I the LORD your God am a jealous God

The Hebrew that is translated in English as “I the Lord your God am a jealous God” or similar is translated in Toraja-Sa’dan with an established figure of speech: “I am the Lord your God who will not that His face is drawn as water is drawn” (i.e “who will not that a person treats Him without respect, or refuses to figure with Him, or dishonors Him, or in passing Him by honors others above him.”) (Source: H. van der Veen in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 21 ff. ).

In Chichewa “‘jealousy’ very commonly includes a prominent sexual component” so the solution there was to translated “(a God) who does not allow competition with me.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 127)

Come - let us look one another in the face

The Hebrew that is translated as “Come, let us look one another in the face” or similar in English is translated in Chitonga with the existing idiom Uboole, tubone mwaalumi or “Come, let us see the man (i.e., who is the stronger between us).” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 104)

their lives loathe bread

The Hebrew that is translated as “their lives loathe bread” or similar in English is translated in Chitonga with the existing metaphor “food makes his heart black.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 131)

insulted him and shook their heads

The Greek that is translated as “(they) insulted him and shook their heads” in English is translated in Dobel with the culturally equivalent “(they) continuously bit their lips at him and abused him.”

In Nüpode Huitoto, “shake their heads” is translated with the cultural equivalent “stick out their chins” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.), in Chol with “spitting on the ground,” in Copainalá Zoque with “clapping the hands” (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965), p. 2ff.), and in Chichewa (interconfessional translation) as “showing their scorn” (“‘wagging their heads’ is understood as a nonverbal expression of frustration, grief, or even surprise — source: Wendland 1987, p. 110).

See also shake the head.

Let days speak - and many years teach wisdom

The Hebrew that is translated as “Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom” or similar in English is translated in Chichewa (interconfessional translation) with the existing idiom Munene ulamusiya kulubilo, kumaanu tomwiindi or “You may leave an elder behind in speed, but not in common sense.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 106)

stiff-necked, uncircumcised in heart and ears

The phrase that is translated into English as “you stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears” is translated into Afar as “You dry stones that nothing enters, and people who have hearts that refuse God, and ears closed saying we didn’t hear God’s message.” (stiff-necked > dry stones, uncircumcised in heart > hearts that refuse God, uncircumcised ears > ears closed to hearing God’s message) (Source: Loren Bliese)

Other translations for “uncircumcised in heart and ears” include:

  • Rincón Zapotec: “it doesn’t enter your hearts or your ears. You are like those who don’t even believe”
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “hard are your hearts and not a little bit open are your ears”
  • Morelos Nahuatl: “you have your heart as unbelievers, you do not want to hear God’s word”
  • Highland Popoluca: “you never wanted to do God’s will, never truly believed”
  • Teutila Cuicatec: “you are just the same as those who do not believe God’s word because you do not obey”
  • Huichol: “you have not been marked with God’s sign in your hearts or in your ears (you are unruly and unsubmissive like an untamed, unbranded bronco)”
  • Ojitlán Chinantec: “you do not have the word-sign in your hearts. Your ears are clogged”
  • Copainalá Zoque: “you just don’t understand”
  • Isthmus Mixe: “your hearts and minds are not open” (source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
  • Kaqchikel: “with your hearts unprepared” (Source: Nida 1964, p. 220)

In Chichewa (interconfessional translation) “stiff-necked” is translated as “hard-headed.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 130)

in the months of old

The Hebrew that is translated as “in the months of old” or similar in English is translated in Chichewa (interconfessional translation) with the existing proverb “in the time of yesterday’s mother.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 131)

One who puts on armor should not brag like one who takes it off

The Hebrew that is translated as “One who puts on armour should not brag like one who takes it off” or similar in English is translated in Chitonga with the existing idiom “A man is a buffalo” (i.e., one cannot brag that he is as strong as a water buffalo until after he has defeated his opponent) and in Chichewa (interconfessional translation) as “You’re as good as your fellow upon the anthill only after you’ve climbed up there yourself.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 107)

no dealings

The phrase that is translated in English translations as “for Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans” or similar is translated into Mono is translated as “It is taboo for you people to drink from our buckets.” (Source: Carl Gross)

In Telugu the more unspecific “have no dealings” rendering was used since even members of the same family do not use each other’s dishes. (Source: David Clark)

In Chitonga it is translated with the existing idiom “(Jews and Samaritans) do not step on each other’s toes” and in Chichewa (interconfessional translation) as “(do not) look one another in the eyes.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 130)

we have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat

The Greek that is translated as “we have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat” or similar in English is translated in Chichewa (interconfessional translation) with the existing idiom “we have been broken off [like a twig] with respect to work, and the sun has spent its strength upon us.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 131)

your blood be on your own heads

The Greek that is often translated as “your blood be on your own heads” or similar in English is translated as “you have the guilt if you don’t receive eternal life” in Highland Popoluca, as “you are to blame if you lose your own souls” in Coatlán Mixe, as “you will be to blame yourselves when you do not go to a good place” in Isthmus Mixe, as “you will be lost but you are at fault yourselves” in Morelos Nahuatl, and as “you are the ones who are guilty that you will be lost” in Lalana Chinantec. (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

In Chichewa it is translated as “You have killed yourselves with your own heart.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 28)

Ruth in Central Africa: A Cultural Commentary (Ruth 3:13)

The Chichewa equivalent for the strong Hebrew oath, “as the Lord lives,” is pali Chauta ‘it is on God’, the implication being that if the speaker proves to be lying, he will be punished by some extraordinary punishment sent by God, e.g., lightning.

Source: Wendland 1987, p. 180.