17 Lesson Seventeen: LXX Genesis 12:1-3/LXX Leviticus 18:1-5

In the following chapters, we are transitioning away from working directly on Galatians, and engaging with “related texts.” In the next few lessons, we will provide texts (in wider context) from the Septuagint (LXX) that Paul quotes in part in Galatians. Instructions: Translate the Greek text with help from the reader notes. Complete the MYON (Make Your Own Note) and Discussion Questions if you desire.[1]

Genesis 12:1–3 καὶ εἶπεν κύριος τῷ Αβραμ ἔξελθε ἐκ τῆς γῆς σου καὶ ἐκ τῆς συγγενείας σου καὶ ἐκ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ πατρός σου εἰς τὴν γῆν ἣν ἄν σοι δείξω 2  καὶ ποιήσω σε εἰς ἔθνος μέγα καὶ εὐλογήσω σε καὶ μεγαλυνῶ τὸ ὄνομά σου καὶ ἔσῃ εὐλογητός 3  καὶ εὐλογήσω τοὺς εὐλογοῦντάς σε καὶ τοὺς καταρωμένους σε καταράσομαι καὶ ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν σοὶ πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς. Rahlfs[2]

12:1

[SN] Though ὅτι is not present in this case, εἶπεν (AAI3S LF: λέγω) introduces direct discourse.

[TN] Linked by καί, the series of three ἐκ-phrases all modify the verb ἔξελθε (AAM2S LF: ἐξέρχομαι), which has the prefixed preposition ἔξ. This repetition intensifies the command for Abram to leave his country, kindred, and father’s house.

[LN] Συγγενείας (FSG LF: συγγένεια) refers to relatives or extended family.

[SN] The preposition εἰς expresses movement toward and contrasts with the command to go out.

[SN] The definite relative pronoun ἣν (FSA) restricts the understanding its antecedent γῆν to the specific land that God will show Abram.

[LN, SN] Δείξω (AAS1S LF: δείκνυμι) means “to show.” While one would expect the future tense here, it is worth noting that the subjunctive mood (paired here with ἄν) refers to potential or possible action and therefore suggests future time.

12:2

[SN] Καὶ . . . καὶ . . . καὶ: The repeated use of καί is a Greek reflection of the common Hebrew conjunction vav. They can be maintained in translation with “and,” or the items can simply be set apart by commas.

[SN] The prepositional phrase εἰς ἔθνος μέγα expresses God’s fashioning (ποιήσω) of Abram, resulting in a new condition. For this reason it may be helpful to think of εἰς in terms of #purpose or #result, but it is important to keep the underlying Hebrew text in mind: εἰς is supplied here for the Hebrew preposition lamed, which is used frequently to communicate transition into a new state.

[GMN, SN] Μέγα (NSA LF: μέγας, -άλη, -α): This attributive adjective is irregular, but it still agrees in GNC with the noun ἔθνος.

[GMN] Εὐλογήσω (FAI1S LF: εὐλογέω) is a #contract verb.

[GMN] Μεγαλυνῶ (FAI1S LF: μεγαλύνω) is a #liquid verb, meaning it rejects the σ tense formative. As a result, an ε has been added to the stem, which has contracted with the 1S ending (note the circumflex accent).

[GMN] Ἔσῃ is FI2S (LF: εἰμί).

12:3

[SN] Τοὺς εὐλογοῦντάς σε: The two accusative objects in succession can be confusing. The #substantival participle τοὺς εὐλογοῦντάς (PAPMPA LF: εὐλογέω) is the object of the verb εὐλογήσω, and the accusative pronoun σε is the object of the participle.

[SN] Τοὺς καταρωμένους (PDPMPA LF: καταράομαι) is a #substantival participle (“those who curse”) and is the object of the verb καταράσομαι.

[GMN] Καταράσομαι is FDI1S (LF: καταράομαι).

[GMN] Ἐνευλογηθήσονται (FPI3P LF: ἐνευλογέω) is a #contract verb.

Discussion Question (LXX Gen 12:1–3)

[12:3] The prepositional phrase ἐν σοὶ likely expresses either #means or #association: all the tribes (φυλαί) of the earth will be blessed “by means of” Abram or “in association with” Abram. Which reading is more likely and why? Does (or should) our reading of this text in its LXX context influence our understanding of Paul’s reference to it in Gal 3:8?

Leviticus 18:1–5 καὶ εἶπεν κύριος πρὸς Μωυσῆν λέγων 2  λάλησον τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ καὶ ἐρεῖς πρὸς αὐτούς ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν 3  κατὰ τὰ ἐπιτηδεύματα γῆς Αἰγύπτου ἐν ᾗ κατῳκήσατε ἐπ᾽ αὐτῇ οὐ ποιήσετε καὶ κατὰ τὰ ἐπιτηδεύματα γῆς Χανααν εἰς ἣν ἐγὼ εἰσάγω ὑμᾶς ἐκεῖ οὐ ποιήσετε καὶ τοῖς νομίμοις αὐτῶν οὐ πορεύσεσθε 4  τὰ κρίματά μου ποιήσετε καὶ τὰ προστάγματά μου φυλάξεσθε πορεύεσθαι ἐν αὐτοῖς ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν 5  καὶ φυλάξεσθε πάντα τὰ προστάγματά μου καὶ πάντα τὰ κρίματά μου καὶ ποιήσετε αὐτά ἃ ποιήσας ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν Rahlfs[3]

18:1

[GMN] Μωυσῆν (MSA): The name Μωϋσῆς declines according to the third declension.

[SN] The construction εἶπεν . . . λέγων (“he said . . . saying”) appears unusual and redundant in Greek, but this type of construction is very common in Hebrew. In translation, we may treat λέγων similarly to ὅτι (i.e., introducing #direct discourse) and leave it untranslated. Technically, λέγων appears to serve as a #participle of means.

18:2

[TN, SN] Future-tense verbs are used throughout vv. 2–5 to translate the Hebrew imperfect, which is often employed in reference to future time but may also approximate the imperative mood. For this reason, it is possible to treat these occurrences of the future tense as #imperatival futures (however, a translation of “shall” would preserve syntactical ambiguity).

[GMN] Λάλησον (AAM2S LF: λαλέω) is a #contract verb.

[SN, LN] The noun τοῖς υἱοῖς (MPD LF: υἱός) with Ισραηλ (indeclinable, but functioning as a #genitive of relationship) literally translates as “the sons of Israel” (i.e., the Israelite people), but given that τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ refers to a mixed-gender group, it may be translated as “children.”

[TN, SN] Ἐρεῖς is FAI2S (LF: λέγω).

[SN] In the verbless clause ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν, the pronoun ἐγὼ is the subject, and κύριος ὁ θεὸς are #predicate nominatives. This exact phrase has twenty-eight occurrences in the LXX, half of which are in Leviticus in the context of legal material (including 18:4–5).

18:3

[SN] Ποιήσετε . . . ποιήσετε . . . πορεύσεσθε: This verse consists of three main clauses, with the controlling verb appearing at the very end of each clause.

[SN] In both occurrences of κατὰ τὰ ἐπιτηδεύματα, the preposition κατά with the accusative refers to #reference/respect or possibly #standard.

[LN] Ἐπιτηδεύματα (NPA LF: ἐπιτήδευμα) refers to “deeds/practices,” here referring to those practices of the Egyptians and Canaanites that are displeasing to God.

[TN, LN] Ἐν ᾗ . . . ἐπ᾽ αὐτῇ is an extremely wooden gloss of a #spatial relative clause in the Hebrew. With the main verb κατῳκήσατε, the relative clause can be translated “where/in which you lived.”

[GMN, LN] Κατῳκήσατε (AAI2P LF: κατοικέω) is a compound verb formed from κατά and οἰκέω. Because it is a compound verb, the augment for the aorist has come after the prepositional prefix, which has resulted in the contraction ῳ. Κατοικέω can be translated “to live” or “to dwell.”

[GMN] Ποιήσετε is FAI2P (LF: ποιέω).

[GMN, LN] Εἰσάγω (PAI1S) is a compound verb formed from εἰς and ἄγω and means “to bring” or “to lead into.”

[TN] The inclusion of the seemingly redundant adverb ἐκεῖ is due to the wooden nature of this text’s translation from Hebrew. It is a gloss of a Hebrew adverb with the same meaning.

[LN, SN] The substantival adjective τοῖς νομίμοις (NPD LF: νόμιμος, -η, -ον), “statutes/ordinances,” likely functions as a #dative of rule or possibly #reference.

[GMN] Πορεύσεσθε is FDI2P (LF: πορεύομαι).

18:4

[LN] Κρίματά (NPA LF: κρίμα), “judgments,” here refers to “decrees” or “decisions.” This usage is very common in the LXX.

[LN, SN] Προστάγματά (NPA LF: προστάγμα) refers to an ordinance or a command and should probably be read here as roughly synonymous with κρίμα.

[TN, GMN] Φυλάξεσθε (FMI2P LF: φυλάσσω), “to keep,” sits in parallel with ποιήσετε, and thus both should probably be understood to refer to acting in ways that preserve God’s κρίματά and προστάγματά. Because the true stem of φυλάσσω is φυλακ- (cf. the nominal form, φυλακή), the stem vowel κ and future tense formative σ have combined to produce ξ.

[LN] Πορεύεσθαι (PDN LF: πορεύομαι) is a translation of the infinitive form of the Hebrew verb halak (“to walk”) and is similar in meaning here to the verb περιπατέω, i.e., it connotes “walking” as “conducting one’s life.”

MYON [SN] Identify the syntactical function of the infinitive πορεύεσθαι.

[SN] The prepositional phrase ἐν αὐτοῖς likely expresses the #standard by which God’s people are to conduct themselves (i.e., according to the standard expressed in God’s “judgments” and “commands”).

18:5

[GMN] Φυλάξεσθε (FDI2P LF: φυλάσσω): See note on v. 4 for morphological information.

[TN, LN] The relative pronoun (NPA LF: ὅς) refers back to the preceding pronoun αὐτά (NPA LF: αὐτός). The former is an attempt by the translator to reproduce the form of the Hebrew. In translation, it would probably be best to treat both and αὐτά as normal pronouns and to use the same gloss (“them”) for each.

[SN] Ποιήσας (AAPMSN LF: ποιέω) is an adverbial #participle of means (“by doing them”).

[SN] Ζήσεται (FMI2S LF: ζάω) is likely a #gnomic future, which would take on a sort of “timeless truth” quality.

[TN] The LXX translator’s attempt to reproduce the form of the Hebrew results in the strange reading ἃ ποιήσας ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αύτοῖς. It is helpful to note how Paul smoothes out this reading in his Gal 3:12 citation by converting ποιήσας into a #substantival participle and by replacing the relative pronoun with the normal pronoun αὐτὰ (ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὰ ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς).

Discussion Question (LXX Lev 18:1–5)

[18:5] A major focus of this text is the command against “walking” in the practices of other nations (cf. v. 3 τοῖς νομίμοις αὐτῶν οὐ πορεύσεσθε). Can the immediate context point us toward the syntactical function of the prepositional phrase in ἃ ποιήσας ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς? For instance, how does our understanding of this passage change with a reading of #means? #Sphere?


  1. For help translating Septuagint texts, see the free digital version of the NETS (New English Translation of the Septuagint), http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/.
  2. The LXX = Septuaginta, ed. A. Rahlfs (Stuttgart: Württembergische Bibelanstalt, 1935; repr. in 9th ed., 1971).
  3. The LXX = Septuaginta, ed. A. Rahlfs (Stuttgart: Württembergische Bibelanstalt, 1935; repr. in 9th ed., 1971).

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