Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Deuteronomy 22:5; Septuagint (LXX) Studies

The KJV renders Deuteronomy 22:5 as:  
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. 
The translators of the Septuagint/LXX translate the passage as:
Οὐκ ἔσται σκεύη ἀνδρὸς ἐπὶ γυναικί, οὐδὲ μὴ ἐνδύσηται ἀνὴρ στολὴν γυναικείαν, ὅτι βδέλυγμα κυρίῳ τῷ θεῷ σού ἐστιν πᾶς ποιῶν ταῦτα.
A man’s vessels shall not be on a woman, nether should a man put on a woman’s robe, because everyone doing these things is detestable to the LORD your God.
So what does “a man’s vessels” mean?  BDAG* (927-928) defines σκεῦος in three ways: 1. a material object used to meet some need in an occupation or other responsibility; a thing, object; 2. a container of any kind; vessel, jar, dish; 3. a human being exercising a function; instrument, vessel (figurative of course).
What is interesting to note is that σκεῦος is never used in the NT as “clothing”.
The Hebrew word behind σκεῦος is kheli which also means “vessel” or “weapon”.  It has been argued that kheli means “clothing” in Deuteronomy 22:5, but if that is the case, then why did the Jews who translated the Hebrew into Greek use the plural neuter form of σκεῦος which never means “a man’s clothing”?
One more interesting thing to note in this passage.  The Greek word behind “robe” in the 2nd part of the verse is στολή.  στολή means “a long, flowing robe”.  It is used some 9 times in the NT and more times to count in the LXX and is used in describing both men’s and women’s robes.  Therefore, this word was a well known word.  If the intent was to refer to kheli as “clothing”, then the translators of the LXX would have used something other than σκεῦος.  In the end, it probably is referring to military utensils and garb used in war.
To be fair, I will do more research of the use of σκεῦος in the LXX.  So, more to come.
* (BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition - Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)

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