[B-Greek] hALUSIDWTOS as "chain mail"? (LXX)

Albert Pietersma albert.pietersma at sympatico.ca
Mon Mar 17 11:33:08 EST 2003

Dear Rodney,
The time frame for interpretation, it seems to me, should be the date of the
Greek translation, not David's historical period. The date of the translation
is difficult to determine, but first century BC/BCE is probably not far wrong.

The word itself needs to be put in minimal context, that is to say, it is a
(descriptive) modifier of QWRAC, a  well known term  referring to armor
protecting mainly chest and abdomen. How such a piece of armor was put together
could vary according to period. It is interesting to note that QWRAC  *by
itself* can indeed refer to scale armor (see LSJ).

hALUSIDWTOS is used to define what sort of QWRAC the Greek translator had in
mind. Since there is nothing in the Hebrew that suggests 'chain,' it is
legitimate to conclude that the translator is here drawing on his own knowledge
and experience. Since, as you say, the word is clearly derived from hALUSIS
'chain' (+ verbal adj. of DIDWMI), one can confidently gloss it as 'wrought of
chain'  or 'wrought in chain-fashion' (LEH).

Was such armour known in the time period of our translator?  The answer is a
clear Yes, since at least from Polybius onward (II BC) we have references to
hALUSIDWTOS QWPAC. Eupolemos (a Jewish writer of II BC)  uses it as well

bgreek at ntresources.com wrote:

> 1 Sam. 17:5 (tech. 1 Reigns in LXX) refers to Goliath's breastplate as being
> comprised of bronze and iron hALUSIDWTOS, which Lust's LXX lexicon (1:22)
> translates as "chain mail." (The word does not occur in BDAG.) L&S gives
> "wrought in chain fashion." This word is obviously related to hALUSIS,
> chain. But I wonder if "chain mail" might not be anachronistic given the
> time reference of David and Goliath? (I would assume 11th C BC.) Did chain
> mail exist that early? And in Palestine? My *impression* was that this was a
> later development and that perhaps some form of scale armor would be the
> more appropriate referent, esp. since the Heb text reads QASQESET, "scale
> (of fish, etc.), ... scale armor" (BDB 903).
> My question is, do we have evidence for chain mail at this time period? That
> doesn't necessarily resolve the question of what hALUSIDWTOS normally means,
> or why the LXX translators might have chosen hALUSIDWTOS, but it would be, I
> think, a relevant question. (If chain mail was known by the 2d-3d C., the
> LXX translators may have just used a common word for "armor" without
> considering--or knowing--the history of that particular form of armor.)
> If it is not attested this early, can hALUSIDWTOS refer to scale armor? Or
> do we just chalk this up to a LXX anachronism?
> ====================================================
> Rodney J. Decker, Th.D., Associate Prof/NT
> Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, PA,USA
> NTResources.com  PURL: purl.oclc.org/NT_Resources/
> Email: <rdecker> at <NTResources.com>
> ====================================================
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Albert Pietersma
Dept of Near&Middle Eastern Civilizations
4 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto
Toronto M5S 1C1
albert.pietersma at sympatico.ca
homepage http://www.chass.utoronto.ca:8080/~pietersm/

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