Table 2.

Difficult Translations.

Term Concept
Ger30* Modern use may suggest a ger is a convert to Jewish religion (given contexts of modern nation-states, in which religion, ethnicity, and race have become distinct identity markers). However, the Biblical term refers to any non-Israelite who lived within the Israelite tribal community as an alien. In other words, the intent would cover immigrants and refugees (and arguably ethnic minorities), when translated from the original tribal setting.
Tzedakah31* Comparable to the Islamic zakat and related Christian tithes and alms-giving, this type of giving is obligatory, from a root “tz-d-k” meaning “righteousness and justice.” The secular English “charity,” with subtle connotations of voluntariness, virtue, and supererogation, would not be contextually appropriate.

Terse translations of words can sometimes obstruct our intention to listen to another culture’s ideas. This discussion has two notorious Hebrew-to-English examples as detailed in the table.

*Reference compares Strong’s Concordance and Brown–Driver–Briggs (scholarly Hebrew–English lexicons).
RMMJ Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal Rambam Health Care Campus 2018 January; 9(1): e0007. ISSN: 2076-9172
Published online 2018 January 29. doi: 10.5041/RMMJ.10327