Hebrew Gospel of Matthew

According to Nehemia Gordon, a Karaite Jew, more than 27 Hebrew manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew exist.

Whether those are originals are to be decided when Nehemia publishes them (I’m not sure if he will share with us originals or translations). However, the nine accessible manuscripts based on which George Howard published a book suffered from interpolations and therefore they should be read with caution.

George Howard’s manuscripts are from Shem Tov’s book which was written by this rabbi (Shem Tov) in the fourteenth century to refute Christianity. So this rabbi preserved the Hebrew gospel in doing so, as he copied each line of it in order to refute it line-by-line.

I chose in this article to analyze Shem Tov’s preserved gospel in Hebrew because, if interpolations are ignored, one can gain a better clarity about the teachings of Yeshua.

It’s very clear that the Hebrew gospel of Matthew underwent changes; for example, you can find Latin and Greek phrases written in Hebrew characters, and some words just don’t make sense – like instead of the “field of blood” it’s written the “tent of blood”.

Some speculate that this is a Hebrew translation from the Greek original, or it could be translated from Aramaic. Some say it’s a corrupted original. I’m more leaning towards the opinion that it’s not an original (because some verses are clearly incorrect, which points that it’s a translation), but I really benefited from analyzing it because it gave me a better insight into quite a few Matthew verses which aren’t clear in the gospel that we have.

So in this post I share many (though not all) differences between the Greek and Shem Tov’s Hebrew gospel of Mathew in the hope that it will clarify some obscure Matthew verses for you as well.

***Before you read this***

Brackets () mean that a phrase is missing from the best manuscript and therefore it was added from another manuscript. Square brackets [] mean that I added my own words to better explain a verse or word, or provide additional possible translations.

Differences between Shem Tov’s and Greek Matthew gospel manuscripts


Shem Tov’s Matthew Jesus’ name: יש״ו  – Yeshua

Shem Tov’s Mt. Yeshua’s mother’s name: מר״ים  – Miriam


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 1:21:

She will bear a son and you will call his name Jesus because he will save my people from their sins.

KJV:

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 2:1

It came to pass when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judah in the days of Herod the king, behold astrologers came from the East to Jerusalem (…).

KJV:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem (…).


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 3:8

Produce the fruit of perfect repentance.

KJV:

Produce the fruit meet for [worthy of] of repentance.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 3:10 [not found in our bibles]:

Many asked him: What shall we do? And he answered them: Be anxious for (no) man and do not chastise them, and be pleased with your lot. And all the people were thinking and reckoning in their circumcised heart: John is Saviour (Yeshua).


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 3:11

He will baptize you with the fire of the Holy Spirit.

KJV:

He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (…).


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 3:16

Immediately when he came up from the water, the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God coming down as a dove and she ministered/attended upon him.

KJV:

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him (…).


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 5:3

(Blessed are the humble [low, meek] of spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.)

KJV:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 5:4

Blessed are those who wait for they shall be comforted.

KJV:

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 5:16

Thus let your light shine before every man to show them your good deeds which are praised and glorified before your father who is in heaven.

KJV:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 5:34

But I say to you not to swear in vain in any matter, neither by heaven because it is the throne of God (…).

KJV:

But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne (…).


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 6:5

When you pray do not raise your voice and do not be like the sad hypocrites who love to pray in the synagogues and in the comer of the courtyards and pray with haughty speech that men might hear and praise them. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward already. [Meaning – the praise of men is their reward.]

KJV:

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: Lord’s prayer is a little different:

Our father, may your name be sanctified;

May your kingdom be blessed; may your will be done in heaven and on earth.

Give our bread continually [always].

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us,

And do not lead us into the power of temptation [test, trial] but keep us from all evil, amen.

KJV:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 6:22-23

The lamp of your body is your eyes. If your eyes look straight ahead your body shall not be [become] dark.

(If your eyes grow dim your whole body will become dark;) and if the light which is in you becomes dark, all your ways will be dark.

KJV:

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 6:30-32

If God clothes the straw which is left in the standing grain, that is, penon, which is fresh today and tomorrow is dried up and is placed into the oven, so much the more (will he clothe) (you) who are little of faith.

If God so thinks of you, do not be anxious saying what shall we eat and what shall we drink,

Because all these things the bodies seek. But your Father knows that you need all these things.

KJV:

(…) (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 7:6

Again he said to them: Do not give holy flesh to dogs nor place your (pearls) before swine lest (they) chew (them) before you and turn to rend you

KJV:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 7:11

But if you being evil come to place good gifts before yourselves, so much the more your father who is in heaven will give his good spirit to those who seek him. [Agrees with Luke 11:13].

KJV:

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 7:12

Everything you wish that men should do to you, do to them; this is the Torah and the words of the prophets.

KJV:

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. [I believe this wording makes it sound like this commandment contains all the law and prophets, whereas in the Shem Tov’s Matthew it sounds like that this is just one of the sayings of the law and prophets.]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 7:14:

How narrow is the gate and grievous [difficult] the way (that leads straight) to life and few are those who find it.

KJV:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 8:20

Jesus answered him: The foxes have holes and the birds have nests, but the Son of Man, the son of the virgin, has no place to enter his head.

KJV:

And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 8:29

They cried out to him saying: What is between you and us, Jesus son of God? Have you come before the time to grieve us and to destroy us? Jesus said to them: Come out from there, evil host [army].

[The last sentence is not in our bibles.]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 9:20:

Behold a woman with a flow of blood for twelve years came behind him and touched the fringe of his garment.

KJV:

And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:

Difference: “fringe” is translated from “ציצית” (tassels called “tzitzit”) which is the commanded by YHWH to be worn so as to remember the commandments (Numbers 15: 38-40):


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 9:24

He said to them: Go outside all of you and stop weeping because the girl is asleep and not dead. But in their eyes he was as one who jests. They were saying: Have we not seen that she is dead?

KJV:

He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 10:7

Preach to them that the kingdom of heaven will be fulfilled.

KJV:

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 10:8

Heal the sick, restore life to the dead, (cleanse) the lepers, and cast out demons from men. Do not take wages. Freely you received, freely you shall give.

KJV:

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 10:9-10

Do not heap up silver and gold; nor (have) wealth in your purse,

Nor changes of clothes, nor shoes, nor a staff in your hand. The workman is worthy to receive enough for his food.

KJV:

Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,

Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 10:12

When you enter into the house, give to them peace [shalom], saying: Peace to this house; peace to all who dwell in it.

KJV:

And when ye come into an house, salute it.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 10:17:

Beware of men. They will not deliver you up in their congregations and houses of assembly,

But to governors and kings. You will be able to bear witness on my behalf to them and to the Gentiles.

KJV:

But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 10:32:

He who praises me before man I will praise before my Father who is in heaven.

KJV:

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 10:37

He who loves his father and his mother more than me, I am not suitable for him.

KJV:

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 10:38-39

38th verse is missing from all Hebrew manuscripts.

Verse 39 says:

He who loves his life [soul] will lose it, he who loses (it) for my sake will find it.

KJV:

38. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 

39. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 11:11

Again Jesus said to his disciples: Truly I say to you, among all those born of women none has arisen greater than John the Baptizer.

KJV:

Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. [Last part of the sentence is not found in Shem Tov’s Mt..]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 11:12

From his days until now the kingdom of heaven has been oppressed (and senseless ones) have been rending it.

KJV:

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 11:13

For all the prophets and the law spoke concerning [about] John.

KJV:

For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. [Seems to make it appear that the law was done away with.]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 11:25:

At that time Jesus raised himself up and said: Be praised (my Father) creator of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these words from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to the humble.

KJV:

At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

[Which then connects this verse with the previous verse in the meaning that the haughty cities did not repent as YHWH chose to soften the hearts of the dwellers of lesser cities. So Shem Tov’s Mt. makes more sense.]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 11:28:

Come unto me all you who are weary and who are enduring labor, and I will help you to bear your yoke.

KJV:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 12:5-6:

Also in the Torah have you not read that the priests in the Temple sometimes profane the Sabbaths and are without sin?

Truly I say to you that the temple is greater than this.

[Meaning that the Temple, representing YHWH, is merciful and forgives those who sin not willingly but as a result of some danger and similar causes. Which then connects to the next verse which says “If you had known what this is: I desire kindness and not (sacrifice), you would not have convicted the innocent.”]

KJV:

Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 12:19:

He will not fear nor will he run nor shall one hear (his voice) in the street.

KJV:

He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 12:27:

If I cast out demons by Baalzebub, why do your sons not cast them out? Therefore, they will be your judges.

KJV:

And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.

[Shem Tov’s Mt. suggests that the sons of scribes and Pharisees, being evil and therefore of the devil, should be able to cast out demons too, if Yeshua, as they say, casts them out using this power. But they cannot. Whilst KJV suggests that they can exorcise people, and seems to suggest them doing so by the Holy Spirit.]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 12:28:

But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God truly the end of [Beelzebub’s] kingdom has come.

KJV:

But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

[Shem Tov’s Mt. seems to make more sense because it is in harmony with the next verse, which says: “How shall a man be able to enter the house of the strong man to take his goods unless he bind him first? Then he shall plunder his house.”]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 12:30:

Whoever is not with me is against me. (Whoever) does not join himself to me denies (me).

KJV:

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 13:21:

But he is without root and is (in) confusion and when a little trouble and distress [humiliation, embarrassment] come to them, Satan causes (them) to forget from their heart.

KJV:

Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 13:22:

That which fell among the thorns, this is the one who hears the word and in his desire to gather wealth, Satan causes him to forget the word of God, and he makes no fruit.

KJV:

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 13:23

That which fell into the good earth is the one who hears the word and understands it and makes fruit, that is, from good works. He brings forth from the first a hundred, from the second sixty, and from the third thirty. As for the hundred, this is the one purified of heart and sanctified of body. As for the sixty, this is the one separated from women. As for the thirty, this is the one sanctified in matrimony, in body and in heart.

KJV:

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandethit; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 13:35:

(…) I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter riddles from ancient times.

KJV:

I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 13:39:

The enemy who sowed it is Satan, the standing grain at the end is the world to come, and the reapers are the angels.

KJV:

The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 13:41:

The Son of Man will send his angels to uproot from his kingdom all evil and all who do iniquity [all workers of sin].

KJV:

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity (…).


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 16:25:

Everyone who wishes to save his soul will lose it for my sake, and he who loses his life in this world for my sake will save his soul for the life of the world to come.

KJV:

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 16:26

What profit is there for a man if he should gain the whole world [but] lose his soul forever; what good exchange does the man make if for present things that are spoiled he should give his soul to the judgment of Gehenna?

KJV:

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 18:19

Also I say to you, if two of you wish to make peace on earth, everything which (you) ask will be yours from (my Father) who is in heaven.

KJV:

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 19:12:

Because there are eunuchs from their birth; these are those who have not sinned. (There are eunuchs made by man) and there are self-made eunuchs who subdue their desire for the sake of the kingdom of heaven; these are (those who enter) into great prominence. Whoever is able to understand let him understand.

KJV:

For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 22:13:

Then the king said to his servants: Bind his hands and feet and cast him to the nether most and lowest hell [sheol – “underworld”]; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

KJV:

Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 22:30:

In the day of resurrection men will not take women nor women men, but they will be like the angels of God in heaven.

KJV:

For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

[Shem Tov’s Mt. is specific that people won’t be genderless after resurrection, as some think.]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 23:2-3

(…) saying: Upon the seat of Moses the Pharisees and the sages sit.

Now all which (they) say to you keep and do; but (according to) their ordinances [“takanot” – man-made additions to law; traditions of men] and deeds [maybe “works of the law” that Paul was against] do not do because they say and do not.

KJV:

Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 23:14:

Woe to you Pharisees and sages, hypocrites, because you devour and divide the wealth of certain widows with lengthy exposition; for this you will suffer a long punishment.

KJV:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 23:33

Serpents, seed of vipers, how will you escape the judgment of Gehenna if you do not turn in repentance?

KJV:

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 23:38

Therefore you will leave your houses desolate.

KJV:

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 24:41

Two women will be grinding at a mill; one will be taken and the other left. This is because the angels at the end of the world will remove the stumbling blocks from the world and will separate the good from the evil. [Thus this verse refutes those who think that those who are “taken” are raptured.]

KJV:

Two women shall begrinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 25:30

As for the lazy servant, cast him into the darkness of the lowest places, there shall be for him weeping and gnashing of teeth.

KJV:

And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 25:41

Also he will say to those on his left: Depart from me you cursed and go into the eternal fire, to the place prepared for you, with Satan and his angels (…).

KJV:

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (…).


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 25:46

Then these will go into eternal abhorrence but the righteous into eternal life.

KJV:

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 27:22-23

Pilate said to them: If so, what shall I do with Jesus who is called Messiah? All of them answered that he should be hung.

Pilate said to them: What evil has he done? Then they vigorously cried out: let them hang him, let them hang him, let them hang him.

KJV:

Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

[In Shem Tov’s Matthew there’s no mention of crucifixion with the exception of one interpolation, but it’s written that Yeshua was hanged.]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 27:42

Others he saved; himself he cannot save. If he is the king of Israel let him come down from the tree and we will believe.

KJV:

He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

[The “tree” can be gallows, cross, or a similar upright standing wooden structure. It doesn’t have to be an actual tree.]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 28:5

The angel answered and said to the women: Do not fear for I know that you seek Jesus who was hung.

KJV:

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 28:9

As they were going Jesus passed before them saying: May the Name [YHWH] deliver you. They came near to him, bowed down to him, and worshipped him.

KJV:

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

[“All hail” is a pagan salutation so it’s much more likely that Yeshua said the words found in Shem Tov’s Mt..]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 28:19 – entire verse about baptising in the trinity is missing in all Hebrew manuscripts!

KJV:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (..).

[Which is likely an addition since all the rest of the NT passages indicate baptism in the name of Yeshua.]


Shem Tov’s Mt.: 28:20

(…) and (teach) them to carry out all the things which I have commanded you forever.

[Which would deny some protestants’ claim that the law was done away with at the crucifixion of Yeshua.]

KJV:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.


Here is a Google Drive link for the entire Shem Tov’s Matthew Gospel in Hebrew and its translation by George Howard.

Here’s a link to the same document with my notes. (I use Foxit reader; I’m not sure if my notes would open if you use another reader.

A convenient side-by-side comparison of the Hebrew vs. Greek manuscripts can be found on this website, though I do not agree with some additional translations and speculations added to the left of George Howard’s translations.

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