Here’s another (sort of) “plaintext” Voynich Manuscript reading, that I first found back in 2006: having corresponded briefly with the Greek author (who wishes to remain anonymous) at the time, I then managed to completely forget about until a few days ago.

He claims that the Voynich Manuscript is a transliterated Arabic document written down “using a kind of [old-fashioned] Jewish script”, and that it contains incantations to fulfil “all kinds of human desires”, addressed to the goddess “Siit” as part of cult worship ultimately deriving from the Mesopotamians.

René will be pleased to hear that the author gives extensive equivalence tables showing how to map Voynichese letters onto Hebrew letters, as well as a pronunciation guide. (Though note that you will need to resize your browser window to be 1024-pixels wide in order for the left-hand “Gabelsberger Shorthand Symbol” column to line up).

There is also a long section on f116v (the “michiton oladabas” page), as well as comments on other pages:-

Cotton is depicted on page 17, and cannabis sativa on page 16; these are plants used to make fabrics, like the one on the right of cotton, which is flax. On page 11 it is, I think, a lemon tree.

He finishes up by noting that the first few lines of folio 56 (which he says depict an eggplant) read as follows (“aqith” = “eternal”), and comments that “I cite this passage for anyone who knows Arabic well to offer a tentative reading of the whole page“:-

s(tbqd bbk)n sTn rkran bn nbsMb.n bsl bn bn
bstbrn bsd bsdn tsl bn bn trn bsTn hstqSθ
sd brn bstbsd brn ten usten bsten bstkn
usT bsl bsl bst sl btsl bn stql ban
bs bsl bs bsaqdn aqiΘ
ntbs an abrn ten aqiΘ n

Is this the answer we have been looking for? Confidentially… I don’t really think so. As claimed plaintexts go, it appears to have quite a few, errrm, ‘problems‘, let’s say. But perhaps some Arabic-literate Cipher Mysteries reader reading the above will know how to make the Philosopher’s Stone, who knows? 🙂 

Incidentally, the author also refers to a (previously unknown?) VMs book by “Ethan Ashmole Jones” called “The Voynich Manuscript – Who Is Who of a Riddle”, published by Ellinika Grammata (I believe), though I couldn’t see a copy in WorldCat. Anyone seen this before or heard of Ethan Ashmole Jones? Sounds a bit like a pseudonym to me, but (as always) you never know! 😉

22 thoughts on “Jewish Arabic Voynich theory

  1. Emily on June 8, 2009 at 4:27 pm said:

    “Ethan Ashmole Jones” gets exactly two Google hits– one is this blog post, and the other is the page you linked. Maybe it’s a Borgesian made-up citation?

    Also, from what I know of Arabic word structure, those vowel-less words in the “plaintext” could be interpreted in several ways by adding different vowels(though the words you’d get would all be related in meaning, as are Islam and Muslim). This feature of Arabic provided some difficulties for those who transcribed the Quran from shorthand(which was used as a memory aid to recitations and not as a text for silent reading). Hence I suspect that someone literate in Arabic could, with a little imagination, read many things into that deciphered text.

  2. JoeyNYC on June 8, 2009 at 5:49 pm said:

    Here is the proper translation of the Voynich passage interspersed with the original

    s(tbqd bbk)n sTn rkran bn nbsMb.n bsl bn bn
    Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;

    bstbrn bsd bsdn tsl bn bn trn bsTn hstqSθ
    The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

    sd brn bstbsd brn ten usten bsten bstkn
    And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

    usT bsl bsl bst sl btsl bn stql ban
    But there is no joy in Mudville

    bs bsl bs bsaqdn aqiΘ
    ntbs an abrn ten aqiΘ n
    Mighty Casey has struck out.

    Okay, okay, just tryin’ to lighten things up a bit.

    Seriously, several years ago I read about a connection between the Voynich and HINDI. Has any work been done in this area? The written language is hauntingly reminiscent of the Voynich manuscript.

  3. Hi Joey,

    Mighty Casey – who’d have thought it, eh? And in Hebraicized Arabic, too. Life is so full of surprises. 🙂

    It’s true that there’s a brief reference to “miscopied Hindi” in the Above Top Secret forum, but that might itself be miscopied. So… nope, sorry, you got me there – I can’t think of any Voynich theory involving Hindi. Feel free to make it your own! 🙂

    Cheers, ….Nick Pelling….

  4. The book by “Ethan Ashmole Jones” would almost certainly have been in Greek, and the publisher is still apparently going strong – so someone could probably track this down if they were at all interested.

    And as far as Arabic goes, I cited the transliterated passage (as did the original author) to see if any Arabic-reading reader might make any sense of it. The only significant difference is that he has rather more hope than me that someone will indeed be able to read it! 😮

  5. Diane O'Donovan on December 21, 2009 at 9:10 pm said:

    I think the author is on the right track, and only wish I’d seen this before writing a recent paper.

  6. Reverend Kabuto on January 15, 2010 at 6:35 pm said:

    I’m afraid the translation makes no sense in Arabic (at least standard Arabic), despite trying to be imaginative. However, I can’t help feeling that the Voynich alphabet has something vaguely Arabic/Hebrew about it.

  7. I can’t say I’m hugely surprised – but thanks for having a look anyway! 🙂

  8. Anyone competent in the Judeo-Arabic dialects of North Africa and Spain?

  9. Here’s a page that starts with a list of well-known Judeo-Arabic researchers, might be a start for whatever you’re thinking of. 🙂

  10. Robert Mylne on February 12, 2010 at 6:31 pm said:

    Anyone know any Sufis on the order of Idries Shah?
    What I am very curious about is the recent VM dating to 1404-1438. Accurate? Thoughts?
    Cheers, Bob
    or Facebook Robert Mylne

  11. A summary of the state of play in Voynich research after the recent radiocarbon dating is here: but in short, we’re still waiting for the raw data, rather than just the potted results.

    Personally, I don’t think there’s any Sufi influence on the VMs – for all its pecularities, it seems to be a tree grown in distinctively European soil. The furthest East I can get is that it seems influenced more by Byzantine herbals than by European herbals. But there have always been other opinions on it, so what do I know? 🙂

  12. Diane on April 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm said:

    Nick, did this author ever stop being anonymous?

    I’m concerned about possibly having stumbled over the same things about which he or she might have written somewhere, at some time, under … what name?

  13. And now, in December..

    A couple of points, just in case this thread is taken up again by a linguist. In Arabia, there is a notable S-T shift in inscriptions from Arabia deserta. It was documented by an epigrapher named Bill Jobling, who worked from Syd.Uni, but sadly died (with much unpublished) in the early 90s. I expect others have taken up the matter since.

    Also, in the Nabatean Agriculture, Ibn Wahshiyya refers often to the people called (in English) Sethians or Seth-ites. The same cult has been described in numerous publications issued by Brill, showing its widespread influence in pre-Islamic times.
    Google: Seth AND “published by” AND Brill.

    So it may not be “Siit” – about which I can find no reference at all, but a female manifestation of Seth (is this our manuscript’s bearded woman?) worshipped in the near east during pre-Islamic times. If we are looking at the Yemen and the coastal regions, a strong Jewish presence is quite to be expected for the late classical – Islamic eras.

  14. Because it is rare, here’s a description of Sethites from text 43 in The Nabatean Agriculture:

    “They let their beard grow long, but they shave their moustache; they wrap themselves in loincloths, the bringes of which they have made long, but they forbid the wearing of “t”aylasan, and laugh at those who wearit, calling them the followers of female magicians (sahirat). They themselves wear shows and loincloths four cubits long so that the fringes drag behind them when they walk. They make dots in each corner of the cloth, four dots of saffron in each corner. They also plait their hair in baths and dye it with henna, wear blue or green turbans which they wrap around their forehead. They fight and compete in argument with each other. When they wal or spea with someone, they try to make you think that they [never?] look at the sky, ing afraid of the gods…they dedicate themselves above others to the star of Saturn [note by D: this may mean Perseus, not the planet]. (p.296)

  15. Finally, VM is deciphered, and
    yes, it *is* Arabic.


  16. Nurielle on January 26, 2013 at 3:42 pm said:

    This theory is probably the most reasonable of all the theories I have read so far in my brief encounter with the VM.
    In line with the theory, I would like to bring your attention to the drawings of what people have called “apothecary jars” on pages 88, 99, 101, etc. It seems to me that these are not simply apothecary jars but clearly BESAMIM boxes used by the Jewish people for thousands of years for the Havdalah ceremony. They are used to burn spices such as cinnamon, cloves and anise. On page 88, the besamim boxes are particularly representative of the “tower” design and the drawings of the spices can be recognized without too much stretch of the imagination.

  17. Nurielle on January 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm said:

    I should add that this may have already been suggested in previous research. If it has, I apologize in advance.

  18. Diane on April 21, 2013 at 7:54 pm said:

    It’s interesting his seeing f.17 as cotton. i saw it as resembling a tree known as the silk-tree or silk-cotton tree.

  19. Diane on April 21, 2013 at 8:02 pm said:

    If his “b” was vav it would look a bit more like Hebrew.

    also – Nurielle – curious you should mention Besamin. I did too last year (or was it the year before – I’d have to check the old blog). I’d agree at least that the closest forms to those more complex vessels were till recently those made by Jewish silversmiths of the yemen. They are gone now, obliged to migrate – ending a traditional Yemei art more than 2000 years’ old.

  20. Diane on April 2, 2015 at 10:59 am said:

    I think you may find that the anonymous correspondent is posting to academia edu
    Giannhs Kenanidhs

    The English text of the essay published there as ‘The Voynich manuscript: no mystery at all’ fluctuates between the less, and the more easily read, but in essence appears to present an idea close to what you describe sent you six years ago.

  21. Goose on April 3, 2015 at 3:44 am said:

    I can’t resist:

    GIannhs Kenanidhs is an almost perfect anagram for … N_k_d Shenanigans (looks like the full answer’s not making it past this site’s filter, hence the “gaps”). It’s possibly the most awesome name ever for writing about an encyphered book that features unclad lasses.
    Rock on, John! 😉

  22. Visit my facebook page about Voynich. some rare information about it

    translations soon..

    Any help would be greatly appreciated

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