A Useful Hebrew Syntax/Grammar Abridgement

 I learned Hebrew in seminary using Mark Futato’s helpful resource called Beginning Biblical Hebrew.  In my view, it was very good and I still go back to it from time to time for a refresher.  I also try to keep up my Hebrew in other ways: primarily by studying the Hebrew Bible text itself but also by using other resources like Daily Dose of Hebrew (two thumbs up to that website!).  Last year I got A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax by Bill Arnold and John Choi.  I’ve been meaning to mention it here on the blog before.  Since I’ve worked through big parts of it now, I think I can confidently say that it is a helpful resource for Hebrew students and Hebrew studies.  I’ve benefited from it quite a bit.

To be sure, A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax isn’t a detailed and exhaustive resource where you can learn all the ins and outs of Hebrew syntax and grammar.  Instead, it’s an abridgment based on several well-known scholarly Hebrew grammars such as the ones by Waltke/O’Connor, Juoun-Muraoka and Gesenius (and a few others).  The authors themselves say that this reference book fills the gap between beginning Hebrew grammars and advanced Hebrew grammars (p. xi).

The first part of the book covers nouns (Nominative, Genitive, Accusative, etc.) as well as adjectives, names, and numbers.  The second part of the book covers the Hebrew verbs: Qal, Niphal, Piel, etc., as well as aspect, infinitives, participles, and so on.  The third part of the book discusses particles like prepositions, adverbs, and conjunctions (etc.).  Finally, the last part of the book covers clauses and sentences in Hebrew syntax and grammar.

I like the two short pictorial appendices that give charts of the Hebrew verbs.  I even copied it and hung it in my study for quick reference!  I also like how the book is formatted.  It’s pretty easy to read and reference. For example, if I’m studying the use of the conjunction אִם in Psalm 127:1 & 2 I can find it very quickly under the conjunction section where it lists and explains seven different uses of אִם (see pages 143-146).  Under each example, there are a few phrases from the Hebrew Bible to show the uses in Scripture.  There’s also a Scripture reference at the end of the book that gives the reference to each example used.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a readable, informative, and helpful reference guide to Hebrew syntax and grammar, I’d for sure check out this one by Arnold and Choi: A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015


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