Not sure if they are the same thing (the Hebrew Bible and the Tanach). I read in this link that "there are many different Jewish translations of the Hebrew Bible". This kind of confuses me because I thought Jews were Hebrew, but then again, I don't know too much. But basically I'm asking where I can find the most original form of the Hebrew Bible/Tenach (are these the same thing? Looking for the collection of 24 books.)? I would like two forms of resources, if possible, please: An actual book (in English, since I can't copy+paste the text into a translator >_<) as well as a good online resource (online bible/tanach). Not looking for a "Jewish translation", because as said in that link "translation is a form of interpretation" and I don't want an interpretation. I want the real thing :)

PS - Sorry if my lack of knowledge makes my questions horribly worded.

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    Shredder, you can't really get away from interpretation. Much of the Bible is cryptic and must be approached with one of any number of methods. Also, the translation of many words are unknown except by trying to break them down and comparing them with similar words elsewhere in the Bible, which has multiple approaches as well.
    – YDK
    Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 5:46
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_Crown
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 16:45
  • You can also use this online copy with Rashi commentary which has both Hebrew and English chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/63255/jewish/… Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 13:50
  • An example of the problem with translation to any languages can be found in the list of non-kosher birds. Many translations will transliterate the names of the birds as we may not be sure which they are. Additionally, the word for bird, עף, includes a type that is usually translated as bat. Thus, the word itself does not necessarily mean bird as used in modern English. Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 13:57

4 Answers 4


The Hebrew Bible and the Tanach are the same thing. Most of the books were written originally in Hebrew and a couple were written at least partially in Aramaic. Whether the text we have today is the same as it was originally is subject to dispute. (With regard to non-Pentateuch books, most everyone agrees our text is not 100% the original.) However, the differences between different texts are very few and hardly matter.

One of the most accurate versions of the Masoretic text is the Koren Tanakh, available to be purchased here. (I believe it has textual variants listed in the back.) The most prominent online resources are Mechon-Mamre and Wikisource.

I'm not sure what confused you about "There are many different Jewish translations of the Hebrew Bible". The Tanach has been translated into many languages many times. If you were to compare English translations produced by Jews, then I have no doubt that you would find yourself very confused. Each translator has their own view and interpretation to which they bias their translation.

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    I was confused because I thought a Jewish translation would be Hebrew, or rather Hebrew is the language of Jews? >_< Thought the two were the same, so I didn't see why a translation was needed for the Jews. But I see what you mean, "English translations by Jews". Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 3:06
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    Bah! I guess that defeats the purpose. Guess I'm screwed on the book part. Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 3:14
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    @Shredder, Ah, I assumed you were looking for exclusively Hebrew editions; as you noted, translations do defeat the purpose of your question. If you're looking to compare translations, though, check out this answer.
    – jake
    Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 5:22
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    @Shredder, re "I was confused because I thought a Jewish translation would be Hebrew, or rather Hebrew is the language of Jews": There are Jewish translations, though, in the sense that they try to translate in accordance with Jewish traditions of explaining the scripture.
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 8:04
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    @Shredder, Unfortunately, pinpoint accuracy, when it comes to translation (especially of Hebrew) is not possible. Some words in Hebrew have meanings that are intended to be understood based on context, which of course is subject to interpretation. Other words have specific connotations that are not the same in the language being translated into; sometimes the reverse may be true, in that the translation connotes something that was not there in the Hebrew text. There are too many subtleties.
    – jake
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 2:49

Unfortunately, while there are different opinions about the "Best translation", there are also different opinions about the "original text".

The hebrew text you will find in most Tanachs today is called the Masoratic Text. (It means "Traditional Text") This text was corrected between the 7th and 10th centuries, as various communities were found to have slightly different texts from each other. The differences in the texts are minimal. However during the 2nd century there were a group known as the "Tikun Sophrim" which means Scribal corrections. The corrections were needed because of the events surrounding the destruction of the Temples and the scattering of the Jewish people. Texts from the Dead Sea scrolls show slight differences in the text dating back between 150 BCE and 70 CE.

Now, as for translations, the first officially approved one that Jews use is called "The translation of Anokoles" which was written in Aramaic. Since then there have been many translations based on the country in which various Jews have lived, as well as depending on the commentators used to understand the Hebrew. The Current Artscroll translation for example relies heavily on the commentary of Rashi for it's translation.

It should be noted that the translations and texts available to us, really do differ on very minor things, but it should also be clear to everyone that the text has been corrected over the many centuries in exile.

  • Interesting. I was hoping that there would be texts available from before 1 CE. You would think that it wouldn't be impossible for a Hebrew who knows English to accurately translate these traditional texts to English without any biases, etc. There has to be English translations for these texts that seek to nail such accuracy, do you know of any? Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 17:51
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    @Shredder the concept is impossible. The Torah is written in poetry, not mathematical notation. Even not translating the Hebrew, but two hebrew speakers will read a verse differently.
    – avi
    Commented Jan 14, 2012 at 16:02
  • @NickRolando The way to get something non bias, is to use a concordance.. and a biblical hebrew dictionary. There is also a translation called YLT (young's literal translation). An example of different translations.. is in Genesis, The hebrew word Off it means flying creature or winged creatures. But since many translations try to do it word for word, they just say bird. Though technically it'd include a fly. A translation is often like a word for word interpretation. A concordance will show you every occurrence of a word thus the real meaning. BibleWorks software is good
    – barlop
    Commented Sep 6, 2015 at 23:52
  • @NickRolando also, any academic/scholarly type, jewish or not, can study biblical hebrew in depth, there are academics that study it.. There are many Jews in Israel that may be expert in biblical hebrew but don't have great English, Also, language evolves so it does require expertise to be a biblical hebrew scholar.
    – barlop
    Commented Sep 6, 2015 at 23:53

An original Tanach in Hebrew is available on machon-mamre.

A translation is available on chabad.org.

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    there is a translation on machon-mamre as well. Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 13:34
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    @Shredder, If you cannot read Hebrew, how do you know that chabad.org translates the verse terribly?
    – jake
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 2:44
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    @Shredder, Then all you can say is that they translate it differently, but not necessarily "horribly".
    – jake
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 1:15
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    Actually I have seen chabad.org style translation in most other English translations except Christian ones--who mistranslate it for obvious reasons. If you're looking for a translation that agrees with what you want it to say, then stick with what you already have.
    – user1190
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 2:04
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    @nickecarlo, You're right. Sorry, I saw your name above his - my mistake.
    – Seth J
    Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 19:42

The Koren Tanach is the best choice.

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    Some explanation about why you consider this the best choice would make this answer much more valuable. As it stands, it's just unfounded opinion.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 15:54
  • I agree with Isaac. I'm interested in purchasing, but could explain why this would be the best choice as far as accuracy when compared to the most original scripts? Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 17:19
  • korenpub.com/EN/static/about Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 17:52
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    In terms of the textual accuracy, נוסח, the claim is made that Koren is in fact not the 'best.' (See section on 'Criticism'): he.wikipedia.org/wiki/תנ%22ך_קורן R Mordechai Breuer made it his life's work to establish the most 'correct' version which he based on the (remnants of the) Aleppo Codex (the most authoritative text according to Maimonides). The result was printed by Hebrew University as the 'Jerusalem Crown Bible' -- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_Crown en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordechai_Breuer
    – ChaimKut
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 18:20

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