The Bible has been translated into more than 2,000 modern languages. Only one has been a matter of controversy in Israel—a recent modern Hebrew translation of the Bible.
According to an article in Hadassah Magazine, this newest Bible translation has been called scandalous, pernicious and even fraudulent. Some fear that if this modern Hebrew “translation” is used in schools, the children will grow estranged from the Biblical language.
The defenders of the newest Bible translation claim that Israelis speak Israeli modern Hebrew rather than Hebrew. Gil’ad Zuckermann, a professor of linguistics, maintains that Israeli modern Hebrew is a hybrid of ancient Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, Polish, Romanian and other languages.
Regarding the need for a modern Hebrew translation of the Bible, Zuckermann asks: “How many Israelis know that an egla meshulleshet [Genesis 15:9] is not a triangular cow but ‘a heifer of three years old’? If they studied [the new translation] the RAM Bible, they would know because it is translated as such: egla bat shalosh.”
Another example Zuckermann cites: “Most Israelis misunderstand yeled sha’ashuim [Jeremiah 31:19] as ‘playboy’ rather than ‘pleasant child.’”
The new modern Hebrew “translation” of the Bible is the result of a four-a-half-year effort by 90-year-old kibbutznik Avraham Ahuvia, a retired Bible teacher. What he did, according to publisher Rafi Mozes of Reches Educational Projects, was “mediate between the Biblical language and the Hebrew spoken today.”The religion section of most bookstores includes an amazing array of Bibles. In our free eBook The Holy Bible: A Buyer’s Guide, prominent Biblical scholars Leonard Greenspoon and Harvey Minkoff expertly guide you through 21 different Bible translations (or versions) and address their content, text, style and religious orientation.