Robert Eisenman’s translation and Igbo language

Robert Eisenman a professor Emeritus of Jewish studies and the author of many books including the very useful Qumran’s interpretaion.  But in his book ‘ The New Testament Code’ made referrences to a certain Jewish leadership at the time of Christ, called Edda. He loosely interpreted a line within a sentence/ “the nasi ha Edda” as “the leaders of the community”, that is Jewish community. The way he described the community meant that he was reffering a Jewish community of Essenes. The community disappeared after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. The Esse survive in various versions, and In Igbo, they are called Ndi Esse/the Essenes/Essein, a people set aside from the social panorama, and were extant until 1970 civil war ending.

The translation of  clause “the nasi ha Edda” was like a bad Igbo grammar to my ears, despite the fact Eisenman was meant to be speaking in Hebrew not in Igbo. The unassailable social familiarity with such incomplete  sentence, can be explained in the degree of that familiarity with an antiquated African language called Nigerian Igbo. The line “nasi ha Edda” is Hebrew but bad Nigerian Igbo for “Ndi Nachi Edda” and really mean “leaders of the community/Village called Edda” . Edda is a Nigerian Igbo village in the south east of Nigeria, a village, or community of 72 priest, descended from Yako and Ezzraa. The Yako village and Ezraa are two huge Igbo villages at the riverine choke end on what is now Ebonim or Ebo-nyim States of Nigeria. Ebo-anyim is the name of the  river that subtends at Yako, the river channel is  feed from the Atlantic Main on the bight of Biafra.

The difference between Eisenman’s Hebrew  “the nasi ha Edda” and Igbo “Ndi nachi Edda” is the presence of the imprecative “ha”. To an outsider they are very the same, but to an Igbo Nigerian, there is something wrong with that translation. In proper Igbo language ‘ha’ which is a definite article meaning ‘of’  is not at all necessary to make even meaning to verb ‘nachi’ as a verb before Edda. This is all due to another imprecative ‘na’ before Edda, so ‘ha’ and ‘na’ in the same process of a sentence is like a repetition.

Secondly, the word ‘si’ in Igbo is much the same as ‘shi’ and can be used as ‘Chi’ depending on what you intend to achieve; in terms of verb and noun. The degree to which these things matter is best described in the verb use of the word ‘si’ used as a doing word, for instance the dependent clause ‘nachi Edda’  is much the same as ‘nasi Edda’ in Hebrew and may be used in describing a certain form of leadership. The second part of Chi is a noun used for ‘God’ or in adoration of ‘lord’ .

You see Robert Eisenman is also a master in Hebrew language, especially Biblical Hebrew. Like our introdcution, Eisenman Robert is in fact a professor Emeritus of ancient history with enabled emphasis on Ancient Jewish studies and history. Yet his translation of this short aspect of Hebrew language falls shy of standard Hebrew property from Nigerian Igbo scale of measure. You can see that he  translated the clause “leaders of community” word for word, which is why the ‘ha’ was stuck in middle of the sentence when it is not necessary. The ‘nachi Edda’  is the exercised version of the Hebrew dialectic.

It is possible that ‘leaders of the community’ would across to us like sounds from its old cursive form, and would be represented first in English, before its meaning in Hebrew. It is now clear to me that Robert Eisenman, who I thank God for, probably translated those Qumran scripts based on words that he knew and do know well. He does not seem to be a recent speaker of the Qumran Hebrew, which in all estimate was the intellectual Hebrew of Spanish Jewry and is believed to have been lost after 1492. 

This is where Igbo language as a language falls into and if enough emphasis is placed on the language, Nigerian Igbo language can be found to be useful in helping to further the translation of the Qumran script. That will go a long way to eliminate the duplicity in translation of the kind discovered in the Eisenman sentence.  A more accurate form of Hebrew is not fully possible without Igbo language.

There is what we might Sukkat in Hebrew which refers to ‘camp’, but in Igbo we have Nsukka as a village outside what is now Enugu, on the boundary  with  Anambra. There is no mistake in the name since we know that Nsukka in Igbo was a military camp from time to time, especially in the trespasses of Muslim Fulani heading East.

In Eisenman’s translation of certain different clause “Arisei gu>o” , we begin to undertstand what is lies beneath his trademark interpretation, on the condition that he loosely translated “Arisei O gu> as “violents ones to the gentiles”. The translation from cursive form to worded form of Hebrew was conducted backwards, in essence, Eisenman could not have easily avoided the presence of words that make sense as part of a statement, words whose meaning is part of the whole and not of thier essence. These words are Okay under normal language circumstances but in terms of expression these words like ‘ha’, which are no more than definite articles are given a new meaning on thier own. 

The old Hebrew is written right to left but the order of its presentation of speech is understood left to right. This singular infraction is the reason why Hebrew language is difficult to capture in its actual form and would be treated in my upcoming book. The Igbo language can now be written and understood left to right but this is not naturally so, it is only due to very proactive impressions of German Bible society’s approach to African langauges in 1880-1888 to Igbo. Thier formulars if anything to go by were set to accomodate the changing dynamics of a spoken language entering a written world.

The reason why current Igbo language is any different from that of thier ancestors is because of this translation from oral form to written form, where some words in Igbo were given the (a,e,i,o,u) vowels in its front, used to engineer the Gloithis of thier deep voice. But this is not a permanent situation since some Igbo words do really begin with a vowel, but most Igbo words begin with a consonant not a vowel. For instance, “Arisa Ogu ro Arisa Ogwu” in history was a warrior from Nkporo who founded Nkpolo-ogwu. But from Eisenman’s translation we can say, that “Arisa Ogwu” referred to Merceneries from Nkporo possibly fighting for Igbo people of what is now Anambra state. Arisa Ogwu cannot be a human being rather a coalition led by Nkporo people of Abia. 

Still speaking of Nkporo, there are villages called Nkafa and Amuda. The N can be isolated to produce a more popular Jewish name, Kafa. But Amuda would be split in two…as ‘Ama and Uda’ to appreciate its full meaning. We can only demonstrate that ‘Ama’ means ‘square’ in both Igbo and Hebrew,  but it becomes difficult to suggest demonstrate that ‘Uda’ in Igbo is the right element of the word Yuda in Hebrew.

 So Yuda which is Hebrew for Juda is lost in translation as Uda. They all mean the same thing…they all mean praises.  In translation, the Igbo word Ama-Uda will simply mean ‘Jewish square/Yuda’s Square’  if properly translated…right to left, as opposed to the second probable interpretation “square of praises/square of Juda” if translated left to right.

The same can be found in Yoruba since it was the same Bible society of Germany that recorded Yoruba language from sound form to written form. If you can undertand what I just hinted at, then you might be closer to fact that Eisenman was doing the opposite; from written words to spoken translations 

Iroabuchi Onwuka


16 Responses to “Robert Eisenman’s translation and Igbo language”

  1. Dr. Paul Onovoh Says:

    Whatever Mr. Iroabuchi is up to with this piece is entirely up to him. But he should not mistranslate pure Hebrew expressions into Igbo to achieve his own personal interest maybe to be recognized as a Hebrew. There is Edda – a warrior group among the Igbo of Nigeria that functioned in the pre-colonial times as Arochukwu’s hit men, wiping out entire commnuiteis and enslaving women and children to the Aro slavetraders who sell these unfortunate people to Europeans. His translation of the Hebrew expression as “Ndi nachi Edda” – rulers of Edda, is cheap. I know that Nasi is prince in Hebrew. I do not know what Edda means in the text in question. But I know from my persusal of the scholarly work that no reference is being made to the Edda of Igboland. It is very disturbing to see some Igbos pull up lame excuses to further their plans to return to Israel. These people should do it the right way – go to Israel and apply for permanent resident status and live there. I love Israel. I love the Igbo – my people. But I disagree with false translation of academic facts or of anything for that matter. Shalom umu uwa!

    • igbohebrewdialectic Says:

      Re; Mr. Paul Onovo I could not help laughing when I read your commentary. I shall write you personally but I came out of this your reply brimming, not at you but at the whole issue with Isreali citizenship and Igbo denouement for Jewish history. I am however an American Citizen and had been for many years.

      There is reason to be caution about the claim of Igbo ancestory given the human tendency to rapid life and abuse. But I have studied this relationship for over eight years, in fact this is my ninth year. What seem like a ploy to you, is the outcome of many years of study. I don’t doubt that you have your training but I can assure you that if we enter linguistic studies, some the claims made by either party will become easily redeemable.

      The issue concerning ‘Nasi’ is entire Igbo, a misnomer for Nachi. In Igbo there is ‘Nashi’ as in Na shi, a dialect of Nachi refferencing ‘leaders’. The issue you rasied concerning prince is Hebrew for Nasi is entirely modern, for we know that there is no such prince after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. The other word Edda is both ancient and modern and refers to Jewish council of 72 elders still extant.

      There is Edda in Igbo society and there is Edda in Hebrew society. In fact there is Edda in current Israel society. They all have 72 elders, and in Igbo History inspite of this anomaly with Nigerian Edda as killers, Igbo Eddas are believed to have descended from 72 priests.

      Although these elders would have forgotten who they were as it is customary, there a tendency towards Jewish culture still significant in thier society and more so, thier names are very much Hebrew. I shall discuss at lenght with you but don’t be alarmed…I think I would be, but study Jewish history gradually to get to know what is happening here.

      Iroabuchi Onwuka

  2. Nobman Okechukwu Says:

    I am from Edda and history handed to us by our elders points to jewish origin. It was said that our people departed from Israel and carried an idol popularly called “Egbela Jew” which formed a cult in Edda wherein every male child got initiated into. Other people, like Nkporo and Afikpo, that borrowed this custom from us call it “Egbela Edda.”
    So there could be be element of truth between Igbo ancestral history and that of Israel. Besides, it has been proved by some researchers that some of our traditions and behavioral pattern align with those of the Jews. This does not necessary mean that the Igbos have move to Israel to live or have them to help us but facts through researches have to be established. Ndewo

    • igbohebrewdialectic Says:

      This ‘Egbela Jew’ may have meant something else but no doubt exist that Edda people are very Jewish in origin. And I mean very recent Jewish people. In terms of Afikpo and Nkporo, I can advice you that Igbo history should not be discussed as one fragmented bunch. It is the organic whole of the history of Ndi igbo that allows room for the various aspect of their sub – history to reach our ears.

      Afikpo came from Arochukwu through Amasiri with their capital at Uwana, all of which were part of Arochukwu at some point or the other. Their premordial ancestor was called Ikpo. In history Afikpo came from Aro, but the meaning of the word Afikpo in todays Hebrew give weight to such history. In Hebrew, Afikoma/Afiko refers to children rasied else where. Given the geographical boundary of Nigerian Afikpo to Edda, I could say this could infact be the case, that Afikpo came from Aro to learn certain things from others…for Edda.

      Nkporo is really two words, Nkpo and Oro like Nkpo – Edet of Akwa-Ibom (In hebrew Ka-Ibo, meaning ‘divine glory/greatness’) who still claim that their ancestors where Hebrews and Igbo. In Hebrew, the word ‘nqo/Mqo/nkpo’ refers to a particular kind of small stone like the word ‘Eba’ which means large stones. Although ‘Mqo’ (almost Nkwo) in Hebrew can also refer to a kind of ‘shrine’ built from rocks or a kind of ‘altar’, the second letter ‘Oro’ refers in Hebrew to a kind of light; a beam of light or light beam. As such it was not easy to definitely interest ‘Nkporo’ correctively also we can sluggishly put it together as ‘light stones’ ‘precious rocks’ or ‘little rocks’ which the 15th century Spanish can accept as a patios. That Nkporo of Abia is on the same boundary to Edda and Afikpo means that the indigens could not have descended from a point that far from the fore mentioned area. That Nkporo is also a place of rocks and hills might add to the speculation that there was a place of little rocks called Nkporo in the past, which a certain group of indigens occupied or settled into and the people and not an ancestor became known as Ndi Nkporo.

      Even the word Abriba or Ebariba, would mean sloppy valley or sloppy rocks.

  3. Uziel B'nai Noach O'shobek Says:

    Umudim people in Nnewi are not comfortable when ever we speak of Agbaja Kingdom that exited in 15th century because they were not among the ruling class.

    • igbohebrewdialectic Says:

      Umu-Dim of Nnewi trace thier ancestry to Aro, that is now part of Abia. But am confident that umu-Dim, literally meaning ‘children of Dim’ who was himself a human being from what is now Edda. Umu-Dim is different from Nwa-Dim who now dwell among the people of Abiriba and parts of Aro-chuku and are also descended from Nnachi Oke or Oke Nnachi of Edda royalty. According to legends, these people of Dim, who are related to like Nkpoha or Nkpo of Anambra (Nkpoha is also found in Ebonyi state) were soldiers from parts of Edda of Ebonyi state, like Nkpo people of Anambra who were soldiers from Nkpoha of Ebonyi State on the other side of Arochuku of what is now Abia never made it back.

      In fact much of the whole group of the people we find around the area, which include much of the people from what is now Imo states sharing boundary with Anambra such as Aro-Ndi Izu-ogu in the boundary between Imo and Anambra. These people also trace thier ancestry to Aro and that part of Igbo society, possibly on the area we call Agbaja Kingdom. On the other side of Anambra’s boundary with Imo State and of Izuogu are the Nkpologu (Nkpolo-ogu), the people we call (Nkporo-ogu )who also trace thier ancestry to Nkporo in Abia state, of what is now Nkporo of the old Agbaja Kingdom and Ukwa Ukwu. Nkporo as a village in as young the rest of Igbo villages around the area but the village inherited the delipidated Agbaja kingdom during the founding of Elughu Nkporo away from thier ground in Abiriba.

      So you have Idogu (Eda-ogu), Nkpo/Nkpoha, Arondi-Izuogu, Nkpologwu, Nkpologu/Nkporo-ogu, Uturu-ogu…and so on that you find in Imo, Anambra, Enugu are from one are main area. These people cite thier ancestry to Edda, Nkpoha, Arochuku, Nkporo, and so that you find in Abia and Ebonyi. It is no co-incidence that these places Edda, Nkporo, Arochuku, Ohafia, Abiriba, Nkpoha are land locked. So are these villages Arondi-Izogu/Imo State, Nkpologwu/Anambra State, Nkpologu/Enugu, and rest are land locked, including Nnewi and thier Umudim. If am not mistaken, Ojukwu onced hinted on this history of his ancestro to have been related to Edda and Aro. But Ojukwu is really royalty because of his last name Ojukwu. It is only in Edda, perhaps Ohafia, Nkporo, Abiriba or Arochuku that the name Ojukwu has its royal meaning. Part of the head. There is nothing wrong in Umudim writing thier own history but that will be difficult without the serious presence of Edda and possibly Aro.

      Nkporo, Abiriba and Ohafia also cite Edda as the Elder; Elder to Aro, elder to Ohafia, elder to Nkporo herself, elder to Abiriba, elder to Abam, elder to Afikpo but not as afar the old Agbaja and Ukwa. Edda has 72, Ohafia has 24, Nkporo, Abiriba, Abam has 8 villages each.

      All Igbo societies (especially in Abia and Ebonyi) are comprised of three levels of arrangement depending on thier senoirity and function in what was priistly pagan arrangement. These levels are 72 sub-villages, 24 sub-villages, 8 sub-villages. These numbers 72, 24, and 8 are orders of priestly function in all Igbo society, each representing a family of preisthood who in turn represent the particular Igbo society. Igbo have no kings, and these Igwes of these were sorrugates of Ezes from Abia and Ebonyi.

      But in that part of Igbo society, Ezes are merely priests. In essence, the names of Igbo societies were merely family heads, heads recognised as heads of the priesthood. For instance, Dim is a family name in Edda and does not necessary refer to husband. That Dim has hebrew connotative is not my way of saying that Nllewe-Dim (meaning The Levites in Hebrew) has a stake in the name Dim, neither do I mean that Nnewi nor Umu-Dim betray any status quo. Rather, Dim is a name in Edda and Umu-Dim is merely his descendant.

      Edda has 72 sub-villages and In Jewish history, 72 is the composition of the house of Israel or composition of the house of Israa formalised by representative priest. Each member of the 72 is descended from old priestly families of Israel. Ohafia has 24 villages descended from heads of families, so does the Jewish society of particular course, with mainly 24 families and in today’s world 24 respresentatives of both male and female descended from old priestly families. Nkporo, Abiriba, Abam, and so on comprise of 8 sub villages and in Jewish society arranged around thier priesthood and without King, the 8 member priest is the ‘Ekesaa’ (Ekke-Isaa); the Ecclesia in Greek and Ecclesiatus in the Latin, Ecclesiastis in English; the inner church. In matters affecting Jewish society and in its early years of Jewish christianity, as inner society of Israel evolve into the inner church. The eight represented the whole meaning of Israel not so much a co-incidence as it is the case of Igbo society and the settlement of an Igbo village. The 8 as a form represented the community of 72 as a form, while the evolution of the 24 from the 72 was due to particulars of the functionary of the priest.

      The 72 or septuagint excluding Moses and Aaron as representing then house of Israel has either four courses comprising of 18 families or houses each charged with officiating the rites and ceremonies of the society or they have three ‘courses’ each comprising of 24 families/houses charged with the same ceremony. Like we mentioned arrangement of Igbo society along the 72, 24,8 follows the pattern of three courses, a pattern especially due to Spanish Jews.

      Ohafia has 24 villages descended from priest suggesting that they are a particular Jewish family and Aro has 24 villages which is now reduced to 19 due to the other five in Afikpo. In Hebrew Afikoma are children rasied elsewhere. Remember Afikpo is much the same village as Arochuku. The other villages of Nkporo has 8 descendent from 8 priests so to speak, Abam, Abariba, Ihechiowa, and so on have 8 villages. It is possible that these groups of 8 emerged from the 24 and the 24 from the 72.

      The only village in that area that came out slightly different is Nkporo due to the inheritance of Agbaja Kingdom and surrogate Ukwa. Nkporo has a very huge land due to the recapture of Nchara from Item in the century leading to the split of Abiriba and Nkporo. While Abiriba continued as part of Nnachi Oke descended from Edda royalty (not ena chi okem), Nkporo inherited Agbaja and Ukwa.

      It is my view that if modern Nkporo people are mainly related to Abiriba and Ohafia, and this group of people joined up with but the older group of Agbaja, if the Edda and Ohafia were said to be at war with Nkporo at various, it is possible that Agbaja kingdom was the people that was at war with Edda. It is equally possible that the heads of Nkporo of probable Ohafia bloodline or of Edda may have the been the so-called group that restored the kingdom. But Nkporo as much as we know was and probable not part of Nnachi Oke or Oke Nnachi of Edda royalty and are more related Abiriba, suggesting that there must have been an older society of priest around which managed to split due to factors and whose primary function was combact. They may have originated in Abia/Ebonyi due to conflict around the area. From there they moved elsewhere.

      I also suspect that Agbaja Kingdom may have been related to Item, Bende, and possibly Igbere. These group of Igbos remained in conflict with the fore mentioned until the coming of the end of slave trade.

      Remember that Nchara…was initially a no man’s land and as source of conflict between Abiriba, Nkporo and Item. Item was just a whole world of Igbo history.

  4. Nzewi Uchenna Osita Says:

    people don’t say “God bless the Queen” Scotland,Wales,and Ireland
    prince Charlse is a native of Scotland not England,if queen Elizabeth die a Scottish man or woman can never by head of England Monarchy,rather they will appoint a person from a village or town in England because The mother of present Queen of England may be from a clan in England or part of British Monarchy system.

  5. Nzewi Uchenna Osita Says:

    The Berlin conference in the south and east of Great Britain from the early 5th century AD, and their creation of the English nation,that was when Ibo as a tribe become a colony of England part of United kingdom.Before then Germany was were we are reporting as a clan which was signatory to original documents that covered Igbo nation before amalgamation of 1914,independence of 1960 and republic of 1963.

  6. Nzewi Uchenna Osita Says:

    the liquid fluid inside our body red in colour is called paradise in Igbo is known as Ezu.

  7. Nzewi uchenna Osita Says:

    In Igbo hero worshiping and our deities them who died in ancient days,their servants implanted materials and substance for people who are not Igbo people that did not know about their death will continue to think about them in far lands with response to them through those medium which are today electronic transponders.

  8. Uziel B'nai Noach O'shobek Says:

    Pharoah forgot to put commanding height at pyramid which is barak meaning back that is balaam known is balcony.The problem with Assyrian general at wailing wall in the time of sannecherib was non-contruction of balcony on the wall of Jerusalem.Pharoah decendant was invited to Rome in other to sleep in a house with balcony.
    Until there is balcony in the back of the room which is di room with balcony.
    Rendition of blood in the back of the moom,the moon of blood.

  9. Nzewi uchenna Osita Says:

    haroah forgot to put commanding height at pyramid which is barak meaning back that is balaam known is balcony which is Obama.The problem with Assyrian general at wailing wall in the time of sannecherib was non-contruction of balcony on the wall of Jerusalem.Pharoah decendant was invited to Rome in other to sleep in a house with balcony.
    Until there is balcony in the back of the room which is di room with balcony.
    Rendition of blood in the back of the room,the moon of blood.

  10. chiagozie Says:

    pls i was going through your article for anthropology assignment and was wondering if you could help me with the contribution of sociolinguistics to igbo language planning.

  11. ezra okoro Says:

    i really like your this your article. my name is ezra,im from edda.this ur article remind of the day i ask my father who is not a christian why he chose to named me ezra, he said, ezra is the head of our clan,he was suprised when i told him that ezra is in the bible. meanwhile me clan is called there is a whole lot of truth in you i will if i can see you and give some archaelogical stuff that my dad to our ancestor that looked foreign. this is my number 08098706646

    • igbohebrewdialectic Says:

      Mr. Ezra, how are you? I will like to know more about this artifacts and archeological materials. May I call you before I make to Nigeria, and we will keep in torch and see how it goes from there. Yes, in my Village of Nkporo, there are people who answer Azuma, Osiris, Awa, Opurum, Azayi, Ari, Agada, Urum, Ngodo, up today, we have not cared to question the connection between these names and the names in the Bible or Hebrew literature. But all the same, its good accounting of your past.

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