Hebrew Lexicons

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Deacon, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. Deacon

    Deacon
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    I’m enjoying JoJ’s thread on Greek lexicons.
    I’ve already added a few Greek sites to my "favorites" that I plan on using in the future.

    There’s been some mention of some Hebrew resources but I thought I’d make a new thread so there is some distinction between the Greek and Hebrew language resources.

    Feel free to add resources that you use.

    First Question: What exactly is the advantage of a newer lexicon? Is there really a difference?

    Over the past 100 years archeological discoveries have revolutionized the understanding of the development of the Hebrew language and altered our understanding of ambiguous words in the biblical text.

    Discoveries in Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) as well as the discoveries in ancient Old Hebrew or Paleo-Hebrew script have added significantly to our knowledge base.

    Vast amounts of Sumerian and Assyro-Babylonian literature have been found.
    (You’ll have to read the story of the humble beginning and genius of George Smith who first translated the story of Gilgamesh in 1872. The epic was found amid the ruins of Assyrian King Ashurbanipal’s library in cuneiform tablets of Nineveh [Osnappar/Asnappar - Ezra 4:10]).
    The Ugaritic language (discovered in 1928) is "the greatest literary discovery from antiquity since the deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform".

    You might ask if it really matters, give me an example of how archeology has changed a translation?

    In the books of Samuel there are a number of passages that are particularly difficult to translate. 1 Samuel 13:21 has a word that is used only once in the Scriptures, transliterated, “pim”.
    Notice how some versions deal with this word:

    Yet they had a file* for the mattocks… (AV note: Heb. a file with mouths)
    AV1873

    …and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares…
    NKJV

    …and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares…
    ESV

    A brief study of various lexicons is revealing:
    (I’ll go over some popular lexicons in the next post)

    The older lexicon, BDB incorectly identifies the word ”pim” as a corruption of the word ”peh”: 1 S 13:21 (corrupt, v. Dr al.);— 1. a. mouth, of man, organ of eating and drinking Gn 25:28 Ju 7:6 1 S 14:26, 27 Ne 9:20 Pr 19:24 = 26:15 +; fig. [Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon]

    Another older lexicon, Gesenius' incorrectly identifies the word as: “the edge (of instruments of iron), 1 Sa. 13:21” [Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures 667.]

    Holliday’s ‘Little HAL’ correctly defines it as: "a weight, pim, ca. 7 1/2 gm. = 1/4 oz. 1 Sam 13:21 (single instance)"

    The TWOT is provides the most information:
    Rob
     
    #1 Deacon, Dec 22, 2010
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  2. Deacon

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    Regarding the usability of a lexicon:

    If you are purchasing a hardbound lexicon make sure you know if it uses a numbering system.

    A lexicon without a numbering system will be almost useless to someone without a thorough familiarity of the original language alphabet and a basic knowledge of the language.

    I want to reiterate what others have said, lexicons are far easier to use in digital form; this is particularly true when studying Hebrew.

    [Note: Regarding digital bible programs, you get what you pay for; lexicons are linked to the text in the pricier programs].

    Rob
     
  3. Deacon

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    SOME HEBREW LEXICONS

    The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) 3rd ed.
    Koehler, L. W. Baumgartner, and J.I. Stamm. (1994-2000)– multivolume expensive –
    Absolutely the most up-to-date Hebrew Lexicon for the Old Testament and related literature (i.e. Dead Sea Scrolls and other Semitic languages).
    Words are arranged alphabetically
    Basic knowledge of Hebrew needed ***
    Difficult and quite unwieldy in hardbound format
    (I don’t own this lexicon)

    A Concise Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament
    Holladay, William. (1971, 2000);
    A condensation of HALOT
    etymological material, bibliographical entries, citations of the names of specific scholars and occurrences of words in post-biblical literature (i.e. Sirach and Qumrān material) have been omitted,
    Basic knowledge of Hebrew helpful***

    Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (BDB)
    Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and C.A. Briggs. (1907, 1952 updated)
    Knowledge of Hebrew needed ***
    Cheaper but outdated; missing DSS data.
    Unreliable for etymologic purposes (word origins, development and relationships)
    Finding words (particularly verbs) can be difficult since it is organized by verbal roots rather than alphabetically

    Rob
     
    #3 Deacon, Dec 22, 2010
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  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks for starting this thread, Deacon. I'll be reading it and enjoying it at my leisure.
     
  5. Deacon

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    I was reminded of this as I looked for a on-line version of this older lexicon.
    Even though it’s available for free on the internet, it is clumsy and ungainly, not exactly useless but close to it.

    I remember fumbling through a word study as a young Christian.
    I’d find the original language word in an interlinear testament then fumble through the old lexicon struggling to locate the word. Then carefully look up each of the references it mentioned. There was very little pay back; most of the words I looked up were quite common but the effort gave me the desire to begin to study the language deeper.

    Later I began using some other volumes. Bible word study became a “dining room table” event. Multiple versions, concordances and various lexicons and word study books covering the table. I’d spend an evening digging out a tidbit about a word I was studying and wait another week to search for another.

    I recently had the opportunity to teach a class on basic bible study. I’d forgotten how difficult doing a word study with books could be. There were multiple versions used in the class. It was a nightmare.

    I look over the books on my shelves, I rarely use them anymore. They are ornaments on the bookshelf. A laptop has replaced the dining room table.

    Spend a couple of hundred dollars a purchase a quality bible program containing up to date lexicons. You will find them so much more useful than books.

    Here is an old classic Hebrew lexicon that I still enjoy.

    Check out each of the volumes mentioned on Amazon and be sure to take advantage of their “look inside” feature.

    Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament (1846)

    Gesenius Hardbound and coded with Strong’s numbers [LINK]

    Gesenius is the predecessor to the Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon
    Best known now for his Hebrew Grammar which has passed the test of time.
    While his lexicon was written well before many of the important archeological discoveries, it still has unique insights into the biblical language. While not my first choice, I rarely fail to consult this volume.
    Gesenius rarely transliterates the original language words or letters, even throwing in Arabic words.
    As with other older lexicons, his notes re: word origins and relationships should be collaborated with modern lexicons.

    Rob
     
    #5 Deacon, Dec 23, 2010
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  6. Tater77

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    Between ESword with Strongs Greek and Hebrew then PC Study Bible 5 Advanced reference library, I'm pretty much set.

    Software all the way, you spend more time learning and less time "looking up" words.


    NET Bible is great for use in language study too.
     
    #6 Tater77, Dec 23, 2010
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  7. Deacon

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    The PC Study Bible 5 Advanced Reference Library has some good resources.

    One of them is the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament [TWOT] [Harris, R Laird, Gleason L. (2003)]

    It is not a lexicon but a WORD STUDY DICTIONARY

    A word study dictionary is slightly different from a lexicon and perhaps better suited for a students personal study.

    In its hardbound form the TWOT is cross-referenced to Strong’s numbers requiring little to no Hebrew language skills.
    It has lengthy articles about most Hebrew words in the OT including a bibliography of additional sources.

    I'll go over some of these excellent additional sources in some of my following posts.

    Rob
     
  8. Deacon

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    Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament
    [Jenni, Ernst and Claus Westermann (1971, 1997), three volumes]
    More than a lexicon: each entry is an individual article about a word;
    The TLOT provides the various meanings of each word in its context, etymology and their historical usage (with extra-biblical references), adding conclusions based upon scholarly research.

    Like the Theological Wordbook, the TLOT draws conclusions based upon the research of others. I've found that the big difference between the two is that the TLOT notes where the research was found. Seminary student can then go directly to the articles mentioned for additional study. [If you have the digital version of Galaxy's Theological Journal Library this might be interesting]

    IMO. this is a most excellent lexicon source though not every Hebrew word is included.
    The index is keyed to multiple numbering systems.
    *************************************************

    One last resource that needs to be mentioned is the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis [NIOTTE]
    [VanGemeren, Wm. ed. (1997) 5-volumes, Zondervan]

    Cross referenced with Strong’s and Goodrick/Kohlenberger’s numbers, no knowledge of Hebrew is required.
    Contain all the words used in the Hebrew Testament

    The last volume is the key to its usefullness, containing the index of Hebrew words, Scripture and semantic fields.
    But practically speaking, this means a student ends up chasing a word through multiple volumes.
    IMO, these volumes are the best value for beginners intent on Hebrew word studies.

    Rob
     
  9. Deacon

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    The proliferation of concordances and other bible reference books was aided immensely by the development of computers. This next resource was an early product of digital technology.

    If you use the BDB Lexicon in a hardbound format (or if you use an unformatted digital copy) you may want to consult yet another resource.

    The Index to the Brown, Driver and Briggs (BDB) Hebrew Lexicon
    (Bruce Einspahr, 1976) is an index of Hebrew words in the order in which they occur in the Hebrew Bible, (verse by verse), showing where it is found in the BDB.
    The Index is keyed to the New American Standard Bible (1977)

    Let’s look at Jeremiah 17:10 (NAS)

    The word, "mind" is footnoted and different in various versions, lets look at it.

    **************************

    The Index points you to the BDB reference using the following format:

    Verse –- - Hebrew word – English gloss – BDB page # - BDB section number

    Jer 17:10 – *kelaywoth –- - kidney - - - - 480c –- - - - - - 2b
    (*BaptistBoard software slaughters Hebrew so I’ve transliterated the Hebrew)

    So we look up page 480 of the BDB Lexicon and find:
    [again please ignore the poorly formated Hebrew]

    II. כלה (√ of foll.; meaning unknown).
     
    †[כִּלְיָה n.f. only pl. kidneys (NH כִּלְיָה (pl.); Aramaic כּוּלְיָא or כּוֹלְיָא (only pl.), ܟܽܘܠܢܳܐ (kulno); Ethiopic ኵሊት (kʷəlit) G οἱ νεφροί);—abs. pl. כְּלָיוֹת Je 11:20 + 5 times; כְּלָיֹת Ex 29:13 + 13 times; cstr. כִּלְיוֹת Dt 32:14 Is 34:6; sf. כִּלְיוֹתַי Jb 16:3 + 2 times; כִּלְיֹתַי Jb 19:27; כִּלְיוֹתָ֑י ψ 16:7 Pr 23:16; כִּלְיֹתָ֑י ψ 139:13 La 3:13; כִּלְיוֹתֵיהֶם Je 12:2;—kidneys: 1. lit., as physical organ, a. of man, only poet., as created by י׳ ψ 139:13; as the most sensitive and vital part, in metaph. of man wounded by י׳’s arrows Jb 16:13 La 3:13. b. of sacrifical animals, offered as choice part to י׳ Lv 3:4, 10, 15; 4:9; 7:4; 9:10, 19; שְׁתֵּי הַכּ׳ Ex 29:13, 22 Lv 3:4, 10, 15; 4:9; 7:4; 8:16, 25 (all P); in fig. of sacrif. Edomites חֵלֶב כִּלְיוֹת אֵילִים Is 34:6; transferred to wheat, חֵלֶב כִּלְיוֹת חִטָּה Dt 32:14 kidney-fat (i.e. the choicest, richest) of wheat. 2. fig., as seat of emotion and affection Jb 19:27 Pr 23:16 ψ 16:7; 73:21; קָרוֹב אַתָּה בְּפִיהֶם וְרָחוֹק מִכּ׳ Je 12:2 near art thou in their mouth, and far from their affections; hence, as involving character, the obj. of God’s examination, always || לֵב: בֹּחֵן כ׳ וָלֵב Je 11:20 cf. ψ 7:10, חֹקֵר לֵב בֹּחֵן כ׳ Je 17:10, בֹּחֵן צַדִּיק רֹאֶה כ׳ וָלֵב 20:12, צָרְו֯פָה כ׳ וְלִבִּי ψ 26:2.​
    [Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon p.480.]

    *********************************************************
    We might also look it up in GESENIUS’ HEBREW-CHALDEE LEXICON


     ​

    כִּלְיָה
    only in plur.כְּלָיוֹתconst.כִּלְיוֹתf.

    (1) the kidneys, reins. Exod. 29:13, 22; Job 16:13. חֶלֶב כִּלְיוֹת אֵילִים "the fat of the kidneys of rams," Isa. 34:6; comp. Deu. 32:14.

    (2) meton, used of the inmost mind, as the seat of the desires and affections. Jer. 11:20, בֹּחֵן כְּלָיוֹת וָלֵב "(God) tries the reins and the heart." Jerem. 17:10; 20:12; Psalm 7:10; Job 19:27, בָּלוּ בִלְיוֹתַי "my reins (i.e. my inmost soul) have wasted away." Ps. 73:21; Prov. 23:16. Chald. sing. כֻּלְיָא, Arab. كُلْيَةُ, rarely and inaccurately كِلْيَةُ id. Schultens supposed the reins to be so called, because of their being double; compare כִּלְאַיִם, كِلاَُ (which is unsuitable because כלאים signifies rather things diverse in kind, and in Arabic this word is used in sing. dual and plural); Aben Ezra and Bochart considered them to be so called from the idea of desire, longing, comp. Job 19:27, but I do not know why כִּלְיָה should not be simply the fem. of the noun בְּלִי and thus signify properly instrument, vessel (Gefäß), just as physicians call the veins and arteries, vessels.





    *********************************

    Gesenus note of the word "reins" concerns how the word is translated in the Authorized Version.​




    Jeremiah 17:10 (AV 1873)
    I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

    Rob​
     
    #9 Deacon, Dec 26, 2010
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  10. Deacon

    Deacon
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    (continued)

    Holladay's lexicon[CHALOT] doesn't add much.

    The TWOT has a lenghty article which notes:

    Each lexicon provides a multitude of references to check.

    After the search you've learned a bit more about the kidneys of the original author. :laugh:

    Rob
     

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