A Bit of History
In 1778, Ezra Stiles, president of Yale College in the USA, wrote his presidential inaugural address in fluent Biblical Hebrew. Today this kind of thing sounds crazy, outlandish, impossible to expect. But we want such a feat to become something unsurprising, something a lot of people could do. Back then, the study of Biblical Hebrew was mandatory at Yale. Yale leaders emphasized the study of Hebrew as a bulwark against unwanted theological drift.
Now let me tell you a little more about Ezra Stiles: he read a chapter from the Hebrew Bible every morning, and only then would he allow himself to have breakfast. But what’s even more surprising is that he taught his wife and children Hebrew, and made the daily recitation of a Hebrew passage part of his household routine for everyone! In May 1771, he wrote that his 12-year-old son, “began translating the first Psalm. I propose that he translate only a verse or two a day before breakfast.” Ezra Stiles wasn’t alone.
Samuel Johnson, president of Kings College back in the 1700s, taught Biblical Hebrew to his children. He claimed that both of his sons were fluent in Hebrew by the age of ten! Now keep in mind that these were men with a microscopic fraction of the resources, free time, technology, and wealth we have today. And yet our tendency today is to shake our heads in amused tolerance at their eccentricities. Isn’t that true? Let me mention one more moonstruck Hebrew lunatic of history.
In the 19th century William Rainey Harper, the first president of the University of Chicago, had a great national vision. He wanted to be the catalyst for a Hebrew revolution, and his plan was to teach the Hebrew language to millions of Christians. He never achieved his great vision, but we’re here to talk about how this vision is within reach, but on an even larger scale.
I don't want my kids growing up in front of a screen
- By almost all the standards we use to measure reading’s cognitive benefits — attention, memory, following threads, and so on — the nonliterary popular culture has been steadily growing more challenging over the past thirty years.
- Increasingly, the nonliterary popular culture is honing different mental skills that are just as important as the ones exercised by reading books.”2
But what if my kid doesn't want to be a pastor when he grows up?
Oh, do your best while they are young and in your constant care, to win them to God and set them on the road to heaven.
And a wonderful way to set them on the road to heaven is to raise them to be intimately acquainted with the Bible, able to handle rightly and faithfully the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). We plan to eventually develop even more resources for children to learn Hebrew besides our videos. We want to serve parents in every way possible to make this a reality.
“When I recently started learning Hebrew, I got so angry that the Holy Language was and is not taught in the so-called Christian countries like mine…. You see, over here in Uganda, Muslim children are taught basic Arabic so they can read the Koran. The Muslim religious leaders are even proficient in Arabic which gives them a better understanding of their ‘book’ and religion. The Roman Catholic priests also have a working knowledge of Latin. But sadly, we the Protestants are/were never taught our language, the language of the Holy Scriptures—Hebrew. For that reason, I believe we are not as knowledgeable as we should be concerning the word of YHWH…. Therefore, I am grateful to Aleph with Beth for freely teaching us Hebrew, and for excellently doing so. I pray that one day Hebrew will be taught in Christian countries from early childhood so that Christian children grow up reading the Bible in its original contextual language. That is why I am at 44 years doing Aleph with Beth with my 9 year old daughter, Eden.” –Moses Musinguzi