Hasty Hebrew: Video Course Workbook
By L.Grant Luton
If this is not your first attempt to learn biblical Hebrew, then, like me, you may have taken several running starts only to be defeated by the Hebrew alphabet each time. You started memorizing the names of its 22 letters and their corresponding sounds. You memorized the five letters that change forms at the end of a word. Then you were hit with the vowel symbols. (Arghhhh!!) After all of this work you still hadn’t learned a single Hebrew word. Then, as if juggling all these unrelated (as of yet) bits of information was not enough, you began to layer on some vocabulary and grammar. No wonder the whole shaky mess came crashing down around your ears before you had the chance to experience the sheer joy of reading a single verse from the Hebrew Bible.
Most people who want to learn Hebrew become utterly discouraged right at the get-go, and most Hebrew textbooks don’t make it any easier. It has been my experience that once a person masters the Hebrew alphabet and pronunciation, learning grammar is not that difficult – get past the alef-beit and you are on your way! And that is precisely what the Hasty Hebrewcourse is designed to do – serve as a launchpad to get you over the initial hurdle of learning the aleph-beit and have you pronouncing Hebrew words within minutes. In fact, by the end of the third session, you will be reading the first five verses of Genesis with comprehension. Now that is something to get excited about!
Hasty Hebrew grew out of a short course I presented annually at my congregation over a period of three consecutive evenings with each class lasting about 90 minutes. I advised adult students to bring along a child to assist them, since children tend to learn faster than adults with this method. Later, I added an optional fourth class in which I shared some fascinating details from the Torah scroll. That material is included here, as well.
I have been a teacher for more than 45 years, eighteen of which were spent teaching technology classes to 11-14 -year-olds. As a result, I became adept (if I say so myself) at making complex material simple to understand and easy to memorize by creating somewhat quirky and unorthodox teaching techniques. (I wasn’t too concerned about how we got there as long as we achieved the goal.) I have now applied those skills to learning biblical Hebrew – in a quirky and unorthodox way.
Be warned: this course is extremely unconventional. Most Hebrew professors will cringe to see how I go about getting students started in the “holy tongue”. But if it works, who cares? I am not concerned that you learn the names of the letters, nor their order, nor the names of the vowel signs. None of those things actually helps you read biblical Hebrew, and if it doesn’t help you read biblical Hebrew I’m simply not interested in investing time on it this early in the game. You can always learn those things later if you wish. My only desire is that you learn what you need quickly so that you can begin to experience the joy of engaging the Hebrew Scriptures as soon as possible.
But this workbook by itself will not get the job done. It is designed to work in conjunction with the Hasty Hebrew video classes that you will find on YouTube. Without those videos, this book won’t make much sense. They must be used together. At the end of the third session, however, I will provide some textbook recommendations so you can continue your self-learning.
When you are ready to get started, go to YouTube and search for the first Hasty Hebrew video and let the learning begin!