offering (Luang), sacrifice (Luang)

The Greek terms that are translated uniformly as “sacrifice” or “offering” in English have the option of various terms in Luang with different shades of meaning.

For Acts 24:17, himima-rere’a (“holding two hands out”). “The focus of this term is on the gift being given by a person of lower position to a person of higher position.”

For Acts 21:26, hniurliwtu-nwali odawa (“pour out sweat [and] turn into sweaty smell”). “The focus is on the personal cost of the sacrifice.”

For Gen. 22:2-8 and Gen. 22:13, hopopa-hegeuru (“peace sign”). “The focus is on the animal or object being sacrificed, as in the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. This term was used throughout that whole chapter. This term is also used in verses that speak of Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins.”

For Acts 15:29, hoi-tani (“serve with right hand – serve with left”). “This term is used in referring to sacrifices or worship offered to idols or pagan gods.”

Source: Kathy Taber in Notes on Translation 1/1999, p. 9-16.


The Hebrew olah (עֹלָה) originally means “that which goes up (in smoke).” English Bibles often translates it as “burnt-offering” or “whole burnt-offering,” focusing on the aspect of the complete burning of the offering.

The Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate Bibles translate it as holokautōma / holocautōsis (ὁλοκαύτωμα / ὁλοκαύτωσις) and holocaustum, respectively, meaning “wholly burnt.” While a form of this term is widely used in many Romance languages (Spanish: holocaustos, French: holocaustes, Italian: olocausti, Portuguese: holocaustos) and originally also in the Catholic tradition of English Bible translations, it is largely not used in English anymore today (the preface of the revised edition of the Catholic New American Bible of 2011: “There have been changes in vocabulary; for example, the term ‘holocaust’ is now normally reserved for the sacrilegious attempt to destroy the Jewish people by the Third Reich.”)

Since translation into Georgian was traditionally done on the basis of the Greek Septuagint, a transliteration of holokautōma was used as well, which was changed to a translation with the meaning of “burnt offering” when the Old Testament was retranslated in the 1980’s on the basis of the Hebrew text.

The English translation of Everett Fox uses offering-up (similarly, the German translation by Buber-Rosenzweig has Darhöhung and the French translation by Chouraqui montée).

See also offering (qorban).


The name that is transliterated as “Abraham” in English is translated in Spanish Sign Language, French Sign Language, British Sign Language, and in American Sign Language with the sign signifying “hold back arm” (referring to Genesis 22:12). (Source: John Elwode in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 78ff., Lexique Explications en langue des signes, Christian BSL, and Yates 2011, p. 1)

“Abraham” in American Sign Language (source )

Click or tap here to see two short video clips about Abraham (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also our ancestor Abraham and Abram.

complete verse (Genesis 22:13)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 22:13:

  • Kankanaey: “When that was so, Abraham looked-up and he saw a male sheep whose horns were caught in the branches of a small tree. So he went and got-it and that’s what he-used-in-place-of his child to offer to God.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Newari: “Abraham looked hither and thither. He saw a sacrificial lamb whose horns were entangled in a bush. He caught it, brought it, and offered it as a burnt offering instead of his own son.” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “When- Abraham -looked-back, he saw a male sheep whose horn was-caught in the bushes, and it could- not -get-away-from/[lit. could not -leave]. Therefore Abraham took it and offered-(it) as a burnt offering instead of his child.” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “Then Abraham looked up and saw that a ram was nearby, whose horns had been caught in a thicket/clump of bushes. So Abraham went over and grabbed the ram and killed it, and sacrificed it on the altar as a burnt offering, instead of his son.” (Source: Translation for Translators)

Translation commentary on Genesis 22:13

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked: see verse 4 for the same idiom. In this context both “looked up” (New Revised Standard Version, New International Version) and “looked around” (Good News Translation, Revised English Bible) are appropriate translations. Behold marks a sudden and unexpected appearance that produces surprise. In English we may attempt to represent this with “Abraham was surprised by the sudden appearance…,” “Surprised, Abraham caught sight of…,” “Abraham was surprised to see….”

Behind him was a ram: the Hebrew text has a word meaning behind, which makes little sense as “a ram behind.” Revised Standard Version translates it so that it is behind him (Abraham). Hebrew Old Testament Text Project believes that the final “r” in the Hebrew word meaning behind resulted from copyists changing a final “d” to “r”, which is very similar in shape. The word with the final “d” means “a” or “one.” Accordingly Hebrew Old Testament Text Project suggests translating “a solitary ram,” that is, “a ram.” Therefore the recommendation to translators is “Abraham … saw a ram.” Ram refers to a mature male sheep.

Caught in a thicket by his horns: the horns of the animal are entangled and held fast by the bushes so that it cannot get free. Thicket refers to a patch of underbrush or shrubbery, dense and grown together, with the branches twisted together. If “a bush” is used to translate thicket, the bush must be large enough and with enough branches for a ram to entangle its horns in them. Two ways of expressing this are “… with its horns caught in the branches of a small tree” and “… stuck with its horns caught in some bushes.”

Abraham went and took the ram: Abraham understands clearly that the ram has been provided for the sacrifice, even though no words are spoken. Went and took means “went from where he was beside the altar and took hold of the ram.”

Offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son: we may also render this sentence “He killed it and gave it to God as a gift. He did this to the ram in place of his son.” Another way of rendering instead of is to say “Abraham went and got the ram, and he let Isaac go. Then he put the ram there on top of the altar, and he killed and burned it….”

Quoted with permission from Reyburn, William D. and Fry, Euan McG. A Handbook on Genesis. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1997. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .