God Didn't Say That

Bible Translations and Mistranslations

A Curious Footnote

A curious footnote in the ESV:

Numbers 24:3 “The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,…”(1)

(1) “Or closed”

It seems to me that when the translator can’t narrow it down beyond “open or closed,” the footnote should be “we don’t know what it means.”


November 23, 2009 - Posted by | translation practice | , , , ,


  1. What at great catch!

    Comment by Bitsy Griffin | November 23, 2009

  2. That’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen in awhile.

    Comment by Darrell Deer | November 24, 2009

  3. I don’t think the editors intended that for humor, but it’s too late now. 🙂

    Comment by Bryon | November 24, 2009

  4. […] Joel Hoffman’s eagle eye spots a very odd translation and footnote. […]

    Pingback by clayboy » Biblical Studies Carnival XLVIII | December 1, 2009

  5. Hahaha, that is just awesome! Yeah, we need more “uh… we’re clueless… continue reading” footnotes. 😀

    Comment by Cameron | December 3, 2009

  6. […] meanings without giving the reader any further guidance. (I have a particularly egregious example here.) I’m not sure how helpful these are, particularly as some lay readers may want to make do […]

    Pingback by The Power of the Footnote « God Didn't Say That | December 22, 2009

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