“The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel” is without doubt the best Bible commentary in English. I say this after using over a hundred such books while writing my own books on the Bible, such as my many volumes on the differences between the Hebrew Bible and its Aramaic translation called Onkelos. I feel so strongly about this conclusion that although I had heart surgery with five by-passes three weeks ago, on December 16, because my arteries were eighty percent closed and I am now in the recovery stage, I feel that I should share these thoughts so that people can learn much in a pleasant manner from this new translation and commentary, with a wealth of related information and illustrations.
This volume focuses on the second book of the Five Books of Moses, Exodus. The translation follows the suggestion of Maimonides to his own translator who translated his Arabic “Guide of the Perplexed” to Hebrew: Do not translate literally, word for word, because what makes sense in one language often does not make sense when copied literally in another language. So find the intent in the original and make the translation clear by inserting the intent, such as rendering vayehi vayamim harabim, which literally means “And it was many days,” is rendered “Years passed.”
The extensive commentary is by highly respected Modern Orthodox rabbis and is very rational. The many comments and essays on ancient Egypt and other Near Eastern countries are by scholars who are expert in the ancient Near East.
Among much else, the volume explains such things as why the numbers used in Scripture must be understood metaphorically, such as the number 70 descendants of Jacob coming to Egypt – for the number of males was less than 70, and when wives are included, the number is much higher. When the Bible states in the Ten Commandments that God rewards those who act properly for a thousand, it does not mean a thousand generations, but a thousand people often benefit from the good deeds of others. It also tells us why many Orthodox Jews do not accept the dating of the Exodus from Egypt asserted by scholars, and much more.
A history of surrounding nation and their customs is included. There are many maps, charts, timelines, dates, articles on language, Egyptology, the plagues, the Ten Commandments, what is the Masoretic Text, comparing the Torah to ancient Near East law collections, geography, biblical botany, pictures of the Tabernacle and items used during its service, and detailed discussions on subjects such as an introduction to the book of Exodus, archaeology items found in and near Israel such as the Mesha Stone, the story of the Golden Calf, the power of ancient covenants, the idea of a seven-day week with a day of rest being introduced by the Bible, and the purpose of the tabernacle with detailed pictures,
Everyone reading the several hundred pages of this excellent book or even browsing through it, whether Jew or non-Jew, even if the reader has a university education on the Bible or attended Orthodox yeshivot for many years, will benefit from this book a thousand-fold by learning more about the Bible, its history, its comparison with the teachings of other ancient cultures, and much more.