Re: Instrumental SUN+dative (Acts 7:35)

From: Martin Arhelger (
Date: Mon Oct 20 1997 - 11:32:04 EDT

C. Bartholomew wrote concerning Acts 7:35:

> The NT Lexicons I looked at do *not* account for an
> instrumental use of SUN+dative. Is SUN+dative in Acts 7:35
> instrumental? BDF (217.2) says it is. BDF says that it is a
> rendering of the Hebrew BeYaD and means in this context,
> *by means of*.

My German edition of BDF does not say this in paragraph 117, 2. (It
notices Acts 7:35, but not as a strict example of BeYaD.)

> Putting all this information together I come up with a single
> question. Is the SUN+dative in Acts 7:35 instrumental?

I don't think so. The Masoretic OT has BeYaD more than 250 times,
and the LXX often translated it by EN XEIRI (often instrumental,
e.g. 1 Sam 11:7) or DIA XEIROS (and sometimes EIS XEIRA). But there
is never "SUN XEIRI" in LXX or NT as in Acts 7:35. Obviously SUN
XEIRI was no fix expression in biblical Greek.

It is much more simple to take
"SUN" in its primary force of "with" in the sense of association (or
addition) and
"XEIR" in the sense of "power" (comp. Luc 1:71; Joh 10:39; Act 12:11
etc. and often in LXX) so that "SUN XEIRI" is "with the support of"
or something like that in Act 7:35.

Perhaps Stephen did not think of Ex 3 only, but also of Ex 21:20 -
23: "Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way,
and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Take ye
heed before him, and hearken unto his voice; provoke him not; for he
will not pardon your transgression: for my name is in him. 22 But if
thou shalt indeed hearken unto his voice, and do all that I speak;
then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto
thine adversaries. 23 For mine angel shall go before thee, and bring
thee in unto the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and
the Canaanite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite"

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