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!


  1. Baptists: Please throw your Greek lexicons in the trash!

    Why do Baptist always want to go to the Greek to understand the Bible? It is as if Baptists do not trust their English Bibles: "Sorry, hold on a minute, I need to check the original Greek before we can believe that God really loves the whole world as your English Bible seems to say in John 3:16...we can only know for sure if we understand and read ancient Greek."

    When God promised to preserve his Word...did he really mean that he would only preserve it on 2,000 year old parchment and papyrus in ancient forms of Greek and Aramaic?? Did God really intend that the only people who could REALLY know what he had to say to mankind...would be ancient Greek-educated Baptist Churchmen?? Is the non-ancient-Greek- speaking layperson sitting in the pew supposed to just shut his English language Bible and sit at the feet of these Baptist Greek scholars to learn what God couldn't explain himself in plain, simple ENGLISH??

    Do you REALLY believe that God intended for only Baptist, Greek-speaking Churchmen to understand the Gospel? Because that is really what Baptists are saying, because the Greek scholars of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Methodist Church think that Baptist Greek scholars are all WET on their positions that the Bible does not support infant baptism and that baptism MUST be by immersion!

    Is it really possible that ONLY Baptist Greek scholars truly understand ancient Greek, and that the rest of the world's Greek scholars completely bungle the translation of the New Testament? How is that possible? It defies common sense. And if I hear another Baptist start talking about how the Greek genitive case proves that the Baptist position is correct, I swear I'm going to puke! Seriously, every time I get into a discussion about Biblical translation with a Baptist he starts in with the genitive case nonsense. If you want to understand the genitive case in a Greek document...I suggest you confer...not with a Baptist...but with a GREEK!

    Instead of all this ancient Greek nonsense, which Baptists seem to have a fixation on, I suggest that every Christian layperson do this:

    1. Obtain a copy of four different English language translations of the Bible. Read each one of these "problem passages", as Baptists and evangelicals refer to them, in each of these English translations.
    2. God's true meaning of the passage will be plainly understandable after comparing these four English translations.

    You do NOT need to read the ancient Greek text unless you want to delve into the study of ancient Greek sentence structure or some other nuance. God promised he would preserve his Word, and the English-speaking people of the world have had the Word of God IN ENGLISH since at least William Tyndale (1300"s??). Dear Baptists...PLEASE stop insisting on using the ancient texts to confuse Christian laypeople of God's simple, plain message of the Gospel!

    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
    an orthodox Lutheran blog

  2. Well, Gary, you certainly have a right to your opinion. I started learning Greek for me, and me alone. I don't post as much as I used to, but learning the original language has been very insightful for me. I like to share those insights from time to time. As far as what you advise non-Greek people to do, I agree with the "four translations" approach. In fact, I teach our local congregation something very similar.

    BTW, I'm not Baptist.

    In Christ,