It is incredible how many people, young and old alike, want to learn Hebrew. I have often wondered what has drawn people to this language. But then, it is more than a language. Once the person has started to learn Hebrew, do they realise how much of the Jewish culture is embedded in Hebrew?
Or is it, in fact, the other way around? The oft age-old question is asked, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” are people interested in the Jewish culture because of learning Hebrew, or a people interested in learning Hebrew because of the Jewish culture? Ultimately, it does not really matter; regardless of their reason, people are indeed learning this ancient language.
Learn Hebrew - a brief history
Furthermore, reading about the history of when people started to learn the ancient Hebrew text is fascinating. Indeed, I am not an expert on ancient history, but through some research, it has been determined that the first Hebrew alphabet may have been written in the 10th Century BCE (before the Common Era). According to a variety of sources, the Israelite tribes in Canaan spoke Hebrew until the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem in 586-587 BCE. However, further research shows that Hebrew may have stopped being a spoken language after the destruction of the second Temple by the Romans. Unfortunately, there are so many schools of thought on this subject; it is difficult to find a definitive answer.
However, regardless of when it ceased to be a spoken language, it has been a literary language for thousands of years. Indeed, millions of people over the years have had to learn the Hebrew text. I often wonder what life was like in ancient times. Did children behave the same way as they do today? Did they whine to their mothers, “I don’t want to learn biblical Hebrew”, and go and sulk in their room? Or maybe life was so different that they were obedient and attended classes without a fuss. I know for a fact that children do not have nearly as many exciting distractions as they do in this day and age.
Reading Hebrew text
Reading Hebrew text has always been a priority for Jewish parents when raising their children, going as far back as ancient Israel. Indeed, according to Robert Sutton, who wrote an article for Amit.org, schooling in ancient Israel was extremely important. In fact, the book of Deuteronomy instructs Jewish people to teach their children first. As education was so embedded in daily life in ancient Israel, it appears that people having to learn this language was not an issue. Instead, it was part of a way of life in ancient Israel. Sutton goes on to write that according to the Midrash, Jacob left Canaan and immediately started to establish schools. For centuries, Jews have been known as the ’People of the Book’. It is easy to see why. Jacob started schools in ancient Israel, and Jewish schools are still around today.
Whether or not the children from ancient Israel whined about going to Hebrew classes is irrelevant. We can only deal with what is in front of us right now. Hebrew students today have so many excellent tools available to them to learn basic and advanced Hebrew. In the age of the internet, it is easy to find a course to suit your needs, and possibly those of your family, such as Easy Learn Hebrew. Some of the available tools include a Hebrew app suitable for both Apple and Android devices. These apps may include printable pdf workbooks; if this is important to you, make sure you find out. It may also include the alef bet chart and vocabulary for you to learn. If you want to learn writing, check if it includes both print and cursive writing.
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