The Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin and Greek that is translated as “vision” in English is translated in a variety in the following languages:

  • Chol: “as if in a dream” (source: Robert Bascom)
  • Obolo: ilaak ọkpọchieen̄ or “dreaming awake” (source: Enene Enene)
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “a showing like dreams”
  • Desano: “see in a dream what God will send”
  • Rincón Zapotec: “see what God shows”
  • Mayo: “see things from God as in a dream”
  • Lalana Chinantec: “dream how it is going to be”
  • Chuj: “like dreaming they see”
  • San Mateo del Mar Huave: “understand what they see as if in a dream”
  • Ayutla Mixtec: “see that which will happen” (source for this and seven above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
  • Tagbanwa: “being caused to dream by God” (source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Chichewa: azidzaona zinthu m’masomphenya: “they will see things as if face-to-face” (interconfessional translation, publ. 1999) (Source: Wendland 1998, p. 69)

The Greek in the books of Revelation and Acts is translated as obq-rmwible: “look-dream” in Natügu. Brenda Boerger (in Beerle-Moor / Voinov, p. 162ff.) tells the story of that translation: “In the book of Revelation, the author, John, talks about having visions. Mr. Simon [the native language translator] and I discussed what this meant and he invented the compound verb obq-rmwible ‘look-dream’ to express it. Interestingly, during village testing no one ever had to ask what this neologism meant.”

See also see a vision.

Translation commentary on 2 Esdras 2:20 - 2:21

Good News Bible begins these verses with “Now, Jerusalem” to remind the reader whom God is addressing here. However, as we noted in our comments on verse 15, it is more likely that he is addressing the Church, so it is better to begin with “Mother.”

Guard the rights of the widow means the Church should protect the legal rights of widows. Good News Bible says “come to the defense of widows.”

Secure justice for the fatherless: The fatherless are the children of the widows. The Church should also protect their legal rights. This clause may be combined with the previous one by saying “Make sure that widows and their children are treated fairly [or, that people treat widows and their children fairly].”

Give to the needy: The needy refers to the poor people, those who do not have enough money or food.

Defend the orphan: The Latin verb for defend is a general term meaning “to protect.” It has a broader sense than the verbs rendered Guard the rights and secure justice. The Latin word for orphan refers to children who have lost both their fathers and mothers. This clause may be rendered “protect orphans” (Good News Bible) or “care for orphans” (similarly Myers).

Clothe the naked may be translated “Give clothing to people who need it [or, have none].”

Care for the injured and the weak may be expressed as “Take care of people who have been injured or who have little strength.”

Do not ridicule a lame man: The Latin verb for ridicule means “make fun of” or “tease.” The Latin adjective for lame refers to someone who is physically crippled, especially in the foot or leg. A lame man is better rendered “lame people,” since crippled men and women are in view here.

Protect the maimed: The Latin adjective for maimed also refers to someone who is physically crippled. This clause may be rendered “Protect crippled [or, handicapped] people.”

And let the blind man have a vision of my splendor: The blind man refers to blind people in general, not just men. This clause may be translated “Give blind people an idea of my glory [or, dazzling splendor]” or “and help the blind to imagine what my shining glory looks like” (Contemporary English Version).

In verses 20-21 we have a summary of basic elements of justice and goodness, as proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets (see, for example, Isa 1.17; Jer 22.3), and here given as a duty for the Church as well.

Throughout these verses Revised Standard Version almost always uses the definite article the before each category of people in need. Latin does not have articles, so it is added by Revised Standard Version for naturalness. Revised Standard Version keeps the singular for each category as in the Latin text, for example, the widow. Many languages will prefer to use the plural for each category, for example, “the widows” or simply “widows” (Good News Bible, Contemporary English Version). Here is an alternative model for these verses:

• 20 Protect the rights of widows. Make sure that their children are treated fairly. Give to poor people. Protect orphans. Give clothing to people who need it. 21 Take care of those who have been injured or who have little strength. Never make fun of crippled people. Protect handicapped people. Give blind people an idea of my glory [or, dazzling splendor/radiance].

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Esdras. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2019. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.