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The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, IX
English–Hebrew Index; Word Frequency Table
Edited by David J.A. Clines
Volume IX offers a valuable enhancement of the 8-volume Dictionary of Classical Hebrew (1993–2011).
In DCH I–VIII, each volume had its own English–Hebrew Index, but this volume presents a much improved gathering together of all those indexes. The Index here contains every word used as a translation (gloss) in the Dictionary, that is, all the words printed in bold. In addition—a feature not seen before in Hebrew dictionaries—beneath each listed word are noted all the Hebrew words it translates, together with the volume and page reference of the relevant article.
The Index thus shows at a glance all the Hebrew words that are translated with the same English word, e.g. Arrogance 10 Hebrew words, Arrow 7, Assembly 10, Band 9, Basket 9, Bend 10, Branch 23, Break 21. So it becomes an index of synonyms, hard to parallel elsewhere in the scholarly literature.
Indexes have not been a common feature of twentieth-century Hebrew dictionaries, though they were quite frequent in older lexica, and it is time they were restored as a customary element in a lexicon. Browsing the Index will prove not only interesting but also useful.
The second element in this volume is the Word Frequency Table. This is a combination of the Word Frequency Tables in the various volumes of DCH. There, the lists of word frequencies were arranged under each letter of the alphabet. In the present publication, all the words in the Dictionary are combined in a single list arranged in order of frequency of occurrence.
Unlike all previous lists of occurrences of Hebrew words, the present list includes the occurrences not only in the Hebrew Bible but also in the whole scope of The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, which is to say, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hebrew Inscriptions as well as the Hebrew Bible itself. For each word there is listed the number of occurrences in each of those four corpora, and the ranking position of a given word is determined by the total number of occurrences in all the classical Hebrew texts combined.
For some sample pages of this Volume, click The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, IX.
See also The Concise Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, a one-volume version of The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew.
David J.A. Clines is Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield.
No serious study of the Hebrew text of the Bible, or indeed any other ancient Hebrew text, can properly be done without reference to DCH. Indeed the first eight volumes would have been enough. But the English–Hebrew Index provides us with an important additional lexical tool: for example, the seven words listed for ‘truth’, eight for ‘law’, twelve for ‘save’ and the like will help us to identify semantic fields and achieve greater precision in defining the meaning of particular words.
The new index also highlights the fact that, however large the corpus is, with the addition of ancient inscriptions, Ben Sira and the Dead Sea Scrolls, it remains an unnatural, arbitrary cross-section of the language containing, for instance, two words for ‘sneeze’ and no word for ‘cough’ or ‘yawn’, seven for ‘lion’, ten for ‘owl’ but no word at all for ‘cat’. John F.A. Sawyer, Society for Old Testament Study Book List.