Sights and sounds of Biblical Hebrew


Do you recognize the language this text is written in?Biblical Hebrew text

This semester, five Gettysburg College students studied Biblical Hebrew from a beginner level with Professor Carl Choper. As their final project, they saw the text above and were asked to say everything they could about each word, using their own knowledge and a specialized dictionary. By the end of this course, the students were able to engage directly with this text in its original language. See below for an annotated version of the text. Do you recognize it now?

Biblical Hebrew text with English annotations

Although Biblical Hebrew is not a spoken language, Professor Choper brought an oral element to the class through his work as a rabbi. In addition to teaching at Gettysburg College, Professor Choper works with interfaith dialog, advocacy, and community-building groups and is a rabbi at the Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg  and the State Correctional Institute – Camp Hill. In his work as a rabbi, he often sings in Biblical Hebrew, and he decided to bring singing into the classroom as a teaching and learning tool. As Professor Choper said, “Singing is a wonderful way of putting foreign words into your mouth.” Listen to his beautiful voice below:


Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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