Saturday, January 18, 2014

Which morphologically-tagged Hebrew Bible is most accurate?

Technical post alert: While looking around for a free on-line Hebrew Bible concordance to recommend to my Hebrew students, I noticed that different electronic concordances produce different results. Here, for example, is what you get if you search for the Hebrew verb אָהַב ("to love"):

Online sources that use Strong's KJV:
209 results in 195 verses (; Crosswire's Bible Tool)
208 results in 195 verses (Blue Letter Bible)

The Grove's Center's Westminster Hebrew Morphology
215 results in 200 verses (WTM 4.2, 4.14, 4.18 in Bibleworks* and Logos)
(*Bibleworks originally gave me 217 results in 200 verses because I had selected both Ketiv and Qere readings.)

Other Logos Tagged Texts
BHS/WIVU (Werkgroep Informatica): 210 results in 197 verses
Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear: 210 results in 196 verses


  1. I assume that the Westminster Hebrew Morphology is the most accurate. 
  2. All the online sources I have tried that give frequency information are based on Strong's concordance, which is too bad for anyone looking for decent quality, free resources. (I'm disappointed that fares no better, as its Greek New Testament resources are outstanding.)
  3. There is currently no online resource that provides full parsing information for the Hebrew Bible. 
  4. Tyndale House's Step Bible may be out to change 2. and 3., but it is not there yet. (A search for אָהַב gave me 196 verses, but no occurrence list.) 
  5. We need to remember that our digital tools still have mistakes.
  6. Please let me know if there are other resources I should be looking at.
Update: Andy from Biblearc emailed (back in January!) to let me know that the discrepancy between Biblearc and other tagged databases of the Hebrew Bible can be explained:
I would challenge the conclusion you make in your blog post that the lemma data we use for the Hebrew searches is not "decent quality". I took a look at the example you give of אהב in your blog post for instance. The verses where the lemma data differs are found in the following verses:Gen 29:20; 1 King 10:9, 11:2; 2Chr 2:10; 2Chr 9:8; Hos 3:1, 9:15; Mic 6:8.

Taking a look at these, you will discover that the issue is whether to take the appearance of "אהבת + noun" as an infinitive construct of the verb "to love" (אהב) with object or as the noun "love" (אהבה) in construct form. In most all (if not all) of these cases an argument could be made for both of the options as there is no difference in how they are written. Perhaps there is another example besides אהב where the discrepancy is more significant, but if not I would encourage you to reconsider your judgment of the Hebrew lemma data that we use.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Here's to survival in 2014

With weather like this, it's no wonder that a posture of mere survival, just getting by--but surviving nonetheless--has such deep roots in the Saskatchewan psyche. Survival also feels like the watchword for my life as I head into another semester of teaching, trying to do my best in the classroom, while staying sane and not neglecting my family too much. But let me qualify that: Although I expect to be overwhelmed this semester, it's a privilege that "survival" in my case means doing so much of what I love. The prairie has its own desolate beauty.
In addition to "survival" I have landed on a more concrete and hopeful New Year's resolution: To read through Isaiah in Greek and Hebrew along with everyone else in the "Greek Isaiah in a Year" group. At 5 verses a day, I'm hopeful that the schedule and community will help me scale Mt. Isaiah in Hebrew (and Greek) at last. It's not too late to join, if you are interested!

For the record, here's what my semester schedule looks like:
Gospels I have taught a bunch of times, Greek Exegesis and Jewish Backgrounds are prep-heavy upper-level courses, Hebrew Exegesis II is brand new.