The Hebrew and Greek that is translated as “village” or “town” in English is translated in Nyongar as karlamaya or “fire (used for “home“) + houses” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Luke 9:12)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). (Click or tap here to see more details)

The inclusive “we” specifically includes the addressee (“you and I and possibly others”), while the exclusive “we” specifically excludes the addressee (“he/she/they and I, but not you”). This grammatical distinction is called “clusivity.” While Semitic languages such as Hebrew or most Indo-European languages such as Greek or English do not make that distinction, translators of languages with that distinction have to make a choice every time they encounter “we” or a form thereof (in English: “we,” “our,” or “us”).

For this verse, translators typically select the inclusive form (including Jesus).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

complete verse (Luke 9:12)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 9:12:

  • Nyongar: “When the sun was setting, Jesus’ twelve disciples came and said, ‘Send the people away so they can go to villages and houses in the country and look for meat and bread and look for houses to sleep in because this is remote country.'” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Near sunset, his twelve disciples came to say to him: ‘Teacher, we should order [lit., it-is-better we order] those people there to go search for food and beds in the towns and gardens/fields that are close. Because it is empty here.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “When it was late afternoon, his twelve disciples went to him and said to him, ‘Tell these people to go to the surrounding villages and to the places inland to look for food and places to sleep for this is a place where not many people come to.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “When afternoon came, the twelve disciples came to Jesus and they said, ‘Send the people away so that they might go to the hamlets and to the towns, that they might find something to eat and some place to sleep, because there’s nothing they can get here in this place where no people live.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When it was getting-to-be-night(i.e. late afternoon), his disciples went to him and said, ‘Tell the people to go look-for what they will eat and a place-to-overnight in the nearby towns, because it’s emphatically isolated here.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “When it was late afternoon, those twelve disciples of his approached Jesus. They said, ‘Probably it would be good if you have these people go now to the nearby barios and houses, so that they can buy something to eat and find where to sleep. For look here, we are here in a wilderness place.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Luke 9:12


hē de hēmera ērxato klinein ‘then the day began to decline.’ A co-ordinate clause is employed here instead of the more common sub-ordinate, temporal clause, because it is more vivid.

klinō here intransitive, ‘to decline,’ ‘to be far spent.’

apoluson ton ochlon ‘dismiss the crowd,’ cf. on 2.29. ton ochlon takes up hoi ochloi in v. 11. To this group refers also the subject of katalusōsin (plural).

hina poreuthentes eis tas kuklō kōmas kai agrous katalusōsin ‘that they, after going to the villages and farms around, find lodging.’ For agrous cf. on 8.34. kuklō.

kataluō (also 19.7) ‘to halt,’ ‘to rest,’ ‘to find lodging.’

kai heurōsin episitismon ‘and find provisions.’

episitismos ‘provisions,’ ‘food,’ a military term used also in the case of travellers.

hoti hōde en erēmō topō esmen ‘for here we are in a lonely place.’


The day began to wear away may be variously expressed, cf. e.g. ‘the time-of-day (was) close-to evening’ (Bahasa Indonesia); and cf. on “the day is far spent” in 24.29.

Send the crowd away, to go into, or, ‘give the crowd leave that they may go into,’ ‘urge the crowd to go into’; renderings such as ‘dismiss the crowd, and let them go into,’ or simply, “send the crowd away to” (An American Translation), ‘order the crowd to go to’ (Balinese) are acceptable too, unless they would suggest a rejection or getting rid of.

Villages and country refers to local units of medium and smallest size; for the latter cf. on 8.34.

Round about (going with the two preceding nouns), or, ‘that are nearby’ (Tae,’ Sundanese), ‘in the neighbourhood’ (Nieuwe Vertaling), ‘to-the-left-and-right-from here’ (Javanese).

To lodge and get provisions, or, ‘to get a place to lodge and to get something-to-eat’ (Sundanese), ‘to seek/ask lodging (or, place-to-pass-the-night, Tae’) and food,’ “to find food and shelter” (An American Translation, changing the order in accordance with the receptor language idiom). A syntactic shift sometimes useful is found in Batak Toba, .’.. to go to lodge in the villages and country to get something-to-eat.’

Lonely place, see on 4.42.

Quoted with permission from Reiling, J. and Swellengrebel, J.L. A Handbook on the Gospel of Luke. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1971. For this and other handbooks for translators see here . Make sure to also consult the Handbook on the Gospel of Mark for parallel or similar verses.