The Historical Dictionary of the Hebrew Language

Stefan writes

The “The Historical Dictionary of the Hebrew Language” is now accessible online free of charge, and it works now with different web-browsers. Here is the link:

It’s a great project, actually one of the most ambitious and impressive, most productive, most learned and technically most advanced thesaurus projects world-wide, as far as I am aware, which in the 60 years of its formal existence seems to have dwarfed its peer projects in any of the so-called “classical European languages”, and beyond.

And it has certainly a lot to do with the projects we pursue here, e.g.:

– Although the Historical dictionary started with Hebrew texts from late antiquity, covering the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Mishna, the Talmudim and Midrashic literature (although not the Bible), in the meantime a large amount of texts from the period 1750-present are covered too. There is hardly any better tool at hand for deciphering a Hebrew text from the period of haskalah and Wissenschaft des Judentums.

– The project in itself should be regarded, in my eyes, as maybe the most impressive academic endeavor of the Wissenschaft des Judentums and Zionist scholars at the same time: It was envisioned and founded by Harry Torczyner = Naftali Herz Tur-Sinai, a pupil of the Israelitisch-Theologische Lehranstalt in Vienna and Berlin university, and it was directed by Zeev Ben-Hayyim = Wolf Goldmann, one of the last graduates of the Hochschule in Breslau and pupil of Carl Brockelmann at the university of Breslau.

– The Historical dictionary was truly pioneering in the implementation of new technologies in the academic study of texts. Thus, it immensely contributed to re-shape the concept of “Thesaurus”, insofar it did not only aim for, but in fact arriving at what might be called exhaustive coverage of complete corpora of texts. In other words, it certainly and heavily re-organized and re-formatted knowledge.


Prof. Dr. Stefan Schorch
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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