on 11 October 2003
One of the classic lexicons published by the Oxford University Press about a hundred years ago, this volume is commonly known as BDB. It's still one of the most useful dictionaries of Hebrew, tho' the scholar will probably use the 'Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament' by Koehler and Baumgartner (HALOT) especially as there's a inexpensive (ha-ha!!! it's v. costly, but by Brill standards it's cheap!) 2-volume Study Edition available now. But I prefer to use BDB for non-academic use, and strongly recommend it to students, as it is in Hebrew root order. This means it is a bit harder to find the word when you start learning Hebrew, but the advantage is you have most of the words related to the word you are looking for sitting together on the page, which gives you a bit more insight into the word. It also is very good on words in related languages, which can be useful to those who know them. But for the beginner, it can be quite hard to find some difficult words (you need to know your broken verbs well), so I would recommend having a copy of another old favourite, the Langenscheidt Pocket Hebrew Dictionary, as a backup in case you really can't find that word.
on 2 September 2001
The BDB Lexicon (inc. Aramaic and Chaldee)is a reference work of art. If you know the words(s) you are looking for, the Lexicon places them in their correct position in relation to other words. It has the necessary run-down of word paradigms and is easy to work out. NOTE: You may not find the word you are looking for in the order you would expect. E.G., the Hebrew word for 'speak' (Root: 'dalet'-'bet'-'resh') will be under 'dalet' even though it may start with a 'vav' in its' past tense third person state. In other words, 'and he said' (vayodebere - unpointed: 'vav'-'yod'-'dalet'-'bet'-'resh') will still be under 'dalet', the first letter of the root word. This is the only confusing but normal aspect of the BDB. For the discerning reader, keep your eye out for the future release of the Sheffield Academic Press' exhaustive (!) concordance to the Hebrew Bible. I don't know what it will be called but it has been researched and worked on for years, the main authors being Prof. Phillip Davies and Prof. David Clines from the department of Biblical Studies, The University of Sheffield. You are welcome to E-mail me for more information.
on 13 January 2009
A definitive Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon - the product of decades of exhaustive searching, collating and compiling of souces by its editors, and a truly Herculean labour of love. The lexicon is an invaluable mine of useful comparative information, with allusions to Ethiopic, Arabic and other Middle Eastern tongues.
The work dates back to the beginning of the 20th C and is necessarily dated.
More seriously, it is deeply flawed by evolutionary etymological assumptions (that Arabic is older than Hebrew - despite glaring problems for example the dual sense of ear in Hebrew but not in Arabic and the sense of the patriarch Ishmael's name in both). At times it also brazenly speculates about pagan origins - the derivation of the word Torah for example is suggested to be drawn from casting lots! Such were the baneful and blinding presuppositions of its authors.
Despite the authors' defensive qualifications about Hebrew names in the introduction, its arguments about the sense of the Sacred Name are unsatisfactory.