Posts Tagged ‘Septuagint’

Church Slavonic and Septuagint Greek versions of Genesis 2:7

April 18, 2017


A solid enough display of Biblical scholarship


Here is a paragraph in progress regarding versions of Genesis 2:7. What bothers me is note 2. Is it the case that the Church Slavonic is ultimately based on the Septuagint rather than on some Hebrew original? I discovered that the current Synodal Russian translation is actually utilizing Gospod’ in 2:7, unlike the Church Slavonic edition I have. Any assistance on this would be much appreciated.

Biblical scholar Ronald A. Simkins writes of Genesis 2:7: “… YHWH’s forming of the human creature (the male ’ādām) from the dirt of the arable land (the female ’ădāmāh) serves as a metaphor for humankind’s birth out of the earth.”[1] Again, the earth gives birth, but not without God. Here it is worth noting that, like the grammatically feminine Hebrew word for “earth” (’ădāmāh), the equivalent words in the Septuagint Greek (gē), Vulgate Latin (terra), and Church Slavonic (zjemlja) – are also grammatically feminine. It is worth noting as well that the grammatically masculine Yahweh (YHWH) is matched by its grammatically masculine Greek (kurios), Latin (Dominus), and Slavonic (Gospodь) equivalents.[2]

[1] Simkins 2014, 48 (cf. also Simkins 1998, 39-46).

[2] However, these equivalents do not turn up until the next verse (8) in the Septuagint Greek and Church Slavonic texts.


It is certainly the case that the Church Slavonic text comes from the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew text.

The standard Hebrew text in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia gives the equivalent of ‘the LORD God’ (YHWH elohim, if you like) at both 2:7 and 2:8–the first occurrence that I can see of this pairing is at 2:4, before that it’s elohim (God). LXX has ho theos (God) in 2:4 and 2:7, then kurios ho theos (the Lord God) in 2:8.

I think that Jewish tradition has often tried to distinguish YHWH elohim on the grounds that one is God in the aspect of justice and the other in the aspect of mercy, but I’m not aware of anything being made of grammatical distinctions. Alternatively elohim may be interpreted as the creator and YHWH as the god of the covenant in relationship to Israel. ‘Elohim’ is notoriously plural in form but governs a masculine singular verb–to over-simplify, grammatical number and gender didn’t have the definitive character in Biblical Hebrew that they do in (say) modern Russian.

Another issue here is that LXX in some cases appears to be based on a more ancient (Hebrew) text than the standard Masoretic text we have, though BHS doesn’t give any textual variants at 2:7.

Job 20:23

May 13, 2010
Our Hebrew class wondered why the Authorised Version deviated from the Hebrew text at the end of this verse, and whether it was down to Septuagint.
In the Hebrew text we have:

 יְהִ֤י׀ לְמַלֵּ֬א בִטְנֹ֗ו יְֽשַׁלַּח־בֹּ֖ו חֲרֹ֣ון אַפֹּ֑ו וְיַמְטֵ֥ר עָ֝לֵ֗ימֹו בִּלְחוּמֹֽו׃
(that may look very odd, depending on what fonts you have installed!)

The AV has:

23 When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating.
(when the Hebrew would suggest….and will cause it to rain (it) upon him in his flesh.)

Septuagint has:

23. εἴ πως πληρώσαι γαστέρα αὐτοῦ ἐπαποστείλαι ἐπ’ αὐτὸν θυμὸν ὀργῆς νίψαι ἐπ’ αὐτὸν ὀδύνας

(If in some way he will fill his belly, [God] will send upon him a rage of anger to wash pains upon him–OR:…anger, [God] will wash pains upon him.)

The Vulgate has:

[23] utinam impleatur venter eius ut emittat in eum iram furoris sui et pluat super illum bellum suum
which I think is the same kind of thing, but with ‘rain’ for ‘wash’.
So the most reasonable explanation is that someone left out the waw in בִּלְחוּמֹֽו and decided to make it ‘at his food’ => while he was eating.