After SEVEN + LONG YEARS and much labor, the new translation of the Jewish Scriptures, which we are calling “HaDavar”, has gone to the publisher for printing! Our great hope is that it will be available before the fall feasts! It would be a gift from above to begin our new, liturgical season with His Word treated as the SINGLE sourced, Jewish, semitic book that it is, finally! Below is the introduction from the upcoming printed volume, to explain fully why this was done.
דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים כַּדָּרְבֹנֹות וּֽכְמַשְׂמְרֹות נְטוּעִים בַּעֲלֵי אֲסֻפֹּות נִתְּנוּ מֵרֹעֶה אֶחָֽד׃ וְיֹתֵר מֵהֵמָּה בְּנִי הִזָּהֵר עֲשֹׂות סְפָרִים הַרְבֵּה אֵין קֵץ ….
“The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails well fastened are those that are composed in collections; they are given from One Shepherd. And furthermore, my son, be admonished: of the making of many books there is no end…”
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 so looked upon 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 over His Word, that precludes anyone else having 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 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 “Davar” [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. 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 herein.
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. 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 scriptures. Having these passages cleared up and made more plain seemed a useful pursuit. 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 seven 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.”