Hebrew Text on Darth Vader’s Armor?

A post that appeared today on IO9 drew to my attention a topic at the intersection of religion and science fiction that I somehow managed to remain completely unaware of.

Apparently there is Hebrew writing on the front panel of Darth Vader’s armor.

Here’s an image (you will probably need to zoom in to see it properly, and even then it isn’t very clear):

It is hard to make out some letters, and the second line is written upside-down.

There is another version (in the photo on the right) from an Empire Strikes Back promotional photo. It looks less like it is consistently created from Hebrew letters – on which I’ll say more below.

I don’t think this problem has ever been taken to epigraphers used to dealing with even more obscure bits of Hebrew text. Fortunately, this blog has readers who fall into that category. Do any of you care to take a crack at this? I bet you can provide some decisive answers, even if only to say that some of it is at best misspelled and at worst gibberish.

Some or all of it may make sense if it is an attempt to render some words from English into Hebrew by someone who does not actually know Hebrew. If it is supposed to be Hebrew, then that seems the most likely scenario.

But it may also be an attempt to create an alien alphabet using some Hebrew letters as a prototype (several of the aliens in Star Wars in fact spoke human languages), in which case, an attempt to read it as Hebrew may not solve the problem.

  • Brad

    Ancient Aliens!

  • Inigo Montoya

    I’m by NO means an epigrapher, but it looks like gibberish to me. Turning it right-side up still leaves some letters upside down. The bottom word, if you flip the letters over appropriately, would either be “shatkamum” or “mumkatash,” neither of which is a word. On my QWERTY Hebrew keyboard it would transliterate as “mumktw” or the same in reverse. I’m not sure what it would be on other keyboards.

    • http://evolvingthoughts.net John S. Wilkins

      “Mumkatash”
      “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”

  • http://twitter.com/jasonstaples Jason Staples

    Further problematizing things, the Hebrew from the two pictures doesn’t match.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonstaples Jason Staples

    As far as I can tell, both are gibberish (but different gibberish) created in Hebrew letters. The bigger picture’s letters appear to be handwritten.

    I’ve long thought Vader’s breastplate was intended to echo the breastplate of the Jewish high priest, so it isn’t a surprise to see Hebrew lettering there.

  • Steve Caruso

    As you can probably imagine, I get a fair amount of inquiries about interpreting glossolalia so deciphering gibberish is something I do for fun. :-)

    That sequence of characters certainly trips the neurons in my brain to *want* to read it as Hebrew or Aramaic, as the last line I immediately snapped up as עד שובה (“until a week”). However out of context, it’s meaningless, and those characters change depending on which version we look at.

    My professional opinion is that it’s Movie Magic. :-)

  • http://ofthelove.com/ Keika

    The joke around the Star Wars set was that the Vader chest box was constructed from actual vending machine coin slots.  ‘Insert quarter, nickel or dime’ is what the lettering meant.  Here’s a link where my Vader is preparing for another YouTube adventure with a different image of the ESB chest box.

    http://ofthelove.com/powerwords.html

  • Pingback: Jeremy Tarbush

  • Mace Windu

    Keika -

    That image made my morning.  Star Wars fans always wondered what Vader did while waiting in his TIE Fighter to be rescued.  Now we know. 

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Thanks, Keika! That’s wonderful! I highlighted it in a separate post to try to make sure others get to enjoy it. Thank you for that!!!

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/03/darth-vader-reading-the-only-true-god.html 

  • William

    If the second line on the chestplate is upside down or backwards,then it should read:”His deeds wont be given FOR his merits”.Vader had lifeless limbs.St. Anthony of Padua prayer;”AND LIFELESS LIMBS DO YOU RESTORE”.Young Paduan Learner.St.Anthony is the spirit of FREEDOM.He served god as he wanted to.Read his story.Vader wanted to be free to be with his family.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doug.elwell Doug Elwell

    Excellent work my young padwans. Here is the answer:

    ———

    The powerful eye will capture them in its net.

    And their manna

    Will be ringed about with a hedge of thorns

    ——-

    Let the reader understand…

    publisher@mysteriousworld.com

  • Shadowkey392

    The text is probably not meant to be hebrew, but the writing in the Star Wars saga, which is meant to be some alien form of writing, is clearly based on ancient forms of writing used by ancient civilizations here on Earth. It would not be surprising to me if it were to turn out that hebrew was used as a basis for that writing form.

  • John

    Obviously, the language in Star Wars isn’t called “English.” It’s Galactic Basic, and although when spoken it sounds like English, its runes and characters are entirely different from any language spoken in real life.


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