Learning Biblical Hebrew
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Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at eTeacherBiblical.com

Eli recently completed his MA at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, focusing on the Bible .Nowadays, he teaches Bible, Jewish Philosophy and Mathematics in ”The Beit Hinuch high school” in Jerusa

Posted 10/27/12 at 4:06 PM | Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at eTeacherBiblical.com

The connection between Isaac and Manoah

Reading the Scriptures in Hebrew with students around the world is such a pleasure every week in the Biblical Hebrew Webinar. I feel privileged and blessed by the opportunity that was given to me every week. From the students I am inspired and most of my work as a blogger is due to you dear friends.

In the last Webinar while we discussed the birth of a hero, one of the students asked about a word in the text that is not so common in Biblical Hebrew. The meaning of this word is to pray and today in Modern Hebrew it got the meaning of the petition. What I paid attention to in the question is that this word, as you are about to see appears in another important birth in the Old Testament- this is the birth of Jacob and Esau. Let's see the texts, as written:

" וַיֶּעְתַּר יִצְחָק לַיהוָה לְנֹכַח אִשְׁתּוֹ, כִּי עֲקָרָה הִוא; וַיֵּעָתֶר לוֹ יְהוָה, וַתַּהַר רִבְקָה אִשְׁתּוֹ."

"וַיֶּעְתַּר מָנוֹחַ אֶל-יְהוָה, וַיֹּאמַר: בִּי אֲדוֹנָי--אִישׁ הָאֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר שָׁלַחְתָּ יָבוֹא-נָא עוֹד אֵלֵינוּ, וְיוֹרֵנוּ מַה-נַּעֲשֶׂה לַנַּעַר הַיּוּלָּד."

"Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived"(Genesis 25:21) FULL POST

Posted 10/27/12 at 4:05 PM | Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at eTeacherBiblical.com

What was the sin of the animals before the flood?

When The Lord decided to destroy the world that he had created, he said these words:

" וַיַּרְא יְהוָה, כִּי רַבָּה רָעַת הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ, וְכָל-יֵצֶר מַחְשְׁבֹת לִבּוֹ, רַק רַע כָּל-הַיּוֹם. וַיִּנָּחֶם יְהוָה, כִּי-עָשָׂה אֶת-הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ; וַיִּתְעַצֵּב, אֶל-לִבּוֹ. וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֶמְחֶה אֶת-הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר-בָּרָאתִי מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה, מֵאָדָם עַד-בְּהֵמָה, עַד-רֶמֶשׂ וְעַד-עוֹף הַשָּׁמָיִם: כִּי נִחַמְתִּי, כִּי עֲשִׂיתִם."

"The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become to the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them"(Genesis 6:5-7)

A question that one of the students of the webinar asked is why The Lord punished the animals, what was their sin? The deterioration in the humanity's behavior is clear, but what did the animals do wrong?

Well, dear friends, this question is awesome! The sages of Israel explained in Genesis Rabbah that not just the man failed and committed sins, the land itself was evil. Instead of having wheat as a crop it produced a smelly tree. In the Midrash there is also a reference to the animals, as written: FULL POST

Posted 10/27/12 at 4:04 PM | Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at eTeacherBiblical.com

How a blessing could be a curse?

When you read the beginning of Job, it seems to be that Job's life couldn’t be better. He believes in G-d, he escaped from the evil, he is complete, which is something that people until today are seeking for themselves. If you would like to bless someone in your life, you would probably ask him the destiny of Job at the beginning of the book. However, sometimes the Hebrew is so beautiful that the translation can’t show it. After understanding that Job is blessed, we are reading about the conversation in the heavens, and there we can find a disagreement about this blessing. Satan, as the angel who represents the opposition claimed the blessing is related to the situation of Job. If G-d would cause him to damage, the blessing would become a curse, as you can hear in this video-


"There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. Seven sons and three daughters were born to him. His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord."(Job 1:1-12) FULL POST

Posted 9/29/12 at 1:30 PM | Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at eTeacherBiblical.com

The Meanings of the Names of Joseph's Sons

Dear friends, I am writing this post a day before my second son is going to be circumcised , and on this day, eight days after he came out to this world, we are going to reveal his name to all. Searching for names for your son is not an easy task. All your thoughts are about the name and the reaction of the people. Is the name old or new? Popular or odd? Biblical or Modern? Jewish or Universal?

Well, today I would like to dedicate this post to my father, whose name is Joseph, and actually to all the parents that needed to decide how to name their children.

I called him Elijah due to my two grandfathers names. My father like all his brothers and sisters was called after biblical names. Let us see how Joseph, the son of Jacob called his sons, as you can hear in the next video-


"Thus Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure. Now before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore to him.Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”He named the second Ephraim, “For,” he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”(Genesis 41:49-52) FULL POST

Posted 9/29/12 at 1:30 PM | Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at eTeacherBiblical.com

The Shining Face

In the passing month E-teacher decided that this is the time to shine the faces of some children who live in the Promised Land. We decided to support Meir Panim's After School Youth Club by donating a portion of the tuition of every student that will sign up for one of the courses that the company offers. The meaning of Meir Panim in Hebrew is to be nice to someone else and today we will see where this expression is found in the Bible.

The expression to shine the faces appears a few times in the Old Testament. Without any doubt the most famous one is found in the Priestley blessing in Numbers 6: 24-26, as written:

" יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ. יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ.

יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם."

"The Lord bless you, and keep you;The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace."

In the most important blessing in the synagogue-a blessing that was a remnant of the time when there was a temple and the people were blessed by the priests-this expression appears as a wish that our G-d will let his face shine , as we should do as well, as Job said in Job 29:24. FULL POST

Posted 9/29/12 at 1:29 PM | Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at eTeacherBiblical.com

How the Book of Chronicles Changed the Death of Josiah?

The days before Yom Kippur are always the days of questions that I try to answer. In the last few days the question that I went to sleep and woke up with is about the death of King Josiah, for me a tragic hero that was without any doubt the best King of the Judaic Kingdom, even more than David and Solomon.

Before the great reform that Josiah had made in Judah, he asked the prophet at that time, Chuldah, to help with the words that were written in the book that was found in the house of G-d, and after she said that the destiny of Judah won't change due to the sins of Menashe she continued and said:

" וְאֶל-מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה, הַשֹּׁלֵחַ אֶתְכֶם לִדְרֹשׁ אֶת-יְהוָה, כֹּה תֹאמְרוּ, אֵלָיו: כֹּה-אָמַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר שָׁמָעְתָּ. יַעַן רַךְ-לְבָבְךָ וַתִּכָּנַע מִפְּנֵי יְהוָה, בְּשָׁמְעֲךָ אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי עַל-הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה וְעַל-יֹשְׁבָיו לִהְיוֹת לְשַׁמָּה וְלִקְלָלָה, וַתִּקְרַע אֶת-בְּגָדֶיךָ, וַתִּבְכֶּה לְפָנָי; וְגַם אָנֹכִי שָׁמַעְתִּי, נְאֻם-יְהוָה. לָכֵן הִנְנִי אֹסִפְךָ עַל-אֲבֹתֶיךָ, וְנֶאֱסַפְתָּ אֶל-קִבְרֹתֶיךָ בְּשָׁלוֹם, וְלֹא-תִרְאֶינָה עֵינֶיךָ, בְּכֹל הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר-אֲנִי מֵבִיא עַל-הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה; וַיָּשִׁבוּ אֶת-הַמֶּלֶךְ, דָּבָר." FULL POST

Posted 9/29/12 at 1:28 PM | Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at eTeacherBiblical.com

A Song for a Well

One of the biggest difficulties that the Israelites had in the wilderness was the lack of water. This lack caused them to complain to Moses all day and in Numbers 20 he lost the opportunity to enter the Promised Land. The lack of water was explained by the sages of Israel through a legend about the death of Miriam. Before her death whenever Miriam sang, the people of Israel had water. After her death Moses commanded his people to sing a song for the well as written:

"וּמִשָּׁם, בְּאֵרָה: הִוא הַבְּאֵר, אֲשֶׁר אָמַר יְהוָה לְמֹשֶׁה, אֱסֹף אֶת-הָעָם, וְאֶתְּנָה לָהֶם מָיִם. אָז יָשִׁיר יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֶת-הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת: עֲלִי בְאֵר, עֱנוּ-לָהּ. בְּאֵר חֲפָרוּהָ שָׂרִים, כָּרוּהָ נְדִיבֵי הָעָם, בִּמְחֹקֵק, בְּמִשְׁעֲנֹתָם; וּמִמִּדְבָּר, מַתָּנָה. וּמִמַּתָּנָה, נַחֲלִיאֵל; וּמִנַּחֲלִיאֵל, בָּמוֹת. וּמִבָּמוֹת, הַגַּיְא אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׂדֵה מוֹאָב--רֹאשׁ, הַפִּסְגָּה; וְנִשְׁקָפָה, עַל-פְּנֵי הַיְשִׁימֹן"

"From there they continued to Beer, that is the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Assemble the people, that I may give them water.Then Israel sang this song:“Spring up, O well! Sing to it!“The well, which the leaders sank, Which the nobles of the people dug, With the scepter and with their staffs. ”And from the wilderness they continued to Mattanah, and from Mattanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth, and from Bamoth to the valley that is in the land of Moab, at the top of Pisgah which overlooks the wasteland."(Numbers 21:16-20) FULL POST

Posted 9/29/12 at 1:28 PM | Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at eTeacherBiblical.com

The Punishment of Cain- a Different Aspect

When we discuss Cain and Abel it seems to be that the story, with all the gaps it has, is quite clear at the end. There was a sin, that caused Abel's death and there was a punishment that is written in Genesis 4:11-12-

"וְעַתָּה אָרוּר אָתָּה מִן-הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר פָּצְתָה אֶת-פִּיהָ לָקַחַת אֶת-דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ מִיָּדֶךָ. כִּי תַעֲבֹד אֶת-הָאֲדָמָה, לֹא-תֹסֵף תֵּת-כֹּחָהּ לָךְ; נָע וָנָד, תִּהְיֶה בָאָרֶץ."

"Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”(Genesis 4:11-12)

The punishment is divided into two: firstly, Cain will have to work really hard, as his father, in order to produce crop from the ground; Secondly, he will have to wander the earth (maybe this is the reason why he won't enjoy the crop?).

In the last few days after reading the interpretation of Raman to this passage I paid attention to the fact he decided to explain the wanderer in a different aspect. According to his words, the wandering is in his mind, he couldn’t have silence in his soul, and he won’t have harmony in his life. FULL POST

Posted 9/29/12 at 1:27 PM | Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at eTeacherBiblical.com

What is the Incorrect Usage With the Temple?

In the Webinar that we had on 16/8/12 we discussed the First Temple that was built by Solomon the King. We came to a conclusion that the prophets wanted that the people of Israel won’t serve only G-d by sacrifices. They needed also to behave well with each other. We read the book of Jeremiah with the next passage:

"וּבָאתֶם וַעֲמַדְתֶּם לְפָנַי בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר נִקְרָא-שְׁמִי עָלָיו וַאֲמַרְתֶּם נִצַּלְנוּ--לְמַעַן עֲשׂוֹת אֵת כָּל-הַתּוֹעֵבוֹת הָאֵלֶּה. הַמְעָרַת פָּרִצִים, הָיָה הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר-נִקְרָא-שְׁמִי עָלָיו--בְּעֵינֵיכֶם; גַּם אָנֹכִי הִנֵּה רָאִיתִי נְאֻם-יְהוָה"

"Then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—that you may do all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by My name, becomes den of robbers in your sight? Behold I even I have seen it,” declares the Lord."(Jeremiah 7:10-11)

Those people thought that if they would come to the house of G-d, all their sins will be erased. The only thing that was important to them is to satisfy G-d with their sacrifice. I was happy to see that the use of the expression a den of robbers (Hebrew: "me'arat paritzim") was found also in the New Testament as written in Mathew 21:12-13- FULL POST

Posted 8/25/12 at 2:25 PM | Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at eTeacherBiblical.com

What Will Happen When There Are no Prophets?

As a Biblical Hebrew teacher, I think that I'm obligated to the sacred Text not just because I have to explain it to my students. I think that a teacher must also remember that he is the servant of the text, the servant of The Scriptures, as my professor, who taught the introduction to the Bible, wrote in his last book (Prof. Yair Zakovitch). He is also a constant student of the Text.

The passages that I've tried to understand in the last few weeks is the passage from Zechariah 13, which discusses the time when there won't be no prophets, as written:

" וְהָיָה בַיּוֹם הַהוּא נְאֻם יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, אַכְרִית אֶת-שְׁמוֹת הָעֲצַבִּים מִן-הָאָרֶץ, וְלֹא יִזָּכְרוּ, עוֹד; וְגַם אֶת-הַנְּבִיאִים וְאֶת-רוּחַ הַטֻּמְאָה, אַעֲבִיר מִן-הָאָרֶץ. וְהָיָה, כִּי-יִנָּבֵא אִישׁ עוֹד, וְאָמְרוּ אֵלָיו אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ יֹלְדָיו לֹא תִחְיֶה, כִּי שֶׁקֶר דִּבַּרְתָּ בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה; וּדְקָרֻהוּ אָבִיהוּ וְאִמּוֹ יֹלְדָיו, בְּהִנָּבְאוֹ. וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, יֵבֹשׁוּ הַנְּבִיאִים אִישׁ מֵחֶזְיֹנוֹ--בְּהִנָּבְאֹתוֹ; וְלֹא יִלְבְּשׁוּ אַדֶּרֶת שֵׂעָר, לְמַעַן כַּחֵשׁ. וְאָמַר, לֹא נָבִיא אָנֹכִי: אִישׁ-עֹבֵד אֲדָמָה אָנֹכִי, כִּי אָדָם הִקְנַנִי מִנְּעוּרָי"

"“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land. And if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who gave birth to him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you have spoken falsely in the name of the Lord’; and his father and mother who gave birth to him will pierce him through when he prophesies. Also it will come about in that day that the prophets will each be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies, and they will not put on a hairy robe in order to deceive; but he will say, ‘I am not a prophet; I am a tiller of the ground, for a man sold me as a slave in my youth"(Zechariah 13:2-5) FULL POST

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