Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Hardest Part

So now back to the basics. Today I had to travel to Tel Aviv to take care of some business at an office there only to find out that the office was closed due to Thanksgiving in America. I couldn't believe it, even though the office is based from America, but I guess the waste of the trip was the biggest problem. I haven't been much into Tel Aviv for a while just because of how some parts of it remind me of living in NYC, which I loved for a while, and at the same time the more seedy parts of Tel Aviv really bother me. Add to the fact that finding kosher food is a chore in many parts of Tel Aviv and I find that as I wanted to return to the desert in Southern Israel as soon as possible.

 Egged Bus

It wasn't always that way. There was a time, years ago, when I enjoyed certain elements of Tel Aviv more but now with time and age I just don't have any interest anymore. The worst part of it was that I was not able to take my laptop which would have allowed me to do some work on the book. I did a lot of the initial writing of the book on the buses from either Jerusalem to the desert or the bus from Jerusalem to work. It brings back memories to think of the early development of the book and to consider I am getting close to the final steps.

So far I am putting in the edits that I made to the written copy and I am wishing that I had done both at the same time. Then again the written edits were more of a framework of what I needed to do with each chapter and now I think I am getting a more rounded story. Currently, I am on page 62 with a total of 373 pages to check.

Currently, I am trying to describe the main character's reaction to being in a place where the inhabitants are behind the times so to speak and he must walk a very delicate line with them. The main fight I have right now is with various forms of procrastination, something that has plagued me for a number of years in my life. What keeps me going is when I consider the impact that this book I am writing will make when I complete it. I keep dreaming of the day when I will receive the book with its cover and will be able to tell everyone that I actually did it. I also consider that as far as I know no one has written a book like this from the perspective that I am writing it from and I keep imagining how it can change so many things.

I am still wrestling though with the book cover design. There was a time when  thought of going for the simple but a part of me thinks that I should go for something visually stunning. The advantage of the simple approach is that people may remember it easier when there is something symbolic and I kept thinking of something on the level of Heidi Durrow's book The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. Yet, I also thought of how epic the covers of the Dune books are and a part of me wants something like that. Especially since the main character of my book reflects a background that I keep saying isn't really represented in the sci-fi genre. I keep thinking of something epic like the following.





It all seems like a dream right now, kind of like how things felt when I dreamed of living in Israel so many years ago. There were times when I wanted the reality to hurry itself along so I could wake up knowing that I was in the reality. So with that I probably should get back writing this book so that this won't be some thing that I regret never having done.
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Incorrect Translation: Part 4

As promised this is the fourth and final segment of my critique on false translations. IF you haven't read of PART 1, PART 2, and PART 3 please start there so that it will be clear what this post is about.

During the early version of my review there was someone who claimed that the a theory about the development of the Torah created by European Christians proved the BOY. For those who bring up the Documentary Theory aka the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis in order to defend the BOY. This theory posits that the Torah, and only the Torah, is not a single text written by Moses but a series of documents collected over time.

The problem is that the Documentary Theory is about the different writing styles in the Torah and it is only a THEORY. There is no hard evidence that Documentary Theory is true, that is why it is called a theory or a hypothesis. Jewish and Samaritan sages, on the other hand, have discussed and can explain every segment of Torah and its transmission from Mount Sinai to the present era. If you read through the information you will also see how the Documentary Theory also disproves the HOY claim that their text is based on an original text.


The Torah Scroll

According to Jewish Law, a sefer Torah (scroll) should be preferably written on gevil. Gevil is a form of skin made from the whole hide, after the hair is removed. The precise requirements for processing gevil are laid by the Talmud, Geonim and Rishonim. They were reconfirmed as "the law according to Moses" by Maimonides, in his Mishneh Torah.


Gevil Torah Scroll


According to the Talmud (Tractate Bava Batra 14b and Gittin 54b), gevil existed during the time of Moses (approximately 1280 BCE); Moses is described as using gevil for the Torah scroll he placed into the Holy Ark of the Covenant. Elsewhere in the Talmud (Tractate Gittin 54b), there is testimony that Torah scrolls were written on gevil.


200 Year Old Torah Scroll


The oldest Yemenite manuscripts are those of the Hebrew Bible, which the Yemenite Jews call "Taj" ("crown"). The oldest texts dating from the 9th century, and each of them has a short Masoretic introduction, while many contain Arabic commentaries.

Jewish Claim Authenticity

According to Jewish texts from 2,000 years ago there are three views of how the Torah was composed. A first view states that the entire Torah was given all at once to Mosheh (Moses) at Mount Sinai. In the maximalist view, this dictation included not only the quotations that appear in the text, but also every word of the text. A second view holds that although Moses wrote the vast majority of the Torah, the last four verses of the Torah were written after his death by Yehoshua bin-Nun (Joshua). A third view holds that YHWH dictated four books of the Torah, but that Moses wrote Devarim (Deuteronomy) in his own words (Talmud Bavli, Meg. 31b). All classical rabbinic views hold that the Torah was entirely or almost entirely Mosaic and of divine origin. 


The Torah given to the entire nation of Yisrael (Israel)

Judasim further holds that YHWH is not a human and does not communicate with humans in methods that can attributed to human thought. As Rabbi Mosheh ben-Maimon (1135-1204 CE) who wrote in the Mishnah Torah and the Moreh HaNevuchim (The Guide to the Perplexed) explained that that the Torah was written in the words of humans with divine concepts as the basis. The Jewish perspective further holds that the Torah is written in different styles for theological purposes and understanding the Torah can only be done by understanding the Oral Teachings about the text.

Another aspect of the giving of the Torah is that the entire nation of Yisrael (Israel) heard and saw the voice of YHWH when He spoke. Thus, when Moses presented the Torah it was not just his word, the revelation was to hundreds of thousands of Israelites. In this light Moses and also later scribes could not change or fake the text because hundreds of thousands could attest to what the original text was. Judaism also holds that before Moses died he made 12 copies of the first Torah he wrote and gave a copy to each of the 12 tribes. Further, several Jewish sources such as Pirke Avoth and the Mishnah Torah list the names of all of the Jews from Moses to the 2nd Cent. CE who preserved the Torah from Mount Sinai.



Mori Amnan Yitzhaq writing the last letters of a Torah Scroll

From Rav Ashe (Talmudic times) back to Moshe (Moses) there were forty generations of great men; that is to say: (1) Rav Ashe, (2) from Rabba, (3) from Rabbah, (4) from Rav Huna, (5) from Ribbi Yohanan, Rav, and Shemuel, (6) from Our Holy Teacher, (7) from his father, Rabban Shim`on, (8) from his father, Rabban Gamliel, (9) from his father, Rabban Shim`on, (10) from his father, Rabban Gamliel the Elder, (11) from his father, Rabban Shim`on, (12) from his father, Hillel, and Shammai, (13) from Shemayah and Avtalyon, (14) from Yehudah and Shim`on, (15) from Yehoshua and Nittai, (16) from Yosef and Yosef, (17) from Antignos, (18) from Shim`on the Righteous, (19) from Ezra, (20) from Baruch, (21) from Yirmiyah, (22) from Tsefanyah, (23) from Havaqquq, (24) from Nahum, (25) from Yoel, (26) from Michah, (27) from Yeshayah, (28) from Amos, (29) from Hoshea, (30) from Zecharyah, (31) from Yehoyada, (32) from Elisha, (33) from Eliyahu, (34) from Ahiyah, (35) from King David, (36) from Shemuel, (37) from Eli, (38) from Pinehas, (39) from Yehoshua bin-Nun, (40) from Moshe (Moses), the greatest of all of the prophets, from YHWH.


Jews of Southern Arabia (Habban) Displaying their Torah Scroll

 In order to maintain the accuracy of the text a a master copy was kept in the Temple and used as the reference. Jews further list a number of Kohenim (Priests) who insured the accuracy of the text from the time of Moses until the present time.To see how accurate Jews have kept the Torah go to the following link where you can hear how Jews read from the Torah HERE. This is the proof of the accuracy of the text from the Jewish perspective.

The Samaritan Claim of Torah Authenticity

The Samaritans of Northern Israel hold that the first Torah was given directly from YHWH to Moses in the form of a scroll that Moses copied for each tribe. Further, the Samaritans claim that the Levites were charged by Moses with the task of making copies of the Torah for the masses. Similar to Jews, the Samaritans also hold that an that Oral Teachings were given to Israel in order to properly understand the Torah. Also, similar to Jews Samaritans claim that there has been an unbroken chain from Moses to the present era proving the same Torah that was given at Mount Sinai exists today.

Samaritan Abisha Torah Scroll

The Samaritans also claim to have a scroll which they say was written 13 years after the Israelites entered Canaan by a priest named Abisha the grandson of Aharon the priest, and brother of Moses. Information about this scroll can be found HERE on pages 11 and 12 and HERE. The Samaritans claim the Torah to have been passed on to them through a priesthood that can be found in he following list HERE.

 Samaritan Torah Scroll in Shechem, Northern Israel

The Documentary Theory

The JEDP Theory found its roots in Jean Astruc (1684-1766), the son of a Protestant minister who had converted to Catholicism, who speculated that Moses used existing written or oral sources in constructing Genesis. By analyzing a) the use of different names of YHWH, b) stylistic differences, and c) patterns, Astruc saw clues of a composite or editorial structure.This method of biblical criticism became known as source criticism, and Astruc believed that Genesis was written from two main sources, the Yahwist and the Elohist which he later thought was too simplistic.

By the early 1800s and contrary to the traditional dating of Mosaic authorship around 1450 BCE the idea that the Torah was written around 900-800 BCE was introduced. Other scholars developed this form of biblical criticism resulting in K. Graf (1815-1869) and Julius Wellhausen’s (1844-1918) 19th century classic the Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis. Julius Wellhausen (May 17, 1844 – January 7, 1918), was a German biblical scholar and orientalist of the Lutheran Christian faith. Wellhausen’s work was influential, because he was able to persuasively correlate the history and development of the Torah with the development of the Jewish faith. This hypothesis became later known as the Documentary Hypothesis.

A more detailed description of the Theory can be found HERE.

Problems with the Documentary Theory

Today, as the result of problems and criticisms brought on by anthropological and archeological findings and literary analysis, very few biblical scholars hold to JEDP theory or to Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis. Notice that in all of these theories none of the creators of the theories have evidence for all of the different writers they claim took part in creating the Torah. They have no names of any of the authors and all of this is  speculation. Further, the creators of the theory are Christian theologians from Europe, none of whom had contact with the Middle East. None of those who came up with the JEDP theories including information about for flung Jewish communities that had no contact with European Jewish communities and how their Torah's were virtually the same.

 YHWH's Revelation at Mount Sinai to Yisrael (Israel)

An additional problem for these theories is the Dead Sea scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name. The Dead Sea scrolls disprove the various elements of these theory since the differences between the Dead Scrolls, the Masoretic text, and the Samaritan Torah do not match any of the theories for different authorship. All three groups conform in more areas than disagree.



Jewish Torah Scroll with YHWH's (יהוה) Name


Further, 7th century BCE silver scroll found in Jerusalem, containing the priestly benediction matches the text as it is preserved by  (Israel Antiquities Authority)


Also, if the documentary theory were correct the Samaritan Torah would have Elohim in it more than YHWH. Yet, the Samaritan Torah has YHWH in it more than Eluwwem (this is the Samaritan pronunciation of Elohim). The Samaritans descend from the Northern Tribes of Israel and according to the Documentary Theory Northern Israel used Elohim in their texts as compared to the tribes of Yehudah (Judah) who used YHWH in their texts.


Samaritan Torah Disproving Documentary Theory

This is the reason why when HOY members who defend the BOY when asked to provide the source from which the BOY was translated they refuse or ignore the request. What they do instead is demonize anyone who questions and their text even when the introduction to their book makes it appear that all that was done was to rework a KJV bible translation.

Further, YHWH guaranteed that the people of Israel would always have those who keep the words of The Creator correctly.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Incorrect Translation: Part 3

This post is a continuation of PART 1 and PART 2. If you haven't read please start there so that it will be clear what this post is about.

This post concerns a comment that was made by of the HOY supporters. In the comments section of the review one HOY supporter claims that the following is a translation of Yermiyahu (Jer.) 23:26-27:

"How can you (scribes) say we are the wise, and the Law of Yahweh is with us? Behold, the lying pen of the scribes has written them wrong!" and in Yeremyah 23:26-27 - "How long will this be in the hearts of the prophets (scribes) who prophesy lies, yes, they are prophets of the deciet of their own hearts, who cause my people to forget my NAME for Ba'al (Lord), which they tell everyman to their neighbor"

It must first be noted that the commenter did not come up with this on their own. If one looks in the introduction of the BOY the same passage is quoted but without the word (scribes) inserted. Now this commenter of course ADDS in several places (scribes) to their translation. The reality is that both the translation is incorrect and the assertion that both the HOY and the commenter makes that the passage is talking about future scribes is also wrong. 

The commenter is basically repeating a part of the HOY theology. The HOY claims that scribes changed all of the Biblical texts and of course they have no evidence for which scribes and supposedly changed the text or when. Grasping at straws they mistranslated a text of legends that claimed that states that the scribes of the pre-1st Temple era (meaning Ezra) fixed the understand of the Hebrew Scriptures. The HOY further claims that a group of scribes known as the Masoretes who operated between the 7th and 11th cent. were responsible for changes in the Torah. For the REAL history of the Masoretes please see this page HERE and HERE.

The word scribes does not show up in any of the Hebrew texts. The statement in this verse in fact doesn't even have anything to do with scribes. In Yirmeyahu 23:16-18 it explains that this statement was made from YHWH to the prophets of Yirmeyahu's (Jerimiah) own time (circa 610 BCE). The following is a copy of the text. Please note that the word in Hebrew for "scribes" is (סופרים) and the word that shows up in the below text is (נבאים) meaning "prophets."


Yermiyahu (Jer.) 23:26-27 From Aleppo Codex

Notice the red boxes around the word (נבאים) "prophets" and never once does the word (סופרים) "scribes" never shows up in the text. Since we know that the Masoretes were never claimed to be prophets we know that this has nothing to do with them. Further, this texts talks about prophets dreaming and speaking falsehood. There is not one statement about writing so we know that a scribe has nothing to do with this passage. We also know that the commenter is also incorrect about the scribes trying to hide the name of YHWH (יהוה).


Check out PART 4 HERE.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Incorrect Translation: Part 2

So if you haven't read the part 1 to this post I suggest that you go back to the first part HERE. So now I will start dealing with the issues that I mentioned in the first post on this topic. In this post I will explain how the organization calling itself the House of Yahweh (HOY) in their text Book of Yahweh (BOY) changed entire names with no evidence for such. Below are a few examples.
 
 
If one goes to this link HERE and looks in the BOY table of contents (click on the right arrow 10 times) one will find a list of the names of the different texts that the BOY contains. You will notice some alterations that the HOY did on a number of names. Here are three examples.
  • In the Hebrew scriptures there is a record of Ezra the Scribe. In Hebrew his name is (עזרא). The BOY contains Ezraya.
  • There is a prophetic writing in the Hebrew Scriptures by a prophet who is called Hoshea in English. This is basically the easiest way to write it in English from the original Hebrew (הושע). The BOY claims that his name was Hosheya.
  • There is further a prophetic writing in the Hebrew Scriptures by a prophet who is called Ezekiel. In reality his name should be written something like Yekhezqel from the Hebrew (יחזקאל). The HOY changes his name to Yechetzqyah.
This begs the obvious questions of where are they getting these spelling/transliterating methods from? The reality is that they are changing names to fit their theology with no historical, archeological, or even textual evidence for their alterations. Here are a few examples based on the above.

Proof #1 - the name of Ezra

Proof #1 shows a copy of one of the oldest complete versions of Ezra from the Aleppo Codex. Notice at the top right how the name is written (עזרא) which can be pronounced in English as Ezra.


Proof #2 - the name of Hoshea

Proof # 2 shows the name of oldest text of Hoshea. In the top right hand corner it is spelled as (הושע). Now it must be noticed that in the second to last line the name YHWH shows up right before Hoshea's name. This line deals with when YHWH began to speak with Hoshea.


Proof #3 - the name of Ezekiel

Proof #3 shows one of the oldest texts of Ezekiel. In the right hand corner you will notice the spelling .(יחזקאל)  What also must be noted about the BOY spelling of Yechetzqyah is even partially transliterated.  the underlined tz denotes how they incorrectly mixed up two Hebrew letters (ז) pronounced like "z" with (צ) pronounced "tz" or "ss".  This could be considered an honest mistake IF it were not for the other alternations they made and the fact that they have had years to correct it.

Further, the Dead Sea scrolls have the oldest fragments of Yehhezqel (Ezekiel) and Pseudo Ezekiel. The Dead Sea scroll fragments also confirm this spelling and the accuracy of the Aleppo Codex text.

Pseudo Ezekiel Fragment - Dead Sea Scrolls

The HOY provides nothing in their book that even shows how these names would be written in Hebrew. It must be noted that the only response that the HOY has to something like this is claim that  Jewish scribes changed the texts to take out YHWH's name. This of course has no evidence behind it and also makes no sense since it isn't logical to take out the name in one place in and leave it in others. Also, if you ask the HOY for the individual names of the scribes that they claim changed the text they can't give you any. So they  then claim it was the Masoretes who did it. In my next post I will explain this issue further why the HOY is wrong in this.

HERE is Part 3


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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Incorrect Translation: Part 1

This post is a way of dealing with responses to a book review I wrote on Amazon concerning a book that is being passed off as a translation of the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures, Hebrew Bible, etc.). The book in question is called "The Book of Yahweh", which I will denote as BOY in the rest of this post. The book review I wrote can be found at the following link HERE. My review is the first review that pops up and it is called "Untrustworthy, and by no means a translation of any text" dated November 4th, 2005. The book review concerns a fake translation, the BOY, written by an christian style organization in America that calls itself the House of Yahweh, I will call them HOY for short. They are led by a man who calls himself Yisrayl Hawkins.

One of the difficulties with writing a review about a book that is falsely claimed to be a translation is trying to show people why it is a fake. Because Amazon does not allow one to insert Hebrew or pictures I am opting to use my blog as a way to post the issues. My reason for doing this is because I have met people who were misled by this group and others like it and it is often hard to show in a simple English email why said book is wrong. There is also a debate I am involved with in the comments sections with some members of the HOY so this makes it easier to present my points for reference. If you read my book review it will make it easier to follow this post.

So the question that I deal with is, Is the BOY really a translation? What is the source material the translation was produced from? For example, if someone were to tell you they have produced an accurate translation of a 3,000 year old Middle Eastern text in the midst of a number mistranslated works how do you know if their work is any better than the others that exist? Other christian groups such as the Catholics and Protestants have bible's that they claim are accurate translations how does one know that the BOY isn't any different than them? The only way one can know is by researching the issues.

A practical example is the following. If someone were to ask me how does the Hebrew text of Isaiah 8:20 translate from Hebrew to English, I would answer in the following way. (Translation) To the Torah and the testimony/tradition/witness;  if a matter doesn't speak like this, it has no dawn.

Said person may say to themselves, how do I know if Ehav translated that correctly? The obvious next step would be for said person demand that I show them what original Hebrew text I translated from. If I actually translated it based on a source then I should have no problem presenting you with the following. Further, they may also demand that I show the oldest versions of Isaiah to compare them to determine if there was ever a change in the text. My response to them would be the following. Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 8:20, in Hebrew looks like this:



Isaiah Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls

Note: The last word of the first line is the beginning of the statement in question.




Further, you may look at the original text and express the reality that you cannot read it for yourself to which I can take the text and word for word break it down for you in the following way.

Translation - Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 8:20
"To the Torah (לתורה) and to the testimony/witness/revelation (ולתעודה); if a matter doesn't speak like this (אם-לא יאמרו כדבר הזה), it has no dawn (אין-לו שחר)."

The following words are really important for what I am going to be presenting. It concerns the words:

The above is from the Isaiah Scroll of the Dead Sea scrolls. This particular section of it states to the testimony/witness/revelation (ולתעודה). Now what one has to notice about this is the word (ולתעודה) is derived from the root word (ע-ו-ד), which means witness, testimony, custom. It is important to note that this root is also used for witnesses that are inspected for accuracy in courts. All of this can be found on page 589 of the Analytical Hebrew an Chaldee Lexicon as well page 1048 of Jastrow's Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Yerushalmi, and Midrashic Literature.

Another word in question could be the following.

This is also from the same Isaiah scroll and it states, it has no dawn (אין-לו שחר). The Hebrew word (שחר) means the early dawn between the time when it is still dark and about to transition into sunrise. All of this can be found on page 709 of the Analytical Hebrew an Chaldee Lexicon as well page 1551 of Jastrow's Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Yerushalmi, and Midrashic Literature.

If there is a possibility that I have mistranslated for any number of reasons than your question may cause me to either ignore you or to simply pretend as if you should just take my word on it because I am right. Any rational person would consider that they may need to look at the issue on their own in order know for sure. Anyone who reads this is free to choose to either accept, reject, or argue with my translation but they do not have to rely on for the correct understanding. Further, said person may determine that instead of trusting me, or anyone else for that matter, they should learn the languages for themselves and cut out the middle men.

This is the basis for the following posts about the HOY's book and though they are a christian organization in America I feel duty bound as a Jew to bring awareness to people who may be fooled by organizations like this who are basically put out a faulty product. I also am using this forum to respond to some of the HOY members who make comments in the comments section of the review. With this introduction I will post my further comments about the BOY.

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