The Philological Impact of Biblical Hebrew on the English Language


Author: Gloria Wiederkehr-Pollack, City University of New York, USA
Email: [email protected]
Published: November 20, 2019

Citation: Wiederkehr-Pollack, G. (2019). The Philological Impact of Biblical Hebrew on the English Language. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 6(2).


This study focuses on the extensive but unacknowledged influence of biblical Hebrew on Western languages, especially English. The critical argument herein is that biblical Hebrew has contributed towards molding the English language, enhancing it with added depth and complexity; it is hoped that this analysis will constitute an important contribution to diachronic linguistics. As a student of Hebrew and the Bible I have sought to detect the more precise and earlier source for words, expressions, and phrases that, rooted in the Bible, encompass inspiring historical, ideological, and philosophical concepts. In order to ensure accuracy and correctness, entries have been researched and substantiated with concordances, lexicons, the Koren Edition of The Jerusalem Bible, classical biblical commentaries and text analyses. Attention is also given to historical factors that have accounted for the influence of Hebrew on the Greek language, on the Latin language of Roman rule and on the languages of lands within the Roman Empire before and after the dispersion of the year 70. Samples of the findings are mostly arranged in categories that span our speech, ranging from the mundane to the sublime. The concluding section browses selected interrelated vocabulary of the Western languages and their corresponding biblical precedents.

Keywords: Hebrew diachronic linguistics, English, mobile, pan de molde, sphere, levitate, ruby, pizzazz, amazon, tannin, hail, migrant, tiara