tohu wa-bohu

The Hebrew assonance tohu wa-bohu is often translated in English as “formless void” or some equivalent, but in some translations and languages attempts have been made to recreate some of its literary flavor:

  • English: wild and waste (Everett Fox 1995); welter and waste (Robert Alter 2004); void and vacant (James Moffatt 1935); complete chaos (NRSVue 2021)
  • German: Irrsal und Wirrsal (Buber / Rosenzweig 1976); wüst und wirr (Einheitsübersetzung, 1980/2016)
  • French: vide et vague (La Bible de Jérusalem, 1975)
  • Ancient Greek: aóratos kaí akataskévastos (ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος) (Septuagint)

See also formless void.

translations with a Hebraic voice (Genesis 1:2)

Some translations specifically reproduce the voice of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.

English:
When the earth was wild and waste,
Darkness over the face of Ocean,
Rushing spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters —

Source: Everett Fox 1995

German:
Die Erde aber war Irrsal und Wirrsal.
Finsternis über Urwirbels Antlitz.
Braus Gottes schwingend über dem Antlitz der Wasser.

Source: Buber / Rosenzweig 1976

French:
la terre était tohu-et-bohu,
une ténèbre sur les faces de l’abîme,
mais le souffle d’Elohîms planait sur les faces des eaux.

Source: Chouraqui 1985

For other verses or sections translated with a Hebraic voice, see here.

translations with a Hebraic voice (1 Kings 8:10-11)

Some translations specifically reproduce the voice of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.

English:
And it was, at the priests’ going out from the Holy-Place,
that the cloud filled the House of Yhwh,
and the priests were not able to stand to attend because of the cloud,
for the Glory of Yhwh had filled the House of Yhwh.

Source: Everett Fox 1995

German:
Es geschah, als die Priester aus dem Heiligtum ausgefahren waren:
die Wolke füllte Sein Haus,
nicht vermochten die Priester zu stehn um zu amten, wegen der Wolke,
denn Seine Erscheinung füllte Sein Haus.

Source: Buber / Rosenzweig 1976

French:
Et c’est à la sortie des desservants du sanctuaire,
la nuée remplit la maison de IHVH-Adonaï.
Les desservants ne peuvent se tenir pour officier en face de la nuée,
oui, la gloire de IHVH-Adonaï remplit la maison de IHVH-Adonaï.

Source: Chouraqui 1985

For other verses or sections translated with a Hebraic voice, see here.

ark of the covenant

The Hebrew, Greek, and Latin that is sometimes translated as “ark of the covenant” in English (other English options: “pact chest” [translation by John Goldingay, 2018] or “Coffer of the Covenant” [translation by Everett Fox, 1995]) is translated in various ways:

  • Mairasi: Anasi Farjora or “Covenant Place” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Uma: “Promise Box” (source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Covenant Chest” (source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Chest of the Agreement” (source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Chest of the Initiated-agreement” (source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Danish Bibelen 2020: kisten med den hellige aftale or “chest with the holy agreement” (source: Ehrensvärd in HIPHIL Novum 8/2023, p. 81ff. )

Following is reverse applique stitching (“mola”) by an unknown Guna artist depicting the ark:

Source: Sacred Art Pilgrim website .

In American Sign Language it is translated with a sign that combines “box” and the wings of the cherubim on top of the ark (see Exod 25:18 and following). (Source: RuthAnna Spooner, Ron Lawer)


“Ark of the covenant” in American Sign Language, source: Deaf Harbor

See also cherub and tabernacle (noun).

translations with a Hebraic voice (Exodus 20:2-14)

Some translations specifically reproduce the voice of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.

English:
I am Yhwh your God,
who brought you out
from the land of Egypt,
from a house of serfs.
You are not to have
any other gods
before my presence.
You are not to make yourself a carved-image
or any figure
that is in the heavens above, that is on the earth beneath, that is in the waters beneath the earth;
you are not to bow down to them,
you are not to serve them,
for I, Yhwh your God,
am a zealous God,
calling-to-account the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, to the third and the fourth (generation)
of those that hate me,
but showing loyalty to the thousandth
of those that love me,
of those that keep my commandments.

You are not to take up
the name of Yhwh your God for emptiness,
for Yhwh will not clear him
that takes up his name for emptiness.

Remember
the Sabbath day, to hallow it.
For six days, you are to serve, and are to make all your work,
but the seventh day
is Sabbath for Yhwh your God:
you are not to make any kind of work,
(not) you, nor your son, nor your daughter,
(not) your servant, nor your maid, nor your beast,
nor your sojourner that is within your gates.
For in six days Yhwh made
the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in it,
and he rested on the seventh day;
therefore Yhwh gave the Sabbath day his blessing, and he hallowed it.

Honor
your father and your mother,
in order that your days may be prolonged
on the soil that Yhwh your God is giving you.

You are not to murder.

You are not to adulter.

You are not to steal.

You are not to testify
against your fellow as a false witness.

You are not to desire
the house of your neighbor,
you are not to desire the wife of your neighbor,
or his servant, or his maid, or his ox, or his donkey,
or anything that is your neighbor’s.

Source: Everett Fox 1995

German:
Ich
bin dein Gott,
der ich dich führte aus dem Land Ägypten, aus dem Haus der Dienstbarkeit.
Nicht sei dir
andere Gottheit
mir ins Angesicht.
Nicht mache dir Schnitzgebild, —
und alle Gestalt,
die im Himmel oben, die auf Erden unten, die im Wasser unter der Erde ist,
neige dich ihnen nicht,
diene ihnen nicht,
denn Ich dein Gott
bin ein eifernder Gottherr,
zuordnend Fehl von Vätern ihnen an Söhnen, am dritten und vierten Glied,
denen die mich hassen,
aber Huld tuend ins tausendste
denen die mich lieben,
denen die meine Gebote wahren.

Trage nicht
Seinen deines Gottes Namen
auf das Wahnhafte,
denn nicht straffrei läßt Er ihn,
der seinen Namen auf das Wahnhafte trägt.

Gedenke
des Tags der Feier, ihn zu heiligen.
Ein Tagsechst diene und mache all deine Arbeit,
aber der siebente Tag
ist Feier Ihm, deinem Gott:
nicht mache allerart Arbeit,
du, dein Sohn, deine Tochter,
dein Dienstknecht, deine Magd, dein Tier,
und dein Gastsasse in deinen Toren.
Denn ein Tagsechst
machte Er
den Himmel und die Erde, das Meer und alles, was in ihnen ist,
am siebenten Tag aber ruhte er,
darum segnete Er den Tag der Feier, er hat ihn geheiligt.

Ehre
deinen Vater und deine Mutter,
damit sich längern deine Tage
auf dem Ackerboden, den Er4 dein Gott dir gibt.

Morde nicht.

Buhle nicht.

Stiehl nicht.

Aussage nicht
gegen deinen Genossen als Lügenzeuge.

Begehre nicht das Haus deines Genossen,
begehre nicht das Weib deines Genossen,
seinen Knecht, seine Magd, seinen Ochsen, seinen Esel,
noch allirgend was deines Genossen ist.

Source: Buber / Rosenzweig 1976

French:
« Moi-même, IHVH-Adonaï, ton Elohîms qui t’ai fait sortir
de la terre de Misraîm, de la maison des serfs,
il ne sera pas pour toi d’autres Elohîms contre mes faces.
Tu ne feras pour toi ni sculpture ni toute image
de ce qui est dans les ciels en haut, sur la terre en bas,
et dans les eaux sous terre.
Tu ne te prosterneras pas devant elles et ne les serviras pas.
Oui, moi-même, IHVH-Adonaï, ton Elohîms, Él ardent
je sanctionne le tort des pères sur les fils,
jusqu’au troisième et au quatrième cycle pour mes haineux,
Mais je fais chérissement jusqu’au millième à mes amants,
aux gardiens de mes ordres.
Tu ne porteras pas le nom de IHVH-Adonaï, ton Elohîms, en vain:
car, IHVH-Adonaï n’innocente pas qui porte son nom en vain.
Souviens-toi du jour du shabat pour le consacrer.
Tu travailleras six jours: fais tout ton ouvrage.
Le septième jour, shabat pour IHVH-Adonaï, ton Elohîms,
tu ne feras aucun ouvrage, toi, ton fils, ta fille,
ton serviteur, ta servante, ta bête,
ton métèque qui est en tes portes.
Oui, six jours, IHVH-Adonaï a fait les ciels et la terre,
la mer et tout ce qui y est,
puis il s’est reposé le septième jour,
sur quoi IHVH-Adonaï a béni le jour du shabat et il le consacre.
Glorifie ton père et ta mère, pour que se prolongent
tes jours sur la glèbe que IHVH-Adonaï, ton Elohîms, te donne.
Tu n’assassineras pas.
Tu n’adultéreras pas.
Tu ne voleras pas.
Tu ne répondras pas contre ton compagnon en témoin de mensonge.
Tu ne convoiteras pas la maison de ton compagnon,
tu ne convoiteras pas la femme de ton compagnon,
son serviteur, sa servante, son boeuf, son âne,
et tout ce qui est à ton compagnon. »
Et c’est au soir, la caille monte, elle couvre le camp,
et le matin, c’était une couche de rosée autour du camp.
La couche de rosée monte, et voici: sur les faces du désert,
une croûte fine, fine comme givre sur la terre.
Les Benéi Israël voient et disent, chaque homme à son frère:
« Mân hou ? Qu’est-ce ? » Non, ils ne savaient pas ce que c’était.
Moshè leur dit:
« C’est le pain que IHVH-Adonaï vous donne en nourriture. »

Source: Chouraqui 1985

For other verses or sections translated with a Hebraic voice, see here.

basket (of Moses)

The Hebrew that is typically translated as “basket” in English is translated in the English translation by Everett Fox (first ed. 1983) as “little-ark.”

Fox explains (Translator’s Preface, p. XVIIIf.): “A powerful example of the (…) allusion occurs near the beginning of Exodus. Baby Moses, floating precariously yet fetus-like on the Nile, is one of the enduring images in the book, as children have long attested. Modern English readers, however, are seldom aware that the Hebrew word for Moses’s floating cradle — rendered by virtually all standard translations as ‘basket’ — is the same as the one used in Gen. 6:14ff. to describe Noah’s famous vessel (teiva). Preserving the connection between the two, as I have tried to do in the Exodus passage with ‘little-ark’ (and which, incidentally, the authors of the King James Version did with ‘ark’), is to keep open the play of profound meaning that exists between the two stories.”

translations with a Hebraic voice (Exodus 34:35)

Some translations specifically reproduce the voice of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.

English:
the Children of Israel would see Moshe’s face,
that the skin of Moshe’s face was radiating;
but then Moshe would put back the veil on his face,
until he came in to speak with him.

Source: Everett Fox 1995

German:
sahen die Söhne Jissraels Mosches Antlitz,
daß die Haut des Antlitzes strahlte;
dann aber legte Mosche den Schleier wieder über sein Antlitz,
bis er kam, mit ihm zu reden.

Source: Buber / Rosenzweig 1976

French:
Les Benéi Israël voient les faces de Moshè:
oui, la peau des faces de Moshè rayonnait.
Moshè retourne le voile sur ses faces,
jusqu’à sa venue pour parler avec lui.

Source: Chouraqui 1985

For other verses or sections translated with a Hebraic voice, see here.

translations with a Hebraic voice (1 Kings 3:9)

Some translations specifically reproduce the voice of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.

English:
So give your servant an understanding heart
to judge your people, to discern between good and evil.
For who is able to judge this your weighty people?

Source: Everett Fox 1995

German:
so gib deinem Diener
ein hörendes Herz,
dein Volk zu richten,
den Unterschied von Gut und Bös zu unterscheiden,
denn wer vermöchte dies dein gewichtiges Volk zu richten.

Source: Buber / Rosenzweig 1976

French:
Donne à ton serviteur un coeur qui entende,
pour juger ton peuple, pour discerner le bien du mal.
Oui, qui pourrait juger ton peuple, ce poids ? »

Source: Chouraqui 1985

For other verses or sections translated with a Hebraic voice, see here.