anoint

The Greek and Hebrew that is translated in English as “anoint” is translated in Lakota with azilyA: “to smudge.”

Steve Berneking (in Beerle-Moor / Voinov, p. 121) tells the story of that translation:

“During one visit with the Lakota team, we were reading texts and discussing key biblical terms and how they are best rendered into Lakota. Reference was made to the ritual we label ‘anointing.’ When the Lakota word that had been glossed as ‘anoint’ was read aloud, I heard giggling among the reviewers. Knowing that this reaction called for some explanation, I asked.

“The people there told me that the Lakota verb that was used to translate ‘anoint’ was funny in that context. It is not that the verb is an uncommon one; quite the contrary. Lakota uses that verb frequently, but almost exclusively as a verb of food preparation; the verb belongs to the culinary domain. In other words, the Lakota verb used for ‘anoint’ actually referred to rubbing oil on something that was to be cooked or grilled, in this case, the apostles. The Lakota verb ipáṫaŋṫtaŋ ‘to apply oil on something’ was used quite innocently by the missionaries. The linguistic transfer was understandable: the missionaries needed a verb to translate ‘putting oil on something’; Lakota has a verb; they used that verb. The result was comical. So, during that conversation with the Lakota community, I encouraged the translators to come up with a Lakota verb that is used not simply in ‘the application of oil,’ but more pointedly in the consecration of something or somebody for a special task, or in the appointment of someone for a special purpose. Their response was almost immediate: azilyA or wazílyA ‘to smudge.’ That is how, they told me, warriors and messengers and tribal leaders have always been consecrated (or blessed) before being sent out on a special mission. Sage grass was burned, and the smoke was waved over the person or object. The trans-cultural process of using the traditional Lakota verb azilyA for the biblical notion of ‘anoint’ became, at that moment, part of the Lakota Bible.”

In Bashkir, it is translated as masekhlay (мәсехләү), when used in a ritual context. Masekhlay has the same root than masikh (мәсих), which is used both for “anointed one” in the Old Testament and in its capitalized form (Мәсих) for Μεσσίας (engl. “Messiah”) and Χριστός (engl. “Christ”) in the New Testament. For more information about this, see anointed one.

In Vidunda it is translated as “smear oil.” (Source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing how anointing was done in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also anoint (chrió) and anointing of David (image).

altar

The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “altar” in English is translated in a number of ways:

  • Obolo: ntook or “raised structure for keeping utensils (esp. sacrifice)” (source: Enene Enene)
  • Muna: medha kaefoampe’a or “offering table” (source: René van den Berg)
  • Luchazi: muytula or “the place where one sets the burden down”/”the place where the life is laid down” (source: E. Pearson in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 160ff. )
  • Tzotzil: “where they place God’s gifts” (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.)
  • Tsafiki: “table for giving to God” (source: Bruce Moore in Notes on Translation 1/1992, p. 1ff.)
  • Noongar: karla-kooranyi or “sacred fire” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “offering-burning table” (source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “place for sacrificing” (source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “burning-place” (source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tibetan: mchod khri (མཆོད་​ཁྲི།) or “offering throne” (source: gSungrab website )
  • Bura-Pabir: “sacrifice mound” (source: Andy Warrren-Rothlin)
The Ignaciano translators decided to translate the difficult term in that language according to the focus of each New Testament passage in which the word appears (click or tap here to see the rest of this insight

Willis Ott (in Notes on Translation 88/1982, p. 18ff.) explains:

  • Matt. 5:23,24: “When you take your offering to God, and arriving, you remember…, do not offer your gift yet. First go to your brother…Then it is fitting to return and offer your offering to God.” (The focus is on improving relationships with people before attempting to improve a relationship with God, so the means of offering, the altar, is not focal.)
  • Matt. 23:18 (19,20): “You also teach erroneously: ‘If someone makes a promise, swearing by the offering-place/table, he is not guilty if he should break the promise. But if he swears by the gift that he put on the offering-place/table, he will be guilty if he breaks the promise.'”
  • Luke 1:11: “…to the right side of the table where they burn incense.”
  • Luke 11.51. “…the one they killed in front of the temple (or the temple enclosure).” (The focus is on location, with overtones on: “their crime was all the more heinous for killing him there”.)
  • Rom. 11:3: “Lord, they have killed all my fellow prophets that spoke for you. They do not want anyone to give offerings to you in worship.” (The focus is on the people’s rejection of religion, with God as the object of worship.)
  • 1Cor. 9:13 (10:18): “Remember that those that attend the temple have rights to eat the foods that people bring as offerings to God. They have rights to the meat that the people offer.” (The focus is on the right of priests to the offered food.)
  • Heb. 7:13: “This one of whom we are talking is from another clan. No one from that clan was ever a priest.” (The focus in on the legitimacy of this priest’s vocation.)
  • Jas. 2:21: “Remember our ancestor Abraham, when God tested him by asking him to give him his son by death. Abraham was to the point of stabbing/killing his son, thus proving his obedience.” (The focus is on the sacrifice as a demonstration of faith/obedience.)
  • Rev. 6:9 (8:3,5; 9:13; 14:18; 16:7): “I saw the souls of them that…They were under the table that holds God’s fire/coals.” (This keeps the concepts of: furniture, receptacle for keeping fire, and location near God.)
  • Rev. 11:1: “Go to the temple, Measure the building and the inside enclosure (the outside is contrasted in v. 2). Measure the burning place for offered animals. Then count the people who are worshiping there.” (This altar is probably the brazen altar in a temple on earth, since people are worshiping there and since outside this area conquerors are allowed to subjugate for a certain time.)

See also altar (Acts 17:23).


In the Hebraic English translation of Everett Fox it is translated as slaughter-site and likewise in the German translation by Buber / Rosenzweig as Schlachtstatt.

clothes

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated with “clothes” or similar in English is translated in Enlhet as “crawling-in-stuff” (source: Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1971, p. 169ff. ) and in Noongar as bwoka or “Kangaroo skin” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

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)

Aaron

The name that is transliterated as “Aaron” in English is translated in Catalan Sign Language and Spanish Sign Language as “stones on chest plate” (according to Exodus 28:15-30) (Source: John Elwode in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 78ff.)


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

In Colombian Sign Language, Honduras Sign Language, and American Sign Language, the chest plate is outlined (in ASL it is outlined using the letter “A”):


“Aaron” in ASL (source )

See also Moses and this lectionary in The Christian Century .

Translation commentary on Exod 29:21

Then you shall take part of the blood is almost identical with the clause in verse 20. Part of the blood is literally “from the blood.” The blood that is on the altar probably refers to the blood of the second ram that has just been thrown on the altar. And of the anointing oil is literally “and from the oil of the anointing,” as in verse 7. This refers to the special oil described in 30.23-25. And sprinkle it refers to the mixture of blood and anointing oil, although the pronoun it is only implied. It will be helpful for translators to make this information explicit by saying, for example, “then take some of the blood from the altar and mix it with the oil used for ordaining the priests….” The word for sprinkle, used only here in Exodus, is in the causative form, meaning “to cause to be spattered.” However, in many languages a word similar to “sprinkle” will give the meaning clearly.

Upon Aaron and his garments suggests that this was to be done to Aaron first, as well as to his clothes, that is, his “vestments” (New Revised Standard Version). And upon his sons and his sons’ garments with him is quite literal and may sound like repetition. But the text suggests that this was done to his sons after it had been done to Aaron. This is supported by what follows: And he and his garments shall be holy. This refers just to Aaron first of all. And his sons and his sons’ garments with him are then included as becoming holy, that is, “set apart” (Durham), or “consecrated” (New Jerusalem Bible, New International Version). So Good News Translation says “He, his sons, and their clothes will then be dedicated to me.” Since Yahweh is speaking, Good News Translation has “dedicated to me.” In languages that do not use the passive voice, one may say “In this way you will dedicate Aaron, his sons, and their clothes to me.”

Quoted with permission from Osborn, Noel D. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on Exodus. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1999. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .