Literal Translation

of the Bible

General Information

The actual source materials which were used to translate the modern Bibles were written in ancient Hebrew (Aramaic) (Old Testament) and ancient Greek (New Testament). The actual (literal) translation of those words in their original sequence is often somewhat difficult to read. That is why all of the modern Bibles slightly adjust or rearrange the text to make it more readable.

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Part of Genesis follows as it is literally translated.

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning | created | God | the heavens | and | the earth

Genesis 1:2

and the earth | was | without form | and empty, | and darkness | on the surface of | the deep | and the Spirit of | God | moving gently | on | the surface of | the waters.

Genesis 1:3

Then said | God, | Let be | light | and was | light.

Genesis 1:4

And saw | God | the light | that | (it was) | good | and separated | God | between | the light | and | the darkness.

Genesis 1:5

And called | God | the light | day, | and the darkness | He called | night | and was | evening, | and (it) was | morning, | day | one.

Genesis 1:6

And said | God, | Let be | a space | in the middle of | the waters, | and let it | (be) | dividing | between | waters | (and) | the waters.

Genesis 1:7

And made | God | the space, | and He separated | between | the waters | which | (were) | under | the space | and | the waters | which | (were) | above | | the space | and it was | so.

Genesis 1:8

And called | God | the space | heavens. | And (it) was | evening, | and (it) was | morning, | day | second.

Genesis 1:9

And said | God, | Let be collected | | the waters | under | the heavens | to | | place | one, | and let appear | the dry land. | And so it was

Genesis 1:10

And called | God | the dry land | earth, | and the collection of | the waters | | He called | oceans. | And saw | God | good | (it was).

Genesis 1:11

And said | God, | Let sprout | the earth | tender sprouts, | (the) | plant | | seeding | seed | (and) | of tree | fruit | producing | fruit | after its species, | which | it | (is) | in it | on | | the earth. | And it was | so.

Genesis 1:12

And gave birth to | the earth | tender sprouts | (the) | plant | seeding | seed | after its species, | and tree | producing | fruit | which | its | (is) | in it | | after its species. | And saw | God that | (it was) | good.

Genesis 1:13

And it was | evening | and | morning, | day | third.

Genesis 1:14

And said | God, | Let be | lights | | in the space of | the heavens | to divide | between | the day | and | the night | and let them be | for signs | and for seasons | and for days | and years.

Genesis 1:15

And let them be | for lights | in the space of | the heavens, | to give off light | | on | the earth. | And it was | so.

Genesis 1:16

And made | God | two the lights | great. | The light | great | for the rule of | the day, | and | the light | small | for the rule of | the night, | and | | the stars.

Genesis 1:17

And set | them | God | in the space of | | the heavens | to give off light | on | the earth,

Genesis 1:18

and to rule | over the day | and over the night, | and to separate | between | the light | and | the darkness. | And saw | God that | good. | (it was)

Genesis 1:19

And was | evening | and | morning | day, | the fourth.

Genesis 1:20

And said | God, | Let swarm | the waters | (with) | swarmers | (having) | a life | living. | And birds | let fly around | | over | the earth, | on | the the surface of | the space of

Genesis 1:21

And heavens. | God created | the sea monsters | great | and | all | (having a ) | life | living | that crawls | (with) | | which | swarmed | the waters | after their species, | and | every bird | (with) | | wing | after its species. | And saw | | God | that | good | (it was)

Genesis 1:22

And blessed | them | God | saying, | | Be fruitful | and be many, | and fill | | the waters | in the oceans. | And the birds | let multiply | on the earth.

Genesis 1:23

And was | evening | and (it) was | | morning, | day | fifth.

Genesis 1:24

And said | God, | Let bring forth | the earth | life living | after its species, | | cattle | and crawlers, | and its animals | of the earth | after its species. | And so it was.

Genesis 1:25

And made | God | the animals of | the earth | after its species | and | the cattle | after its species, | and all crawlers | of the ground | after their species | and saw | | God that | good | (it was).

Genesis 1:26

And said | God, | Let us make | mankind | in Our image, | according to Our likeness; | and let them rule | over fish of | | the ocean | and over birds of | the heavens, | and over the cattle | and over all the earth | and over all | the crawlers | crawling | on | the earth.

Genesis 1:27

And created | God | the mankind | in His image, | In the image of | God | He created | him; | male | and female | He created | them.

Genesis 1:28

And blessed | them | God, | and said | to them | God, | Be fruitful | and multiply, | | and fill | the earth, | and it subdue. | | And rule | over fish of | the ocean, | and over of birds | the heavens | and over all | | animals | crawling on | the earth.

Genesis 1:29

And said | God, | have given | I | to you | every | plant | seeding | | seed | which | (is) | on the surface of | | all | the earth, | and every | tree | | which | in it | (is) | fruit of | (the) | tree | seeding | seed. | To you | will it be | for food,

Genesis 1:30

and to every | animal of | the earth | and to every | bird of | the heavens, | and to every | | crawler | on | the earth | which | in it | (is) | a life | living | every | green | | plant | for food. | And it was | so.


Concentrating Specifically on Genesis 1:1

To give you a feel for the size of the problem of creating a translated Bible from the source materials, here's a thorough presentation of Genesis 1:1

We've included two slightly different Hebrew source texts. We've also included the Strong's Numbers and pronunciations.

Finally, the popular translation is first, but other possible interpretations or understandings of each word are also shown. Genesis 1:1 could be translated as the combination of any translation of each word. Try experimental combinations (there are over 3,100 possible here, just from the choices listed!). You may develop more respect for the translators who created your Bible. They had to select the best translation of all these possibilities for every single word and line of the Bible!

Bible scholars have even further complications! Until only around a thousand years ago, vowels were never written down, and so only consonants were. It is well known that the majority of Ancient Hebrew words were written down as sequences of three consonants. Therefore, Bible scholars have had to figure out which vowels (and how many) need to be fit between the consonants. Keep in mind that there are no other records of their language except for the vowel-less words. This has caused some disagreement among Bible scholars as to the precise spelling, even though they agree regarding the meanings. Below, we include two different opinions regarding the spellings.

Genesis 1:1

Seven Hebrew Words

Bree'shiytbaaraa' 'Elohiym'eet hashaamayimw'eet haa'aarets.
or (Strongs)
Re'shiythbara' 'elohiym'eth shamayim'eth 'erets

Modern King James (Interpreted) Translation

In the
beginning
created God
(switched!)
theheaven (and)
the
earth

Strongs #s

72251254430853 8064853776

Pronunciation

ray sheethbaw raw'el o heem aythshaw mah yimayth eh' rets

Literal Translations of Words

beginningcreateGod *heaven*earth
firstchooseangels *air*field
firstfruitmakejudge *astrologers*common
chiefcut downgreat *heavens*nations
bestdispatchmighty *sky*wilderness
(more)(more)(more)
* means that the word is not translatable in English

Gen 1:1 could be translated as:

First, created God, heaven, earth.

or

First, choose angels in the sky (and the) wilderness!

You can see how the various modern Bibles can read slightly differently but still carry the same core message. They are all based on and translated from the exact same original Scripture.


Also, see:
Romanized Bible Text
Transliteration of Hebrew
History of the Bible Septuagint and early Manuscripts
Translating the Bible
Jewish Genesis (Advanced), Bereshit. A Thorough Presentation of Jewish Genesis 1 text

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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