Parsing of hISTHSETAI, Isa 52:13 Aquila

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Fri Aug 18 07:13:23 EDT 2000

At 6:25 PM -0500 8/17/00, Daniel P. Bailey wrote:
>Dear List,
>I'm having trouble parsing the form hISTHSETAI in Aquila's version of Isa
>52:13, as cited in an article by Martin Hengel (since I'm away from the
>library, I have not yet checked the citation against Field's edition of the
>Hexapla). The LXX has IDOU SUNHSEI hO PAIS MOU, "Behold, my Servant shall
>understand." Aquila apparently has IDOU EPISTHMWN hISTHSETAI hO PAIS MOU.
>Now EPISTHMWN is technically an adjective meaning "understanding" (cf.
>James 3:13, NT hapax), though it is tempting to see it here as a
>substantive. But what about hISTHSETAI, a form which occurs nowhere in the
>LXX? STHSETAI without the prefixed "hI" is of course the future middle
>deponent of hISTHMI, but I can't see how hISTHSETAI can be traced to
>hISTHMI; it is wrong both in form and in sense.
>I thought of trying to trace hISTHSETAI to OIDA, on the grounds that the
>classical form ISTE occurs instead of the normal Hellenistic form OIDATE in
>Eph 5:5; Heb 12:17: and James 1:19. The concept of the Servant's "knowing"
>would at least make sense in Isa 52:13. But there is a problem, for if we
>were to understand hISTHSETAI as a wierd future form of OIDA or the
>hypothetical root EIDW (cf. the lemma in LSJ), we still cannot explain the
>rough breathing in hISTHSETAI.
>The Tufts mophological engine is unable to parse hISTHSETAI. Can any of you
>beat the computer?
>Please reply either on or off list to your grateful colleague,

I think this has to be understood as a future 3 sg. middle (intransitive)
of hISTAW/hISTANW, attested later forms of hISTHMI. This is a period when
older -MI verbs are developing new -W verb forms (cf. Koine AFIW, SUNIW for
older AFIHMI, SUNIHMI). Although LSJ doesn't show hISTHSETAI as an attested
future of either of these verbs, it is logical enough that once we have a
present stem hISTA- for an -W verb, that present stem will form a future
stem in hISTHS-

As for its usage here with EPISTHMWN, note that hISTAMAI (mid/intrans.) can
take the sense "be" with predicate adjective:

B. Pass. and intr. tenses of Act., to be set or placed, stand, ... freq.
merely a stronger form of einai, to be in a certain place or state,
argureoi stathmoi en chalkeôi hestasan oudôi Hom. Od. 7.89, etc.; hestatô
for estô , Soph. Aj. 1084; ta nun hestôta,= ta nun, IDEM=Soph. Trach. 1271
(anap.); emoi d' achos hesta_ken IDEM=Soph. Aj. 200(lyr.): with Adv.,
xumphoras hin' hestamen, hin' hest. chreias, in what case or need we are,
IDEM=Soph. Trach. 1145, ti=Soph. OT 1442; pou tuchês hestêken; IDEM=Soph.
Aj. 102; later also adikôs, orthôs, eulabôs histasthai, behave wrongly,
etc., Plb.18.3.2, au=Plb. 33.6.3, au=Plb. 18.33.4.

I don't have access to the Hebrew text for this verse, but might this be
one of those construct verbal types here?

That's my guesswork, at any rate.


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at
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