stiff-necked, uncircumcised in heart and ears

The phrase that is translated into English as “you stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears” is translated into Afar as “You dry stones that nothing enters, and people who have hearts that refuse God, and ears closed saying we didn’t hear God’s message.” (stiff-necked > dry stones, uncircumcised in heart > hearts that refuse God, uncircumcised ears > ears closed to hearing God’s message) (Source: Loren Bliese)

Other translations for “uncircumcised in heart and ears” include:

  • Rincón Zapotec: “it doesn’t enter your hearts or your ears. You are like those who don’t even believe”
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “hard are your hearts and not a little bit open are your ears”
  • Morelos Nahuatl: “you have your heart as unbelievers, you do not want to hear God’s word”
  • Highland Popoluca: “you never wanted to do God’s will, never truly believed”
  • Teutila Cuicatec: “you are just the same as those who do not believe God’s word because you do not obey”
  • Huichol: “you have not been marked with God’s sign in your hearts or in your ears (you are unruly and unsubmissive like an untamed, unbranded bronco)”
  • Ojitlán Chinantec: “you do not have the word-sign in your hearts. Your ears are clogged”
  • Copainalá Zoque: “you just don’t understand”
  • Isthmus Mixe: “your hearts and minds are not open” (source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
  • Kaqchikel: “with your hearts unprepared” (source: Nida 1964, p. 220)
  • Elhomwe: “like people who do not know God” (source: project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

In Chichewa (interconfessional translation) “stiff-necked” is translated as “hard-headed.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 130)

See also uncircumcised and stiff-necked.

I the LORD your God am a jealous God

The Hebrew that is translated in English as “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” or similar is translated in Toraja-Sa’dan with an established figure of speech: “I am the Lord your God who will not that His face is drawn as water is drawn” (i.e “who will not that a person treats Him without respect, or refuses to figure with Him, or dishonors Him, or in passing Him by honors others above him.”) (Source: H. van der Veen in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 21 ff. ).

In Orma, the phrase is translated as “I, the Lord your God, will not tolerate if you bow down and worship them.” George Payton explains: “When we translated Exodus in Orma, we had difficulty translating ‘jealous’ in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. The first commandments in vv.3-5 read, ‘You shall have no other gods before me. 4 ‘You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents…’

“Verse 5 says ‘I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God’ The word jealous/jealousy in Orma is hinaafa. This word brings two negative connotations. One is feeling envious of someone else’s property, or of the prosperity of their livestock or the produce of their farms. In other words, envy or coveting what someone else has but you do not. The word hinaafa can also refer to a jealous husband in a bad way. When a husband is always suspicious of his wife being unfaithful, he easily flies into a rage when she does something that triggers his suspicions, even if she is innocent. Sometimes the husband attacks her or someone else and harms them because of his jealousy. Hinaafa communicates that idea of blind rage, often unreasonable or irrational. We had to choose a different way to communicate God’s attitude. God promised to punish them if they worship any gods because He will not put up with them if they do. We ended up translating vv3-5: ‘Apart from me, you shall not worship any other gods. You shall not make a statue of anything in heaven or anything on earth or anything in the waters. I, the LORD your God, will not tolerate if you bow down and worship them. If you do, I will punish even the children for the sin of their parents…'”

In Chichewa “‘jealousy’ very commonly includes a prominent sexual component” so the solution there was to translated “(a God) who does not allow competition with me” (source: Wendland 1987, p. 127) and in Chamula Tzotzil it is not appropriate to use the usual word for jealousy of humans in relation to God when translating the Hebrew term that is translated as “jealous” in English versions. Here “I get angry with those who go with others” is used (source: Robert Bascom).

horn of salvation, mighty savior

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated literally as “horn of salvation” and more idiomatically as “mighty savior” in some English versions is translated along those lines in many languages as well. In Uab Meto, however the term for “horn” is also used metaphorically for “hero” and in Balinese the term for “tusk,” which suggests “champion/hero” (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel).

In Uma, it is translated as “a powerful War chief who brings salvation” and in Una as “a very powerful Person to us who will rescue people” (source: Dick Kroneman).

In Chichewa (interconfessional translation, 1999) it is translated as “our mighty Saviour.” Ernst Wendland (1998, p. 155f.) explains: “A literal rendering of the Greek ‘horn of salvation’ causes real problems in Chichewa due to the strong association that an animal ‘horn’ has with the local practice of sorcery (e.g. a ‘sorcerer’ is referred to as wanyanga ‘person of a horn’). Since the horn was a symbol of strength in biblical times, [we] translatedr this metonym as ‘our mighty Saviour.'” Likewise, in Elhomwe it is translated as “powerful savior.” (Source: project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

Rahab (Psalm 89:10 et al.)

The Hebrew that is translated in English as “Rahab” is translated in the interconfessional Chichewa translation (publ. 1999) as chilombo cha m’nyanja or “beast of the sea.” (Source: Wendland 1998, p. 96)

sycamore, sycomore

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated as “sycamore” in English is translated in Chichewa as mkuyu or “fig tree.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 72)

Note that the tree referred to in these instances is the “Sycomore Fig (Ficus sycomorus), also called the “Mulberry Fig” (compare German Maulbeerfeigenbaum), is a type of fig that is found especially in low-land areas in the Mediterranean region. It was known in Egypt as early as 3000 B.C. but also in the Indus Valley in India. (…) The sycomore fig is not a tall tree (up to 10 meters [33 feet]) but has large low, spreading branches.” (Source: Koops 2012, p. 67)

curse you to your face

The Hebrew that is translated as “curse you to your face” in English is translated in the Chichewa Buku Lopatulika translation (publ. 2018) with pamaso panu or “in your eyes,” i.e. publicly. (Source: project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

land flowing with milk and honey

The phrase that is rendered in English versions as “land flowing with milk and honey” is translated into Afar as niqmatak tan baaxoy buqre kee lacah meqehiyya: “a blessed land good for fields and cattle.” (Source: Loren Bliese)

In the interconfessional Chichewa translation (publ. 1999) it is translated with the existing proverb dziko lamwanaalirenji or “a land of what (type of food) can the child cry for?” (i.e. there is more than enough to eat). (Source: Ernst Wendland in The Bible Translator 1981, p. 107 )

In Kwere it is “good/fertile land.” (Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

Learn more on Bible Odyssey: Milk and Honey in Ancient Israel .

no dealings

The phrase that is translated in English translations as “for Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans” or similar is translated into Mono is translated as “It is taboo for you people to drink from our buckets.” (Source: Carl Gross)

In Telugu the more unspecific “have no dealings” rendering was used since even members of the same family do not use each other’s dishes. (Source: David Clark)

In Chitonga it is translated with the existing idiom “(Jews and Samaritans) do not step on each other’s toes” and in Chichewa (interconfessional translation) as “(do not) look one another in the eyes.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 130)