Hebrew heavens turn into Greek heaven

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mlinssen
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Hebrew heavens turn into Greek heaven

Post by mlinssen »

I stumbled across this the other day and it struck me as very odd: looking at the Tanakh, the concept of "heavens" is used.
In the Septuagint, it turns into a singular heaven

That is very odd, to say the least. We know that the translators weren't very well acquainted with either the source of the destination language, or both, given the "parthenos problem", but this attests to an entirely different theological viewpoint, I would argue

I have consulted Berean and Young's but there are differences between those two. With my Hebrew knowledge being non existent, can anyone point me to the real nitty gritty?
How can one tell whether the Hebrew says plural or singular?
And how on earth (as in heaven LOL) did this come to pass?
Ken Olson
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Re: Hebrew heavens turn into Greek heaven

Post by Ken Olson »

There is no singular for ‘Heaven’ in Biblical Hebrew.

שָׁמַיִם ‘Heavens’, is one of a class of nouns, including מַיִם 'Waters’ and מִצְרַיִם 'Egypt’(and several other place names), which have only a dual form (as opposed to regular nouns which have singular, dual and plural forms).

The original singular can be theoretically reconstructed but apparently had become obsolete before the biblical books were written. It is sometimes called an apparent dual because the plural form, derived from the reconstructed singular, would be the same as the dual form, and some (many?) argue it is actually a plural. There are a lot of hypothetical historical reconstructions about how and why these words came to have the apparently dual form used in the Hebrew Bible.

https://biblehub.com/hebrew/8064.htm

(And if anyone with better Hebrew than mine wishes give a better summary, please feel free. I'm looking at you Stephen Goranson).
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mlinssen
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Re: Hebrew heavens turn into Greek heaven

Post by mlinssen »

Ken Olson wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 5:42 am There is no singular for ‘Heaven’ in Biblical Hebrew.

שָׁמַיִם ‘Heavens’, is one of a class of nouns, including מַיִם 'Waters’ and מִצְרַיִם 'Egypt’(and several other place names), which have only a dual form (as opposed to regular nouns which have singular, dual and plural forms).

The original singular can be theoretically reconstructed but apparently had become obsolete before the biblical books were written. It is sometimes called an apparent dual because the plural form, derived from the reconstructed singular, would be the same as the dual form, and some (many?) argue it is actually a plural. There are a lot of hypothetical historical reconstructions about how and why these words came to have the apparently dual form used in the Hebrew Bible.

https://biblehub.com/hebrew/8064.htm

(And if anyone with better Hebrew than mine wishes give a better summary, please feel free. I'm looking at you Stephen Goranson).
Thank you very much Ken!
Plurale tantum is what I remember from my Latin, the singular exists but it's rarely used, perhaps in a phrase like "heaven of heavens". Sky is almost the opposite of that, in a way, and mud and sand are of a similar kind

I wonder why Matthew then so consistently uses heavens, if the LXX only uses the singular for the Greek. Perhaps the classic Greek can give an answer to that
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Hebrew heavens turn into Greek heaven

Post by Ben C. Smith »

Plural heavens (οὐρανοί, οὐρανῶν, οὐρανοίς, οὐρανούς) in the OG/LXX:

Deuteronomy 32.43; 1 Samuel 2.10; 2 Samuel 22.10; 2 Chronicles 28.9; Nehemiah 9.6; Judith 9.12; 13.18; Tobit 8.5; 2 Maccabees 15.23; 3 Maccabees 2.2; Psalm 2.4; 8.2, 4; 18.2; 32.6; 49.6; 56.6, 11, 12; 67.9; 68.35; 88.3, 6, 12; 95.5, 11; 96.6; 101.26; 106.26; 107.5, 6; 112.4; 113.11; 135.5; 143.5; 148.1, 4 (×3); Proverbs 3.19; Job 16.19; Wisdom of Solomon 9.10, 16; 18.15; Psalms of Solomon 2.30; Habakkuk 3.3; Isaiah 44.23; 49.13; Ezekiel 1.1; Daniel 3.17, 59.

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mlinssen
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Re: Hebrew heavens turn into Greek heaven

Post by mlinssen »

Ben C. Smith wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 7:22 am Plural heavens (οὐρανοί, οὐρανῶν, οὐρανοίς, οὐρανούς) in the OG/LXX:

Deuteronomy 32.43; 1 Samuel 2.10; 2 Samuel 22.10; 2 Chronicles 28.9; Nehemiah 9.6; Judith 9.12; 13.18; Tobit 8.5; 2 Maccabees 15.23; 3 Maccabees 2.2; Psalm 2.4; 8.2, 4; 18.2; 32.6; 49.6; 56.6, 11, 12; 67.9; 68.35; 88.3, 6, 12; 95.5, 11; 96.6; 101.26; 106.26; 107.5, 6; 112.4; 113.11; 135.5; 143.5; 148.1, 4 (×3); Proverbs 3.19; Job 16.19; Wisdom of Solomon 9.10, 16; 18.15; Psalms of Solomon 2.30; Habakkuk 3.3; Isaiah 44.23; 49.13; Ezekiel 1.1; Daniel 3.17, 59.

Very helpful Ben, Psalms has a strong preference for the plural it seems, about half of all occurrences

Deu 32.43 is no hit, neither Samuel, nor Psa 8.2 and 8.4. I know the Septuagint has different numbering for some chapters, could that be the cause? What is the regular numbering for these?
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Re: Hebrew heavens turn into Greek heaven

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mlinssen wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 7:57 amDeu 32.43 is no hit....
No hit in what?
...neither Samuel, nor Psa 8.2 and 8.4. I know the Septuagint has different numbering for some chapters, could that be the cause?
For the Psalms possibly (chapter differentiation begins only in Psalm 9, but verse differentiation does exist in chapter 8), but Deuteronomy 32.43 and both Samuel references appear to be consistent across all chapters.

I was going to suggest scribal variants as the cause, but neither Rahlfs nor Swete appears to give any for οὐρανοί in Deuteronomy 32.43. I did not check the others: if whatever you are using to search is missing Deuteronomy 32.43, then it is not working.
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Re: Hebrew heavens turn into Greek heaven

Post by mlinssen »

Ben C. Smith wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 8:10 am
mlinssen wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 7:57 amDeu 32.43 is no hit....
No hit in what?
...neither Samuel, nor Psa 8.2 and 8.4. I know the Septuagint has different numbering for some chapters, could that be the cause?
For the Psalms possibly (chapter differentiation begins only in Psalm 9, but verse differentiation does exist in chapter 8), but Deuteronomy 32.43 and both Samuel references appear to be consistent across all chapters.

I was going to suggest scribal variants as the cause, but neither Rahlfs nor Swete appears to give any for οὐρανοί in Deuteronomy 32.43. I did not check the others: if whatever you are using to search is missing Deuteronomy 32.43, then it is not working.
Blue Letter Bible as well as Biblehub, LXX versions

There's something strange with the verse numbering there: https://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/32-43.htm

Even in English some bibles include more than others.
The Hebrew 32:43 is a tiny verse, and I always switch from English to Hebrew and then to Septuagint - just a habit

Consider https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/deu/32/1/s_185001

Scroll to verse 43, it doesn't have heavens - that's KJV

But pick the ESV for instance, et voilà

The MT and DSS Septuagint apparently translate differently. It's an odd verse anyway with the heavens being called to rejoice

2 Sam 22:10 works, as does 1 Sam 2:10 - the latter is a very long verse in the LXX, significantly longer than the MT

Anyway. 50 something then, half of which in Psalms, out of a total if 250-325 depending on which Bible you pick.
Just a question and it turns into a few hours of research, possibly more. Argh
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Hebrew heavens turn into Greek heaven

Post by Ben C. Smith »

mlinssen wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 10:08 am
Ben C. Smith wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 8:10 am
mlinssen wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 7:57 amDeu 32.43 is no hit....
No hit in what?
...neither Samuel, nor Psa 8.2 and 8.4. I know the Septuagint has different numbering for some chapters, could that be the cause?
For the Psalms possibly (chapter differentiation begins only in Psalm 9, but verse differentiation does exist in chapter 8), but Deuteronomy 32.43 and both Samuel references appear to be consistent across all chapters.

I was going to suggest scribal variants as the cause, but neither Rahlfs nor Swete appears to give any for οὐρανοί in Deuteronomy 32.43. I did not check the others: if whatever you are using to search is missing Deuteronomy 32.43, then it is not working.
Scroll to verse 43, it doesn't have heavens - that's KJV.
Right. The Masoretic text has "nations," whereas the LXX has "heavens." The English translations have to choose. But what do the Masoretic and the English have to do with searching the LXX?
It's an odd verse anyway with the heavens being called to rejoice
It is just Hebraic poetry:

1 Chronicles 16.31: 31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice. And let them say among the nations, "Yahweh reigns."

Psalm 96.11: 11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice. Let the sea roar, and all it contains.

Isaiah 49.13: 13 Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For Yahweh has comforted His people And will have compassion on His afflicted.

I suppose it might sound odd to someone who did not grow up with language like this being constantly read from the pulpit, in Sunday School, and in Bible studies, though.

ETA:
The MT and DSS Septuagint apparently translate differently.
The Masoretic has "nations." The Dead Sea scrolls appear to have "heavens." The Septuagint, likewise, has "heavens."
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Hebrew heavens turn into Greek heaven

Post by Ben C. Smith »

Ben C. Smith wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 10:20 amThe Dead Sea scrolls appear to have "heavens."
Confirmed:

Eugene Ulrich, Biblical Qumran Scrolls, Page 242.png
Eugene Ulrich, Biblical Qumran Scrolls, Page 242.png (35.64 KiB) Viewed 136 times
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mlinssen
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Re: Hebrew heavens turn into Greek heaven

Post by mlinssen »

Ben C. Smith wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 10:27 am
Ben C. Smith wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 10:20 amThe Dead Sea scrolls appear to have "heavens."
Confirmed:


Eugene Ulrich, Biblical Qumran Scrolls, Page 242.png
That's what the ESV says, yes:
Screenshot_20210504-215345_Chrome_1.jpg
Screenshot_20210504-215345_Chrome_1.jpg (358.24 KiB) Viewed 119 times
I think the MT has precedence - but given your background of being
someone who did (...) grow up with language like this being constantly read from the pulpit, in Sunday School, and in Bible studies
you be the judge of that
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