Re: OUAI = "DAMN"?

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Mon Sep 14 1998 - 09:44:39 EDT

At 07:40 AM 9/14/98 -0500, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>If this is not a curse in the proper sense of
>a prayer for someone's damnation, it is at the least a powerful admonition
>that rejection of this opportunity for salvation must be damnation.
Ouai occurs in 56 verses in the LXX (it does *not* occur in the blessings
and curses at the end of deuteronomy.) I haven't had time to analyze these
verses, and my boss would probably appreciate it if I didn't take the time
right now, but there are at least some verses that make me think that "woe"
may be a better translation.

Look, for instance, at 1 Sam 4:7-8, where the Philistines exclaim OUAI
hHMIN twice:

1Sam 4:6 (NASU) When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they
said, "What [does] the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews
[mean]?" Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the
7 The Philistines were afraid, for they said, "God has come into the camp."
And they said, "Woe to us! (OUAI hHMIN) For nothing like this has happened
8 "Woe to us! (OUAI hHMIN) Who shall deliver us from the hand of these
mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all [kinds of]
plagues in the wilderness.
9 "Take courage and be men, O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the
Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; therefore, be men and fight."
10 So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to
his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty
thousand foot soldiers.

In this context, the Philistines are *not* saying "damn us", nor are they
saying "we are damned" in the sense of hell and damnation. It seems to mean
something like, "we're in a heap of trouble!", or perhaps "we are doomed!"
But note that their doom does not seem to be inescapable, either - they
fight, and Israel is defeated.

Ecclesiastes 10:16 *does* seem to use OUAI in the form of blessings and
curses (or rather, a curse and a blessing - OUAI...MAKARIA).

I'm just starting to look at these passages. At first blush, though, I
don't think that the translation "damned" can be justified, at least not as
an exclusive meaning of the term. A quick browse makes me think that "woe"
is a very good translation.

By the way, in Rev 8:13, I suspect that the *sound* of the word OUAI is
relevant - the eagle flies through mid-heaven crying OUAI OUAI OUAI, which
sounds very much like the call of an eagle to me.


Jonathan Robie

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