The Institute for Bible Translation (IBT) has printed the first translation of the Pentateuch into the Lezgi language. Prior Scripture publications in Lezgi include: Excerpts from Matthew (1990); Mark (1996); Luke/Acts (2004); the Children’s Bible (2009); Ruth/Esther/ Jonah (2010); the Four Gospels (2014); and the New Testament (2018).
The Lezgi language belongs to the Lezgic group of the Nakh-Dagestanian family of Caucasian languages. It is spoken by more than 700,000 people in southern Dagestan and northern Azerbaijan.
The translation work was carried out by a highly qualified IBT team that includes experts in the Lezgi language, as well as exegetes and Bible scholars. The translation was tested with native speakers and reviewed at the Tsadasa Institute of Language, Literature and Art in Dagestan.
"This translation was made possible thanks to our close cooperation with experts in the Lezgi language community. Our translators know and subtly feel all the nuances of their people’s language and culture; they are translating the Bible into their mother tongue," said project consultant and former IBT director Dr. Marianne Beerle-Moor. "We hope that these first five books of the Old Testament will be a valuable additional source of historical and spiritual knowledge for the Lezgi people."
The Pentateuch, consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, presents the foundations of monotheism, together with its legal and moral principles. These books tell about the creation of the world and humankind, the origins of sin and suffering, and the formation of the people of Israel. Readers are introduced to the stories of Cain and Abel, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, etc.; they can learn about the forefathers of the Jewish nation –– Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob –– Israel’s enslavement in Egypt and liberation by Moses, the Ten Commandments given on Mt. Sinai, and the establishment of the Jewish Law (Torah).
The print-run will soon be available in areas where Lezgi speakers live and can already be accessed in digital format on the IBT website.