The 9 Best Books to Learn Hebrew Fast

Maria Claudia Alvarado Published on May 18, 2023
Best books to learn Hebrew

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Hebrew is a unique language steeped in history and tradition. But if you’re looking to learn it, where should you start? With so many resources available, it can be hard to choose the right one for you. This guide puts together the 9 best books for learning Hebrew and the features that set them apart. No matter your level or reason for learning Hebrew, you’ll find a book that fits your learning goals.

The Hebrew language is one of the oldest still in use. With 3000 years of history, it has immense cultural and historical value. Once a nearly dead language, Hebrew has been revived and evolved to fit modern times (Modern Hebrew).  Approximately 9 million people speak Hebrew. It’s the official language of Israel but is also spoken by large communities of people around the globe.

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How We Picked and Tested the Best Books to Learn Hebrew

For any language learning products we’ve tested or researched, we follow a strict testing methodology to make sure our experts make the same considerations. Here are the factors we looked at when testing Hebrew learning books specifically:

  • Structure and Topics: We examined how each book is laid out and if it follows a structure that promotes the learning and retention of the language. We also looked at what skills the book teaches to determine if it’s effective for its intended purpose.
  • Quality of Content: We looked at several chapters of the book to determine the quality of the content. We looked at the explanations and examples to see how clear and effective they are. We also took into account any additional material included such as audio tracks, flashcards, and access to online practice.
  • Value for Money: We compared the price of the book with the previous factors to see if it’s a good value for the cost.

Our Top Picks to Help You Learn Hebrew

Scroll down to discover the 9 best Hebrew textbooks and how they can help you learn the language.

Best Overall Hebrew BookThe Routledge Introductory Course in Modern Hebrew
Best for BeginnersHebrew for Beginners
Best for Learning the AlphabetHebrew Workbook for Beginners
Best for Learning Hebrew QuicklyLearn to Read Hebrew in 6 Weeks
Best for Biblical HebrewThe First Hebrew Primer
Best for VocabularyThese Are The Words: Essential Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies
Best for Dual Language Methodology1000 Hebrew Sentences: Dual Language Hebrew-English, Interlinear & Parallel Text
Best for GrammarModern Hebrew Verbs Step By Step
Best for ChildrenMy First 100 Hebrew Words

The Routledge Introductory Course in Modern Hebrew is the best overall book to learn Hebrew because its diverse and extensive information can help you learn the language, even without a teacher. Throughout its 90 lessons, you’ll find substantial grammar explanations, texts covering relevant topics, and even dialogues to help you understand real-life interactions. The book begins from the basics, teaching the letters and pronunciation of the Hebrew alphabet, which is helpful if you need a refresher or are starting with no prior knowledge of the language.

The book places a strong emphasis on developing your reading comprehension skills. I like that the book includes different types of reading material, such as dialogues, newspaper articles, and even poetry. Additionally, there is a companion website that includes interactive exercises, videos, and more so you can practice in different formats as well as listen to how Hebrew is spoken. You can learn more about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Thorough explanations help self-study learners without the need for a teacher
  • Wide variety of practice material in different formats so you can practice all language skills
  • Cultural notes about Israeli society shows how the culture and language are connected

Hebrew for Beginners

Best for Beginners

Hebrew for Beginners is the best choice for beginners because it doesn’t assume you have any prior knowledge of the language and starts with the basics. The goal of Hebrew for Beginners is to take you from a beginner level to an intermediate level in 10 weeks. Realistically, you probably won’t reach an intermediate level in such a short amount of time, but the book does cover language foundations which will put you on the right track for further study. A large importance is placed on learning Hebrew for communication purposes and each unit clearly lays out what communication skills will be focused on.

Every unit is divided into three columns with the original Hebrew, an English translation, and Hebrew pronunciation. With this book, you will learn the basics of the Hebrew language and get comfortable applying it in the real world. I appreciated that the book doesn’t use pronunciation symbols (Nekudot) which aren’t commonly seen in Modern Hebrew. Rather, the focus is to learn the correct pronunciation from the beginning without relying on this extra assistance. You can see what you think about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Good for learners with limited time because you learn the basics in 10 weeks
  • Side-by-side text and translation and a Hebrew pronunciation guide ensure that you understand what you’re learning and can pronounce it correctly
  • The focus is on everyday communication so you’ll learn how to have conversations in common situations

Hebrew Workbook for Beginners

Best for Learning the Alphabet

The Hebrew Workbook for Beginners is the best book to learn the Hebrew Alphabet. Since Hebrew is written from right to left and uses a different alphabet, learning how to write and read it is a necessary building block for learning the language. This textbook teaches you to write the Hebrew alphabet with an easy-to-follow methodology and whimsical explanations. It doesn’t require you to have any previous knowledge, because the lessons touch on the basics of the language. After completing the exercises in this book, you’ll be able to read and write the Hebrew alphabet without even thinking about it.

The book also includes fun, colorful infographics and images that make using this workbook more entertaining so you’ll want to keep practicing. The book is an excellent choice for learners of any age, including children and learners with no prior knowledge of Hebrew. I found it interesting that to teach the pronunciation of the letters, they used cognates (words that sound similar in both English and Hebrew). This is a clever way to teach proper pronunciation. Overall, this book is definitely worth its price because it helps you develop a crucial building block method to learn Hebrew. See if this book is right for you here.

Key Benefits

  • Learn to write the Hebrew alphabet in an entertaining way to help you remember it
  • Extensive practice pages so you’ll learn each letter and retain it in the long run
  • It doesn’t require any previous knowledge so anyone can use it.

Learn to Read Hebrew in 6 Weeks

Best for Learning Hebrew Quickly

There are many textbooks to learn how to read Hebrew, but Learn to Read Hebrew in 6 Weeks is the most effective book for learning to read Hebrew quickly. In fact, if you follow the book closely, you will be able to read the Hebrew Bible, psalms, and the Siddur at the end of 6 weeks. To achieve this, you only have to complete a short lesson twice a week. I recommend this book because of its focus on time – it wants to help you learn in the most efficient way. The author uses fun memory tricks to help you remember the Hebrew letters and their phonetics, and the book is written in a friendly, simple way so that anyone can understand the text explanations. 

I love the brief explanation the author gives about writing from right to left as well as how she introduces the concept of no vowels in written Hebrew. Every letter has an illustration that will help you remember what sound it makes. This is a helpful way to reinforce the letters, and it shows that the author really cares about teaching the alphabet effectively. I recommend this book for beginners who already know the Hebrew alphabet and some vocabulary, but it could honestly be helpful for anyone because of how simple the writing is. You can see if this book is right for you here.

Key Benefits

  • Learn the Hebrew alphabet quickly to be able to read and speak Hebrew with ease
  • Fun memory tricks help you remember phonetic sounds and pronunciation.
  • Clear learning plan makes it easy to learn without getting overwhelmed

The First Hebrew Primer

Best for Biblical Hebrew

The First Hebrew Primer is the best Hebrew book available if you are looking to read the bible or other texts in Biblical Hebrew. At 402 pages, this hefty book starts you at the basics of pronunciations and you’ll be reading entire chapters from the bible by the end of it. With its in-depth explanations about verb use, grammar, and vocabulary, it touches on all the language skills you need to learn Biblical Hebrew at home. However, I would definitely recommend working through this book with a tutor to ensure you’re learning proper pronunciation.

Because the focus is on Biblical Hebrew, not Modern Hebrew, you won’t learn conversation and speaking. If this is your goal, you’ll need a different resource. But The First Hebrew Primer is a good option for self-learners because there are comprehensive practice exercises to help you polish your Hebrew skills and a separate answer booklet to check your answers. I recommend this book for adult beginners and intermediate-level students. It’s a little pricier than some others on the list, but it’s well worth it if you’re a serious Biblical Hebrew student. See if the book is right for you here.

Key Benefits

  • Thorough explanations about grammar and vocabulary so you can reference it later in your studies
  • Includes a separate answer book to check your understanding of the lessons
  • Gives you more reading material in addition to biblical quotes to help you practice more

These Are The Words: Essential Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies is the best book to learn a lot of Biblical vocabulary quickly. It’s designed to help Hebrew students learn to read the bible. Like in a normal dictionary, you’ll find entries accompanied by their respective definitions. However, These Are The Words’ most special feature is that it also includes the correct prefixes, corresponding pronouns, and tense particles for each word. And that’s the reason I recommend it – it helps you learn the words themselves, but it also teaches you about the words.

Once you finish using this book, you will have learned enough vocabulary to start reading the Bible with ease. I suggest it to anyone learning Biblical Hebrew because it can easily be used as a reference when needed. The physical book itself is compact and lightweight, so you can easily fit it in your bag and take it with you on tours or trips to the museum too. Students of all levels can use this book, and it’s a worthwhile and inexpensive addition to any Hebrew student’s library. You can see if it’s right for you here.

Key Benefits

  • The words are listed in frequency order so you can focus on the most essential vocabulary
  • Excellent for building practical vocabulary that will help you to read the Bible effectively
  • Small and easy to carry around and can be used as a reference throughout your studies

1000 Hebrew Sentences is best for learners who prefer the dual language methodology. As the title says, it teaches you 1000 sentences written in Hebrew and English. At first, this might seem like a strange way to learn the language, but having parallel English translations available can be helpful to beginner and low-intermediate Hebrew learners. The book also teaches the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and its phonetics. Each sentence has parallel English text that makes the experience of learning how to form sentences in Hebrew less intimidating. And that’s the main reason I recommend it.

If you’re interested in improving speaking and pronunciation, there are audio recordings of all the sentences available too. However, these have an additional cost. In my opinion, they should be included with the purchase of the book. Regardless, the book is still useful for exploring and learning sentence structure in a hands-on way. But since it doesn’t cover basic Hebrew grammar, it would be better suited for students with some previous knowledge of the language. You can learn more about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Interlinear and parallel Hebrew-to-English sentences make reading in Hebrew less intimidating
  • 1000 sentences on varied topics so you’ll learn how to use words in different contexts
  • Learn sentence structure through practical examples that allow you to “absorb” grammar

Modern Hebrew Verbs is the best book for grammar because it teaches the logic behind verb structure so you will never have to stress about it again. Learning the different verb tenses is often a big obstacle for any language learner, and this book gives clear examples for every verb and shows you how to use them in the right context. In addition, it also gives the infinitives, past, and future forms of the verbs. I recommend this book because you see examples of how to use the verb correctly in many different forms. After reading it, you’ll have no doubts about conjugating verbs!

This book doesn’t make you memorize long lists of words either. It’s the perfect book for self-study because you learn about binyanim (Hebrew verb structure) without having to pay for the help of a teacher. All levels of Hebrew language learners can use this book, but I mostly recommend it as a tool for beginners. It’s a great reference book and helpful for understanding binyanim. See what you think about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Teaches the logic behind verb structure so you don’t have to worry about memorization
  • Has examples for every verb and their infinitives, present, and past tenses so you can see how to use them correctly
  • Workbook with drill sheets reinforce what you’ve studied to help you remember it in the long run

My First 100 Hebrew Words is the best book for children to start learning Hebrew vocabulary. It only teaches 100 words, but it’s very child-friendly and it includes colorful pictures with easy-to-read letters. The book also features phonetic pronunciations and English translations for every word so you can help your child pronounce the words even if you don’t know Hebrew yourself. All words are grouped in topics like shapes, food, animals, toys, etc.

With this book, children can start their Hebrew learning journey at home. It’s easy to understand and fun to flip through. Age aside, this is a book every beginner-level student can use, even if just to brush up on basic Hebrew vocabulary. I like that the book also includes the translation and phonetic pronunciation of the word so it’s easy to understand and pronounce the words. See more about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Large, colorful pictures make the book visually appealing and help engage children
  • No previous knowledge is required because each word includes the English translation
  • Phonetic pronunciations and a guide on how to read the phonetics help you correctly pronounce the words you are learning

Other Hebrew Books We Considered

While the Hebrew books on this list were our favorites, we researched a handful more. Here are a few other options I looked at that didn’t quite make the final list:

  • Conversational Hebrew Quick and Easy teaches you the 350 most used words to enable communication quickly without getting caught up in complicated grammar. This type of learning is a good choice if you’re preparing for a trip or only need to learn a few words and phrases, but if your goal is to become intermediate or advanced, you’ll need a better resource.
  • Hebrew Alphabet Letters And Their Spiritual Meanings aims to help you learn the Hebrew alphabet but also dives into what each letter means and its spiritual importance. It’s an excellent choice if you’re interested in learning Hebrew for religious reasons, but other books will help you learn the alphabet more quickly.
  • Teach Yourself to Read Hebrew is a short book that teaches you the Hebrew alphabet by increasing the letters in a systematic way. After finishing the book, you’ll be able to read and transliterate the alphabet, but you won’t necessarily understand the words you are reading without another resource.

Why You Should Use Books To Learn the Hebrew Language

Using books to learn Hebrew as a second language is a good way to practice your vocabulary, writing, and reading skills. Once you understand the alphabet, grammar rules, and vocabulary, you will only have to worry about perfecting your speaking and listening comprehension, which you can do with a Hebrew language app or online course. You can also choose books on specific topics, such as a Biblical Hebrew textbook or literary works to complement your studies.

If you already know some Hebrew, a language textbook can come in handy when you want to refresh your language knowledge. Having books available might also be a requirement to practice skills like writing and reading. With Hebrew, for example, a textbook that teaches how to write and pronounce the alphabet letters is a must-have. 

How To Use Books To Learn Hebrew

To learn Hebrew using books, you need to create a study plan. First, you should examine your language goals and decide how you want to start. Learning the Hebrew alphabet and its phonetics is a good place for beginner students.

Next, you will have to follow your study routine, since the only way you will learn Hebrew is with constant practice. You can use different books specialized in specific language learning areas to help you reach the intermediate and advanced levels. And you can always find books that provide practice material or audiovisual resources to ensure you are practicing all language skills.

Best Books To Learn Hebrew: Final Thoughts

The books on this list will help Hebrew students improve their knowledge of the language. There are comprehensive textbooks that cover everything needed to learn Hebrew. You can also find books that focus on a specific area of language such as learning vocabulary or how to write and read the Hebrew alphabet. There is an option available for everybody’s learning style.

Best Books To Learn Hebrew: FAQ

Why should I learn Hebrew?

There are many reasons to learn Hebrew. It has a unique history and cultural value. It is one of the most ancient languages in the world and, unlike Latin, it has been modernized to adapt to current times. It’s also the primary language spoken in Israel, a country of increasing worldwide importance.

Is it easy to learn Hebrew?

It is not easy to learn Hebrew fluently. The U.S. Department of State classifies Hebrew as a hard language for English speakers to learn because of significant differences between the two languages. For example, Hebrew uses a completely different script and is written from right to left. There are also different grammar rules and certain pronunciations that don’t exist in English. But don’t let these differences deter you. With hard work and lots of practice, you’ll see steady progress.

How long will it take to learn Hebrew?

According to the US State Department, it takes 1,100 hours to learn Hebrew. However, this number is an estimate and depends on different factors such as your natural ability to acquire languages and if you already know a language that’s similar to Hebrew.

Check out the fluency calculator to see how long it will take you to learn Hebrew.

Is it possible to learn Hebrew by yourself?

It is possible to learn Hebrew at home. There are many online resources available, such as apps, courses, and online lessons that can help you study. Learning any language takes time and effort, and it helps to create a study plan to stay on track and see continual progress.

Maria Claudia Alvarado

Maria Alvarado is a content writer and translator from Lima, Peru. She graduated from the Savannah College of Arts and Design in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Writing. She is fluent in Spanish and English, has intermediate knowledge of French and German, and is learning Japanese. She hopes to bring consciousness about the importance of language learning through her articles and aspires to learn as many languages as possible.

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