songs of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15

Following is a translation of the songs of Moses and Miriam from Exodus 15 into dance and a song presented in the traditional Fang troubadour style (mvét oyeng) by the group Nkuwalong as part of a project by Bethany and Andrew Case. (Note that you can activate English, French and Spanish subtitles.)

cover herself with veil

In a Fang oral adaptation the Hebrew that is translated in English as “(Tamar) put on a veil” is translated in a culturally specific way: “Staring eyes, staring eyes, have you seen for me an antelope pass by here?” (Mis mebomo á mis mebomo, ye oyen me okpom aa lot ova?)

Case / Case (2019) explain: “Later when Tamar covers her face with her veil in order to seduce Judah, the narrator described her covering by saying that only her eyes were showing, and then inserts a refrain from a well-known Fang story in which an animal was buried until only his eyes showed and asked whoever came along if they had seen an antelope. The refrain is often used to signify two staring eyes.”

wash your feet

In a Fang oral adaptation the Hebrew that is translated in English as “wash your feet” is translated in a culturally specific way by Lot offering warm water for bathing.

Case / Case (2019) explain: “In Fang culture, as a sign of good hospitality, a host would bring guests warm water to bathe with. Therefore, in Genesis 19:2 the translator specified that Lot offered the two messengers warm water for bathing.”

seven

In a Fang oral adaptation the Hebrew that is translated in English as “the barren has borne seven” is translated in a culturally specific way with “The barren woman has become the mother of nine.”

Case / Case (2019) explain: “Much like the number 7 in Israelite culture, the number 9 signifies completion and perfection to the Fang. For example, in 1 Samuel 2:5 Hannah says: ‘The barren has borne seven.’ [The oral interpreter] Acacio, understanding the poetic, symbolic context, said, ‘The barren woman has become the mother of nine.'”

stealthy

In a Fang oral adaptation the Hebrew that is translated in English as “stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak” is translated in a culturally specific way.

Case / Case (2019) explain: “In order to communicate the stealth of David’s actions, [the oral interpreter] Acacio added a colorful
image of the sneakiest animal of the jungle doing the sneakiest of actions: David snuck up behind Saul ‘like a chameleon drawing a hunting bow to shoot an arrow.'”

gate

In a Fang oral adaptation the Hebrew that is translated in English as “gate” or “meeting place at the town gate” or similar is translated in a culturally specific way.

Case / Case (2019) explain: “The gate of a walled town in Old Testament times functioned as the place for business transactions, where the town’s leaders presided, and where visitors might find a host. The Fang traditionally have a similar gathering place at the entrance to each village: a simple roofed enclosure called an abáá. Here the men eat, talk, and make decisions, and here visitors wait for a welcome upon entering the village. Thus, in texts where the town gate functions in a similar way, the translator rendered this as the abáá, conjuring similar associations in the minds of Fang listeners as the town gate would have done for original listeners. Thus, Boaz discussed Ruth’s fate with the unnamed kinsman at the abáá of Bethlehem.”