Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary by Conceptual Categories

Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary by Conceptual Categories: A Student’s Guide to Nouns in the Old Testament is a new resource from Zondervan that arranges Biblical Hebrew words and phrases into categories from water to warfare, from jars to genitalia.

Co-authored with my professor David Pleins, who has decades of experience teaching and studying Biblical Hebrew, this book relies on recent scholarship in the semantics and lexicography of the Old Testament. You can preview our category lists here.

Zondervan’s blurb:

Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary by Conceptual Categories by J. David Pleins with Jonathan Homrighausen is an innovative study reference intended for both introductory and advanced students of the Hebrew language to help them understand and remember vocabulary based on logical categories of related words. Since our minds acquire and recall language by making associations between related words it is only natural that we would study language in this way. By organizing Hebrew vocabulary into logical categories, as opposed to frequency, students can quickly begin to familiarize themselves with entire groups of terms and more readily acquaint themselves with the ranges of meaning of particular Hebrew words.

This reference tool focuses on nouns in the Old Testament, and includes over 175 word grouping categories including pottery, ships, birds, jewelry, seasons, and many more. For each Hebrew term a definition is given and a reference in the Hebrew Bible appears so readers can see the word in context. For many words additional lexical references are indicated where students can look for further study. Words that hapax legomena (words appearing only once in the Hebrew Bible) are marked with an “H” and words that are rare and appear less than 10 times are marked with an “R.” Two helpful appendices equip students for further study, these include 1) a Guide for Further Reading where recommendations are given for helpful resources for studying the larger macro categories and 2) Lists of “cluster verses” where several words in a given category appear together, giving students the ability to see how these words function together in context.

Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary by Conceptual Categories is intended to move students beyond rote memorization to a more dynamic grasp of Hebrew vocabulary, ultimately equipping them to read with more fluidity and with a deeper and more intuitive grasp of the biblical text.


“The arrangement of nouns by conceptual categories in this work is innovative and thorough and will facilitate the leaning process while at the same time putting on display the lexical stock and conceptual categories of the Hebrew Bible. Well done!”
— Miles Van Pelt, Reformed Theological Seminary

“My only complaint about the guide  is that I didn’t have it at my disposal almost a decade ago when I started learning Hebrew.”
— Jacob Cerone, ἐνθύμησις, Th.M., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Pleins has done a great service to students of the Old Testament and I sense that his approach will be utilized more broadly in the coming years. … I couldn’t recommend it more highly!”
—John Kight, Sojourner Theology, M.Div. student, Liberty University School of Divinity

“The book is both a unique and useful reference for students of the Hebrew Bible.”
—Phil Long, Reading Acts, Professor, Grace Bible College

—Justin Staller, My Seminary Blog, Ph.D. candidate, Graduate Theological Union

“I, personally, find it to be quite a useful ready reference, particularly as a way of familiarizing myself with the vocabulary of a conceptual category that I had not yet had occasion to master, but also for its curated bibliography and suggestions for further reading. Overall, this is a brilliantly designed and executed book that addresses a real need in the field of Biblical Hebrew studies and pedagogy.”
Kerry Lee, Bite-Sized Exegesis, Ph.D. Hebrew Bible, adjunct faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary

Students of biblical Hebrew may find this a useful complement to standard vocabulary resources, many of which are listed in an extensive bibliography at the end.
John R. Barker, OFM, Assistant Professor of Old Testament Studies, Catholic Theological Union, in The Bible Today (December 2017)


In any book of this scope, a few errors naturally creep in, and we missed a few words here and there. You can download a list of errata below by clicking below. We welcome any suggestions for errors and omissions we didn’t catch!

Errata BHVCC 6.12.17