the sword devours now one and now another

The Hebrew that is translated as “the sword devours now one and now another” or similar in English is translated in Nigerian Fulfulde as “the sword has no in-laws” which is based on the common Fulfulde proverb “death has no in-laws.”

Rachelle Wenger (in Journal of Translation 17, 2021, p. 13ff. ) explains: “A literal rendition of this metaphor in Fulfulde would have communicated little or nothing to the hearer. Swords just do not eat in Fulfulde. However, by analogy to a common saying, Mayde walaa esiraawo ‘death has no in-law’, we put Kaafahi walaa esiraawo ‘the sword has no in-law’. The intent of this statement is of course not that a sword has no in-laws (that is certainly true, but hardly relevant). The personification of the sword as having no in-laws and therefore no-one that it must be careful to respect/avoid is interpreted accurately by Fulfulde-speakers because of a vast cloud of cultural knowledge and associations with the similar proverb that is often quoted when death is discussed. When the Fulfulde metaphor is substituted for the Hebrew metaphor, not only does the correct meaning come through, but it also sounds much better for King David to say it this way instead of in flat, plain language. A person of his status is expected to be creative and speak well, not just blurt out the unadorned and obvious.”