Well, it has been quite a while since I’ve contributed to my Septuagintal Saturdays. Apparently this series is becoming more of “Occasional Septuagintal Saturdays” than a firm weekly occurrence. But this series is more for my own edification than any potential readers. Anyway, today I looked at the interesting text-critical difference between the MT and LXX of Gen. 4:8. 

The Death of Abel

Gen. 4:8 καὶ εἶπεν Καιν πρὸς Αβελ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ διέλθωμεν εἰς τὸ πεδίον καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πεδίῳ καὶ ἀνέστη Καιν ἐπὶ Αβελ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀπέκτεινεν αὐτόν 


And Cain said to Abel his brother, “let us go into the field.” And it happened in the time they were in the field that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Translation Note:

ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πεδίῳ

The above phrase appears to be trying to render the two prepositions in the MT as ἐν τῷ.  The difficulty with the first ἐν τῷ, is that it makes the verb ‘to be’ (εἶναι) articular. This is not the case in the MT. Thus my rendering of ‘in the time,’ even though the word ‘time’ is not in the Greek.

MT vs. LXX

διέλθωμεν εἰς τὸ πεδίον vs. ???

There is no equivalent for the above Greek phrase, best rendered “let us go into the field,” in the MT. The MT simply has ‘and Cain said to Abel and it happened when they were in the field’ (ויאמר קין אל־הבל אחיו ויהי בהיותם בשׂדה). Either the MT has lost the phrase ‘let us go into the field’ or it intentionally places an ellipsis here in order to add tension (see NET Bible Notes). It is possible that this phrase could have been omitted by homoioteleuton (similar ending) based on the ending of אחיו and בשׂדה but that is far from certain. The MT is definitely the more difficult reading and one could make an obvious case for the LXX clarifying a difficult reading of the MT. However, the interesting thing is that even with the support of the Samaritan Pentateuch, Latin Vulgate and the Syriac, the LXX rendering is not unanimously accepted by modern translations. The NIV, TNIV, NRSV and NET all accept the LXX. But the NKJV, JPS and NASB do not (though they include it in footnotes). My question is this: even though this may not be the best rendering according to our internal text-critical rules, it clearly has overwhelming support according to our external text-critical rules. Therefore, should we not include the LXX’s rendering because the thought is clearly implied in the MT, though not expressly stated? It obviously has virtually no bearing on interpretation either way, but it is an interesting case.

This verse has been brought to my attention recently and made me realize that there was a significant difference between the MT and LXX that I missed. So I decided that for today’s Septuagint Saturdays it would be worthwhile to revisit this text. 

Previously, I noted, based on the difference between τηρήσει and שׁוף, that “it seems, to this translator at least, that the LXX has taken a little thunder out of the protoeuangelion.” While that remains true of that translational observation another, significant translational observation points in the other direction. Thus the new section of this post, below, under αὐτός vs. ‏הוא. I have also added a short ‘concluding thoughts’ section and a bibliography.

The Curse of the Snake and the Woman
Gen. 3:15 καὶ ἔχθραν θήσω ἀνὰ μέσον σου
καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τῆς γυναικὸς
καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σπέρματός σου
καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σπέρματος αὐτῆς
αὐτός σου τηρήσει κεφαλήν
καὶ σὺ τηρήσεις αὐτοῦ πτέρναν

Gen. 3:16 καὶ τῇ γυναικὶ εἶπεν
πληθύνων πληθυνῶ τὰς λύπας σου
καὶ τὸν στεναγμόν σου
ἐν λύπαις τέξῃ τέκνα
καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα σου ἡ ἀποστροφή σου
καὶ αὐτός σου κυριεύσει

15 And enmity I will place between you
and between the woman
and between your seed
and between her seed
he will lie in wait for your head
and you will lie in wait for his heel.

16 And to the woman he said,
I will greatly increase your pain
and your groaning;
in pain you will bear children.
And to your husband will be your returning
and he will dominate you.

Translation Notes
How this verb translates the MT equivalent will be discussed below, but my translation of this verb as ‘lie in wait for’ needs some explaining. The standard translation for this word is (more…)

Here we are again. This Saturday we are continuing to go through Genesis and looking at how the LXX translators handle various texts. I found these verses especially interesting. I also decided to include a bibliography this time for anyone who wants to pursue some of these things further. Enjoy:

Noah’s Sacrifice

Gen. 8:20 καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν Νωε θυσιαστήριον τῷ θεῷ καὶ ἔλαβεν ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν κτηνῶν τῶν καθαρῶν καὶ ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν πετεινῶν τῶν καθαρῶν καὶ ἀνήνεγκεν ὁλοκαρπώσεις ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον 

Gen. 8:21 καὶ ὠσφράνθη κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας καὶ εἶπεν κύριος ὁ θεὸς διανοηθείς οὐ προσθήσω ἔτι τοῦ καταράσασθαι τὴν γῆν διὰ τὰ ἔργα τῶν ἀνθρώπων ὅτι ἔγκειται ἡ διάνοια τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπιμελῶς ἐπὶ τὰ πονηρὰ ἐκ νεότητος οὐ προσθήσω οὖν ἔτι πατάξαι πᾶσαν σάρκα ζῶσαν καθὼς ἐποίησα 

Gen. 8:22 πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς γῆς σπέρμα καὶ θερισμός ψῦχος καὶ καῦμα θέρος καὶ ἔαρ ἡμέραν καὶ νύκτα οὐ καταπαύσουσιν 



20) And Noah built an alter to God and he (more…)

Since I am gearing up for finals and finishing final projects (including an analysis of verbal patterns in the Aramaic of Daniel 2-3, ouch), this weeks Septuagintal Saturdays will be necessarily brief. In fact it will only be one verse long. That being said, it is a very interesting one. This post was inspired in part by my reading of Waltke’s chapter on the Creation Narrative in An Old Testament Theology.

Gen. 1:27

καὶ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον 

κατ᾿ εἰκόνα θεοῦ ἐποίησεν αὐτόν 

ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς 


And God made humankind

According to the image of God he made them

Male and female he made them.


LXX vs. MT


The LXX has dropped this phrase at the end of the first line. the MT reads: ‘And God made humankind in his image.’ It could be that the LXX translators recognized that without this prepositional phrase the poem in Hebrew is more perfectly balanced (three lines with a 6-4 pattern). It could be that a scribes eye merely passed over the repeated verb בצלמו‭ ‬בצלם (in his image / in the image). While the meter of the poem is more balanced without the phrase בצלמו (in his image), the parallelism is better with it.

ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ vs. זכר‭ ‬ונקבה

Waltke argues that the two terms used in the MT “refer to the man and the woman as sexual beings” (An Old Testament Theology, 221). This is different than the terms in Gen. 2, which speak of man (‏אדם) and woman (אשׁה) in more social terms. These terms are consistently translated as ανθρωπος (man) and γυνη (woman). The terms ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ are distinct from the terms used in Gen. 2. Louw and Nida list them in the domain of ‘features of objects.’ Thus the importance of of the terms used in Gen. 1:27 are to show the ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness’ of the man and woman as the key features being emphasized here. It appears, then, that the LXX translators validate Waltke’s claim. The LXX translators are consistent in their translation and note the importance of the terminology that is used by the Hebrew text. It is the maleness and femaleness of of man and woman that are made in the image of God.

Here is another installment of Septuagintal Saturdays. I’m not sure how I’m going to pick these texts, but for right now I’m going to pick some highlights through Genesis and see where that gets us. This passage is dear to me because I wrote my M.A. thesis on 1 Sam. 15, which deals with similar issues to the passage here in Genesis 6. There is also discussion as to where to place this passage. Is it the conclusion to the generation of Adam in ch. 5 or the introduction to the generation of Noah Chs. 6ff.? I think it is best understood as both. Clearly it is the climax of the generation of Adam and the evil it has come to but it is also the introduction to the flood narrative. Often in biblical literature we have these ‘seam’ texts that function as the conclusion to one section and the introduction to another. To some degree I think the book of Deuteronomy functions this way, but that is another discussion.

Gen. 6:5 ἰδὼν δὲ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὅτι ἐπληθύνθησαν αἱ κακίαι τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ πᾶς τις διανοεῖται ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ ἐπιμελῶς ἐπὶ τὰ πονηρὰ πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας 

Gen. 6:6 καὶ ἐνεθυμήθη ὁ θεὸς ὅτι ἐποίησεν τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ διενοήθη 

Gen. 6:7 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεός ἀπαλείψω τὸν ἄνθρωπον ὃν ἐποίησα ἀπὸ προσώπου τῆς γῆς ἀπὸ ἀνθρώπου ἕως κτήνους καὶ ἀπὸ ἑρπετῶν ἕως τῶν πετεινῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὅτι ἐθυμώθην ὅτι ἐποίησα αὐτούς 

Gen. 6:8 Νωε δὲ εὗρεν χάριν ἐναντίον κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ 



5 And when the LORD God saw that the evil deeds of humankind had multiplied upon the earth and all everyone thinks in their heart [is] thoroughly upon the evil, all the days, 6 then God considered that he made man upon the earth and he planned. 7 And God said, “I will wipe off humankind, whom I made, from upon the face of the earth, from humankind to animal and from creeping things unto birds of the air because I am angry that I made them. 8 But Noah found grace before the LORD God.


Inspired by Aboulet’s alliterated series’ Wednesdays with Waltke and Midrash Mondays; and Ancient Hebrew Poetry’s posts on textual issues of biblical passages I decided to start my own alliterated series on biblical passages. Since I am currently taking classes in Hebrew and Aramaic and nothing in Greek I decided to do something that would help me keep my Greek fresh. So (hopefully) every Saturday I will post a bit on a passage from the Septuagint. For those of you that don’t know the Septuagint (or LXX) is a Greek translation of the Old Testament from about the 2nd Century BC. It is one of my favorite areas of study. I do not think that many people will get much out of these posts but since this is for my own edification, and this is my blog I’m going to do it anyway. So, let’s start with the begininng:

Gen. 1:1 ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν 

Gen. 1:2 ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος 


Translation: In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was invisible and unformed and darkness was upon the deep and a breath of God was carrying itself upon the water.


Translation Notes:

1. πνεῦμα θεοῦ

1. The relationship of the genitive noun θεοῦ to the nominative noun πνεῦμα governs how one views this phrase. It seems to me that the two standard options are either a genitive of source (‘a spirit/wind from God) or a possessive genitive (‘God’s spirit/wind’). The NRSV has taken the genitive of source (it is the same grammatical construction in the MT) translating ‘a wind from God.’ The NETS has translated the Greek as ‘a divine wind.’ This is taking it as an adjectival genitive, which conveys the sense but I think I want to keep the θεοῦ as a noun. My translation ‘a breath of God’ is intentionally vague, allowing for the pun of Spirit and wind to be conveyed while leaving it open as to whether this is just a wind or God’s Spirit.

2. ἐπεφέρετο

1. For the sake of literalness and probably to the detriment of readability I have translated this Imperfect middle indicative verb as ‘carry itself’ (from ἐπιφέρω, ‘to bring, put’) I guess ‘hovering’ is probably a good translation but I wanted to bring out the ‘middle’ sense of the verb. 


LXX vs. MT

1. The LXX is a very literal translation of the MT, down to following the word order.

2. τὸν οὐρανὸν vs. השׁמים

1. The only difference here is that the Greek has used a singular noun to translate the dual ‘heavens’ of the MT. But since Greek has no dual it had to chose between singular and plural. It would be interesting to see how the LXX translates duals throughout.

3. ἀόρατος vs. תהו

1. The LXX has used a word that implies the visual aspect of the state of the earth (from the root ὁράω, ‘to see’) against the MT which uses a word that implies the actual physical substance of the state of the earth: empty.

4. ἐπεφέρετο vs. מרחפת

1. The LXX has used an imperfect indicative verb to translate the piel participle of רחף (which means ‘to grow soft’ in the qal, and ‘to flutter’ in the piel). I think the Hebrew would inform the translation ‘was hovering’ which is actually not a bad translation to get the imperfect sense of the Greek verb and would work well as a representation of the participle in the MT. NETS has gone with “was being carried,” which seems like a good translation of the Greek without taking into account of the Hebrew.    

This has been ‘Septuagintal Saturdays,’ I hope you enjoyed it. I know I did.