I. Lexical

There are several excellent lexicons available for ancient Hebrew.

A. Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament by Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. It is based on the German lexicon by Wilhelm Gesenius. It is known by the abbreviation BDB.

B. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, translated by M. E. J. Richardson. It is known by the abbreviation KB.

C. A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by William L. Holladay and is based on the above German lexicon.

D. A new five volume theological word study entitled The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, edited by Willem A. Van Gemeren. It is known by the abbreviation NIDOTTE.

Where there is significant lexical variety I have shown several English translations (NASB, NKJV, NRSV, TEV, NJB) from both "word-for-word" and "dynamic equivalent" translations (cf. Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth, pp. 28-44).


II. Grammatical

The grammatical identification is usually based on John Joseph Owens' Analytical Key to the Old Testament in four volumes. This is cross checked with Benjamin Davidson's Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament.

Another helpful resource for grammatical and syntactical features which is used in most of the OT volumes of "You Can Understand the Bible" Series is "The Helps for Translators Series" from the United Bible Societies. They are entitled "A Handbook on ___________."


III. Textual

I am committed to the inspiration of the consonantal Hebrew text (not the Masoretic vowel points and comments). As in all hand-copied, ancient texts there are some questionable passages. This is usually because of

A. hapax legomena (words used only once in the Hebrew OT)

B. idiomatic terms (words and phrases whose literal meanings have been lost)

C. historical uncertainties (our lack of information about the ancient world)

D. the poly-semitic semantic field of Hebrew's limited vocabulary

E. problems associated with later scribes hand-copying ancient Hebrew texts

F. Hebrew scribes trained in Egypt who felt free to update the texts they copied to make them complete and understandable to their day (NIDOTTE pp. 52-54).


There are several sources of Hebrew words and texts outside the Masoretic textual tradition.

A. The Samaritan Pentateuch

B. The Dead Sea Scrolls

C. Some later coins, letters, and ostraca (broken pieces of unfired pottery used for writing)

But for the most part, there are no manuscript families in the OT like those in the Greek NT manuscripts. For a good brief article on the textual reliability of the Masoretic Text (a.d. 900's) see "The Reliability of the Old Testament Text" by Bruce K. Waltke in the NIDOTTE, vol. 1, pp. 51-67.


The Hebrew text used is Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia from the German Bible Society, 1997, which is based on the Leningrad Codex (a.d. 1009). From time to time the ancient versions (Greek Septuagint, Aramaic Targums, Syriac Peshitta, and Latin Vulgate) are consulted if the Hebrew is ambiguous or obviously confused.