"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"


Over at Aramaic expert Steve Caruso’s Aramaic NT blog:

Most churches do a Passion Play this time of year, re-enacting the final moments of Jesus up to and including the crucifixion. Most of these Passion Plays tend to include Jesus’ final words as recorded in Matthew and Luke (sic) which appear in most Bibles transliterated as:

“Eloi! Eloi! Lama sabachthani?”

How the heck do you pronounce that?” I am asked often enough. “Eh-loy eh-loy llama sab-ach!-thane-y?”

And my answer is: You don’t.

Full blog post here: aramaicnt.org/2015/03/31/my-god-my-god-why-have-you-forsaken-me/


Transcribing the phrase into English-like phonetics:

Eh-low-hee, eh-low-hee, lah-MAH shah-bach-thah-nee.


  1. The Hebrew singular for “god” is eloah, pronounced eh-low-ah, with the terminal -h pronounced as a consonant. To make it “my god” it becomes as shown above. I don’t know where the stress would fall. Hebrew words typically stress the last syllable, but I

  2. “Lama” is actually two worlds, “for-what” = “why”; I’m pretty sure that the stress would fall on the suffixed pronoun.

  3. The verb actually has three parts. “Shabach” is the past-tense stem of the verb itself. The “sh-” sound was lost by being filtered through Greek and Latin, neither of which has that sound, but it was retained in the Arabic translation of the New Testament. The “-ch” is like the German “-ch” of “Bach” or the Scottish “loch.” The “-tha” is the suffix for masculine second-person singular, indicating that Jesus was talking to a single male person (His Father). The “-ni” is the 1st-person singular direct-object pronoun suffix meaning “me.” Put it together and it’s “shabach-tha-ni,” in KJV English “hast-forsaken thou (subj) me (obj).” I don’t know where the stress would fall in Aramaic, but if it were Arabic, the stress would fall on the second syllable, and that’s how I pronounce it when I read it. If it is a mistake in Aramaic, the mistake would be minor.

Hope this helps a little


I apologize for the lousy job I did of typing this. To finish what I started, Hebrew words typically stress the last syllable but I think that in in this case the stress would be on the next to the last syllable, “eh-LOW-hee.” I am open to correction on this.


Also, the stress on the syllables depends on whether you’re speaking Ashkenazi or Sephardi Hebrew.


Look at the link on the first post. There’s a nice audio giving the pronunciation there (əlahí əlahí ləmáh shəvaqtáni - stress on the hi of əlahí, mah of ləmáh and ta of shəvaqtáni.)

P.S. It’s a sort of pet peeve of mine when I hear people read sabachthani as sub-ach-tan-EYE. :smiley:


Ugh, mine too. That slots in right behind “rabb-eye.”


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