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Hebrew Language

Why Study Modern Hebrew?

Modern Hebrew is unique, a result of the most successful language revitalization project in history. People study Hebrew for a variety reasons: the desire to be able to read the Hebrew Bible in the original language, to acquire skills to read Hebrew literature and scholarship, or for heritage reasons, an ability to connect and understand Israeli culture, politics, and history. By taking the variety of Hebrew language courses available at the University of Michigan, students will be given the opportunity to study Hebrew at all levels, from beginning to advanced. Many culture courses on Jewish literature or Israeli and Jewish cinema offer optional Hebrew language sections. Knowledge of Hebrew allows students to achieve a deeper understanding of modern Israeli identities and obtain a rich Hebrew background.

Language Program Information

Modern Hebrew language courses are conducted entirely in Hebrew. Classes are intensive, fast paced and fun. To maximize student participation, classes are kept small with no more than 18 students. Students develop all four basic language skills – reading, listening, writing and speaking – with a strong emphasis on communicative abilities and developing cultural literacy.

Modern Hebrew language classes are divided into three levels: elementary, intermediate, and advanced, spanning six semesters. The language courses provide students with a strong foundation for proceeding to upper level courses in Hebrew literature and culture.

Modern Hebrew Courses

HEBREW 101: Elementary Modern Hebrew I
HEBREW 102: Elementary Modern Hebrew II
HEBREW 201: Intermediate Modern Hebrew I
HEBREW 202: Intermediate Modern Hebrew II (Completion of this course with a grade of C- or better meets the LSA Language Requirement)
HEBREW 301: Advanced Hebrew I
HEBREW 302: Advanced Hebrew II

Summer Language Institute 

HEBREW 203: Intensive Intermediate Modern Hebrew (Completion of this course with a grade of C- or better meets the LSA Language Requirement)

For more information on the Summer Language Institute, please visit www.lsa.umich.edu/sli.

Modern Hebrew Textbooks

Textbook for HJCS 101 and 102: Modern Hebrew for Beginners by Esther Raizen, second edition 2015 (UT Press).

Textbook for HJCS 201 and 202: Modern Hebrew for Intermediate Students by Esther Raizen, second edition 2015 (UT Press).

Why Study Classical Hebrew?

"Why Study a "Dead Language" like Classical or Biblical Hebrew?"

First of all, Hebrew is not a dead language as there are millions of Hebrew speakers today in Israel and across the globe. Secondly, Classical or Biblical Hebrew is likewise alive and well. It is studied, read and translated by scholars, students and religious devotees from around the world. “Why is there so much interest worldwide?” Classical or Biblical Hebrew provides direct access to the language of the Tanakh or Old Testament, one of the world’s most influential literary and religious works ever created. Last, but by no means least, Classical or Biblical Hebrew also provides access to the ancient Middle Eastern worlds out of which Judaism, then Christianity, then Islam emerged, each along with their respective sacred texts.

The successful completion of the entire four semester language sequence in Classical or Biblical Hebrew (NESLANG 101, 102, 201, 202) fulfills the College of LSA's Language Requirement for languages other than English. NESLANG 101 is the first course in the required sequence.

Language Program Information

The purpose of the course sequence NESLANG 101-102 Introductory Classical Hebrew I & II is to equip the beginning student with the basic tools necessary for reading the Hebrew Bible. The course will introduce the student to the fundamental grammar of Biblical Hebrew; its phonology (the study of speech sounds), morphology (the study of word formation), and syntax (the study of phrase and sentence formation). In addition to mastering the grammar, the student will need to acquire a sizable working vocabulary of the language, as competency in grammar and lexicon best facilitates the goal of reading the biblical text.
​ ​Students and instructor will complete an in-class review of each chapter of the required textbook over the course of two class sessions. Students will complete, in writing, the exercises from each chapter prior to the first class session's due date for that chapter. In the first class session, the review of the chapter’s content and exercises will be initiated. By the end of the second class session, the review of the chapter’s exercises will be completed, the student’s full, written work on those exercises submitted, and a quiz administered in-class covering the chapter’s vocabulary and its content.
​NESLANG 201(601) and the complementary course, NESLANG 202 ​(​602)​ Intermediate Classical Hebrew I & II, are designed to introduce the second year or intermediate level student to the fundamental syntactic features of the narrative language of the Hebrew Bible. As the class works through such texts as Jonah, Ruth and 2 Kings, the features covered include the syntax of individual words and phrases as well that of clauses and sentences. By advancing the student's analytical skills beyond basic morphological observations to syntactic analysis, the course aims to facilitate greater competency in translation and interpretation of select portions of the biblical text. The student is also introduced to the complexities of Biblical Hebrew poetic syntax as a step forward in analyzing more advanced aspects of the language.
The student​​ must maintain ​ at least a grade of C in order to be awarded credit for a language course required for the concentration. Those courses for which a ​concentrator ​student receives a lesser grade must be repeated.​

Classical Hebrew Courses

NESLANG 101-102: Introductory Classical Hebrew (fall and winter sequence)

NESLANG 201-202: Intermediate Classical Hebrew (fall and winter sequence) Completion of NESLANG 202 with a grade of C- or better meets the LSA Language Requirement

NESLANG 601-602: Advanced Classical Hebrew (for graduates, meets with 201-202 but requires additional research projects)

 

Classical Hebrew Textbooks

First Year:
​A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, Revised 2nd Edition by C.L. Seow. Published 1995 by Abingdon Press.

​Second Year:​

1. A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax by Bill T. Arnold and John H. Choi, November 2003 Cambridge U Press. Paperback ISBN: 9780521533485

2. ​A classical Hebrew Dictionary​

​a. ​A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament with an appendix containing the Biblical Aramaic by Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs. first edition 1906; impression of 1936. Oxford, Clarendon Press.

(or)

​b. ​A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by Holladay, William L. Leiden: Brill, 2000.

3. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (a diplomatic edition of the text of the Hebrew Bible)