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

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sun Jan 31 05:08:38 EST 2010

I don't see any response yet on the list. Can anyone search beyond the GNT and 
the LXX or give an answer?

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Moore" <tom at katabiblon.com>
To: "b-greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 17. januar 2010 02:49
Subject: [B-Greek] hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTA (Gn 4:24; Mt 18:22)

> Mt. 18:22 Λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις, ἀλλὰ ἕως 
> ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά.
> hEPTA.
> Gn. 4:24 ὅτι ἑπτάκις ἐκδεδίκηται ἐκ Καιν ἐκ δὲ Λαμεχ ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά
> [Because vengeance has been exacted seven times on Cain's behalf, on Lamech's 
> it shall be seventy times seven (Brenton) / because seven times vengeance has 
> been exacted by Kain, but by Lamech seventy times seven (NETS)]
> Properly (that is, disregarding the underlying Hebrew of Gn. 4:24), is 
> hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTA "seventy times seven"? "seventy-seven times"? or 
> ambiguous?
> 1) Smyth 354 d. N. translates TA DIS PENTE DEKA ESTIN as "twice five are ten." 
> From this I assume hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTA is unambiguously "seventy-times 
> seven." Is this correct?

Smyth 348 mentions PENTAKIS DEKA = 50. So, my guess is that hEBDOMHKONTAKIS 
hEPTA = 70 times 7= 490 and not 490 times.

> 2) Smyth 347 says "twenty-one" is EIKOSI hEIS (or hEIS KAI EIKOSI) and 
> "twenty-one times" is EIKOSAKIS hAPAX. By analogy, I assume "seventy-seven 
> times" would properly be hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTAKIS. Is this correct?

Unfortunately Smyth does not give examples that are comparable to 77 times. If 
the numeral is considered one word, the -KIS enclitic attaches at the end 
without problems. But if the numeral is considered to consist of two words, I am 
not sure what happens. In the case of numbers like EIKOSI (KAI) hEIS, the -kis 
is attached to the multiple of 10, so we get 20-times (and) one more/once - 
I suppose hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTAKIS could refer to 70-times 7-times, that is, 490 
times, but how would one then write 77-times?
Would hEBDOMHKONTA hEPTAKIS also be 490, if this expression is possible?
Any ideas?

> 3) If the above are correct, I'm confused by BDAG s.v. ἑβδομηκοντάκις, which 
> says: "ἑ. ἑπτά may be short for ἑ. ἑπτάκις, seventy times seven times..., but 
> is more likely seventy-seven times." Unless I'm misreading, isn't this the 
> same as saying "ἑ. ἑπτά means seventy-seven times, unless it is short for ἑ. 
> ἑπτάκις in which case it means seventy times seven times"? Based on Smyth, 
> isn't this backwards (that is, oughtn't instead say "ἑ. ἑπτά means seventy 
> times seven, unless it is short for ἑ. ἑπτάκις in which case it means 
> seventy-seven times)"?
> 4) A non-Greek question: is the underlying Hebrew of Gen. 4:24 ambiguous (that 
> is, can it say either "seventy-seven times" or "seventy times seven")?

This is not ambiguous. Actually the word for "times" is not in the text, but 
implicit, since the text only has the numeral 77. The Hebrew clearly means 77 
times, and the LXX translator rendered this hEBDOMHKONTAKIS hEPTA. If we don't 
have other evidence, the most likely conclusion would be that hEBDOMHKONTAKIS 
hEPTA was the way to express 77 times in Greek at the time of writing the LXX 

Iver Larsen 

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