Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Revisiting Deuteronomy 22:5; Septuagint (LXX) Studies

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.  Deuteronomy 22:5 LXX

In this earlier post, an argument was made that σκεύη (vessels) was used in the LXX as military equipment in Deuteronomy 22:5.  This blog will explore other ways that the LXX uses the word.  To shorten this, we will stay within the Torah as all five books of the Torah were translated at the same time.  BTW, the use of σκεῦος in the Torah is mostly used for the “vessels” of the Tabernacle or the Ark of the Covenant.  

Below is just a snap-shot of σκεῦος (skeu-os).  It's used many, many times in the Torah.

Genesis 24:53: σκεύη ἀργυρᾶ (silver vessels)
Exodus 35: σκεῦος χρυσοῦν (golden vessel)
Exodus 38:12: τὰ σκεύη τῆς τραπέζης (the vessels of the table)
Exodus 38:23: τὰ σκεύη τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου (the vessels of the alter)
Leviticus 6:21: σκεῦος ὀστράκινον (pottery vessels)
Leviticus 11:32: σκεύους ξυλίνου (wooden vessels)
Leviticus 13:52: σκεύει δερματίνῳ (leather vessel)
Numbers 3:8: τὰ σκεύη τῆς σκηνῆς τοῦ μαρτυρίου (the vessels of the tent of the witness/“the tabernacle”)
Numbers 35:16: σκεύει σιδήρου (iron vessels)

Finally, Deuteronomy has the word only two times.  In 1:41 we have τὰ σκεύη τὰ πολεμικὰ (the war vessels), i.e. military gear.

And last but not least, Deuteronomy 22:5: σκεύη ἀνδρὸς (vessels of a man).  Kittle (The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament) refers to σκεῦος as possibly being clothing only in Deuteronomy 22:5, but if it is not used like this in any other place in the LXX, can this stand up?

Revisiting the Hebrew:

So, what does “vessels of a man” mean?  I’m no Hebrew scholar, but my dictionary of Hebrew words (The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament) says that kᵉlı̂, used here in Deuteronomy 22:5 means: “vessel, utensil”.  It goes on to describe how this word was used in the OT.  And guess what?  It was used the very same way as σκεῦος.  

Also, The Kohlenberger/Mounce Concise Hebrew–Aramaic Dictionary
of the Old Testament says the same thing:

“article, utensil, thing; a general term that can be used of any object. → armor; article; furnishing; instrument; object; thing; utensil; vessel.”

So, where does that leave us?  It is possible that σκεῦος could mean "clothing", but it is not used that way in any other place in the LXX, especially in the Torah and it is not used that way in the NT.  All of the evidence is against "clothing".


  1. I think that Deu. Is one of the books in the OT that has been very poorly rendered by the Septuagint. I don't have a desire to do a word by word breakdown of OT Greek versus the Original languages that included Classical Hebrew (sometimes called priests Hebrew), Hebrew and Aramaic. As these three languages cross each other in the OT texts it is almost impossible for a good, let alone complete or correct, rendering of the orginal text into Greek. Then, when transliteration is carried into English we end up with an "iteration" rather than a transliteration. It would be much better to go back to the orginal texts (Aramaic) and then work from that set of words.

  2. The Septuagint is important for a several reasons: 1. It provided the Jewish writings for those Jews who only spoke Greek, 2. When studied today against the Hebrew, it provides a glimpse of Jewish thought at the time the Septuagint was rendered, and 3. the Septuagint was instrumental in the spread on Christianity in the 1st Century to people who only spoke Greek. That's why there are so many quotes in the NT from the Greek Septuagint.

    Do I think the Septuagint is better than the Hebrew? No. So why do I like to study the LXX? It helps me to get into some of the thoughts of the NT writers as they quote the LXX.

    There is a new critical edition of the Torah, but at $400.00, it is a bit out of reach!