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September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Hebrew’

Ancient Text May Have Been Written in Hebrew

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

In July, JewishPress.com reported on archaeologists finding a 3000 year old, jar fragment written in a seemingly unknown script, it has been called the Ophel Inscription. The Ophel is the archaeology park next to the Temple Mount where the jar segment was uncovered.

Near Eastern history and Biblical studies expert Douglas Petrovich told Fox News that he believes that the writing is in an ancient Hebrew script.

If Petrovich’s analysis is right, then this is the earliest example of written Hebrew found to date, and scientific proof that the Israelites were able to compose the Tanach in real-time.

For more information, read about the background of the find.

Oldest Alphabetical Written Text Found near Temple Mount

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Hebrew University archaeologists have found the oldest known alphabetical inscription from Jerusalem, dating back to the period of Kings David or Solomon, 250 years before the previously oldest known written text.

The inscription was found near the Temple Mount but is not in Hebrew and was from the pre-Temple period, in the language of one of the peoples who occupied Israel at the time, according to the archaeologists.

Reading from left to right, the text contains a combination of letters approximately 2.5 cm tall, which translate to m, q, p, h, n, (possibly) l, and n. Since this combination of letters has no meaning in known west-Semitic languages, the inscription’s meaning is unknown.

The archaeologists suspect the inscription specifies the jar’s contents or the name of its owner. Because the inscription is not in Hebrew, it is likely to have been written by one of the non-Israeli residents of Jerusalem, perhaps Jebusites, who were part of the city population in the time of Kings David and Solomon.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar unearthed the artifact, in the Canaanite language and engraved on a large pithos, a neckless ceramic jar found with six others at the Ophel excavation site. He said it is the only one of its kind discovered in Jerusalem and is an important addition to the city’s history.

The previously oldest known script, in Hebrew, was from the period of King Hezekiah at the end of the 8th century BCE.

The inscription was engraved near the edge of the jar before it was fired, and only a fragment of it has been found, along with fragments of six large jars of the same type. The fragments were used to stabilize the earth fill under the second floor of the building they were discovered in.

An analysis of the jars’ clay composition indicates that they are all of a similar make, and probably originate in the central hill country near Jerusalem.

According to Prof. Ahituv, the inscription is not complete and probably wound around the jar’s shoulder, while the remaining portion is just the end of the inscription and one letter from the beginning.

This jar fragment from the time of Kings David and Solomon is the earliest alphabetical written text ever discovered in Jerusalem.

This jar fragment from the time of Kings David and Solomon is the earliest alphabetical written text ever discovered in Jerusalem.

How to Say “Era” in Hebrew

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

The Hebrew word for period of time or era is תְּקוּפָה (listen and repeat). I’ve known this for a long time, but not its full meaning – until I just researched it to present it to you.

The word appears in the Bible, but its meaning has become less and less specific over the generations. In Biblical Hebrew, תקופה refers to a particular point in time that marks the culmination of a cycle. In Mishnaic Hebrew, it refers to a period of time that repeats itself. And in Modern Hebrew, it refers to any period of time. (ויקימילון)

I fully grasped the word’s meaning when I saw its root – ק.ו.פ (k.w.p), the same root as the word for to encompass - לְהָקִיף (listen and repeat). The root ק.ו.פ is about coming full-circle. Thus a תקופה, even in Modern Hebrew, is a period of time – with a beginning and an end.

An example: מִלְחֶמֶת הָעוֹלָם הַשְּׁנִיָּה הָיְתָה תְּקוּפָה קָשָׁה לָאֱנוֹשׁוּת.

World War II was a difficult period of time for humanity. (listen)

And in lighter context: הֵם בָּאוּ לְבַקֵּר לִתְקוּפָה קְצָרָה.

They came to visit for a short time. (listen)

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In Hebrew: ‘Intelligence Agency’

Friday, May 31st, 2013

סוֹכְנוּת בִּיּוּן Yesterday we saw some information about הַמּוֹסָד- the Mossad.

Today we’ll look at the general term for intelligence agencyסוֹכְנוּת בִּיּוּן.

The Hebrew word for agency is סוכנות, most recognizably in the Hebrew name of The Jewish Agencyהַסּוֹכְנוּת הַיְּהוּדִית, or simply הסוכנות- The Agency. A סוֹכֵן(male) or סוֹכֶנֶת(female) is an agent, so סוכנותmeans agency. This term comes from Biblical Hebrew.

The word for intelligence in the context of an intelligence agency is בִּיּוּן. This word comes from the Biblical root ב.ו.נ (b.w.n) or ב.י.נ (b.y.n), internalization.

You may recognize this root in the word for to understandלְהָבִין. But whereas in להבין, the root is plugged into the active-causative הִפְעִיל verb form, in ביון, the root is plugged into the active-intensive פִּעֵל form yielding the verb לְבַיֵּןand its noun form ביון.

So what do לבייןand ביון mean, specifically? In mathematics there is a concept called interpolation, which involves estimating the location of various data points within a range – a precise, sophisticated game of connect the dots. Which is exactly what an intelligence agency – a סוכנות ביון- does – it “connects the dots” in a real-life political, often international scenario to create a plan of action.

You may be familiar with the word מוֹדִיעִין, also referring to intelligence (as well as to a city situated between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem), as in חֵיל הַמּוֹדִיעִין- the IDF’s Intelligence Corps. In that phrase, intelligence refers to gathering information rather than interpoling, so מודיעין, of the root י.ד.ע meaning knowledge, is used.

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In Hebrew: ‘Institution’

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

מוֹסָד

The Mossad – Israel’s premier intelligence agency – is famous for conducting some of the most daring and surprising undercover missions in the world.

The word Mossad in Hebrew - מוֹסָד- means institution or institute.

Referring to the intelligence agency, we say literally, The Institute - הַמּוֹסָד.

For example, educational institutions are מוֹסְדוֹת חִנּוּכִיִּם(though מוסד is a masculine noun, it takes on a feminine suffix when used in the plural).

מוסד comes from the root י.ס.ד (y.s.d) meaning foundation - an institution has been instituted or founded.

To institute is לְמַסֵּד, an active-intensive פִּעֵל verb.

For example:

בַּמֶּמֶשָׁלָה מִשְׁתַּדְּלִים לְמַסֵּד גִּיּוּס חוֹבָה לְכֻלָּם.

In the government (people are) trying to institute a mandatory draft for everyone.

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In Hebrew: The Many Ways to Say ‘Of Course’

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

בֶּטַח, בָּרוּר, כַּמּוּבָן! In monday’s dose of Hebrew, we touched on the Hebrew word for securityבִּטָּחוֹן. The root of בטחון is ב.ט.ח meaning sureness and security.

To say, for sure! or of course! in Hebrew, you’d use one of several terms. Here are three of them:

בטח! A less formal way of expressing of course or for sure is to say !בֶּטַח. This word means, literally, securely! To strengthen the tone of agreement, some say !בֶּטַח שֶׁכֵּן- literally, of course that yes!

Take this short dialogue for example:

אַתָּה בָּא אִתָּנוּ לַסֶּרֶט? בֶּטַח שֶׁכֵּן! Are you (a male) coming with us to the movie? Of course I am!

ברור! Another informal way of saying of course uses the word for clearlyבָּרוּר.

כמובן! The more formal word for of course is כַּמּוּבָן. It means, literally, as that which is understood, with כַּmeaning as that which or as the, and מוּבָןmeaning understood. מובן is an adjective deriving from the passive-causative הֻפְעַל verb form, the opposite of the active-causative verb,לְהָבִין- to understand.

Take another short dialogue for example:

הַאִם הֵם מֻזְמָנִים לַמְּסִבָּה?
כַּמּוּבָן!
Are they invited to the party?
Of course!
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In Hebrew: ‘To Carry’

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

לָשֵׂאת One Torah portion recently read on Shabbat by Jews around the world is called נָשֹא (nah-SOH), which, literally, means lift up or carry (in the Biblical context, it meanstake a census or lift up the heads of children of Gershon, so that they can be counted).

The infinitive form of that word is לָשֵׂאת (lah-SET). In Modern Hebrew, לשאת means to carry. However, unlike the word carry in English, a very common word, לשאת is most often used to refer to carrying in a non-literal sense.

For example:

הִיא נוֹשֵׂאת אֶת הַתִּינוֹק. She is carrying the baby. (hee noh-SET et hah-tee-NOHK).

הֵם נוֹשְׂאִים בְּאַחְרָיוּת הָאֵרוּעַ. They are taking responsibility (literally, carrying the responsibility) for the event. The more common, literal word in Hebrew for to carry is לִסְחוֹב (lees-KHOHV), meaning literally, to drag or to carry with difficulty… or just to schlep.
For example:

הוּא סוֹחֵב הַרְבֵּה דְּבָרִים בַּיָדָיו.
He is carrying lots of things in his hands.
(hoo soh-KHEV hahr-BEH deh-vah-REEM beh-yah-DAHV).
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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/ktzat-ivrit/in-hebrew-to-carry/2013/05/28/

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