fat, oil

The different Hebrew and Greek terms that are translated as “(olive) oil” and “(animal) fat” in English are translated in Kwere with only one term: mavuta. (Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

large numbers in Angguruk Yali

Many languages use a “body part tally system” where body parts function as numerals (see body part tally systems with a description). One such language is Angguruk Yali which uses a system that ends at the number 27. To circumvent this limitation, the Angguruk Yali translators adopted a strategy where a large number is first indicated with an approximation via the traditional system, followed by the exact number according to Arabic numerals. For example, where in 2 Samuel 6:1 it says “thirty thousand” in the English translation, the Angguruk Yali says teng-teng angge 30.000 or “so many rounds [following the body part tally system] 30,000,” likewise, in Acts 27:37 where the number “two hundred seventy-six” is used, the Angguruk Yali translation says teng-teng angge 276 or “so many rounds 276,” or in John 6:10 teng-teng angge 5.000 for “five thousand.”

This strategy is used in all the verses referenced here.

Source: Lourens de Vries in The Bible Translator 1998, p. 409ff.

See also numbers in Ngalum and numbers in Kombai.

Translation commentary on 1 Kings 5:11

The common Hebrew conjunction is rendered literally as “and” in Good News Translation and by the word while in Revised Standard Version. But since this introduces the statement about what Solomon gave to Hiram in exchange for the timber, some may find the following Contemporary English Version and New Living Translation model appealing: “In return….”

Twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, and twenty thousand cors of beaten oil: Regarding the size and translation of cor, see the comments on 1 Kgs 4.22. Since the size is only approximate, translations will vary somewhat on the size in modern equivalents. For the two amounts here, Good News Translation has “100,000 bushels” and “110,000 gallons.” The footnote in Good News Translation, which gives the reading of the Masoretic Text, states the equivalent of twenty cors as 1,100 gallons. International Children’s Bible has “about 125,000 bushels” and “about 115,000 gallons.” Bible en français courant says “six thousand tons” and “eight thousand liters.”

For his household Good News Translation says “his men,” but see the comments on verse 9.

The reading twenty thousand cors of beaten oil is not what is found in the Masoretic Text, which reads “twenty cors” for the amount (so New Revised Standard Version, Revised English Bible, New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh, Nouvelle Bible Segond). But since the Septuagint text here reads 20,000 baths and the Syriac reads 20,000 cors, a number of interpreters have corrected the Hebrew of this verse to read 20,000 instead of 20. Gray and De Vries both translate “twenty thousand baths.” A “bath” is a liquid measure equal to one-tenth of a cor and is the equivalent of about 21 liters (5.5 gallons). The reading “110,000 gallons” (420,000 liters) in Good News Translation is based on the Septuagint reading “twenty thousand baths.” This corrected reading here in 1 Kings brings the text into agreement with the parallel text in 2 Chr 2.10, which also reads “twenty thousand baths.” Other translations, based on a different correction of the Hebrew text, read “twenty thousand cors” (so New Jerusalem Bible).

Critique Textuelle de l’Ancien Testament gives a {C} rating to the Masoretic Text. It seems fairly certain that the Hebrew originally read “twenty” and not twenty thousand. But it is less certain whether the Hebrew originally read “twenty cors” (about 4,200 liters) or “twenty baths” (about 420 liters). De Nieuwe Bijbelvertaling has “twenty donkey-burdens.”

Beaten oil refers to olive oil that had been produced by pounding the olives in a hand mortar rather than by pressing them in a wine vat. This process produced a “pure olive oil” (Good News Translation) that did not contain pieces of crushed olive pits. Other translations include “fine oil” (New Revised Standard Version), “oil of pounded olives” (Revised English Bible), “pure oil” (New American Bible, New Jerusalem Bible), and “olive oil of first quality” (Bible en français courant).

Year by year is “every year” or “yearly” (Revised English Bible). The text does not say for how many years Solomon continued to provide this produce to Hiram, but it no doubt continued at least as long as Solomon was receiving timber from King Hiram. According to 1 Kgs 6.38 and 7.1, it took seven years to build the Temple and thirteen years to build the palace.

Quoted with permission from Omanson, Roger L. and Ellington, John E. A Handbook on 1-2 Kings, Volume 1. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2008. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .