BH512 – Grammar of Biblical Hebrew Level 1-2

Instructor: Robin Van Riper
Dates: January 12, March 15, 2020
Location: Orbund (

BH512 is the second of three segments of MJTI’s comprehensive one-year graduate level introduction to the grammar of biblical Hebrew. Building upon the skills taught in BH511 the student is introduced to finite verbs in three of the seven major verb groups. Students learn to parse verbs for their form and function. Distinct from English verbs that indicate tense (i.e. past, present, future), biblical Hebrew verbs are best understood to indicate aspect. Aspect refers to the perspective being presented by the speaker/writer. Is the perspective that of an outsider looking in at a situation that has already occurred (“perfect”), or is he living through an event as it develops (“imperfect”). Students also become acquainted with the basic syntax (the arrangement of words and phrases that create well-formed sentences) of the verbal clause. Students begin to learn to apply their grammatical knowledge to the translation and interpretation of segments of narrative and
poetic texts of the Tanakh.

This course is offered to equip students in the Rabbinic Studies and Jewish Studies programs to take required and elective Tanakh and Rabbinic Writings courses.

A working knowledge of biblical Hebrew is an essential foundation for in-depth Tanakh study. Subtle shades of meaning lie within biblical and rabbinic texts that are best expressed and conveyed in their original language. The nitty-gritty details of biblical Hebrew grammar provide building blocks for the student to grapple with nuanced and in-depth meanings that are simply not revealed in translation. Every “jot and tittle” is the fodder of classic biblical and rabbinic interpretation and opens floodgates for the student to enjoy Scripture and to establish a lifelong pattern of Hebrew text study for personal illumination and, where appropriate, to prepare more nuanced and in-depth public talks.

BH511 Grammar of Biblical Hebrew Level 1-1 or permission of instructor.

Students must have a computer, internet access, and either Microsoft Word (PC or Mac) with Hebrew capability or Davka Writer.

The course is offered by live; online video conference meeting weekly. Each session is two hours in duration and will meet on Sundays at 3 pm EST.

Study assigned materials prior to each session, participate actively in the live sessions; complete and submit weekly homework, and complete and submit mid-term exam and final exam by their due date.


  • Brown, Francis, D.D., D. Litt., S.R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994.
  • Green, Jennifer S., G. Brooke Lester and Joseph F. Scrivner. Handbook to A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, Revised Edition. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005.
  • Seow, C.L. A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, Revised Edition. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995.


  • A.P. Brown, and B.W. Smith, A Reader’s Hebrew Bible, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008.
  • Hackett, Jo Ann. A Basic Introduction to Biblical Hebrew with CD. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010.


  • Because learning comes from doing, written assignments are key to the student’s success in mastering the course content. Weekly written assignments will be given at the end of each session and are due by Thursday, 11:59 pm Eastern.
  • The textbook readings are terse and technical, but useful in that they explain valuable concepts and provide practical tools. Students are asked to read new material cursorily, not getting bogged tdown with detail, but gaining some general familiarity in preparation for the class session. Class sessions are designed to flesh out the technical language with clear examples and understandable English.
  • Prepare assigned Scripture passage each week by reading it aloud.
  • A mid-term assessment exam will be given after Unit 4 and will be due by 3:00pm Eastern, Sunday, February 9, 2020.
  • A final exam covering the course material will be given at the end of the quarter. Students will receive the Exam after the Unit 8 video session and will be due by 11:59 pm Eastern, Sunday, March 15, 2020.
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