Hebrew for Christians – reasons to love it, because it is important!

The term Hebrew for Christians is a commonly used term as a way to describe the importance of the Hebrew language for people who follow the Christian faith, indeed, many Christians want to learn the Hebrew language to connect and understand the Torah, the Jewish teachings. The Torah is an integral part of the Christian canon, as it forms part of the Old Testament.

Furthermore, the Christian belief that Jesus is the incarnation of God is another compelling reason that Hebrew for Christians is so important. Taking a step back, Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi who lived in Israel in the first century of the common era. As such, whilst Jesus mainly spoke Aramaic, the primary spoken language of the time, it is reasonable to assume he could read Hebrew, as it was used in the liturgy.

The importance of Hebrew for Christians

Due to the fact that Christianity is based on the following of Jesus ancient Hebrew words are especially important. Hebrew for Christians frequently refers to the Jewish bible in their studies of ancient liturgy, and, some people are so committed to understanding biblical Hebrew that they take in-depth courses. Or they take online courses to learn Hebrew.

However, others only want to learn the Hebrew alphabet and to learn to read using Easy Learn Hebrew. If a student chooses to study the Hebrew language more in-depth, grasping Hebrew grammar and understanding how it works is essential. It can make all the difference in being able to understand the Jewish texts and scriptures. I find Hebrew grammar to be particularly interesting.

Recognising Hebrew root letters when studying Hebrew for Christians

Once a person understands the verb conjugation patterns, it can be quite fun. However, before the fun starts, students  need to recognise both the seven verb conjugation patterns and the root letters. What are root letters? Hebrew verbs rely on two, three or four root consonants. These root consonants serve as the central meaning of a verb.

Indeed, the changing of the vowels alters its tense, aspect, and gender. The word for ‘root’ in Hebrew is shoresh. The same word is used to describe the roots of a tree. It isn’t easy to draw an image in a blog. But imagine an image of a tree where you can also see the roots. Pretend there are two, three or four roots coming out of the tree trunk.

Each root represents a letter of a word. This particular element of the Hebrew language is especially interesting. Recognising root letters is critical as they are used in conjugating verbs. For example, the three root letters for ‘go’ are hei, lamed khaf. The singular present tense for a male is holekh. However, the Hebrew word for Jewish Law is Halakhah.

Translated literally, it is ‘the way’. The sages say that it is ‘showing the way, or for people to live a Jewish life.

My experience of teaching Hebrew to Christians

I taught a Hebrew reading course at a local Christian college a few years ago. I teach the same course material to all students. It does not matter if they are Jewish, Christian, young or old. The material does not change. I always teach consonants, vowels, and syllable breakups to help people learn to read Hebrew fluently.

In the afternoon session of the course, the students put into practice what they have learnt. They start reading Hebrew for the first time! I will always remember that particular course. My students, who were Christians, started reading a passage of Hebrew. One of the students exclaimed, “This is from Deuteronomy Chapter 6!”

I almost fell off my chair! The students recognised the words of the passage because they had studied it in class. The passage was the Shma, which is the most important prayer in Judaism. It is a declaration of the faith in the one God. It was remarkable that the students recognised it and could relate it back to the Torah, book and chapter!

Christians visiting Israel

Over the years, I have realised how important Israel is to the worldwide Christian community. It all stems back to their belief in Jesus as the incarnation of God. It is akin to a pilgrimage for Christians to visit Israel. The two main areas that Christians make an effort to visit are Jerusalem and the Galilee.

When I lived in Jerusalem in 1995, I remember seeing Christian Pilgrims walking the Stations of the Cross; Christians claim that the Stations are where Jesus stopped before he was crucified. I do not fully understand the complexity of it, and it is not my place to explain it. One thing I have learned is that at each station, people pray.  

As mentioned previously, the Galilee is another significant area for Christians. They believe that Jesus spent most of his life in this area. Christians also believe that it was in this area that he performed the miracles for which he is well known. These include turning water into wine and loaves into fish.

Conclusion

As you can see, Hebrew for Christians is an integral part of Christianity as it links back to Israel, the Jewish liturgy and the connection to Jesus. For many, it is essential to learn the language. If not in-depth, then certainly to read it and to feel a connection to the Jewish texts. Sometimes a Christian might choose to go to synagogue to hear the ancient language.

It is exciting to attend a synagogue on a Saturday (shabbat) morning. On a Shabbat morning the Torah scrolls is brought out and people can view the ancient text. It is a wonderful opportunity for Christians to see it, as they have learnt so much about it.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQUvr1VT2whBMoUVuK_xb9g

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *