THE TRANSLATOR TO THE READER This translation (OJB) was begun during a time of Theological Doctoral studies in 1971, and was not completed until this year, 2002. Each key word in the original language is transliterated and translated so that the orthodox Jewish meaning will shine through. These key words are listed in a glossary for the benefit of the reader who will thereby be able to pour over every key word of the Hebrew Bible, even rather exhaustively through The Orthodox Jewish Bible.
Those who read the Bible with Gentile spectacles need to take another look. It took a lifetime to do this translation because of the research involved. Moreover, the problem with Bibles translated by a committee is that usually none of the committee members actually studies every single word in the original languages. Being led by G-d to spend 31 years doing exactly that, always in Jewish communities, always in the midst of Chasidic Jews, and always surrounded by the finest array of scholarly and rabbinic books: this was a divinely provided, unique advantage. Consequently, part of the OJB is already being translated into Hebrew and Yiddish and Russian, and is available online even now in Spanish and Ladino.
But why another translation? Why the OJB? To answer that question, let's look at the OJB rendering of Isaiah 7:14. "Therefore Hashem Himself shall give you an ot (sign); hinei (behold), Ha-Almah (The unmarried young Virgin) shall conceive, and bear Ben (Son), and shall call shmo (his name) Immanu-El (G-d is with us)."
From Isaiah's writings we learn that stubborn and unteachable people like the proud religious leaders in Isaiah chapter 28 and proud King Ahaz in chapter 7 don't lower themselves to "factor in" signs, but a sign of tongues will be given to the unbelievers in Isaiah chapter 28; and, to Ahaz and the House of David, a sign will be given of the unmarried young virgin conceiving (a potentially scandalous sign, wouldn't you say, when we think of teenage unwed mothers?). Furthermore, this sign will be given, whether Ahaz wants it or not. (Judging from their "young woman" rendering of Ha-Almah, apparently many "Ahaz" Bible translators have not wanted it). When we think of "the" virgin, the only other times in the entire Tanakh that we see the expression ha-Almah (the virgin), is that unmarried young virgin Rikvah (Rebekah) in Genesis 24:43 who is preparing in that passage to conceive the nation of Israel; and that unmarried young virgin Miryam, who is preparing to bring forth the Savior of the Exodus (Ex 2:8). So let's begin our discussion by pointing out that there are only three ha-Almah virgins in Scripture: the mother of Moshiach (Isa 7:14) and the mother of the Nation of Israel (Gn 24:43) and Miryam the virgin pointing us to the Savior of the Exodus (Ex 2:8).
But in this passage, Isaiah 7:14, Moshiach is promised. What is at stake in this one word ha-Almah? The answer is: simply everything. If, according to the Hebrew Scriptures, Moshiach was not born of the Almah virgin, then he is not Ben HaElohim, he is not Moshiach, and we are not delivered from death's eternal judgment by the one who is "G-d with us." [See p. 1222 for a long list of places where the word almah occurs in the OJB Index].
So, to say the least, it is worth probing the Scriptures to study this and related words. A passage in Judges chapter 8, mentions royal bearing (verse 18) and also the word pilegesh (concubine, verse 31). See also Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs) chapter 6 verse 8, where that passage infers the royal bearing in the harem of the pilegesh as concubine and the royal bearing of malkah (queen) as legitimate royal wife and the royal bearing of almah (who in the harem has the royal bearing of betulah or virgin, not merely "young woman" since a merely young woman would throw a question on hereditary rights to the throne in that any young woman who was only that, only a woman, only young, and then introduced into the harem other than a virgin could destabilize the dynastic heirdom for the reason that in dynastic monarchy the child would normally be of the king's body begotten and there can be no question about this fact; so in this matter the three classes of women in the harem-- malkah,  pilegesh and  almah=betulah, Song of Songs 6:8---are crucial technical terms having to do with not only sexual matters vis-a-vis the king but political matters vis- a-vis the succession government of the dynastic monarchy. This matter of royal bearing of the almah as betulah or virgin is decisive in translating Isaiah 7:14 "ha-Almah" as "the virgin" particularly here since the context of "Bais Dovid" (verse 13) shows that a royal almah, not just any almah, is in view; see Shir Hashirim 6:8 "there are threescore melakhot (queens), and fourscore pilagshim (concubines), and without number‑‑alamot (virgins, singular=almah; alam=young man 1Sm 20:22; 17:56)." [Note: alamot is plural of almah, "virgin," alamot, "virgins."] See Shir Hashirim 1:3; Yeshayah 7:14; Bereshis 24:43; Shemot 2:8; Mishle 30:19 where the word means explicitly or implicitly "virgin" and where "young unmarried woman" is not an adequate rendering, in this case, since the king was hardly interested in only "young unmarried women" in his harem, but demanded "virgin unmarried maidens"; the older Jewish translations like Harkavy's in fact translated the word as "virgin" in Song of Songs 6:8 until it became "politically incorrect" to do so in later, more liberal Jewish translations into English.
See Joel 1:8 where betulah is used of a married woman; almah is always a young unmarried betulah in Scripture. We have no word in English to differentiate an unmarried from a married virgin. One might say, we have no word in English to differentiate a young horse from a younger horse--so what? Not so, in English we have a very precise nomenclature for horses. We have "filly" (a young female horse), or "mare" (a fully mature female horse) or "foal" (a horse not yet one year old), or "yearling" (a horse one year old dating from January 1 of the year after the year of foaling). So "young horse" is crudely inadequate in the world of the stables, just as "young woman" is crudely inadequate in the world of the Bible. And just as modern racetrack enthusiasts require more precision in their "horse" vocabulary, so too the Hebrews did with their "woman" vocabulary.
An almah is an unmarried, virginal, sexually ripening young woman (all these notions in the definition are crucial); a betulah is a virginal married or unmarried woman, and she may be old, she does not have to be young; a na'arah is a girl or young woman; a zonah is a non-virginal harlot or prostitute; a noefet is an adulteress; an agunah is a woman whose husband's whereabouts are unknown [see Ro 7:2 OJBC]; a pilegesh is a concubine; an isha is a woman/wife; a gerushah is a divorcee; a gevirah is a noble woman or queen mother; a malkah is a queen, etc. Notice all these terms for women are defined vis-a-vis the man, since, according to the opening chapters of Genesis, woman was made for man. "Young woman" is as crudely out of place in Hebrew nomenclature as "young horse" is in racetrack nomenclature; "young woman" is oddly and jarringly imprecise. There is a perfectly good Hebrew word for "young woman" which Boaz says twice in reference to Ruth: "na'arah" ("young woman"), which Boaz uses in Ruth 2:5 and again in Ruth 4:12. Here virginity is not implicit and in fact Ruth is a young widow who had been married before and for some time. Notice the precision of language: Song of Songs 6:8 does not say "ne'arot" without number (ne'arot=young women plural, na'arah = young woman singular); Song of Songs 6:8 says "alamot" without number (alamot=virginal young women, plural of almah).
Proverbs speaks of the derech gever (way of a man) with an almah (Prov. 30:19), but when this is referenced in Scripture in Genesis 24:65, the derech (way) of the almah Rivkah (Rebekah) and the gever Yitzchak (Isaac) shows the young woman still a virgin (Gn 24:65). The virgin whose seed (Moshiach) crushes Satan's head (Genesis 3:15) is the almah whose supernatural conception of Moshiach is a sign to the House of David.
One more point, in Genesis chapter 24, almah and betulah (in 24:43 and 24:16) are used nearly synonymously. Now, to illustrate, if we say the "lad" sat by the well and then if we say the "boy" walked around the well, and if we are talking about the same person, then obviously we are using "lad" and "boy" in some synonymous fashion and it is only our tendentious bias that would have us try to make some vast distinction between the terms. In Genesis chapter 24, Rivkah (Rebekah) is called an "almah" and in the same breath she is also called a "betulah," showing some kind of interchangeable connection between the words. In our illustration, the semantic freight which both "lad" and "boy" carry is youth and also maleness, making it possible to use the terms "lad" and "boy" of the same person interchangeably. One could not seriously, for example, use the term "geezer" (elderly eccentric man) and "lad" interchangeably of the same person, and one could not use the Biblical Hebrew word "zonah" (a non-virgin harlot, prostitute) and "betulah" of the same person interchangeably (the Hebrew Bible never uses zonah and almah regarding the same person); but the Hebrew Bible does in fact use "almah" and "betulah" in Genesis 24:43 and Genesis 24:16 of the same person (Rebekah) because both terms carry the common semantic freight of femaleness and virginity. In Genesis chapter 24, Rivkah is called an almah and she is also called a betulah, showing that, if not virginal, an almah would not be an almah. In Genesis chp 24 HaAlmah is used as a synonym for na'arah-betulah. Virginity is at least implicit in the term "almah" or an almah could not be called a betulah. It would never do in Hebrew, for example, to say that the pilegesh (concubine) approached the well and then say the betulah sat by the well and yet be talking about the same person. Virginity is definitely not implicit in the term pilegesh (concubine). Moreover, as a translation for "almah," "young woman" destroys the virginal conception of the Moshiach, without which he is not Ben HaElohim Moshi'a (Savior) of adam's rebellious, sin-blinded progeny. So we see the verse proves true that says "some twist the Scriptures to their own destruction (2K 3:16)." Those who delude themselves that there is no distinction between "na'arah" (young woman) and "almah" (young virgin) have Biblical useage and context arguing in concert against them.
Finally, in Isaiah 7:14 the Jewish rabbis and scholars, who translated the Targum Hashivim [Septuagint Hebrew Bible Greek translation] in the Third Century B.C.E. for the Hellenistic synagogue, translated the Hebrew word "almah" as the Greek word "parthenos"--which Greek word can only mean, according to the standard lexicon, "female of marriageable age with focus on virginity" [see F.W.Danker Greek-Engish Lexicon, page 777]. Notice the other times parthenos ("virgin") is used in the Greek NT: Mt 25:1,7,11; Lk 1:27; 1C 7:25; Ac 21:9. The Septuagint translators also translated "haalmah" in Genesis 24:43 as "parthenos" showing that both Rivkah the almah and the mother of the Moshiach‑‑Moshiach who is G-d with us‑‑are both "haalmah" and both "parthenos" and both "the virgin". Let it be said rather bitingly that perhaps these ancient rabbis understood the word "almah" somewhat better than we moderns do. J.A. Motyer writes, "In Song of Solomon 6:8, the alamot [plural of almah], contrasted with queens and concubines, are unmarried and virgin" (The Prophecy of Isaiah, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester England, 1993). In conclusion, Isaiah was speaking of an unmarried young virgin. This translation is "orthodox" because it is both true to the Scriptures and it preserves the supernatural entrance (virgin) and exit (empty tomb) of the Ben Dovid Ben Elohim Moshiach, the Savior of the World.
"G-d-with-us" cannot be Hezekiah because Hezekiah had already been born. Moshiach is called not only "G-d-with-us" but "mighty G-d" (compare Isaiah 9:5 and 10:21) and more than once is called Ben HaElohim (see the OJB translation). Just as Moshiach had a real presence in the wilderness (Num 21:16-18; 1C10:4), Moshiach's real presence in the Bais Dovid forms an eschatological time line: his coming is in the future when the Bais Dovid will suffer subjugation indicated by the fact that desert food, thickened milk and honey, will be the future oppressive diet (see Isaiah 7:22) because of the capitulation of Ahaz to Assyria, with Assyria's imperial despotic evil having various future manifestations from Babylonian to Roman Imperial kingdoms, until the prophecy to the dynasty of the Bais Dovid is literally fulfilled in Moshiach. When this prophecy achieved its fulfillment, history would finally confirm that the time line here covers more than 700 years, with only a handful of years set apart to describe the brief time before Judah's enemies, Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel, will pose no more threat to Judah (see Isaiah 7:16).
The OJB translates Proverbs chapter 30:1-19 and should include a comment that helps to explain how, in spite of teenage unwed mothers, the Isaianic unmarried young virgin conceiving is not as scandalous a sign as may at first appear. The reason is that in conceiving she is still the unwed "virgin," (not an unwed zonah worthy of stoning), and the one conceived is called "G-d" or "El" in Hebrew, even "G-d with us," giving a clear derivative clue to his paternity.
Let it be said as a further comment on Proverbs (Mishle) chapter 30 that the Devar Hashem, the Chochmah (Wisdom) that Hashem used to create the world (Psalm 33:6; Prov 8:30), is called here Ben HaElohim (Prov 30:4); thus this title "Ben HaElohim" used also of Moshiach (Psalm 2:7) introduces the revelation that Moshiach is the Chochmah of Hashem, even the very Ben HaElohim, the Seed of the Woman who will crush the head of the cunning Serpent Satan (Genesis 3:15). See verse Proverbs 30:4: "Who hath ascended into Shomayim, or descended? Who hath gathered ruach in the hollows of His hands? Who hath bound the mayim in a cloak? Who hath established all the afsei aretz (ends of the earth)? What is Shmo (His Name), and what is Shem Bno (the Name of His Son), if thou canst tell?" Then we move on to Prov 30:19, "The derech hanesher (way of the eagle) in the sky; the derech nachash (way of a snake) upon a tzur (rock); the derech oniyah (way of a sailing vessel) in the midst of the yam (sea); and the derech gever (way of a man) with an almah (unmarried young virgin; see Gn 24:16, 43, 63-65)." In short, it would be hard to see these crucial teachings in the text of most other translations; thus the raison d'etre for the OJB version.
Finally, a word needs to be said about the translation of the Messiah's name in the OJB. We know that at least one of the languages our Moshiach spoke was a dialect of Western Aramaic (note TALITHA CUMI, GOLGOTHA, MARANATHA). YESHUA is the Aramaic form of YEHOSHUA. Anyone who questions this should look at the Aramaic dictionary at the end of the standard Brown, Driver and Briggs Lexicon where the word YESHUA can be found listed as an Aramaic word. And YEHOSHUA (Hebrew for JOSHUA) is the Hebrew form of YESHUA (IhsouV in Greek).
Parts of the Tanach are written in Aramaic (e.g. Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Dan 2:4-7:28; Jer 10:10-11; Gn 31:47). This is important because the infallible Bible settles all arguments. To the question "What is the Hebrew translation of the Aramaic word YESHUA?" the Bible tells us the infallible answer by translating the Aramaic word YESHUA in the Aramaic passage in Ezra 5:2 with the Hebrew word YEHOSHUA in the Hebrew passage in Zechariah 6:11-12, which also says that this Yehoshua is a "sign" man and his name is TZEMACH ("BRANCH" [of Dovid], a code name for the soon to come and sprout up [even suddenly, out of dry ground] Moshiach). So the Moshiach's name is YEHOSHUA/YESHUA (not an "either/or" but a "both/and") and in the OJB the decision was made to use the Hebrew form of Moshiach's name rather than the Aramaic form. In the Greek NT the very same Greek word Yoh-tah ee-tah seegh-mah oh-mee-krone eeps-ee-lone final seegh-mah is used for Yehoshua/Yeshua/Joshua Ben Nun in Acts 7:45 and for Yehoshua/Joshua/Yeshua Ben Elohim in Acts 7:55, showing that both Joshua and Yeshua are exactly the same as far as the Greek is concerned, meaning either translation (Yehoshua or Yeshua) is acceptable in faithfully rendering the Greek NT into English.
Moshiach's half-brother Yehuda wrote of the emunah (faith) which was once for all time handed down and transmitted to the Kadoshim. The document Yehuda wrote [p. 1118] is one of the most important ever written. Why? Because it is written by one of the Zekenim (Elders, Leaders) of the Messianic Edat Bnei Yisroel in Yerushalayim and is early and authoritative, having been written by Yehuda, one of the brothers of Ya'akov the Shliach, himself one of the "Ammudei HaKehillah" (Pillars of the Kehillah) in the early period of pre-Churban Bayis Sheni Judaism of the Kehillah of Moshiach in Yerushalayim. Ya'akov died in 62 C.E. al kiddish ha-Shem for the sake of his Martyr's Eidus as an Emissary of the Zera Dovid Moshiach and as an eye-witness to the Techiyas HaMoshiach. Both of these, Yehuda and Ya'akov, were half-brothers of Moshiach and, like Moshiach, could indeed claim King Dovid as their direct ancestor. In referring to "the faith which was once for all handed over and transmitted to the Kadoshim," Yehuda is speaking of the body of objective truth which has been handed down as Massorah (universally binding, authorized Jewish teaching of the Zekenim of Israel, that is, Messianic Massorah HaZekenim, Authoritative Jewish Teaching of the Elders of Israel to be passed down from generation to generation). As such, this requires Messianic Shomrim to guard the orthodox Jewish faith (orthos = right, doxa = belief) and contend for it and accurately transmit it through the generations inviolate. It is for the purpose of equipping such Shomrim that the OJB version was translated, a work which really began only four years after the Six Day War, when a revived Jewish interest in the Messiah began world-wide, because, prophetically, Jerusalem was no longer trodden down by Gentiles (Lk 21:24) and the Fig Tree, replanted in 1948, was beginning to blossom (Lk 21:29-31). Over two decades before, preparations had begun for the publication of the New English Bible, the first major new translation of the Bible into English since Tyndale. As Benson Bobrick has said, "Next to the Bible itself, the English Bible was (and is) the most influential book ever published" (Wide As the Waters, Penquin Books, p.11). Commenting on the uniqueness of the OJB, the Jewish, yeshiva-trained, Israeli scholar and author, Yosef Shulam wrote favorably, "It is like nothing I have seen before." We lift up his favorable assessment to G-d and say to Hashem be the glory, and may the Hebrew shine forth in this English version to every believer on earth!
On a more personal note, let me say that this translation reflects the Holy Bible as a well-worn treasure map that I have been studying nearly all my adult life. Without this infallible map, we sit in darkness, without hope and without G-d in the world (Mt 4:16; Ep 2:12). What is the treasure that the Bible maps us toward? Joseph had treasure put in the sacks of his brothers (Gn 43:23), treasure that did not bring them joy because they didn't know their Savior (Gn 43:18). There is a veil over the eyes when the unregenerate person gazes at Scripture (2C 3:14-16), an idol stands at the door of his "inner gate" (Ezek 8:3), and, as long as the eye "scales" of unregenerate uncircumcision (Ac 9:18) have not been removed, the Scriptures are unfathomed (1C 2:14), and there is no turning to the L‑rd, no craving for the pure milk of the Word (1K 2:2), not even a taste for it (Jer 6:10).
Some believers stop looking for treasure in their Bibles after a while. They don't stick to the map, don't rely on the Word to chart their course, and after a while they get detoured into a maze of self-help books, psychology, intellectual speculation, philosophy, materialism, educational title-mongering, mass media punditry, or motions of empty religiosity. In His mercy, from the Read-More Bookstore in Hollywood, California, unto this present hour, G‑d has been trying to keep me from blundering into any of those sad "rich young Ruler (Mt 19:22)" dead-end streets. Instead, He beckoned me to pursue after the true silver and gold (Prov.3:13-14), for the joy of which a man will go and sell all that he has to purchase that treasure (Mt 13:44; Lk 14:25-30, 33; Pp 3:8). So many times in a bookstore the Bible would cost all I had, and buying it would mean going without food for a time. But G‑d was testing me: did I want Him and His Word more than anything in life? Was I willing to turn my back on the treasures of Egypt (MJ 11:26)? Sometimes I let Him down. Other times, trouble, not just poverty, would come in open-air preaching (Jon 3:4), because of the Word (Mt 13:21). Would I encourage myself in the treasure chest of Scripture (1Sm 30:6)? Will you? Dt 28:12 promises that the L‑rd will "open up unto thee His good treasure." I know that is true for all who love the truth (2Th 2:10-11; I Yn 4:6)! Mere religion can be unmasked (see Lk 22:52-23:38); beyond mere religion, as one who has examined it, I can assure you the Bible is true to the core.
Robert Lewis Stevenson started with an imaginary map and developed a novel called Treasure Island. However, there is a treasure map that is not imaginary, and that map I happened upon as a young professional film actor browsing in Read-More Bookstore on Hollywood Blvd in 1970. That bookstore no longer exists, buried in the sands of time. But the treasure map is still today in my hands, the map I happened upon in the mercy and ministry call of Hashem as a young man, the treasure map that is real, and eternal, and leads us to the buried Pearl of Great Price. Mt 13:44 is a parable about a treasure buried by someone in a field, then found by someone else, who immediately reburies or hides it in that field so he can go and sell everything he has in order to purchase that priceless field, the great worth of which he has just discovered. The treasure I found in 1970 I have not reburied but, in the mercy of G-d, the eternal treasure once found in the New English Bible in 1970, is now eternal treasure rediscovered in The Orthodox Jewish Bible in 2002. And what a treasure it is! It is worth more to me now than then, a treasure of such weight of glory, a priceless matmon (Hebrew for "treasure" in Genesis 43:23). Is it true that it costs you everything? Yes, I have known poverty as an open-air minister for 30 years; but I was being tested during that pre-publication "trial period" to see how priceless the Bible was to me before G-d would grant me the privilege and trust me with translating it. Trials can be tests before privileged promotion.
And what a privilege! And how unworthy we are. As we prepare to publish, I have begun to go over every verse, making sure not one is missing from the OJB. And as my eyes and fingers go over ancient Bible manuscripts, I have the feeling a miser must have when he counts his gold coins. But we are not being miserly with the Word of G-d; we are making it available free-of-charge on the Internet at http://www.afii.org to enrich the whole world and you are helping us.
G‑d checked this Bible Society ministry into that afii.org Website on Labor Day weekend 1995, just as He checked me into the Wishing Well Motel in Boynton Beach Florida on Labor Day weekend 1978, even though I was homeless and had only 23 cents. After that, G-d checked this ministry into its first New York City office on Labor Day weekend 1981. Now this weekend, Labor Day weekend 2002, I am writing this as a Preface to the OJB as I send this Holy Bible manuscript in for publication! What Labor Day miracles! And what a privilege to labor for Hashem! And on our Website people all over the world are starting to print their own personal copy of the OJB. Baruch Hashem for meeting us just now, at the perfect time, with His rich store of technology that He has readied for His time! Little did I know what G‑d was planning for my life when, as a young man in 1970, a very lost young prodigal son, my hand reached curiously for the brand new hard-bound copy of the New English Bible just published in England and gleaming at me with its bright red jacket cover and crisp clean pages! How blessed I have been in that one never-to-be-forgotten encounter in a Bookstore with the Bible, when G-d had humbled me to the point that I was willing and teachable at last to see what He might have to say to my contritely broken life. In Walter Elwell's definitive Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Second Edition, p.765-766), there is an article "Messianic Judaism," which refers to my book on the subject. Consequently, this translation, the OJB, when it appears, will be seen to arise out of the mainstream of believers and not the cult fringes or the heretical periphery. This too is the L-rd's doing. If you think not, visit my house in Oakland City, Indiana, sometime, and, while there, ask yourself just how such a translation as this could have ever come forth from such an unexpected place without an unspeakable amount of help from the L-rd (1C 1:27). But I also thank the L-rd for his unsung workers who helped me format this translation on computer, an extended list that space will not allow room for, but whose names are inscribed in the Sefer HaChayyim referred to in Moshiach's Letter through the Shliach Sha'ul to the Brit Chadasha Kehillah in Philippi, chapter 4, verse 3. May the Holy Name of Eloheinu be praised forever! And may you, standing there looking at this Bible in that "Read-More Bookstore" where you are, yes, may you also have a wonderful adventure just as I have had in my life with the Word of G‑d. And may a great blessing overtake you, too, such that you also shall not be able to outrun it. And, most importantly, may Hashem bless you in Moshiach Tzidkeinu ad olam! Omein!
Dr. Phillip E. Goble
Labor Day weekend, 2002
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