We have been working and working, and now waiting, and it is finally here!
HaDavar, D’var יהוה , The Word of יהוה , is IN PRINT IN HEBREW AND ENGLISH!
Soon, it will be available in bookstores!
Read about it below. If you want copies, the links to purchase them at Amazon or Barnes and Noble will post here soon:
בְרֵי חֲכָמִים כַּדָּרְבֹנֹות וּֽכְמַשְׂמְרֹות נְטוּעִים בַּעֲלֵי אֲסֻפֹּות נִתְּנוּ מֵרֹעֶה אֶחָֽד׃ וְיֹתֵר מֵהֵמָּה בְּנִי הִזָּהֵר עֲשֹׂות סְפָרִים הַרְבֵּה אֵין קֵץ
When one encounters a new translation of the sacred writings, one is perhaps hesitant, and that is understood. But, the words of G-d are indeed ‘nails well fastened,’ and are powerful beyond language. Nevertheless, a new translation begs the question, what would compel a soul to attempt another rendering of these same words in a language which has offered so many translations already? Is it fanciful desire? Or necessity? For us, who undertook this monumental task with great hesitance and trepidation, it was necessity. We realize what we see as necessity may not be seen as necessity by others, but we had a specific goal in mind, and we hope every reader can find value in our bringing that goal to fruition out of our necessity.
What authority or qualifications do we have in order to presume to do this work and offer it to the wider believing community? We do not claim any superior authority over anyone else, nor intellectual authority over His Word, that precludes anyone else having interpretive authority over His Word. Further, we do NOT presume to have authority over The Creator and His Son, who are the arbiters of our destiny. But, we do know this “One Shepherd” who is the composer of these words in Hebrew and Aramaic, collected herein in English, and are as capable through Him of understanding them as any other who has studied those languages. Our great desire is to restore the context of those words from the original texts: historical, religious, and cultural context, as well as scriptural and linguistic.
While many people helped to bring this final version to print, this was primarily the effort of one person, a BA in Biblical Studies and an MA in History, whose study of the Hebrew language began some twenty-one years ago, after having become a Messianic believer by studying the Greek and Greek-sourced “New Testament” texts. After becoming a fluent reader of the Hebrew scriptures, and learning of the Aramaic Peshitta texts, he began to study the Aramaic Peshitta Brit Khadashah in Hebrew and Aramaic. He is now convinced by those words, and also other, external proofs, that they preceded the Greek translations, and are the source texts of those Greek translations. We realize not many scholars agree with this conclusion, but some very qualified persons do, and so we are in good company. But, the greater desire was to have a completely Semitic source of scriptures rendered into English, with the ancient Hebrew and Peshitta texts in Hebrew on facing pages, to give The Word a single flavor: a Jewish flavor. We still await the completion of a Hebrew/English version. But, there are many reasons for the desire of a more Jewish, English rendering of the sacred Hebrew texts, even though some already exist. Those reasons are further elucidated herein.
This is not the making of another book entirely. This is the making of a single volume that contains the Tanakh and Brit Khadashah writings of the ancient Jews who trusted in יהוה for Salvation. This work is meant to offer the Jewish scriptures which most call the “Old Testament”, in their original language, sourced from the Masoretic Texts, with an improved English rendering of those texts. The necessity of another English rendering is predicated upon seeing His Name, יהוה , in the English side of the book, and of seeing the Hebrew nature of the ancient concepts that are communicated in Hebrew to a modern world. It is thereby meant to bring the reader of the English closer to the Creator, if only from another, slightly different perspective. We are confident that the English Tanakh herein does exactly that, with integrity, and with beauty.
This work is also meant to offer a Brit Khadashah portion of the printed writ, “HaDavar,” [The Word] in the Hebrew language, sourced from the Aramaic Peshitta texts, and an English rendering on the facing pages. We still await the Hebrew version, laboring over it diligently and daily. But, this English version shows the reader that His Name, יהוה , was used by Yeshua and by His Talmidim, including Sha’ul, to declare the Good News of Messiah to the world. This Brit Khadashah text in English does that, and also serves to offer readers the Jewish flavor of HaDavar, maintaining the integrity of the original texts. It also shows just how Jewish the believers in the Brit Khadashah were, and remained for the rest of their lives. This volume, therefore, will be unique, giving the reader a different perspective on the use of the Name, completely Semitic text sources for both sides of the Bible, and Hebrew transliterations of important biblical words and concepts.
This translation contains translations of the Masoretic Texts of the Tanakh, and an English rendering of the Aramaic Peshitta Brit Khadashah. The English Tanakh herein is new and original, but relies heavily on the Jewish Publication Society 1917 Tanakh. Similarly, the Brit Khadashah herein is new and original, but relies heavily on Lamsa’s 1933 New Testament. Other sources were consulted for controversial/disputed passages, such as the “Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon”, the “Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible” by Jeff Benner, “The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon”, by Benjamin Davidson, and “Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature” by Marcus Jastrow.
We realize there are similar works out there, but none that we found using the Peshitta as a base text for the Brit Khadashah and the Masoretic Hebrew texts as the base for the Tanakh, that also satisfies our other desires, in a single volume.
There is not one volume offered by anyone we found that offers both the English and the Hebrew of these source texts in a single volume. And that was our primary motivation for setting about to do this work. We have yet to complete the Hebrew translation of the Brit Khadashah, but chose to publish the English ahead of time, by request.
Our secondary and tertiary motivations have already been stated: those of giving The Name יהוה a preeminent place in the English versions, of making the English language more Jewish in tone, and of clearing up confusing and/or contradictory renderings of certain phrases seen in the more traditional versions of scripture. We will cite just a few of those to begin to make our point.
There are many places where other Jewish translations of the Hebrew Tanakh into English are obviously not drawing on the Hebrew language alone, but possibly on doctrine, and they seem to betray a motivation to hide the Messiah Yeshua from our Jewish people. One of these places, and perhaps one of the more important, is in the book of Zekhar-Yah [Zechariah] 12:10 “…and they shall look unto Me [ where it is clear that יהוה is speaking ] whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.” The traditional, Jewish renderings of this verse which read in this wise: “and they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through”, change the meaning altogether, seemingly in an attempt to hide Messiah from the Jewish reader. The Christian community has also done likewise with certain verses, seeming to promote doctrine rather than translate the text faithfully. One example is from the book of Ma’asei HaShlikhim [Acts] 20:7, “And at the beginning of the week, when we assembled to break bread…” Most offer a different reading of this verse, inserting a word, seemingly to support a doctrine. “On the first day of the week…” This seems to updraid the notion, for doctrical reasons alone, that this was ‘Sunday morning’, when in fact it was Saturday night, the beginning of the biblical week. Similarly, though probably not deliberate, the use of antiquated English words can leave room for misinterpretation. The best example of this, perhaps, is the use of the word “tongues” in the Brit Khadashah, where the context clearly shows us this word is referencing known, earthly languages. Others have used the literal but vague nature of this rendering to create doctrine.
There are several examples in both sides of the book [OT and NT] where these types of renderings give us pause. Again, this was NOT our primary motivation, and we are not trying to say that all other versions are bad, but only that in certain places the translators seemed to have been influenced by something other than the language and culture of the original scriptures. Having these passages cleared up and made more plain seemed a useful and worthy pursuit, in spite of the enormity of it. Returning the English to a closer, more faithful “Hebrew” flavor gives the reader a better sense of the Jewish nature of these texts, and an understanding of the plain meaning of the text itself, leaving the establishment of doctrine to the reader[s], as much as possible.
The last motivation, but a good one, was that giving the Hebrew tone of the names of Biblical characters, places, and consecrated items not only gives the reader a better sense of the culture of the book, and compels the reader to learn more vocabulary, but also allows a Hebrew student to learn the language more quickly. Having the Hebrew on hand with this volume makes learning the language more meaningful, by having so large a vocabulary accessible in the texts, and a glossary to help learn those words.
This ten years of diligence, dedication, hard work, and sacrifice has truly been a labor of love. We truly hope that everyone who invests their time and means into this work is blessed for doing so, as we know and trust that His Word is the most important earthly evidence of our Creator, apart from His People, and the creation itself.
“Yes, He loves the peoples, all His K’doshim, they are in Your hand; and they sit down at Your feet, receiving of Your words.”
This work contains only a few features that frame the sacred writings. Our goal was to offer only “HaDavar,” the expression of the heart of Elohim in Messiah Yeshua, as close to its original written state as possible. The Hebrew side of the book has been virtually untouched, so much so that the punctuation is very sparse. Punctuation can at times change the meaning of a sentence. So, we have left it to the reader to decide on the phrasing in the Hebrew side of the book, only showing the end of a sentence, which is still debatable, given that no ancient texts have punctuation.
Our treatment of The Name, יהוה , is very similar to how it is treated in a Torah Scroll in the ancient Hebrew: untouched. There is no voweling at all, so as not to suggest a pronunciation. In the English side of the text, it is treated very similarly to the Dead Sea Scrolls: it is printed in a different alef-bet, with its Hebrew characters, “ יהוה ” , within the English body of text, unvowled, and separated from the rest of the text out of respect, and in order to ‘hallow’ it. It stands out. The purpose of this feature is to show the English reader that the Creator has a Name, and to show how very prominant that Name is in understanding the Creator and His Messiah, who inherited that Name.
Many Hebrew names, place names, nouns, adjectives, etc, that influence the Jewish nature of the scriptures are transliterated. There are various reasons for choosing to do so. The first is to return the tone of the Scriptures to a more Jewish, ancient tone. We conclude that too many people do not understand that every writer of these texts was Jewish, and that the Creator worked within a Jewish framework to bring Salvation to the world. When we say Jewish, we are not necessarily meaning today’s Jewish culture, although so much of that is inherited from Scripture. We mean that this book was given to the Jews of antiquity, to a believing Remnant that are the custodians of His oracles: “What, then, is the advantage of the Y’hudi? Or what is the advantage of circumcision? Much in every way! First, because the Y’hudim were entrusted with the very words of Elohim.” [Rom 3:1-2] A glossary is in the back of this book in order to give a ready reference to the reader when the reader encounters a word that might be undiscernable by context. These words are transliterated also for the purpose of making them distinct from other cultures, ie “Beit HaMikdash” versus “Temple”, as other cultures have temples, but no other culture has a consecrated house for the Creator.
One subtle feature that we’d like to point out is on the use of Yeshua’s Name. Yeshua is transliterated, except for one time, when first declared as the Name of the Messiah in the Brit Khadashah. “She will give birth to a son, and you will call His Name יֵשׂוּעַ [Yeshua]; for He shall save His people from their sins.” This is so that an English reader can look across at the Hebrew side and find His Name therein, and realize that it is actually Yeshua, and no other variation so many use today in order to try to make it more agreeable to their doctrine. “Yeshua” is the noun “Salvation” rendered as a man’s name. Many men were named Yeshua in Israel before and during the time of Yeshua, as seen in the books of Ezrah and Nekhem-Yah, and in history. In keeping with that rendering, and its meaning, when the Hebrew Tanakh reads, ‘salvation’ in this manner: ישׁוּעָה , “yeshu’ah” with only the ‘heh’ modifier on the end, this is the noun, “SALVATION”, in Hebrew, and we have rendered this as “Yeshua[h]”, as we believe that in this context it foreshadows our Salvation in Messiah. Similarly when we see this word otherwise modified,
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל הָעָם אַל תִּירָאוּ הִתְיַצְּבוּ וּרְאוּ אֶת יְשׁוּעַת יהוה אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה לָכֶם הַיּוֹם
“And Moshe said unto the people, “Fear not, stand still, and see the Salvation of יהוה , which He will work for you today,” [Shemot 14:13], then Salvation is capitalized, to show the use of the name of Yeshua in Hebrew, coupled with other modifier[s]. In this way, the reader is better able to see the plan of Salvation in the Tanakh on a deeper level throughout.
Parashot and Haftarot
Another feature is a typical feature in standard, Jewish versions of the Tanakh. Our Jewish people follow a reading cycle to read the Torah through each year. This has been going on since antiquity. Each ‘portion’ of the cycle has a name. In a standard Tanakh, the name of the portion is indicated, and we have chosen to maintain that custom in this version.
B’reshit Chapter 1
1In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth.
The portion’s name is just above the use of the name of that portion in the actual text, in small, bold print. The very first portion is called “B’reshit,” and that is from the Hebrew side of the text, and is the very first word in the Bible. In this case, the portion is at the beginning of the chapter, but that is not always the case. “B’reshit” means “In the beginning,” so the interpretation of that portion’s name is also bold in the English side of the text. This will make finding the portion each week more easily done. And the reader will immediately know what the portion’s name means.
Also in the reading schedule is the Haftarah Portion. This version makes finding the Haftarah portion a mite easier. First, the schedule is in the back of the book, called the “Parashot Schedule”. It shows portions in the Torah and in the Haftarah, and in the Brik Khadashah, as this book also contains the writings of the Messianic Jews of antiquity, the “Shlikhim” of Yeshua HaMashi’akh. To find the haftarah portion for a particular parashah, which is the portion from the Prophets to be read with that section from the Torah, one should look in the schedule and then go to the book and chapter specified. Example: The portion for B’reshit is Yesha-Yahu 42:5-43:10. The name of the portion will be in the text, before the first verse where that Haftarah division begins, and “end [portion name]” will be after the last verse of that portion and before the next verse. The example for the B’reshit portion is seen below:
Yesha-Yahu Chapter 42
1“Behold My servant, whom I uphold; My elect, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Ru’akh upon him, he shall make the right to go forth to the nations. 2He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3A bruised reed shall he not break, and the dimly burning wick shall he not quench; he shall make justice to go forth according to the truth. 4He shall not fail nor be crushed, till he has set justice in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his Torah.”
B’reshit 5Thus says God, יהוה , He that created the heavens, and stretched them forth, He that spread forth the earth and that ……..
Yesha-Yahu Chapter 43
………..10You are My witnesses, says יהוה , and My servant whom I have chosen; that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He; before Me there was no god formed, neither shall any be after Me. end B’reshit 11I, even I, am יהוה
As there is not yet global agreement in the Messianic community on portions, and as there are simply too many sections in those portions, we have decided not to do the same in the Brit Khadashah.
Table of Contents
While a table of contents can hardly be a unique feature, in the case of HaDavar יהוה , it is a very necessary feature. We have broken from standard and tradition concerning the order of the books in this version.
First, in the Tanakh, the book order follows the order usually followed in other Jewish versions of the Tanakh, with some exceptions. We still adhere to the “Torah, Nevi’im, and K’tuvim” to comprise the order. In fact, we are striving to adhere more accurately to it concerning the Nevi’im. The Torah is the Torah, so nothing has changed there. But, the Nevi’im, the list of “Prophets”, we have modified, we believe with very good reason. Most Jewish versions of the Tanakh have moved Dani’el over to the section of the K’tuvim. This, we believe, is a deliberate distraction, and a change of the status of the person of Dani’el from Navi to ‘poet.’ Dani’el, for anyone who is a follower of Messiah Yeshua, must be seen as a Navi [Prophet]. The timing of his prophecies concerning Messiah aligns too perfectly with the arrival of Yeshua. We believe this is why the Rabbinic Jewish community moved the book of Dani’el out of the section of the Nevi’im. As we are followers of Yeshua, we have absolute confidence that Dani’el is a Navi, and his writings are equal in status to the other Nevi’im. Yeshua said, “When you see the sign of the uncleanness of desolation, as spoken by the Navi Dani’el, standing in the M’kom Kadosh, whoever reads it will understand it.” (Matai 24:15, Yokhanan Markos 13:14). Dani’el ministered after Yirme-Yahu but before Yekhezkel, so we have placed his writings between those two books. In similar fashion, we have moved Ezrah and Nekhem-Yah just after Yekhezkel, because these are also prophetic works, especially concerning the Name of Yeshua, and they ministered just after Yekhezkel.
In regard to the Brit Khadashah, we have followed the Aramaic Peshitta ordering of the texts, with each B’sorah in the traditional order, then Ma’asei HaShlikhim, but then come the Jewish letters, and then the letters to the Gentile communities, and then Ivrit, the last letter to the Messianic Jewish community in Yisra’el, and then the Hitgalut. The names of all the books are only transliterated, as a teaching tool, with the exception of Yokhanan Markos. This is the “Gospel of Mark” traditionally. We believe this Markos was the one “also called” Yokhanan, and is much like Sha’ul, in that he had both a Hebrew name and a Greek name. Many Jews today also have their given Hebrew name, and the name they use around others in their home country, outside of Yisra’el.
As already indicated, there is a relatively extensive glossary in the back of this volume. It defines transliterated terms used throughout this work in a very concise way, with a very plain definition of the terms. Other than the Name יהוה and Yeshua’s name, which are at the beginning of the glossary, the list is in alphabetical order for easy reference to those terms.
The Parashot Schedule in the back shows all of the scheduled readings that begin at the start of the year on the first Sabbath after Simkhat Torah, and end with the last reading at the end of the year on Simkhat Torah. Portions are availalbe for each week, with Torah, Haftarah, and Brit Khadashah portions listed and numbered. There are also readings for the High Holy Days at the end of the schedule.