sackcloth

The Hebrew or Greek which are translated into English as “sackcloth” are rendered into Chamula Tzotzil as “sad-heart clothes.” (Source: Robert Bascom)

Pohnpeian and Chuukese translate it as “clothing-of sadness,” Eastern Highland Otomi uses “clothing that hurts,” Central Mazahua “that which is scratchy,” Tae’ and Zarma “rags” (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel), and Tangale as “torn clothes that show contrition on the body” (source: Andy Warren-Rothlin).

“In Turkana, a woman removes her normal everyday skin clothes and ornaments and wears rather poor skins during the time of mourning. The whole custom is known as ngiboro. It is very difficult to translate putting on sackcloth because even material like sacking is unfamiliar. The Haya, on the other hand, have a mourning cloth made out of the bark of a tree; and the use of this cloth is similar to the Jewish use of sackcloth. It was found that in both the Turkana and Ruhaya common language translations, their traditional mourning ceremonies were used.” (Source: Rachel Konyoro in The Bible Translator 1985, p. 221ff. )

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing what a sackcloth looked like in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also mourning clothes and you have loosed my sackcloth.

Philistines

The term that is transliterated as “Philistines” in English is translated in American Sign Language with a sign that signifies the helmet the Philistine warriors wore was decorated with feather-like objects. (Source: RuthAnna Spooner, Ron Lawer)


“Philistines” in American Sign Language, source: Deaf Harbor

Click or tap here to see a short video clip about Philistines (source: Bible Lands 2012)

Canaan

The term that is transliterated as “Canaan” in English is translated in American Sign Language with the sign loosely referencing the act of hiding/covering one’s face in shame. The association of “shame” with the name “Canaan” comes from Genesis 9, specifically verse 9:25. This sign was adapted from a similar sign in Kenyan Sign Language (see here). (Source: RuthAnna Spooner, Ron Lawer)


“Canaan” in American Sign Language, source: Deaf Harbor

Click or tap here to see a short video clip about Canaan in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

Barnabas

The term that is transliterated as “Barnabas” in English is translated in American Sign Language with a combination of the signs for the letter B and “encourage” (referring to Acts 11:23). (Source: RuthAnna Spooner, Ron Lawer)


“Barnabas” in American Sign Language, source: Deaf Harbor

Click or tap here to see a short video clip about Barnabas (source: Bible Lands 2012)

tax collector

The Greek that is translated as “tax collector” in English is translated in Tagbanwa as “money-grabbing official receivers of payment” (source: Tagbanwa Back Translation) and in Noongar as mammarapa boya-barranginy or “people taking money” (source: Tagbanwa Back Translation). Likewise, in Cashibo-Cacataibo, it is the “ones who take the money” (source: Bratcher / Nida 1961).

In Mairasi it is translated as “the people who collect money pertaining to head payment.”(Source: Enggavoter 2004)

Click or tap here to see a short video clip about tax collectors in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also Matthew.

Learn more on Bible Odyssey: Tax Collectors and Sinners .

net

The Greek terms that are used for what is translated as “net” in English are translated in languages like Navajo where fishing with nets is not known as “instruments to catch (or: bring out) the fish.” (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

In Rundi the term urusenga is used. Rosemary Guillebaud (in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 15ff. ) tells this story:

“[People living close to lakes] produced further problems for us over fishing terms when we reached the revision of the Gospels. Fishing is practically unknown in the mountain streams and rivers, so there is hardly any vocabulary for it up-country. In Mat. 4:18 we read that Jesus saw two brethren “casting a net into the sea.” The word we used for net (urusenga) is used all over Rundi for a fishing net, whatever it is like, but when I read this to some people who live by the lake they said it was the wrong word, as from the context this happened during the daytime, and urusenga-fishing is only done at night. It appears that the urusenga is something like a shrimping net, and is used on moonless nights, when the fishermen hold flares over the side of the boat and attract a certain variety of very small fish which swim about in shoals. The net they use for day-time fishing is something like a drag-net and is called urukwabu. On enquiry inland, I never discovered a single person who knew this word. It was obviously the right one, technically speaking, but we felt that the few thousand lake-dwellers could not be weighed against almost the entire population of the country, so we had to employ the up-country word, putting an explanatory note in the margin that by the lake this net is called urukwabu.”

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing net-fishing in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

wine press

The Greek that is translated in English as “wine press” is translated in Tzotzil and in Mairasi as “a hole dug in the rock where juice is pressed out of grapes.” (Sources: Holzhausen 1991, p. 39 (Tzotzil) and Enggavoter 2004 (Mairasi).)

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing a wine press in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

yoke

The Greek and Hebrew term that is translated into English as “yoke,” the Afar translation uses koyta (poles of camel pack) which refers to two poles in front of the hump and two behind; elsewhere in agricultural Ethiopia the yoke is only in front of the hump.

In Chol it is translated with tajbal, a term for “headband” (for carrying) (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.). Likewise, in Kele, it is translated with njɛmbɛ, “a carrying strap worn around the head and across the chest or shoulders to support a burden of firewood, garden produce or even a child carried by this on the back or hip” (source: William Ford in The Bible Translator 1957, p. 203ff. ).

In Kwasio it is translated with a term that refers to a “bulky piece of wood attached to the neck of a goat, preventing it from roaming freely in the brushy undergrowth.”

Joshua Ham explains: “When checking this verse in Kwasio, I was surprised to find that the Kwasio had a word for yoke. You see, none of the language groups we have worked with have a tradition of using animals to pull carts or plows. Since yokes don’t exist in the culture, there’s no need for a word for that concept in these languages.

“When I asked the Kwasio team about their word for yoke, they said that they don’t use yokes to help animals pull plows; rather, their word for yoke refers to a bulky piece of wood attached to the neck of a goat, preventing it from roaming freely in the brushy undergrowth. So while the exact use of a Kwasio yoke is not the same as a biblical yoke, there are a lot of similarities: in both cases, it’s a piece of wood around an animal’s neck that serves to keep the animal under control. While the overlap isn’t perfect, it’s pretty good — and almost certainly better than trying to squeeze in a distracting explanation of how yokes function in the biblical cultures.”

Adam Boyd (in The PNG Experience ) tells this story about finding the right term in Enga: “Jesus’s words in Matthew 11:29-30 are some of the most difficult to translate into the Enga language. From the time that I became a Christian, I was taught that a yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the neck of two animals and attached to a plough or cart that they are to pull. This is an easy enough concept to understand for people who come from societies that make use of beasts of burden, but in Papua New Guinea, there are no beasts of burden. Consequently the concept of a yoke placed on animals is completely foreign. Thus, we have struggled greatly in our attempt to translate Matthew 11:29-30.

“Recently, however, I came to learn that a yoke can also refer to a wooden frame that a person places on his neck or shoulders to make it easier to carry a heavy load. Indeed, the Bible often makes figurative use of the word ‘yoke’ as it refers to people and not to beasts of burden (see 1 Kings 12:4-14). As I was pondering that idea, I began to notice that when Engan men carry heavy logs on one shoulder, they often balance the load by supporting it with a small stick placed across the other shoulder. A few weeks ago, it clicked in my mind that the small stick they use to make it easier to carry a heavy log is like a yoke.

“Excited by this realization, I quickly asked my friend Benjamin if the stick that men use to make it easier to carry a heavy log has a name in Enga. Sure enough it does. It is called a pyakende. With great anticipation, I asked the translation team if we could use the word pyakende to translate the word ‘yoke’. After wrestling with the phrasing for a little while, we came up with the following translation: ‘In order to remove the heaviness from your shoulders, take my pyakende. When you have taken it, you will receive rest. As my pyakende helps you, what I give you to carry is not heavy and you will carry it without struggling.’”

“Yoke” is illustrated for use in Bible translations in East Africa by Pioneer Bible Translators like this:

Image owned by PBT and Jonathan McDaniel and licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing how yokes were used in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)