Interviews and Other Views

I was recently interviewed by Berkshire Beat, which reminds me, I finally got around to making a Press page to collect some things people are saying about the book. I got lots of nice comments about the book at this past weekend’s events too, but I didn’t write any of them down.

(If you’ve published something about From God To Verse, I thank you, and would love to see a link if I missed it. If you are considering publishing something about From God To Verse, and would like to ask me any questions, I will do my best to answer them.)

Meanwhile, Chanukah is winding down, Christmas preparations are winding up, and it’s a perfect time to order the book on Amazon.

Upcoming Events

Twenty holidays are approaching. One of them is Christmas, and the other nineteen are Chanukah (and Hannukkah, and Hanuka, and…)  So, what better gift than a signed copy of my book? Here are some upcoming events where you can find me:

* Saturday, November 13, 9:30am to 3pm - Chin Bo Jok Martial Arts Academy, 10 Lyman St., Pittsfield, MA. (part of their holiday sale)

* Saturday, November 20, 10ish am to noonish - Temple Beth-El, 70 Orchard Ave., Providence, RI (part of their Torah study)

* December 3, 7pm to 8:30pm - Papyri Books, 45 Eagle Street, North Adams, MA  (a whole event just for me!)

If you aren’t likely to be in the New England area, or just want to peek at a few pages of my book, you can always check the “Buy the Book!” link at the top of the page.

From God To Verse — Now Available on Amazon!

I am pleased to announce that “From God To Verse” has finally been released, and is now available for purchase!

From God To Verse: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, in Rhyme

I have waited so long for this day that I honestly do not even know what to say any more.  This has been a work in progress for roughly a third of my life, and I am very excited to finally send it out into the world, and hope you will enjoy it.
As you probably know if you have read the chapters from Genesis that I posted on this site (and if you haven’t, here’s Genesis 1), the book is a line-by-line translation drawing from four Torah sources, done in rhymed couplets of heptameter. Every line from the original is there, and there are also occasional parenthetical explanations in case you don’t have any idea how large a cubit might be.
The printed version of From God To Verse is a complete translation of the Torah: All Five Books of Moses, from Genesis to Deuteronomy.  It also contains a table of contents of Torah portions. And most importantly, for the printed version I have added a 4-8 line rhymed summary (in large print) for each and every chapter.  I believe this will be useful for sharing the book with those who are not ready to dive into a comprehensive translation of the entire text.
Other than that, I will say only that this book depends highly on word of mouth, so if you know someone who might appreciate this text — whether they attend Torah study, want to share stories from the Bible with their children, or are simply a fellow congregant at your place of worship — I would be most grateful if you mentioned
Thanks in advance, and thanks to the many, many other people who have helped me along the way, from Hebrew scholars like Everett Fox (whose translation was invaluable), to my cover designer Daniel Beck, to all of my friends and family who have been so supportive for these many years.

Belated L’Shanah Tovah

A happy healthy new year to you all. Things here have been busy, and a printing production error has sadly released the delay of From God To Verse. But when you’ve been working on a book for nearly a decade, what’s another few weeks to make sure everything is right, right? Right. Almost assuredly before the end of the month. Next post will be good news for sure.

It’s Coming.

Before Rosh Hashanah, a complete version of “From God To Verse” will be available for purchase on Amazon. The complete version will not only have the line-by-line translations for all five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), but will also include 4-8 line short rhyming summaries for each chapter, perfect for sharing with those who do not have the inclination to delve into every line of the full text.

Much more information to come, once the book is available.

Endings and Beginnings

The end of a year is always the beginning of a year as well. A year ago, around Rosh Hashannah, I decided I’d post one chapter of Genesis up here each week. And a year later, my translations of all 50 chapters of Genesis are now available online, and another year has ended. But another year has also begun. So perhaps in this new year, 5770, I’ll end up publishing my rhyming translations of all five books of Moses in print. But meanwhile, Genesis will remain here for everyone to enjoy, so I hope you do. I likely won’t post here again unless it’s news about a print version of God to Verse. Thanks for reading.


Genesis 50

Joseph flung himself onto his father’s face, wept over him and then kissed him as well.
Joseph ordered the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel.
They embalmed him. It took forty days for him, the full timespan that embalming requires.
And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days. Now when the days of weeping expired,
Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh and said, “Pray, if I’ve found favor in your eyes,
Speak in Pharaoh’s ears, saying, ‘My father made me swear an oath to him before he died.
He said, “Look, I am dying. In my burial site I dug for myself long ago
In the land of Canaan, there you must bury me.” So pray, now grant me your leave to go,
And to bury my father there, and return.’” Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father,
As he had you swear, since you have made an oath.” So Joseph went up to bury his father,
And with him went up all Pharaoh’s servants, the elders of his household and all Egypt,
All of Joseph’s household, all his brothers and father’s household, they all went on the trip.
Only their little-ones, their sheep and their oxen did they leave in the land of Goshen.
And along with him also went chariots and horsemen. His troop was heavy with men.

When they came to Goren Ha-Atad (”Bramble Threshing Floor”) in the land beyond the Jordan,
They took up a lament, an exceedingly heavy lament (for sorrow is important).
He held seven days mourning for his father. When the Canaanite inhabitants saw
All the mourning at Goren Ha-Atad, the Canaanites stared and were stricken with awe.
They said, “This is such mourning for Egypt.” So “Mourning-Meadow of Egypt” it was branded,
(Or “Abel-Mizraim”), beyond the Jordan. Thus his sons did as their father commanded.
They all carried him back to the land of Canaan, buried him in a cave in the field
Of Machpelah, the burial-site which Abraham got Ephron the Hittite to yield,
Facing Mamre. Then Joseph returned to Egypt, he, his brothers, and all of the herd
Who had gone up with Joseph to bury his father, after his father was interred.

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge,
And decides to repay us for all of the ill that we caused him, serving as our judge?”
So they sent Joseph a message which said, “Before he died, your father commanded us,
‘Say this to Joseph, “Pray, forgive your brothers’ sin and offense, harm caused by animus.”’
Pray forgive the offense of the servants of your father’s God!” Joseph wept as they spoke.
Then his brothers came, flung themselves down before him, and said, “Here we are, slaves to your yoke.”
But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid. For am I to be your judge in God’s place?
Though you planned harm against me, God planned it for good, to bring this day about in his grace–
So that many will be kept alive. So now, don’t be afraid. I myself will provide
For both you and your children.” And he gave them comfort, and spoke to them kindly besides.

So Joseph stayed in Egypt, with his father’s household. He lived to one hundred and ten.
Joseph lived long enough to see Ephraim’s grandchildren of the third generation,
And also the sons of Machir, son of Manasseh, were adopted on Joseph’s knees.
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am dying, but God will take notice of you, surely,
And bring you up from this land to the land which he promised in an oath to Abraham,
To Isaac, and to Jacob.” Joseph had the sons of Israel swear an oath to him,
Saying, “Once God takes notice of you, you must bring my bones up from here.” And Joseph died,
At one hundred and ten. They embalmed him, put him in a coffin in Egypt to bide.

Genesis 49

Jacob then called his sons and said, “Gather round, that I may tell you of what shall befall you
In days yet to come. Gather and hear, sons of Jacob, heed your father Israel who called you.
Reuben, you are my firstborn. Not only my might, but also the first fruit of my vigor,
Both surpassing in rank and surpassing in honor. In these virtues, there were none bigger.
As unstable as water, you surpass no more– for when you mounted your father’s bed,
You defiled it and brought disgrace– he went up to my couch, and the couch he mounted.

Now Simeon and Levi are brothers, weapons of violence are their swords. Such cruelty,
Let my person not come to their council nor ever be counted in their assembly.
For in anger they kill men, wantonly maim bulls. Cursed be their anger, too fierce to quell,
And their fury so harsh. I will split them up in Jacob, scatter them in Israel.
You, O Judah, your brothers shall praise you. Your hand shall be on the nape of your foes’ necks.
And your father’s sons, they shall bow down to you. A lion’s whelp, Judah commands respect.
From prey, my son, you have gone up. He squats and crouches like a lion, the king of beasts.
Who dares rouse him up? The scepter won’t depart him, nor the ruler’s staff leave from his feet,
Until Shiloh comes and people’s homage is his. He ties up his ass-foal to a vine,
His young colt to a choice crimson tendril, and then Judah washes his garment in wine,
His robe in blood of grapes. His eyes darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk. Zebulun,
He shall dwell on the seashore as haven for boats, and his own flank shall rest on Sidon.

Issachar, a strong-boned ass, crouching in the sheepfolds, saw the good of the resting turf,
And how pleasant the land. So he bent his shoulder to bear, and became a toiling serf.
Dan his people shall judge, as one tribe of Israel’s, and be a serpent by the road,
A viper by the path who bites the horse’s heel, so it throws off its passenger load.
I wait for your deliverance, Lord! Gad shall be raided by raiders, but raid their heels.
Asher’s food shall be rich, for it is royal dainties befitting a king he shall yield.
Naphtali is a hind let loose which yields lovely fawns. Joseph, a young wild ass.
A wild ass by a spring, donkeys along a wall. Archers all assailed him as he passed,
Shot at him bitterly, yet his bow remained firm, and his arms and hands both stayed agile,
By the means of the Mighty One of Jacob up there, the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel.
By your father’s God, may he help you, and Shaddai (Almighty), blessings may he bestow
Upon you; blessings both from the heavens above, and of the ocean crouching below,
Blessings of the breast and womb. The blessings of your father surpass the blessings of old,
Of my ancestors, of mountains eternal, to the boundries of hills with age untold.
May they rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the one chosen out of his brothers.
Benjamin is a ravenous wolf. In the morning his foe is the prey he devours.
Then in the evening, he divides up the spoils.” All these are the tribes of Israel, twelve,
And this is what their father told them, giving each an appropriate blessing farewell.

Then he charged them and said, “Soon I will be gathered to my kin, so please bury me right.
Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
At the cave in the field of Machpelah, which faces Mamre, in the land of Canaan.
The same field Abraham bought as a burial holding once from the Hittite Ephron.
There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife
Rebekah. And there I buried Leah– … The field and cave in it, bought from the Hittites.”
And when Jacob had finally finished charging his sons and giving them instructions,
Then he gathered his feet up onto the bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his kin.

Genesis 48

Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons,
Manasseh and Ephraim. And Jacob was told, “To see you, your son Joseph now comes.”
Israel gathered his strength, and said to Joseph as he (Israel) sat up in bed,
“El Shaddai appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and he blessed me, and said,
‘I will make you bear fruit and be many, and make you into a host of peoples too;
And I will grant this land as a holding for the ages to your offspring after you.’
Now your two sons born to you in Egypt, ‘ere I came to you in Egypt at that time,
Shall be mine. Ephraim and Manasseh, no less than Reuben and Simeon, shall be mine.
But your progeny born to you after them shall be yours, called by the name of their brothers
In their inheritance. For when I was returning from that country, Rachel your mother
Died on me, in the land of Canaan, on the way, still some distance away from Ephrath.
And I buried her there on the road to Ephrath (which is now Bethlehem), on that path.”

Now when Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father,
“They are my sons, whom God has given to me here.” And Israel said, “Bring them closer.
Bring them up to me so I can bless them.” For Israel’s eyes with old age had turned dim,
And he could not see. Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and then embraced them.
Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected that your face again I would see,
And yet here, God has let me see your children too.” Joseph then removed them from his knees.
And they all bowed low to the ground. Joseph took both of them, Ephraim with his right hand,
To Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand, to the right of Israel’s stand,
And brought them close to him. But Israel stretched out his right hand, laying it on the head
Of Ephraim (though he was the younger, and normally firstborn receive that instead),
And his left hand on Manasseh’s head. He crossed his arms (Manasseh’s firstborn right thus docked).
He blessed Joseph and said, “The God in whose ways my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has been my shepherd ever since the day that I was born, until this day,
The messenger who has redeemed me from ill fortune, may he bless the lads. And then pray,
May my name and my line be continued through them, and too my fathers’ names, Abraham,
And Isaac. May they teem like fish and become multitudes all through the midst of the land.”

When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, he thought it wrong;
So he took hold of his father’s hand to move it to Manasseh’s head, where it belonged.
Joseph said to his father, “Not so, father, this one is firstborn, place hand on his head.”
But his father refused, saying, “I know, my son, I know. From him too, tribes shall be bred.
He too shall be great, and yet his younger brother will be greater than he, his offspring
Shall become a great multitude of nations.” So then he blessed them on that day, saying,
“By you shall Israel give blessings, saying: God made you like Ephraim and Manasseh.”
And by speaking their names in that order, Israel put Ephraim before Manasseh.
Then Israel said to Joseph, “Here, I am about to die, but God will be with you.
He will have you return to the land of your fathers. And now, one more thing must I do.
Now I give you one portion, one shoulder, one mountain slope more than your brothers’ reward,
Which I once took away from the hand of the Amorite with my bow and with my sword.”

Genesis 47

So Joseph came and told Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers, with their sheep and oxen
And all that is theirs, came from the land of Canaan and are now in the land of Goshen.”
From the circle of his brothers, Joseph picked five men, and presented them to Pharaoh.
Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is it that you do?” And they responded, “As you know,
We your servants are shepherds of flocks, like our fathers before us. And now we have come
To sojourn in the land, for there’s no pasture for the flocks of your servants where we’re from.
Famine is severe in Canaan’s land. Pray let your servants stay in the land of Goshen.”
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “So your fathers and brothers have come to you, these goodly men.
The land of Egypt lies before you, so have them settle in the best parts of the land.
Let them stay in the region of Goshen. And if you know capable men in their band,
You should put them in charge of my livestock.” Joseph brought his father Jacob to Pharaoh.
Jacob gave Pharaoh a blessing of greeting. Pharaoh said to Jacob, “I’d like to know
Just how many are the days and years of your life?” Jacob said to Pharaoh in reply,
“The days and years of my sojourn here on earth have been one hundred thirty years gone by.
Few and ill-fated have been the days and years of my life. They have not reached the life-span
Of my fathers’ lives during their sojourns.” Jacob gave Pharaoh a farewell-blessing, and
Left his presence. So Joseph then settled his father and brothers, gave them property
In the best part of Egypt’s land, in the region of Rameses, as Pharaoh had decreed.
Joseph sustained his father, his brothers, and his father’s household, as numbers dictated

But there was no bread in all the land, due to the food shortage the famine had created.
Both the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan were completely depleted from famine.
Joseph gathered up all of the silver that was found in the lands of Egypt and Canaan,
As a payment for rations they’d bought. Then Joseph brought the silver into Pharaoh’s house.
When the silver in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan had all run out,
The Egyptians all came to Joseph and said, “Give us bread! Shall we die in front of you
Just because all our silver is gone?” Joseph said, “Give me your livestock, and that will do.
I will give you bread in exchange for your livestock, since the silver no longer amasses.”
So they brought their livestock to Joseph, who gave them bread for horses, sheep, cattle, and asses.
He got them through that year by allowing them to exchange all of their livestock for bread.
But when that year had ended, they came back to him during the following year and said,
“We can’t hide from my lord that if the silver has run out, and all our livestock you own,
There is nothing remaining for my lord aside from our soil and our flesh and bones.
Why should we die in front of your eyes, and not only us, but also our land and soil?
Take both us and our land for the bread, and from now on as serfs for Pharaoh we will toil.
Give us seeds so that we may live and not die, and so the soil won’t become desolate.”
So Joseph acquired all of the farm land in Egypt for Pharaoh at a speedy rate,
For each of the Egyptians sold his field because the famine was just too much to bear,
So the land all went over to Pharaoh. And as for the people who were living there,
Joseph transferred them into the cities from one edge of Egypt to the other edge.
Only the land of the priests he did not acquire, because the priests had Pharaoh’s pledge.
They received an allotment from Pharaoh and managed to live off of that allocation.
Therefore they did not sell their land to Joseph, but instead stayed at their former location.
Joseph said to the people, “Since on this day I have bought you and your land for Pharaoh,
You shall have seed. Now here is the seed for you, which in the land of Pharaoh you shall sow.
And at harvest time, you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh. The other four fifths are for you,
As more seed for the field, and as food for you, and for your household, your little ones too.”
They said, “You saved our lives! May it please our lord, from now on Pharaoh by us shall be served.”
And Joseph made it into a land law in Egypt, which still to this day is observed,
That the fifth part of all land shall go to Pharaoh, the exception being the priests’ soil.

And so Israel stayed in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, being loyal.
They obtained holdings in it, bore fruit, multiplied, until they were exceedingly rife.
Jacob lived seventeen years in the land of Egypt so that the span of Jacob’s life
Came to one hundred and forty-seven years. When the time came for Israel to die,
He called his son Joseph and said, “If I’ve gained your favor, put your hand under my thigh,
Swear that you’ll deal with me in good faith and truth; pray do not bury me in Egypt.
When I lie down with my fathers, carry me from Egypt, and bury me in their crypt.”
Joseph told him, “I will do according to what you have spoken.” But Israel said,
“Swear to me!” So Joseph swore to him. And then Israel bowed at the head of his bed.