I’m checking a translation of Genesis these days. I came across a passage where the translation spoke of God “cutting” a covenant. I had never heard anyone refer to cutting a covenant before, so I had to check to see if the word “cut” was a typo or accurately reflected something in the Hebrew original.
The translation in question is based on the Hebrew words karath b’rith which literally refer to cutting a covenant. The Hebrew words form an idiom whose meaning we normally express in English with wordings such as “make a covenant” or “establish a covenant”. The Hebrew idiom is, as so often, descriptive and powerful, for Hebrew speakers, at least.
In the Bible translation process we are interested in what speakers of the biblical languages understood their idioms to refer to, and we use that information to help us sort through the options for translating the meaning of those idioms to other languages.
If you came across the wording “cut a covenant” in an English Bible, would you have known what those words referred to? If so, how did you learn what those words refer to?