Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bel and the Dragon; The Use of κόμη (komē), LXX Studies.

I read “Bel and the Dragon” in Greek this weekend.  I’m trying to work in some LXX reading in my schedule.  It was an interesting story.  For those who are not familiar with the story, it is a late addition to Daniel and was translated into Greek.  As I alluded to before, this story is found in the Septuagint (LXX).  

Daniel is in Babylon and shows the king how Bel (Βηλ), a Babylonian idol, is not a real god.  Also, Daniel shows the king and a dragon that they are worshipping is also not a god.  After Daniel messes up the Babylonians’ “gods”,  they throw him into a pit with seven lions.  Daniel stays in there six days before an angel of the Lord tells Hambakoum (Habakkuk, a prophet?) to take his food to Daniel in Babylon.  Hambakoum responds that he has never been to Babylon and doesn’t know were the pit is.  Here comes the funny part.

36 After taking hold of Hambakoum by the long hair of his head (τῆς κόμης αὐτοῦ τῆς κεφαλῆς), the angel of the Lord put him above the pit in Babylon.

Daniel gets out and the ones who accused him get thrown into the pit where they are devoured by the lions.

I want to deal with the use of κόμη (komē) here in verse 36.  For those who think it just means “hair”, be advised that the normal word of hair, θρίξ (thrix), is used in verse 27.  Paul uses κόμη (komē) to describe the Corinthians women’s long hair in 1 Corinthians 11.  In that passage, one of the reasons Paul argues for women to wear head coverings was because their long hair was like a head covering.  Paul also argues that culture shows that long hair on men was dishonorable.  So, what does the use of κόμη (komē) in "Bel and the Dragon" tell us?  It tells us that perhaps men with long hair was not taboo among the Jews before Jesus’ time, but it was taboo in the Greek/Roman culture in which the Corinthians existed.

On another note, it is just interesting that an angel would pick up a fellow by the long hair of his head and take him somewhere.  That must have hurt!