The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek that is translated as “wisdom” in English is rendered in Amganad Ifugao and Tabasco Chontal as “(big) mind,” in Bulu and Yamba as “heart-thinking,” in Tae’ as “cleverness of heart” (source for this and all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel), in Palauan as “bright spirit (innermost)” (source: Bratcher / Hatton), in Ixcatlán Mazatec as “with your best/biggest thinking” (source: Robert Bascom), and in Dobel, it is translated with the idiom “their ear holes are long-lasting” (in Acts 6:3) (source: Jock Hughes).

See also wisdom (Proverbs).

Translation commentary on Deuteronomy 4:6

Keep them and do them: that is, “Obey them faithfully” (Good News Translation, and similarly Contemporary English Version), “Practice them carefully.” New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh has “Observe them faithfully”; New International Version and Revised English Bible “Observe them carefully,” and New Revised Standard Version “Observe them diligently.”

That will be your wisdom and understanding in the sight of the peoples: by carefully obeying God’s laws, the Israelites will be regarded by their neighbors as a wise and intelligent people, as a people full of wisdom and good sense. Alternative ways of saying this are “Obey them faithfully, and this will show the people of other nations how wise you are” (Good News Translation), or “If you faithfully obey the things that I have taught you to do, you will show the people of other nations that you are very wise.”

When they hear all these statutes: this probably means “when they learn of” or “when they know about” (Revised English Bible). New Jerusalem Bible has “Once they know what all the laws are.” It does not mean that all the laws would be read to the other nations. Contemporary English Version has a good model: “In fact, everyone who hears about your laws will say….”

Upon learning of these laws, the neighboring peoples will exclaim, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people”—using the same two adjectives to describe them. Other ways to render this are “The people of this great nation must be very wise” or “The people of this large and powerful nation must be….” Great here means both large in number and politically powerful.

Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert G. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on Deuteronomy. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2000. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .