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Biblical Hebrew Complete Primer Set Review by Michelle Gibson

Alef Press
Kim McKay

When my fifteen-year-old daughter first asked me to learn Hebrew, I was not confident I could teach her. However, the gentle approach of The Biblical Hebrew Complete Primer Set has given me hope. It is a curriculum designed to gently teach beginners how to read and write Hebrew starting with the Hebrew alphabet and some basic Hebrew grammar and vocabulary. 

The Biblical Hebrew Complete Primer Set has four main components: a student text/workbook, an annotation and answer book with a music CD, a set of two DVDs, and a copybook. The books are eight and a half by eleven inches in size and have a glossy cover that is easy to keep clean. The price for the complete set is $116.80.

Biblical Hebrew A Homeschool Primer is the student text/workbook. The description below the title reads: "Classical Hebrew for high school foreign language credit, lifelong Bible study tools, and the all-surpassing joy of knowing God better!" It is 193 pages, and it teaches us that learning Hebrew can be sweet because God's words are sweeter than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. It can also help us grow in understanding of and love for God's Word. 

In Part One, the Alef-Bet Workbook, the lessons center around learning the Hebrew alphabet. After a brief history of the alphabet in lesson one, we jump in with the first letter, alef. Alef is silent, like a 'throaty little puff of breath,' but begins some new vocabulary words like ah-ha-vah (love), eh-met (truth), and ah-mane (amen). We learned that Hebrew reads from right to left with a fun little lesson on "as the ox plows" writing, and we practiced writing alef. We also had to find each alef and the alef-word in the Bible passages to encourage letter recognition and sharpen our eyes. 

Each subsequent lesson is similar, with a new letter and vocabulary, writing practice, and exercises. For example, in lesson five, we learned a vowel point and can read simple Hebrew sounds now. Our first vowel sound is "ah," so we are only reading sounds like "bah," "vah," and "gah," at this point, but we are reading Hebrew, and it is fun! We are halfway through the Hebrew alphabet and have learned over half a dozen letters, two vowel points, and several new vocabulary words. We are spelling English words with Hebrew letters and matching Hebrew words with their meanings. We will also learn Hebrew numerals and Biblical names and places. The primer is a gentle introduction to Hebrew and its vocabulary. 

Part Two, Hebrew Songs Copybook, is a resource to fill our minds with Hebrew. It includes the words to songs in Hebrew with English words and space to translate. Unfortunately, I do not see the answers (the lyrics) written out in the Annotations and Answers book, so this will require us to listen to the songs to hear the words. We will experience the joy of discovering words when we do the work, but it would be fun to have the lyrics to sing along with now. 

Biblical Hebrew: Annotations and Answers: A Teacher's Manual and Traditional Hebrew Songs is the next component and has 128 pages. The music CD has ten traditional Hebrew songs, the alef-bet song, music by David Weeks, and more. The book accompanies Biblical Hebrew: A Homeschool Primer and provides answers, details, suggestions, and ideas for supplemental resources. The music is acoustic and beautiful.

Biblical Hebrew Show and Tell DVD is a set of two discs, four and a half hours in length, and is the next component. It tells stories from history and traditions, photos of places and wildlife of Israel, Biblical sites, art, artifacts, and pronunciation of each lesson, and is an audiovisual flashcard review. Listed as a supplement, we do not think this course would be the same without it. I appreciated hearing the pronunciations of all the exercises. The audiovisual flashcard review is helpful and rounds out this program. 

The Jonah Copybook has twenty pages and contains the full text of the book of Jonah–a word-for-word translation. It has space to write the text for fluency and grammar practice and to further grow in the language of the Bible. It looks normal when you first open it, but the Introduction will instruct you to turn the book upside down and then turn the page to begin the book of Jonah in Hebrew. So, we turned the page (or words) upside down, and the book of Jonah was backward as it should be. 

We are enjoying this course. The format makes us feel like anyone can learn Hebrew, and the teacher is encouraging. The Biblical Hebrew: Show and Tell DVD enhances our experience. My daughter and I love the stories and that the course is deeply rooted in faith and reverence for God. A story that touched my daughter's heart was about a simple man who did not know how to pray. A rabbi told him to do his best, so he put his whole heart into it and prayed a prayer of praise along with the alef-bet. 

We are learning Hebrew because my daughter requested it, so after I led the first few lessons, I offered to let her teach. We scheduled Biblical Hebrew right after Bible in the morning as our secondary language three days a week. Each day, she got the disc ready to play on the television, spent a few minutes looking over the lesson before reading to us, and then led us in the activities. It goes a bit fast, but if you keep going, it starts to make sense. The reading practices on the DVD are helpful but go too quickly for us to keep up with, so we do the reading exercises before watching the video. It is easier to follow along this way. It also helps us to make flashcards of new vocabulary words.

This course was an answer to prayer. We plan to finish it and move on to Biblical Hebrew 2 to give my daughter two years of high school foreign language credit. It will also have us reading the Bible in Hebrew by the end. I am sure about that!

Designed for ages nine and up, we recommend this course for children and adults who enjoy audiovisual learning. It is a homeschool primer, but anyone with a heart for learning Hebrew would appreciate this course, homeschooled or not. We are learning Hebrew and recommend this course for beginners to get a rounded grasp of the Hebrew alef-bet and to grow on a deeper level with our Creator.

-Product review by Michelle Gibson, The Old Schoolhouse® August 2022