If you have a year of biblical Hebrew under your belt, one way of weaving a part of the Hebrew Bible into your cognitive flesh is to read through the book of Genesis in Hebrew until you understand every line of it on the fly without a dictionary or a grammar to help you.1 The method I suggest is the following.
(1) Study the text one pericope at a time. Visual tracking is important.
(2) Master an audio version of the pericope. Associate the sounds with an “unpointed” text subdivided into phrases.
(3) Master the text grammatically. The goal is to think in terms of grammar, syntax, and information structure. It ought to be easy to do research in these areas with tagged versions of the text such as the Andersen-Forbes syntax markup (AFPMA for short; Eli Evans provides an introduction here) and a concordance function. But I have not found this to be the case. “Querying” the amount of Hebrew text one has in one’s random access memory is the best point of departure regardless. In the end, however, it is insufficient.
(4) Master the text semantically. Before running to commentaries, it pays to devote time to the language and structure of the text itself. There are a number of simple approaches that deserve wider currency.
I hope to find time to illustrate points (3) and (4). I offer pdfs below that will get one off and running. You will see all kinds of things in the text by learning it inside and out, by tracking it visually, and by marking it up in one fashion or another. An online audio version of the first pericope of the book of Genesis does not exist. It is necessary to listen to one clip and the beginning of another, consecutively. The second clip construes the syntax of Gen 2:4 as if the second half of the verse is the continuation of the first half. With the help of AFPMA and a concordance, it should be possible to demonstrate that the traditional construal of the syntax of the text contained in Gen 2:4 is anomalous, but I haven’t figured out how.
Audio archive. Audio tracks courtesy of Audio Scriptures International. Conveniently divided into chapter files by Gary Martin, founder of the Academy of Ancient Languages. Karen Traphagen introduces the man behind the voice, Avraham Shmueloff, here. The alternative: for purchase only, the recording of the Tanakh by Shlomo Bertonov. On Bertonov:
שלמה ברטונוב היה אחד הקריינים העיקריים שקרא את "פרקי היום בתנך". קריאתו היתה מדוייקת וברורה ובמיוחד מענגת. הקריאה היתה לפני מהדורת החדשות העיקרית בערב בכל יום.
Shlomo Bertonov [1925-1977] was one of the chief readers who read “Chapters a day from the Tanakh” [on Israeli Public Radio]. His reading was accurate and clear and delightful to boot. The reading came before the chief evening news broadcast every day.
The best advice I can give to a student of the Bible is to learn the languages and set your face like a flint toward Jerusalem – that is, toward the text itself, its fine detail, its linguistic features.
1Apart from Gen 49, which is difficult for even the seasoned Hebraist.