A Hebrew instructor talking with a student while sitting at a table.

Learn from experts in Classical Hebrew while advancing your Modern Hebrew.


Students in the 4-week course in Classical Hebrew follow the Language Pledge® and participate in all School of Hebrew cocurricular activities. The curriculum will progress chronologically through the history of the language.

Classical/Pre-Modern Hebrew

The course is divided into two self-contained two-hour sections per day, each taught by one of the following instructors: Oz Aloni (PhD University of Cambridge), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Aaron D. Hornkohl (PhD The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), University of Cambridge. The language of instruction is Modern Hebrew.

In Dr. Aloni’s section the focus of the first week is on reading relatively long portions of Biblical Hebrew, with special emphasis on the Hebrew Bible’s cultural significance and history. The second week is dedicated to Mishnaic Hebrew. The third week is dedicated to Medieval Hebrew. Specific activities:

  • Discussions regarding the place of Hebrew in the Semitic family of languages
  • Examination of texts in Biblical Hebrew, ancient piyyut (liturgical poetry), Medieval Hebrew of the great halakhic and philosophical works, the classical poetry of Sepharad, Renaissance, and Early Modern Hebrew, and Hebrew of the enlightenment period
  • Exploration of the linguistic hallmarks of the works
  • Comparisons to Modern Hebrew.

In Dr. Hornkohl’s section the focus is on Biblical Hebrew from various linguistic and philological perspectives, with emphasis on the the following:

  • Grammar and parsing
  • Pragmatics of constituent order variation
  • Critical literary and intertextual approach to exegesis
  • Exploration of the linguistic periodization of Biblical Hebrew and of the historical depth of the Tiberian reading tradition in comparison to other ancient reading traditions

Specific activities:

  • Close reading of Genesis 29, focusing on inductive review of parsing and learning of word order pragmatics; Arik Einstein’s song אחכה
  • Review of parsing and word order pragmatics of Jonah (previously read in Section I)
  • Close reading of the book of Ruth, reviewing parsing and pragmatics with emphasis on literary approach and intertextuality.


  • A selection from Late Biblical Hebrew, focusing on features distinctive of late texts
  • 1 Sam 1, focusing on the different Hebrew versions of the Samuel Birth Narrative represented in the Masoretic Text, the Hebrew edition behind the ancient Greek, and 4QSama (4Q51) from Qumran
  • Secondary features of the Tiberian Reading Tradition and their historical significance
  • Close reading of legal material from Exodus 21


Students must be at a strong Intermediate to Advanced level of Modern Hebrew to apply. Students have the option to earn one unit of credit (three credit hours).

Application Information

To apply for the School of Hebrew Classical Hebrew Program, please see our application information. Please note that transcripts and a letter of recommendation are not required and you may bypass these requirements on the application.

See information on dates and fees.