One day Peter asked Jesus, “Boss, perhaps another person will many times persist in doing wrong to me. How many times should I forgive him (Lit. 'merely send him away')? How many times should (I) forget about him he did that to me? Shall I take pity on him 7 times?”
In response Jesus said to him, “You should forgive him 7 times, yes, 77 times also. You will continue to forgive him.
I will tell you a story. From this story you will learn about God. He continually forgives you, like that you (emphatic) should forgive others.
Now I will tell you a story about a man, about a big boss. He had many working men. He had earlier lent money to them*.
One day he told them, “Return to me my money that I gave you!”
One working man came to the boss. That man should return a very big lot of money, a million dollars. He only had a very little bit. There was no way he could give a million dollars!
The boss said to the police, “Take this man's wife and children and belongings, him also, sell them for money, you give that money to me!”
When he heard the boss's word that working man knelt down before him, he begged him, “Boss, please do not give me to them for money! Wait for me! I will truly give you all the money!”
The boss felt sorry for him. “I am letting you off. You don't have to give me anything.”
That working man went off. While he was going he saw another man, a mate§ for him. Earlier he had given a little bit of money to that mate for a short time. He went to the mate, intercepted him, and grabbed him round the neck. He said to him, “Earlier I gave you money. Right now return it to me, give me my money!”
That mate knelt down before him, he begged him, “Wait for me! Later I will give it to you.”
This man said to him without pity, “I will not wait for you. I will put you in gaol. When you have given my money to me you can come out from gaol.” Straight away he put him in gaol.
The boss's other working men were watching those two. They became upset about him. They went to the boss, they told him. That boss became very angry. He told them, “When you have brought that man give him to me!”
They brought him to him. The boss said to him, “You are a habitually-bad (person) indeed! You cannot give me my money, a million dollars. You begged me to be sorry for you. I was sorry for you, I forgave you, I said to you, 'You don't owe me anything'. (Lit. 'should not/will not give me anything.') You should have done the same thing for your mate. You (emphatic) should have been sorry for him, you should have forgiven that mate of yours.
Now I will send you to gaol. There you will stay continually. You will give me back my million dollars. After that you can come out from gaol.” With fury he sent him to gaol.
Then Jesus said to Peter, “Whatever bad a person does to you, do not become angry with him, just forgive him. If you will not do like that, my Father above will stay angry with you continually, he will not forgive you.”
* 16: Literally, 'gave them money, soon they should give it back'. There is no verb for “lend”. Some, when pressed, have said that use of the Dative case on the recipient(s) implies a loan, whereas Accusative case implies a gift. However, this is not borne out by general usage, in which the Dative case signals sending the item to person X via someone else, person Y (i.e. 'giving it to Y for X,' Dative). The Accusative case signals giving it to him in person. Thus unless the phrase, 'soon they should give it back', is stated, the concept of wanting the item back has not been expressed. So say A and B. But C and D say that simply adding the word 'jampa', 'for a short time', implies that it is a loan, not a gift. We are using the full phrase here to make sure that there is no confusion. 16: Here we have just transliterated the English words, which will be recognised (and people will know that it is a very big amount of money), because the sight of the number “$1,000,000.00” is almost certain to completely baffle any Nyangumarta reader. 16: Forgive: Australia-wide, forgiveness is one of the hardest concepts to communicate in Aboriginal languages. This is a strong indication that they did not have the concept. (If they had, they would have had unambiguous ways of talking about it, but not one of our teams has been able to find one. We have had to stretch the meaning of weaker phrases.) The Nyangumarta phrase used here, 'puru ngakarna', means literally, “just send him away”. Nowadays, for the younger generation, this term is at times understood in a way that equates with 'forgiving'. It is regularly translated into English as either “let him go” or “let him off”. It is idiomatic, and does not necessarily mean that the one who is doing the forgiving commands the one who is being forgiven to go away from him. Use of just 'ngakarna' without the 'puru' would involve literally sending the person away. The term we were previously using, 'puru yakarna', can mean either (1) 'just leave him/go away from him' or (2) 'just leave him alone'. It can therefore be used to mean “forgive”, in the sense of 'leave him alone', without any retribution / payback. But it is ambiguous. Some take it quite literally as in (1), 'just leave him', meaning that the offended person just walks away physically without either hitting the offender or pardoning the offence. But others take it as in (2), 'just leave him alone', that is, without moving away. This is because the imperative of 'leave' is continually used idiomatically in that way to mean, “Leave it alone!” or “Stop doing what you are doing!” without any sense of actually moving away from the spot. One man told me recently of how some young fellows had borrowed his car and written it off. They came and apologised to him, and in describing his reaction he said to me: 'Puru yakarnarnajaninyi, 'I merely forgave them / left them alone.' § 16: This word indicates people who have shared a major experience together at some time. Maybe they worked together on a station, or went “dogging” or droving together; it also includes the main part of the original meaning, of having been initiated at the same time.