The Aramaic Tattoo eBook – Mistakes Exposed

Before I begin: I am using snippets of content from this document to illustrate problems found both in adherence to and under the protection of Fair Use Doctrine and the First Amendment in ways that have precedent in American law. In doing so I shall take steps to ensure that the content owner’s copyrights are respected and that the heart of their work is protected.


This is a review of the Aramaic Tattoo eBook as found on

Since I posted my first review, I was sent a lengthy Cease and Desist that I pull my blog posts down for a variety of reasons. Within my rights I have made the decision to write this more concise and to-the-point article instead, which bespeaks the problem in more articulate and succinct language, so that my full meaning can be understood.

I will go over each point about the eBook, fact by fact to expound upon my good-faith opinion that it is not a good buy in its current form because it contains errors and lacks important information that, as a result, would not allow a consumer to make an informed decision.

Without further ado, let’s take a look:

At a Glance

For $29.00 over at My Aramaic, one can obtain a copy of the “My Aramaic Tattoo eBook” which on its website is advertised as the most extensive and unique collection of Aramaic tattoo designs available” filled with popular and unique Aramaic tattoo words and phrases.”

Looking about the Internet for more information about it, I found a few advertisements. On it was also claimed that “The inspirational Aramaic tattoo design eBook was written and designed to help people avoid carrying mistakes on their bodies for the rest of their lives.”

On, and it was claimed that: “we hope that many will use and enjoy this eBook, and will be able to walk proudly with accurate and correct Aramaic tattoo designs.”

After some serious friction with the book’s author, who would not provide their credentials or evidence of their expertise, I eventually purchased a copy in order to examine exactly what they were selling.

Leafing through the PDF I took an initial count of its contents:

It was 70 pages in length.

It had 39 individual words. (labeled: “faith,” “beloved” (m), “beloved” (f), “forever,” “soul,” “love,” “truth,” “health,” “friendship,” “joy,” “freedom,” “peace,” “hope,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” “flame,” “dream,” “life,” “gem,” “light,” “strength,” “paradise,” “holiness,” “dance,” “beauty,” “heaven,” “lion,” “lioness,” “dawn/twilight,” “sunrise,” “star,” “resurrection,” “truth,” “grace/goodness,” “music,” “father,” “mother,” “son,” “daughter”)

It contained 16 Bible verses:

  • 5 Old Testament. (Josh 1:5, Psa 23:6, Psa 108:5, 119:105, Prov 3:17)
  • 11 New Testament. (Mat 19:19, John 1:1, 11:35, 19:28, Rom 3:23, 1Cor 13:8, 13:13, 2Cor 12:9, Eph 2:8, Philp 4:13, Rev 1:8)

The introduction to the book, in a disclaimer, outlined that it contained “Aramaic Words, Aramaic Phrases,” and “Aramaic Verses” in three different scripts: Paleo-Hebrew, Square (“Hebrew”) script and Syriac.

In reference to how the scripts are used, it claims that “different Aramaic dialects are used, without adherence to historical accuracy in the choice of script.”

It also mentioned that:

“The author and publisher specifically disclaim any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, which in incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly of the use and application of any of the contents of this e-book. It is the buyer’s sole responsibility to verify that the translation meets his or her requirements.”

Which I personally found a little odd (more on that later); however, after getting past it, I took the time to let some initial observations sink in.

Initial Observations

Unlike what the introduction claimed, there were no “Aramaic phrases” (unless one argues “l’almin” or “forever” as a phrase, which then raises the count to 1). However, this may simply be advertising, or a display of intent for future revisions (which I hope is the case).

What really got me in the intro, however, was with all of the variation between Aramaic languages, saying “Different Aramaic dialects are used, without adherence to historical accuracy in the choice of script” would be like saying “Different Romance languages from Latin to Medieval French, Modern Italian and Catalan are used. It’s your job to figure out which one is which.”

Except that what makes up the mixture was not mentioned. There are hundreds of Aramaic dialects, most of which are mutually unintelligible.

I found this especially ironic because in the articles and advertisements pointing individuals to the eBook online extolled its accuracy, where the disclaimer immediately admits that it is not accurate to historical standards.

In my professional opinion, without any dialect information, this would leave an individual who is not familiar with the language with no context to go by to make an informed decision.

There were a large number of designs, from spirals, to tear drops, hearts, triangles, circles, and wavy lines and even a butterfly (which was kinda neat), every design (sans the Bible Verses, of course) simply repeated the same word. The repetition sometimes bridged on 10-12 times in varying sizes.

Where most of the text was preserved in vector, on every other page, some of the designs were saved as low-resolution images. While inspirational, they are simply not high-quality enough to take to a tattoo parlor for stenciling without some additional difficulty.

Some of the other designs, specifically the “circlets” and some of the spirals warp the text so much that if they were to be tattooed, within a few years they would likely be illegible, due to bleed (depending on the ink used and size of the tattoo).

Furthermore, some of the Syriac texts’ baselines aren’t lined up properly, so letters aren’t properly connected, leaving such corrections up to the judgment of the tattoo artist inking the design.

Finally (which is what I think is very important to note) there is no contact information anywhere in the document: No address, no phone number, no fax. The name of the translator is also missing. No sources were cited anywhere in the document either to help the customer figure out things like (for example) which dialects they were working with.

The Accuracy of the Content

Now, all of the technical observations aside, reading over all of the content and checking each unit off, I found the following pertaining to the accuracy of the actual Aramaic employed:

Out of the 39 words 18 of them (roughly half) had some problem or issue, outlined below. The following columns depict the word in question, which scripts it is (out of those that it was provided in) historically attested in, as well as any particular notes about the word, itself as it appeared in the Tattoo eBook:

Word Old Aramaic Script “Hebrew” Script Syriac Script Notes
“Love” not attested
attested* common In Old Aramaic and in most dialects written in Hebrew script, this could be confused for “sin” or “debt” as it is a homograph. Depending on context, a different inflection of the root chosen would have been more appropriate, or a proper, documented noun-form from the root rm instead.
“Truth” not attested rare common
“Health” not attested not attested common
“Joy” not attested not attested common The Lexicon Syriacum (2nd ed) defines this form primarily as “suavity, jocundity.” Ḥadutha would have been more appropriate for all scripts.
“Freedom” not attested not attested common This is a Syriac and Christian Palestinian Aramaic (“CPA”) spelling. All other dialects use a yod instead of alef.
“Flame” not attested not attested common This is another Syriac and CPA spelling and a specialized term. Nura or “Fire” would have worked better here for all scripts.
“Life” not attested rare rare This is a rare and unusual form for ‘life’. Ḥaye is best in Syriac, where ḥaya or ḥayyin is best for the other two.
“Gem” not attested rare common* This word generally means “pearl” not “gem.” (Lec. Syr.)
“Light” common* common* common In Old Aramaic and Hebrew Scripts it’s usually nhora.
“Paradise” not attested not attested rare
“Dance” not attested* not attested* common As a noun it is only attested in Syriac, but it is possible that this could appear in other forms.
“Beauty” not attested but certainly possible
common* common* Can be confused for “Shofar.” A less-ambiguous alternative could have been shapira/tha (“beautiful”) or perhaps even ziwa (“splendor / beauty”).
“Heaven” rare* common common In Old Aramaic, was much more common as shmayin.
“Dawn / Twilight” not attested not attested very rare A vastly more common form would be nogha for Old Aramaic and Hebrew and nugha for Syriac.
“Sunrise” not attested not attested common A Syriac form that means “shining” more than “sunrise.” Again nogha / nugha would have been a better choice.
“Resur-rection” not attested not attested common
“Grace / Goodness” common common common Simple typesetting error; the font for Old Aramaic is not rendered properly.
“Music” ? ? ? I could not find this noun form attested anywhere, although I could imagine it being used (zmara with -utha suffixed to denote an expanded domain, like the difference between malka “king” and malkutha “kingdom”); however, it would have been better to simply use zmara (“song”) which is very commonly attested.

The Bible verses from the Old Testament were taken from various Targums (Targum Johnathan, Targum Psalms, Targum Proverbs, etc.) and as such some of those verses contained features that would be inappropriate to render in Syriac Script.

The Bible verses from the New Testament were taken verbatim from the Syriac Peshitta, and as expected some of them contained features that would be inappropriate to render in Hebrew or Old Aramaic Script.

All in all, the actual text was copy and paste without error from their source documents (all of which are freely available on the Internet), so if one were to keep to Hebrew script for the Old Testament verses and Syriac Script for the New Testament verses, there would be little to no chance of error. This certainly does, however, reduce the number of “usable” scripts per verse.

Closing Thoughts

With everything said, my hopes in posting this article were twofold:

1) My primary goal is to ensure that individuals who have purchased this eBook do not tattoo upon them anything that is not what they expect. As my blog here has documented over the past 3-4 years, mistakes when it comes to Aramaic tattoos are rampant, and most of that, in my professional opinion, is due to individuals not researching well enough to understand the depth of the language.

2) At this point, I sincerely hope in all good faith that the owner of takes this opportunity to edit their mistakes and make their product better and more suitable towards its intended purpose.

The issue of scripts and dialects with Aramaic is a very serious one as Aramaic is not one language, but a family of closely-related languages, many of which are mutually unintelligible.

Ty illystrate taipesettynȝ Aramaic cæracters in a script inæppropriate to ðeir diælect, I feil ðat a more lenȝÞi exæmple is in order. Hƿere boÞ ðe længuage I æm conveyng ðis pærægræf in ænd ðe script I æm ysyng are indispytabli Englisc, ƿuld ðis pæss æs æcceptable for publicascion in a neƿspaper? Perhaps if it ƿæs some commentæri æbout ænæcronism it ƿould be a fittynȝ art piese, but beond ðæt it is distinctli odd.

To illustrate typesetting Aramaic characters in a script inappropriate to their dialect, I feel that a more lengthy example is in order. Where both the language I am conveying this paragraph in and the script I am using are both indisputably English, would this pass as acceptable for publication in a newspaper? Perhaps if it was some commentary about anachronism it would be a fitting art piece, but beyond that it is distinctly odd.

If you were wondering what was going on, the above was Modern English, typeset in Old English letters and spelling. Writing Syriac in Old Aramaic or vice-versa would seem equally as odd.

Before obtaining a tattoo in any language in which you are not well versed, always double-check. With tattoos, it’s a matter of “measure twice, bleed once.”

Finally, if you aren’t sure about some Aramaic you’re thinking about tattooing on your body, email me first. I have been double-checking tattoo translations pro bono for years and am always willing to help.


9 thoughts on “The Aramaic Tattoo eBook – Mistakes Exposed

  1. zamarutha” is a Syriac word. You can find it in Payne Smith’s A Compendious Syriac Dictionary. It’s literally “singer-hood” (from zamara, “singer”, not zmara, “singing”).

  2. “Anonymous said…

    “zamarutha” is a Syriac word. You can find it in Payne Smith’s A Compendious Syriac Dictionary. It’s literally “singer-hood” (from zamara, “singer”, not zmara, “singing”).

    January 17, 2010 1:24 PM”

    Thanks for sharing your source, Anonymous. 😉


  3. Ok I guess I am making a rookie mistake here. I have checked anon’s source and yes Zamarutha is the word for singing but in terms of the root surely either way the root is zmr from which both Zamara and Zamarutha derive, ok different vowel points and I am sure that makes a huge difference in verbal mood and stuff or perhaps I am just harping on now which is also from Zmr. Purely as a general comment from textual criticism I suggest that anonymous is the writer or syriac adviser to and frankly your comments that some aramaic tattoos are more appropriate than others is rather american I mean some Aramaic Thongs maybe more appropriate than others but you try telling that to the Fr Inquisitor, where was I, oh yes so if my theory is correct then Zamarutha is also the definitive response to your critique which by the way is also your STA adversarial or hostile if you prefer approach which puts me uncomfortably in the role of an ‘IRA which sounds suspiciously like a taxcollector. Anyway best I return to the Hymn of the Pearl I was going to ask your advice on Turkey but it would seem you don’t offer advice like that, what kind of an Aramaic specialist do I take you for and never on a first date sort of thing so yes. And yet your child would seem perfectly normal. Not genetic then this Syriac/Aramaic studies thing hmm. May you be happy.

  4. Mar Dezie,

    You are absolutely correct, the actual root zmr in question is identical and from where all of the words in question ultimately derive.

    I also agree with your other observation as to the identity of the Anonymous poster. At this point, I’d put money on the chance that it is Ms. Goren, the owner of My Aramaic Tattoo, herself. Whoever they were seemed a bit eager to pipe up. 🙂

    Where I have never seen zmarutha attested in any manuscript, the only dictionary that mentions it (that I know of, at least) is Payne Smith: A dictionary whose entries seem to fit the forms that were used in the eBook.

    Curious, eh? 😉

    However I now must admit that I’m still not sure how to interpret what you meant by “Anyway best I return to the Hymn of the Pearl I was going to ask your advice on Turkey but it would seem you don’t offer advice like that, what kind of an Aramaic specialist do I take you for and never on a first date sort of thing so yes. And yet your child would seem perfectly normal.”

    In fact, I’m still scratching my beard. May I request a bit more context? 🙂

    Peace and thanks,

  5. Ah I am perhaps trying a little hard to maintain my eccentricity as a newly formed Syriac Scholar, I don’t need to try I know.

    I am at SEERI in Kottayam on the precertificate course in Syriac Studies MA not really sure how I ended up here but want to travel around the old sites. But on a tangent I have a growing affection for Payne Smith, it’s a father daughter collaboration. Her father died end of the 19th century before he could complete the compendious dictionary so she decided to abandon her own project to complete this tribute to her father. It’s very much a beginner’s dictionary there is an interesting (for me) discussion on types of dictionary and what their purposes might be (3 volumes presentation of some SEERI symposium on a future dictionary project). One example is Payne Smith tend to list alphabetically rather than by root because it’s a lot easier for beginners. And perhaps obviously not all dictionaries merely give definitions of words oh well but I was beautiful he had a daughter like that and that she could complete the work and wanted to. Not that I am wishing that on any other daughter.

    So yes I mentioned you at Table this evening we are next to Kottayam’s Exhibition centre these last few days we have had the pentecostalists exhibiting they tend to drown out the subtlties of table chat. Anyway I was going to ask you about places to study in Turkey but it turned out one of the professors had recently returned, he mentioned one monastery where classical Aramaic is still taught and Turroyo I believe he said still spoken.

    Really odd eccentric friendly world this, I find it a good home for now, may you be happy. But I am sure you are good sport I am not sure if I meant any more than just being playful and saying hello. May you be happy you and yours.

  6. I cannot find where to email you…

    I’ve read that there are three character “words” or “names” in Hebrew that can be used as signs for protection or other things. Specifically referring to the 72 names of God. (Not sure if this is real or a Hollywood cook up which the crazy celebrity popularity of Kabbalah…)
    Anyway, I believe there are ones that can be used in Aramaic as well? Do you know what these would be? (looking for a protection script to tattoo 🙂 It will be my first!)

    (also looking for one that may means something along the lines of “positive energy”)

    ANY help is GREATLY appreciated!

  7. For Marie H, I think Steve is a grown up I am not sure how sympathetic he is to the general new age, new kabbalah thing. But a quick google tells me that you will find the 72 names of God thing set up in a magick oblong of 72 triliterals. Problem is you are looking for some kind of Paulo Coelho figure to tell you that its these three that will protect you. Pity about the obnoxious automatic delete threat because now I have to restrain the urge to be obnoxious. I dunno Marie H. You want protection there is a whole other theory that you are better off not having protection or maybe that’s a weapon. But I think it highly unlikely you are going to find the mystic masterwoman person you seek on a random comment on an aramaic blog. Much more likely to meet them in Walmart but not if you intend to meet them there. May you be happy.

  8. Not sure how to take your comment, Mar Dezie. Maybe not obnoxious, but certainly rude. I am not interested in your opinion nor am I interested in explaining WHY I want this particular tattoo.
    Anyway, this is a blog for “Aramaic tattoos” not opinions on beliefs, is it not? I simply stated what I am looking for. Steve, I hope you can help me. And maybe the tattoo can protect the world from rude comments. Hahahaha

    Thank you in advance, a fellow grown up, Marie

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