Keyed to the Brown, Driver, and Briggs lexicon and Gesenius’ Grammar this classic reference work translates and identifies the words and phrases of the Hebrew Bible for students of Hebrew. (Both BDB and the Gesenius Grammar are available in the Libronix DLS format. If you have them installed, the links in the Analytical Key to the Old Testament will be live hyperlinks.)
Translation is the art of transferring the thoughts expressed in one language and culture to the syntax, style, and words of a different language and culture. Much more is involved than the simple replacement of one Hebrew word with an English word. Even though there are many excellent translations, the original text and/or a translation must be interpreted for an understanding of the form, style, nuance, and context of the author. This analytical key seeks to provide the basic elements necessary for valid interpretation. Since it is very difficult to transfer one linguistic, sociological, religious context into a completely different milieu, it is imperative to examine the specific "building blocks" of the original writing in order to establish distinct boundaries of meaning.
This key is intended to assist the person who knows some Hebrew but has not retained interpretive or grammatical discernment. The user of this volume must supplement this information with his/her own interpretive skill. For instance, the use of a Hiph’il form when a Qal form is available is an important nuance. Since there are no such things as absolute synonyms, one must be alert to the specific grammatical structures utilized in the text.
It is the task of students, pastors, and theologians to interpret the biblical text for untrained readers. From a translation, one cannot be positive that the innuendos of the Hebrew text are properly understood. The interpreter should be alert to such things as the verbal structures, the presence or absence of the definite article, the construct relationships as distinguished from the adjectival construction, and the waw conjunctives and/or consecutives.
Since the conjunction as prefixed to an imperfect may take two different written forms, this phenomenon is regularly noted (the simple conjunction is noted as "conj." and the more complex form as "consec.").
Scholars disagree about the conjunction prefixed to a perfect. In earlier times, some interpreters reasoned that if the imperfect had two forms of a conjunction, it is only logical that the perfect could have two forms. However, the biblical text uses only one form for the conjunction. Therefore, this volume identifies the conjunction + perfect as "conj." It is the task of the interpreter to ascertain the syntax and meaning of these grammatical facts.
This key seeks to provide complete grammatical and lexicographical information for each word of the entire canon. Each form has been identified. The presence of definite articles, prepositions, and conjunctions is noted. Nouns are clearly explained as to ticles, prepositions, and conjunctions is noted. Nouns are clearly explained as to usage and relationship. Each grammatical explanation provides the reader with information that must be used in defining the various shades of meaning.
Accuracy has been attempted throughout in such forms as construct relationships. Any noun with a pronominal suffix forms a construct relationship. A pronominal suffix with a verb forms a verb/direct object construction. No special note is taken of these.
The use of nouns/substantives/adjectives with the construct usage is indicated. Also, the definite article has been indicated only when it is grammatically present. Many translators have inserted or omitted articles due to linguistic considerations. Since it is the biblical text which is the object of interpretation, it is important to know what the original writers used or did not use.
This volume provides for each word the page number of the standard Hebrew-English dictionary (Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament [Oxford: Clarendon, 1975]) on which that word’s explanation begins.
This volume follows the Hebrew text chapter/verse by chapter/verse. Upon finding the desired chapter/verse, the reader can locate the term desired by following the Hebrew text at the left of the column.
The Hebrew text is the best complete Ben Asher text available (K. Ellinger and W. Rudolph, eds., Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia [Stuttgart: Württembergische Bibelanstalt, 1977]). When there has been an insoluble difficulty in the text, a variant reading may be provided from better translations or grammars.
If the student has difficulty in following the biblical Hebrew text, he/she can identify the desired form from the English translation provided at the conclusion of each entry. Generally, the English translation will follow the Revised Standard Version. However, at times there will be a more literal translation to assist in identifying the elements of the Hebrew text.
The Logos edition combines the four print resources into one volume.
The single most valuable Hebrew reference tool available to the pastor who has received some instruction in biblical Hebrew.
—Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., Bibliotheca Sacra