An Efrathite Translation of the Hebrew Bible

 

      This translation is part of the 'Original Torah Project'. The emphasis of this translation of the Torah & the Prophets, is to capture the spiritual essence of what the Hebrew bible is trying to say, reflecting its culture, imagery and ideology. Throughout, Hebrew names are used, and the name of God is written as Yahveh where it appears in the text. 'Efrathite' merely refers to the 9 tribes of the northern Kingdom of Israel ('Ephraim'), since I am a Naftalite (by adoption upon conversion).

      The goal of this endeavour is to try and reconstruct the text of the Hebrew Bible in its final redacted form, as it was shortly after the return from the Babylonian Exile in 539 BCE. Some books however, like the Book of Job, will be taken back to their form before the Babylonian Exile, since in its current form, it reflects beliefs - such as a belief in Satan - which were not originally present in the Israelite religion, and only entered the Jewish religion from Zoroastrianism after the Babylonian Exile. Ultimately however, the goal of this translation is to glorify the Message of Yahveh, and give us an impression of the personality of the God of Israel, and so bless God. I have personally found that this task has given me a greater respect for God's overall Message and purpose.

      In its essence, this translation is a harmonisation of the 4 versions of the Bible (the Masoretic text [MT], the Samaritan Pentateuch [SP], the Septuagint [LXX] and the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible [DSS]).

      The main body of the text is translated from an online copy of the Aleppo Codex of the Hebrew Masoretic text. Words lifted from one of the other 3 versions (LXX, SP or DSS) are shown in italics.

The translation

       The translation itself is meant to be in as natural a form of modern English as possible. At times, the English may appear to have an over-abundance of conjunctions, reflecting the fact that the Hebrew begins every sentence with ve- ('and'). However, a literal rendering of the Hebrew is a bad translation, because the reader will not understand what the Hebrew is trying to say.

       A good example of this is at Gen 34:12 (HTT 38:15). In Hebrew, Shekhem literally says, 'Raise upon me greatly a dowry and a gift'. While this is grammatically correct English, it makes no sense whatsoever as it is. A free translation - a translation that gives the reader a better sense of the intent and meaning behind the Hebrew - reads, 'Set the bride-price as high as you like, and ask for wedding-gifts as expensive as you like'. While this is not what the Hebrew actually says, it is what it means. People who speak 2 or more languages fluently will understand this problem; the objections I normallly get to this, usually come from people who only speak English (and therefore have difficulty understanding that you cannot merely translate one language word-for-word into another). My goal is to get people to understand the overall message of the Hebrew Bible, not just simply know what the individual words mean - I want people to see the forest, and not just the individual trees.

The reasons for the "Expanded Translation"

     

       From the outset, I have to say that this is not a word-for-word translation of the text; it is more of an interpretation of the text in the spirit of the ancient Aramaic Targums. The translation seeks to present the Message of Yahveh and of the Israelite religion, in as wholesome and complete a form which enables the average person to understand it without too much hard work; those who advocate only word-for-word bibles, seem to expect all of us to be historians, archaeologists and Hebraicists, able to understand the patchy narrative, cultural allusions and ancient idioms with complete fluency. Such individuals expect all of us to be like the archaeologist who can pick a dirty shard out of the dust, and immediataely understand who made it, where it came from, and when it was made. What I have done with this translation, is take all the hard work out of the reading, and presented you with the cultural context, so that you can see the Message, and not just the words.

       To show that I have had to add words in order to better render Hebrew in natural, modern English, I have been honest and indicated such words in square [] and brace {} brackets. The words in brackets are of four types:

      a) words [in square brackets] have been inserted to assist in understanding the sense of the Hebrew, which have to be added in order to make the English read naturally in Modern English (rather than give a stilted, literal rendering of it); after all, when the priests gave their translations into Aramaic of the Torah (see Neh 8:8), we are told they gave the sense of the Hebrew words, so that the ordinary people could understand the real meaning. However, if you wish to see what the Hebrew literally says, then read only what is outside of the brackets.

      b) words in {brace brackets} have been inserted to explain or clarify the context of the Hebrew; these words are not present in any version of the Hebrew text - they are inserted details which would have been understood by ancient readers, but which are not immediately obvious to the modern reader. They could be for cultural or historical reasons, or purely for narrative clarification (midrash).

      c) words in {italics in brace brackets}] are hypothetical, reconstructed words which are not attested in any Torah version, but have been reconstructed as possible missing words (e.g. at the end of Gen 19:13, I speculate that the angels must have given a warning to Lot of when the destruction of Sodom was going to take place, otherwise the sense of urgency is not apparent to the reader when one reads each subsequent line describing how the morning is breaking, and how the Sun is gradually rising throughout the chapter. The addition of the words gives the rest of the chapter a crescendo effect).

      d) words in ('italics in plain brackets and inverted commas') are there to give an important translation of names or titles, whose meaning is vital to the understanding of what precedes it.

       I must stress at this point that I am not 'adding to Torah' with these additional words; I have been completely up front about which words have been added or reconstructed. The purpose of these additional words - especially the reconstructed words in italics in brace brackets - is to give the reader a fuller picture, and a deeper understanding of what is going on in the story. I would hope that, by being able to see the reconstructed text, you will be able to realise just how much vital detail is actually missing from the story. By supplying these narrative clarification details - in the spirit of Jewish midrash - I hope to give you as the reader a more complete picture, rather than the present patchy narrative of the traditional text.

The broken pot and the reconstructed pot

        The best allegory I can give of how to view my translation, is to compare it to an ancient, broken pot that has been glued together. Most translations are like the reconstructed pot that has pieces misssing here and there; no attempt is made to fill in the missing bits, and we are left with a sorry, beaten and worn representation of history. My translation however, is like when the museum restorer fills in the missing parts of the pot with clay, and then skilfully repaints the blank new pieces of clay with reproductions of similar patterns from other parts of the pot. The result is near enough close to what someone would have beheld at the time it was originally made. This 'reconstructed and repainted pot' is what I am trying to achieve with my translation.

      If you need an explanation of how I arrived at a particular translation, or the sources or reasoning behind any reconstructed words, please email me at: shmuliq.parzal@googlemail.com (these explanations will be fully given in future appendices, once I have completed the translation of the whole Torah and published it in book form).

The renumbering of the chapters and verses

      Due to the repositioning of some verses, I have also had to renumber all the verses. The new chapter and verse numbers are in bold, and the original verse numbers most people are familiar with are in [italics in square brackets]. If there is only one verse number given (the one in bold), that indicates that the new verse number is the same as the KJV verse number.

      One needs to be aware that the original Hebrew manuscripts have no chapter or verse numbers; they only came into existence with the translators of the King James Version of the bible into English. The new chapter numbers accord better with the full weekly sidra'ot (short Torah portions), which were used in the traditional 3-year reading cycle of ancient Galilee and Judea; they are therefore the Hebrew text's more 'natural' chapter numbers. The verse numbers are also placed at more natural breaks in the story.

Plan for completion

      So far, I have completed 87% of my way through Genesis. I work at a speed of between 1 - 5 chapters a week, and hope to be finished some time during 2021. As each chapter is completed, I will add them to this page (last update 7th December 2018). If you check in every Shabbat (Saturday), there should be a new update (uploaded every Friday).

Table of the Books of the Galilean Canon of the Miqra, with links

       My translations of the books of the Hebrew Bible have now been moved to their own pages. New pages will be set up as and when I begin my translation of them.

       Please note that the order of books in the Talmidi bible follows the 1st century CE Galilean Jewish Canon, rather than the better-known Babylonian Jewish canon that most people are familiar with. The main difference between the two, is in the order of the Ketuvim (the order of books 14-22 in the Galilean Canon); also, the Book of Esther is not included (since it was absent from most 1st century CE bibles from the Holy Land):

Book number English Name Full Israelite Name
1   Genesis   The Book of Generations
2   Exodus   The Book of our Departure from Egypt
3   Leviticus   The Book of the Teaching of the Priests
4   Numbers   The Book of the Five Accountings [of Israel in the Wilderness]
5   Deuteronomy   The Book of the Teaching of Mosheh
6   Joshua   The Book of Yehoshua`
7   Judges   The Book of Judges
8   Samuel (1&2)   The Book of Shmu'eil the Seer
9   Kings (1&2)   The Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah
10   Isaiah   The Book of the Prophet Yesha`yahu
11   Jeremiah   The Book of the Prophet Yirmeyahu
12   Ezekiel   The Book of the Prophet Yechezqei'l
13   The Twelve   The Book of the Twelve:
13.1       - Hosea       - The Book of the Prophet Hoshea`
13.2       - Joel       - The Book of the Prophet Yo'eil
13.3       - Amos       - The Book of the Prophet `Amos
13.4       - Obadiah       - The Book of the Prophet `Ovadyah
13.5       - Jonah       - The Book of the Prophet Yonah
13.6       - Micah       - The Book of the Prophet Mikhah
13.7       - Nahum       - The Book of the Prophet Nachum
13.8       - Habakkuk       - The Book of the Prophet Chavaqquq
13.9       - Zephaniah       - The Book of the Prophet Tsefanyah
13.10       - Haggai       - The Book of the Prophet Chaggay
13.11       - Zechariah       - The Book of the Prophet Zekharyah
13.12       - Malachi       - The Book of the Prophet Mal'akhi
14   Job   The Book of Iyov
15   Ruth   The Book of Ruth
16   Lamentations   The Book of Lamentations
17   Daniel   The Book of the Prophet Dani'eil
18   Chronicles (1Chr & 2Chr, + Ezra & Nehemiah)   The Book of the Chronicles of Israel and Judah
19   Proverbs   The Book of the Proverbs of Shlomo the King
20   Ecclesiastes   The Book of the Acts of Shlomo the Convener
21   Song of Songs   The Book of the Songs of Shlomo the King
22   Psalms   The Book of Psalms

 

 

 

 

 

   
Site Content © Shmuliq Parzal 2004-2018 contact us | site map | site terms