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I was reading through Exodus the other day and thought that the translation of Exodus 26:26-27 was odd. OSB:

"You shall make bars of incorruptible wood: five for the posts on one side of the tabernacle, five bars for the posts on the other side of the tabernacle, five bars for the side of the tabernacle toward the sea."

For reference, the Orthodox Study Bible OT is a translation of the Septuagint. I took a look at the translations I used to use:

NASB:

“Then you shall make bars of acacia wood, five for the boards of one side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the [aq]other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle for the rear side to the west."

NKJV:

“And you shall make bars of acacia wood: five for the boards on one side of the tabernacle, five bars for the boards on the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the far side westward."

KJV:

And thou shalt make bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle, And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the two sides westward.

The OSB translation of the end of verse 27 ("toward the sea") has the feel of a pretty literal translation to me. However, it has been a long time since I took Greek. How faithful is that translation to the Greek manuscripts?

The other versions obviously follow the Masoretic text more closely but it has been even longer since I took Hebrew. How faithful are they to the rendering of the Masoretic text and any older Hebrew texts that exist? (Or any text at all that is older than the Masoretic for that matter.)

Lastly, is this a significant detail for understanding the assembly of the tabernacle?

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2 Answers 2

The Greek Septuagint does indeed say toward the sea:

27 καὶ πέντε μοχλοὺς τῷ στύλῳ τῷ κλίτει τῆς σκηνῆς τῷ δευτέρῳ καὶ πέντε μοχλοὺς τῷ στύλῳ τῷ ὀπισθίῳ τῷ κλίτει τῆς σκηνῆς τῷ πρὸς θάλασσαν

"πρὸς θάλασσαν" literally means "toward sea".

But this isn't a case where the Septuagint differs from the Hebrew text, which the NET Bible uses. In fact, the Hebrew word is yam <03220>, which can mean:

1) sea
1a) Mediterranean Sea
1b) Red Sea
1c) Dead Sea
1d) Sea of Galilee
1e) sea (general)
1f) mighty river (Nile)
1g) the sea (the great basin in the temple court)
1h) seaward, west, westward

In context, since the entrance faces east, the other side of the tabernacle is on the west-side. And if the people of Israel are on the other side of the Red Sea from Egypt (they were), the Red Sea (and the Mediterranean Sea) will be toward the west. The sea was a dangerous place, so it could be that there is a symbolic reason to use "toward the sea" rather than "westward". It seems there were at least 4 options the author could have used, so it seems the connotation of the sea was intended.

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I know this isn't what you are most interested in (Jon did a good job on that), but I found this a little interesting. The type of wood in the LXX is asepton, which means "not rotted." The word is not used in the New Testament and has only a small entry under "LXX Supplement" of the Bible Works Greek data. The Vulgate uses acaciae. Brown, Driver, Briggs points out that almost all the uses are related to building the tabernacle and its items. The time that it isn't, it simply refers to a tree growing in the desert.

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