daughter of Zion

Navajo distinguishes between a man’s son or daughter and a woman’s son or daughter by the use of different terms for each. So the gender of Zion had to be determined. The problem was settled when a friend called to our attention a number of verses in the Old Testament where Zion is referred to as “she” or “her”, e.g. Ps. 87:5, 48:12, Is. 4:5, 66:8. The term for a woman’s daughter is biché’é, so the “daughter of Zion” became Záiyon biché’é ‘Zion her-daughter’.”

Source: Faye Edgerton in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 25ff.

complete section (John 12:12-19)

The translator of the Wichí Lhamtés Nocten New Testament rearranged the chronology of John 12:12-19, because he found the traditional order of verses confusing. The new order is 12a, 14a, 17, 18, 12b, 13, 14b, 15, 16, 19.

The back-translation of this section is as follows:

The next day, when many people had already gone to Jerusalem to gather for the festival of Passover, Jesus mounted a donkey and then he too went into that city. And the people who had been with him the day recently when he called Lazarus who was in the tomb to rise from amongst the dead, they told others what they had seen Jesus do. And that’s why the people, when they heard that Jesus was about to enter Jerusalem, cut palm leaves and went to meet him and kept crying out saying:

“God is great!” “Blessing is with the man who comes with the word (authority) of the Lord! Blessing is with him who is the King of the people of Israel!”

Just as the age-old Writing says:

“People of Zion, don’t be afraid.
Look upon your King, he comes on a little donkey.”

But at first his disciples did not understand such things. But later when Jesus entered his greatness, then they remembered that all things that had been done thus were indeed what the age-old Writing had said about Jesus.

But the Pharisees, when they saw those things, spoke amongst themselves saying:

“You see this. If it is so, we can do nothing. Because look, everybody is going with him!”

Source: Robert Lund in The Bible Translator 1987, 445f.

complete verse (John 12:15)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 12:15:

  • Uma: “‘Do not be afraid, townspeople of Sion. Look! Here comes your King. He is riding a donkey’s offspring.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “‘You, the people of Awrusalam, don’t be afraid. Here comes your king riding on the offspring of a donkey.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “‘You people of Jerusalem, don’t be afraid, because your king is coming riding on a young asnu.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘You who are from-Jerusalem, don’t be afraid, because here comes your King mounted on the child of a donkey.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “which said, ‘Don’t be afraid, people of the city of Sion. Approaching is the one who is to reign over you here. A young of an asno horse is what he rides.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “‘Don’t be afraid, you people in the town of Zion. You will see that your ruler is coming. He is on a donkey.'” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)


Some languages do not have a concept of kingship and therefore no immediate equivalent for the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic that is translated as “king” in English. Here are some (back-) translations:

(Click or tap here to see details)

  • Piro: “a great one”
  • Highland Totonac: “the big boss”
  • Huichol: “the one who commanded” (source for this and above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • Ekari: “the one who holds the country” (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Una: weik sienyi: “big headman” (source: Kroneman 2004, p. 407)
  • Pass Valley Yali: “Big Man” (source: Daud Soesilo)
  • Ninia Yali: “big brother with the uplifted name” (source: Daud Soesilio in Noss 2007, p. 175)
  • Ghomála’: Fo (“The word Fo refers to the paramount ruler in the kingdoms of West Cameroon. He holds administrative, political, and religious power over his own people, who are divided into two categories: princes (descendants of royalty) and servants (everyone else).” (Source: Michel Kenmogne in Theologizing in Context: An Example from the Study of a Ghomala’ Christian Hymn))

Faye Edgerton retells how the term in Navajo was determined:

“[This term was] easily expressed in the language of Biblical culture, which had kings and noblemen with their brilliant trappings and their position of honor and praise. But leadership among the Navajos is not accompanied by any such titles or distinctions of dress. Those most respected, especially in earlier days, were their headmen, who were the leaders in raids, and the shaman, who was able to serve the people by appealing for them to the gods, or by exorcising evil spirits. Neither of these made any outward show. Neither held his position by political intrigue or heredity. If the headman failed consistently in raids, he was superceded by a better warrior. If the shaman failed many times in his healing ceremonies, it was considered that he was making mistakes in the chants, or had lost favor with the gods, and another was sought. The term Navajos use for headman is derived from a verb meaning ‘to move the head from side to side as in making an oration.’ The headman must be a good orator, able to move the people to go to war, or to follow him in any important decision. This word is naat’áanii which now means ‘one who rules or bosses.’ It is employed now for a foreman or boss of any kind of labor, as well as for the chairman of the tribal council. So in order to show that the king is not just a common boss but the highest ruler, the word ‘aláahgo, which expresses the superlative degree, was put before naat’áanii, and so ‘aláahgo naat’áanii ‘anyone-more-than-being around-he-moves-his-head-the-one-who’ means ‘the highest ruler.’ Naat’áanii was used for governor as the context usually shows that the person was a ruler of a country or associated with kings.”

(Source: Faye Edgerton in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 25ff.)