The Root Of The Hebrew Language

Like all Semitic languages, the Hebrew language exhibits a pattern of stems consisting typically of “trilateral”, or 3-consonant consonantal roots (2- and 4-consonant roots also exist), from which nouns, adjectives, and verbs are formed in.

 

The vast majority of words in the Hebrew language can be boiled down to a three-consonant root (shoresh in Hebrew) word. The root contains the essence of the word’s meaning.

 

Hebrew words are formed from roots by changing vowels and by adding a wealth of prefixes and suffixes to that root. Prefixes can be prepositions, articles or particles. Suffixes can be pronouns, possessives or can indicate gender and number (female/male singular/plural). Because of the way, these prefixes and suffixes are added to the root, a single word in Hebrew might be translated into English as several words.

 

For example, the first word of the Torah, “bereshit,” is usually translated as “in the beginning”. The root is Resh-Alef-Shin, which means “head” or “first.”

Let us look at this verse:

 

“בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ”

 

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”

 

Every journey in Hebrew begins from the understanding of the root!

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