[B-Greek] hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTA (Gn 4:24; Mt 18:22)

Albert Pietersma albert.pietersma at sympatico.ca
Mon Feb 1 10:45:05 EST 2010

On Jan 31, 2010, at 1:13 PM, Albert Pietersma wrote:

> A TLG search of writers from the 8 BC to 1 AD shows quickly that  
> cardinal numbers higher than 20 with the -AKIS suffix are in very  
> short supply. For 70 I did not find any apart from Genesis.
> For compound numbers the dearth of attestation is the same. As a  
> result it seems difficult to know just how 77x would have been  
> expressed at the time that Greek Genesis was written.
> On the form, we can perhaps extrapolate from TREISKAIDEKAKIS etc.  
> (Smyth §347). Compound numbers were written in essentially two ways:  
> (1) TREIS KAI DEKA or (2) DEKA TREIS. When the -AKIS suffix was  
> added it was attached to the larger number, thus TREIS KAI DEKAKIS.  
> If this is applied to what we have in Gen 4:24, assuming EBDOMHKONTA  
> EPTA as starting point, we'd end up with EBDOMHKONTAKIS EPTA = 77x,  
> exactly what the Hebrew means, one difference being that the Greek  
> makes explicit what the Hebrew leaves implicit. Another item of  
> interest is that the Greek keeps the order of the Hebrew, and even  
> has the same number of morphemes. Both of these practices are well  
> known from the LXX.
> Al

I have now done a search on literature from 8 BC to 2 AD on -AKIS.  
Though there were well over 7000 hits (most admittedly on words like  
POLLAKIS), surprisingly, I turned up nothing of direct relevance for  
EBDOMHKONTAKIS EPTA. The best one is thus able to do is to go by  
The Septuagint sources I have checked (Brenton, Wevers Notes, NETS,  
Bible d'Alex), all follow Brenton in reading "70x7" in Gen 4:24.
In Matt 18:22, the NRSV reads "77x" (as does NIV) with "70x7" in a  
note, a reversal from the RSV. NEB (following KJV) has 70x7 with 77x  
in a note. It is clear, therefore, that second thought have been  
raised about Matt 18:22 but  not yet about Gen 4:24.
Further indirect evidence on Gen 4:24 is that the Genesis translator  
for all numerals from 13 to 99 uses the template of e.g., hEBDOMHKONTA  
hEPTA, despite the order and composition of the Hebrew. Thus what I  
wrote earlier about Hebrew word order and composition in Gen 4:24 was  
premature, since, judging by the translator's practice, he would in  
any case have ended up with hEBDOMHKONTA hEPTA.
Wevers, in Notes on Greek Genesis (p.65), expresses surprise that  
Aquila, unlike Symmachus and Theodotion, followed the Old Greek. It is  
no surprise, however, if as I have suggested in my earlier note (and  
as others have suggested for Matt 18:22) hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTA does  
not mean "70x7" but rather "77x". Iver too seems to imply the latter  
In sum, the analogy should not be, e.g., PENTAKIS TRIA (5x3) but might  
better be compound numbers (as composed in Genesis and elsewhere),  
with -AKIS attached to the higher number.

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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