Jerusalem Center for Bible Translators:

The Home for Bible Translators since 1995

Intensive Semester Program for Translators

Semester Program








 “Studying the TEXT and its CONTEXT”


This semester program – the flagship of academic studies through JCBT – has been offered in conjunction with the Hebrew University since 1995. Instruction is currently either in English or French. This advanced academic course equips translators to work from the Bible’s original OT Hebrew Text (source language) so they may provide a more natural and accurate translation into their own mother-tongue (target language).

The Language of the Hebrew Bible

Five Classes


1. Introduction to Hebrew as a Living Language
(Hebrew University Winter Ulpan until mid-February)


The student is challenged to begin learning Hebrew as a living language via  instruction in Hebrew which aims to enhance the development of both spoken and written language skills. Along with traditional approaches, this intensive course is enhanced by innovative study methods, including audio and video learning tutorials in a University language laboratory setting. Internalization of Hebrew vocabulary and grammar is encouraged through hearing, speaking, reading and writing Hebrew. This immersion approach leads to long-term retention of vocabulary and verb forms.

Hebrew University Instructors

Class Hours: 100     Credits: 5

2. Biblical Hebrew Ulpan – Second Level (mid Feb—May)

The instructor, Eyal Nahum, is an experienced Hebrew teacher. After having taught Modern and Biblical Hebrew for a number of years, Eyal has developed his own materials for teaching Biblical Hebrew using a similar methodology to that of the Modern Hebrew Ulpan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He uses modern techniques for rapid language acquisition as applied to Biblical Hebrew.

Eyal has been teaching Biblical Hebrew for 6 years using this new method. Classroom instruction and interaction is conducted in Biblical Hebrew. This allows students to internalize the language by building both their memory and their analytical skills in the language, by exploiting all four of the major language skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing. The book to be used in the course (“מבראשית”) was written by Eyal Nahum and is the fruit of many years of teaching Biblical Hebrew as a foreign language.

Instructor: Eyal Nahum is a native Israeli with a MA degree in linguistics.

Class Hours: 120   Credits: 6

3. Readings in the Hebrew Bible

This course will be taught by taught by Hebrew university instructors. The goal of the course is to teach the students how to work through Biblical Hebrew texts from the point of view of a translator who needs to understand all levels – vocabulary, grammar, syntax and discourse.

Class Hours: 90     Credits: 6

4. Discourse Analysis

This course will be taught by an experienced senior Bible translation consultant. The instructor will  introduce discourse analysis related issues in the text, teaching how to identify and interpret the discourse structure of Hebrew texts. The instructor will also discuss  methods of exegesis and principles of Bible translation.

Class Hours: 30     Credits: 2

5. Biblical Hebrew Poetry – A Workshop (in June)


This practical course aims to give students an increasing appreciation of how Hebrew poetry works and to help them develop their skills in unfolding the layers of meaning embedded in the artistry of many Biblical poetical texts.

The students will learn to discover the Biblical world of the authors and their original audiences in order to read the texts through their eyes. Classes will demonstrate how to analyze and synthesize a variety of biblical poems and students will practice applying these principles and procedures to many assigned poetical texts.

This course will also be taught by an experienced senior Bible translation consultant.

Class Hours: 60             Credits: 4


The Context of Hebrew Scripture

 Historical Geography and Cultural Backgrounds: Text in Context 

(Mid-February through May)

This course involves extensive travel to Biblical sites where texts are read on location. It is a learning experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world! It serves as a visual experiential dictionary of BH words and concepts, of BH similes and metaphors.

40 hours of classroom lectures are organized under three main topics: geographical regions, historical periods and cultural issues.

The 18 field trips enable translators

  • to experience the sites of Biblical events
  • to observe flora and fauna of the Land
  • to see archaeological evidence of life in Biblical times 

JCBT Instructors:
Dr. Rafi Kassimov and visiting lecturers

Class Hours: 40 classroom hours + 18 days of field trips        Credits: 6



Modern Hebrew – 100 hours / 5 credits

Biblical Hebrew – 300 hours / 18 credits

Hist. Geog. – 40 hours/6 credits & 18 days of study tours

TOTAL: 440 hours / 29 credits


Certificate in Biblical Hebrew for Translators

During the graduation ceremony a Certificate of Completion is presented by the Rothberg International School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem to each student. Students can also order transcripts for the program from the university. The credits are transferable to universities abroad.

Expertise of Present and Former Instructors 

Click here to see the high level of professionalism and experience of our instructors over the years.

Prerequisites for Acceptance

  • Candidate must successfully complete an exam which proves adequate knowledge of the fundamentals Biblical Hebrew vocabulary and grammar.
  • Preferences for acceptance of candidates:
    • Mother-tongue translator
    • Member of a Bible translation project
    • Recommended by a translation supervisor and a pastor.
    • University education experience
    • Under 46 years of age
    • Ability to raise the needed funds

Downloadable PDF Forms

  • Semester Program Application form in English is found here and in French is found here. (Note:To be able to fill the form on your computer, please open it using Adobe Acrobat instead of web browser.)
  •  A print-friendly PDF document of the Semester Program is available here.
  • Costs for the Semester Program are discussed here.


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