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  • Dig for ancient roots in the rich soil of culture, Middle Eastern languages,  and thought;
  • Unearth hidden treasures in archeology, botany, and history;
  • Examine the philosophical and theological origins of today’s beliefs;
  • Discover the world of Semitic plants, their health applications,  and spiritual significance;
  • Follow related Middle East news.

Be prepared to stay awhile.  The Garden is rich.

Michelle Cook

Please note:  The content herein is the original work of Michelle Cook, protected by U.S. Copyright.  Materials are part of a forthcoming book.

Languages

by Michelle Cook on April 7, 2011

Ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic posts coming soon!

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Targum Onkelos (Aramaic)

by Michelle Cook on April 7, 2011

Targum Onkelos is the official eastern translation of the Hebrew Torah in Aramaic. This particular Targum is read in synagogues after the reading of the Hebrew text. In fact, there is an ancient tradition in Orthodox Judaism where the Hebrew Torah portion is read twice weekly and once weekly from the Aramaic Targum.

The Targum Onkelos is almost always published with the Chumash, which is a printed edition of the Torah containing the Five Books of Moses along with commentaries.

The Targum Onkelos is not identical to the Aramaic Peshitta Tanach. They are distinctly different. However, studying both will give the reader a background to the original Hebrew Torah.

Click here to read the Targum Onkelos in English.

(Note: When using this link, you must use the back
button of your browser to return to this site.)

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The Peshitta (Syriac)

by Michelle Cook on April 7, 2011

The Peshitta is the standard version of the Eastern Christian Bible written in Syriac.  Peshitta in Syriac means simple, straight, or common.  The Peshitta Old Testament is the earliest piece of Syriac literature of any length, probably originating in the second century.  Although the majority of the Early Church used the Greek Septuagint as their translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, the Syriac-speaking church used the Peshitta, which was translated independently of the Septuagint.  The Hebrew text that served as a master copy for the translation must have been relatively similar to the Masoretic Text of medieval and modern Hebrew Bibles.  Interestingly, the Peshitta has been translated by a wide array of people.  Some parts may have been translated by Syriac-speaking Jews, and other parts may have been translated by early Jewish converts to Christianity.
To read the Peshitta/English Interlinear below, you must first download the following fonts.  Simply right click on the link, choose “Save Target As”, and download.
Estrangelo Aramaic TrueType Font
SIL Galatia Greek TrueType Font
SIL Ezra Hebrew TrueType Font
Web Arabic TrueType Font
The Peshitta/English Interlinear by Paul D. Younan
Matthew (Mattich)
Mark (Marqsch)
Luke (Luqach)
John (Yukhnch)
Acts (Actsch)
Note:  Paul Younan’s Interlinear translation is still a work in progress.  I will update as it is made available.
There is another excellent Aramaic English translation of the Peshitta by the Peshitta Foundation that is nearly complete.  Click here to view their website:  The Peshitta Foundation

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Arabic Bible Translations

by Michelle Cook on April 7, 2011

When using links, click the back button on your browser to return to this site.

Bible Verse Search in Arabic

Arabic New Testament in audio (The Arabic NT in audio is copyrighted by the International Bible Society.)

Bible Concordance in Arabic (Arabic Life Application Bible)

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Reptiles And Insects Of The Bible

by Michelle Cook on April 7, 2011

Adder (Viper)
A poinonous snake of the genus Vipera.
Agamid
Leviticus 11:29
An agamid is a large lizard that commonly grows to three feet in length.  Agamids are covered with scales and thorny protrusions that make them look frightening even though they are harmless.  They aren’t mentioned specifically by name in the Bible, but scholars believe the word “tortoise” in Leviticus 11:29 might be the agamid.
Asp (See Cobra)
Deuteronomy 32:33; Job 20:16, 14
The word Asp represents four Hebrew names for the snake:
1.  Pethen, which has deadly venom, which is most likely the cobra (naja aspis).  (Deuteronomy 32:33, Job 20:16, 14).
2.  Shahal, which may be a scribal error for a snake that is now unidentifiable.
3.  Akhshubh, a deadly kind of viper (perhaps the toxicoa, the echis arenicola or scytale of the Pyramids which was commonly found in Syria and North Africa.)
4.  Cphoni, “the hisser”, which is generally translated basilisk or regulus.  People believed that the snake was so poisonous that even its hiss or glance could be fatal.  The snake is most likely a cerastes (a small viper), or, according to Cheyne, the daboia zanthina.
Basilisk
Psalm 91:13
The Basilisk is a mythical creature that frightened the ancients.  According to legends, this half cock, half snake terror was so deadly that even its glance could be fatal.  It quickly became a symbol of the devil based on Psalm 91:13 which says “you will tread on the adder and the basilisk.”
Chameleon
Leviticus 11:30
The chameleon is a lizard that has the ability to change color.  The interesting thing about the chameleon is that it doesn’t change its color to chamoflauge itself, but rather, it changes colors due to emotion and temperature changes.  Also unique to the chameleon is that each eye can move independently, allowing it to look two ways at once.
Cobra
Cockatrice
Isaiah 11:8, 50:5; Jeremiah 8:17
A cockatrice is a ficticious serpent thought to be hatched from a chicken egg rather than a snake egg.  Early Bible translations included it in their passages, but later ones changed the name to adder and so forth.
Crocodile
Egyptians worshipped the crocodile as one of their gods, and as such, the Israelites didn’t like them.
Dragon
Psalm 91:13; Ezekiel 22:33
Many ancient cultures believed in–and even revered–dragons.  Dragons were thought to be wise and powerful.  Even so, the Bible equates them with evil.
Eel
Leviticus 11:10; Matthew 7:10

Eels were found in the salty Mediterranean and in the freshwater lakes of Palestine.  Under Levitical law they were forbidden to be consumed as a food source because they have neither scales nor fins.  It is probable that the word “serpent” should have been translated “eel” in Matthew 7:10 when Jesus asked, “If his son asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent [eel]?”  An eel would have been worthless to a devout hungry Jew, and certainly would have portrayed a clearer message to the listeners.
Frog
Exodus 8:1-14; Psalms 78:45, 105:34; Revelation 16:13
Frogs were the second plague of ten sent to the Egyptians in Exodus 8:1-14, and were considered “unclean” by the Israelites.  (The fact that Egyptians actually worshipped the frog god Hequet made frogs all the more loathesome.)  In Revelation 16:13, John sees “three unclean spirits like frogs” in his vision.  Clearly, the Biblical view of frogs is negative.

Gecko
Leviticus 11:30
Common to the Middle East, the gecko is a large lizard.  In Leviticus 11:30, early translators added “ferret” to the list of “creeping things”, but since there have never been ferrets in Palestine, more recent translations more accurately replace “ferret” with “gecko”.
Early folklore said leprosy could be caused by a gecko walking on one’s body.  (Many Arabs today believe that a gecko poisons all it touches.)
Leviathon
Psalm 74:14; Job 41:1
What, exactly, is Leviathan?  Is it a mythical creature, a spirit, a dinosaur, or an ancient sea mammal?  Interestingly, Hebrew beliefs coincide with other cultures when it comes to fantastic creatures such as dragons, unicorns, and basilisk.  Were they real at one time?  Were they Nephilim?  Were they destroyed in the Flood?  We do not know the answers to these questions, but they are still asked today.  Many people believe Job was describing a crocodile in Job 41, but his peers believed “Leviathan” was a large sea monster.  One legend about Leviathan was that it was incapable of reproducing because God knew if too many leviathans existed, they would crowd the other creatures out of the ocean due to their enormous size!
Lizard
Leviticus 11:30; Psalm 58:8
There are multiple varieties of lizards in the Holy Land, which may explain why Bible translators were so ambiguous in their translations of them.  Scholars now know the sand lizard was likely the “snail” in Leviticus 11:30 and Psalm 58:8.  Common lizards were the Nile Monitor, the Land Crocodile, the Chameleon, the Gecko, and the Agamid.
Nile Monitor
Familiar to Egypt, the Nile Monistor is a large, sand-colored lizard that grows to be 5-6 feet in length.
Serpent (Snake)
Genesis 3:1; Revelation 12:9
Since Genesis, the Bible has been a symbol of evil.
Tortoise (Turtle)
Viper
Isaiah 30:6; Proverbs 23:22
Insects
Ant
Proverbs 6:6; 30:25
More than twelve species of ants exist in Israel, the most common being of the genus Atta.  Atta barbara ants are dark colored ants, and atta structor are brown.  Unlike northern country ants, these ants store up corn for winter use, which explains why the men in Proverbs are called wise.
Bee
Judges 14:8
Beetle
Butterfly
Cankerworm
Caterpillar
Cricket
Leviticus 11:22
Flea
1 Samuel 24:14, 26:20
Fly
Ecclesiastes 10:1
Gnat
Exodus 8:16; Matthew 23:24
Grasshopper
Leviticus 11:22
Hornet
Horseleach
Leech
Lice
Locust
Exodus 10:4; Leviticus 11:22; Joel 1:4; Matthew 3:4; Revelaton 9:3
Maggot
Job 7:5, 17:14, 21:26; Isaiah 14:11; Mark 9:48
Mosquito
Moth
Matthew 6:19; Isaiah 50:9, 51:8
Palmerworm
Scorpion
1 Kings 12:11, 14; Luke 10:19; Revelation 9:3, 5, 10
Snail
Okay, so a snail isn’t an insect.
Scarob
Spider
Black Widow
Isaiah 59:5
Worm
Isaiah 66:24; Jonah 4:7

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Fish And Other Sea Life Of The Bible

by Michelle Cook on April 7, 2011

Clam

Coral

Dolphin

Dugong (Sea Cow)

Eel

Fish

Jellyfish

Lobster

Oyster

Shark

Shrimp

Sponge

Whale

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Birds of the Bible

by Michelle Cook April 7, 2011

Barn Owl Leviticus 11:18 Bat Leviticus 11:19; Isaiah 2:20 We now know that a bat is a flying mammal, but early peoples thought of it as a bird, so I will include it here. Bearded Vulture (See Lammergier) Bee Eater Bittern Blackbird Bulbul Buzzard Isaiah 34:15 Chicken Cock Cormorant Leviticus 11:17 Crane Isaiah 38:14 Crossbill […]

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Animals of the Bible

by Michelle Cook April 7, 2011

Addax (Pygarg) Deuteronomy 14:5 Many kinds of antelope existed in ancient Israel.  The most common was the Saharan addax.  The Saharan addax looks like a mix between a goat and a donkey.  It has a brown head, off-white body, and short, goat-like mane under the neck, but a donkey-like tail and flat hoofs to keep it […]

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Chazah: “The Seeing Ear”

by Chazahbeit December 26, 2010

In ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, “chazah” (vision) means more than seeing with the natural eye. It means seeing prophetically.

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Hebraicly Speaking, “Perfect” Doesn’t Mean What We Think

by Michelle Cook April 30, 2010

You can be complete, mature, and healthy without being “perfect” as the English means it, and it is God’s desire that you are!

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