After I made my post about Joseph Smith attempting to translate English into Hebrew, a curious thing happened: a commenter took issue with my conclusions and then proceeded to veer into irrelevant topics such as Hugh Nibley’s attempt to muddy the Book of Abraham waters by attacking transliterations and, of course, our commenter’s priesthood office. (For the record, I was ordained a high priest in the LDS church 16 years ago.)
In case anyone missed the point, I’ll summarize my earlier post.
1. Before Joseph Smith had any instruction in Hebrew, when he translated, the words he claimed were Hebrew were not Hebrew at all.
2. After Joseph Smith had some instruction in Hebrew, when he translated, the words he claimed were Hebrew turned out to be Hebrew after all.
3. Without knowledge or instruction in Egyptian, when Joseph translated, the words he claimed were Egyptian resembled his first attempt at Hebrew and were not Egyptian.
I think we can make some pretty solid conclusions from this, but obviously others may disagree. Either way, it seems to me that, were I trying to defend Joseph Smith, I could think of a few responses:
1. The first attempt was a secular attempt and does not reflect on his abilities as a translator when inspired of God.
2. The words Joseph claimed were Hebrew really are Hebrew but have either not been revealed yet or have been lost over the centuries.
There are obvious problems with both, but since I have a commenter who has come up with a criticism of my post, I shall respond.
Robin Bishop (I’m going by the comment label) wrote:
Joseph Smith did not have English to Hebrew online translators. So, it is a simple procedure to test the voracity of the Prophet Joseph. In your post, you have the translation into Hebrew of Joseph’s attempt at “Brethren I bid you adieu”. It apparently produced something nonsensical. Right, I get that.
Not only nonsensical, but non-Hebrew. That’s important.
Using the online translator of your choice, do it for yourself and see what you get. (I’m surprised you didn’t try it for yourself prior to posting. )
For all those who don’t want to take the time to uncover the truth for yourselves, this is what I got.
“Brethren I bid you adieu” delivers אחיהם שיהיה לך in Hebrew. Translating the Hebrew “אחיהם שיהיה לך “ back to English delivers the nonsensical “Their brothers that will be you”.
I got “Brothers I offer you hello.”
This leaves me to wonder what was really contained in the original Hebrew letters of the New Testament. You might want to take a look at the Joseph Smith translation.
Either way, the problem here isn’t that we get a nonsense translation (this is common with online translators, not so much with prophets). There is a fatal flaw in your reasoning:
The Hebrew words the online translator came up with (אחים שאני מציע אותך שלום) are actually Hebrew. “i f s E Zamtri” is not Hebrew. When the translator translated the Hebrew into English, the words it produced were actually English. Nonsensical or not, the Hebrew words Joseph Smith produced are not Hebrew.
Ed Ashment knew this problem before writing his nonsense.
It’s not nonsense to say that the words Joseph Smith wrote are not Hebrew. I’m not sure why you think it was “nonsense” for Ed Ashment to write that simple fact.
Speaking to the translation from English to Hebrew, translate the word “HAVE” into Hebrew….just that simple word. Tell me what you get.
I still get Hebrew words. Joseph Smith did not. Yet just a few months later, he produced correct Hebrew words. What had changed in the interval?