Introduction to Old Testament Hebrew

By Nate Wilson

I believe that it is important to see the source of the text of our Bible. For those not familiar with Hebrew, it is a fairly simple language. Let me begin with a simplified pronunciation guide:

Hebrew Consonants:

א = a

ב = b/v

ג = g

ד = d

ה = h

ו = v/w

ז = z

ח = ch

ט = t

י = y

כ = k (or ך at end of word)

ל = l

מ = m (or ם at end of word)

נ = n (or ן at end of word)

ס = s

ע = ’ (glottal stop)

פ = p/f (or ף at end of word)

צ = ts (or ץ at end of word)

ק = q

ר = r

שׁ = sh

שׂ = s

ת = t


NOTE: a dot in the middle of a consonant (a “dagesh”) means it is doubled or, in the case of ב and פ that you close your lips to form the “b” or the “p” sound instead of the “v” or “f” sound.


Hebrew Vowels are placed under the consonants they follow:

ah = ָ or ַ

ay = ֵ

ĕ = ֶ

ĭ = ִ

oh = ֹ or וֹ

u = ֻ or

ְ = abbreviated vowel sound

So, for example, וַיִּקְרָא . אל־מֹשֶׁה . וַיְדַבֵּר would be pronounced (remember, Hebrew reads backwards from English - Right-to-Left)“vay-yiq-ra el-mo-sheh va-y-dab-bayr.”


Verb stems:

Verb Aspects:

Verb formatives


Hebrew words generally have three root letters. “Pe” designates the first letter of the Hebrew root word, “Ayin” designates the second letter of the root word, and “Lamed,” the third letter of the root word. However, certain letters of the Hebrew alphabet, such as the Aleph, Vav, He, Che, and Ayin are “weak” and either change or disappear.

Click here to learn some vocabulary words!

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