About the Author(s)

Larry Perkins Email symbol
Graduate School of Theology, Northwest Baptist Seminary, Langley, Canada


Perkins, L., 2022, ‘Renderings of paronymous infinitive constructions in OG Exodus and implications for defining the character of the translation’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 78(1), a7415. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.7415

Note: Special Collection: Septuagint and Textual Studies, sub-edited by Johann Cook (Stellenbosch University).

Original Research

Renderings of paronymous infinitive constructions in OG Exodus and implications for defining the character of the translation

Larry Perkins

Received: 04 Feb. 2022; Accepted: 12 Mar. 2022; Published: 06 May 2022

Copyright: © 2022. The Author Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This article gives insight into the world of 3rd century BCE Alexandrian Judaism by analysing one aspect of the Greek translation of Exodus and provides a detailed evaluation of the way the translator managed to express the essence of the Hebrew text of Exodus while reflecting to some degree the form of the Hebrew text. No previous study only analyses this translator’s treatment of Hebrew paronymous infinitive absolute constructions in Greek Exodus. This research contributes to the preparation of a commentary on Greek Exodus in the Society of Biblical Literature Septuagint Commentary Series. Using the Göttingen text of Greek Exodus prepared by John William Wevers, it evaluates how this translator rendered each occurrence of a paronymous infinitive absolute construction in Hebrew Exodus, defining the primary modes employed and also seeking to explain variations from these norms. The primary method incorporates a close exegetical reading of both the Hebrew and Greek texts and comparing their texts, in order to discern how the translator treated this Hebrew idiom and illustrating his translation approach.

Contribution: The results contribute to our understanding of how the translator of Greek Exodus approached his task. He was more concerned to express the sense of the Hebrew text, than producing a literal translation. He generally follows the Hebrew text’s word order, but is creative in his choice of Greek equivalents, often showing sensitivity to context and Greek idiom. This translation approach differentiates this translator’s approach somewhat from those responsible for other portions of the Pentateuch.

Keywords: Exodus; Greek; Hebrew; infinitive absolute; Septuagint; translation strategy; Hellenistic Judaism.

Several recent monographs and articles discuss Hebrew infinitive absolute usage with paronymous finite verbs (Callaham 2010; Goldenberg 1971; Kim 2009), as well as the Septuagint (LXX) translation of this construction (Sollamo 1985; Tov 1999, and much earlier Thackeray 1908). The analysis of Sollamo (1985) focuses on the LXX Pentateuch. Tov’s study (1999) covers the entire LXX and uses the CATSS database. Neither study had access to Wevers (ed. 1991 [Weved]). Evans (2001:129) gives brief attention to the translation of this construction. Krause (1993) examined New Testament examples of finite verb + cognate participle constructions. More recent articles by Sollamo (2012) and Harper (2016) show the merit of considering how the translators of discrete segments of the LXX have treated this Hebrew construction. The Exodus translator’s (G) treatment of pre-posed paronymous infinitive absolute constructions (PPIA) has not received specific attention. This article seeks to remedy that deficit. By evaluating G’s various strategies used to render PPIAs, the author gains important insight into his mode of working, affirms his intent to produce an acceptable Greek translation and gains insight into translation choices made in specific contexts. This article does not discuss contexts in Exodus where IA’s function differently: 8:11(LXX15); 12:48; 13:3; 20:8, 12; 30:36; 32:6; 33:7; 36:7 (Callaham 2010:236–243). Discussion continues about whether one or more translators are responsible for Exodus 1–34 and Exodus 35–40. All of the examples of PPIAs in Hebrew Exodus occur in Chapters 1–34 and so this issue is not germane to this investigation.

Today we have the complete list of 507 PPIAs (Callaham 2010:236–243) in the Hebrew text (MT) provided by Callaham and also the full list for the Pentateuch of the corresponding Greek equivalents in Lee (2018:302–304). Both scholars classify each occurrence according to form and function. The articles by Sollamo (1985:111) and Tov (1999:247–252) categorise the equivalents for PPIAs used by G. Both depend upon Rahlfs edition (ed. 1965) of the LXX for their analysis. Their tables (see Tables 1 and 2) show minor variations, some of which reflect different evaluations of textual variants.

TABLE 1: Sollamo’s statistical summary for Greek Exodus.
TABLE 2: Tov’s statistical summary for Greek Exodus.

Because Sollamo does not list the occurrences in Exodus for G’s use of dative noun + cognate verb, I cannot explain the difference between her calculation (25) and mine (23). The category ‘Adverbs, Paraphrases’ includes 8:28(24MT); 15:1, 21; 22:13(MT12), but not 34:7. She may include it under the rubric ‘aliter’.

Tov (1999:250) cites three specific instances (21:5; 22:22; 23:4) of G’s use of participle with synonymous, non-cognate verb in Exodus, but then in his summary chart (253) he only lists two examples. According to my analysis, there are four contexts in which G uses a participle + cognate verb (3.7; 4.14; 22.17(MT16); 23.4b), for a total of seven occurrences of participle + finite verb renderings for PPIAs.

Tov (1999:251, fn. 11) indicates that the translator uses a single finite verb as a rendering at: 2:19; 5:23; 12:9; 21:19, 36; 22:2, 4, 5, 11, 13; 23:5 (Hebrew text chapter and verse numbering), for a total of 11 instances. As noted in the next paragraph, the collocation in 12:9 probably is not a PPIA + finite verb construction and does not belong in this list. At 21:19, G renders ורפא ירפא with the noun καὶ τὰ ἱατρεῖα and so it does not fit this category. At 22:4, the translator employs two different finite verbs to render the PPIA construction אם־המצא תמצא בידו (ἐὰν δὲ καταλημφθῇ καὶ εὑρεθῇ ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ), and so this example also does not fit this category. Tov does not include 31:15 in his list because he follows Rahlfs’ text θανατῳ θανατωθησεται. Weved, however, accepts the reading of B 55txt θανατωθήσεται as original, because he regards θανατῳ, marked by an asterisk in Arm, to be a hexaplaric addition (Wevers 1992:249). These factors explain why my count of (nine) single finite verb renderings differs from Tov’s. I do not know what examples Tov placed in the category ‘Varia’.

I use Weved for my analysis in Table 3 of G’s translation of PPIAs. I have not included the examples of cognate constructions in Rahlfs-Hanhart’s edition (eds. Rahlfs & Hanhart 2006) that Weved regards as textually suspect (11:9; 22:20(MT19); 23:20). These contexts have no corresponding PPIA construction in the MT. At 11:9 πληθυνων πληθυνω is supported by B 58–82 f-246 392 120–128′ 76′ 130 799 = RA). Wevers (1992:243) evaluates the presence of πληθυνων as ‘a dittograph and only the addition of nunation makes it a possible reading. It has no basis in MT…’. At 22:20(MT19) only B* reads θανατῳ ολεθρευθησεται. The variant at 23:20 shows the influence from the parallel text in 19:5. Tov (1999:251, fn.11) seems to include 12 (ובשל מבשל:9) in his statistics, but this Hebrew construction is an adjective + pual participle collocation, according to Houtman (1996:179) and Koehler and Baugartner (2001:164), and does not belong with the PPIA constructions. Callaham (2010:238–239) does not include 12:9 in his statistics.

TABLE 3: Greek transformations of pre-posed paronymous infinitive absolute constructions in LXX Exod.

My count (49) of PPIA occurrences in Exodus generally matches those calculated by Sollamo and Tov. Of course, this number reflects the 49 occurrences in the Pentateuch of the MT listed by Callaham.

G uses a noun in the dative or accusative case + finite verb (26 times) as his most frequent transformation for PPIA. He also employs single finite verbs (nine times), participle + finite verb (seven times) and adverb + finite verb (three times), accounting for 45 of 49 uses. In four texts, he chooses contextually appropriate, idiomatic transformations. Apart from his use of single verbs as equivalents for PPIA constructions, G usually selects Greek cognate constructions (27 times), but he nonetheless employs considerable variety in his renderings (nine times). According to my evaluation of the data, G accommodates Greek idiom as frequently as possible.

Pre-posed paronymous infinitive absolutes normally precede the verb and G reflects this word order. Exceptions only occur where G chooses a non-verb equivalent for the infinitive absolute (IA) at 11:1 (σὺν παντὶ ἐκβαλεῖ ὑμᾶς ἐκβολῇ) and perhaps at 34:7 (καὶ οὐ καθαριεῖ τὸν ἔνοχον). A significant number of textual witnesses at 11:1 read εκβολη εκβαλει υμας (A M O′-72-29 C′ʼ b d t 121 68′ 18 55 76′ Latcod 101 Aeth Syh). The preceding σὺν παντί is not feminine and so cannot modify the dative feminine noun ἐκβαλεῖ. Wevers (1992:171) suggests that G did not want to have two distinct, dative singular nominals following one another and so he inserted the verb between them to prevent misunderstanding. This unusual word order disregards the PPIA’s structure. This makes this reading the lex difficilior and thus probably original.

Callaham (2010:5) notes that ‘Biblical Hebrew employs repetition of a word or its root to reinforce the significance of a word or to apply some kind of stress’. He argues that PPIA + yiqtol verb forms generally emphasise the modality of the cognate verb and tend to occur in discourse rather than narrative. Waltke and O’Connor (1990:584 §35.3.1b) state that ‘the infinitive usually emphasizes not the meaning denoted by the verb’s root but the force of the verb in context’. G employs various irrealis modalities such as future, imperative and subjunctive forms to render the corresponding yiqtol verb forms. Conversely, when PPIA + qatal verb forms occur, G translates the finite verbs as aorist indicative tense forms (2:19; 3:7; 5:23; 13:19a) or perfect indicative tense forms (3:16; 15:1, 21). Such equivalents reflect G’s usual translation choices for Hebrew verb tense forms and so it is difficult to demonstrate that G intends to ‘emphasize the modality of the finite verb’ through his translation choices. Rather the various ways that G expresses this repetition suggest that when he detects some element of prominence, he seeks to replicate it within his target text. This begs the question of how G understood the function of PPIA constructions and how this understanding influences his translation choices. 15:1, 21 are the only occurrences in Exodus of the PPIA + finite verb form within poetry.

As Table 4 demonstrates, the same PPIA construction occurs repeatedly with various verbs in Exodus. However, G employs various transformations to render the same Hebrew construction (examples cited in the third column of the previous table). Later in the article, I discuss interpretational issues in specific contexts that may contribute to G’s translation decisions.

TABLE 4: Repeated Hebrew pre-posed paronymous infinitive absolute constructions and their translation equivalents.

The PPIA construction in Biblical Hebrew has no counterpart in Greek idiom. The Greek infinitive cannot function in this manner. If G is motivated to prepare a target text that accommodates Greek convention and also reflects the presence of PPIAs, he has to select non-isomorphic Greek collocations. Usually (28 times) he retains superficial semantic similarity with his Hebrew parent text by selecting two, Greek cognate terms.

This fact needs to be balanced by his use of a single verb or noun (21:19) in 10 contexts to translate PPIAs. Either he discerned no particular nuance expressed in the PPIA, or if he did, he did not think it necessary to express it in his target text through some repetitive structure. Tov (1999:251) says that ‘in some cases the translator may have known a shorter Vorlage, but in most cases different translation techniques must be presumed’. There is no evidence apart from the LXX text that G possessed a parent text different from the MT in these cases. In OG Exodus 31:15, the majority of the Greek textual tradition reads θανατῳ θανατωθησεται, reflecting מות יומת, but Weved accepts as original θανατωθήσεται witnessed by B 55txt (Wevers 1992:249; cf. earlier discussion).

In Sollamo’s opinion (1985:108–109), the PPIA in such instances ‘has not been translated at all’ and G ‘deliberately employed only one equivalent for the whole paronomastic construction’. However, the lack of an explicit equivalent for the infinitive absolute in these cases may not be a failure of translation (unless the translator followed a very literal translation process) but may in fact demonstrate a rather skillful translation, rendering sense, rather than adhering to strict isomorphism. If this is the case, then G did not think it necessary in every instance to reflect the PPIA in his translation by incorporating a related noun, participle or adverb. Sometimes he regarded the single, finite verb as an adequate rendering. Explanations for this usage might vary. In 2:19 and 5:23, G may use aorist finite verbs to maintain parallelism with the use of aorist tense forms in the previous clause. At 23.5 similar factors might influence the use of the single future tense form. G renders all occurrences of שלם ישלם with a single, future tense form, primarily using a form of ἀποτίνω (‘pay restitution’; 21:36; 22:6(MT5); 22:14(MT13)). However, at 22:3(MT2), he selects ἀνταποθανεῖται to render the Hebrew construction. This text requires a thief or victim, whoever is the subject of the verb, to make restitution. The Greek rendering changes this outcome to the death penalty. Korytko (2022:136) argues that this corporal punishment refers ‘to what happens to the night burglar and not the victim of the theft who acts in retaliation the following day’, indicating that its roots lie ‘in Graeco-Egyptian legal traditions’. G seems to be responsible for this interpretation. G uses a single, future passive tense form to render the PPIA construction.

Lastly, at 31:15, θανατωθήσεται has an imperatival force and does not require additional emphasis to communicate the application of a death penalty for violating the Sabbath. The full formula occurs in 31:14 (θανάτῳ θανατωθήσεται מות יומת) in the case of people who profane the Sabbath (ὁ βεβηλῶν). Individuals who do ἔργον on the Sabbath ἐξολεθρευθήσεται…ἐκ μέσου τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ (31:14b). In these two verses (31:14–15), the Hebrew text requires the execution or banishment/put to the ban of those who transgress the Sabbath prescriptions. Having used the full formula to describe execution in 31:14a, perhaps G did not think it necessary to repeat the formal pronouncement of the death penalty in 31:15 when describing the consequences of virtually the same offence.

As just noted, G translates every occurrence of שלם ישלם (21:36; 22:3(MT2), 6(MT5), 14(MT13)) as a single verb. The OG Exod textual tradition presents no evidence that it read a PPIA in the parent text at 21:36 or 22:3(MT2), but for the other two contexts (22:6(MT5), 14(MT13)) some textual witnesses influenced by the hexaplaric tradition read αποτιννυων αποτεισει, indicating the presence of the PPIA construction in Origen’s Hebrew text. It is possible that G’s renderings at 21:36 (ἀποτείσει) and 22.3(MT2) (ἀνταποθανεῖται) indicate that G’s parent text did not have a PPIA construction. If so, he may then have continued to use the finite verb form ἀποτείσει as his rendering in 22:16(MT5), 14(MT13) for the sake of consistency. However, this is speculation and apart from the Greek textual tradition, we have no evidence for a Hebrew text in 21:36 and 22:3(MT2) that read only ישלם.

In other contexts where Weved reads a single finite verb as the rendering for a PPIA construction, the hexaplaric tradition, supported by other textual families, sometimes reads participial pluses (2:19; 5:23), or cognate dative noun pluses (22:12(MT11); 31.15), witnessing to PPIA constructions in Origen’s Hebrew texts. However, at 23:5 (συνεγερεῖς), there is no evidence in the Greek textual tradition for a PPIA construction.

Sollamo (1985:103) affirms that ‘the most literal method of translating these cases is to use a participle with a finite form of the same verbal root’. In Tov’s opinion (1999:249), this translation equivalence is ‘probably as close as the translators could come within the possibilities of the Greek verbal system’. Thackeray (1908:599) argues that ‘where [a participle] is used in the Pentateuch an attempt is often made to render it more classical by varying the verb…or by using the simple and compound verb’. According to my analysis, G employs this translation strategy four times using cognate forms (3:7; 4:14; 22:17(MT16); 23:24b) and three times using non-cognate forms (21:5; 22:22b(MT23b); 23:4). In G’s perception, the PPIAs give emphasis to the action expressed in the verb and he reflects that by repeating the verbal form as a pre-posed participle. G perhaps did not know of a noun cognate with certain verbs (e.g. ἀνανεύων ἀνανεύσῃ (22:17(MT16)) and συντρίβων συντρίψεις (23:24b)) and so he could not easily use a dative of instrumentality as he often does, to represent the PPIA construction. Such a case also might be made for ἰδὼν εἶδον (3.7) and λαλῶν λαλήσει (4.14).

He employs a present participle (4:14; 22.17(MT16); 23:24b) or an aorist participle (3:7; 21:5; 22:22b(23b); 23:4) with future and aorist tense forms. The tense form of the participle reflects G’s understanding of the relationship between the action of the participle and the action of the finite verb in a specific context and is not dependent on the form of the Hebrew infinitive absolute. G’s variation in tense forms of participles in such constructions diverges both from Tov’s observation (1999:251) that ‘almost exclusively the participle of the present tense…is used’, to render a PPIA in various voices, and also Thackeray’s statement (1908:599) that ‘instances of the bald use of the present participle and finite form of the same verb,…are not frequent until we come to Deuteronomy which has nine of them’. G shows no particular bias for either participial tense form. G probably knew that the use of the Greek participle with the finite form of the same verb is ‘to say the least, distinctly unidiomatic’ (598) and given his general goal to produce a readable Greek text, he limits his use of this translation strategy.

It is the case that in the writings of Aeschylus (Prom. 448 οἳ πρῶτα μὲν βλέποντες ἔβλεπον μάτην; Aga. 1623 οὐχ ὁρᾶις ὁρῶν τάδε) and Demosthenes (1 Aristog. 89.4 ὁρῶντας μὴ ὁρᾶν καὶ ἀκούοντας μὴ ἀκούειν, quoting an earlier author), we find examples of present participles used in the same clause with a cognate finite verb. However, as Krause notes (1993:195), these passages ‘clearly have no sense of the intensive meaning signified by the Hebrew verb + cognate infinitive absolute’. Rather the participle reports an action that subsequently fails in some way (e.g. ‘seeing they were seeing in vain’). Negatives do not occur in G’s use of present participles to render PPIAs (3:7; 4:14; 22:17(MT16); 23:24b). The cognate finite verb confirms the action described in the participle. The syntactical construction might be similar in a formal way, but the resultant meaning is quite different. The three cases where non-cognate, adverbial participles render a PPIA fully conform to Greek idiom (21:5; 22:23b(MT22b); 23:4). In the NT the only examples occur in quotations from the LXX (Is 6:9 in Mt 13:14; Mk 4:12 and Ac 28:26; Ex 3:7 in Ac 7:34; Gn 22:17 in Heb 6:14).

At 22:4(MT3) G renders the PPIA + finite verb in the protasis אם־ המצה תמצה בידו with two coordinated clauses, incorporating two lexically unrelated finite verb forms (ἐὰν δὲ καταλημφθῇ καὶ εὑρεθῇ ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ). This is the only context in Exodus where a form of καταλείπω renders מצא. G also transforms active Hebrew verb forms to passive Greek verb forms and second person singular Hebrew verb forms to third person singular verb forms, the first of which refers to the thief (‘If he should be caught’) and the second may be impersonal (‘and there should be found in his hand’). G makes explicit the presumption implicit in the Hebrew text, namely that the thief is caught. It is possible that G interpreted the consonantal text differently than the MT’s pointing.

Up to this point, we have considered renderings of PPIA constructions that only involve verb formations. For the rest, 32 instances, G employs a verb form modified by some nominal or adverbial element, or in one case, a predicate noun with an equative verb. The most common construction is a dative substantive with a cognate (18 times) or non-cognate (five times) verb form. In his discussion of cognate constructions, Smyth (1973:357 §1577) says that ‘the (rarer) dative…expresses the cause (1517), manner (1513), or means (1507)’. Paronomastic dative formations such as γάμῳ γαμεῖν (‘in true wedlock’) and φυγῇ φεύγειν (‘flee with all speed’) occur in prior Greek texts (Thackeray 1908:598). Sollamo (1985:107) notes στεφάνωι χρυσῶι στεφανοῦν used in inscriptions but observes that usually the dative noun has an adjectival modifier. We could list other examples, such as Plato [Min.] 314a 4 ἐπειδὴ ἀκοῇ τὰ ἀκουόμενα ἀκούεται ‘since by hearing, things heard are heard’ (consider ἐὰν ἀκοῇ ἀκούσητε τῆς ἐμῆς φωνῆς ‘if by hearing you hear my voice’ Ex 19:5; see also 15:26; 22:23c(MT22c); 23:22). The meaning in 19:5, with the genitive complement, suggests a responsive hearing and not just the sensation of hearing that [Min.] 314a is discussing. However, the formation with cognate dative nouns is very similar on the surface. According to Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG), most of the paronomastic dative noun constructions used in OG Exodus are not paralleled in Classical Greek sources. Thackeray (1908:598) observes that ‘the Pentateuch translators prefer the former construction [noun and verb] wherever there is a convenient cognate noun available’.

When G employs this transformation, he interprets the PPIA as functioning adverbially or expressing instrumentality. For example, at 3:16 Yahweh tells Moses that ἐπισκοπῇ ἐπέσκεμμαι ὑμᾶς and the dative noun ἐπισκοπῇ (‘with oversight’) can be interpreted instrumentally, describing the manner in which Yahweh is ‘overseeing you [Israel]’. By using a noun in the dative G gives prominence to Yahweh’s action expressed in the perfect tense form. Occasionally, the dative noun in such constructions expresses means, particularly when the noun describes a physical object. For example, at 21:28 Yahweh instructs λίθοις λιθοβοληθήσεται ὁ ταῦρος. G reflects this sense at 19:13 by using a prepositional phrase ἐν…λίθοις λιθοβοληθήσεται. G’s singular use of a prepositional phrase to render a PPIA indicates the function of some of these dative lexemes. It is not easy to discern when such dative nouns may be expressing means. I might suggest that this is G’s intention at 13:19a (ὅρκῳ); 21:28 (λίθοις); 19:13b (βολίδι).

The most frequent iteration of the dative noun + verb equivalence for a PPIA construction occurs with θανάτῳ in conjunction with θανατόω (21:12, 15; 31:14; cf. 31:15), τελευτάω (19:12; 21:16(MT17), 17(MT)) or ἀποκτείνω (22:19(MT18)). ἀποκτείνω in Greek legal documents refers to homicide or on-the-spot killing and can refer to killing through the execution of a death sentence but does not describe ‘the formal death penalty’ (Korytko 2022:53–54). τελευτάω describes untimely death that occurs as life unfolds, namely ‘the end’ that a person experiences. G does not use forms of θανατόω/ἀποθνήσκω in such contexts to describe the formal death penalty, even though Greek legal diction uses it in this way (155). As Korytko demonstrates (47–57), G’s variation in his choice of verb to render מות יומת reflects G’s interpretation of the verb construction in specific contexts and in accord with legal diction found in Classical Greek writers and Ptolemaic documents. Korytko (59–63) also shows that the dative θανάτῳ refers to ‘untimely death’ when modifying a verb of death. When it qualifies τελευτάω, it refers to an untimely death that happens in the normal course of life, and when it modifies ἀποκτείνω, it refers to untimely death that occurs by specific killing such as homicide or manslaughter, but these collocations do not refer to the death penalty (60–62). Although the formulation θανάτῳ θανατόω does not occur in Classical Greek or Ptolemaic legal documents to prescribe a death penalty, it does parallel other legal formulae such as θανάτῳ + ζημιόω and θανάτῳ + ἔνοχος + εἰμί (47–56). In the legal prescriptions of Exodus 21–23, when מות יומת refers to a death sentence appropriately adjudicated and executed and G perceives that this sentence for the crime under discussion fits within the Ptolemaic legal framework, he selects θανάτῳ + θανατόω as the equivalent. (e.g. 21.12, 15). In all of these cases, G uses various formulations that incorporate θανάτῳ to retain serial and quantitative fidelity with his parent text but not necessarily semantic equivalence.

In most of these cases, G employs a noun cognate with the stem of the accompanying verb (3:16; 11:1; 13:19a, 19b, 15:26; 19:5; 21:12, 15; 22:16(MT15), 23a(MT22a), 23:22, 24a; 31:14). However, in several contexts, the cognate noun selected corresponds only to the verb stem of a compound verb form (e.g. ἀλοιφῇ ἐξαλείψω 17:14; also 18:18; 21:20; 22:23c(MT22c)) or to the non-verbal component of the compound verb (e.g. λίθοις λιθοβοληθήσεται 21:28). In other contexts, the noun is not cognate with the accompanying finite verb (e.g. θανάτῳ τελευτήσει 19:12; also 19:13b; 21:16(MT17), 17(MT16); 22:19(MT18)). Constructions included in these last three categories approximate normal Greek constructions. The translation pattern displayed in Exodus supports Thackeray’s observation (1909:48) that noun + verb transformations occur with all voices, but participle + verb only occurs with active or middle finite verb forms.

G chooses an accusative noun followed by a cognate verb twice (ἐπιζήμιον ζημιωθήσεται 21:22; ἐνεχύρασμα ἐνεχυράσῃ 22:26(MT25)). Cognate accusative constructions occur regularly in Greek literature. Godwin (1965:223–224) provides many examples of this construction in Classical Greek writings. The second person singular form of the verb at 22:26(MT25) followed by the accusative τὸ ἱμάτιον indicates that ἐνεχύρασμα (‘pledge, thing pawned’) functions as a cognate accusative. The cognate verb ἐνεχυράζω by itself means ‘take in pledge’ with the item taken marked with the accusative (eds. Liddell, Scott & Jones 1966:565.2 [LSJ]). The noun ἐνεχύρασμα in this context is tautologous and reflects the influence of the Hebrew PPIA construction. This is its first attestation in Greek literature according to LSJ (565) and TLG. Plato (Leg. 949d) uses the cognate noun ἐνεχυρασία ‘taking property in pledge, security taken, pledge’ (LSJ, 565).

The Greek construction in 21:22 ἐπιζήμιον ζημιωθήσεται could be interpreted in several ways. ἐπιζήμιον, a neuter singular form of the adjective ἐπιζήμιος (τὸ ἐπιζήμιον ‘a fine’ [LSJ, 633. I.2]), could function as the subject of the passive verb, with the sense ‘a fine shall be fined’. Alternatively, as Wevers suggests (1990:333), the person involved in the altercation, who is not the husband of the woman, is viewed as the subject and the text means ‘he shall be fined a fine’, with ἐπιζημίον functioning as the direct object. The verb also could function as an impersonal passive construction, as the Hebrew niphal verb form might suggest, with ἐπιζήμιον functioning as a cognate accusative used in the sense ‘there shall be a fine that brings loss’ (ἐπιζήμιος ‘bringing loss upon, hurtful, prejudicial’ [LSJ, 633. I]). The MT points the finite verb as a niphal imperfect, and according to Koehler and Baumgartner (2001:859), this form of the verb means ‘to be paid for’. Houtman (2000:160, 170) translates it as ‘a fine shall be required’. If the Hebrew text functions as the arbiter of meaning intended by the translator, then the impersonal verb construction modified by the cognate accusative is probably intended.

καὶ οὐ καθαριεῖ τὸν ἔνοχον (34:7) could be a third example of an accusative transformation. The Hebrew construction is a negative PPIA construction ונקה לא ינקה, with the negative particle לא preceding the finite verb form. Waltke and O’Connor (1990:583 §35.2.2e) state that in PPIAs ‘a negative particle, where needed, is normally placed before the finite verb’. G renders it as καὶ οὐ καθαριεῖ τὸν ἔνοχον, using a finite verb + object. This is a unique translation strategy for a PPIA in Exodus. It is possible that G read ונקה as a weqatal formation and rendered it with the future καθαριεῖ. He then construed ינקה as a nominal form, translating it with an articulated adjective functioning as the object of the verb (τὸν ἔνοχον). However, this is speculation. Within the Greek tradition, some textual witnesses place τον ενοχον before the verb. However, given the Greek textual evidence (τον ενοχον καθαριει is supported by B 15′ f-129 30′ 318′ 55 426 799 Cyr IV 420 VI 944 LatHi Ezech VI 18 Co), Wevers suggests (1990:171) that the transposition has hexaplaric origins. G renders piel forms of נקה with καθαρίζω (20:7; 34:7).

Numbers 14:18 repeats the declaration made by Yahweh in Exodus 34:7, and in that context OG Numbers does reflect the PPIA construction explicitly as καὶ καθαρισμῷ οὐ καθαριεῖ τὸν ἔνοχον. This rendering, which also includes τὸν ἔνοχον, raises the question whether G intended his rendering καὶ οὐ καθαριεῖ τὸν ἔνοχον to reflect the PPIA construction, or whether he in fact has rendered it with a single verb. If G chose the second option, then this example belongs to the category of ‘transformation by a single verb’. Le Boulluec and Sandevoir (1989:338) state that ‘la figure étymologique du TM,…est absent de la LXX’ and define καθαρίζω in this context as ‘declarer pur’. In their view, τὸν ἔνοχον has no specific equivalent in the Hebrew text.

Based on a detailed review of each of these cognate noun + verb constructions, I would suggest that G has used several different strategies that may express a note of intensification. The most frequent strategies are his use of dative pre-posed cognate nouns to express manner or means or accusative pre-posed cognate nouns to express a cognate accusative. Secondly, the form of verb G selects usually is a causative formation (e.g. contract verbs [simplex contract verb forms include ἐκδικέω, ζημιόω, θανατόω, καθαιρέω, κακόω, λιθοβολέω, τελευτάω; compound contract verb forms include ἐκδικέω, λιθοβολέω); or verbs ending in -ιζω (e.g. ἐνεχυράζω, καθαρίζω, ὁρκίζω, φερνίζω; also δοξάζω with ἐνδόξως]), or a compound verb whose prefix may have an intensive significance (e.g. εἰσακούω, ἐκβάλλω, ἐπισκέπτομαι, κατατοξεύω). Occasionally G selects verbs that have none of these characteristics, primarily because these represent his default renderings for the corresponding Hebrew verb (e.g. ἀκούω, ἀποκτείνω, λέγω, ὁράω). Thirdly, some of his choices seem to be the first attestation of such lexemes, either noun or verb, in Greek literature. Examples would include ἐπισκοπή (3:16; 13:19), ἐκδικέω (21:20), λιθοβολέω (19:13; 21:28), φερνίζω (22.16(MT15)), and ἐνεχύρασμα (22.26(MT25)). Discovery of new materials may show that such terms had use in the early 3rd century BCE or earlier. Rare terms, or neologisms in some cases, might also signal something unusual in the expression. In other words, G employs various means to express intensification if he perceived some sort of intensification to be a function of PPIA constructions and thought it contextually important to transmit this in his translation.

In three contexts, G employs an adverb preposed before a finite verb as the equivalent for PPIA constructions. Tov (1999:248) cites six examples in the Greek Pentateuch, namely Gensis 32:13; 37:33; 46:4; Exodus 15:1, 21; Numbers 22.17. If μακράν in Exodus 8:24(MT28) fits this category, this indicates seven occurrences in the Greek Pentateuch. This translation equivalent is relatively infrequent, even though the resultant Greek construction reflects Greek idiom, particularly where translators select non-cognate adverbial forms. At 15:1, 21 the Hebrew PPIA construction כי־גאה גאה occurs in poetic discourse and G renders it as ἐνδόξως γὰρ δεδόξασται.

The third example occurs in 8:28(MT24). The PPIA is part of a play on words expressed as רק הרחק לא־תרחיקו ללכת and G uses ἀλλ’ οὐ μακρὰν ἀποτενεῖτε πορευθῆναι as the equivalent. The collocation רק…לא only occurs in this context in Exodus and, as an adversative construction, ‘expresses something which either contradicts or varies from that which precedes it’ (Koehler & Baumgartner 2001:1286.2.iii). G renders it idiomatically as ἀλλ’ οὐ, its only occurrence in OG Exodus. ἀποτενεῖτε + μάκραν occurs numerous times as a collocation in Classical Greek writers, with the sense ‘extend in a prolonged fashion’ (LSJ, 222.I.2). Thesaurus Linguae Graecae gives additional examples from Theophrastus (Frag. 8.8.3 and 8.8.6). G renders this PPIA construction using a known Greek idiom that includes the adverb μάκραν + finite verb.

In one context (21:19), G employs a single noun as his rendering. Yahweh gives instruction for restitution in the case of a person injured in a fight. If the person recovers through medical ministration, then the perpetrator is only responsible to reimburse for costs associated with πλἠν τῆς ἀργίας…καὶ τὰ ἰατρεῖα, namely lost work time and doctor’s clinic. Diggle et al. (eds. 2020:700, I) define ἰατρεῖον as ‘a place of medical treatment, doctor’s clinic’. The plural form here perhaps has the sense ‘costs associated with treatment at a medical clinic’. G carefully distinguishes the fine paid ‘other than for the lost work’ (πλὴν τῆς ἀργίας) and ‘the costs associated with the doctor’s clinic’ (καὶ τὰ ἰατρεία). πλήν + genitive functions as a preposition in this context. According to Koehler and Baumgartner (2001:1274.2), the absolute use of the piel verb form רפא means ‘to pay the costs of healing’. G has transformed the two independent clauses in 21:19b into one clause whose verb is modified by an adverbial prepositional phrase (πλὴν τῆς ἀργίας αὐτοῦ) and a direct object (καὶ (ascensive) τὰ ἰάτρεῖα). He expresses the sense of the Hebrew text but in a form that accommodates the Greek language.

Another anomalous rendering occurs at 22:13(MT12) where G renders the protasis אם־טרף יטרף as ἐὰν δὲ θηριάλωτον γένηται, employing γίνομαι + predicate adjective. The Hebrew finite verb form is niphal, expressing a passive sense. This section gives instructions for restitution in cases where a borrowed animal is injured, stolen or killed by wild animals. 22:13(MT12) deals with the last situation, and the protasis introduces the circumstances, namely ‘if it evidently has been mauled [by wild animals],…’ According to LSJ (799) and TLG, this is the first attestation of the adjective θηριάλωτος in Greek literature. It is a compound form created from θήρειος (‘of wild beasts’ [LSJ, 799]) and ἀλωτός (‘liable to capture or conquest’ [LSJ, 75]). G renders the sense of the Hebrew collocation but takes the initiative to offer an interpretative translation that accommodates the Greek language. Tov (1999:250) regards this formation as ‘a variant of this type [cognate participle of the same root]’, but using γίνομαι + adjective. While the resultant meaning might be similar, the syntax is quite different.

This analysis of G’s strategies for translating PPIA constructions reveals a diverse range of renderings (eight different transformations). He does not render PPIA constructions isomorphically. The primary options he chooses, namely a single finite verb, a dative or accusative noun + cognate finite verb, or a participle + cognate/non-cognate finite verb, employ equivalents that replicate the form but not necessarily the sense of Greek usage.

We should regard G’s choice of a single finite verb (nine times) as an intentional translation, not as a failure to translate the PPIA construction, because in those contexts he perceives no need for an additional lexeme to communicate the meaning of the PPIA construction. Tov (1999:255) notes that G and OG Isaiah are the translations that most frequently use a single finite verb to render a PPIA. The goals of these translators were somewhat similar in their desire to represent the meaning of the Hebrew parent text in a form that accommodated Greek idiom.

If Korytko’s analysis (2022:61–63) of the renderings of the מות יומת construction is correct, then G’s variation in his translation choices of the finite verb used with the dative θανάτῳ demonstrates his awareness of the subtle ways that writers in Classical and Ptolemaic Greek communicated death-producing actions in legal and other contexts. Lexical precision in the target text seems important to G.

Even though G has preferred modes of rendering PPIA constructions, he is not wedded to them. Sometimes he employs two different finite verbs connected by καί or condenses and transforms two Hebrew clauses into a single clause, representing the PPIA construction with a noun, or uses an adjectival neologism predicatively with γίνομαι. What leads G to choose participle + finite verb or dative cognate noun + verb, or simply a finite verb as the rendering in a particular context remains elusive. Renderings with θανάτῳ seem to reflect various legal expressions. Conversely, he may render שלם ישלם consistently with a single finite verb because paying fines reflects a legal judgment whose action may inherently be emphatic or in some sense final. Modifying a verb with a cognate dative noun expresses instrumentality but may also be a concise way to translate the PPIA construction that fits Greek convention, and thus G tends to choose it as a translation. His renderings of PPIAs in 8:28(MT24); 21:19; 22:4(MT3), 13(MT12); 34:7 reveal the extent to which this translator is willing to transform Hebrew syntax in order to communicate his intended meaning.

His rendering in each context has to be evaluated carefully to discern why he adopted it. His translation choice does not usually reflect a parent text that differs from the MT, either with regard to the presence or absence of a PPIA construction. In some cases, G may have read the consonantal text differently from the MT’s pointing indicates (e.g. 34:7).

Although Tov’s findings (1999:253) indicate that G’s translation choices for PPIAs show considerable similarity with OG Genesis, G nonetheless demonstrates an unusual degree of flexibility in his renderings in comparison with the rest of the Greek Pentateuch. He focuses primarily on producing a Greek text that is readable, sensible and somewhat contextualised for Greek speakers, who cannot reference the Hebrew parent text. Communicating the meaning of the Hebrew text as he discerned it has priority over literal, isomorphic renderings that reflect Hebrew syntax or specific lexemes. Word order is an exception in that his Greek translation usually shows serial fidelity with the MT’s word order.


Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

Author’s contributions

L.P. is the sole author of this article.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

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This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

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Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


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