LOST IN TRANSLATION
If I told someone raised in the Christian tradition that the Hebrew word for “stoning” is very similar to the word for intelligence and that what Torah is saying is: If someone sins, bombard them with knowledge.
Would they believe me?
There are NO records of anyone EVER being stoned and every extant writing on the matter shows how horrified the Rabbis were at the idea of such a thing.
Jewish Law makes it virtually impossible for an actual stoning to ever take place.
One of the most powerful built- in preventatives of capital punishment in Judaism is that there are no executioners.
The Judges themselves would have to carry out the punishments they decree.
Even assuming they, in their old age, were capable of stoning, which is doubtful, the trauma they would sustain would be horrific.
Would they believe me if I told them: Part of the abuse you endured as Christians was being forced to accept at 4th-generation mistranslation of everything beautiful in the Hebrew Torah?
These are the subtleties that are completely lost in translation.
Here’s another beautiful example.
This is the original Hebrew:
יט לֹא-תָבִיא אֶתְנַן זוֹנָה וּמְחִיר כֶּלֶב, בֵּית יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ–לְכָל-נֶדֶר: כִּי תוֹעֲבַת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, גַּם-שְׁנֵיהֶם.
כ לֹא-תַשִּׁיךְ לְאָחִיךָ, נֶשֶׁךְ כֶּסֶף נֶשֶׁךְ אֹכֶל: נֶשֶׁךְ, כָּל-דָּבָר אֲשֶׁר יִשָּׁךְ
כא לַנָּכְרִי תַשִּׁיךְ, וּלְאָחִיךָ לֹא תַשִּׁיךְ–לְמַעַן יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּכֹל מִשְׁלַח יָדֶךָ, עַל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-אַתָּה בָא-שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ.
Now here is the English translation:
19 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a harlot, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow; for even both these are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.
20 Thou shalt not lend upon interest to thy brother: interest of money, interest of victuals, interest of any thing that is lent upon interest.
21 Unto a gentile thou mayest lend upon interest; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon interest; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou puttest thy hand unto, in the land whither thou goest in to possess it.
Looks from the English like it’s OK to take interest from a Gentile. Right?
What is completely lost in the translation is that verse 19 says it’s forbidden to bring the price of a dog into HaShem’s House.
Now the word for exacting interest is linshokh, which also means to bite. Literally, to put the bite on someone.
HaShem has just said that the price of a dog cannot be used for anything holy. So, could HaShem possibly be saying that it’s OK to put the bite on a human and act as degraded as a dog?
Moreover, the word for your brother is achikha. The word ach, which means brother is equal to the word goy, meaning a People or a Gentile.
So, HaShem is saying that the Gentiles are our Brothers and not to act like dogs and “put the bite” on them.
But one would have to be fluent in Hebrew to see it and the play on words is completely lost in translation.
Now, bear in mind that Christians are reading fourth-generation translations (Hebrew to Greek to Latin to German to English), which were accomplished by people who were both inimical to Judaism and totally ignorant of Hebrew.
Martin Luther wrote: “If I were younger I would want to learn this language [i.e. Hebrew], for without it one can never properly understand the Holy Scripture…. For that reason they have said correctly: ‘The Jews drink out of the original spring, The Greeks drink out of the stream flowing out of the stream, The Latins, however, out of the puddle.'”
He also wrote: “I can do neither Hebrew nor Greek…”
So, Luther was translating from the Latin, which he described as drinking out of the puddle, into vernacular German. Then the KJV is from the vernacular German into English.
If Latin is the puddle, what can we say of the German and then the English?
And on the basis of this torpid sewer, from which the Christians drink, they presume to pass judgement not only on the People of Yisrael, but on the God of Yisrael.
HaShem comes out sounding like a mean-tempered, arbitrary, tyrannical fool – just like those who presumed to translate Torah.
If only they knew how ridiculous and brutish and pathetic they look in our eyes.
Then they come and tell us they are going to save us.
Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel