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)
  • “good luck — have — good fortune — have” (verbatim) ꓶꓼ ꓙꓳ ꓫꓱꓹ ꓙꓳ — ɯa dzho shes zho (Lisu). This construction follows a traditional four-couplet construct in oral Lisu poetry that is usually in the form ABAC or ABCB. (Source: Arrington 2020, p. 58)

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.

complete verse (Matt. 7:3 / Luke 6:41), speck vs. log

The Greek that is translated in English as “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” or similar is translated in Uma with an existing figure of speech: “Why do we stare at the sleep in another’s eye, yet the piece of wood that is in our own eye we don’t know it’s there!” (Source: Kroneman 2004, p. 501)

In Una, it had to be translated with a more explicit translation because “a more literal and shorter version of this verse had led to major misunderstanding or zero understanding.” It’s back-translation says: “You (pl.) are doing very evil things, but you think, ‘We do not do evil things’. But, regarding other people who do not do very evil things, you think, ‘They are doing evil things, for shame’. As for the very big thorn that broke off and entered your eyes, you think, ‘There is no big thorn that entered my eye’, but with regard to the very small piece of wood dust that might have entered someone else’s eye, why would you say, ‘A piece of wood dust has entered his eye?’ That is not appropriate.” (Source: Dick Kronemann)

In Uripiv it is translated as “How is it you see the fowl dropping stuck on the bottom of your brother’s foot, but you can’t see the cow-pat you have stood on? … You could stand on his foot by mistake and make it dirtier!” (Ross McKerras remarked about this translation: “Our village father laughed when he heard this, which was the right reaction.”)

Other back-translations include:

  • Uma: “‘Why do we look at the sleep in another’s eye, yet the splinter of wood in our own eye, we do not know is there!” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “You who puts down his companion,’ said Isa, ‘why do you notice a speck (lit. of sawdust) in the eye of your companion but you, the tree trunk in your own eye you don’t notice.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And again Jesus spoke, ‘You who are always rebuking your companions, why do you rebuke the sin of your companion which is just like a speck that got into his eye. But you — you have a sin which is as big as a log, which has blinded your eye, and you pay no attention to it.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘Why do you (singular) notice the small bit-of-eye-discharge (as when waking up) in the eye of your (singular) fellow, and you (singular) don’t notice the large bit-of-eye-discharge in your (singular) eye?” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “I don’t know why, when someone else has a foreign-body-in-the-eye which is only dust, that is what you(s) keep looking for. But when your own foreign-body-in-the-eye is wedged across your eye (implies too big to go in), you just leave it alone.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

complete verse (John 1:17)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:17:

  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “Moses taught the ancestors of us Israelites the law of God, but Jesus Christ came to teach that God loves mankind, and he teaches us all the true words of God.”
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “The law about the things of God, the one who gave it was Moses. But the love which was to us and the truth came into being because of Jesus Christ.”
  • Umiray Dumaget Agta: “Even though Moses was caused to speak the rules of God, Jesus Christ was the one appointed to show mercy and to declare the truth.”
  • Guerrero Amuzgo: “. . . but Jesus Christ is the source of all favor and of the words that are true.”
  • Chol: “Jesus Christ came and gave us the goodness of his heart and truth.”
  • Tenango Otomi: “By means of Moses the law of God is known. But by means of Jesus Christ the love of God and the true word are known.” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Uma: “From the prophet Musa we received the Law of the Lord God. But [it is] from Yesus Kristus that we really know God, and his grace to us.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “The law of God was given/sent to mankind by Musa but God’s love and the truth are given to mankind by Isa Almasi, he is the one called the Word of God.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And by means of Moses, God brought down to earth the laws. But by means of Jesus, God brought down to earth his love/grace for us and the true doctrine.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because God made-known his law through Moses, but his mercy/kindness and the truth concerning him, he made-known to us through Jesu Cristo.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Because God gave his laws to Moises which he was commanding us, but that grace/mercy of his and truth concerning himself, he caused us to comprehend through Jesu-Cristo.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

gave up his spirit

The Greek that is often translated as “he gave up his spirit” in English is translated in a variety of ways:

  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “And then he died”
  • Aguaruna: “His breath went out”
  • Navajo: “He gave back his spirit”
  • North Alaskan Inupiatun: “He breathed his last”
  • Chol: “He caused his spirit to leave him”
  • Lalana Chinantec: “He sent away his life breath” (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Kankanaey: “He entrusted his spirit to God” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “released his spirit” (lit. caused it to spring away) (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Uma: “His spirit/breath broke” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “His breath snapped” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)

northeaster

The Greek that is translated as “But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster (or: Euroclydon), rushed down from Crete” or similar in English is translated in a lot of different ways:

  • Upper Guinea Crioulo: “A great storm rose up on the side of the island that came against them.” (“The point wasn’t the name of the wind [nor’easter]. All of these nautical terms can be difficult for people who aren’t seafaring. The point wasn’t so much which cardinal direction the wind was coming from. The point was that the wind was coming from a direction that made it impossible for them to go in the direction they wanted to go. This is further explained in the following verse.”) (Source: David Frank)
  • Caluyanun: “Not long-afterward, the wind from the aminhan/northeast got-strong, which was from the land-area of the island of Crete.” (“’Aminhan’ is the common direction of the wind during half the year.”) (Source: Kermit Titrud)
  • Northern Emberá: “But soon a bad wind called the Euroclidon blew forcefully from the right hand.” (“When we have to specify north and south we use left hand and right hand, respectively. But in Acts 27:14, the Northeaster wind comes from the right, hitting the right side of the ship as they headed west.”) (Source: Chaz Mortensen)
  • Amele: “But shortly a strong wind called Jawalti blowing from the direction of the sun coming up to the left came up.” (“East is cam tobec isec ‘the direction the sun comes up’ and west is cam tonec/nec isec ‘the direction the sun goes/comes down.’ ‘Jawalti’ is a local name for the wind that blows down from the north coast of Madang. ‘Sea corner’ is the Amele term for ‘harbour‘”) (Source: John Roberts)
  • Mairasi: “But after not a very long time at all already a very big wind blew from behind us. In Greek that wind is called ‘Eurokulon’ from over there in the north and east. It blew down from that island itself.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Kankanaey: “But it wasn’t long, a swift wind arrived from the upper-part of Creta.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And it wasn’t a long time from then, we were typhooned. A very strong wind arrived which was called Abagat. The wind came from the direction of the land.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But before we had been sailing for long, suddenly/unexpectedly the wind changed again to an off-shore wind of tremendous strength. Euraclidon was what the people from there called that wind.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Uma: “But in fact not long after that, a big wind came from the land, a wind called Sea Storm.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But not long after, a very strong wind blew from the coast.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)

See also cardinal directions / left and right and cardinal directions (north, south, east, west).

complete verse (John 1:1)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:1:

  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “The Word was living when there was still nothing at all. And that Word lived in the same place God did. And that Word was God himself.”
  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “When the world began, the person who is the Word was already present. He was with God and the person who is the Word was God.”
  • Chol: “In the beginning of the world there already was the Word. This Word already was with God. This Word was (and still is) God.” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Long ago before anything was created, the one who is titled the Word of God already was. This Word of God, he already was with God and he is God.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Before the world and heavens/sky was laid-down/spread-out (i.e. existed), there was already Jesus who is called Word/Speech of God. This one referred to as Word, he was already there in the presence of God. Not just in the presence of God but on the contrary, this Word who is Jesus, he indeed is the one who is this God.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “The Son of God makes it known how God is. When the world was made, already he was living. He was in fellowship with God. He also is God.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (John 11:32)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 11:32:

  • Uma: “When Maria arrived at the stopping-place of Yesus, and saw Yesus, she knelt down in front of him, and said to him: ‘Lord, if you(s) had been here, my relative would not have died.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But she went to Isa. When Mariyam saw Isa, she prostrated at Isa’s feet and she said, ‘Sir, if you had been here, our (excl.) brother would not have died.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And as for Mary, when she arrived to Jesus, she went near to him and kneeled down. And she said, ‘If only you had been here, my brother would not have died.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When Maria arrived then where Jesus was, she knelt-right-down in front of him and said, ‘Lord, if you (singular) had been here before, our (excl.) sibling would not have died.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “When Maria came there to Jesus, she bowed down there beside the legs/feet of Jesus and then she spoke saying, ‘Lord/Chief, supposing you had only been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Mary went to where Jesus was standing and kneeled before him. She said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, then my brother wouldn’t have died.'” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (Matthew 21:3)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 21:3:

  • Uma: “If there is anyone who accosts you, say to them: ‘Because the Lord needs them. He will return them later.’ ‘” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “If somebody asks you as to why you take it, say, ‘The Leader/Lord has use for him,’ and he will let you take (him) immediately.’ (A donkey looks like a horse.)” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And if someone asks you why you are untying it, you say, ‘Our (incl.) boss Jesus needs this,’ and then immediately that one who will ask you will permit you to take that ass along with it’s colt,’ said Jesus.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “If someone inquires about what you are doing, say, ‘Our (excl.) Lord needs it,’ and he will permit it immediately.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “If anyone says something to you about it, you answer, ‘The Lord needs it/them.’ Well, he won’t interfere any more.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “If someone should say something about you untying them, you tell them that the Lord needs them. But tell them that it won’t be long before they will be returned.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (Galatians 3:17)

Following are a number of back-translations of Galatians 3:17:

  • Uma: “So, the main meaning of my example earlier is like this: the promise of God to Abraham was already sealed by God. Four hundred thirty years after that God also gave the Law of Musa to mankind. But he did not go-back on his promise to Abraham with the result that it no longer comes-to-pass. His promise to Abraham must certainly be carried out.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “This is what I want to explain to you: God covenanted/promised to Ibrahim and he promised that he would really fulfill that covenant of his. When four hundred and thirty years had gone by after/since then, God gave the law to Musa for the Yahudi. But it cannot be said that the first/initial covenant of God has no more value because there is now the law. That covenant of God is still firm and he has to fulfill it.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “What I am trying to say is, there is life without end which was promised by God to Abraham which without doubt He will fulfill because He made it strong. This promise was made before the Law which Moses left behind because it was a long time after that that Moses appeared because it was four hundred thirty years. And it’s not possible for the promise of God to be removed by means of the Law Moses left behind. It is not possible that God will not fulfill His promise.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “What I want you to understand concerning this agreement-that God -presented which was his promise is this. Starting-from when he presented-the -agreement to Abraham until when he gave his law to Moses, four hundred and thirty years went-by. Thus it’s not possible that God terminate or not fulfill the agreement-he -presented which was his promise by-means-of the law which followed, because he had previously vowed that he would fulfill it.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “This is what I am causing you to understand. From the time of God’s initiated-agreement with Abraham, in which he firmly-established his promise to him, there were four hundred and thirty years and then God entrusted his laws to Moises. Well since it had been firmly-established by God for a long time, isn’t it so that it’s clear that the law did not erase the agreement and that promise?” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Like an agreement which people make, God also made an agreement with Abraham and promised that what he said would come to pass. Four hundred and thirty years went by and Moses was given the law. But this did not nullify the agreement God made with Abraham. The word which he promised will be.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (John 12:7)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 12:7:

  • Uma: “Yesus said: ‘Leave her alone! What she is doing is thinking about / considering the day of my burial.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “So-then Isa said, ‘Leave this woman alone. She has kept this fragrant oil for the day of my burial.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And then Jesus said, ‘Leave Mary alone. Let her keep the remainder in order to annoint my body when I am buried.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Whereupon Jesus answered Judas and said, ‘Let-her -alone, because she has reserved/kept this perfume so that it-will-be-the-first (lit. precede) to be-applied-to (lit. oiled-on) my body for my burial.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Jesus answered him, saying, ‘Leave her alone. This which she is doing, it’s her preparing-ahead for when I will be buried.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Then Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone and don’t say anything. Because she was keeping the oil to anoint my body when I would be buried.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (Matthew 21:35)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 21:35:

  • Uma: “But the workers in the field grabbed/caught the slaves whom he had sent: there were some whom they beat, some whom they threw stones at, there were also some whom they killed.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “When his servants arrived there, they were seized by the caretakers. One was beaten by them, one was killed and one was thrown stones at.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And when his servants arrived, these who were caring for the vineyard beat up one of them. And they killed another, and still another, they threw stones at.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “But when these slaves arrived, the tenant-farmers (lit. those-who-took-care) whipped one, they killed one, and they threw-stones-at one until he died.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But those left in charge set on those slaves who had been sent. They clubbed-the-head of one, killed the second, the third they kept throwing rocks at.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “But the workers who were at the field grabbed the servants of the field-owner and mistreated them. Some they killed, some they stoned.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (Galatians 4:20)

Following are a number of back-translations of Galatians 4:20:

  • Uma: “I really want to be there with you, relatives, so that I can change my harsh words. Because I am at a loss as to what to do [lit., my heart is dead-ended] at this time, relatives.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “If only I were there with you now! I would talk with you face-to-face because I am really troubled/worried about you.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “I wish that I were there with you so that I could talk to you. I don’t know what’s good to write to you because I am very much worried about you.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “I wish I were there koma so we could converse-together, because I admittedly don’t know what the right-thing is for me to do with/to you.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “I desire very much to be in your presence, so that I can assure you of the truth, that I would no longer need to speak severely/heavily. Because my head is really troubled because of you.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “I very much want to be there where you are in order that we could talk together so that I could see how to apply the word I tell you. Because now I really don’t know what to do about you.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)