuagint correctly renders elohim as the singular theos and renders the plural Hebrew verb of which it is the subject as a singular verb in all three verses. The translators thereby reflect correctly that the plural noun and verb in the Hebrew text signify actions by the true God.

Copyright © 2011-2022 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Using the search capabilities of the GSE tool in BibleWorks 10, I am currently in the process of examining intensively the occurrences of elohim in the Hebrew OT. So far, I have not found a single occurrence of elohim functioning as the subject of a plural verb form where elohim refers to the true God.

Each of the following 18 verses has elohim with a plural verb. In every verse, it refers to false gods and not to Yahweh.

Exod. 32:1  And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

Exod. 32:4  And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Exod. 32:8  They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Exod. 32:23  For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

Deut. 32:17  They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.

Jdg. 2:3  Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

Jdg. 10:14  Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.

1 Ki. 12:28  Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

1 Ki. 19:2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.

2 Ki. 18:33 Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?

2 Ki. 18:35  Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?

2 Ki. 19:12  Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar?

2 Chr. 28:23  For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.

2 Chr. 32:13 Know ye not what I and my fathers have done unto all the people of other lands? were the gods of the nations of those lands any ways able to deliver their lands out of mine hand?

Isa. 36:18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The LORD will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?

Isa. 37:12  Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar?

Isa. 41:23  Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.

Jer. 2:28 But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.

Copyright © 2011-2022 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

The plural Hebrew command (‎הַ֥לְלוּ יָ֙הּ [“praise ye the LORD”]) that has been transliterated as “Hallelujah” occurs 25 times in the OT, and all but one of these is in the Psalms:

Ps. 104:35  Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.

Ps. 105:45  That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the LORD.

Ps. 106:48  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.

Ps. 111:1  Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.

Ps. 112:1  Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.

Ps. 113:1  Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.

Ps. 113:9  He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.

Ps. 115:18  But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.1

Ps. 116:19  In the courts of the LORD’S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.

Ps. 117:2  For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.

Ps. 135:1  Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD.

Ps. 135:3  Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.

Ps. 135:21  Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.

Ps. 146:1  Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.

Ps. 146:10  The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.

Ps. 147:1  Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.

Ps. 147:20  He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.

Ps. 148:1  Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights.

Ps. 148:14  He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD.

Ps. 149:1  Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.

Ps. 149:9  To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.

Ps. 150:1  Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

Ps. 150:6  Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

Jer. 20:13  Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.

On two other occasions, an equivalent expression is found that has the full form of the Hebrew word for “Lord” as its direct object instead of the shortened form “Jah” (‎הַֽלְל֣וּ אֶת־יְ֭הוָה [“praise the LORD”]):

Ps. 117:1  O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.

Ps. 148:7  Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:

These 27 occurrences of the plural command to praise the Lord show just how profoundly God has stressed the importance of praising Him as the Lord!


1Even though the command has been rendered in this verse as “praise the LORD” instead of “praise ye the LORD,” the Hebrew is the same:הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ.

Copyright © 2011-2022 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Psalm 106 ends by making known something that God desired that all His people would say:

Psalm 106:48 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD. {Praise…: Heb. Hallelujah}

Psa 106:48 בָּר֤וּךְ־יְהוָ֙ה אֱלֹהֵ֪י יִשְׂרָאֵ֡ל מִן־הָ֤עוֹלָ֙ם׀ וְעַ֬ד הָעוֹלָ֗ם וְאָמַ֖ר כָּל־הָעָ֥ם אָמֵ֗ן הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ׃

Psalm 150:1 shows us that the same Hebrew expression  that ends Psalm 106:48 (הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ) and is translated as “Praise ye the LORD” in both Psalms is transliterated as αλληλουια in the LXX rendering of Psalm 150:1:

Psa 150:1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

Psa 150:1 הַ֥לְלוּ יָ֙הּ׀ הַֽלְלוּ־אֵ֥ל בְּקָדְשׁ֑וֹ הַֽ֜לְל֗וּהוּ בִּרְקִ֥יעַ עֻזּֽוֹ׃

Psa 150:1 αλληλουια αἰνεῖτε τὸν θεὸν ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν ἐν στερεώματι δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ

Revelation 19 illumines the OT directives from God that are found in both Psalm 106:48 and in Psalm 150:1 by teaching us that heavenly angelic beings say exactly what God directed His people of old to say at the end of Psalm 106:

Rev 19:4 And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.

Rev 19:4 καὶ ἔπεσαν οἱ πρεσβύτεροι οἱ εἴκοσι τέσσαρες καὶ τὰ τέσσαρα ζῷα καὶ προσεκύνησαν τῷ θεῷ τῷ καθημένῳ ἐπὶ τῷ θρόνῳ λέγοντες· ἀμὴν ἁλληλουϊά,

Notice that Revelation 19:4 ends with a transliteration of אָמֵ֗ן הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ that is found at the end of Psalm 106:48 and teaches us that saying “Amen; Alleluia” is what heavenly beings say when they worship God!

By comparing Psalm 106:48 with Revelation 19:4, we learn that the directive at the end of Psalm 106:48 was a directive about how God wanted His people to worship Him—they were to say, “Amen, Praise ye the Lord.” We should learn from this comparison that God wants both angelic beings and humans to worship Him by saying these two expressions!

Copyright © 2011-2022 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Whenever the NT uses the OT, we are given insight into how God wants us as NT believers to use the OT and profit from it. By the way it cites Psalm 22:22, Hebrews 2:12 provides a helpful insight concerning our understanding of biblical teaching about singing.

In Psalm 22, David writes,

“I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee” (22:22).

The Hebrew text for this verse reads:

  WTT אֲסַפְּרָ֣ה שִׁמְךָ֣ לְאֶחָ֑י בְּת֖וֹךְ קָהָ֣ל אֲהַלְלֶֽךָּ׃

The writer of Hebrews cites this text when he writes,

“Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (2:12)

Comparing these passages, we learn that the NT has “sing praise” where the OT has “praise.” The Holy Spirit thus reveals to us that Psalm 22:22 was actually a statement about singing and not just about praising God through ordinary speech.

This observation should teach us that we should not be dogmatic that other references in the Psalms, which are inspired song texts, to praising God necessarily mean just ordinary speaking praise to Him. As Hebrews 2:12 reveals, it is very possible that such statements also may mean singing praise to Him instead of just speaking it.

One text where this is especially likely is Psalm 35:18 because David uses in this verse the exact same form of the same verb that is rendered “praise” in Psalm 22:22 to speak again of God being praised among a congregation of people:

Psa 35:18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.

  WTT א֭וֹדְךָ בְּקָהָ֣ל רָ֑ב בְּעַ֖ם עָצ֣וּם אֲהַֽלְלֶֽךָּ׃

If not in any other place, we can at least be confident that Psalm 35:18 is also a reference to singing praise to God and not just speaking praise to Him.

When, therefore, we seek to study comprehensively biblical teaching about singing, we must include Psalm 22:22 and very likely also Psalm 35:18 as biblical texts about singing.

 

Copyright © 2011-2022 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Yesterday, I finished my first semester of tutoring first semester Hebrew. After my final tutoring session, I produced this handout that helps with learning the verbs by grouping the verbs by the paradigm that they follow: Classification of First Semester Hebrew Verbs by Paradigm.

 

Copyright © 2011-2022 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

From my study of biblical Hebrew in the past and my recent times of intensively tutoring a student in beginning Hebrew, I have found some very helpful patterns with the preformatives on Hebrew verbs. My Verb Forms Preformatives Chart brings out these patterns visually in a way that I think is very helpful!

I would appreciate feedback about any problems or errors in this chart.

Copyright © 2011-2022 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

This semester, I have been tutoring a student who is taking first-semester Hebrew. Today, he needed to learn ten function words and nine words for numbers (for his quiz tomorrow).

When he told me that he had not studied these words much at all so far, I told him that I thought he was in trouble. As we began to work on the words, however, mnemonic aids came to me that made the task much easier for him.

Here are the ten sentences/phrases that we came up with to help him learn these words. These provide the Hebrew vocabulary words in a part-transliteration, part-pronunciation scheme that I use.

 

Numbers)

 

Ri Aleph-Shon – “first”; Sheni – “second”

Echad – 1 [Masculine]; Achath – 1 [Feminine]; ShƏnayim – 2 [Masculine]; ShƏttayim – 2 [Feminine]

Meah – 100; Ma Aleph-Thayim – 200; Eleph – 1000

 

In the race, Ri Aleph-Shon finished first, and Sheni was second.

Number 1, Echad, married Achath.

Number 2, ShƏnayim married ShƏttayim.

A meah is 1/10 of an eleph.

A meah is ½ of ma aleph-thayim.

 

Function Words)

 

Lifney – “before”; AchƏrey – “after”; Min – “from”; Nyad – “as far as”

El – “toward”; Nyal – “on”; Nyim – “with”; ¯Eth – “with”; Koh – “thus”; Beyn – “between”

 

Before Lifney and after AchƏrey; from Min as far as Nyad

Toward El on Nyal; Nyim with Eth Maqqeph

Thus Koh is between Beyn

 

Copyright © 2011-2022 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Like many other seminary students, I learned NT Greek before I learned Hebrew. When I was given the Hebrew alphabet, I was taught to pronounce it by hearing it spoken and by reading English renderings of the names of the Hebrew letters.

Recently, I read through Lamentations in the LXX and noticed that the verses in the first four chapters began with the letters in the Hebrew alphabet rendered in Greek. Most of these are exactly what I was taught when I learned Hebrew, but a few vary somewhat.

I think that I would have learned the Hebrew alphabet faster had I been given these Greek renderings along with the English.

This table has the Hebrew alphabet in Hebrew, English, and Greek. It may be of help to some future students who try to learn it.

Copyright © 2011-2022 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.