From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Fri Nov 13 1998 - 09:46:14 EST

Stephen Long wrote:
>I'm wondering about Deut 32:6 the LXX say, "OUK AUTOS OUTOS SOU PATHR
>EPOIHSEN SE KAI EKTISEN SE" the RSV translates as "Is he not your father,
>who created
>you, who made you and established you?" is EKTISEN a different word in the
>from EKTHSATO? The RSV seems to make a distinction. Is this another one of

Dear Stephen,

The Hebrew word corresponding to KTAOMAI in the LXX is QANA, which in most
instances is translated by such words as "buy" "acquire", "possess", but it
can also be translated by "make" and "create". The verb KTAOMAI, chosen by
the LXX translators, seems to contain only a part of the meaning of the
Hebrew verb, that of "buy, "aquire", and not that of "make" and "create".
What helps the translators to decide which way to translate a verb such as
QANA, is the nature and syntax of the other parts of the clause.

Proverbs 8:22 may illustrate the point. Look at the following literal
translation of the Hebrew and the Greek text:

YHWH (YHWH) QANANI (created or, possessed me) RESHIT (beginning) DARKO (of
his way).
KURIOS (the lord) EKTISE (created) ME (me) ARCHN (beginning) hODWN (of his

To decide whether QANA has the stative meaning "possess" (in which it is
taken by the Vulgate) or the active meaning "buy, aquire, create" we must
analyze the clause. If the text had read BERESHIT (in the beginning) this
word together with DARKO had been adverbial, and a stative meaning of the
verb would have been natural. As it stands, the words RESHIT DARKO cannot
be anything else but predicate accusative with ME as object. This is
exactly the way the LXX translators took it, and therefore they chose the
active form EKTISE (with ME as object and ARCHN hODWN as accusative
The RSV translates Proverbs 8:22 this way: "The LORD created me at the
beginning of his work." It translates QANA with "created" but it is a
little strange why it takes the rest of the verse in an adverbial way.

Returning to Deut 32:6, we have the literal translation:

ABIKA (your father) QANEKA ( who possessed/bought/created you)? HU (he)
'ASEKA (made you) WAYKONENEKA (and established you)
 SOU PATHR (your father) EKTHSATO (bought) SE (you) KAI (and) EPOIHSEN
(made) SE (you) KAI (and) EKTISEN (created) SE (you)

In the Hebrew text QANA is parallel with the two active verbs 'ASA (make)
and KUN (establish). therefore it ought to be taken in the active sense
"make, create". In the example above, the syntax is crucial, in this
example, lexicon and 'paralellism' is the deciding factor. This may have
been the reason for the RSV rendering. It has nothing to do with chiasm.
The translators of the LXX viewed it another way and felt that "buy" was a
natural meaning.


Rolf Furuli
Lecturer in Semitic languages
University of Oslo

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