The name that is transliterated as “Elisha” in English is translated in Finnish Sign Language with the sign signifying “help + prophet.” (Source: Tarja Sandholm)

“Elisha” in Finnish Sign Language (source )

In American Sign Language it is translated with the sign for “bald,” referring to 2 Kings 2:23. This is a sign that was adapted from Kenyan Sign Language. (Source: RuthAnna Spooner, Ron Lawer)

“Elisha” in American Sign Language, source: Deaf Harbor

In Spanish Sign Language it is translated with with the sign depicting “putting on mantel” referring to 2 Kings 2:13. (Source: Steve Parkhurst)

“Elisha” in Spanish Sign Language, source: Sociedad Bíblica de España

Following is a Russian Orthodox icon of Elisha from the 18th century (found in the Transfiguration Church, Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia).

Orthodox Icons are not drawings or creations of imagination. They are in fact writings of things not of this world. Icons can represent our Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints. They can also represent the Holy Trinity, Angels, the Heavenly hosts, and even events. Orthodox icons, unlike Western pictures, change the perspective and form of the image so that it is not naturalistic. This is done so that we can look beyond appearances of the world, and instead look to the spiritual truth of the holy person or event. (Source )

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)

formal 2nd person pronoun (Spanish)

Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Spanish uses a formal vs. informal second-person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Spanish Bibles all use only the informal second-person pronoun (), with the exception of Dios Habla Hoy (third edition: 1996) which also uses the formal pronoun (usted). In the referenced verses, the formal form is used.

Sources and for more information: P. Ellingworth in The Bible Translator 2002, p. 143ff. and R. Ross in The Bible Translator 1993, p. 217ff.

See also the use of the formal vs. the informal pronoun in the Gospels in Tuvan.

Translation commentary on 2 Kings 4:2

Elisha said to her: In this context some languages will prefer the verb “answered” since what is said is in response to the woman’s appeal. But others will require “asked” because what follows is a question. Translators should simply ask themselves which verb sounds most natural in this context in their language.

According to certain commentators, the question What shall I do for you? implies helplessness or inability to do anything about the situation (as in Gen 27.37 and 1 Sam 10.2). To be sure, Elisha could not change the law concerning debtors. If this is true, it would be incorrect to render this question as a statement like “Tell me what you want me to do for you.” A more accurate rendering would be “What can I do for you?” (American Bible).

She said may be better translated “she answered” (Good News Translation, Revised English Bible) in many languages.

Your maidservant: By using this indirect reference to herself, the widow is showing her respect for Elisha. But if it is translated literally, this may give a totally different idea in many languages. It will be much more natural in such cases to use the first person singular pronoun “I,” possibly accompanied by a word or phrase showing respect. Or, in some languages translators may prefer to begin the woman’s response by having her say “I am your servant….”

A jar of oil: It is important to note that the Hebrew word translated oil refers to “olive oil” (Good News Translation; see the comments on 1 Kgs 1.39). If there is any danger that any other kind of oil might be understood by the average reader, then translators should make it clear that the woman was speaking of “olive oil.” The word for jar is also important. The Hebrew term found in this passage occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament. Some scholars have attempted to identify this type of jar with a certain type of jar discovered by archaeologists, but the exact size and shape of this jar is simply not known. Renderings range from “a drop” (Knox) to “a flask” (New Jerusalem Bible, Revised English Bible, An American Translation, Moffatt) to “a jug” (New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh, New American Bible). What is important here is that there was only a small amount of oil. Good News Translation offers a good model: “a small jar of olive oil.”

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