Read this, if you don’t believe me. You’ll be laughing out loud.
My first class in Hebrew was nothing like the seminary Greek class Lingamish describes in the link. I was 15 at the time. My teacher, a bouncy grad student named Ruth Driss, probably all of 23, marched into the classroom and informed us that she would speak to us in Hebrew, and only Hebrew, during class. And we would respond to her in Hebrew, and only Hebrew, during class.
By now I was getting excited. Ruth exuded enthusiasm and energy. And I, well I needed to go to the bathroom.
That’s how I learned my very first sentence (not word, which is bad pedagogy) in the language I came to love, thanks also to Ruth:
אני רוצה להשתין
In English, that’s “I have to go pee.”
What a nice way to start.
I was fortunate to learn Hebrew in this way. Better to start out with modern Hebrew, and then segue into biblical Hebrew.
Randall Buth and like-minded pedagogues are right to teach dead languages, including biblical Greek and Hebrew, as if they were living languages. There are many who advocate for teaching Latin as a living language. Menachem Mansoor taught us biblical Hebrew according to the ulpan method. I don’t ever remember thinking of Hebrew as a dead language.
Biblical Hebrew and Greek can be taught as living languages. Generally speaking, they
are not. Language instruction, as normally endured, more often follows the
pattern described by Lingamish.
UPDATE: No, Peter Kirk and I did not consult before posting with similar emphases. He makes some points more fully than I do. Go here.
For Bible trivia on peeing and such, look below the fold.
A frozen phrase to describe a male in ancient Hebrew is:
That is, “one who pees against a wall.’ How appropriate. Not something a female does. The phrase occurs 6x in the Tanakh. For some reason, the phrase is not rendered literally in modern translations.
The term for ‘urine,’ occurring only in the plural, is from the same hollow root (שׁין; note the unusual infixed t in the Hiphil form cited above; cf. the equivalent verb in Akkadian, on which it might be based):
לֶֽאֱכֹל אֶת־חֲרֵיהֶם (צוֹאָתָם)
וְלִשְׁתּוֹת אֶת־שֵׁנֵיהֶם (מֵימֵי רַגְלֵיהֶם) עִמָּכֶם׃
The above is a quote from Isa 36:12 (// 2 Kings 18:27). The Ketiv readings (which I’ve vocalized) were probably considered vulgar. The whole may be translated:
who are going to eat their dung (waste)
and drink their pee (the water of their legs) along with you.
Quite the rhetorician, that Rab-shakeh.
The details, but not the meaning, of another expression in ancient Hebrew is disputed:
אַךְ מֵסִיךְ הוּא אֶת־רַגְלָיו (Judges 3:24)
וַיָּבֹא שָׁאוּל לְהָסֵךְ אֶת־רַגְלָיו (1 Sam 24:4)
“Ack! He must be relieving himself.”
“And Saul entered to relieve himself.”
According to BDB, the verb in the expression derives from סכך ‘cover.’ This comment follows: “אֶת־רַגְלָיו, i.e. with long garments, euphemism for evacuating the bowels, from posture assumed.”
But in that case, one might have expected the preposition על ‘over’ before the thing covered. I favor a derivation from סוך ‘pour.’ ‘Legs’ on this view is an evasive reference, or euphemism, for that which is between the legs. Lit., ‘make pour the legs.’ It must be remembered, of course, that רגלים in ancient Hebrew, like ידים, has a broader reference than ‘feet’ and ‘hands,’ respectively: ‘legs’ and ‘arms’ are sometimes the appropriate renderings (for the first, see Ezek 16:25; for the second, see Jer 38:12).
I don’t know if I’m the first to suggest this. It's hard to believe I am.
Ingressive use of the infinitive; syntactically, a kind of relative clause (are
you reading this,