Memory Hints for Biblical Hebrew Words
This page gives some memory hints to help remember Biblical Hebrew vocabulary words. Some of these I've thought up and others I got from other places. I'll update the page as I go with new words. It will have words listed in order of their chapters in Basics of Biblical Hebrew by Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt.
I've left out most of the memory aids that are already in this PDF, and tried to cover the ones that it's missing. Eventually I'll add those too if I get time (not tonight), so the page is more complete.
I'll try and add some of the other chapters when I get time...
As usual, my own made-up "transliterations" don't follow any formal system. Though sometimes I add the proper/formal ones in also.
BBH Chapter 6 — Hebrew Prepositions
I found these harder to remember than the other words so far. I think because they're not that interesting or memorable.
אַחַר - ʾaḥar - after, behind - ah-harrrrr - Pirates are coming after you... ah-harrrrr - Pirates are behind you.
אֶל־ / אֶל - ʾel / ʾel- - to, toward, into. Elon Musk's spacecraft is hoping to travel to, toward, and into the great new future of mankind.
בֵּן - bên - between - beyn - beyne - be___een. The letters in between the ends of the English word are missing in the Hebrew word.
כֹּל - kōl - all, each, every - coal - Use up all the coal. Each and every last bit of it.
לְ - lə - luh - to, toward, for.
מַ֫עַןלְ - ləmaʿan - on account of, for the sake of. Lehman's Bank. For the sake of your financial success, I hope you closed your account and took all of le ma'aney out of Leh-ma-an's Bank before it collapsed. On account of Leh-ma-an's being the largest bankruptcy case in history.
מַ֫עַל - maʿal - above, upward, on top of - ma'al sounds like Baal. The false god Baal was above most of the other false gods in the Old Testament.
עַד - ʿad - until, as far as, during - I enjoy watching a TV show until an ad comes on. But it's not all bad — during the ads I can go as far as the bathroom before the show comes back on.
שָׂדֶה - śādê - sadeh - field, pasture, land. The 80s musical artist Sade. Her song "Smooth Operator" is about a man who plays the field, always looking for greener pastures, and a new conquest to land himself.
תַּ֫חַת - taḥat - under, below, instead of - ta hot - It's ta/too hot under here. Or, remember this word is at the end of the Hebrew alphabet, under/below all the other letters in this chapter. Also It's under/below all the other words in the vocabulary list for Chapter 6. Also, in the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die", Baron Samedi, the tall black voodoo guy with ta hat, rises up from under the ground, appearing from below a grave, instead of a ghost.
Chapter 7 — Hebrew Adjectives
אֶחָד - ʾeḥād - one, as in the number one. eh-hard - is hard - It is hard to remember the Hebrew Numbers. Especially without a song and memory aids.
גָּדוֹל - gādôl - gadole - great, big, large - This is the only word in this chapter that begins with a gimel (a "g"). So it means great, because it's great to have such a large and easy clue. gad-hole. ga-dole. Live on the dole, in a great big hole.
דַּל - dal - poor, weak, needy - dal (or dahl) is a very cheap food made from lentils that's good when you're poor, your financial situation is weak, and you can use it to help feed the needy.
כֵּן - kēn - cane - so, thus. So you got the cane. You were naughty, thus you got the cane.
מְאֹד - məʾōd - very, exceedingly - ma-owed - Ma owed very exceedingly much on her credit card.
Chapter 11 — Hebrew Numbers
I found this song really helpful for the numbers from 1 to 10:
1. e-HARD. It's hard. It's hard to learn all the numbers. Especially without a song and memory aids.
2. sh-NAYIM. It's got a plural ending.
3. sha-LOSH. It's raining, so wear your galoshes. Remember the three words: shplish, splash, splosh.
4. ah-BAH. Abba. There were four members of the band Ab-ba.
5. ha-MEYSH. Think of a ham. A pig. An unclean animal. Jesus cast evil spirits into them. A pentagram, symbol of conjuring evil spirits, has five points.
6. sheysh. This sounds a bit like "six".
7. SHEH-vah. This sounds a lot like "seven".
8. shmow-NAY. The ending sounds a bit like "eight". Sh-mown-eight. She mown the lawn eight times.
9. TAY-shar. TASER. Jesus would have probably used a TASER instead of a "nine", i.e. a 9 mm calibre pistol.
10. EH-sir. Yes, sir. 10 out of 10.
20. eh-sir-eem. Yes, sir, twice over. Plural of 10.
100. may-AHR. Mayor. Say "yes sir" 10 times to the mayor, because 10 lots of 10 is 100.
1,000. EL-eph. Elephant. Picture a herd of 1000 elephants.
10,000. ri-vah-VAH, or ri-bah-BAH in modern Hebrew pronounciation. Babar the Elephant likes the river.
Cover image by Max Shamota / Shutterstock. The Sea Of Galilee, Israel. Much of the ministry of Jesus occurred close to here.