bless(ed)

The Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic that is translated into English as “(to) bless” or “blessed” is translated into a wide variety of possibilities.

The Hebrew term barak (and the Aramaic term berak) also (and originally) means “to kneel” (a meaning which the word has retained — see Gen. 24:11) and can be used for God blessing people (or things), people blessing each other, or people blessing God. While English Bible translators have not seen a stumbling block in always using the same term (“bless” in its various forms), other languages need to make distinctions (see below).

In Bari, spoken in South Sudan, the connection between blessing and knees/legs is still apparent. For Genesis 30:30 (in English: “the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned”), Bari uses a common expression that says (much like the Hebrew) , ‘… blessed you to my feet.'” (Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff.)

Other examples for the translation of “bless” when God is the one who blesses include:

  • “to think well of” (San Blas Kuna)
  • “to speak good to” (Amganad Ifugao)
  • “to make happy” (Pohnpeian)
  • “to-cause-to-live-as-a-chief” (Zulu)
  • “to sprinkle with a propitious (lit. cool) face,” (a poetic expression occurring in the priests’ language) (Toraja Sa’dan) (source for this and above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • “give good things” (Mairasi) (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • “asking good” (Yakan) (source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • “praised, saying good things” (Central Yupik) (source: Robert Bascom)
  • “greatly love” (Candoshi-Shapra (source: John C. Tuggy)
  • “good luck — have — good fortune — have” (verbatim) ꓶꓼ ꓙꓳ ꓫꓱꓹ ꓙꓳ — ɯa dzho shes zho (Lisu). This construction follows a traditional four-couplet construct in oral Lisu poetry that is usually in the form ABAC or ABCB. (Source: Arrington 2020, p. 58)

In Tagbanwa a phrase is used for both the blessing done by people and God that back-translates to “caused to be pierced by words causing grace/favor” (source: Tagbanwa Back Translation).

Ixcatlán Mazatec had to select a separate term when relating “to people ‘blessing’ God” (or things of God): “praise(d)” or “give thanks for” (in 1 Cor. 10:16) (“as it is humans doing the ‘blessing’ and people do not bless the things of God or God himself the way God blesses people” — source: Robert Bascom). Eastern Bru and Kui also use “praise” for this a God-directed blessing (source: Bru back translation and Helen Evans in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 40ff.) and Uma uses “appropriate/worthy to be worshipped” (source: Uma back translation).

When related to someone who is blessing someone else, it is translated into Tsou as “to speak good hopes for.” In Waiwai it is translated as “may God be good and kind to you now.” (Sources: Peng Kuo-Wei for Tsou and Robert Hawkins in The Bible Translator 1962, pp. 164ff. for Waiwai.)

Some languages associate an expression that originally means “spitting” or “saliva” with blessing. The Bantu language Koonzime, for instance, uses that expression for “blessing” in their translation coming from either God or man. Traditionally, the term was used in an application of blessing by an aged superior upon a younger inferior, often in relation to a desire for fertility, or in a ritualistic, but not actually performed spitting past the back of the hand. The spitting of saliva has the effect of giving that person “tenderness of face,” which can be translated as “blessedness.” (Source: Keith Beavon)

See also bless (food and drink), blessed (Christ in Mark 11:9), and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.

complete verse (Matt. 7:3 / Luke 6:41), speck vs. log

The Greek that is translated in English as “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” or similar is translated in Uma with an existing figure of speech: “Why do we stare at the sleep in another’s eye, yet the piece of wood that is in our own eye we don’t know it’s there!” (Source: Kroneman 2004, p. 501)

In Una, it had to be translated with a more explicit translation because “a more literal and shorter version of this verse had led to major misunderstanding or zero understanding.” It’s back-translation says: “You (pl.) are doing very evil things, but you think, ‘We do not do evil things’. But, regarding other people who do not do very evil things, you think, ‘They are doing evil things, for shame’. As for the very big thorn that broke off and entered your eyes, you think, ‘There is no big thorn that entered my eye’, but with regard to the very small piece of wood dust that might have entered someone else’s eye, why would you say, ‘A piece of wood dust has entered his eye?’ That is not appropriate.” (Source: Dick Kronemann)

In Uripiv it is translated as “How is it you see the fowl dropping stuck on the bottom of your brother’s foot, but you can’t see the cow-pat you have stood on? … You could stand on his foot by mistake and make it dirtier!” (Ross McKerras remarked about this translation: “Our village father laughed when he heard this, which was the right reaction.”)

Other back-translations include:

  • Uma: “‘Why do we look at the sleep in another’s eye, yet the splinter of wood in our own eye, we do not know is there!” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “You who puts down his companion,’ said Isa, ‘why do you notice a speck (lit. of sawdust) in the eye of your companion but you, the tree trunk in your own eye you don’t notice.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And again Jesus spoke, ‘You who are always rebuking your companions, why do you rebuke the sin of your companion which is just like a speck that got into his eye. But you — you have a sin which is as big as a log, which has blinded your eye, and you pay no attention to it.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘Why do you (singular) notice the small bit-of-eye-discharge (as when waking up) in the eye of your (singular) fellow, and you (singular) don’t notice the large bit-of-eye-discharge in your (singular) eye?” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “I don’t know why, when someone else has a foreign-body-in-the-eye which is only dust, that is what you(s) keep looking for. But when your own foreign-body-in-the-eye is wedged across your eye (implies too big to go in), you just leave it alone.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

complete verse (John 1:17)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:17:

  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “Moses taught the ancestors of us Israelites the law of God, but Jesus Christ came to teach that God loves mankind, and he teaches us all the true words of God.”
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “The law about the things of God, the one who gave it was Moses. But the love which was to us and the truth came into being because of Jesus Christ.”
  • Umiray Dumaget Agta: “Even though Moses was caused to speak the rules of God, Jesus Christ was the one appointed to show mercy and to declare the truth.”
  • Guerrero Amuzgo: “. . . but Jesus Christ is the source of all favor and of the words that are true.”
  • Chol: “Jesus Christ came and gave us the goodness of his heart and truth.”
  • Tenango Otomi: “By means of Moses the law of God is known. But by means of Jesus Christ the love of God and the true word are known.” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Uma: “From the prophet Musa we received the Law of the Lord God. But [it is] from Yesus Kristus that we really know God, and his grace to us.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “The law of God was given/sent to mankind by Musa but God’s love and the truth are given to mankind by Isa Almasi, he is the one called the Word of God.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And by means of Moses, God brought down to earth the laws. But by means of Jesus, God brought down to earth his love/grace for us and the true doctrine.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because God made-known his law through Moses, but his mercy/kindness and the truth concerning him, he made-known to us through Jesu Cristo.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Because God gave his laws to Moises which he was commanding us, but that grace/mercy of his and truth concerning himself, he caused us to comprehend through Jesu-Cristo.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

gave up his spirit

The Greek that is often translated as “he gave up his spirit” in English is translated in a variety of ways:

  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “And then he died”
  • Aguaruna: “His breath went out”
  • Navajo: “He gave back his spirit”
  • North Alaskan Inupiatun: “He breathed his last”
  • Chol: “He caused his spirit to leave him”
  • Lalana Chinantec: “He sent away his life breath” (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Kankanaey: “He entrusted his spirit to God” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “released his spirit” (lit. caused it to spring away) (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Uma: “His spirit/breath broke” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “His breath snapped” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)

northeaster

The Greek that is translated as “But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster (or: Euroclydon), rushed down from Crete” or similar in English is translated in a lot of different ways:

  • Upper Guinea Crioulo: “A great storm rose up on the side of the island that came against them.” (“The point wasn’t the name of the wind [nor’easter]. All of these nautical terms can be difficult for people who aren’t seafaring. The point wasn’t so much which cardinal direction the wind was coming from. The point was that the wind was coming from a direction that made it impossible for them to go in the direction they wanted to go. This is further explained in the following verse.”) (Source: David Frank)
  • Caluyanun: “Not long-afterward, the wind from the aminhan/northeast got-strong, which was from the land-area of the island of Crete.” (“’Aminhan’ is the common direction of the wind during half the year.”) (Source: Kermit Titrud)
  • Northern Emberá: “But soon a bad wind called the Euroclidon blew forcefully from the right hand.” (“When we have to specify north and south we use left hand and right hand, respectively. But in Acts 27:14, the Northeaster wind comes from the right, hitting the right side of the ship as they headed west.”) (Source: Chaz Mortensen)
  • Amele: “But shortly a strong wind called Jawalti blowing from the direction of the sun coming up to the left came up.” (“East is cam tobec isec ‘the direction the sun comes up’ and west is cam tonec/nec isec ‘the direction the sun goes/comes down.’ ‘Jawalti’ is a local name for the wind that blows down from the north coast of Madang. ‘Sea corner’ is the Amele term for ‘harbour‘”) (Source: John Roberts)
  • Mairasi: “But after not a very long time at all already a very big wind blew from behind us. In Greek that wind is called ‘Eurokulon’ from over there in the north and east. It blew down from that island itself.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Kankanaey: “But it wasn’t long, a swift wind arrived from the upper-part of Creta.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And it wasn’t a long time from then, we were typhooned. A very strong wind arrived which was called Abagat. The wind came from the direction of the land.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But before we had been sailing for long, suddenly/unexpectedly the wind changed again to an off-shore wind of tremendous strength. Euraclidon was what the people from there called that wind.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Uma: “But in fact not long after that, a big wind came from the land, a wind called Sea Storm.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But not long after, a very strong wind blew from the coast.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)

See also cardinal directions / left and right and cardinal directions (north, south, east, west).

complete verse (John 1:1)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:1:

  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “The Word was living when there was still nothing at all. And that Word lived in the same place God did. And that Word was God himself.”
  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “When the world began, the person who is the Word was already present. He was with God and the person who is the Word was God.”
  • Chol: “In the beginning of the world there already was the Word. This Word already was with God. This Word was (and still is) God.” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Long ago before anything was created, the one who is titled the Word of God already was. This Word of God, he already was with God and he is God.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Before the world and heavens/sky was laid-down/spread-out (i.e. existed), there was already Jesus who is called Word/Speech of God. This one referred to as Word, he was already there in the presence of God. Not just in the presence of God but on the contrary, this Word who is Jesus, he indeed is the one who is this God.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “The Son of God makes it known how God is. When the world was made, already he was living. He was in fellowship with God. He also is God.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (Acts 20:4)

Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 20:4:

  • Uma: “On that journey of his, there were also several companions of his who went with him. Their names were, Sopater the son of Pirus from Berea. There was also Aristarkhus and Sekundus from Tesalonika; Gayus from Derbe; Tikhikus and Trofimus from Asia. And Timotius.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “His companions were Sopater, a man from Berea son of Pirus, and Aristarkus and Sekundus, men from Tessalonika, and Gayus from Derbe, and Tikikus and Toropimus, men from Asiya and Timoteo.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And there was a person from Berea whose name was Sopater, the son of Pyrrhus, and he went with him. Also went with him Aristarchus and Secundus, men from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, and Timothy, Tychicus, and Trophimus who were from Asia.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “His traveling-companions were Sopater the child of Pirrus from-Berea, Aristarkus and Secundus from-Tessalonica, Gaius from-Derbe, Timoteo, and Tikicus and Trofimus from-Asia.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “He didn’t travel alone for many accompanied him. One person was the taga Berea who was Sopatro, the son of Pirro. Two were taga Tesalonica, Aristarco and Segundo. Two also were taga Asia who were Tiquico and Trofimo. Others were Gayo, the taga Derbe, and Timoteo.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

complete verse (Hebrews 10:34)

Following are a number of back-translations of Hebrews 10:34:

  • Uma: “Your hearts were also full-of-pity thinking about people who were imprisoned because of their following the Lord Yesus. When your belongings was forcibly-taken, it didn’t matter-to-you, you were happy anyway because you know that you had a store/reserve that was better and that lasts forever.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “You really showed your mercy towards your fellow disciples of Isa who were in prison. And even though your belongings were taken by the people, you were still glad because you knew that you had a much better treasure/wealth there in heaven and this wealth/treasure is not lost for you forever/you will never lose.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And you pitied and you helped the believers who were put in prison. And even though people seized all of your possessions, you rejoiced just the same because you knew that there were far better possessions of yours there in Heaven that until forever could not be snatched away from you.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because you showed-compassion on your companions who were imprisoned. And when they took-by-force your possessions, you were happy to endure it, because you knew that you still had a better and lasting kind of possession.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “You were not afraid to help whoever of you was in-prison, and when you experienced the confiscation of your possessions you were in fact happy. Because you knew that far better and lasting are the riches which are-stored-up for you for the-future-time.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Concerning the believers who were jailed, you helped them, giving what they needed. You even rejoiced when what you owned was taken from you. Because you know that much more valuable is the good you will meet up with in heaven, which will be forever.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (Luke 1:13)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 1:13:

  • Uma: “That angel said: ‘Zakharia, do not be afraid, because the Lord God heard your (s) request. Your (s) wife Elisabet will have a child, a male child. You(s) must name that child Yohanes.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But the angel said to him, ‘Don’t be afraid, Jakariya. God has heard your prayer. Your wife Elisabet will give birth to a boy by you and you shall call him Yahiya.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And then that angel spoke to him and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because God has heard your prayer and he will make it so that you will impregnate your wife Elizabeth, and Elizabeth will give birth to a male, and you will call him John.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid Zekarias, because God has heard what you (singular) requested. Therefore your (singular) wife Elizabet will become pregnant (lit. having) and she will-give-birth to a male and you (singular) will then name him Juan.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But the angel spoke. ‘Zacarias,’ he said, ‘don’t be afraid. God has indeed listened to what you(s) have been praying about all this time and now he is responding. Now, your wife Elisabet will have a baby. A male will be born. Juan is what you are to name him.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

complete verse (Acts 20:36)

Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 20:36:

  • Uma: “When Paulus finished talking, he kneeled together with all those companions of his from Efesus, and he prayed.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “After Paul had spoken, he stood with his knees together with all of them praying to God.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And when Paul finished saying this, he knelt down and he called upon God.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Upon Pablo’s saying that, then they all knelt-down, and Pablo prayed.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “When all of what Pablo said was ended, they all knelt down and prayed.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

complete verse (Hebrews 11:27)

Following are a number of back-translations of Hebrews 11:27:

  • Uma: “From his faith, he left the land of Mesir, he did not fear the anger of the king of Mesir. He endured in suffering, for he saw [emphatic] God who is not visible.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Because Musa trusted strongly in God he left the country of Misil and he was not afraid of the sultan of Misil. Even though he had difficulties on the way he did not go back to Misil because (it was) as if he saw God who cannot be seen going with him.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And because of his faith, he left Egypt at that time because he was not afraid of the anger of the king of Egypt. In spite of the fact that what he had to go through was very difficult, he did not return because it seemed to him as if he could see that the God who cannot be seen was with him.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because of his faith, he left Egipto without being afraid of the king’s anger. He endured the hardship that he experienced, because it was as if he saw God who cannot be seen.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Because also of the big-size of his believing/obeying and trust in God, he left Egipto not fearing the anger of the king. That believing/obeying and trust of his really did not weaken for, in his mind/inner-being, it was like he was always looking-at God, even though he can’t be seen.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Moses believed that it is true what God says. He left the land of Egypt, he didn’t fear that the ruler would surely be angry. His heart did not turn, because he knew that God walked with him, even though he could not be seen.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (Luke 1:45)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 1:45:

  • Uma: “You(s) are very fortunate, because you(s) believed the word of the Lord, and what he said to you(s) will definitely/did definitely happen.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “You are really very glad because you believed that God would fulfill what he said to you.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “The reason, Mary, that you are so blessed by God is because you believed would come to pass that which the angel of God told you!'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “You (singular) are greatly fortunate, I say, because you (singular) believed that what God told you (singular) would come-true.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “You really can be happy because you believed/acknowledged-as-true that all would be fulfilled which God caused to be told to you.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)