Should You Learn Modern Hebrew or Biblical Hebrew?
The choice between learning Modern Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew largely depends on your personal goals and interests. Here are some considerations that might guide your decision:
Modern Hebrew: If you are interested in traveling to Israel, conversing with Hebrew speakers, reading contemporary Hebrew literature, watching Israeli movies, or planning to live in Israel, Modern Hebrew would be the most practical choice. Modern Hebrew is a living language spoken by millions of people.
Biblical Hebrew: If you are interested in religious studies, Biblical scholarship, or want to read the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) in its original language, then Biblical Hebrew would be the choice. Knowledge of Biblical Hebrew also helps in understanding Jewish liturgy.
Both: Studying both Modern and Biblical Hebrew could be a great choice if you have an interest in both current Israeli culture and ancient Jewish texts. While they are distinct in many ways, there is also a great deal of overlap. Learning one can certainly help with understanding the other.
Here's an approach you could consider: If you have a strong interest in both but aren't sure where to start, you might want to begin with Modern Hebrew. Modern Hebrew generally has simpler grammar, and it's easier to find resources for practice, such as conversation partners, movies, music, and books. Once you have a foundation in Modern Hebrew, it can be easier to transition into learning Biblical Hebrew, if you're still interested in doing so. Ultimately, the decision should be based on your personal goals, interests, and the resources available to you.