What Would Jesus Think?

Wanting to showcase your devotion to Jesus? Nothing works better than a pictorial with a caption written in the holy language...

Unless it's written backwards, that is.

This guy wanted a fancy "Christ my Lord and Savior" to complement his elaborate artwork. What he actually got was a rather more modest "Jesus the Messiah". What's worse - the message is spelled backwards.

Admittedly, "Jesus the Messiah" sound much better in Hebrew than the other option, and it's correctly written like this:

You don't have to get is tattooed, either. How about a nice piece of jewelry instead? Not permanent - that's a big advantage!

Pewter Hebrew "Jesus the Messiah" Pendant by Bob Siemon, 20

On the other hand if you're truly set on using "Jesus my Lord and Savior" (though not Christ, it absolutely doesn't work!), then you'll need the following translation:

The Botched Up Love Letter

Isn't Hebrew just the right language for love letters? Even better if you decide to etch the letter permanently into your skin.

This wonder of a Hebrew tattoo was composed by a Korean tattoo artist, a guy who constantly mangles Hebrew as a hobby. His other work was featured on Bad Hebrew Tattoos earlier this year.

The love letter reads:
with honesty much
luvv me

I don't really know what's going on here. Is he asking Shina to love him? Is he declaring his love for Shina? Is he signing his message as Shina?

Be as it may, when visiting a foreign country which isn't Israel, you're advised to refrain from getting a Hebrew tattoo. Even if the price is right, the message will probably be wrong.

The Tragic Tale of Smelly Sarah

Today's victim, a girl named Sarah, wanted a tattoo of her name in Hebrew, and she wanted to compose it herself.

Sarah knew that Hebrew has no vowels, and her name should be composed of the letters S, R and H. She carefully chose her letters, and ended up with this tattooed in Hebrew on her back:

Well, this is someone's name alright, but it doesn't say "Sarah". Instead, it's this guy's name:
Grey Moomin Mug - Stinky
Those of you familiar with the Moomin TV series, will recognize the above critter as Stinky, or in his Hebrew name - Serach.

In fact, both S (Samekh) and H (Het) chosen by Sarah for her tattoo, are the wrong letters. The result can be read several ways, all of them describing stench. The proper letters for the name Sarah, as written in the old testament, are Shin and He.

Sarah's Hebrew tattoo is especially unfortunate, so let that be a lesson to you all. Never tattoo something on your body without confirming it first with a native Hebrew speaker. Disaster might be waiting right around your corner.

We've actually covered the name Sarah before, but here's a repeat. This is how you properly write Sarah in Hebrew:

You'd Think Elements were Elementary

I guess some Tattoo Artists just have no scruples.

A customer comes into your tattoo salon wanting some words done in Hebrew. You don't know Hebrew, but worked on some Hebrew tattoos here and there, so you can surely manage! $50 please.

This guy thought he was getting "Earth Water Fire Wind" tattooed in Hebrew. What he actually got is something quite different. His tattoo is in fact God's sacred name - YHWH, twice, backwards and without proper spacing.

Yes, next time try going to a more reputable source for your translation...

Now, for those interested, this is how you would properly write "Earth", "Water", "Fire", and "Wind" in the Hebrew language:

Hebrew Inked Celebs: Genesis P-Orridge

Today we have Genesis P-Orridge in our celebrity corner. An English performer, musician, writer and artist, P-Orridge is a founder of the music group Psychic TV, and that was what he had meant to tattoo in Hebrew on his arm. "Psychic TV" that is.

P-Orridge's Hebrew tattoo was photographed and submitted to BHT by Daniel:

As you can see, this tattoo is a brave attempt, but it doesn't quite work as intended. It roughly says "Psekakh Tav" Psekakh is just gibberish, though Tav actually has a meaning in Hebrew, it means "note".

When you want to transcribe a name, such as "Psychic TV", you have to pay attention to how it's pronounced. This is why in Hebrew "psychic" loses its P while the Y is expressed, and the letters of TV are written fully. The result is this:

Yep, if Psychic TV is your favorite band, now you know how to write its name for your very own Hebrew tattoo!

Good Thing He's All About Forgiveness

One of the most common motifs in Hebrew tattoos that can be seen on Christians, is forgiveness. Do they somehow feel guilty? I don't really understand it myself, but there you have it:

Or maybe not.

Today's victim wanted a Hebrew "Forgiven" tattoo, inside a fish. However, he was maliciously duped. Really, I just can't see any other explanation to this. Those are just random letters, and the word begins with a sofit. Fail? Totally.

The real question here, is whether this guy will be capable to forgive whomever mangled his tattoo translation for him...

Now, boys, this is how you properly write "[was] Forgiven" in Hebrew. There are two words you could use, Nislach or Nimchal. Mind, this is the male version.

And this is the female version of "[was] Forgiven", Nislecha or Nimchela:

Son's Love; Dad's Obedience

This guy wanted his tattoo to be something special. Not just a bunch of letters and a random doodle, oh no. His tattoo is beautiful and elaborate, obviously well crafted:

But what do we see on the bottom? Is it Hebrew writing? Lets take a peek!

Right. This is where well crafted ends.

From a first glance, this Hebrew tattoo just looks weird. Apostrophes and double-quotes everywhere! When you really think about it, however, you may realize they are not apostrophes or double-quotes after all. Instead, it's the letter Yod - the bastardized version.

Now that the letters are all sorted, this tattoo reads:
"My father is a soldier of God and his crowd[misspelled]. My father obeys"

Did he mean to say that? I honestly don't know.

Facing The Facts

Many people choose to show their devotion to God by the means of a Hebrew tattoo, some just take it a bit too far...

This guy thinks his Hebrew tattoo means "Unity of God", which it doesn't. Not in any direct way at least.

But never fear! There are plenty of things this word DOES mean. Just pick your fave...

Yep, that's Alf, my childhood hero. The die-hard Alf fans would kill to get this Hebrew tattoo on their faces!

Or maybe an Elf? Santa's little helper. After all, the winter holidays are just around the corner...

It could also be Alef, the alphabet letter (why would anyone want that?) or Elef - which means thousand, to show exactly how one picture can be worth a thousand words!

Your Name is What? Xara

Today's victim wanted to tattoo the name of her daughter, Xara, in Hebrew on her back:

Unfortunately, the transcription of this name from English to Hebrew was poorly done. Add to that a bit of freehand styling, and you've got yourself something utterly unrecognizable.

Had I not actually known this tattoo was meant to say Xara, I never would have guessed. In fact, it reads something like "Ksaoch".

The first mistake is due to the letter X, which is absent from the Hebrew language. Whoever composed this tattoo, used the Hebrew letters Qof and Samekh to represent the X. This combination reads as "KS", but the kid is not named Ksara, is she?

When transcribing a name, phonetics are very important. We've seen this kind of phonetics fail already, in a "Michaela" tattoo. See, the name Xara can be pronounced as either Zara or Sara and the Hebrew should be written accordingly.

This is how you write Sara and all its variations (Sahra Sahrah Sarah Sarra Sarrah) in Hebrew:

This is how you write Zara and all its variations (Zahra Zahrah Zarah Zarra Zarrah) in Hebrew:

The second mistake in the original tattoo, is the sloppy styling. Do not attempt styling Hebrew letters unless you know Hebrew!

Many Hebrew letters are similar to each other, a tiny line or a single curve make all the difference. Two letters in this tattoo are mutants by styling:

Compare these letters to the tattoo, can you see what went wrong? Styling your Hebrew is dangerous. Kids, don't do it!

Biblical Switcheroo - Never a Good Idea!

Today we have a guy with issues. He apparently wanted the following tattooed in Hebrew: "Where I Go, Ye Shall Follow". Possessive much? I think so.

Anyway, this is what he actually got permanently inked on his arm:

When translated from Hebrew to English, it goes along the lines of "You Go, I Go, Because to Where".

Apparently our Tarzan decided to base his tattoo on a famous biblical verse, Ruth 1:16, where in a touching moment Ruth tells her mother in law Naomi: "For where you go, I will go".

This guy though, he wanted to modify Ruth's plee to suit his needs, and he had the right idea too - the verse should be reshuffled. Good idea, bad execution.

This is "For where you go, I will go" before external intervention:

The sharp eyed can see that our victim simply switched places the two parts of this sentence for his tattoo. It's never a good idea to pull something like that without some basic knowledge of Hebrew. You can never assume that the structure of a Hebrew sentence will be magically similar to its English equivalent.

And this is what he should have done to achieve his creepy "Where I go, ye shall follow":

Before we wrap it up, I just have to add that in both cases we speak of non gender specific "I Go" and of a female "You Go". If you're thinking of some other configuration for your tattoo, don't use this!

A Reversed Tattoo Is Forever Too

Not every bad Hebrew tattoo is a big unsolved mystery, some are pretty straightforward. Today's victim, for example, simply wanted a "Forever" tattoo:

Good news - This permanent Hebrew tattoo will stay with her forever.

Bad news - The tattoo doesn't quite say "Forever" (LaNetsakh) as intended. In fact, it is written backwards, and the result is a nonsense word, a word that looks like "eggplant" (Khatsil) more than anything.

For today's lesson we'll learn to write "Forever" correctly in Hebrew. This is how it's done:

When composing a Hebrew tattoo, it's important to remember that the Hebrew language is written right-to-left, unlike English. Also, don't trust your text editor to write it out properly, as they often don't.

Particularly, and this is the important bit: Don't trust Photoshop with your Hebrew tattoo.

Photoshop is a great program, but unless you have the Middle East (ME) version, it will reverse Hebrew, Arabic and Farsi letters, giving you a backward tattoo. It will even reverse text when you do copy-paste!

The Guy Who REALLY Hated Furniture

Today's victim's Hebrew tattoo may appear a random jumble of letters from the first glance, but it can gain several meanings if you just carefully apply spacing...

For example, spaced this way, it says "And [he] hated a stool". Did he hate that stool enough to tattoo it on his wrist?

Of course, the tattoo might actually refer to the guy's girlfriend, a chatty girl apparently, if she is the explanation behind a Hebrew tattoo that says "And [she] hated silence".

Have any idea what this victim originally meant? Tell me!

Can't Spell To Save Her Skin

You have just finished your first month of Hebrew studies, congratulations! It's time to celebrate with a self designed Hebrew tattoo:

Today's victim went for the same message as previously featured British model Danielle Lloyd. Her back is supposed to read "Only God is my Judge". By some miracle, she got the sentence structure right. No such luck with the spelling, though.

There are four words in this girl's tattoo, three of them are misspelled. Who's up for a game of "find the difference"?

Seriously now, if Hebrew is not your native tongue and you're set on designing your own Hebrew tattoo, at least verify its correctness. Upload your design to Flickr or ask at Yahoo! Answers. This kind of disaster doesn't have to happen!

It's a Word... It's a Number... It's Superfail!

As far as today's victim is concerned, this tattoo is a "treaty number":

Now, I have no idea what a treaty number is, but I can spot a weird Hebrew tattoo, and this one is their crowned king.

Sure, you can represent numbers by letters in Hebrew, but not like this! Those are just random Hebrew letters, complete gibberish.

There's a simple way to spot a bogus tattoo even if you don't know much Hebrew. Just compare it to the Hebrew alphabet. If you find any Sofit (final form) letters in the middle of a word, then it's a bad tattoo. Letters can only appear in their final form at the end of a word, never elsewhere!

Did you think there might be a Sofit in this so called word? There are four.

The Girl Who Thought She Was A Goat

Hebrew is not the simplest language. Half the time you only know how a written word is pronounced based on its context. This is why taking a word out of context can lead to... interesting results:

Today's victim wanted the Hebrew word for "Strength" tattooed on her wrist. And she got it, sort of...

See, she used the letters AYIN and ZAYIN to spell "Oz", which means courage and also more obscurely - strength. However, she didn't use Nikkud (vowels), so the reader is left guessing how to pronounce this word. And it just so happens that the most common way to read this specific letter combination is "Ez" which means "Goat".

Yep, this tattoo will definitely read "Goat" to any Hebrew speaker. Nice way to label yourself!

Now, don't be crushed if you wanted your very own Hebrew "Strength" tattoo, you still can have one. You can have any other strength synonym, plenty of those in the Hebrew language. If you're set on "Oz", you could have it too, just use either Nikkud or Full Spelling, so that people won't confuse you with a goat.

Okay then, lets explore the possible translations of "Strength" to Hebrew:

You can see that all the strength words have subtly different meanings and connotations. If you want to use them in a certain situation or sentence, you should ask someone with a working knowledge of Hebrew for advice.