Can’t pronounce that Bible word? There’s an App!

Here’s one of the common questions I get as editor of ReadTheSpirit: “How do you pronounce this?”
Then, the person asking the question lifts an open Bible and points at a word like: Ba’al. That’s the Hebrew word for “master” or “lord” in reference to various ancient deities in the Bible. If you regularly attend Bible study, you’ve almost certainly run across Ba’al many times. He shows up more than 50 times from Numbers to Zephaniah and once in Romans chapter 11.

I happen to know this particular answer. It’s not pronounced like a high-society gala. It’s not ball. It’s like a bundle of hay in a barn. It’s bale.

But what do I do when someone shows me: Shealtiel. That name only shows up a dozen times in Old and New Testaments. It’s an obscure figure—but a wonderful name. In Hebrew, it means that this person was born as an answer to prayer to God.

I’ll admit: I didn’t know how to pronounce that name, until … Well, until I downloaded Bible Audio Pronunciations to my iPhone. However you access the App Store, search for “Bible Audio Pronunciations” and you’ll find both a Lite and a $1.99 version. I recommend: Go ahead and pay the $1.99 and get the full version. In this case, the Lite App is just a preview with 100 fairly common words. For $1.99, you get the full index of 1,600 terms.

How is Shealtiel pronounced? It’s she-AL-teh-el with an emphasis on the second syllable.

The App is simple yet perfectly designed:

  • Search for a word on the opening screen.
  • The term pops up with a big arrow to play the audio pronunciation.
  • If you want to know more, two buttons will take you either to a Google search or a Wikipedia entry.

Cool App! The only down side is that, if you load it onto your phone or iPad, you’ll become the “go to” person in Bible study to help with all the challenging terms!

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Originally published at, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.

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