city has been struck

The phrase that in English versions is rendered as “Jerusalem has been struck” is translated into Afar as “Yarusalaam makko tekkeh.”: “The will of God has happened (on) Jerusalem.”

let them be overthrown before you

The Hebrew that is rendered in English as “let them be overthrown before you” is translated into Afar as “make them as a tree eaten by termites. When you are angry don’t be merciful.”

speaking out boldly

The phrase that is translated into English as “spoke out boldly” is translated into Afar as “intî qasuk ken lih yabteeh”: “spoke with them having red eyes.”

raisin cake

The phrase that is rendered in English versions as “(sustain me with) raisin cake” is translated into Afar as malawwacak bicsen gaqambo: “bread prepared from honey” (raisins are not known, but honey is.)

Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh

The phrase that is translated in English translations as “a trained heifer that loved to thresh” is translated into Afar as “Santiitat gexa rakub num elle kataya’nnal”: “As a camel that goes by its nose follows a person” (No threshing in Afar, but a camel with a rope around its mouth obediently follows the person leading it.)

clothe yourselves with Christ

What is translated into English as “clothed yourselves with Christ” is translated into Afar as “Masiic caalat le mara tekken”: “you became people who have the character of the Messiah” (dropped the metaphor of clothing).

mount up with wings like eagles

The phrase that is translated in English versions as “mount up with wings like eagles” is translated into Afar as gabilleema’nnal haadelon. Qaafiyatah danan yakken: “they will fly like eagles; as for health they will become donkeys.” (Added donkey as a known metaphor of strength since eagles are not known for strength.)


The phrase that is rendered in English translations as “as a cart presses down when it is full of sheaves” is translated into Afar as “qari elle qilsa faras-gaari innah”: “as heavy as a horse cart with a house on it.” (Pastoral economy has no sheaves, houses are normally torn down and loaded on camels for migration.)


The Hebrew and the Greek that is usually directly translated as “kiss” in English is translated more indirectly in other languages because kissing is deemed as inappropriate, is not a custom at all, or is not customary in the particular context (see the English translation of J.B. Phillips, 1960 in Rom. 16:16: “Give each other a hearty handshake”). Here are some examples:

  • Pökoot: “greet warmly” (“kissing in public, certainly between men, is absolutely unacceptable in Pökoot.”) (Source: Gerrit van Steenbergen)
  • Chamula Tzotzil, Ixcatlán Mazatec, Tojolabal: “greet each other warmly” or “hug with feeling” (source: Robert Bascom)
  • Afar: “gaba tittal ucuya” (“give hands to each other”) (Afar kiss each other’s hands in greeting) (source: Loren Bliese)
  • Roviana: “welcome one another joyfully”
  • Cheke Holo: “Love each other in the way-joined-together that is holy” (esp. in Rom. 16:16) or “greet with love” (esp. 1Thess. 5:26 and 1Pet. 5.14)
  • Pitjantjatjara: “And when you meet/join up with others of Jesus’ relatives hug and kiss them [footnote], for you are each a relative of the other through Jesus.” Footnote: “This was their custom in that place to hug and kiss one another in happiness. Maybe when we see another relative of Jesus we shake hands and rejoice.” (esp. Rom. 16:16) (source for this and two above: Carl Gross)
  • Balanta-Kentohe and Mandinka: “touch cheek” or “cheek-touching” (“sumbu” in Malinka)
  • Mende: “embrace” (“greet one another with the kiss of love”: “greet one another and embrace one another to show that you love one another”) (source for this and two above: Rob Koops)
  • Gen: “embrace affectionately” (source: John Ellington)
  • Kachin: “holy and pure customary greetings” (source: Gam Seng Shae)
  • Kahua: “smell” (source: David Clark) (also in Ekari and Kekchí, source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Nyanja: “to suck” (“habit and term a novelty amongst the young and more or less westernized people, the traditional term for greeting a friend after a long absence being, ‘to clap in the hands and laugh happily'”)
  • Medumba: “suck the cheek” (“a novelty, the traditional term being ‘to embrace.'”)
  • Shona (version of 1966): “to hug”
  • Balinese: “to caress” (source for this and three above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

lusty stallions

The phrase that is rendered into English translations as “they were well-fed lusty stallions” is translated into Afar as Yessemeeqe rakuubuy alal radam faxaah muxahiyya yekken.: “they became well-fed male camels making rumbling sounds (in their throats) in their desire to mount a female camel.” (On “stallion,” see also the story here.)