Book of Yahweh (BOY), the Bible
Q: What do you think about the House of Yahweh bible?
A: The House of Yahweh out of Abilene Texas, is the purist definition of a cult. They produced one of the first translations of the Bible to use the Name of our Creator. The problem is that no one knows which version this is based on. Apparently they have made so many changes and additions it is a mess to everyone but themselves. I came across an honest review of this Bible by Ehav Eliyahu Ever, so I will let him fill you in and I believe you will find this book review beneficial. So, take it away, Ehav.
Ehav Eliyahu Ever
This review is from: The Book of Yahweh (Paperback)
Before I begin, this critique comes from someone who can read and understand Ancient Hebrew, Ancient Aramaic, Modern Hebrew, and Mishnaic Hebrew. A number of years ago, starting in the 90's, I made a decision that instead of relying on translations I would put the work in and learn these languages for myself. I also read from the oldest Hebrew and Aramaic texts of the the Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures) so I don't have any bias towards one translation or another. Also, as of 2007 I live in Israel near Jerusalem. I did all of this because of love for the Creator of all things, YHWH, and I wanted with all my soul to have a correct understanding of Torah.
I will also warn you that this review is long and detailed so you can have as much information as possible with which to make your own decision.
You may be asking yourself why is it important to that Hebrew and Aramaic are mentioned in relationship to loving YHWH? The reason is that the Torah (the five books of Moses) were all written in an ancient form of Hebrew from about 3,000 years ago. The prophetic texts were written in a latter form of Hebrew from between 3,000 to 2,000 years ago. The writings of Ezra/Nechumya/Daniel were written in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic from between 2,500 to 2,000 years ago.
So this means that an English text, based on these texts, would need to be grounded in a proper understanding of each era of said languages to have the proper concept of how said texts were to be understood. A person who takes the time to learn and understand said languages often does so because living by the truth of said texts makes them feel closer to both the speakers and writers of said text. Since no language is 100% literal there are times when a translator must know what is being said whether it is literal or metaphorical.
Also, the reader of a translation is not reading the original texts but an ATTEMPT by the translator to convey the ideas, imagery, concepts, and philosophy of said texts in a foreign language. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes this is hard because some languages lack the qualities to place the reader of the translation on the same ground as the reader of the original. Further, a reader of a translation must be concerned over whether those who translated are competent enough to translate correct.
Some people unintentionally or intentionally mistranslates based on mistakes, lack of knowledge, or an agenda that they have. Having a proper understanding of the original text is akin to having the right spirit and frame of mind to base one's life on said text. If a person's translation of the book of Proverbs, for example, is incorrect a person may make life decisions because they are reading from a text that doesn't explain the meaning of various proverbs correctly.
Quality translation involves the following:
1) accurate: representing the meaning of the source text as faithfully as possible;
2) natural: using the receptor language in ways appropriate to the text being translated; and,
3) communicative: expressing the meaning in an understandable way to the intended audience.
For example, if a text says an Eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, is it literal or figurative? How does a person who doesn't know Hebrew know when they have no connection to the culture? Maybe the saying is not literal and maybe it simply an example of something bigger. Having the correct translation and interpretation would be critical to living and dealing with people in a proper manner. Furthermore Isaiah 8:20 makes it clear that having a proper understanding is critical since it says there is a Torah and a Tedudah (witness, revelation, tradition) and if something doesn't speak like them then it has no dawn in it. I.e. there is the Torah and correct way for it to be understood and utilized.
For those of you who are former christians you have probably already seen how mistranslation can cause you to either follow the wrong thing or have you worshiping the wrong stuff. You should also be vigilant about trusting some other group just because they claim that they have the truth.
I am not concerned with the theology or the status of a group like the House of Yahweh and whether they are a cult, so I am not writing this out of some axe to grind with them. So essentially, what I am talking about is the text and issues about the text. I am also not relying on some scholar I have never met to tell me whether this book is accurate or not. I did my own research, using ACTUAL, EXISTING, and REAL ancient Hebrew and Aramaic texts.
All sources that I used can be provided to anyone who wants to know. In short they are the Yemenite Tajjim (Torah Texts found amongst Yemenite Jews), the Samaritan Torah texts, and the Aleppo Codex (from Syria). All of these texts are easy to find and I am more than willing to direct anyone who wants to these texts in their original languages. Feel free to ask me to provide proof of what you find in my review. I am more than willing to provide it in a format that you can easily see and research for yourself.
Also, in my review I will transliterating things using Yemenite Jewish Hebrew and Samaritan Hebrew. These are considered two of the most ancient Hebrew dialects. I tried to include the actual Hebrew in this review but Amazon doesn't allow Hebrew characters in these reviews. Seeing it in Hebrew for yourself helps in understanding the points I make. Please note that at the end of my review I give my analysis for people looking for a good translation, though you may not find it the easiest path.
If you find a spelling mistake in my review, that is because I typed this review a few years ago. I correct things every once and a while to make things more clear. I state this because for some reason a minor spelling mistake I made in my review several years ago was being discussed in an outside forum of H.O.Y. supporters.
For the intent Biblical student your best bet is to learn Hebrew and Aramaic, and read from the ORIGINAL texts for yourself. Relying on a text like this is definitely not the way to go. This a part of my review that I noticed some critics of my review ignore.
There are many who say this book is the most accurate translation out there. Yet, my question to them is, "As compared to what?" If you want to compare the King James Version and the House of Yahweh, they are both biased and riddled with in-accuracies in just as many places when compared to the ORIGINAL HEBREW and ARAMAIC manuscripts they both claim to be translating from.
For those who initially come across this book because they are seeking the truth, I must warn you that this is not the path you want to take for it. What I am about to write is not based upon some disdain I have for the House of Yahweh, but from experience in terms of reading the Book of Yahweh initially, thinking it was an accurate text (before I learned to read and understand Hebrew and Aramaic). Then later learning Hebrew and Aramaic and seeing how off base (just like most translations) the BOY really was when compared to the ORIGINAL Hebrew and Aramaic texts.
The biggest is that the book has a number of translation problems. By this I mean huge number of places where they [House of Yahweh] have added things that don't exist in any ancient Hebrew text. It can only concluded that they added them for their own political/theological purposes. Several theological issues, which are incorrect because the text is not based on any known Hebrew text.
The text does not give any clear indication of being translated from any reliable source. For example, there are no pictures or even clear descriptions of the source text they claim to be translating from. Thus it can't be called a translation. It would then have to be assumed that the HOY simply took an existing translation and changed a few words here and there to fit their needs.
Also, there are numerous Etymology issues that are incorrect in their book. One example is the claim that Athonai (Aleph-Dhaleth-Nun-Yod), Elohim (Aleph-Lamed-Hey-Yod-Mem) as pronounced in Yemenite Hebrew, and El (Aleph-Lamed) or (Aleph-Yod-Lamed) are all of pagan origin. First off, most Hebrew words come from three letter roots called "Shoreshim". The same root that El comes from is from a similar root that the world Il comes from. The Book of Yahweh makes the claim that El is pagan, and Il (or Yl or Ul as they sometimes spell it) are not. Yet, one of the books that the Book of Yahweh references says that Il/Yl is also the name of a pagan deity. (The reference book is the Encyclopedia of the Gods which is listed in the BOY sources)
Note: the reason is that El, Yl, Il, and Ul all come from the same Semitic root (Aleph-Yod-Lamed) or (Aleph-Waw-Lamed) which all mean "strength." Aleph-Lamed can be pronounced as El, Yl, Il, and Ul and the Semitic pagans used and knew all of them, because all basic Semitic languages have similar roots as Ancient Hebrew. (Sources for this can be found in any Hebrew Lexicon.)
The House of Yahweh also translates the name of Shet as "Seth" and the name "Seth" is the name of a pagan deity. (Encyclopedia of the Gods, page 233). This seems strange since they seem to have a thing, the HOY, against certain words or names if said names have pagan origins, yet they are willing to translate "Shet"-(Shin-Tet) as "Seth." They also translate the name Hawwah as "Eve," "Eve" is of course Latin, and is claimed by some Sacred-Namers to be of pagan origin also.
A few other problem areas are the changes that they have made to the names of people to fit their own purposes. Here are a few examples.
1) They claim that the Hebrew name of Joshua (English) was Yahshua, which does not exist as a name in any ancient Semitic language. Yod-Hey-Waw-Shin-Ayin, Yod-Hey-Waw-Shin-Waw-Ayin are the only two ways that the Joshua is spelled and in the ancient dialects it would be pronounced Yahoshu`a in Teimani Hebrew (note that the Ayin has no English equivalent and in Ancient Hebrew was not silent, the a in the Yah part can also be an "e" but very short), or as the Samaritans pronounce it Yuhosha. There is no historical evidence to attempt to transliterate (without the Shuruq) ancient Hebrew 1400 BCE-600 BCE the way they [The House of Yahweh] did in this instance.
2) They change Ezra's name to Ezrayah without providing any evidence that his name was Ezrayah. They do the same with Yehezqel's (Ezikiel), changing it to Yechezqyah; Hoshea (Hey-Waw-Shin-Ayin) they change to Hosheyah (which would have to be spelled Hey-Waw-Shin-Yod-Hey and needless to say is not even Hebrew); and the list continues. They basically add "yah" to peoples' names who never had "yah" in their names, and they provide no evidence in these situations that they are correct in adding "yah" to these people names. People who try to defend the HOY choice in doing this OFTEN misquote Strong's and other sources, by changing the wording when they post it.
Now there are some other issues in terms of translations that are problematic.
The Book of Yahweh adds "Yod-Hey-Waw-Hey" to a place that it does not exist in the Hebrew texts. They replace Elohim with Yahweh because they claim that Elohim is a pagan term. Yet, even reading the Samaritan Torah we see that the Samaritan Torah, which is not connected to the Jewish Torah, has Eluwwem and not Yahweh. In Samaritan Hebrew Aleph-Lamed-Hey-Yod-Mem is pronounced "Eluwwem" not "Elohim". Those who know their history know the significance of this.
The House of Yahweh book inserts of number of things in these two verse that don't show up in any ancient Hebrew text or in the Samaritan Torah. They add a statement in verse 7 that Adam and Hawwah were afraid that they did not keep "Yahweh's Laws" which does not show up in any ancient Hebrew text, and in verse 8 that Adam and Hawwah heard the "Laws and the Prophets" which doesn't show up in any Hebrew text. So essentially if you compare there text with the oldest Hebrew texts out there you will find that they added words to the Torah that were not there, which is a sin according to the Torah itself.
Now it is important to note, that some people claim that in King Solomon's time that the Torah had Yod-Hey-Waw-Hey in it more times and that the Tikkun Sofrim (Scribes) changed this. The problem is that people who claim this have no copies of any Torah scrolls from King Solomon's time. The oldest fragments of Torah comes from the 2nd Commonwealth during the second Temple period and those are only fragments. The earliest partial Biblical text is from about 300 BCE. Hundreds of years AFTER King Solomon. The Dead Sea Scrolls are only from about 200 BCE or so.
The next oldest is from the Aleppo Codex (600 CE). Then next is the Leningrad (1000 CE). The other texts are either Samaritan Hebrew, Greek translations, Aramaic translations, Latin translations, and Arabic translations. I once asked someone who claimed that the BOY was based on Solomonic texts to show me said texts, and they could not. For those who want to investigate this ask BOY supporters to show actual texts in Hebrew and have them review with how they came to their translation especially when it comes to the names where they add "yah."
Also, there are those who bring up the Documentary Theory aka the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis in order to defend the BOY. This theory posits that the Pentateuch is not a single text written by Moses but a series of documents collected over time. The problem is that the Documentary Theory is about the different writing styles in the Torah and it is only a THEORY. There is no hard evidence that it is true. Jewish sages explain the use of different writing styles in Semitic culture in order to push certain points.
In terms of the Documentary Theory there is no proof that it true, which is why it is called a THEORY or a hypothesis. Besides proponents of the Documentary Theory would say that the BOY is wrong since a part of this theory claims that there never was a unified text. The HOY seems to act like their translation is from an original text, or an attempt to recreate the first text in English.
Also, if the documentary theory were correct the Samaritan Torah would have Elohim in it more than YHWH. Yet, the Samaritan Torah has YHWH in it more than Eluwwem (this is the Samaritan pronunciation of Elohim). The Samaritans descend from the Northern Tribes of Israel and according to the Documentary Theory Northern Israel used Elohim in their texts as compared to the tribes of Yehudah (Judah) who used YHWH in their texts.
As the BOY goes on it gets worse. The book makes claims about the New Testament that are incorrect, as they ignore historical evidence and also the Aramaic texts in order to come to some of their conclusions.
For the intent Biblical student your best bet is to learn Hebrew and Aramaic, and read from the ORIGINAL texts for yourself. Relying on a text like this is definitely not the way to go. Besides it is a lot cheaper to learn the languages than it is to spend money searching for the supposed most accurate translation.
Also, consider the fact that the people who praise this book as being an accurate, or the most accurate translation 100% of the time can't read Hebrew or Aramaic so they would not know if it was accurate or not. This book is by no means a translation or even accurate in it presentation of ancient Israeli and 1st - 2nd Cent. history.
Yet, don't take my word for it. Take this book to an Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic scholar, who could care less about Judaism or Christianity, and see if they agree that the Book of Yahweh is a correct "translation" by any means when lined up with KNOWN Hebrew and Aramaic texts. Better yet, learn Hebrew and Aramaic for yourself and then you will never have to buy another translation ever again.
For those who claim that knowing Hebrew/Aramaic isn't important then a translation should also be just as unimportant. If reading Hebrew was good for Mosheh (Moses), who wrote the Torah in Hebrew, and it was good enough for King David who wrote the Tehillim (Psalms) in Hebrew, then Hebrew is where the proper context starts. Which would be better seeing YHWH's name AND words in Hebrew the way it was originally written or in English while having to trust the ability of the translator? In a Hebrew text a person can see YHWH's name and his words in the same format the ancients saw it in.
My basic advice is instead of wasting your money on this book learn Hebrew and Aramaic, even if it is just a little bit. There are a number of good resources on Amazon with which to learn, and it actually easier than you think, so there you have it. Even if you can't learn the languages fully you may want to invest into a Tanakh (Hebrew/Aramaic) that has Hebrew/Aramaic on one side and English on the other side. That way you actually check as you learn if the translation is correct and it makes it clear that the Hebrew is THE text. A person doesn't need to join any organization or accept things by the explanations of others. The ability to research and know for yourself is something that YHWH all humans with.
The ability to learn directly from the original texts is worth the work and the benefits of knowing that you are following the correct Torah of YHWH is a better feeling than any translation can give you. This way you will never have to worry about what translation is more correct by having the Hebrew/Aramaic Scriptures in front of you which you won't have to second guess.