So what’s so great about Hebrew?

YHWH 5
The Name of God, YHWH, in modern Hebrew

Hebrew is a truly fascinating language! There are lots of concepts that are unique to Hebrew, but one facet of the language that really ‘grabs’ me is the fact that the letters used to write a word convey not just the sound of the word, but even its root meaning!

Hebrew is unique in this.  Modern alphabets convey sound, not meaning.  When we read the word ‘father’ in English, the letters tell  us how to pronounce the word, but they tell us nothing about what the word means.  We have to learn that from some other source.  Not so in Hebrew!   The letters shown below are ancient Hebrew pictographs from the original Hebrew alphabet.  There are only 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and each started off as a pictograph. Each pictograph conveyed both a sound and an associated meaning.  Each letter has undergone several changes since those long ago days, but the modern letters still retain the associated meanings derived from the original pictographs.  For this reason, the root meaning of a modern Hebrew word can still be discerned from the letters used to write it.

AbbaExample: The Hebrew word for ‘father’ is ABBA, which comes from a root word AB, meaning pole, as in tent pole.

The first letter of the root word (the ‘ah’ sound), called the aleph, looks like the head of an ox and is associated with strength.  The modern aleph retains this meaning, though it no longer looks like the head of an ox!

The second letter of the word (the ‘B’ sound), called the bet, is a picture of the family dwelling, the tent.  (The letter depicts the floor plan of an ancient Semitic tent.)

Ab cave writingPlaced side by side, the two letters create a picture that conveys the idea of “the strength of the house.”   The tent pole was strong and upheld the family tent, just as the father upholds the family.   The tent pole was sharp and was used as a weapon in time of need, just as the father defends the family in time of need.   The father is “the strength of the house.”

ben in pictographAnother Example: The word for ‘son’ in Hebrew is BEN, and its letters capture its meaning.

The first letter of this word (the ‘B’ sound) is the bet, which, as mentioned previously, carries the idea of the tent and the family that lives in the tent.

The second letter (the ‘n’ sound) is the nun, which is the picture of a seed – it actually looks like a swimming sperm! The seed is the means by which a new generation is created.

The two letters together convey the meaning, ‘the seed of the family’ or ‘One who continues the family line.’   And that is just what a good Jewish son is supposed to do!

This same process can be carried out on just about any ancient Hebrew word.  Is that incredible or what??

There are other languages, such as Chinese, that use pictographic writing, but those pictographs are not letters of an alphabet as in Hebrew.  Instead each Chinese pictograph represents an entire word or concept. Thus Chinese and other pictographic languages must use thousands of pictographs – one (or more) per word or idea.  Hebrew accomplishes its task with only 22 letters!

Consider:  How easy do you think it would be – using only 22 symbols – to create an alphabet for English in which the letters not only convey the sound of a word, but also its meaning?   And consistently do the same for many thousands of words??

The clear implication is that, unique among the languages of the world, Hebrew and its alphabet were designed simultaneously, and that the designer was YHVH Himself!   YHVH has promised to return to us a pure language, [1]  so I  cannot help but believe that the language He is referring to is ancient Hebrew.   I am trying to get a ‘head start’ on it!!

This is a fascinating study and I urge you to take the time to look into it.   The rewards are truly amazing!   A great place to start is at Jeff Benner’s web site,  Ancient Hebrew Research Center.


© John and Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to John and Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


[1]  Zeph 3:9: For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of YHVH, to serve him with one consent.

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