Over the last few years people have asked what version of the Bible do we use? Simple question, complicated answer. Why is it complicated? As I have grown in my faith and relationship with HaShem the Melech ha’olam (King of the Universe) I have switched Bible versions. Over the last 45+ years I have used the King James Version, The Living Bible, The Amplified Bible, New International Version, The Scriptures version and finally the JPS Jewish Study Bible. As I am learning to read and translate Hebrew, I expect that I will modify the above list yet again.
At this point in my life I am most comfortable reading the TaNaK or the Hebrew Scriptures or the Hebrew Bible. Some people call this the Old Testament but I don’t consider it obsolete or replaced by a later “testament.” The word TaNaK is an acrostic for three sections of Scripture. The “T” relates to the Torah, which is the first five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Some people refer to the Torah as the Five Books of Moshe. The “N” relates to the Nevi’im which is the Hebrew word for prophets and this section contains all of the prophetic books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mica, Ezekiel, etc.). The “K” relates to the Kethuvim which is Hebrew for writings and it contains the historical books like 1 & 2 Kings and the poetic writings like Psalms, Proverbs and other works like Ruth and Esther.
My relationship has always been with Father YHWH the King of the Universe. The study of His Word has been a part of my life since I was a young girl. Anyone who has ever read Psalm 119 knows that it extols the Word of YHWH and esteems the study of it. I want to share a quote from the introduction of the Jewish Study Bible:
More than twenty-five centuries have passed since an anonymous Jewish poet wrote and elaborate and lengthy prayer that included this exclamation: “O how I love your teaching! It is my study all day long” Psalm 119:97
These two themes–the love for Torah (teaching) and dedication to the study of it–have characterized Jewish reading and interpretation of the Bible ever since. The love is the impetus for the study; the study is the expression of the love. Indeed the intensity with which Jews have examined this text through the centuries testifies both to their love of it–a love combined with awe and deep reverence–and to their intellectual curiosity about it. That tradition of impassioned intellectual engagement continues to the present day.
There is a famous rabbinic saying
“There are seventy faces to the Torah” Num. Rab. 13.15
This saying means that there are seventy different interpretations. In Hebrew the number seventy symbolizes a LARGE and complete number. The words of the Creator to us, His creation, have many many layers of meaning. A favored Scripture at one point in our life could very well have additional personal meanings to us later in life.
Avi and I view the TaNaK as complete in itself. It is not just a prelude to a New Testament–to us the TaNaK is the Bible.