Translation talk:Exodus

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For Exodus 4, which I'm translating, my source is the traditional Masoretic text, and for translating I've relied on four English public domain translations for help: John Nelson Darby's Translation, the Authorised/Common Version/King James Bible, Young's Literal Translation, and Walter Porter's ACV. In addition, I've used Strong's Concordance and Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions for help with Hebrew. When really stumped, I've turned for assistance to the Septuagint Greek Text and its translation by Brenton, and to the Vulgate and its Douay-Rheims translation. Fontwords 15:44, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

For Exodus 1, I'm using and consulting the following texts:

The Torah: A Modern Commentary by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1981 - which contains the traditional Masoretic text.

The Harper Collins Study Bible by HarperCollins Publishers, 1993 - this uses the New Revised Standard Version.

The NIV Study Bible by Zondervan Publishing House, 1995 - the New International Version

The Holy Bible, Translated from the Latin Vulgate, by the John Murphy Company, 1914 - a reprinting of the Douay Rheims Version (Old Testament in 1609, New Testament in 158)

Online sources include:

The King James Version - from [[1]]

A Hebrew-English Bible - from [[2]]


Sources for Exodus 34[edit]

I used the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia as my base text for the Leningrad Codex. Unfortunately, there are no extant manuscripts from the Aleppo Codex. For the Greek, I consulted Rahlf's edition of the Septuagint (Editio altera) and the Göttingen edition. I also consulted the Biblia Sacra Vulgata.

I use Koehler & Baumgartner's Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, and Lust's A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint. For Hebrew grammars I prefer Joüon & Muraoka's A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. I also consult Waltke & O'Connor's An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, and Arnold & Choi's A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. I've also recently been impressed with Weingreen's Hebrew Grammar.

I consulted the KJV, the NRSV, and the NIV to see how translators have treated certain passages in the past, but if any influence is found in my translation it is most likely the result of my familiarity with the KJV.

New Chapter 1[edit]

I have no familiarity with KJV, or any other bible, I only read parts of the bible in Hebrew. I retranslated chapter 1, here are the salient differences:

Raubn, Shmoun, Lui, and Ieude; Ishshkr, Zbuln, and Bnimn; Dn and Nphthli; Gd and Ashr.

This is terrible, it breaks up the reading and there are good conventions for all these names in English.

Come on, we shall be wise to them, lest they increase, and it becomes that there shall be war, they are added even on the ones who hates us, and they fights us, and they leaves from the land?"

Aside from the slight grammar errors, the text uses a singular for the "nation of Israel" and it is possible to maintain that in the English by using a feminine singular, which I did.

"Ba parech" does not mean "ruthless", it means something closer to backbreaking.

But the biggest change is this:

And the midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women. They're full of life! ((1:19) Heb., "lively") Before the midwife can come to them, they've given birth."

This is just a laughably absurd mistranslation (it appears elsewhere too). The word translated as "lively" actually means "animal", and the midwives are saying that the Hebrews are like animals, giving birth without help. 08:37, 27 November 2010 (UTC)

But it's not just a mistranslation to read hayot as lively. When you find the word "animals" in the Bible, it has a dagesh in the yod: hayyot. This hayot is pronounced differently. Now, if you want to make the argument that the Hebrew text is wrong here, and it should be read as hayyot is one thing. But saying things like "laughably absurd translation" to describe what nearly every other translator that yourself has done with this verse just shows that you haven't done your homework here. Alephb (talk) 02:37, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
There's no such thing as a "Dagesh" on the "Yod", the word is pronounced EXACTLY THE SAME as any other occurence of Chayyot. You made this up. The word is "Animal". The word is "animal" without ANY SHRED OF DOUBT, and the fact that you would make up nonsense just to preserve the authority of the other idiots who misread this before you is telling.
All right, I'll ignore the insults for the moment and explain. Here's the word that appears in Exodus 1:19 -- חָיוֹת. And here's the word that appears in Ezekiel 1:5 -- חַיֹּות. That little dot, inside the yod in the reference from Ezekiel, is called a dagesh. A dagesh used to do something called gemination, which is where consonant sound is lengthened. So the word in Exodus is pronounced cha-yot but the word in Ezekiel is chay-yot.
The problem we're coming up against here is that modern Hebrew does not preserve gemination, just like it doesn't preserve the pronunciation of ayin except maybe for some old Mizrahis here and there. Likewise, English doesn't use gemination for distinctions of meaning except in very rare cases. This could lead an English-speaker or a modern Israeli Hebrew-speaker to think that there's no such this as a dagesh, I suppose. But what would you call the little dot present every time that chayyot appears except in the single instance of Exodus 1:19. The only way that you would realize dagesh makes a difference is if you either spent some time with the study of biblical Hebrew specifically or learned biblical Hebrew in a religious context.
But I'm not making this up, regardless. To prove that I'm not making it up, I did a literature search to see if I could find people noticing that the chayot in Exodus 1:19 is not like other chayyot. And I found Meir Sternberg's Hebrew between Cultures, which mentions the issue on page 252; William Henry Propp's commentary Exodus 1-18, page 140; Gordon Davies, Israel in Egypt, page 67; Trevor Dennis, Sarah Laughed, page 93. I'm sure they're not the only ones.
In general, just because you haven't heard of a feature of biblical Hebrew doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or that I'm making stuff up. Alephb (talk) 00:23, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, ok, I understand now what you are talking about. But you have to understand the context of this verse--- it is completely obvious that the statement that the midwives are making is "they are animals, they don't need a midwife". It is obvious because nobody who reads Hebrew pays all that much attention to the dageshes, because the language is meant to be read without any vowels at all. The vowels were stuck on later.
The reason you know it's "animal" is because animals don't need midwives. The sentiment makes sense, and shows you something of Pharaoh's Egyptian supremacy ideas. It's a lie to protect the babies.
But there is a THEOLOGICAL PROBLEM here! The midwives are clearly LYING to Pharaoh, to protect the children, and instead of being punished for lying, they are rewarded. So the theological people got their panties in a bunch. To resolve this problem, the interpreters added a retarded "dagesh" to a Yud (yud never gets a dagesh, and it wouldn't in ancient times either), the dagesh is meaningless everywhere except in this one verse, where it is used to substitute a meaning "lively" for "animal" which can turn the obvious lie into a perhaps truth (although it is still certainly a lie, you could stop seeing it as such). It also is less demeaning for the Hebrew women. This "dagesh" on the Yud just doesn't make any sense. Yod is not a letter that needs or takes dageshes.
So let's put it this way: I DISAGREE with the "lively" interpretation. It is OBVIOUSLY TOTALLY WRONG. The correct interpretation is "animals", as is obvious immediately if you read Hebrew natively. The other interpreters are all following each other in an incestuous circle-jerk. The point of this project is to make a NEW translation, and this should be accurate to the text, not to the thousands of years of theological seminary nonsense that has made this simple text much more hard-to-read and sophisticated sounding than it is. It is a simple text, with simple meaning.
Please sign your posts.
Let's start with the issue of dageshes again, because you're building a conspiracy theory based on, once again, reading modern Hebrew into ancient Hebrew. Ancient Hebrew geminated a variety of letters at times, including yod. I know, I know, in modern Hebrew the only letters affected by a dagesh are bet, kaf, and pe. As a result, you're assuming that the the Masoretes added dageshes to yuds in some kind of conspiratorial attempt to make the midwives not use the word animals. But forms of chay/chayyat/chayyah/chayyim, whether they refer to animals or to life more generally take a dagesh on the yod in a lot of passages -- Genesis 1:20, Genesis 1:21, Genesis 1:24, Genesis 1:25, Genesis 1:28, Genesis 1:30, Genesis 1:31 -- and that's just the first chapter of Genesis.
If the Masoretes invented yods on dageshes all for the sake of lying to the reader about one verse in Exodus, why did they put dageshes on yods in other words as well? As in vayyomer (Genesis 1:3, 6), vayyare (1:4, 13), vayyabdel (1:4, 7), vayyiqra (1:5, 8), vayyaas (1:7), hayyabasha (1:9),
And it's not just yod that geminates in ancient but not modern Hebrew. There's a dagesh on a dalet in Genesis 1:6, 7; on a gimel in 1:16; on a lamed in Genesis 1:14; on a mem in Genesis 1:3, 6, 10; on a nun in on a quf in Genesis 1:9; on a shin in Genesis 1:1, on a tav in Genesis 1:7, 12. And those aren't even most of the dageshes in a single chapter of the Tanakh, and there's about a thousand chapters. So vast theological conspiracy to befuddle readers goes far that the Masoretes put tens or hundreds of thousands of dageshes all over the Bible. Either that or I'm not just making stuff up, and gemination is a real thing in some languages, even if it doesn't show up today in Israel. Alephb (talk) 18:07, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
I'm not saying it's a CONSPIRACY, I am saying this INTERPRETATION of "lively" is old. That doesn't make it a conspiracy, it makes it a universal religious interpretation. It is just WRONG as to the text. The wrong interpretation has infected the dagesh system. I am not wrong as to the text, the text is "animal" with 100% certainty, and "lively" with 0% likelihood. 13:32, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Well, further up this thread you were saying that there's no such thing as a dagesh on a yod, and you apparently hadn't heard of gemination till this week, so forgive me if I'm not impressed when you throw around numbers like "100% certainty" and "0% likelihood" with regard to whether the "lively" interpretation "infected" the dagesh system. You simultaneously keep saying two things -- first, that you had zero education in biblical Hebrew prior to showing up at Wikisource, and second, that you know better than the makers of pretty much every translation ever. It's an odd pair of things to claim simultaneously. And just how old do you think the interpretation as "lively" is? It would have to be around more than a thousand years ago to have any impact on the dageshim, and yet Rashi doesn't mention it. Do you have some kind of evidence that the "lively" interpretation existed prior to 1000 CE, or is this more speculation on your part?Alephb (talk) 03:49, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
100% certainty is only as to whether the correct translation is "animal" or something else. It's animal. With 100% certainty. It has 0% ambiguity. It's not ambiguous, unlike other places, where words are ambiguous. This is not one of those places. This is just plain animal, with no ambiguity.
What chain of events led to "lively" appearing in the translations, I don't give a shit, because I don't read the Bible in translation, and all these translations are incorrect, as I can see, because I read the language. There's no such thing as a dagesh on a Yud (or a daled, or a mem). It's an absolutely meaningless fabrication with no sound justification, ancient or modern. The reason people stuff tons of useless dots on letters is because they want to preserve some 20 years of Rabbinical debate about interpretation, each dot represents the equivalent of at least 2 PhD thesis of theology.
If you ignore theology, and just read the text as a normal native speaker, you can ignore all the dots except those that disambiguate pronunciation, and that's exactly what I do, and that's what you must be able to do to get a good translation. And if you can't do it, go to Ulpan for a while (for a person trained in Bible Hebrew, it's a very short while) until you speak Hebrew completely fluently, you can think it, you can speak it, you can PRODUCE it, and you can tell when a bit is grammatical or not. Write in Bible Hebrew for a while, just to get the hang of it, and then you'll read it the same way as any other fluent speaker.
What I am demonstrating by example, in case you didn't notice, is that Josef random Israeli with no religious education at all, no concordance, rusty Hebrew, and no study of ancient grammar, can read the ancient text fluently, and better than all non-fluent speakers combined. This fact has been known to all Hebrew speakers for 100 years, I am sorry you didn't get the memo. That's why modern Hebrew was hideously controversial 150 years ago, and detested and opposed ferociously by the Haredi Jews. It removed their monopoly on the language of the Bible, and freed secular people to read the Bible fluently, without religious interpretation or any formal seminary study standing in the way. It was like the Protestant reformation of Judaism, and it was done by a generation of Marxists, who had a new religion to replace Judaism also, and modern Hebrew wiped out traditional Judaism in Israel for the first 20 years of its existence. The Marxists Jews are all dead now, but secular Hebrew remains.
There are two traditions in Israel regarding Biblical literature, secular and religious. There are two independent separate school systems, and they differ mostly as to how they read Bible, with theology, or without. I am translating according to the SECULAR ISRAELI school system, which is preserving the secular Zionist reading, which had zero theology. It is not true that I had no training in Biblical Hebrew, I went to secular Israeli school for enough years to read Bible fluently (like, 1 period a day for a few years, not a lot, it doesn't take much. You don't need to go to Israeli secular school to read the way I do, you just need to be fluent in Hebrew. My grandfather, for example, read the whole Bible secularly when he first learned Hebrew, that was the first thing he did as a new immigrant in 1964, it took him less than a year, and he learned Hebrew as a second language late in life, and never went to college or Israeli school --- he didn't go to college because he happened to be enslaved in 1943, not because he was not academically inclined).RonMaimon (talk) 04:53, 30 July 2017 (UTC)

While I appreciate your toning down the insults, a more usual way to do that on a Wiki talk page would be to use strikethrough, because once you remove this [3] without leaving any trace, it distorts the flow of the converstation. Now the conversation has me objecting to uncivil language that has magically disappeared. Alephb (talk) 09:45, 30 July 2017 (UTC)

Chapter 2[edit]

The issues are: "Stranger in a strange land" is "Ger be-eretz nochriah", which is better rendered as "Stranger in a foreign land", but this is an established biblical phrase, so this is not to be done lightly.

The other issues are the traditional beefing up of the Hebrew with needless interpretation, especially towards the end. The terse renditions are more accurate, so that "God knew" is better than "God recongnized them", which is an interpretation (the Hebrew for recongnize and know are not the same as they are in English), and the text doesn't say what God knew exactly. 14:47, 27 November 2010 (UTC)

Chapter 3[edit]

"Ehieh asher ehieh" is "I will be what I will be", or "I'll be what I'll be", I rendered the former to avoid contractions. The tense change to "I am that I am" is not terrible, but the "that" should be what, so that it is "I am what I am", but this is too Popeye. This is apparently a mash-up of a Yahwist and Elohist source, with the seam right at the point of "I'll be what I'll be". 16:05, 27 November 2010 (UTC)

You're applying modern Hebrew tenses to biblical Hebrew. The biblical Hebrew doesn't have "future" or "present" tenses in the modern sense of the terms. Alephb (talk) 02:03, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
You are totally wrong. Any Hebrew speaker can read the Biblical Hebrew and immediately identify what the tenses are.
Please sign your posts. And no, a speaking knowledge of modern Hebrew tenses, which fit neatly into yiqtol = future, qotel = present, qatal = past, does not "immediately" allow an understanding of biblical Hebrew tenses. This is a very basic issue, which could be cleared up by reading any recent grammar of biblical Hebrew. If biblical Hebrew tenses were a simple matter, scholars of ancient Hebrew wouldn't still be arguing about it and writing dissertations on it. For a thread where actual biblical scholars argue about the issue, see here: [4]. It simply isn't true that understanding modern Hebrew's past/present/future distinction maps simply onto biblical Hebrew. And since you repeatedly call for native Hebrew speakers, here's a native modern Hebrew speaker explaining that they are two "very different languages" in her words: [5]. Here's a native Hebrew speaker explaining that the biblical yiqtol, qatal, wayyiqtol, and weqatal don't map neatly onto "tenses": [6]. The tense system of Modern Israeli Hebrew is super-simple: there's the past, there's the present, there's the future. Not so in biblical Hebrew.
The inflectional morphology is the same (with the exception of gemination) between biblical and modern Hebrew, and Mishnaic and Talmudic Hebrew for that matter. Of course any Hebrew speaker will recognize that. But the function of the yiqtol/qatal/wayyiqtol/weqatal forms has changed. Modern Hebrew partially follows the Mishnaic system, which is hundreds of years younger than biblical Hebrew, and works in a way that is more similar to European languages. Alephb (talk) 01:08, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Listen, dude, I KNOW THE TENSES ARE DIFFERENT IN MODERN HEBREW. But if you speak Hebrew natively, you GET USED TO BIBLICAL TENSES after about 10 minutes, and you know exactly when everything happens! I translated to keep the tenses more or less the same in English, so that you would get used to the tenses in English the same way you get used to the tenses in Hebrew. There's no need for dissertations, I understand the text (aside from some rare hard words), and I had absolutely no education, aside from being born a Hebrew speaker. And I'm not some exception, it's everyone who speaks Hebrew natively.
You can have people say "They are two different languages" until they are blue in the face, but I can READ THE TEXT, and see that they are not different languages. The tenses are different, but only inasmuch as you need to get used to the weirdness of futurish and pastish tenses which point every which way. But you get used to it in ten minutes, and lots of modern Hebrew speakers use the crazy Biblical tense to sound all formal and stuffy, so it's not even all that weird in modern Hebrew.
Please try to sign your posts. Alephb (talk) 18:08, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

Chapter 4[edit]

This was a nearly flawless translation, I repeated the work, just to make the style identical to ch 1-3, but the results are nearly the same. I borrowed three short phrases where this phrasing was superior to mine, and I inserted wholecloth the "Yahweh" business and comment in 4: 01:01, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

Previous chapter 4[edit]

And Moses answered and said, "But look--they will not believe me, nor listen to my voice, for they will say, 'Yahweh has not appeared to you.'"

2 And Yahweh said to him, "What is that in your hand?"

And he said, "A rod."

3And he said, "Throw it on the ground." And he threw it on the ground. And it became a snake, and Moses fled from it.

4And Yahweh said to Moses, "Put out your hand, and take it by the tail," (and he put out his hand, and grabbed it, and it became a rod in his hand) 5"so that they may believe that Yahweh, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you."

6And Yahweh said also to him, "Now put your hand into your bosom." And he put his hand into his bosom. And when he took it out, look: his hand was leprous, like snow. 7And he said, "Put your hand into your bosom again." And he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold: it was turned back like his flesh [normally was]. 8"And it will happen, if they will not believe you, nor listen to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the other sign. 9And it will happen, if they will not believe even these two signs, that you shall take the waters of the river, and pour [them] on the dry land, and it will happen that the waters which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land."

10And Moses said to Yahweh, "O Yahweh [(4:10--Yahweh)The Masoretic text reads "Adonai," or "Lord," here, but the Massorah indicates that originally the name "Yhwh," translated by many scholars as "Yahweh," originally stood here in the text.], I am not a man of words, neither yesterday, nor before, nor since you have spoken to your servant, for I am slow-mouthed and slow-tongued."

11And Yahweh said to him, "Who made man's mouth? Or who made the mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? 12And now, go and I will be with your mouth, and teach you what you will say."

13 And he said, "O Yahweh [1], please send by the hand [of whomever else] you will send."

14And the anger of Yahweh burned against Moses, and he said, "Isn't Aaron the Levite your brother? I know he speaks well. And also, look: he's coming to meet you. When he sees you, then he will be glad in his heart. 15And you will speak to him, and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what to do. 16And he will speak for you to the people. And will happen, that he will be to you for a mouth, and you will be to him for God. 17And you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do signs."

18And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, "Please let me go and return to my brothers who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive."

And Jethro said to Moses in Midian, "Go in peace."

19And Yahweh said to Moses in Midian, "Go, return to Egypt, for all the men who sought your life have died." 20And Moses took his wife and his sons, and had them ride on the donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt, and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

21And Yahweh said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders which I have put in your hand, in front of Pharaoh. And I will harden his heart, and he will not send the people away. 22 And you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Yahweh says this: My son, my firstborn is Israel. 23And I tell you, send away my son, that he may serve me. And if you refuse to send him away, look: I will kill your son, your firstborn."

24And it came to pass on the way, in a lodging-place, that Yahweh met him, and sought to kill him. 25Then Zipporah took a flint stone, and cut off her son's foreskin, and touched it to his feet, and said, "Surely a bridegroom of blood you [are] to me." 26And he let him alone. Then she said, "A bridegroom of blood" in reference to the circumcision.

27And Yahweh said to Aaron, "Go meet Moses in the wilderness." And he went and met him on the mountain of God, and kissed him. 28And Moses declared to Aaron all the words of Yahweh which he had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him. 29And Moses went--along with Aaron--and they gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. 30 And Aaron spoke all the words which Yahweh had spoken to Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31And the people believed when they heard that Yahweh had looked after the sons of Israel, and that he had seen their affliction, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.


  1. (4:13--Yahweh) Though the Masoretic text has "Adonai," "Yahweh is the original reading, as in verse 10.


This is a hard translation--- the word Cherub has drifted in meaning so much, so that the word has a cuddly cute naked baby image firmly implanted in the mind, and it is supposed to be a fearsome creature.

The question of whether the Cherubs are human-like or animal like is to my mind settled by the description here and in the prophets. The heads of the Cherubs are suppsoed to be resting on the cover of the ark of the covenant, and this is not reasonable if they are upright human-like creatures. The psalm where Yahweh is riding a Cherub is also problematic if they are winged humanlike angels, because it is a really crappy image to have Yahweh riding down on the shoulders of a dinky angel.

The proper image is, I am pretty confident, a sort of mythical creature with different animal parts and wings. The Griffin is the closest I could think of, and some forms of Griffin are nearly identical to the description of Cherubs given in the bible. Afterwards I found out that some people think the word "Griffin" is a Cognate of "Chruvim"(the hebrew pronounciation), which is entirely plausible to my ears, since the movement Ch->G, v->f, and m->n are all natural, and the vowels are mostly conjectural anyway.

So I took the bold step of replacing all but the first occurence of Cherub with Griffin, and it seems to make the text imagery more accurate and less babyish. Maybe its too much. 12:38, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Except that a Keruv and a Griffin are two different creatures. If you want to distinguish these from the popular "Cherub" image, perhaps you could spell the whole work Keruvim and add a footnote. That way we're not reading "Griffins" into a text that doesn't have them. Alephb (talk) 02:39, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
Except that "Griffin" is roughly accurate for the type of creature, and you are an incompetent and religiously motivated mis-translator.
Please, explain to me how my religious beliefs, which I've never announced on Wikisource, are influencing my translation choice. Showing me which verses I've translated in a way that would only be done by someone of my religion, whatever you think that is. Alephb (talk) 03:51, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
The only place is where you got rid of "animals", and the religious thing is because you make the Hebrew sound TOO FORMAL. It's not formal! In the early books, it's simple! It's also sing-songy and childlike, and you need to keep that feeling. You're clearly honest and well-meaning, sorry.
Please sign your posts. Alephb (talk) 18:09, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
I would like you to explain to me what is your idea that Griffin and Cherub are different. The creature Griffin looks accurate.RonMaimon (talk) 15:41, 24 July 2017 (UTC)

Chapter 34[edit]

This older translation was already here, and it is probably superior to the later one, but I put in mine for the sake of style agreement with the rest of the book. I cannibalized the term "shine" (I originally thought to use glow), and I will cannibalize all the comments, which are very illuminting.

The only major difference in meaning is in one place, in verse 20.

וְלֹא-יֵרָאוּ פָנַי רֵיקָם

In this vocalization, it means "My face will not be seen absent these", but if the pronunciation of "Yirau" is really "Yir-u", then it means "they will not see my face absent these". I used the traditional masoretic pronunciation, and the other translation used the other possible pronunciation.

After reading the appropriate comment, I went along with the active reading, which is more straightforward, and seems better supported by the historical record. 09:51, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Chapter 34 (earlier)[edit]

1And Yahweh said to Moses, “Carve for yourself two tablets of stone like the first; and I will write upon the tablets the words which were on the first tablets, which you broke.

2“And prepare yourself in the morning, and you will go up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and you will stand before me there on the top of the mountain

3“And no man shall go up with you, nor shall any man be seen in the entire mountain; nor shall the flocks and cattle be seen in front of the mountain.”

4And he carved two tablets of stone like the first; and Moses arose in the morning and went up Mount Sinai, just as יהוה commanded him. And he took in his hand two tablets of stone.

5And Yahweh descended in the cloud and he stood there with him. And he called out in the name of Yahweh.

6And Yahweh passed by his face, and he shouted, “O Yahweh, O Yahweh, merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and full of compassion and truth!

7“You who shows compassion to thousands; you who takes away iniquity and injustice and sin; and that will by no means release them, as you avenge the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children of the children until the third and until the fourth generation!”

8And Moses hurried and bowed himself to the ground and worshipped.

9And he said, “If, by chance, I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, please depart, my lord, from our presence. Though the people are obdurate, forgive our iniquities and our sins, and take us as your possession.”

10And he said, “Observe. I cut a covenant: before all of your people I will do wonders which have not been done in all the lands and all the nations; and all the people, in whose presence you are, will see the works of יהוה, for it is to awesome, that which I will do with you.

11“Hold to that which I command you today. Observe, I will drive out from before you the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivvites, and the Jebusites.[1]

12“Watch yourself, lest you cut a covenant with the inhabitants of the land in which you enter, and they become a snare in your midst.

13“For you must break down their altars, and completely destroy their standing stones, and cut down their[2] cultic poles.[3]

14“For you will not worship another god,[4] because יהוה, whose name is Zealot, is a zealous god.

15“Lest you cut a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they prostitute themselves out to their gods, and offer sacrifices to their gods, and one call you and you eat from their sacrifice;

16“And you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters prostitute themselves out to their gods, and cause your sons to go whoring after their gods.

17“You shall not make gods of cast idols.

18“You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you at the appointed time in the month of Abib; because in the month of Abib you left Egypt.

19“All the firstborn of the womb are mine, and all your cattle, you shall remember, which is firstborn, whether ox or sheep.

20“And you will redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, and if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem, for they shall not appear before me[5] empty handed.

21“Six days you will labor, and on the seventh day you will cease from plowing and harvesting, and you shall rest.

22“You shall perform for yourself the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the feast of the ingathering at the end of the year.

23“Three times in the year, all your males will appear before the lord[6] יהוה, the god of Israel.

24“For I will cast out the nations from your presence, and I will spread out your borders, and no man shall desire your land when you go up to appear before Yahweh your God three times in the year.

25“You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover remain over night until the morning.

26“The best of the firstfruits of your land you will bring to the house of Yahweh your God. You shall not boil a goat in its mother’s milk.”

27And יהוה said to Moses, “Write for yourself these words, for by way of these words I have cut a covenant with you and with Israel.”

28And he was there, with יהוה forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water, and he wrote upon the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

29And it happened when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, that there were two tablets of the law in the hand of Moses. When he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone as he spoke to him.

30And Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to approach him.

31And Moses called out to them, and they returned to him, Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation, and Moses spoke to them.

32And afterward all the sons of Israel drew near, and he commanded them in all that Yahweh said to him in Mount Sinai.

33And Moses finished speaking with them, and he had placed a veil over his face.

34And when Moses came before יהוה to speak with him, he removed the veil until he went back out; and he went out and told the sons of Israel that which he had been commanded.

35And the sons of Israel feared the presence of Moses, because the skin of Moses’ face shone, and Moses again put the veil over his face until he came to speak with him.


  1. (34:1)The Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint include, “and the Girgashites.”
  2. (34:2)The Masoretic Text reads, “his cultic poles,” but readings in the Syriac, the Targums, and the Septuagint confirm the plural pronominal suffix.
  3. (34:3)The Septuagint adds, “and the carved images of their gods you will burn in fire.”
  4. (34:4)The Septuagint has the plural, “other gods.”
  5. (34:5)The the phrase יֵרָאוּ פָנַי alludes to a commandment first appearing in Exod 23:17. In the prefix conjugation there is no distinction in morphology between the Qal and Niphal, but the phrase appears in the infinitive construct in Exod 34:24, Deut 31:11, and Isa 1:12, and in all three instances the verb is vocalized in the Niphal, but is lacking the ה. The original reading was Qal (“to see”), but theological concerns led to the emendation of the text, rendering the verb passive rather than active. There is direct textual evidence that supports the Qal reading of Isa 1:12. Targum Neofiti records a variant reading For Deut 31:11 that is active. The Fragment Targums do the same for Exod 34:20. The Mekhilta of R. Ishmael interprets Exod 23:17 actively, stating the blind were exempt from the commandment. The original reading would be “to see the face of God.” Exod 33:20 does not preclude the original reading. For further discussion, see Carmel McCarthy, The Tiqqune Sopherim (Switzerland: Institute of the University of Fribourg, 1981), 198–204; E. Jenni, Theologisches Handwörterbuch zum Alten Testament (Munich, 1971), 2:695f; Kohler & Baumgartner, “ראה,” HALOT 2.1160; Joüon & Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2006), 139. Gary Rendsburg maintains that the elision of the ה in Niphal infinitive constructs is normal (although not as common as in the Hiphil), based on the occurrence in Mishnaic Hebrew. See Rendsburg, “Laqtil Infinitives: Yiph’il or Hiph’il?” Orientalia 51.2 (1982): 233–35.
  6. (34:6)The Samaritan Pentateuch reads “before the ark of יהוה.”

קָּרֶשׁ Board or Plank?[edit]

I used board, following another translator's choice, but in modern Hebrew it's definitely plank. 07:08, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

It's definitely plank. The word for board is לֻחֹת, which also appears, and has connotions of writing surface, as in the English. 02:17, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
Just to be clear--- the other translator is the 1917 Jewish translation. 09:52, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Negev-ward Teiman-ward[edit]

I was struggling to understand why "south" was rendered differently in this book, usually it's just "Negev-ward". I think it's to remove any ambiguity, because Sinai is south of the Negev, Negev-ward is north of Sinai. So they added "Teiman-wards" to put something further south than the Sinai there. I left the direction indicators there for this reason--- it's not the usual idiom for "south". 17:18, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

Just to clarify the comment: Teiman means Yemen, which is what is south of Sinai. 06:10, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Right -- Negevward means toward the Negev, not always south. For an example where it north, see Genesis 13:1. Alephb (talk) 02:41, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

"Caftor" button or knob[edit]

The word "button" in English has connotations of a movable object, like a pushbutton or a clothes button. The Hebrew has more connotations of a "knob", which is certainly what is being described. 02:30, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Karnaim -- horns or emanations?[edit]

The "Karnaim" on the altar are some sort of emanations, but I am not sure if they are traditional horn shapes, as the word "horn" implies in English. Maybe they were some sort of hooks to hang the meat on as it cooked. 09:42, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

שֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר[edit]

I rendered this, almost certainly wrongly, as "sixfold wrought cloth". From the roots, it reads something like "six of strange-feel", but "shesh" could be a loanword or an onomatopoeia, and then it would be "weird-feeling shesh-cloth". Maybe this is satin or velvet, but I wasn't sure, and I don't know the detailed history of ancient haberdashery.

תוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי, approximately second-twined I rendered as "second-weave". This is not really right. It's maybe something like a knit, where you first make yarn by one process, then you knit the stuff in a second process. But unlike the "shesh", which might be a loan, here the "sheni" is surely means "second", so the translation is not as crappy.

I still don't know about "pleated" for the clothes. That's the 1917 translation, but these clothing terms are weird. 20:43, 30 January 2011 (UTC)


This is the same passive construction as in 34:20: "my face will not be seen absent these". Should this be active too? It's the same sentence. 02:47, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

Tense struggle[edit]

There are long passages where Yahweh says "And you did this, and you did that" all in past tense, but he means "and you will do this and you will do that." The exact meaning is "And you will have done this and you will have done that", in a very long future-past tense in English, but this is the wrong translation, because the hebrew is not so verbose.

The solution I came up with is to use the past tense in English, throwing in a few future tenses every once in a while, so the reader understands that this is about the future. The readers reference frame eventually shifts so that the past tense is refering to a future time, and this frame shifting is exactly what the Hebrew reader does. Unfortunately, this doesn't look too good from a consistency standpoint, and some places I used more future tenses than past, and in other places, more past than future. I suppose a good balance can be struck by a later reviewer. 04:40, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

Biblical Hebrew uses what is called the "Vav Ha-hipuch" - a vav prefix which changes the tense from past to future or vice-versa. --Eliyak T·C 19:39, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
No, it's not what you learned. It's exactly what I said. What you learned is non-native-speaking bullshit.RonMaimon (talk) 11:16, 30 August 2017 (UTC)
No one is a native speaker of ancient Hebrew. Not alive today, anyhow. The "will have done" is nonsense, and it's what you get when you try to apply the grammar spoken in Israel today to texts written 2500 years ago. Alephb (talk) 23:48, 31 August 2017 (UTC)

It is clear that it's referring to a future event that is as certain as if it already happened. This is an indirect quote from the general prologue of the Wycliffe translation, and a similar note is in Young's literal translation, albeit with more explicit reference to hebrew. JustinCB (talk) 12:02, 14 October 2017 (UTC)

I'm not 100% sure you are talking about the same phenomenon this conversation was previously about, Justin. Maybe the conversation would be clearer if we were talking about specific verses. There's a number of ways that the Hebrew system doesn't match what goes on in European tense-based systems. (As a side note, Hebrew grammar has come a long way since Wycliffe, and Robert Young's approach to the tenses was considered really eccentric even in his own time.) Alephb (talk) 03:07, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
I am 100% sure he's talking about the same phenomenon. He's explaining that "Then you did this" and "Then you did that", when referring to future events, is moving the perspective to the future time, when you find that "this" and "that" are done. In English, that would be "Then you will have done this" and "Then you will have done that", just as I explained it to you. This is OBVIOUS to every single native speaker who reads the text, as I explained to you, and all that JustinCB is doing is pointing out that it was obvious to Wycliff and Young too. Yet you keep going on with this overly-academic nonsense about Hebrew system being weird and unique, when it's totally not.RonMaimon (talk) 04:01, 29 November 2017 (UTC)

On the recent reversions of Exodus 1[edit]

Recently our anonymous IP friend reverted, and I revorted right back, in a manner which affects various things between Exodus 1:7 and 1:20. I feel I should explain myself. I'll use (IP) to indicate the IP edits, and (AB) to indicate mine.

1:7 — "sons of Israel bore fruit and teemed" (IP), "Israelites were abundantly fertile" (AB). The terms bore fruit and teemed don't mean much at all in contemporary English, while were abundantly fertile covers the meaning pretty well. "Sons of Israel", in English, would seem to mean literally sons of Israel, but bnei yisrael is just a bog-standard way of talking about the Israelites in Hebrew. As the IP has a fondness for translating tersely to match the terseness of Hebrew, perhaps he will consider "Israelites" here.

"very very much (IP) vs. "to a very great extent" (AB). very very has a very very informal sound in English, which I don't think the Hebrew. Perhaps a terser middle ground might be to read "very greatly." It's redundant, fairly concise, and not jarringly informal.

1:8 — "took over" (IP) vs. "arose over" (AB). Took over connotes an agressing takeover of the country, but wayyaqam doesn't. Plus, "arose" is nicely literal here but still comprehensible.

1:10 — "add themselves to our detesters" vs. "join our enemies". The context is clear enough — the Pharaoh is not worried that the Israelites will start detesting the Egyptians; he's worried that they'll fight against them.

1:11 — "tax overseers, for agonizing them in their suffering" vs. "task-masters to oppress them with forced labor." But the crucial term mas here doesn't refer to taxation, but to forced labor. That can be seen both from the immediate context (building projects and slavery) and from other uses of the term (Gen 49:15; Deut 20:11; Josh 16:10; 1 Kings 5:13-14; 9:15).

1:16 — "saw vs. see". This weqatal verb, like most weqatal verbs, refers to something that's going to happen, not something that already has. The context makes this clear.

1:19 — IP adds the following not on chayot — "The Hebrew women are like beasts, they don't need a midwife to deliver. However, there is an idiotic mistranslation which takes the word "animal" (chaiah) to mean "lively", which is a huge stretch for the hebrew, basically choosing to interpret "they are animals" as "they are animated", and destroys the plain-as-your-nose meaning to something ridiculous." The IP editor here, based on his belief that "there is no such thing as a dagesh on a yod", is unfairly belittling the translations of virtually every translation of the Bible, whether Christian or Jewish, sectarian or ecumenical. The note should at the very least be toned down. Alephb (talk) 12:18, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

Look, the reason I reverted is because you took out the "animals" bit, which is extremely important. That's simply WRONG, and you need to see it as wrong. The word "Chayot" means ANIMALS, it does not mean "lively", not in this context.
If you use "bore fruit" consistently (and I did that), the reader GETS USED TO THE CONSTRUCTION IN ENGLISH, the same way that a modern speaker of Hebrew gets used to it in Hebrew. It preserves the meaning. "Sons of Israel" is just fine, people know what it means.
The other minor stuff is important too, for other reasons: the Hebrew IS INFORMAL. I know you can't see it, but that's because you don't SPEAK THE LANGUAGE NATIVELY. For a native speaker, Exodus is like a children's book, it's very informal. The Hebrew says "very very much", exactly the same simple construction as in English (meod meod). Join our detesters is what the Hebrew says, not "join our enemies", it says those who detest us, not "oyveinu" but "soneynu".
I agree with the "mas", but the word "tax" has multiple meanings in English too, just like in Hebrew. "Taxing labor" vs. "property tax", and since the terms have overlapping ambiguous meaning, I thought it would be good to keep it the same. But you disagree. I don't like that you make the Hebrew seem more formal. It just is not formal. It's simple. Like ancient tribal writing. It's not like modern Biblical writing, or even like the Ktuvim or Psalms.
Ok, tone it down, but what I said is right, and all the other translations are retarded.
Please sign your posts. Alephb (talk) 18:10, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
When it comes to tone, I worry that some of your edits are working at cross-purposes. On the one hand, you don't like when the text sounds too formal and archaic. On the other hand, you want "bore fruit" and "detesters." As for mas, does the English word tax ever refer to forcing people to work for you? And does the Hebrew term ever refer to anything but forcing people to labor? Is there ever a passage in ancient Hebrew where mas clearly refers to something monetary. I'm guessing here that you're relying here on your super-fine knowledge of modern Hebrew, which uses mas for monetary taxes and fees. Fine. But does ancient Hebrew ever use mas that way? I don't think it does, but I'm open to correction. But if you don't know of any case where ancient Hebrew uses mas that way, then I would prefer that the translation reflects what mas meant in the ancient world, and not what it means to a modern Hebrew speaker. Alephb (talk) 18:21, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
The word "mas" I believe appeared at the end of Exodus when the taxes on the community was decided, but I don't remember anymore. I don't believe I have seen "mas" refer to labor anywhere, not even here. For where "mas" appears again for sure, look at the first verse of Lamentations, where Jerusalem becomes a "mas", meaning a "tribute/burden". I translated it as "tax" there too, meaning "burden/tribute". I am not against the idea of "taskmasters", so long as it is comparable. In this case, I believe you made a mistake regarding "mas" and it means a giving of something, either labor or money, to the ruler. 13:36, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Also, the "cross purposes" are not there. "Bore fruit" is not archaic or formal, it means "bore fruit". Neither is "detesters". It just sounds unusual. Archaic would be saying "vanity" to mean "void", or "hosts" to mean "lots and lots of different creatures". I can't write archaic, because I don't know archaic English. I can write FANCY English, but I only do that where there is FANCY HEBREW, which here is only the words "detesters", and it's not very fancy in either language. It just is what it is. 13:45, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Well, it looks like mas about labor here, Deuteronomy 20:11, 1 Kings 5:14. In Isaiah 31:8, young Assyrians will "become" mas. As far as I can tell, wherever the text gives any indication of the nature of mas, it seems to be forced labor, and I haven't seen anything (except the modern use of the word) that points the other way. But I'm open-minded. If you find a passage that points the other way, I'll accept it. Alephb (talk)
So did Jerusalem become "forced labor" in Lamentations?? Jerusalem became conquered tribute. You are not appreciating that there is such a thing as human property, so it is perfectly posssible for the Assyrians to become "mas" as in slaves. But I haven't gotten there yet. I don't like your revisions, they show lack of comprehension of Hebrew.RonMaimon (talk) 15:39, 24 July 2017 (UTC)

Chapter Titles[edit]

The ones that I made could be better, but they're useful nonetheless JustinCB (talk) 11:48, 14 October 2017 (UTC)

Well, they are useful for finding what you're looking for. On the other hand, the chapter divisions are artificial and not original to the text, and adding titles reinforces the artificial impression that the text was composed in those divisions. But dividing a text into organized sub-sections fits modern writing styles a lot better than it usually fits ancient writing styles.
There's good arguments on both sides of the question, so I won't insist very hard on taking them out. It is a collaborative project, after all, and plenty of decent Bible translations have these kinds of titles. If it was just my project, I'd take them out, though. Alephb (talk) 03:15, 17 October 2017 (UTC)

"Stranger" or "Proselyte" in Exodus 12:49[edit]

I wish to suggest here a more precise translation of the Hebrew word "ger" in Exodus 12:49 (in the Wikisource translated as "stranger"). First, though, this background information.

In Lev. 17:15 we read: "And every soul that eats that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a proselyte (Heb. "ger"), he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even, etc." The Hebrew word improperly translated in most English translations as "stranger" is actually "ger," = גּר (translated as "proselyte" in the Aramaic Targum, by Onkelos). What is rarely understood by many is that the same word, "ger" when used in the Hebrew language, has actually a double-meaning. Sometimes it is used to represent the foreigner who has joined himself to the people of Israel, and who now follows their religion (i.e. a convert or proselyte to Judaism). For this reason, it says in the Torah (Num. 15:16): "One law and one ordinance shall be for you, and for the proselyte ("ger") that sojourns with you."

At other times, the same word, "ger," is used to represent someone who has not yet converted to the Jewish religion, yet lives amongst the Jewish people. Hence: stranger. For this reason, it says of him in another place: "You shall not eat of anything that dies of itself; you shall give it unto the stranger ("ger") that is in your gates, that he might eat it, etc."

Note that in one place (Deut. 14:21) the Torah says that carrion can be given as food to the "stranger" ("ger"), but in a different place cited in the verse above (Lev 17:15) the Torah says that carrion should NOT be given to a "stranger" ("ger"). The Rabbis, seeing this contradiction, said that in one case the word refers to a foreigner was has not yet converted to our religion, while in the other place, the word refers to a proselyte. Thus, we find the words translated accordingly in the Aramaic Targums and in the Greek Septuagint. (The words "stranger" in Exo. 12:49, and in Lev. 22:18, and in Num. 15:15-16, are to be understood as "proselyte").Davidbena (talk) 06:33, 22 November 2017 (UTC)

No good, soldier. "Ger" just means foreigner. The details of interpretation are religious, this is attempting to be a faithful translation, not a translation which disguises textual difficulties. You don't get to impose interpretation when translating. If there's an apparent contradiction in the Hebrew, the same apparent contradiction must appear in the English, and you can footnote the resolution. "Ger" is one syllable, it means "stranger" (2 syllables) and it doesn't mean Proselyte (3 syllables) unless you make an interpretation. Our job is translation, not interpretation.
Also, are you a speaker of Hebrew? If you don't know the language fluently or natively, I don't know how to say this nicely, don't contribute. Do not translate from Vulgate latin.RonMaimon (talk) 03:55, 29 November 2017 (UTC)
I don't know David personally, but I've seen enough of his editing history that I can assure you he's not going to translate from the Vulgate's Latin. Alephb (talk) 11:46, 29 November 2017 (UTC)