B-Hebrew is a forum for the discussion of the Hebrew Bible: its language, grammar and content. Matters of history, archeology, anthropology and other "neighboring" topics are also within the scope of discussion when they directly relate to or illumine the understanding of the Hebrew Bible. But the central focus of this forum is the text itself.
B-Hebrew is a public forum, with members from every part of the globe. Members include all levels of formal training in biblical studies, ancient and modern Hebrew and other related languages. Members represent a variety of faiths or no faith-commitment at all. B-Hebrew is a public forum, which means that the level of discussion ranges from the most elementary of topics to those that are highly technical and academic. All members are encouraged to initiate and participate in discussions regardless of their formal training or lack of it.
One must join the membership of B-Hebrew, by subscribing with a valid email address. It is required that you subscribe with your full and real name, as well as sign each post with your full name. Click here to subscribe.
Note that you must send your b-hebrew postings from this email account. The list software does not know about your other email accounts, only about the address with which you subscribed. Send your B-Hebrew email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can configure your B-Hebrew membership in various ways, according to your preferences. You do this by visiting a special webpage. Go to the B-Hebrew information page. Then go to the bottom of the page and type in the email address to which B-Hebrew postings are sent. To change your options you will need the password you chose when you subscribed. If you don't know your password or have lost it, this page will allow you to send your current password to your subscribed email address. The membership page allows you to adjust the following membership options:
We can't imagine why anyone would want to leave B-Hebrew, but the question does come up from time to time. Here's how:
Every posting to B-Hebrew is archived here. Unfortunately, there is no search engine for the archives. But all is not lost: just use Google search. Use the following search pattern:
where "XXXX" is the key word or search string you want to find.
Example: to find all the B-Hebrew postings where the word "YHWH" occurs, enter the following into the Google search box:
and you get the following results: Click me!
In the beginning, there were no Hebrew fonts; and when in the course of time Hebrew fonts began to appear, many programs — including email programs and web browsers — could not use those fonts. Not all fonts used the same encoding system, so that Hebrew text had to be converted from one system to another in order to use the fonts. More time passed, and Unicode was born. Unicode is an attempt to ultimately solve the problem of fonts and writing system display on computers. Over the past ten years, support for Unicode has become universal in email programs, browsers, word processors, spreadsheets and databases.
B-Hebrew's official font encoding is UTF-8
Having said that, the use of Unicode on B-Hebrew is not strictly enforced. The principle is, when writing Hebrew or any non-Roman script, make yourself understandable to your readers. Not all readers are able to read Hebrew that well. Others will not have the correct font or encoding for various reasons. If you expect other list members to respond to your posting, you need to consider how cited Hebrew will appear to others. To that end, the writer of a B-Hebrew post has three basic choices for writing Hebrew: use Unicode, use the Michigan ASCII transcription system, or an ad hoc system of transcription.
To display and write Hebrew in Unicode (UTF-8) on your computer, there are a number of elements that must work together: the operating system, the font and the program (in this case, browser or email client). You will also need a Hebrew keyboard driver in order to type in Hebrew directly. There is an excellent discussion of all these factors Teaching and Learning With Technology website of the Pennsylvania State University. Note: those who receive the digest will notice that Hebrew does not come through very well, if at all. If reading the Hebrew characters is important to you, do not use Digest Mode to receive B-Hebrew messages.
There is a simple way of getting snippets of the Hebrew Bible into your B-Hebrew posts, rather than using the keyboard. The entire Westminster Leningrad Codex has been converted into UTF-8 encoding, and made available by Christopher Kimball at his Tanach website. Now you can copy and past Hebrew text into the draft of your B-Hebrew post. Or you can download the entire text in various formats.
As a test to see if your browser is Unicode Hebrew ready, note whether the Hebrew in the four lines below are correctly displayed:
Hebrew displayed with your browser's default font:
Hebrew displayed using the SBL Hebrew font:
Hebrew displayed using the Ezra SIL font:
Hebrew displayed using the Cardo font:
You only need one Hebrew font installed, and one of the three mentioned above provide the best results. The default font used by your browser often will not display the accents correctly and you will see boxes or circles where the accents should be. If the other examples exhibit this behavior, it probably means you do not have those fonts installed on your system. If consonants and vowels are not displayed or rendered very badly, it is likely your browser is not configured for Unicode. Check with a local “guru” for troubleshooting these problems. The Pennsylvania State University webpage mentioned above is a good place to begin.
In the late 1970s plans were made for the first digital Hebrew Bible. In those days before the advent of the personal computer, the only "font" encoding for text was ASCII. H. Van Dyke Parunak, then a fellow at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, created a transcription system for the Hebrew Bible whereby every graphical piece of the text (consonants, vowels, dageshes, maqqefs, accents) was given an ASCII equivalent. This system was then used to transcribe the entire Hebrew Bible into electronic files. The Michigan encoding is a good one, in that it captures completely the graphical written text. It does not reflect the phonetic realities that underlie the text. If you need to transliterate the Hebrew Bible text, the Michigan system is recommended for its completeness, but bear in mind its limitations.
|Aleph||) or '||Patah||A||Ketiv||*|
|Ayin||( or `|
Sometimes B-Hebrew members will use very casual transliteration (all lower case; use of ' and ` for aleph and `ayin, respectively; e.g., 'adam or melek) or means by which they emphasize the vowels (e.g., mElEk). Some members will distinguish between begadkefat letters and others do not. There are other idiosyncratic and ad hoc variations. If you choose to use such informal transliterations, be sure to think of your readers (always a good thing to do!), pity them and make sure your transcription is understandable for the point you are trying to make.
In this section we list websites with helpful resources (mostly online) and further links for the participant in B-Hebrew. Many of these websites intend to be "indexes" to Hebrew studies on the web. This is only a sample of the wealth of material on the Internet.
Given the nature of B-Hebrew, members are expected to maintain a standard of behavior that promotes discussion:
The moderators of B-Hebrew are responsible for maintaining an atmosphere that is conducive to public discussion of topics within its charter. The moderators are not judges of the truth or plausibility of ideas; they do not enforce commonly accepted theories or rule on the content of posts except insofar as they are within the scope of B-Hebrew. The moderators, of course, have their own views and opinions which are sometimes expressed on B-Hebrew, but in the role as a list member and not as moderator.
Upon joining the list, members are put on unmoderated status, which means that their messages are automatically posted, without first being approved by the moderators. Members who repeatedly break the list rules, especially in the area of polite and civil conduct and respect towards other members, are first warned by the moderators (usually off-list). If they continue to ignore the list rules, they are placed on moderation. This means that all of their messages must be read and approved before being passed on to the list. Members who continue to offend despite moderation may be unsubscribed, all at the discretion of the moderators.