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 2 Chronicles 1:2

Solomon spoke to all Israel …: The Hebrew does not say when Solomon spoke to his people. In some languages this new event will need to be introduced by some temporal phrase. Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch begins this verse with “One day.” New International Version and Biblia Dios Habla Hoy use the connector “Then,” which refers broadly to the time when Solomon had firmly established his authority over the kingdom. Good News Translation refers to Solomon as “King Solomon” to focus on the fact that Solomon had now become king after David (see verse 1). In the context of addressing military leaders and others who were subject to the king, Good News Translation renders the verb spoke as “gave an order,” which leaves the reader expecting to hear what the order was, but this information does not come until verse 3. So better renderings for this verb are “convoked” (Bible en français courant, La Bible du Semeur, La Biblia: Biblia Traducción Interconfesional, Parola Del Signore: La Bibbia in Lingua Corrente), “sent a summons” (New American Bible), “summoned” (New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh), and “called together” (New Living Translation). Verse 3 seems to imply that the entire assembly was together in one place.

Before this verse can be translated, it must be decided how many different groups are mentioned and what the relationships between the various groups are. The Hebrew may be interpreted several different ways. For example, does all Israel refer to the entire nation in addition to the following subgroups within Israel? And is the phrase the heads of fathers’ houses in apposition to all the leaders in all Israel, referring to the same group of people?

One way of interpreting the Hebrew is to take all Israel as the inclusive group, with the other groups comprising all Israel; that is, all Israel consists of the following groups that are listed. Some translations show this relationship by the use of a long dash (so New International Version, New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh, Dillard). New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh, for example, says “Solomon summoned all Israel—the officers of thousands….” Other translations show that all Israel includes the groups that follow by placing a colon (:) after the words all Israel (so Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch, La Bible du Semeur). This interpretation seems most probable.

But it is also possible to understand that the writer is referring to the entire nation, and then focusing more specifically on the subgroups that follow. Bible en français courant reflects this interpretation by saying “Solomon convoked all the Israelites, especially the commanders….” Compare also “Solomon addressed all Israel, including those who commanded…” ( NET Bible).

The commanders of thousands and of hundreds: This expression refers to the military leadership of Israel which was made up of fighting units of a thousand soldiers which were in turn broken down into groups of a hundred soldiers (see the comments on 1 Chr 13.1). La Bible du Semeur uses quotation marks around the words for thousands and hundreds to show that these numbers were approximate rather than exact. Contemporary English Version translates the whole expression simply as “the army commanders.” To show that these thousands and hundreds were organized into groups, NET Bible adds the word “units,” saying “those who commanded units of a thousand and a hundred.”

Good News Translation takes the Hebrew word for judges as referring to a general category of “government officials.” This word is sometimes used for someone who is a ruler or leader, as in the book of Judges; but in this context the narrower sense of “judge” is more likely the intended sense (see the comments on 1 Chr 23.4; see also 1 Chr 26.29; 2 Chr 19.5-11).

To all the leaders in all Israel is literally “to all the leaders/chiefs to all Israel.” This expression may be rendered “all the leading men of Israel” (Revised English Bible) or “every leader among the whole people of Israel.” The words in all Israel may be a repetition of the words to all Israel at the beginning of this verse, or, more likely, they may modify the words to all the leaders. Good News Translation seems to understand to all Israel as a reference to “all the rest of the people,” in addition to the military leaders, the government officials, and the heads of families.

The heads of fathers’ houses: See the comments on 1 Chr 5.24. The word houses is not found in the Hebrew text, but is supplied by Revised Standard Version. This whole phrase may be rendered “the heads of families” (New Revised Standard Version, Revised English Bible) or “the family leaders” (Contemporary English Version). It is probably in apposition to the previous phrase all the leaders in all Israel. New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh understands it this way by equating the last two groups in this verse, saying “all the chiefs of all Israel, the heads of the clans.” Similar renderings are “all the princes of all Israel, that is, all the heads of families” (El libro del Pueblo de Dios; similarly Traduction œcuménique de la Bible) and “all the leaders of all Israel (the heads of the families)” (Dillard). However, other interpreters think that the last two groups are not the same. New American Bible, for example, says “the princes of all Israel, and the family heads” (similarly Einheitsübersetzung). Compare “all the political and clan leaders” (New Living Translation).

Solomon ordered these leaders and others to accompany him to the worship place at Gibeon where the Tabernacle was located (see verse 3). The purpose of this pilgrimage was to have a religious ceremony to usher in the rule of the new king. Contemporary English Version, which restructures verses 2-5 in order to give a more logical sequence, is quoted at the end of the comments on 2Chr 1.5.

Quoted with permission from Omanson, Roger L. and Ellington, John E. A Handbook on 1-2 Chronicles, Volume 1. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2014. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .