Ancient Hebrew (Phoenician) characters, with no vowel points,
from the Moabite Stone dating back to around 800 B.C.
from the Moabite Stone dating back to around 800 B.C.
The modern Hebrew characters above have added Medieval rabbinical vowel points beneath the words to show the Dark-Age rabbis' best guesses at their original sounds and possible meanings. Based on their conclusions, the English word "God" above then should be best translated as "gods" since their more modern and manufactured Hebrew word "Elohim" is the plural of "El" ("God"). In other words, the first line in the Bible would actually read: "In the beginning created gods the heavens and the earth," but you ain't suppose to know this.
ANCIENT VERSUS MODERN HEBREW
Hebrew: An Ancient Forgotten Language With No Written Vowels
Modern English is often thought to be a difficult language to translate, with its irregular spellings, numerous shades of meanings, variations in pronunciations, incorporation of countless foreign words, difficult idioms, and other peculiarities and inconsistencies. However, none of these could begin to compare with one major translating difficulty found in the biblical language of Israel, especially since Hebrew ceased to be a commonly spoken language hundreds of years before Jesus Christ arrived. “In regard to the Old Testament, the Hebrew language, as anciently written, was the most difficult of all languages to translate,” wrote Bible-scholar John E. Remsburg in his work entitled The Bible. In one of thirty weekly installments from his book which began to appear in The Truth Seeker at the beginning of January in 1901 he went on to explain that
"It was written from right to left; the words contained no [written] vowels; there were no intervening spaces between words, and no punctuation marks. Even with the introduction of vowel points [dots or marks below the words that indicate vowel sounds] many words in Hebrew, as in English, have more than one meaning. Without these points, as originally written, the number is increased a hundred fold. The five English words, bag, beg, big, bog, and buy, are quite unlike and easily distinguished. Omit the vowels, as the ancient Jews did, and we have five words exactly alike, or rather, one word with five different meanings. The Hebrew language was thus largely composed of words with several meanings. As there were no spaces between words, it was sometimes hard to tell where a word began or where it ended; and as there were no punctuation marks, and no spaces between sentences, paragraphs, or even sections, it was often difficult to determine the meaning of a writer after the words had been deciphered."
"Here is the best known passage in the Bible printed in English as the Jews would have written it in Hebrew:"
It’s no wonder Saint Jerome (340?-420), who published the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible, admitted: “When we translate the Hebrew into Latin, we are sometimes guided by conjecture.” Furthermore, Jean Le Clerc (1657-1736), a Swiss Protestant theologian and scholar, even went so far as to maintain that “the learned merely guess at the sense of the Old Testament in an infinity of places.” This is in large part because of the ancient Hebrews’ failure to write down their vowels and of the language subsequently falling into disuse. And the adding of the relatively modern vowel points, by a few belated Dark-Age rabbis, in order to make up for this deficit, naturally casts very great suspicion and doubts on how the Hebrew vowels were originally sounded and used.
Verifying the recent appearance of these vowel points, the renowned J. Paterson Smyth, B.D., LL.D., Litt.D., an author of several books on the Bible, maintained that “these marks are of comparatively modern date, certainly not older than about 500 or 600 AD.” And he added: “We can imagine then what a sensation was produced when Elias Levita, a very famous Hebrew scholar, about the year 1540, proved to the world that these vowel marks were not in existence for hundreds of years after the time of our Lord!” Of course this caused some controversy at the time, but Dr. Smyth concluded that “no scholar now thinks of doubting the comparatively recent origin of the Hebrew vowel points.”[ii]
Nobody today knows for sure how the original Hebrew was pronounced, regardless of the tales commonly propagated about the Jewish rabbis carrying on an accurate oral tradition for thousands of years. Our knowledge of the evolution of languages would almost certainly deny the likely possibility of such. If old King Solomon were to walk through Jerusalem today and hear the Hebrew spoken there now, he would probably stop in astonishment, listen in amazement, shake his head in bewilderment, and finally conclude that he must be in a foreign country.
Nevertheless, with all the above considerations of the problems with accurately translating ancient Hebrew words into modern ones, we are left now with relying on a belief in a divinely-inspired translation of the Old Testament. Such an assignment, however, may be enough to help us successfully navigate through this worldly life.
[i] If you can’t decipher the passage posted above, it's a version of The Lord's Prayer posted by Bible scholar John E. Remsburg in his work, written in English consonants only, from right to left as the ancient Hebrews would have set it down, beginning with the capital "R" above. The Lord's Prayer starts out with "Our Father who art in . . .
[ii]The Old Documents and the New Bible, An Easy Lesson for the People in Biblical Criticism, New York 1915
* It is also noteworthy to point out that it is reported on another website that "in the Ancient Hebrew language, tense had no importance and there was no past, present and future. But in Modern Hebrew there is clear distinction of the three tenses 'past, present and future.'" Maybe time was of no importance to the fleshy presence of the good gods who were sent here
to teach mankind ancient Hebrew? Perhaps, they were well aware that their fleshy facade was bound by time, temporary, and would die like human flesh, and that their spirits and souls live forever? So, they did not bother to teach the ancient Hebrews about "past, present, and future" tenses?
And it is here IMPORTANT TO NOTE that time may be of little importance to many of us? After all, Christ told the Jews (one tribe of Hebrews) that they, according to their law, were "gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken" (Saint John 10:35); so time (or tenses) should not be of any concern to us Christians today either.