swear, vow

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated as “swear (an oath)” or “vow” is translated as “God sees me, I tell the truth to you” (Tzeltal), “loading yourself down” (Huichol), “to speak-stay” (implying permanence of the utterance) (Sayula Popoluca), “to say what he could not take away” (San Blas Kuna), “because of the tight (i.e. “binding”) word which he had said to her face” (Guerrero Amuzgo), “strong promise” (North Alaskan Inupiatun) (source for all above: Bratcher / Nida), or “eat an oath” (Nyamwezi (source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext).

In Bauzi “swear” can be translated in various ways. In Hebrews 6:13, for instance, it is translated with “bones break apart and decisively speak.” (“No bones are literally broken but by saying ‘break bones’ it is like people swear by someone else in this case it is in relation to a rotting corpse’ bones falling apart. If you ‘break bones’ so to speak when you make an utterance, it is a true utterance.”) In other passages, such as in Matthew 26:72, it’s translated with an expression that implies taking ashes (“if a person wants everyone to know that he is telling the truth about a matter, he reaches down into the fireplace, scoops up some ashes and throws them while saying ‘I was not the one who did that.'”). So in Matthew 26:72 the Bauzi text is: “. . . Peter took ashes and defended himself saying, ‘I don’t know that Nazareth person.'” (Source: David Briley)

See also swear (promise) and Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’, or ‘No, No’.

complete verse (Genesis 24:37)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 24:37:

  • Newari: “Our master made me promise to do as he said. Then he said — ‘You must not give to my son in marriage any woman living in Canaan, the land [where] I am now dwelling.” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “My master had-me-swear that I would-fulfill his command which says, ‘[You (sing.)] do- not -choose to-become-the-wife of my child here from those from-Canaan whose land are the ones we are-living-in now.” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “My master made me solemnly promise, saying, ‘Do not get a wife for my son from the women here in Canaan.” (Source: Translation for Translators)

Translation commentary on Genesis 24:37 - 24:39

See the wording of verses 3-5.

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 .