A Preliminary Translation of the Jordan Codices is Offered

Of course, the codices are forgeries and there’s nothing intelligible on them at all, but the Lead Codices page on Facebook is making the claim that translators are furiously working to establish the proper “context” in order to “get it right.” They’ve offered the following translation as a teaser:

Now keep in mind the person putatively responsible for translation is a professor emeritus at a “leading university,” and is, according to Elkington (see here), one of four or five people in the world who can read paleo-Hebrew. Here is the text being referenced (between the wreath and the menorah – and it does not quote Prov 10:9):

This text under this menorah appears several times in the codices. The admin of the Jordan Codices Facebook page (whom I believe to be Elkington himself) is insisting the text above reads as follows:

אלך בתם

Now, before my comments were all deleted from the Facebook page (see them all here), I repeated the transliteration of this text as “elek batom,” and the Jordan Codices admin corrected me, explaining that it was specifically Elek ba tom, “not batom”:

This isn’t good Hebrew, though. “Ba Tom” uses as the preposition what’s called an inseparable prefix, namely the letter beth (ב). In order to mean “in uprightness/perfection” it cannot be separated from the word (hence, “inseparable” prefix).

This reading understands the following letter as an aleph:

This letter appears all over the codices, though, facing both directions and in many different styles, and it shares the most consistent similarities with an archaic style of yod (see Steve Caruso’s analysis of the script here and his chart here). There are very few styles of aleph that at all resemble this letter in  either direction.

The next letter appears to be a reversed lamed, which agrees with the Lead Codices admin’s transcription. The following is asserted to be a kaph, but again, the style is much more consistently aligned with another letter, namely waw/vav:

The next letter also is problematic. The admin for the Facebook group says it is a beth, but it bears striking resemblance to the mem on the end of the text, and is therefore more likely a nun (which is only a slight modification on the mem):

Again, the form of the letter does not correspond with the reading. The top loop of the beth is always closed. Taken together, in order to assert the Facebook admin’s reading, we would have to posit some of the most rare forms of these letters, gathered from disparate places and times (there is no single script where each of these forms appears). If we did accept the identification of these graphemes, then we would expect other texts to be intelligible where their current identifications render them unintelligible. This is not the case, though. For instance, the top three lines of text on the following image are no further clarified (the portions that are legible, anyway):

It reads as follows with the Facebook admin’s reading:

. . . לגלשאגתלאלגלגבשאגתל . . .
. . . מבתבלאגתלגשבתבלאגתבב . . .
. . . מסרשאלגבבמסרשאלגת . . .

A small collection of letters are simply being nonsensically repeated (with the occasional accidental word appearing). It is difficult to make out in the photo above because of the blurring, but the first roughly half of the bottom three lines are repeated in exactly the same shape and orientation in the second half of the text. Whatever mold or die was used to create the first half of each of the three lines was simply used again for the second half. Philip Davies’ recent PEQ editorial, available for free here, mentions this repetition and calls the lettering “mostly purely decorative.” This rather conflicts with Elkington’s claim to have the world’s top paleo-Hebrew mind reaching a breakthrough in translation (unless, of course, Elkington doesn’t think Davies is one of the five who can read it!). Davies, who tries to avoid coming down too definitively in one direction or another, also states the following:

One respected academic colleague has identified the words ‘lk btm (‘I will walk uprightly’). Though I personally have been unable to verify this reading, that may yet confirmed by others.

The same style and limited pattern of letters appears in the text on the left side of this codex:

It would appear to read (following Elkington’s reading):

. . . שאגתל
. . . בלאג
. . . שא
. . . אגל
. . . אגתל
. . . לאגת
. . . שאלג
. . . גלגב
. . . בל
. . . אש
. . . גג

Or something close to this. Again, a very limited set of graphemes are just being repeated over and over. The possibility of fudging an actual sentence into this text does not serve to alleviate the problems with the rest of the texts. They’re simply gibberish, and David Elkington is spreading lies by insisting there are only a few people on the planet capable of understanding the text. It bears repeating that the stylized palm tree on the plate above is absolutely identical to the same tree on the copper codex exposed as a crude forgery by Peter Thonemann.

In conclusion, I disagree with the reading offered by the admin of the Lead Codices Facebook page and I would venture to guess that there is no eminent professor emeritus behind it. It makes much more sense to me that someone forged the codices (which has already been established for several codices) and just indiscriminately copied down a bunch of letters. Someone else came by and with a rudimentary grasp of Hebrew and a lexicon was able to squint hard enough to make sense out of a portion of it. I believe the Facebook page and the idea that an announcement is imminent from the Jordanian government are attempts to drum up hype so that Elkington’s book can sell more copies whenever it actually manages to hit stores. Unfortunately, as Jim West has pointed out, by promulgating this story, even to falsify Elkington’s claims, we do him a favor. I think, however, it’s more important to expose this hoax than to try to prevent a profit from being made. I’m prepared to be wrong about this, but up to this point I’ve not seen any indication that such is the case.

For all the known photos that have been put online, see here.


14 responses to “A Preliminary Translation of the Jordan Codices is Offered

  • A Preliminary Translation of the Jordan Codices is Offered « Daniel O. McClellan « The Musings of Thomas Verenna

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  • Elsewhere (08.31.2011) | Near Emmaus

    […] Daniel McClellan discusses the preliminary translation of the Jordan Codices, dishonesty regarding the codices, and evidences of […]

  • Tom Verenna and Daniel McClellan on the Jordan Lead Codices. | Near Emmaus

    […] in the week, but I thought this would be an opportune time to highlight them again. He wrote on the preliminary translation of the Jordan Codices, dishonesty regarding the codices, and evidences of forgery. Share […]

  • Biblical Studies Carnival September 2011 Episode II: The Biblioblogs Strike Back « Exploring Our Matrix

    […] Tom Verenna, Dirk Jongkind, Dorothy King, Jim West as well as the editorial by Philip Davies. But perhaps most importantly, see Dan McClellan’s very recent post offering a preliminary tran….Robert Holmsted blogged about basic word order in Biblical Hebrew. Contrast that with Steve […]

  • In Response to David Elkington « Daniel O. McClellan

    […] Those are the only real legitimate “Hasmonean paleo-Hebrew” letters in all of the codices, and they’re clearly ripped from another text. They do not at all fit into the context of the code on which they appear. To continue, a completely different style of vav is found on the codices, although in the one reading that Elkington offered from the codices, he identifies the vav as a kaph, which it’s very clearly not (see my discussion here). […]

  • Mike Kusiak

    Few statements from the Jordan Codices were shown to the public. This is one statement.

    1 For Selaman, excellent and
    2 harmless man, farewell! Abgar, also known as Eision,
    3 son of Monoathos, for his excellent son, this tomb,
    4 he constructed, in the third year of the province

    Literally it is useless; however, let’s have a philosophical look using transliteration and etymology of the stated words.

    Selaman- is from shalem, Hebrew meaning;
    1) complete, safe, peaceful, perfect, whole, full, at peace
    a) complete
    1) full, perfect
    2) finished b) safe, unharmed c) peace (of covenant of peace, mind)
    1) perfect, complete (of keeping covenant relation)

    Abgar- was a historical Syriac ruler of the kingdom of Osroene, holding his capital at Edessa. The region that was referred to as Armenian Mesopotamia by the Greeks and Ashur in the Old Testament.

    Osroene-was a historical kingdom located in upper Mesopotamia. (The upper Mesopotamia was the garden of Eden today’s Iraq.)
    Eision= eis-ion
    Example of word using ‘eis’…..
    ‘eisegesis’ meaning: “the reading of one’s own ideas into scripture, 1878, from Gk. eis means “in, into” + ending from exegesis.
    ion=from Gk. neut. prp. of ienai “go,” from PIE root *ei- “to go, to walk” (cf. Gk. eimi “I go;” L. ire “to go,” iter “a way;”
    So it seems that eision means: “to walk into, to go into or away.”

    mono=single or alone
    athos= In greek mythology Athos threw a mountain at Zeus (the father of gods and men). The mountain became the holy peak of Mt Athos.
    province= from early 14c., from O.Fr. province (13c.), from L. provincia “territory under Roman domination,” usually explained as pro- “before” + vincere “to conquer”
    Based on the etymology and usage of the word province,
    “in the third year of the province’
    Rome dominated the Italian peninsula in 272 BC. The third year into this domination would be 270 BC. which is the year that Epicurus died.
    Epicurus (341–270 B.C.) founded one of the major philosophies of ancient Greece, helping to lay the intellectual foundations for modern science and for secular individualism. Many aspects of his thought are still highly relevant some twenty-three centuries after they were first taught in his school in Athens, called “the Garden.”

    Epicurus’s philosophy combines a physics based on an atomistic materialism with a rational hedonistic ethics that emphasizes moderation of desires and cultivation of friendships. His world-view is an optimistic one that stresses that philosophy can liberate one from fears of death and the supernatural, and can teach us how to find happiness in almost any situation. His practical insights into human psychology, as well as his science-friendly world-view, gives Epicureanism great contemporary signficance as well as a venerable role in the intellectual development of Western Civilization.
    (Borrowed from the Epicurus & Epicurean Philosophy web site, hosted by Vincent Cook)

    Based on the above information we can begin to decipher the difference between these two opposite biblical view points.
    1Cr 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

    During the Hellenistic period the words Greek and philosopher were synonymous. Until now no one has interpreted the writings of Moses through the philosophical eye of the Greeks. Therefore they remain metaphorically blind and mentally crippled.

    The word ‘Apocalypse’ literally defined in theological terms is, “any universal or widespread destruction or disaster: the apocalypse of nuclear war.” The Judeo Christian world is expecting this outcome so that the building of the third temple of Ezekiel can be completed as instructed in the Book of Ezekiel ch 40-47.

    Greeks define ‘Apocalypse’ philosophically as, “lifting of the veil, a revelation.” The former leads to war, the latter to seeing behind the veil of Moses. (2Cr 3:15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.)

    Now compare the literal and philosophical reading of the sentence found in the Jordan Codices.
    Literal reading:
    1 For Selaman, excellent and
    2 harmless man, farewell! Abgar, also known as Eision,
    3 son of Monoathos, for his excellent son, this tomb,
    4 he constructed, in the third year of the province

    Philosophical reading:
    For peace and harmless man, farewell!
    The ruler of the garden of Eden, also known as “one who walks into or goes away from,” son of the one who threw a mountain at the “father of gods and men,” for his excellent son, this tomb, he constructed, in the third year of Rome’s dominance (literal reading of scripture seeking a sign) which began at the death of Epicurus (the philosophical understanding which seeks wisdom).

    What does this mean today?
    Farewell to the time of peace and harmless men, they are gone. War is now upon the world which has become a tomb. Because the single one ‘Moses’ who related the literal story of the beginning in Eden, caused peaceful man’s mind and heart to be veiled with the mystery of his literal words.
    Another sentence apparently translated from the Jordan Codices is;

    “I shall walk uprightly”.

    Today the world is metaphorically “bent” continually searching for answers to “straighten up” their human understanding and maintain peace.
    Biblically, this goes back to the Old Testament Book of 1Samual 9 and 10. The story is about the lost asses of Kish, Saul’s father. Kish is taken from the Hebrew word Qiysh meaning ‘bent’. Qiysh has its root in Qowsh which means, “to lay bait or lure, lay a snare, lure.” Saul’s father was bent, which is metaphoric for crippled in his understanding. In Jesus’ miracle, He made the cripple stand upright. This is actually part of the definition of the secret wisdom that Paul speaks of in the New Testament. The two lost asses are allegoric for the dual wisdoms which were lost in the snare set by Moses’ fall-of-man theory.
    Today man follows his human wisdom and has abandoned his spiritual wisdom, this is blasphemy of the spirit. One who lives according to spiritual wisdom maintains a peaceful life and a peaceful world.

    With all things considered the Jordan Codices are very clear. They go right to some of the most important points of the Bible.
    When you use this same process and retranslate the Bible and the Quran, they become the two most non mysterious, spiritually enlightening partner books on the planet. This is achieved simply by exposing the literal scribes whom Jesus chides in the Gospels. This process removes the veil of Moses and peace is upon us.
    My E Mail is (itwillcome@live.com) for your comments.

  • Daniel O. McClellan

    Thanks for sharing this, Mike, but there are a few issues. First, of the four lines you originally shared, only a portion of one actually showed up on the codices, and they actually did not show up accurately. The four lines are from a tombstone, and only line two was actually lifted from the tombstone and inserted into the codices. We know that it is limited to line two because on one of the lines on the codices, the text ends line two and then continues on uninterrupted with the beginning of the line two again. It repeats itself. Next, whoever pulled the inscription from the tombstone didn’t understand the difference between alpha and lambda and converted all the alphas to lambdas. It reads:


    Which is literally llupe xlire lbglr o kli eision. The only portion of it that actually matches the text you’re starting with is the last word, eision, and that absolutely does not mean “to walk into.” Interpreting Greek is not a matter of identifying lexical entries for word fragments and then just pushing them together. The text from the copper codex is simply a forgery, without question. There is no sense in trying to read something theological into it, and especially when what you’re doing is just reading something theological into the original document that the codices inaccurately and incompletely reproduced.

    Onto elek batom. The Jordan codices simply do not contain the phrase elek batom. I explain as much in this very blog post. Again, you’re reading theology into a phrase that simply has nothing whatsoever to do with the codices.

  • Margaret Barker on the Jordan Codices | Daniel O. McClellan

    […] has been shown to be nothing more than wishful thinking combined with heavy squinting (here). No response has been offered to that criticism. All we’ve heard is Elkington tell me I […]

  • Christopher Wortman

    From the Bell(The Joshuah Davidic Bell), in another world, the only way to gain access is through Christ Jesus. Through the blood the bonds are broken, and by the blood life is given, and only by the blood of Christ can you be accepted by the great I am. This is basic Hebrew people…

  • Christopher Wortman

    The third wave shall not lag, and shall not strike thrice, carrying this message with me until my death, the division of Bev, shall take place in a year when the city planning begins, I shall walk uprightly all the days of my life following Christ our savior. Not until the Bell (the Davidic Bell) strikes thrice shall I return (says Jesus) (the stuff in parenthesis is for clarity and what it is referring to, this should give you all what you need to get started)

  • Leo

    What evidence can you provide that the codices are forgeries? I think what you’re really saying is that you are unable to accept anything but the obviously (and historically proven) raped version of the bible we have nowadays because you cannot accept the fact that Jesus was not god in the flesh as many would like to believe. Not only that but you appear to be a little young and without much experience to be cutting something down you know nothing about. I would venture to guess you’re a baptist as they are about the most closed minded bunch i have ever come across and like to interpret the bible in their own way rather than study the entire spectrum of all the books, both recovered and meddled with, so as to ascertain a more educated outcome rather than a “you gotta get saved” self righteous attitude. besides that, I can see the self righteousness in your blog. Not that you’ll allow this comment to stay here long anyway, which further proves my estimation of you.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Hi, Leo! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Well, apart from the evidence I present in this post, you can use the tags at the bottom of the post to find other posts of mine on the codices. The two I recommend are “Peter Thonemann on the Lead Codices” and “Thoughts on the Jordan Lead Codices.” Regarding your “estimation,” I don’t believe Jesus is God in the flesh, I am not a baptist, and I have three degrees and am getting a fourth in biblical studies. I study the Bible critically, not devotionally, and I’ve studied a phenomenally broad spectrum of the books. If you’d like to see how I approach both recovered and meddled-with books, the master’s thesis I wrote at the University of Oxford, “Anti-Anthropomorphism and the Vorlage of LXX Exodus,” would be a good place to start. You can find it here:


      Then you can check out my next master’s thesis, “‘You Will Be Like the Gods’: The Conceptualization of Deity in the Hebrew Bible in Cognitive Perspective”:


      I will certainly post my doctoral dissertation on my blog once I’m finished with it. If in the meantime you have any critiques of the two theses above, though, I would happy to hear them.

      Thanks again!

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