7

What passage is the author of "To the Hebrews" quoting in Hebrews 1:6?:

Heb 1:6 And again, when he reintroduces the firstbegotten into the populated lands, he says, "And let all the angels of God worship him".

Some say this:

Psa 97:7 Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.

But that is a stretch as it so different. It appears that he is quoting a verse that only appears in the LXX:

Brenton LXX Deu_32:43 Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people.

Here's the same verse as it appears in the Hebrew:

Deu 32:43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.

I can't locate the Dead Sea Scrolls online to see what they have but based on the notes here I think they agree with the Masoretic in lacking the addition:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/...43&version=ESV

So what gives? Is this corruption of the LXX for adding it or of the Masoretic for lacking it? And if the LXX is corrupt, then so is To the Hebrews, is it not?

  • 1
    The Qumran story here is pretty interesting: Patrick W. Skehan A Fragment of the "Song of Moses" (Deut. 32) from Qumran. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research,136, pp. 12-15. – Susan Sep 18 '15 at 4:01
  • Thanks, very relevant. I'm not sure I followed the author's bottom line. Was he able to confirm that the LXX version was pretty much present in a Hebrew version that has fallen out of the Masoretic? – user10231 Sep 18 '15 at 4:10
  • 1
    Right, unvocalized transliterated Hebrew without translation is fun, isn’t it? Not totally transparent to me either, but I believe the (less-than-optimally-nuanced) answer is yes, at least according to this author. Importantly, the text whštḥww lw kl 'lhym “and worship him, all you gods [LXX, sons of God] ” (cf. Ps 97.7) is included. Thus, for this very limited portion of the OT, the new Qumran materials serve to confirm the existence of a divergent acient Hebrew text which the LXX translators had before them... – Susan Sep 18 '15 at 4:33
  • If I'm not mistaken, unlike the NA29 (and NA28, NA27...) every letter of the Masoretic is generally held to be completely reliable by Christians and Jews alike, no? Doesn't this throw a chink in that armor? – user10231 Sep 22 '15 at 23:10
  • 3
    I suppose that depends what Christians you’re talking about....but generally - no. (Not sure about Jews.) Most translations within the evangelical tradition follow occasional emendations, and the expressions of the doctrine of inerrancy I’m aware of apply to the original autographs, to which the MT is generally considered to be a very good but imperfect witness. As it happens, I asked about that on Christianity.SE. – Susan Sep 22 '15 at 23:54
4

As the OP correctly notes, Hebrews 1:6:

ὅταν δὲ πάλιν εἰσαγάγῃ τὸν πρωτότοκον εἰς τὴν οἰκουμένην, λέγει Καὶ προσκυνησάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι θεοῦ. (Westcott and Hort)

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God's angels worship him.” (ESV)

is most likely a quote of an LXX version of Deuteronomy 32:43

εὐφράνθητε, οὐρανοί, ἅμα αὐτῷ, καὶ προσκυνησάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι Θεοῦ1 εὐφράνθητε, ἔθνη μετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐνισχυσάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες υἱοὶ Θεοῦ· ὅτι τὸ αἷμα τῶν υἱῶν αὐτοῦ ἐκδικᾶται, καὶ ἐκδικήσει καὶ ἀνταποδώσει δίκην τοῖς ἐχθροῖς καὶ τοῖς μισοῦσιν ἀνταποδώσει, καὶ ἐκκαθαριεῖ Κύριος τὴν γῆν τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ.

Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people. (Brenton)

Psalms 97:7 is similar,

αἰσχυνθήτωσαν πάντες οἱ προσκυνοῦντες τοῖς γλυπτοῖς οἱ ἐγκαυχώμενοι ἐν τοῖς εἰδώλοις αὐτῶν· προσκυνήσατε αὐτῷ πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ

Let all that worship graven images be ashamed, who boast of their idols; worship him, all ye his angels.

but has several differences and thus is comparatively unlikely.

Dead Sea Scrolls

On the heart of the question, BibleQuery.org states that a DSS version (4QDeut) of "Deuteronomy 32:43 has 'let all God’s angels worship him' while the Masoretic text does not." The New American Commentary agrees. Likewise, the NLT translation notes and ESV translation notes show that the DSS generally agrees with the LXX against the MT on the parts of this verse.2

Analyzing these difference, Michael Heiser writes:3

It is significant that the Masoretic text lacks a second line in what should be the first pairing. Even more striking is the fact that this missing colon is the one in which reference is made to divine beings in the Qumran and Septuagintal texts. In these latter two texts each colon has its partner. This argues strongly that the Masoretic text originally had a bicolon, a pairing that was deliberately eliminated to avoid the reference to other "divine beings."

... those who defend the priority of the Masoretic text would have to argue for accidental changes in Deuteronomy 32:8 and in 32:43—changes that produced false readings in favor of angelic beings in both cases, while simultaneously accounting for all the consonants in 4QDeut. Such a coincidence is possible, but it stretches credulity to argue that the Masoretic text of Deuteronomy 32:8 and 43 best represents the original text... It is far more likely that both texts were intentionally altered in the Masoretic text for the same reason, namely, to eliminate a reference to heavenly beings in order to avoid allegedly polytheistic language.... Therefore the reading in the Septuagint sufficiently explains how the Masoretic reading could have arisen, but the alternative does not.

In other words, the MT is likely a corruption of the original. And the missing words were likely dropped in an overzealous attempt to eliminate polytheistic language. The DSS, LXX, and Hebrews 1:6 thus represent the more original reading.

Odes

Also of note is that the LXX reading is supported by The Book of Odes, a work which contains excerpts from several books of the Bible, collected for use in liturgical songs. (The work is considered canonical by the Eastern Orthodox Church.) Chapter two of Odes corresponds to chapter 32 of Deuteronomy. Odes :43 supports the "angels" reading found in Hebrews and some, but not all copies the of LXX. The work probably does not predate Hebrews and thus is unlike be the source of the Hebrews quote. It thus provides an independent witness to the validity of this reading. This reading has convinced textual critics such as Tim McLay that other versions (4QDeut, MT) derive from a text very similar to the Old Greek (critical reconstructed original Septuagint text), a text that closely matches the Hebrews 1:6 wording.4


1 There is a textual variation here. Some copies read υἱοὶ Θεοῦ "sons of God" instead of ἄγγελοι Θεοῦ "angels of God". In the OT, "sons of God" is generally a synonym for angels; thus the underlying Hebrew would likely be the same.

2 The DSS version lacks the 3rd and 4th clauses of the LXX. However, our quote is the second clause. The MT contains only the first clause.

3 Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God by Michael Heiser

4 The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research by Tim McLay

  • @WoundedEgo - is there anything particularly missing from this answer that you haven't accepted it? – Steve Taylor May 6 '16 at 7:58
0

I find myself using the NET Bible quite a bit lately. On this verse, the commentary calls it "A quotation combining themes from Deut 32:43 and Ps 97:7." As such, Hebrews 1:6 seems to not be an actual quote, but more of a quote of a theme.

  • Hmm... the Ps 97:7 verse seems extraneous. But I do think the NET Bible set a great example by including copious footnotes. – user10231 Sep 23 '15 at 0:40
  • 1
    I have to admit, I felt the same way, I really didn't see the tie, but a scholar I'm not especially when it comes to reading scriptures in the original language. – seedy3 Sep 23 '15 at 0:52
-1

I believe this verse is talking about Jesus' second coming and not his first and therefore is not a quote from prior O T verses, but is simply introducing a new thought related to Christs first coming in the preceding verses. More accurately I believe it says, "But whensoever he AGAIN introduces the first-begotten into the habitable earth he says, and let all the angels of God worship him. I see this verse linked with Heb. 9:28 expressing the same thought. I realize this is a bit rogue, but it seems to better suit the context and meaning to me.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy