[B-Greek] To herd the winds (Prov. 9:12)

Albert Pietersma albert.pietersma at sympatico.ca
Tue Apr 6 11:16:51 EDT 2010

On Apr 6, 2010, at 4:27 AM, Emanuel Contac wrote:

>  Some time ago I had the chance of listening to a Romanian scholar  
> discuss a Romanian phrase (a paşte vânt) which seems to come  
> ultimately from the Bible, from Proverbs 9:12 (POIMAINEIN ANEMOUS)  
> in LXX (i.e. Old Greek). Strangely enough, the Romanian for  
> „poimainein anemous” means „to waste time, to sit idly, to kill  
> time”. I will not expand on that because my purpose is to see what  
> the original meaning of the phrase was in the LXX, in the context of  
> Proverbs (for which we have no Hebrew correspondent at this  
> particular verse).
> Note that this fragment occurs in Vulgate too, in Prov. 10:4 (How it  
> ended there would be another discussion which I do not intend to  
> pursue).
> Does anyone know if this phrase (poimainein anemous) continued to be  
> used in Byzantine Greek or in Modern Greek? Did it become a by-word  
> for someone wasting time?
That POIMAINEIN ANEMOUS of Prov 9:12 was commented upon by the Church  
Fathers is readily apparent from TLG. Whether the idiom was in general  
usage is more tedious and time consuming to establish, but again TLG  
would be the tool to use.  Checking TLG for  POIM- in proximity to  
ANEM-  in writers from 8 c. BC to AD c. 1 shows only Prov 9:12 and Jer  
> Brenton takes poimainein as „rule” and so gives the following  
> meaning: he who resorts to lies is like the one attempting to rule  
> the winds (these being notoriously untamable).
Though POIMAINW can certainly mean "to rule," NETS, in my opinion,  
gives a better rendering:"[he] will herd winds." The sense of the  
expression is clear from the Hebrew (not the Greek) of Hos 12:2:"xaw%r  
h(ero MyIrAp;)e. (NRSV: Ephraim herds the wind, [and pursues the east  
wind all day long; they multiply falsehood and violence;]" The sense  
therefore seems to be to do something futile
> Below you can read the verse in Old Greek, Brenton and Vulgata  
> Clementina. Any insights would be much appreciated.
> - ὃς ἐρείδεται ἐπὶψεύδεσιν οὗτος  
> ποιμανεῖἀνέμους ὁδ᾽αὐτὸς  
> διώξεται ὄρνεα πετόμενα (Pro 9:12)
> Brenton – „He that stays himself upon falsehoods, attempts to  
> rule the winds, and the
> same will pursue birds in their fight” (Pro 9:12)
NETS: "He who supports himself with lies will as well herd winds, and  
the same person will pursue flying birds"
> Vulgata
> Clementina – „Qui nititur mendaciis, hic pascit ventos; idem  
> autem ipse sequitur
> aves volantes” (Pro 10:4).
> Note also Hosea 12:1 „Ephraim pascit ventum, et sequitur aestum;  
> tota die mendacium et
> vastitatem multiplicat: et foedus cum Assyriis iniit, et oleum in  
> Aegyptum
> ferebat.”
Yes, this is a translation of the Masoretic Text (MT).  The LXX (OG),  
on the other hand, has: o( de\ Efraim ponhro_n pneu~ma e0di/wcen  
kau&swna o#lhn th_n h(me/ran kena_ kai\ ma&taia e0plh&qunen kai\  
diaqh&khn meta_ 0Assuri/wn die/qeto kai\ e1laion ei0j Ai1gupton  
e0neporeu&eto   (NETS: "Ephraim is an evil wind; he pursued hot wind  
all day long, and he made a covenant with the Assyrians and would  
trade oil with Egypt.") (OG  construed h(ero as h(frF  )
> Very interestingly, later commentators of the Latin text of Hosea  
> took “pascere” as “feeding on”. That is, Ephraim is  
> “feeding on the wind”. The dual sense of “pascere” is kept in  
> Romanian too; a paşte can mean “to feed the animals, by taking  
> them to graze on a pasture”, as well as “graze, feed on  
> grass” (used of the animal itself).
In sum: Judging from Hos 12:2(1) "to herd the wind"  is normal Hebrew.  
That Greek Proverbs uses the phrase without warrant in the Hebrew  
would seem to suggest that it is at least viable Greek.
> Many thanks,
> Emanuel Conţac, Romania
> ---
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Albert Pietersma PhD
21 Cross Street,
Weston ON Canada M9N 2B8
Email: albert.pietersma at sympatico.ca
Homepage: http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~pietersm

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