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More Hebrew Tattoos You Don’t Want!

22nd July 2006

Since first posting on Hebrew tattoos, I have been innudated with requests for advice for proper spellings, etc. I don’t really mind that much; but I find it quite surprising how many people are thinking of getting Hebrew tattoos. In addition, every once and a while I follow the searches for Hebrew tattoos that brought people to my site to see if I can find more incorrect ones. I did this just the other day and found quite a number of tattoos which had a number of errors. So without further ado, here is another installment of…

Hebrew Tattoos You Don’t Want

Faithful_tattoo.jpg

This tattoo is supposed to say “faithful” (from bottom to top), though the vowel pointing is incorrect (there is a segol — the three dots — between the alef and the mem, but no vowel between the mem and final nun). I imagine the word that the poor individual was trying to write was something like ×?ֹמֶן, though I am not certain. I personally don’t think it looks very good vertically, and if I was going to put it vertically I would write it top to bottom (as my example). I would put it horizontally as indicated by my “Better” example (I would also lean towards the word ×?מת if I wanted to indicate faithful).

Beloved_tattoo.jpg

This tattoo is supposed to say, “Beloved.” The word that the woman was trying to have inscribed on her wrist (I believe) was the Qal passive participle of the biblical Hebrew word for love, ×?הב. The problem is that it was written backwards (remember, Hebrew is written from right to left!). I am also not sure that this is the best word to use if you want to say “beloved,” but that’s neither here nor there.

Now it seems as if “beloved” is a fairly popular Hebrew tattoo. If you are looking for the Hebrew spelling, you have to beware of who you ask. I found this image posted on the Christian Tattoo Association web board as alternatives for someone wanting the Hebrew for “beloved”:

Beloved_advice.jpg

The problem with this advice is that it is riddled with errors:

Beloved2_advice.jpg

As it turned out, the fellow who posted this advice recognized his error, but he never did repost a correct version (and you had to read through a lot of posts before you saw his comment about the Hebrew being backwards).

I have been asked a number of times for the correct spelling of “beloved” — with most people wanting the beloved that comes from the Song of Songs (e.g., Song 1:13, 14, 16, 2:3, 8, 9, 10, 16, etc.). In English the term “beloved” is a unisex term of endearment. The word in Hebrew, however, is not. The Hebrew word for beloved, דוד, is appropriate only if you are referring to a male (the word also means uncle). You shouldn’t really use it if you are referring to a female (which was David Beckham’s mistake). For a female term of endearment roughly equivalent to “beloved” I would probably suggest ×?הובה, which is based on the Hebrew root for love. I find that many Christians want to tattoo “beloved” in the sense of “beloved of God,” i.e., loved by God. For this sense I would probably suggest the passive form of the verb for love in Hebrew: ×?הוב. This is what I would suggest:

beloved1.jpg

The same fellow that gave advice on the Hebrew for beloved, also gave some incorrect advice on the spelling of “child” in Hebrew on the same web board:

Child_tattoo.jpg

This guy’s track record isn’t that great! I sure hope he isn’t a tattoo artist!

All this goes to show that you should be very careful before you decide to permanently inscribe something on your body in a language that you don’t know. Perhaps the Mishnah is correct in prohibiting tattoos due to their lasting and permanent nature (see m Makkot 3.6).


19 Responses to “More Hebrew Tattoos You Don’t Want!”

  1. slaveofone Says:

    I could’ve told people what “beloved” is in Hebrew – it’s my name! DVD – i.e., David.

  2. slaveofone Says:

    Ps – I find it hilarious that you’ve written “wrong” in bright red… Add to that the all caps, which signifies shouting, and the word jumps out at the reader much more than any exclamation point could accomplish…

    ROTFL

  3. emc Says:

    No, WLD is all right; check out Gen. 11:30 in the Hebrew.

  4. Tyler F. Williams Says:

    Hey Ed, I guess you are technically right in that the form with the vav occurs that one place in the entire Hebrew Bible! That being said, I would bet you falafel that the person who recommended the word mis-typed the yod and ended up with a vav or mistook them visually!

  5. Jim Linville Says:

    “Christian Tatoo Association”??? I wonder if we should ask them if 666 or 616 would be the correct form of the ultimate non-Christian tatoo?

    I don’t suppose it will be too long before we find some one with a Hebrew version of “Wide Load” tatooed on the lower part of their back, and tatoo artist down the street laughing his head off…

    Jim

  6. emc Says:

    Could be you are right about WLD; it’s pretty common in Mishnaic Hebrew and Modern Hebrew, though.

  7. Joe Cathey Says:

    Tyler,

    I think I am going to link to this post on my sidebar. I get very tired of students and others asking me to give them advice on Hebrew tats. Your post(s) pretty much sums up my advice. Thanks for the community service.

    Best
    Joe

  8. Simon Montagu Says:

    I think #1 in the list was aiming for יְדִיד rather than דּוֹדִי, which is not a bad choice for “Beloved [of God]“.
    I find #3 the funniest, because with the incorrect vowel it comes out as “boiler” in Modern Hebrew (or a phonetic rendering of “dude”)

  9. Tsvi Rogin Says:

    This whole discussion is amusing but sad. The Torah (Leviticus 19:28) specifically says don’t tattoo.

  10. jannine Says:

    Is there a word in Hebrew of just Faith instead of Faithful?…if so would you show it to email it to me. Please
    Thanx
    Jannine

  11. Brooke Says:

    I want to tattoo the word Surrender in hebrew. what is the right way to write that. thanks for your website.

  12. Marice Says:

    I would like to get a tattoo with the Bullae found in the City of David, However, could you please tell me what the two wings mean and could this be used for Song of Song 8:6

  13. Kris Says:

    Tyler me and my bestfriend are wanting to get a tattoo that reads “I am my brother’s keeper” in hebrew. Is there any way you could post on here or email me the way it is spelled and looks in hebrew. I know there are several pay sites out there but I am worried about spending money on something that may be wrong. If you wil I will be more than happy to send you a picture of it when we get it done.

  14. jacob Says:

    I am wanting to get a tattoo that says “He did it all for you”, or “and death will have no dominion”. Could someone please tell me the correct translation for those.

  15. Alwin Says:

    i am looking for the names of God as YAHWEH in aramic and hebrew.

    thanks already !

  16. David Says:

    can anyone help with the hebrew characters for “intrument”? as in a vessel or musical intrument..there were 5 definitions. I think the English letters wery KLY or something like that. sorry if its vague. email me at: davy_jones.owns@yahoo.com

  17. Abby Says:

    i was wondering what “Grace of God” looks like in hebrew… i am getting a tattoo and i want it to be right. could you email it to me please??!

  18. Mike Says:

    I am looking for the translation for trust. If you could email it to me within the next 24 hours that would be super!

  19. Zara Says:

    Hello can you help i am just starting to look into tattoos and i was thinking of getting one of my family name Oberlander, i wanted to ask a lot of places as i cannot read it so want to get it perfect! are there any tattoos you can recomend? i want it quite ssmall so nothing too long winded on my lower back.
    Thanks