blessed (Jesus' entry into Jerusalem)

The Greek that is translated in English as “blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” is translated in Mazagway with a phrase that can be back-translated to “God puts the hand of the chief on the man who has come in his name.” (Source: Ken Hollingsworth)

See also bless(ed)

bless(ed)

The Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Aramaic that is translated into English as “(to) bless” or “blessed” is translated into a wide variety of possibilities.

The Hebrew term barak (and the Aramaic term berak) also (and originally) means “kneel” (a meaning which the word has retained — see Gen. 24:11) and can be used for God blessing people (or things), people blessing each other, or people blessing God. While English Bible translators have not seen a stumbling block in always using the same term (“bless” in its various forms), other languages need to make distinctions (see below).

In Bari, spoken in South Sudan, the connection between blessing and knees/legs is still apparent. For Genesis 30:30 (in English: “the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned”), Bari uses a common expression that says (much like the Hebrew), ‘… blessed you to my feet.'” (Source: P. Guillebaud in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 189ff. .)

Other examples for the translation of “bless” when God is the one who blesses include (click or tap here to see the rest of this insight):

  • “think well of” (San Blas Kuna)
  • “speak good to” (Amganad Ifugao)
  • “make happy” (Pohnpeian)
  • “cause-to-live-as-a-chief” (Zulu)
  • “sprinkle with a propitious (lit. cool) face” (a poetic expression occurring in the priests’ language) (Toraja Sa’dan) (source for this and above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • “give good things” (Mairasi) (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • “ask good” (Yakan) (source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • “praise, say good things” (Central Yupik) (source: Robert Bascom)
  • “greatly love” (Candoshi-Shapra) (source: John C. Tuggy)
  • “showing a good heart” (Kutu) (source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)
  • “good luck — have — good fortune — have” (verbatim) ꓶꓼ ꓙꓳ ꓫꓱꓹ ꓙꓳ — ɯa dzho shes zho (Lisu). This construction follows a traditional four-couplet construct in oral Lisu poetry that is usually in the form ABAC or ABCB. (Source: Arrington 2020, p. 58)

In Tagbanwa a phrase is used for both the blessing done by people and God that back-translates to “caused to be pierced by words causing grace/favor” (source: Tagbanwa Back Translation).

Ixcatlán Mazatec had to select a separate term when relating “to people ‘blessing’ God” (or things of God): “praise(d)” or “give thanks for” (in 1 Cor. 10:16) (“as it is humans doing the ‘blessing’ and people do not bless the things of God or God himself the way God blesses people” — source: Robert Bascom). Eastern Bru and Kui also use “praise” for this a God-directed blessing (source: Bru back translation and Helen Evans in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 40ff. ) and Uma uses “appropriate/worthy to be worshipped” (source: Uma back translation).

When related to someone who is blessing someone else, it is translated into Tsou as “speak good hopes for.” In Waiwai it is translated as “may God be good and kind to you now.” (Sources: Peng Kuo-Wei for Tsou and Robert Hawkins in The Bible Translator 1962, pp. 164ff. for Waiwai.)

Some languages associate an expression that originally means “spitting” or “saliva” with blessing. The Bantu language Koonzime, for instance, uses that expression for “blessing” in their translation coming from either God or man. Traditionally, the term was used in an application of blessing by an aged superior upon a younger inferior, often in relation to a desire for fertility, or in a ritualistic, but not actually performed spitting past the back of the hand. The spitting of saliva has the effect of giving that person “tenderness of face,” which can be translated as “blessedness.” (Source: Keith Beavon)

Martin Ehrensvärd, one of the translators for the Danish Bibelen 2020, comments on the translation of this term: “As for ‘blessing’, in the end we in most instances actually kept the word, after initially preferring the expression ‘giving life strength’. The backlash against dropping the word blessing was too hard. But we would often add a few words to help the reader understand what the word means in a given context — people often understand it to refer more to a spiritual connection with God, but in the Hebrew texts, it usually has to do with material things or good health or many children. So when e.g. in Isaiah 19:25 the Hebrew text says ‘God bless them’, we say ‘God bless them’ and we add: ‘and give them strength’. ‘And give them strength’ is not found in the overt Hebrew text, but we are again making explicit what we believe is the meaning so as to avoid misunderstanding.” (Source: Ehrensvärd in HIPHIL Novum 8/2023, p. 81ff. )

See also bless (food and drink), blessed (Christ in Mark 11:9), and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.

See also “Blessed by ‘The Blessing’ in the World’s Indigenous Languages” and Multilingual version of “The Blessing” based on Numbers 6:24-26 .

complete verse (Mark 11:9)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 11:9:

  • Uma: “They went towards Yerusalem. Many people followed them, some ahead some behind. Many spread their clothes on the roadway that Yesus was passing by on, and some also went and got tree leaves / leafy branches in the gardens and laid spread them on the roadway to honor him. Those many people, they continually cheered saying: ‘Praise the Lord God! The Lord bless the King who comes carrying him name!” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “The people in front and in the back shouted. They said, ‘Let us (incl.) praise God. Let us (incl.) praise the one sent by God.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And many people went ahead of Jesus, and many also followed him, shouting with joy and saying, ‘Let’s give thanks to God! Praise the one who was sent by the Lord!” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Those that went-ahead and those following, they were shouting saying, ‘Be-honored/praised! May this one be blessed that God sent as his representative (lit. bodyness)!” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “The people in front and behind Jesus were calling out saying, ‘Praiseworthy is this one who was sent by God!” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Mark 11:9

Exegesis:

hoi proagontes kai hoi akolouthountes ‘those going before and those following,’ ‘those who were in front and those who were behind (Jesus).’

proagō (cf. 6.45) ‘go before,’ ‘precede,’ ‘lead.’

akoloutheō (cf. 1.18) ‘follow’: here in a physical sense.

ōsanna eulogēmenos ho erchomenos en onomati kuriou ‘Hosanna! Blessed the one coming in the name of the Lord!’: the words are from Ps. 118.25-26.

ōsanna (11.10) represents the Aramaic hoshaʿ-naʾ, the Hebrew of Ps. 118.25 being hoshiʿah-naʾ ‘save Thou now!,’ a petition addressed to God, which the Septuagint translates sōson dē. As used in the passage here, it may be taken in two ways: (1) in its literal O.T. meaning, ‘save (us)!’ as a prayer addressed to God (cf. Gould, ‘be propitious!’); (2) as a shout of welcome and praise, ‘Hail!,’ ‘Welcome!’ in which the original meaning of the phrase is forgotten. Goodspeed, in support of this interpretation, instances modern usage of ‘God save the King!,’ or Vive le roi! It appears probable that this is the correct interpretation, particularly in light of the parallel in Matthew 21.9 ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ which Dalman takes to mean, “Glory (hail) to the Son of David!.”

Where modern translations (most English translations; cf. also Le Nouveau Testament. Version Synodale, Zürcher Bibel, O Novo Testamento de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo. Revisdo Autorizada) have simply transliterated the word, the meaning is, without a doubt, ‘Hail!,’ ‘Welcome!’ (Goodspeed has ‘God bless him!,’ and Williams, ‘Welcome Him!’).

eulogēmenos (cf. 6.41) ‘blessed’: either (1) ‘blessed is’ (American Standard Version, Revised Standard Version. Translator’s New Testament, Manson, Gould, O Novo Testamento de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo. Revisdo Autorizada), or (2) ‘blessed be’ (most translations and commentators). The latter is probably to be preferred: ‘may God bless him who comes….’

ho erchomenos (as an independent participle only here in Mark; cf. hoi erchomenoi 6.31) ‘he who comes’: in the historical context of the Marcan narrative the phrase applies to Jesus, with the meaning ‘he who is coming’ (not, as in v. 10, with a future connotation).

en onomati kuriou ‘in the name of the Lord’: i.e. as his representative, with his authority (cf. Gould), as vicegerent of Yahweh. For the phrase ‘in the name of’ cf. 9.38.

Translation:

Cried out has the sense of ‘shouted.’

Hosanna may be transliterated, as in the case of most translations, or translated as a shout of ‘welcome’ or an expression of intense joy at the arrival of such a person. It is almost equivalent to English ‘Hurrah!,’ but with religious connotations which are absent from the English term. In Mitla Zapotec one may say ‘great thanks’ (as an exclamation of thanksgiving) and in San Mateo del Mar Huave the closest parallel is ‘it is very wonderful now.’

For a discussion of problems related to bless see 6.41, but note that in this context the meaning must be applied to a person, not to a thing. Moreover, the syntactic problem is difficult because of either (1) a third person imperative ‘blessed be…’ or (2) a third person declarative ‘he is blessed….’ There is actually no verb in the Greek and either the imperative or declarative may be understood. In the case of a straight declarative the rendering is often much easier, e.g. ‘he is blessed’ (with the addition of ‘by God,’ in languages which may require the agent in such passive expressions) or ‘God has blessed him.’ Another possibility of a direct active form is ‘The Lord has blessed him who comes in his name.’

In this particular context the word blessed provides a number of problems of equivalence. In Inupiaqthe closest equivalent is ‘let him be praised’; the same is true of Central Mazahua and Cashibo-Cacataibo. In Tzeltal the most satisfactory form seems to be ‘very great is his goodness,’ a statement of fact – but one which by its form indicates an intense degree of acclamation and praise. In Kituba one may say ‘joy is with him who…,’ an indication of his blessed state rather than an expression of praise on the part of the worshiper.

Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert G. and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on the Gospel of Mark. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1961. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .