Translation commentary on Leviticus 2:10

This verse is identical with verse 3 above and should be translated in the same way, unless there is something in the immediate context that requires slightly different wording in the receptor language.

Quoted with permission from Péter-Contesse, René and Ellington, John. A Handbook on Leviticus. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1990. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Leviticus 4:15

Compare this verse with verse 4b.

The elders: in ancient times, as in many cultures today, age was thought to be a guarantee of wisdom. Consequently older persons were entrusted with greater responsibility within the community. In translation the accent should probably be placed on the position of leadership and authority these people held and not on the number of years they had lived. If in the receptor language these two ideas are synonymous as in ancient Israel, then elders will be a good translation. Otherwise it may be better to follow the Good News Translation model and translate something like “leaders.”

Lay their hands: see 1.4. The use of the plural hands follows the Hebrew and is used because there were several persons involved. But the parallels with verses 4, 24, 29, and 33 seem to indicate that each elder or leader placed only one hand on the head of the animal. Every language has its own way of clarifying such nuances. It is up to the translator to decide what is the most natural way of expressing this meaning.

Shall be killed: the Revised Standard Version rendering is passive in form, but literally the text has only a third person masculine singular. It says simply “he must kill (or, slaughter).” Some ancient versions have the plural “They must kill,” but the singular seems to fit better here. In those languages where the passive is not possible and an agent must be named, it is probably best to say “one of them [the elders] shall kill.” The expression “someone shall kill” is too vague and might give the impression that the person performing this action is from outside the group of Israelite leaders. Some have suggested that it was the High Priest who killed the animal, but this is unlikely since in the other paragraphs it is always the one who lays his hand on the head of the animal who then slaughters it. The High Priest appears in the ritual only in the following verse.

Before the LORD: see verse 4.

Quoted with permission from Péter-Contesse, René and Ellington, John. A Handbook on Leviticus. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1990. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Leviticus 6:1

Said to Moses: see 4.1 and 5.14.

Quoted with permission from Péter-Contesse, René and Ellington, John. A Handbook on Leviticus. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1990. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Leviticus 7:13

With the sacrifice: meaning “in addition to” or “accompanying” the unleavened loaves, cakes, or wafers.

The sacrifice of his peace offering: this is left implicit in Good News Translation but should probably be retained in many languages for the sake of clarity. Remember that what is called a peace offering in Revised Standard Version is a “fellowship offering” in Good News Translation.

For thanksgiving: see verse 12.

Cakes: or “loaves.” See 2.4.

Leavened bread: that is, “bread baked with yeast.” The earliest printings of Good News Translation had “loaves of bread baked without yeast,” but this was an error that has been corrected in subsequent printings. Translators should be certain that they are working with the latest edition of Good News Translation or of any important reference volume used in translation.

Quoted with permission from Péter-Contesse, René and Ellington, John. A Handbook on Leviticus. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1990. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Leviticus 8:10

Anointed: see Exodus 30.22-33. Up to this point in Leviticus, only the priests have been anointed. Now this verb is applied to the Tent and all the various objects in it (see diagram at the end of the introduction, “Translating Leviticus”). In some languages a different word may be required for human beings and inanimate objects. But a general word like “put it [the oil] on…” may be preferable, and in some languages a verb like “sprinkle” (as in the following verse) may be necessary.

The tabernacle: in Leviticus the term ordinarily used is “tent of meeting,” but here as well as in 15.31 and 17.4 we find a different word. In this case the root meaning is “the dwelling place.” It is often used elsewhere in the Old Testament to refer to the place where God manifests his presence among human beings. Some commentators have supposed that this term is used to refer to the entire sanctuary area, including the courtyard. The translator may wish to use an expression like “the dwelling place of God” or “the place where God shows himself (or, meets with people),” but it is important not to give the impression that a place other than the “tent of meeting” or “Tent of the LORD’s presence” is intended. Some scholars feel that the terms for “sanctuary,” “tent of meeting,” and “tabernacle” should be translated differently because they are thought to come from different traditions. (See Noel Osborn, 1990, “Tent or tabernacle? Translating two traditions,” The Bible Translator 41:214-221.)

Consecrated them: the pronoun them refers to the Tent of the LORD’s presence and everything it contained. In some cases it may be clearer to make explicit the fact that they are consecrated “to the LORD,” as in Good News Translation. The rendering consecrated here and in verses 11 and 12 is not based on the same Hebrew word as “consecrate” in Revised Standard Version at 7.35. The parent noun of the verb here is related to the word for “holy” and is thus rendered “sanctify” in King James Version. It indicates a state of belonging to the realm of the sacred, that is, to God himself. In some languages it may be rendered by a causative form, but in others it will have to be translated more dynamically in this context by something like “and in this way he showed that they belonged to the LORD.”

Quoted with permission from Péter-Contesse, René and Ellington, John. A Handbook on Leviticus. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1990. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Leviticus 9:7

Moses: Good News Translation has the pronoun “he,” but since the LORD has been mentioned in the previous verse, there may be some confusion on the part of the reader. Consequently the noun may be preferable in many languages.

Draw near to the altar: the perspective of the speaker (Moses) is very important in the translation of this verse. The use of the Revised Standard Version expression, or the New English Bible “Come near,” will imply in some languages that the speaker is already present and is requesting the other person to join him. This, however, is clearly not the case. It was forbidden that any person who was not a priest should approach the altar (Num 18.3). So the receptor-language translation must not leave the impression that Moses is standing at the altar as he speaks. Verbs like “Go to…” or “Approach…” are preferable to “Come…” or Draw near….

Your sin offering and your burnt offering: on these two types of offerings, see 4.3-12 and 1.4. The use of the possessive pronouns at this point in some languages will clearly indicate the ones who are offering the sacrifices. However, in other languages they may be confusing, since all sacrifices belong to God (or to whatever being they are offered to). Good News Translation has simply omitted the pronouns. In certain other versions they are used but do not really make much sense. The pronouns translated your are singular in Hebrew, but the addition of and for the people indicates that there is more involved here than individual atonement. The solution to the problem may lie in the handling of the following phrase.

For the people: the Septuagint, followed by New English Bible, New American Bible, New Jerusalem Bible, and Moffatt, has rather “for your household (or, family).” Then it is supposed that the next clause, where the words of the people appear, refers to another sacrifice for the entire community. Although HOTTP does not recommend this, it does have the advantage of giving some sense to the use of the pronouns in your sin offering and your burnt offering.

And: the conjunction introducing the final sentence of this verse will depend on how the above textual problem has been solved. If the Septuagint reading, “for your family,” is adopted, a stronger transition will be needed. The four versions mentioned above as following the Septuagint all have “then.”

Quoted with permission from Péter-Contesse, René and Ellington, John. A Handbook on Leviticus. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1990. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Leviticus 10:17

In the place of the sanctuary: care should be taken here not to translate in such a way as to confuse the reader or give the impression that the Holy Place is intended here (Exo 26.33). This expression, which is also found in 14.13, means “in the vicinity of the sanctuary” or “in the area of the Sacred Tent” (but not inside the Tent), or more generally, “in a sacred place.” See the details given in 6.26.

A thing most holy: the word thing may be too general in many languages. One may say “it is very holy food” or something similar.

It … has been given to you: this passive form may have to be transformed to an active in some languages. The Good News Translation rendering “the LORD has given it to you” will serve as a good model.

That you may bear the iniquity of the congregation: literally “to bear (or, take away) the guilt of the community.” Some commentators wish to retain the meaning “bear” and attach this idea to the fact of eating the meat of the victim on whose head the hands were placed (4.15); thus the animal became the “bearer” of the sins of the community. By eating the meat of this animal, the priests took upon themselves the sin of the community. But this interpretation is highly improbable. (See, for example, the treatment of the scapegoat in 16.10, 21-22, which is not actually eaten, but is sent away into the desert.) It is much better to follow Good News Translation and most other modern translations (compare New Jerusalem Bible “remove”), since the purpose was to get rid of the sin.

Make atonement for them: see 4.20. Note that Good News Translation translates in a single expression (“take away the sin of the community”) the ideas contained in both bear the iniquity and make atonement.

Quoted with permission from Péter-Contesse, René and Ellington, John. A Handbook on Leviticus. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1990. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Leviticus 11:42

Whatever goes on its belly: this same expression is used in Genesis 3.14; it refers to creatures without legs, such as snakes and other reptiles which are not mentioned elsewhere in this chapter.

Whatever goes on all fours: this is probably intended to correspond with the list given in verses 29-30.

Whatever has many feet: this includes insects without wings which are not mentioned elsewhere in this chapter, as well as the millipedes and centipedes.

In translating these three categories, it is probably best to try to use general terms, since too much would be left out if the translator tried to list the types of creatures intended. One may say something like “those that slide along the ground, those that run on four legs, and those that go along on many legs.” One may possibly want to add “… like snakes … like lizards … like centipedes” in some languages.

Quoted with permission from Péter-Contesse, René and Ellington, John. A Handbook on Leviticus. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1990. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .