Jan 7, 2010 David Lang

Amplify to Search for Hebrew

Yesterday I told you how using the Search button on the Resource palette to search for a selection of text is much more efficient than typing a search in the same window as your main text. Rather than replacing your main text with the search results, amplifying a selection of text in this way will leave your main text intact and display the search results in another tab. Today, I want to show you how truly powerful this feature is when working with the original Hebrew.

Let's say I'm looking at Genesis 1:1 and I want to search for the phrase ‏‏השׁמים ואת הארץ ("the heavens and the earth"). Many new Accordance users will try to select those words, copy them, and then paste them up in the search entry box at the top part of the window. When they hit return, they immediately get a word list asking them to choose a different lexical form. What, they wonder, is going on? Why can't it find something they just copied right out of the text?

To understand the problem, you have to understand that Accordance defaults to searching for lexical forms (the representative form that appears in most lexicons) rather than inflected forms (the form of the word as it appears in the text). When you paste text you copied into the search entry box, you have given Accordance inflected forms when it was expecting lexical forms.

To further complicate things, the Hebrew database has actually been "morphologically separated," which means that scholars have separated prefixed and suffixed words from the words to which they are attached. You can see this when you drag your mouse over the word ‏השׁמים. When you drag over ה you'll get the parsing and definition of that definite article, and when you drag across ‏ שׁמים you'll get the parsing and definition of that noun. Even though ‏ השׁמים looks like a single word, it is really a phrase consisting of two words. When you type a search for that phrase into the search entry box, you need to separate each word with a space. Yet when you copy and paste text into the search entry box, Accordance doesn't know where the word breaks are supposed to go.

If you've ever tried to paste Hebrew text into the search entry box, you now know why it didn't work. But the question remains: how do you search for Hebrew text that you run across in your study of a passage? You simply select the words you want to find and click the Search button on the Resource palette. A new tab will open with all the right lexical forms and word breaks automatically entered for you and the results displayed instantaneously.

Try it yourself. Select ‏השׁמים ואת הארץ in Genesis 1:1 and click the Search button on the Resource palette. Be sure to notice how Accordance automatically translates what you selected into a properly formatted lexical search. If you learn how to amplify, searching for Hebrew text becomes almost laughably easy.

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Archived Comments

Dr. J

January 07, 2010 7:18 AM

Great explanation, David!

Rob Robinson

January 08, 2010 11:15 AM

David, this is great for one who has forgotten most of his Hebrew and usually resorts to the use of Strong’s numbers for studying OT passages.  When I read your January 6 post “Amplify to Search” I had been studying Malachi in Accordance, so I tried out a few of the searches as you suggested.  For example, I searched for the word “divorce” (2:16) from the NASB95S text and got 7 hits.  Pretty neat and easy, I thought.  Then I read your next post, Jan. 7, “Amplify to search for Hebrew.”  So I gave that a try in the same passage, same word.  I opened a new text pane with BHS-W4, and using Instant Details, I identified the Hebrew word translated by the word “divorce.”  I selected that Hebrew word, careful not to select the attached preposition and suffix, and amplified to Search with that and found 694 hits of [jlv] .  After using instant details at Mal. 2:16 again, I refined that seach by adding the tag  @ [verb piel] and found 233 hits, the first of which was Gen. 3:23, regarding the Lord sending Adam out of the garden, a verse that of course did not appear in the search for divorce in the NASB.  I guess you can do all that just using Strong’s numbers, but I doubt if it would be any easier.  And you would be using numbers and transliterations instead of Hebrew text and words.  Thanks.  Until your posts this week, I had never clicked on that little magnifying glass in the resource palette in  more that 2 years of using Accordance.

Rob Robinson