Some say Israelis need a Hebrew translation of the Bible for the 21st century
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 King James translation of the Bible begins, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Ahuvia’s modern Hebrew translation starts with, “At the beginning of creation, when God created the world,” ending with a comma leading into the next verse.
“I didn’t say ‘heaven and earth’ but ‘the world,’” Ahuvia said, “because on the second day he created the firmament and called it heaven. In the Bible, the phrase ha-shamayim ve-ha’aretz means ‘the world.’”
Drora Halevy, national supervisor of Bible studies at the Ministry of Education, claims: “This translation cuts out the heart of the Bible. It reduces the Bible to just another book. In the Bible, form and content are bound together. The translation kills it.”
Translator Ahuvia admits that in the competition between the Bible and his newest Bible translation, “I lose. The Bible is much more beautiful than the text.”
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