Publisher: Cepher Publishing Group LLC.
When I first decided to look at this, I expected to see just another sacred-name Bible with an agenda. While that description partially describes this book, I was pleasantly surprised to find so much more.
Let me start by saying this book isn’t for everybody, and it shouldn’t be your main Bible. It’s big, thick, and weighs in at almost four and a half pounds – more than a typical bag of sugar. It isn’t as easy to navigate as most Bibles because of the content. And be aware that, even though the description says “bonded leather,” this is a hard-cover book and not the flexible leather that you normally think of on a Bible
But I will cautiously recommend the Eth Cepher for Bible students. If you decide you want to give this a try, I suggest that you buy it through Amazon. The price is the same as the publisher, it ships free (in two days if you are a Prime member) and most importantly, if it doesn’t turn out to be what you thought it was, you can easily return it.
From the Publisher
Let’s start by looking at a few important descriptions provided by the publisher. They provide valuable information about what you can expect, even though they contain statements that are, simply put, wrong.
The Hebrew word את (eth in English) means divine, and the Hebrew word ספר (cepher in English) means book; hence, the את Eth-CEPHER is the “Divine Book”.
את “eth” does not mean “divine.” It is a grammatical marker. More on this later, but for the publisher to make this statement immediately casts doubt on the work. Perhaps an explanation is needed as to exactly what they mean by this assertion, but the simple statement is not true.
Some have asked us why we call this the תא CEPHER and not a Bible. The answer is, that the Bible in its entirety is included within the תא CEPHER, but so are many other sacred scriptures which we believe are indispensable to the believer. The word cepher is Hebrew for “book”; hence, we are calling this work the Book, as compared to naming it after the pagan city of Biblos.
That’s kind of a play on words, as “Bible” is an English word derived from similar Latin and Greek words that just mean “book(s).” There was a Phoenician city by the name Byblos, but the city is not “pagan” and our Bible isn’t named after a city. Still, the point being made is that this Cepher contains additional books beyond what one would normally find in a Bible, even one that includes the Deuterocanonical or Apocryphal books. They are books relative to the Messianic and Hebrew Roots believer – not something from the Koran, Urantia Book or the Book of Mormon. More on this later as well.
Lets take a minute to look at this word, then I will get back to reviewing Eth Cepher.
According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, את (aleph-tav, Strong’s Hebrew word H835 transliterated as ‘et or eth) is “An untranslated particle in Hebrew often described in grammars (somewhat superficially) as the sign of the direct object after a transitive verb. Its origin is unknown. The prevailing view is that ‘et was originally a noun meaning “essence, substance, self,” a significance which it subsequently lost in the historical development of the language.” Brown-Driver-Briggs says it is a “sign (marker) of the definite direct object, not translated in English but generally preceding and indicating the accusative case.” It would be incorrect to assign this word a definition.
The word first appears (twice) in Scripture in Genesis 1:1:
בראשׁית ברא אלהים את השׁמים ואת הארץ׃
B’reshit bara’ Elohim ‘et hashamayim v’et ha’arets
(in the beginning created God the heavens and the earth)
The word ‘et is used to indicate that “the heavens” and “the earth” are the objects of the verb, “created.” Grammatically, it simply shows us what was created. Without this indicator, one could possibly conclude that the heavens and the earth created God. ‘et removes the confusion.
But there is more to be seen in this verse.
In Revelation 1:8 “the Lord,” either YHWH or Yeshua, calls himself “the Alpha and Omega” (according to the Greek source text of Revelation). This same phrase is repeated in Revelation 21:6 and Revelation 22:13, with this last one clearly spoken by Yeshua. Some contemporary English translations go as far as rendering this as “the A and the Z,” substituting the first and last letters of our modern alphabet. However, in all likelihood the one who is speaking said it in Hebrew, regardless of how it was written down. He no doubt said, “I am the Aleph and Tav.”
And while there are many meanings to alpha and omega, aleph and tav, beginning and end, first and last, many scholars believe one of the meanings behind “I am the Aleph and Tav” looks back at creation in the first verse of the Bible. Yeshua is saying he is the את (‘et) in the beginning of everything, the connection between the creating and the created.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1-3 NASB).
The Preface to the Eth Cepher states, “The Aleph Tav combination stands 9392 times in the Ivriyt Tanakh (Old Testament), and 531 times in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) (Ivriyt translation from the Greek Textus Receptus) and does so in each instance without the benefit of translation.” An Englishman’s Concordance search using my Biblesoft PC Study Bible software returned over 11,000 occurrences in the Old Testament. It is clearly a very common part of Hebrew writing; it has meaning as a grammatical marker, even though it has no translatable definition. In the Eth Cepher, according to information on their web site, “the Aleph Tav has been restored over 10,000 times.” Though not exact, all of these numbers are relatively close. I don’t plan to count them.
Here is one example of how it appears in the text of the Eth Cepher:
You shall therefore guard את eth-the commandments, and את eth-the statutes, and את eth-the judgments, which I command you this day, to do them (Deuteronomy 7:11).
Actually, it isn’t all that distracting and is somewhat useful. You can see from this passage that the direct objects of “guard” – the things you are to guard – are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments.
Some teachers have pointed out certain texts where the aleph-tav does not fit the traditional grammatical use and have suggested a Messianic interpretation. That may be valid, but you won’t recognize them since all or at least most all occurrences have been included in the Eth Cepher.
The Divine Name
The Eth Cepher renders the Divine Name, yod-hey-vav-hey, as YAHUAH. They offer an explanation of how they arrive at this pronunciation, and though I do not personally agree with it, it is well done and worth consideration. The Divine Name appears in all caps in the text, making it easy to recognize. Other terms referring to the Almighty Creator are also presented in all caps, including ELOHIYM, ELOHAI, ADONAI, TSEVAOTH and various combinations of those names.
It is very easy for me to see the name YAHUAH in the text and to say or think “Yahweh.” You could probably do the same with some other pronunciation.
The name of the Messiah is shown as YAHUSHA, again in all caps, and again with a full explanation of how this name is derived. You will read YAHUSHA HA’MASHIACH where appropriate. This is also the name of Moses’ (Mosheh’s) assistant Joshua, though not shown in caps. And again, though I don’t agree with this pronunciation it is pretty easy to see this name and pronounce it “Yeshua” or however you wish.
This is a “sacred name” Bible rather than one that uses euphemistic titles like HASHEM, ADONAI, and LORD. But let’s be clear, if you are selecting a Bible only because of the way it renders the Divine Name, you are using the wrong criteria.
Just as with other aspects of this book, the publisher is open about the source texts and the method of translation. Reading it, it is obvious that Eth Cepher – at least for the Old and New Testament books – primarily follows not only the source but also the translation of the King James Version. There are variations, but remember that changes to the KJV or any other translation should never be equated to making changes to the Bible. The publishers state that they have updated archaic language, but some passages still are a little awkward, especially if you have used modern translations. You will notice that the word “ye” is used for the second person plural “you.” This is very helpful and something that is lacking in most all modern versions.
Eth Cepher contains other books besides the 66 books of the standard Protestant Bible and additional 14 books originally in the King James Version (including additions to Daniel and Esther). The publisher states, “the Bible in its entirety is included within the תא CEPHER, but so are many other sacred scriptures which we believe are indispensable to the believer.” While this is a noble effort, combining these other books into a volume along with “the Bible in its entirety” suggests to the reader that these other books are divinely inspired Scripture. These “other books” are not separated out in the bound volume; they are interspersed with the recognized canonical books. This is a questionable if not deceptive practice.
In the Eth Cepher you will find 39 rather than 24 books from the Hebrew Tanakh, just like the Old Testament. First Samuel and Second Samuel are separate books, as are both Kings and both Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, and The Twelve prophets, which is customary in Christian Bibles. The order is similar to the Tanakh. Mixed in with the Nevi’im are the Letter of Jeremiah, Tobit, Baruch and the Prayer of Manasseh from the Apocrypha, as well as 2nd Baruch. The other books of the Apocrypha once part of the King James Version are included, as well as the Apocryphal books of 3 and 4 Ezra and 3 and 4 Maccabees.
Between the Torah (five books of Moses) and the Nevi’im (Prophets), Eth Cepher adds the books of Jubilees, Enoch and Jasher. Mixing these books in with the rest of the Tanakh and Apocryphal books, I believe, is not appropriate. This is my opinion.
The New Testament consists of the standard 27 books, though not in the order most of us would know. The Gospel of John is separated from the three Synoptic Gospels and placed at the end of the New Testament along with the rest of John’s writings (1-2-3 John and Revelation). The book of Acts follows the three Synoptic Gospels, then the letters of James, Peter and Jude, followed by Paul’s letters – which, according to this publisher, includes Hebrews (remember, they use the King James Version as a starting point). There are no additional New Testament books such as The Didache or The Shepherd of Hermas included in the Eth Cepher.
Eth Cepher adds a few additional Psalms and a 29th chapter of Acts from “the Sunini (Sonnoni) manuscript.” This chapter details the travels of Paul to Spain and then Britain. Honestly, it’s kind of out there, but if you want to read one version of it you can go here. Again, I do not believe things like this should be included as if they were Sacred Scripture, and especially as an addition to an existing book of the Bible.
The Eth Cepher does not identify Torah and Haftarah readings within the text.
A Few More Observations
The things I am sharing now may sound as though they are negative and that I am discouraging anyone from reading Eth Cepher. That is not the case, and I think a serious student of the Bible can benefit from this book. On the other hand, someone who is easily influenced by something new or sensational, or someone who is not already firmly grounded in Scripture should probably not use this. Always be aware of what you are reading. In no case should Eth Cepher be your primary Bible.
The insertion of “eth” and the suggestion that it means “divine” is way overdone. “Eth” is a part of the Hebrew grammar, and in the overwhelming majority of instances – almost all – is nothing more than that.
The name Israel is rendered as Yasharel. This transliteration is not supported by any Hebrew scholarship that I was able to find. Also, the name John is transliterated as Yahuchanan, probably derived from the way this version shows the Divine Name, YAHUAH. The Greek name is Joannes (Strong’s number G2491) and the Hebrew equivalents are Yochanan (H3110) and Yehochanan (H3076). There are a few other less prominent words transliterated in a similar way as well. These issues are often encountered in Sacred Name Bibles, and although distracting, it isn’t a major issue.
All of the passages concerning Yeshua’s resurrection have been re-worked to suggest that he rose on the morning of the Sabbath day. This, of course, is very problematic. The explanation offered by the publisher seems to be biased against allowing any reference to the first day of the week.
Here is noticeable deviation from the text of the King James Version and most modern translations:
And that every tongue should confess that YAHUAH is YAHUSHA HA’MASHIACH, to the glory of YAH the Father (Philippians 2:11).
In this passage, Eth Cepher has followed the order of the Greek words and also chosen to translate kurios, Strong’s Greek word number G2962, with the Divine Name. Kurios means Lord or Master indicating supremacy, and it is used in the Greek Septuagint to represent the Divine Name. The actual order of the Greek in this passage is Kurios Ieesous Christos, and nearly all English translations give this verse as “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Look at these notable exceptions:
“and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is ADONAI – to the glory of God the Father” (Complete Jewish Bible). Note that in this translation, ADONAI (in all caps) represents the Divine Name.
“And every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is the LORD, to the glory of God his Father” (Lamsa, from the Aramaic Peshitta). Note that in this translation, LORD (in all caps) represents the Divine Name and is preceded by the definite article.
“and that every tongue should confess that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, to the glory of God the Father” (Weymouth New Testament).
The Hebrew New Testament (Salkinson-Ginsberg) says “Yeshua hamashiach hu ha-adon” (in Hebrew, of course), meaning “Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah he is the Lord.” Note that the definite article “the” precedes “Lord.”
Here is one of the most well-known passages in the New Testament, in context, from the Eth Cepher:
And as Mosheh lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of A’dam be lifted up: That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For YAH so loved את eth-the world, that he gave את eth-his את eth-yachiyd, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For YAH sent not his את eth-yachiyd into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:14-17).
Notice that Eth Cepher uses the abbreviated Sacred Name where the Greek text says Theos and Hebrew New Testaments say Elohim. They do a great job of tying this passage to the akedah (the binding of Isaac) by highlighting the word yachid (Strong’s Hebrew word H3173, one and only, or by implication, beloved).
AND it came to pass after these things, that ELOHIYM did try את eth-Avraham, and said unto him, Avraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now את eth-your son, your את eth-yachiyd את eth-Yitschaq, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriyah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of (Genesis 22:1-2).
There is an important omission in the passage from John 3 – at least, it is an important omission for Eth Cepher. The Hebrew New Testament reads et ha-nachash, with the את eth in front of “the serpent.” That would be proper usage because it is what was lifted up, the direct object of the verb nissa. Eth Cepher has chosen for some reason not to put the את eth before “the serpent.”
There are numerous places in the Hebrew New Testament where את eth appears but it is not shown in this version.
Along with the Eth Cepher, you can get a custom vinyl cover/carrying case specifically designed for this book. And although I don’t particularly care for index tabs on a Bible, there is a set if index tabs for the Eth Cepher that might help you find the extra books as well as those placed in a different order than you might be accustomed.
Read the customer reviews at Amazon. Some of them will be helpful in understanding this book, but others will demonstrate how some people are caught up in the sensational. You can decide for yourself.