compassion, moved with compassion

The Greek that is translated with “moved with compassion (or: pity)” in English is translated as “to see someone with sorrow” in Piro, “to suffer with someone” in Huastec, or “one’s mind to be as it were out of one” in Balinese (source: Bratcher / Nida).

The term “compassion” is translated as “cries in the soul” in Shilluk (source: Nida, 1952, p. 132), “has a good stomach” (=”sympathetic”) in Aari (source: Loren Bliese), “has a big liver” in Una (source: Kroneman 2004, p. 471), or “crying in one’s stomach” in Q’anjob’al (source: Newberry and Kittie Cox in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 91ff. ). In Mairasi it is translated with an emphasized term that is used for “love”: “desiring one’s face so much” (source: Enggavoter 2004) and in Chitonga with kumyongwa or “to have the intestines twisting in compassion/sorrow for someone” (source: Wendland 1987, p. 128f.).

See also Seat of the Mind for traditional views of “ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling.”

complete verse (Matthew 14:14)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 14:14:

  • Uma: “When Yesus got down from the boat, he saw that many people were waiting for him. His love welled-up seeing them, and he healed them who were sick.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “When Isa got ashore, he saw the great crowd of people and he had pity/mercy on them and he healed the sick.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And when Jesus and those with him came to shore, he saw the many people. He felt sorry for them, and he treated and healed those who were sick there.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When plural Jesus arrived-at-land, and he saw the many people who had followed, he pitied them and healed those who had a sickness.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Therefore when Jesus again descended from the place he had gone to, what met his eyes was many people already. He pitied them. He healed those who had an illness who had been brought by those people.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “The boat in which Jesus was arrived and Jesus got out. But now there were crowds of people there. Jesus pitied the people and he healed the sick persons who were brought by the people.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Matthew 14:14

He may require identification as “Jesus,” and went ashore may necessitate an indication of prior action, “got out of the boat.” In fact the verb went ashore literally means “got out”; the problem is that the text does not state what it was that Jesus got out of. Phillips (“When Jesus emerged from his retreat”) is unlikely. More likely is the meaning “out of the boat” (An American Translation, Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch, Good News Translation) or “disembarked” (Moffatt, Barclay, New American Bible); went ashore, “stepped ashore” (New Jerusalem Bible), and “came ashore” (New English Bible) assume departure from a boat.

Throng is the singular form of the word “crowds” of verse 13; Good News Translation translates great throng as “large crowd.”

He had compassion (Good News Translation “his heart was filled with pity”) literally means “his insides were stirred up.” This can also be rendered as “he felt very sorry for them” or by a figurative expression from the receptor language. Some West African languages use an expression such as “his stomach (or heart, or liver) was hot (or, sad) because of them.”

The noun translated sick occurs only here in Matthew; elsewhere in the New Testament it is found in Mark 6.5, 13; 1 Corinthians 11.30. The literal meaning of the noun is “powerless,” though it may also mean “sick, ill.” Of course their sick refers to “people (among them) who were sick” or “the sick people there.”

The relations between the verbs in this verse are slightly different in the Revised Standard Version text (As he went … he saw … and he had compassion … and healed) and in Good News Translation: (“Jesus got out … and when he saw … his heart was filled … and he healed”). Translators should be careful to structure the sentence in the way that will be most natural in their language.

Quoted with permission from Newman, Barclay M. and Stine, Philip C. A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1988. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .