Hebrew-English Paleo Exodus Scripture at the End of the Iron II Period

Author: Phillips, David
Exodus lies at the foundation of Judeo-Christian culture and this book presents the original version, the earliest copy. The most important difference occurs in Chapter 20, which is twice as large as the common Masoretic version and contains the extraordinary 10th Commandment, the paragraph which enjoins “...on Mount Gerizim as I command you today. There you shall build an altar to Yahweh your God...” On the right hand page is the translation. For the first time this version is easily accessible. Although the Samaritan Pentateuch has been known since the 17th century, it has not been translated and only a few specialists have read it. Now paleo Exodus is available to anyone interested in the venerable epic. The translation has been done clause by clause, governed by the punctuation of the paleo manuscripts. Simultaneously the translation refrains from employing dubious literalisms. This translation of Exodus is from the original writing and often clarifies obscure passages of the Masoretic version.

On the left hand page is the paleo-Hebrew text, featuring the Dead Sea Scroll 4Q22 paleoExodus. All of its extensive fragments are printed in the Semitic script of the 7th century BCE. Where the scroll is not extant, the square Hebrew text of von Gall’s edition is given. This superimposes and highlights 4Q22 as the most prominent manuscript of the critical text of Exodus.

The appendices of textual criticism serve to analyze and demonstrate the precise details of the critical paleo text. Appendix A also focuses on key words and phrases of the translation. The method of textual criticism compares all relevant manuscripts comprehensively. All variants of words and inflection between the paleo-Hebrew version and the Masoretic are given, as are all the agreements of the Qumran scrolls of Exodus with the Samaritan or the Masoretic. The von Gall edition is corrected and accredited.

The result is a rigorous resource for scholars using biblical Hebrew as well as a straightforward translation for the general public. It is a significant work for the appreciation of Exodus.


“Few readers realize that the Hebrew Torah has been handed down to us in two forms: the version current in the synagogue for some 2,000 years, called the Masoretic Text (MT), and the Pentateuch of the Samaritans. As often happens in the Bible, these “brothers” have received unequal treatment. The privileged MT constitutes the basis for every edition and translation of the Torah, while the Samaritan Pentateuch is relegated to the footnotes and margins, if mentioned at all. And yet the Samaritan Torah is quite as old as the MT. Both arose in the turbulent days of Rome’s administration over Judaea. Moreover, while the MT is written in the letters of the Arameans, the so-called square script, the Samaritan employs a form of writing far closer to the palaeo-Hebrew alphabet used by the Israelites themselves. Moreover, a comparison with the Greek translation of the Torah (the Septuagint) and the Dead Sea Scrolls shows that where the MT and the Samaritan Torah differ, sometimes the latter deserves consideration as the superior reading. For over two centuries, any serious effort to establish the original text of the Torah has had to grapple with the Samaritan Pentateuch. But only scholars had access to the primary sources. Now, Mr. David Phillips has provided the community of scholars and the interested public with a new tool: an edition of the Book of Exodus in Hebrew and English, highlighting in palaeo-Hebrew letters the hundreds of differences among the MT, the Samaritan Torah and the Dead Sea Scrolls. For the scholar, his book will provide a shortcut, and I wish I had had it for my own text-critical work on Exodus. For the layman, Phillips’s edition will make explicable some of the groundwork underlying our seductively readable English translations. I recommend to your attention this quirky, helpful work.” –Professor William H. C. Propp, the University of California, San Diego

Table of Contents

Comparative Table for the Samaritan Alphabet
A Phoenician Font and Two Hebrew Fonts
Paleo Text and Translation
Paragraphs 1 through 23—chapter 1,verse 1 through 6,19
Paragraphs 24 through 175, with 4Q22 paleoExodus
Paragraphs 176 through 200—37,17 through 40,38
Appendices of Textual Criticism
A. Samaritan word variants, with annotation
B. Samaritan inflection of verbs
C. Samaritan inflection of grammar
D. Samaritan spelling with waw and yod as word-medial vowel letters
E. Von Gall corrected from his upper apparatus, with annotation
F. Unique 4Q22 paleoExodus
G. Kennicott corrected in the text of von Gall
H. Reconstructed variants circa 6th century BCE
I. The Critical Editions of all the Qumran texts of Exodus
J. Printed texts of the early Christian versions of Exodus