tohu wa-bohu

The Hebrew assonance tohu wa-bohu is often translated in English as “formless void” or some equivalent, but in some translations and languages attempts have been made to recreate some of its literary flavor:

  • English: wild and waste (Everett Fox 1995); welter and waste (Robert Alter 2004); void and vacant (James Moffatt 1935); complete chaos (NRSVue 2021)
  • German: Irrsal und Wirrsal (Buber / Rosenzweig 1976); wüst und wirr (Einheitsübersetzung, 1980/2016)
  • French: vide et vague (La Bible de Jérusalem, 1975)
  • Ancient Greek: aóratos kaí akataskévastos (ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος) (Septuagint)

See also formless void.

The LORD of hosts has sworn in my hearing

For “The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing,” see James 5:4.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “in the ears of the Lord Sabaoth.” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

big fish

The Hebrew that is translated in English as “big fish,” “large fish,” or “great fish” is translated in North Alaskan Inupiatun as “whale.”

Steve Berneking tells this story (see here ):

“In the whaling community of the Inupiat in northern Alaska, the whale is all but revered and respected as one of God’s creatures which bring life and sustenance. I was recently with our Inupiatun Bible Translation Team, working on the Book of Jonah. In popular culture, as we all know, the ‘big fish’ in this tale is often equated with what we know as the whale; Sunday school curriculum teaches it; art recreates it; collective memory recalls it. Therefore, they wanted an illustration of a white whale in their publication of the Book of Jonah.

“As a biblical scholar, I know this is erroneous and irresponsible. A biblical scholar assumes a ‘big fish’ is simply to be taken as a ‘big fish.’ The identity of this fish is not necessary to understand the tale: that God provided it is the point. As a Bible translator, hopefully a culturally sensitive one, however, I was quickly reminded in that moment that this Inupiatun community ‘needed’ that ‘Jonah’s big fish’ to be nothing other than a whale.

“This made the tale of Jonah even more meaningful because they ‘read’ the source of God’s deliverance of Jonah as the same source of God’s provision of food and sustenance to them.”

In the majority of Arabic translations, hut (حوت) or “whale” is used. This could be due to the influence of the Quran that uses hut (حُوت) in its story of Jonah (Yunus) or to the influence of the Ancient Greek Septuagint which uses kítos (κῆτος). Kítos could either mean “sea-monster” or “whale.” (Source: Sameh Hanna)

The term for “dolphin” in Turkish is yunus baliğı — “Jonah’s fish” or simply yunus (“Jonah”). (The term used in the Turkish translation of Jonah, however, is büyük balık or “big fish.”)

See also Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights and this devotion on YouVersion .

that which had not been told them they shall see . . .

For the phrase “that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate,” see Romans 15:21.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “those who were not informed about
him shall see and those who did not hear shall understand” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

on the seventh day God finished the work

The Hebrew that is translated as “on the seventh day God finished the work” or similar in English is rendered in the Ancient Greek Septuagint translation as “on the sixth day God finished the work” (συνετέλεσεν ὁ θεὸς ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἕκτῃ τὰ ἔργα), “reflecting concern known elsewhere in Jewish traditions to resolve the apparent problem, recording in Genesis 2:2 that God finished his work but resting completely.” (Source: Law 2013, p. 46)

because these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips . . .

For the phrase “Because these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote,” see Mark 7:6 and Mark 7:7.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “These people draw near me; they honor me with their lips, while their heart is far from me, and in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts and teachings.'” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

Your throne O God endures forever and ever . . .

For the phrases “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity; you love righteousness and hate wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions,” see Hebrews 1:8 and Hebrews 1:9.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. A rod of equity is the rod of your rule; you loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. Therefore God, your God, anointed you with oil of rejoicing beyond your partners.” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask . . .

For the phrases “I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me,” see Romans 10:20.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “I became visible to those who were not seeking me; I was found by those who were not inquiring about me.” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)