Page:A Hebrew and English Lexicon (Brown-Driver-Briggs).djvu/9

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


PREFACE


THE need of a new Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament has been so long felt that no elaborate explanation of the appearance of the present work seems called for. Wilhelm Gesenius, the father of modern Hebrew Lexicography, died in 1842. His Lexicon Manuale Hebraicum et Chaldaicum in V.T. Libros, representing a much riper stage of his lexicographical work than his earlier Hebrew dictionaries, was published in 1833, and the corresponding issue of his Hebräisches und Chaldäisches Handwörterbuch über das Alte Testament, upon which the later German editions more or less directly depend, appeared in 1834. The Thesaurus philologicus Criticus Linguae Hebraeae et Chaldaeae Veteris Testamenti, begun by Gesenius some years earlier, and not completed at his death, was substantially finished by Roediger in 1853, although the concluding part, containing Indices, Additions, and Corrections, was not published until 1858. The results of Gesenius's most advanced work were promptly put before English-speaking students. In 1824 appeared Gibbs's translation of the Neues Hebräisch-deutsches Handwörterbuch, issued by Gesenius in 1815, and in 1836 Edward Robinson published his translation of the Latin work of 1833. This broad-minded, sound, and faithful scholar added to the successive editions of the book in its English form the newest materials and conclusions in the field of Hebrew word-study, receiving large and valuable contributions in manuscript from Gesenius himself, and, after the latter's death, carefully incorporating into his translation the substance of the Thesaurus, as its fasciculi appeared.

But the last revision of Robinson's Gesenius was made in 1854, and Robinson died in 1863. The last English edition of Gesenius, prepared by Tregelles, and likewise including additions from the Thesaurus, dates as far back as 1859. In the meantime Semitic studies have been pursued on all hands with energy and success. The language and text of the Old Testament have been subjected to a minute and searching inquiry before unknown. The languages cognate with Hebrew have claimed the attention of specialists in nearly all civilized countries. Wide fields of research have been opened, the very existence of which was a surprise, and have invited explorers. Arabic, ancient and modern, Ethiopic, with its allied dialects, Aramaic, in its various literatures and localities, have all yielded new treasures; while the discovery and decipherment of inscriptions from Babylonia and Assyria, Phoenicia, Northern Africa, Southern Arabia, and other old abodes of Semitic peoples, have contributed to a far more comprehensive and accurate knowledge of the Hebrew vocabulary in its sources and its usage than was possible forty or fifty years ago. In Germany an attempt has been made to keep pace with advancing knowledge by frequent editions of the Handwörterbuch, as well as by the brilliant and suggestive, though unequal,

b