The Hebrew and Greek that is translated in English as “cupbearer” is translated in Newari as “new wine vessel holder.” (Source: Newari Back Translation)


The term that is used for monarchs in ancient Egypt and is transliterated as “Pharaoh” in English is translated in Finnish Sign Language with the sign signifying the “fake metal beard (postiche)” that was word by Pharaohs during official functions. (Source: Tarja Sandholm)

“Pharaoh” in Finnish Sign Language (source )

complete verse (Genesis 40:13)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 40:13:

  • Kankanaey: “because when three days pass-by, the king will forgive/excuse you (sing.) and will return you (sing.) to your (sing.) former work so-that you will again serve what he drinks as you (sing.) did previously.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Newari: “Within three days Pharaoh will give you back your job and cause your head to stand erect. Then you will get to put the grape cup in Pharaoh’s hand like you did before.” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “Before the three days will-end, the king will-let- you (sing.) -get-out from prison and let-comeback to your (sing.) work as the one-who-serves his drink.” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “Within three days the king will release you from prison. He will let you do the work that you did before. You will take cups of wine to the king as you did before, when you were his drink-server.” (Source: Translation for Translators)

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 Genesis 40:13

Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head: lift up your head is an idiom, and the same words are used in verses 19 and 20. The usual meaning of this idiom is to comfort or encourage someone who is depressed or discouraged. However, in the context of speaking to a prisoner, the expression means to pardon or release from jail. See, for example, 2 Kgs 25.27, where Revised Standard Version translates “King of Babylon … freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison.” Many translations render the expression “take you out of the prison.”

Restore you to your office: this means “put you back in the job you were formerly doing” or “return you to your former position.”

You shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand: the wine servant will once again hand the king’s drinks to him as he used to do.

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 .