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 and Kui also use “praise” for this a God-directed blessing (source: Bru back translation and Helen Evans in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 40ff.) 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 (sing.) 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)

heaven is my throne and earth my footstool

The Greek and Hebrew that is typically translated as “heaven is my throne and earth my footstool” in English is translated in the following ways:

  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “heaven is where I have my power and earth is also where I have my power”
  • Highland Popoluca: “heaven I rule, earth I rule also”
  • Lalana Chinantec: “as a chair where kings sit is heaven where I sit. As is a low stool where my feet rest, is the earth”
  • San Mateo del Mar Huave: “if I wished, heaven could serve as my seat, and I could use the earth as a place to rest my feet if I wanted” (source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
  • Kankanaey: “In heaven is where I sit to rule, and the world, that’s where-I-stretch-out-my-legs.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “The heavens really are my seat in kingship. The world is just the stepping-stool of my feet,” (Source: Tagbanwa 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 (Mark 5:33)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 5:33:

  • Uma: “The woman knew what had happened to herself [lit., her body]. She shivered from fear and came and knelt in front of Yesus admitting everything.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “So-then, because she knew that her sickness had been healed, the woman went close to Isa, shaking because she was afraid. She prostrated at the feet of Isa and told the truth.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “That woman was very frightened, for she knew what had happened to her when she took hold of the shirt of Jesus. And she came near to Jesus trembling and she knelt down before him, and she explained to him everything about her disease.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Since the woman knew what was done to her, she approached Jesus trembling from her fear and knelt face-down before him. Then she told/confessed to him all that had happened.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “For the reason that that woman was well-aware of what had happened to her, she now trembled with fear coming close to Jesus. She bowed down and told the truth.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

complete verse (Acts 7:39)

Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 7:39:

  • Uma: “‘But our ancestors did not want to submit to Musa. They rejected him as their leader. They just wanted to return to the land of Mesir.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “‘But our (incl.) forefathers,’ Estepan said, ‘they did not like to follow Musa. They rejected him and their desire was to go back to the land/place Misil.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “But when Moses was still on the mountains, our ancestors did not obey what Moses wanted them to do. They did not want Moses to be their leader, and they decided it would be good if they would return to Egypt.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘But our ancestors, they rejected Moses not believing/obeying what he said, because they missed the customs of the ones-from-Egipto.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But, as for our ancestors, because they kept on looking-back-longingly to Egipto, where images/likenesses which can be seen were what were worshipped by the people there, they no longer wanted to follow/obey Moises. They really wanted to drop him.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

complete verse (2 Corinthians 12:5)

Following are a number of back-translations of 2 Corinthians 12:5:

  • Uma: “Actually, it is quite fitting I praise a person who has seen vision like that. But I don’t want to praise myself. The only thing I will praise myself for is all my weaknesses.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “It is right/fitting for me to boast about this person but I don’t want to boast about myself, only about my weaknesses.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Now I am that person who has taken to Heaven, and it could be that I might boast about these things which happened to me, but I will not boast about my wisdom, rather, the things I will boast about are the things that show my lack of wisdom.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “If I wanted (but I don’t) to boast-about a person like that because of what was shown to him, it would be my right, but as concerns my life on this earth, I will boast-of nothing except what shows my weakness.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “A person who has experienced that, I really would cause to be praised. But I will not cause my own ability to be praised, but rather those things that cause to be comprehended that, as for me, I have no ability of my own.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Concerning this word, clearly I could brag about it. But concerning myself, when I speak about myself I clearly state that I am not strong.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (Mark 6:22)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 6:22:

  • Uma: “During the feast, the female child of Herodias entered and danced [modero’]. King Herodes was very happy seeing that young woman dance, and so also [were glad] his guests. He said to the young woman: ‘If there is anything you (sing.) want, ask for it, I’ll give it to you (sing.).'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “So-then when they had all gathered there, the daughter of Herodiyas entered to dance. Na, Herod and his visitors were pleased. So-then the king said to the girl (budjang), ‘Ask of me. Whatever you want, I will give it to you.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “The daughter of Herodias came into the feast and danced, and King Herod and those eating with him enjoyed it very much. And because of this, King Herod said to her, he said, ‘Ask anything from me and I will give it to you.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because the young-lady who was Herodias’ child entered where Herod and his invited-ones were and she danced. They extremely enjoyed her dancing, therefore Herod said to her, ‘What do you (singular) want/like? Tell it so I will give it to you (singular).'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Herodias’ daughter, who was the child of Felipe, entered and danced. Herodes and those invited were really pleased with it. That’s why the king said to that girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you want. I really will give it to you.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

complete verse (Acts 8:11)

Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 8:11:

  • Uma: “For a long time he had surprised him with his magic, to the point that all the townspeople followed him and listened to his commands.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “For a long time already they had been astonished/amazed because of his deeds that’s why they listened very well to him.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “That’s why they followed him, because for a long time now he had led them by means of his skills.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Their following him, it was because he had practiced-divination for a long-time, and they were amazed at his ability.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “He was being honored/respected by the crowd because for a long time already he was fascinating them with what he could do through his skill as a powerful-spirit-medium.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)