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.

In the Koongo (Ki-manianga) translation by the Alliance Biblique de la R.D. Congo (publ. in 2015) olah is translated as “kill and offer sacrifice.” (Source: Anicet Bassilua)

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).

offering (qorban)

The Hebrew qorbān (קָרְבָּן) originally means “that which is brought near.” Most English Bibles translate it as “offering.” The Hebraic English translation of Everett Fox uses near-offering and likewise the German translation by Buber-Rosenzweig has (the neologism) Darnahung.

See also burnt-offering and offering..


“Sheep are known throughout most of the world, even though, as in Central Africa, they are a far cry from the fleecy wool-producing animals of colder climates. Where such animals are known, even by seemingly strange names, e.g. ‘cotton deer’ (Yucateco) or ‘woolly goat’ (Inupiaq), such names should be used. In some instances, one may wish to borrow a name and use a classifier, e.g. ‘an animal called sheep’. In still other instances translators have used ‘animal which produces wool’, for though people are not acquainted with the animals they are familiar with wool.” (Source: Bratcher / Nida)

In Dëne Súline, it is usually translated as “an evil little caribou.” To avoid the negative connotation, a loan word from the neighboring South Slavey was used. (Source: NCAM, p. 70)

Note that the often-alleged Inuktitut translation of “sheep” with “seal” is an urban myth (source Nida 1947, p. 136).

See also lamb.

Translation commentary on Leviticus 1:10

Verses 10-13 describe the sacrifice of the whole burnt offering of a smaller animal. Since these verses repeat the text of verses 3-9 almost word for word, in the following section it is necessary only to point out the significant differences that exist.

From the sheep or goats: in this verse the expression from the flock (see verse 2) is made explicit in the Hebrew text, so that it is quite clear that the flock refers to sheep or goats. In some languages it may be necessary to use terms that imply maleness from the beginning of this section. The New English Bible, for example, uses the word “rams” instead of “sheep.” On the identity of these animals, see the references to FFB in verse 2 above. There is no indication in the text as to why one would offer one of these smaller animals rather than the larger one, but presumably this depended upon a person’s possessions and what one was able to bring as a sacrifice.

In the Hebrew text of verses 10-13, there is no equivalent of the phrase found in verse 4, “The man shall put his hand on its head,” but this gesture is added in the Septuagint. The absence of any mention of the gesture does not necessarily indicate that it was omitted in the sacrifice of sheep or goats. It is possible that the author simply decided not to repeat all the mechanical details of the ritual. But in the case of the offering of a bird (verse 15), the reason for the omission is probably different. In any case, the translator is well advised not to follow the Septuagint in adding the gesture here, since it is not in the Hebrew text at this point.

Quoted with permission from Péter-Contesse, René and Ellington, John. A Handbook on Leviticus. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1990. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .