[B-Greek] Rev. 8:9--what died?

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Thu Nov 16 02:16:29 EST 2006


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Webb" <webb at selftest.net>
>
> I note that in the LXX, there doesn't seem to be any mention of fish at all,
> in connection to YUCH ZWHS. Reptiles (hERPETOI) are mentioned as having YUCH
> ZWHS, as are sea monsters, i.e. presumably whales (KHTOI), but where are the
> fish??
> KAI EIPEN hO QEOS EXAGAGETW TA HUDATA hERPETA YUCWN ZWSWN KAI PETEINA
> PETOMENA EPI THS GHS KATA TO STEREWMA TOU OURANOU KAI EGENETO hOUTWS
>
> KAI EPOIHSEN hO QEOS TA KHTH TA MEGALA KAI PASAN YUCHN ZWiWN hERPETWN hA
> EXHGAGEN TA UDATA KATA GENH AUTWN KAI PAN PETEINON PTERWTON KATA GENOS KAI
> EIDEN hO QEOS hOTI KALA
>
> KAI HULOGHSEN AUTA O QEO LEGWN AUXANESQE KAI PLHQUNESQE KAI PLHRWSATE TA
> hUDATA EN TAIS QALASSAIS KAI TA PETEINA PLHQUNESQWSAN EPI THS GHS

The LXX translator of Genesis was a literalist, and therefore he would at times make a somewhat 
inaccurate translation by choosing a basic sense of a word even when another sense or a less rigid 
word-for-word translation would have been more accurate. The hERPETA skews the meaning of the Hebrew 
word, since in this context the word does not refer specifically to reptiles. Let me quote from the 
Theological Workbook of the OT:

"sharas(verb) is used fourteen times, only in the Qal. ...The verb ramas is to some extent 
synonymous and used interchangably, yet there is clearly a distinction: sharas views the same 
creatures as a teeming, swarming, prolific multitude, whereas ramas views them as a creeping, 
crawling, wriggling mass.
The basic idea of the root can be clearly seen in three passages: Ex 8:3 [H 7:28]), Ps 105:30, and 
Ex 1:7. In the first two references the subject is the plague of frogs that came on Egypt: "The 
river shall teem (swarm) with frogs" (The KJV rendering "the river shall bring forth abundantly" is 
somewhat misleading.) In the third passage, the prolific nature of Israel's growth is the subject: 
"The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly (lit. "teemed" sharas) and 
multiplied, and the land was filled with them." From the Egyptian perspective the land was teeming 
with Israelites just as though a swarm of insects had come on them. The idea of "teeming" is the 
point of the use of sharas in Gen 1:20-21 (cf. also Gen 8:17).

sheres(noun). Teeming, swarming things. (RSV similar; ASV "creeping things.") Used fifteen times, it 
maintains the same similarities to and distinctions from the noun remes as does the verb sharas to 
its counterpart ramas.
In Lev 11, sheres is used 1) of sea creatures ("those things that teem in the sea," v. 10), 2) of 
flying insects (verses 20-21, 23), 3) rodents and various types of reptiles (vv. 29, 31), and 4) 
generally of small creatures that "go on the belly," "go on all fours" (i.e. insects that stand 
horizontally, as opposed to birds which stand upright on two legs; cf. v. 20), or "have many feet" 
(vv. 41-43).
In Lev 11:46, sheres is used to broadly classify all the smaller land animals as opposed to birds 
and beasts (the larger animals). Sea creatures are here referred to as those that wriggle (ramas) in 
the water. More commonly, when land animals are grouped into these three broad categories, remes 
"crawling creatures" is used instead of sheres (cf. Gn 1:30; 7:8, 14). On the other hand all land 
animals are depicted as "crawling" (ramas) on the earth in Gen 7:21. Here sheres represents the 
third broad category of animals.
Bibliography:  Klotz, J. W., "Animals of the Bible," in WBE."

So, both words can refer to insects, reptiles, fish and other sea creatures, but not the big sea 
creatures.
The text would add either "in the water", "on land" or "in the air" to clarify the intended 
reference.
It is just a different way of dividing up the animals.

The first Hebrew word is used in 1:20, and both are used in 1:21. 1:20 talks about "swarms of living 
creatures", where the LXX has hERPETA YUCWN ZWSWN. I don't know what a better Greek word for "swarm" 
might have been. In Gen 7:21, the same noun hERPETON was used to translate the Hebrew noun, but the 
verb was translated by KINEW. In Lev 11:10 the verb is translated by EREUGOMAI.

Iver Larsen 




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