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Gain More Fruit from Your Old Testament Study with This Tool

Gain More Fruit from Your Old Testament Study with This Tool

P2P OT Exegesis 3-24-16The Biblical Hebrew Companion for Bible Software Users explains the “so what” aspect for the analytical grammatical terms encountered in the three leading Bible software programs: Accordance Bible Software, BibleWorks, and Logos Bible Software.

This Biblical Hebrew Companion enables anyone using biblical Hebrew language software to delve more deeply into the riches of the biblical text. There are amazing discoveries waiting to be unearthed in the Hebrew Bible. With this book you will have all the tools you need to access them.

For example, let us look at the entry on this grammatical term: “stem.”

What a “Stem” Does in Biblical Hebrew

The stem of a verb indicates the kind of action being communicated by the three-consonant root.

An Exegetical Insight

It is exegetically helpful not only to know the meaning of the verbal root, but also to know how that meaning is nuanced by the kind of action the verbal stem specifies. There is a great difference, for example, between saying “I did something” (simple, active action) and “I caused someone else to do something” (causative action). In the first case, I alone am responsible for the action. In the second case, I have exerted my influence over someone else. So, even though the subject of the verb (I) and the verbal idea (doing) are the same in both cases, the kind of action is quite different. Thus, attention to the verb stem is critical for accurate exegesis.

An example of how attention to the verb stem can yield exegetical fruit is found in Nahum 2:6 – 8 (2:7 – 9 in Hebrew), in God’s judgment against Nineveh. This is one of the most verb stem-rich contexts in all of the Old Testament. In the course of only three verses, six of the seven Hebrew verb stems are represented. It is as though God is using almost every verb stem to communicate the fact that his judgment against Nineveh will involve every kind of action possible (italics added):

The river gates are thrown open
and the palace collapses .
It is decreed that Nineveh
be exiled

and carried away .
Her female slaves moan

like doves
and beat

on their breasts.
Nineveh is like a pool
whose water is draining away .
“Stop! Stop!” they cry,
but no one turns back .

In other words, there is no escape for Nineveh from God’s judgment. It is coming at them in every kind of way. The judgment is active, passive, reflexive, causative, declarative, and factitive — a fact communicated by the multiplicity of verb stems employed to describe it.

Reading only the English text of these verses certainly communicates clearly the coming downfall of Nineveh. But reading this passage in Hebrew, and recognizing the multiple verb stems in which the narrator has taken pains to describe Nineveh’s end, enables the reader to grasp more deeply the breadth, the certainty, the awesomeness, and the awfulness of that end — to realize more fully, in other words, what a dreadful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:31). That realization should prompt us to appreciate more fully the good news contrastively proclaimed just prior to these verses, in 1:15 (2:1 in Hebrew):

Look, there on the mountains,
the feet of one who brings good news,
who proclaims peace!
Celebrate your festivals, Judah,
and fulfill your vows.
No more will the wicked invade you;
they will be completely destroyed.

— Michael Williams, adapted from his new book The Biblical Hebrew Companion for Bible Software Users: Grammatical Terms Explained for Exegesis.

How to Use This Book

Pastors: if you learned biblical Hebrew but have since grown rusty, this book will help you yield a lot more fruit from your study in the Old Testament. Plus, its ready-to-use exegetical insights will help you add depth to your sermons.

Seminary students: if you’re learning Hebrew right now, you’ll benefit from the book’s simplified explanations—and the exegetical insights will motivate you to dig deeper into the Old Testament’s original language.