I’ve not participated in this, but I know many who have and they rave about it:

At first glance the ulpan at Kibbutz Tzova, about 20 minutes west of Jerusalem, may seem no different than any other. But within a couple of minutes of listening to the exchange between students and teachers, it becomes clear that there is something fishy about the Hebrew spoken here. Welcome to the Biblical Ulpan, a framework that allows students to study biblical Hebrew in its original context. In place of the conventional grammar-driven approach to Hebrew study that often includes memorizing elusive rules and arcane verb charts, biblical Hebrew is the medium through which the language is taught here to Christian and Jewish students. “Studying a text needs the ‘code’ [the language] and the culture, history and geography in order to be most fully understood,” explains Randall Buth, who founded the ulpan 10 years ago. “Students may be throwing a plastic sheep in the class after hearing a command like ‘hashlech et hakeves el hatalmid sham’ [Throw the sheep to the student over there], without realizing that the verb is part of the hif’il pattern [causative grammatical form],” he says. “When they finally know a few verbs or forms from these categories they will receive a presentation that organizes the forms into a system. The binyan system that is dreaded by many a beginning student is cut down to size and more easily understood.” Buth, who holds a doctorate in Semitic languages from UCLA, has also studied theoretical linguistics. He worked for the United Bible Societies in Africa for 20 years supervising Bible translation projects into local languages.

See the JPost article for the rest.  You can get more details at the program’s website at http://www.biblicalulpan.org/


If you are looking for a serious study tour of biblical and historic sites in Jordan, you can do no better than the trip this June with Dr. Ginger Caessens.  I was on a similar trip some years ago and I highly recommend it.  This is particularly ideal for those who

1) have already been to Israel;

2) are not looking for a “tourist” trip, but really want to learn;

3) are in reasonably good shape.  You can even get credit to transfer back to grad school, college, or seminary.  Here are the details from the University of the Holy Land website:

Historical Geography of Jordan

Credits – 2

A 14-day Intensive Study Tour. Nine days of field studies will immerse the student in the rich history of the area. Regions visited include Ammon, Gilead, the Madeba Plateau, Moab and Edom. Many Biblical events transpired in this region, where the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh settled. Moses died in Transjordan and the judges and prophets including Elijah, John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul, all ministered in the area, which played a crucial role in international trade during Old and New Testament times.

Instructor: G. Caessens, Ph.D. June 2-16, 2008.

For information on cost and accommodation, contact the UHL office.

This is a short-term intensive course. Register now. Limited enrollment! (Minimum enrollment: 
15; maximum: 22)

Dr. Caessens is also leading 21-day study trips of Israel in May and July.
Gerasa oval plaza from above, tb060603041sr
Modern Jerash – biblical Gerasa


If this is your summer to volunteer on an archaeological excavation, then a great resource is FindADig.com from the Biblical Archaeology Society.  Many digs around Israel and in other countries are listed, with details on dates, cost, and requirements.  There are many good options, but if pressed my top recommendations would be Hazor, Gezer, and Gath.  If you don’t have much money or time, check out the Temple Mount sifting operation.  Most excavations are summer projects, but you can dig on Mount Zion in March.

Gezer excavations, tb062806949
Excavations at Gezer, June 2006

The Mount Zion excavation project has just launched an official website, complete with an application for joining in one or more weeks of the March 2008 dig.  You can read about the dig staff, see who is sponsoring the project, read the history of excavations, discover what they found last season, but you’ll have to wait for the photo gallery.  As I’ve said before, opportunities for volunteers to excavate in Jerusalem are rare and this is a great opportunity because of

1) the choice location;

2) the ideal time of year;

3) the knowledgeable directors;

4) the weekly field trip and lectures, and

5) the choice location.