Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Good Reason to Learn Hebrew

Every now and then I will have a student ask me how to write out a word or Bible verse in either Hebrew or Greek. They ask because they are getting a tattoo of the word/verse in the biblical language. I am often tempted to give them the wrong word or verse. If you are reading this and have asked me don't worry. I haven't done it, yet.

But I did see a good example of how such an endeavor can go wrong. This past summer there was someone at Tel-Gezer with us who had what was supposed to be a verse from Jeremiah in Hebrew. What it really was, however, was gibberish since the person doing the tattoo didn't know Hebrew and made a mess of it. The poor person had this tattooed on the back of the neck.

Along the same lines, but not as permanent as a tattoo, is this t-shirt that you can buy for as little as $14.95 with the name of Jesus in Hebrew, spelled incorrectly. That's right, what the website claims is the name of Jesus in Hebrew is not "yeshua" but "yeshra." The third letter in from the right is the wrong one. But hey, what does it matter. Your friends will know what you mean, you hope.

Interested in buying this shirt and other tacky stuff? Shop here.

Thanks to David Ladow for pointing this out to me.


  1. Www.badhebrew.com. If you haven't looked at it yet you should check it out. It's amazing how often people mark their skin with something that is completely incorrect.

  2. If I had a dollar for every bad Hebrew or Aramaic tattoo I've seen, I'd have more money than I make providing correct translations (and most of my customers are after tattoos). :-)


  3. haha! before reading, I kept asking myself, "yeshra? i don't remember what yesra means...."

  4. There is some hilarious/terrible stuff out there (depends on your sense of humor, I guess). If anyone's interested, I did just come across Biblical Hebrew Magazine, which only comes out like every 2 months, but is quite informative and interesting nonetheless.