cut (branches)

The Greek that is translated in English as “cut (branches)” had to be further specified in Chilcotin with the word xadajelht’az (“they cut off with knife-like tool”)

“Our Native translator asked if they used a saw, knife or an axe. Why? Because cutting with each of these instruments (and scissors as well) requires different verb stems. We concluded that they used knife-like instruments!”

Quindel King in Northern Canada Evangelical Mission, p. 70.

See also this devotion on YouVersion .

complete verse (Mark 11:8)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 11:8:

  • 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: “There were also many people there. The people spread their clothes on the road he was passing. Some of them scattered leafy branches on the road that they had broken off in the groves, in order to honor Isa.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And then the many people because of their respect for Jesus, they spread their cloaks on the way which Jesus is passing. And others spread out there also leafy fronds which they had broken off in the groves of trees.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Many people who were there, they spread-out their outer garments on the road. The others, they spread the road with tree branches that they whacked-off at its edge in-order-to thus-honor Jesus.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Many were the people who spread out their cloaks there on the trail. As for others, they cut down branches of a plant like bagangan (small palm), that being what they put there on the trail, which was a sign of their honoring and welcoming Jesus.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Mark 11:8


Instead of kopsantes ek tōn agrōn ‘(which) they cut from the fields’ of most modern editions of the Greek text, Textus Receptus and Kilpatrick have ekopton ek tōn dendrōn, kai estrōnnuon eis tēn hodon ‘they were cutting from the trees and spreading on the road.’


estrōsan (14.15) ‘they spread.’

alloi de stibadas ‘and others (spread) leafy branches’: the verb is supplied from the preceding clause.

stibas (only here in the N.T.) is specifically a litter or a kind of mattress made of straw, leaves, and so forth: here it obviously means ‘leaves,’ ‘leafy branches’ (Goodspeed ‘straw,’ Translator’s New Testament ‘foliage’), probably branches from olive trees. (It should be noticed that the ‘palm leaves’ are from John 12.13.)

kopsantes (only here in Mark; cf. katakoptō 5.5) ‘having cut.’

agrōn (cf. 5.14) ‘fields.’


Spread their garments on the road must not be translated so as to imply that the folks completely undressed and put their clothes in the road. The meaning is, of course, that they put their outer cloaks down on the road in front of the donkey on which Jesus rode.

Leafy branches are ‘branches of trees with leaves,’ not dead sticks.

Cut from the fields may require expansion as ‘cut from the trees in the fields,’ for in some languages one cannot ‘cut from fields,’ but only ‘cut from trees.’

The type of action described here, in which the crowd tried to honor Jesus by casting their garments and branches in his path, is regarded by some peoples as utterly incomprehensible. For example, in most of Africa the arrival of a government official or local chief is prepared for by scrupulous cleaning of all paths leading into the village or town. Anyone who casts any object in the way of the arriving dignitary is guilty of the worst sort of disrespect. However, it is impossible and unwarranted to rewrite the Gospel narrative. What may be required, on the other hand, is a brief note of explanation indicating that this was designed to show honor to Jesus.

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 .