complete verse (Revelation 8:11)

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

  • Uma: “The name of that star, Bitter. The water of one third of all the rivers became bitter, and many people died because they drank that bitter water.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “That star was called ‘Bitter’ because one part of the rivers/waters became bitter and many people died when they drank that water because it had become very bitter.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “The name of the star was Bitter. And a third of the waters on the earth became bitter. Many people died because of that water because it was very bitter.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “That star, it was named Bitter. Its result was that a third of the water became-bitter, and many people died on account of their having drunk it.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “The name of that star was Bitter, and that third part of the water became truly bitter. Many were the people who died after drinking from it.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “This large star is named ‘the poison which is bitter.’ There in the waters where it arrived the water became bitter. Very many people died upon drinking the bitter water.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Revelation 8:11

Wormwood: the name of the star derives from its effect on the water; it turned the water sour and bitter, so that it killed many of those who drank it. Wormwood itself is a bitter drug, made from an aromatic plant (Artemisia absinthium). The drug is not poisonous, but passages like Jer 9.15; 23.15 show that it was considered poisonous. Where a proper noun is lacking for this plant, the generic word “Bitterness” or “Bitter Drug” may be used as the name of the star (see “bitter” at the end of the verse). “Harsh-Tasting Substance” is another possible translation.

The water in one third of all rivers and fountains became wormwood (or, as Good News Translation translates, “turned bitter”). In many languages it will be helpful to say “a third of the fresh water.” It is somewhat strange that not all the people who drank of the water died, only many of them.

Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert G. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on The Revelation to John. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1993. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .