tohu wa-bohu

The Hebrew assonance tohu wa-bohu is often translated in English as “formless void” or some equivalent, but in some translations and languages attempts have been made to recreate some of its literary flavor:

  • English: wild and waste (Everett Fox 1995); welter and waste (Robert Alter 2004); void waste (Revised English Bible, 1989); void and vacant (James Moffatt 1935)
  • German: Irrsal und Wirrsal (Buber / Rosenzweig 1976); wüst und wirr (Einheitsübersetzung, 1980/2016)
  • French: vide et vague (La Bible de Jérusalem, 1975)
  • Ancient Greek: aóratos kaí akataskévastos (ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος) (Septuagint)

The LORD of hosts has sworn in my hearing

For “The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing,” see James 5:4.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “in the ears of the Lord Sabaoth.” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors . . .

For the phrases “If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we would have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah,” see Romans 9:29.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “And if the Lord Sabaoth had not left us offspring, we would have become like Sodoma and been made similar to Gomorra.'” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

Keep straight the path of your feet

For the phrase “Keep straight the path of your feet,” see Hebrews 12:13.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “Make straight tracks for your feet.” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples . . .

For the phrase “On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him,” see Romans 15:12.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “And there shall be on that day the root of
Iessai, even the one who stands up to rule nations; nations shall hope in him.” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

Shibboleth

The Hebrew that is transliterated as “Shibboleth” and “Sibboleth” in English could not be transliterated as such in Ancient Greek because there was no character for the ʃ sound. So in the Greek Septuagint translation the first part of this verse reads (back-translated into English): “And they said to him, say ‘Stachys’: and he could not say it properly.” (Translation by Nicholas King, 2013)

Stachys (στάχυς) means “ear of corn,” which is one of the possible meanings of the Hebrew Shibboleth (שִׁבֹּ֜לֶת). Since the change in sound could not be spelled out in Ancient Greek, the translator chose to use a Greek term with the same meaning and then added “could not say it properly.”

In Modern Greek, the Hebrew terms could easily be represented with Σχίββωλεθ and Σίββωλεθ.

out of the mouths of babes and infants . . .

For the phrase “Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.” see Matthew 21:16.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “Out of mouths of infants and nurslings you furnished praise for yourself, for the sake of your enemies, to put down enemy and avenger.'” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

you make the winds your messengers . . .

For the phrase “you make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers,” see Hebrews 1:7.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “He who makes spirits his messengers, and flaming fire his ministers.” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

I am laying in Zion a foundation stone . . .

For the phrases “See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: ‘One who trusts will not panic,'” see Romans 9:33 at al.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “See, I will lay for the foundations of Sion a precious, choice stone, a highly valued cornerstone for its foundations, and the one who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

a root sprouting poisonous and bitter growth

For the phrase “a root sprouting poisonous and bitter growth,” see Hebrews 12:15.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “a root growing up with gall and bitterness.” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

that which had not been told them they shall see . . .

For the phrase “that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate,” see Romans 15:21.

Note that this quote in the New Testament is not taken from the Hebrew Bible but from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) which translates into English as “those who were not informed about
him shall see and those who did not hear shall understand” (Translation by NETS — for the Greek version see the title’s tooltip)

on the seventh day God finished the work

The Hebrew that is translated as “on the seventh day God finished the work” or similar in English is rendered in the Ancient Greek Septuagint translation as “on the sixth day God finished the work” (συνετέλεσεν ὁ θεὸς ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἕκτῃ τὰ ἔργα), “reflecting concern known elsewhere in Jewish traditions to resolve the apparent problem, recording in Genesis 2:2 that God finished his work but resting completely.” (Source: Law 2013, p. 46)