rest (after creation)

The Hebrew term that is typically translated as “rest” in English is translated in Bari as “stand.” P. Guillebaud (in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.) explains: “The normal word for ‘rest,’ yukan, which had been used originally had to be rejected, because, as [the language assistant] Daniele pointed out, it also means taking a rest or ‘breather,’ and so implies the resumption of work after a pause. As the point here is the cessation of work, we had to use a different term altogether, literally ‘God stood from work.’ (In Exod. 31:17 God is said to have ‘rested’ and to have ‘refreshed himself’ after the labours of creation.)”

In Orma it is translated as “God removed his hand.” George Payton explains: “We were translating Genesis, and we came to the verse in 2:2 where God “rested” from the work of creating. Of course we did not want to communicate that God was tired from that work, as the English suggests. So I asked my translator, ‘When you finish working in your field preparing it before the rainy season and you have done all you can, there is nothing more you can do until it rains. What would you say that you have done in relation to the work? Finished? Stopped? Or something else?’ He said, ‘I would say that I removed my hand from that work, meaning it was finished and I am done with it.’ In 2:2 we used what he said and rendered the verse ‘On the 7th day God removed his hand from all the work that he had done.'”

all who went in at the gate of his city

The Hebrew that is typically translated as “all who went in at the gate of his city” in English was translated in Bari as “all who gather together at the gate of his city” because “if we had translated this literally we should have conveyed the opposite meaning, i.e. that it was the country people coming in to market from outside that was intended, instead of the people of the place. So we have used a word meaning ‘to gather together’ in place of ‘went in’, ‘those who gather together’ by implication being the inhabitants of the city.”

Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.

bless(ed)

The Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic that is translated into English as “(to) bless” or “blessed” is translated into a wide variety of possibilities.

The Hebrew term barak (and the Aramaic term berak) also (and originally) means “to kneel” (a meaning which the word has retained — see Gen. 24:11) and can be used for God blessing people (or things), people blessing each other, or people blessing God. While English Bible translators have not seen a stumbling block in always using the same term (“bless” in its various forms), other languages need to make distinctions (see below).

In Bari, spoken in South Sudan, the connection between blessing and knees/legs is still apparent. For Genesis 30:30 (in English: “the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned”), Bari uses a common expression that says (much like the Hebrew) , ‘… blessed you to my feet.'” (Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.)

Other examples for the translation of “bless” when God is the one who blesses include:

  • “to think well of” (San Blas Kuna)
  • “to speak good to” (Amganad Ifugao)
  • “to make happy” (Pohnpeian)
  • “to-cause-to-live-as-a-chief” (Zulu)
  • “to sprinkle with a propitious (lit. cool) face,” (a poetic expression occurring in the priests’ language) (Toraja Sa’dan) (source for this and above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • “give good things” (Mairasi) (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • “asking good” (Yakan) (source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • “praised, saying good things” (Central Yupik) (source: Robert Bascom)
  • “greatly love” (Candoshi-Shapra (source: John C. Tuggy)

In Tagbanwa a phrase is used for both the blessing done by people and God that back-translates to “caused to be pierced by words causing grace/favor” (source: Tagbanwa Back Translation).

Ixcatlán Mazatec had to select a separate term when relating “to people ‘blessing’ God” (or things of God): “praise(d)” or “give thanks for” (in 1 Cor. 10:16) (“as it is humans doing the ‘blessing’ and people do not bless the things of God or God himself the way God blesses people” — source: Robert Bascom). Eastern Bru also uses “praise” for this a God-directed blessing (source: Bru back translation) and Uma uses “appropriate/worthy to be worshipped” (source: Uma back translation).

When related to someone who is blessing someone else, it is translated into Tsou as “to speak good hopes for.” In Waiwai it is translated as “may God be good and kind to you now.” (Sources: Peng Kuo-Wei for Tsou and Robert Hawkins in The Bible Translator 1962, pp. 164ff. for Waiwai.)

Some languages associate an expression that originally means “spitting” or “saliva” with blessing. The Bantu language Koonzime, for instance, uses that expression for “blessing” in their translation coming from either God or man. Traditionally, the term was used in an application of blessing by an aged superior upon a younger inferior, often in relation to a desire for fertility, or in a ritualistic, but not actually performed spitting past the back of the hand. The spitting of saliva has the effect of giving that person “tenderness of face,” which can be translated as “blessedness.” (Source: Keith Beavon)

See also bless (food and drink), blessed (Christ in Mark 11:9), and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.

burial place, tomb

The Hebrew that is translated in English as “burial place/ground” or “tomb” (in older version: “sepulchre”) is translated in Bari with the term dili: “hole.” “In Bari a distinction is made between the empty and the filled-in grave. Gulom is used when the grave has received its dead, the earth has been shoveled in and the top smoothed over and beaten hard. Dili is used of the unfilled grave waiting to receive its dead, which is of course the meaning needed for this particular verse.”

Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.

hovering over the face of the waters

The Hebrew that is translated into English as “moving (or: hovering) over the (sur)face of the waters” is translated into Ebira as “(the spirit of God) stayed above the water doing NANANA [ideophone].” (Source: Rob Koops)

In Bari it is translated with bibirto, “which is used of a bird hovering over its nest or fluttering round a bunch of ripe bananas.” (Source: Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.)

appease

“It was interesting to find how similar some of the Hebrew ways of expression are to Bari idiom. (…) [For instance], in Genesis 32:20 Hebrew uses the expression ‘I will cover his face’ for ‘to appease,’ and Bari speaks of ‘covering the eyes.’ Gifts of appeasement are rapesi ti konyen, ‘coverings of the eyes.’”

Source: Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.

strong donkey

“It was interesting to find how similar some of the Hebrew ways of expression are to Bari idiom. (…) [For instance], in Genesis 49:14 (‘Issachar is a strong donkey’) Hebrew literally has ‘a bony donkey.’ In English this would convey the opposite meaning, as we associate ‘bony’ with ‘thin’; but when we came to translate this, Daniele [the language assistant] told me that Bari says ‘You are a man with bones,’ or ‘You have ribs,’ meaning that you are strong. So it seems that it is the bones and ribs in Bari which denote strength, as seems to be the case in Hebrew, rather than the muscles, as in English.”

Source: Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.

speak kindly (to their hearts)

“It was interesting to find how similar some of the Hebrew ways of expression are to Bari idiom. (…) [For instance], in Genesis 50:21 (‘Joseph spoke kindly to them’ in English) Bari follows Hebrew in saying that he spoke ‘to their hearts'”

Source: Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.

wages

“In Genesis 29:15, the verse speaks of the ‘wages’ Laban should have paid Jacob, but in Bari the ordinary word for wages cannot be used, as there is no question of hire between relatives. The reward for work done is called doket, ‘gift’, or yariet, ‘help’.”

Source: Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.

use up the money that was given for us

“In Genesis 31:15, Rachel and Leah complain that their father has been using up ‘the money given for us’. in Bari a phrase for dowry was used and (…) a phrase that is often heard, that ‘he has eaten our dowry.’ This quite often happens to a girl who is in the process of betrothal; if her father is unscrupulous he will arrange a marriage and receive and use up the dowry without giving the girl a proper chance to refuse, unless she is able to repay the money herself. (…) This parallel does not go the whole way, I know, but the idea behind the complaint is similar and very real in Bari.”

Source: Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.

wrath

The Hebrew term that is typically translated as “wrath” in English is translated in Bari as “to break out.” (“The sort of anger that bursts out as bees from a hive against an intruder, the sort that doesn’t stop to ask questions but rushes into the fight.”)

Source: Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.