The Septuagint translates the Hebrew phrase

וַיִּתְהַלֵּךְ חֲנֹוךְ אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִים

"Enoch walked with God," from Genesis 5:22 as

εὐηρέστησεν δὲ ενωχ τῷ θεῷ

"Enoch pleased God." I would have expected them to translate חָלַךְ as περιπατέω, since in the New Testament John uses that Greek word in a way similar to the sense of the Hebrew one. (Interestingly, though, the LXX does not do that in Psalm 1:1 either.)

Obviously, this is not a literal translation of the Hebrew. However, does it capture the true sense of the Hebrew phrase? Or does it more import (no doubt correct) theological assumptions about the nature of Enoch's relation with God into the phrase? In other words, can "walked with God" in Hebrew ever be an idiom for "pleased God"?

2 Answers 2


It's odd to me that this isn't literal. The early portion of Genesis (1-11) is usually very literal. In my studies, Numbers is more literal than Gen 1-11 (so literal that I called it "Greek vocabulary on top of Hebrew syntax").

Uses in the Greek

The Greek word appears in the NT three times, all in Hebrews. (All scripture references are from the NASB/NASU unless otherwise noted.)

Hebrew 11:5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Hebrews 13:16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Interestingly, the word is found several other times in the Septuagint. From those uses, we can see that the Septuagint translators repeatedly used this word for walked. In Genesis 5:24 it also speaks of Enoch. And the same phrase in Genesis 6 (regarding Moses) appears.

Genesis 6:9 These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

The Greek has "Noah pleased God."

Then God commands Abraham to walk before Him:

Genesis 17:1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.

The Greek of the bold portion is "be pleasing in my sight." Notice how the Hebrew links being blameless with walking with God.

Genesis 24:40 He said to me, 'The LORD, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you to make your journey successful, and you will take a wife for my son from my relatives and from my father's house;

The Greek is "in whose sight I have been pleasing."

The same translation idiom, using "pleased" for "walk," appears in Genesis 48:15, Psalms 25:3; 56:13; 114:9, and the apocryphal Sirach 44:16. Sirach 44:16 is a reference to the story of Enoch.

On the other hand, Genesis 39:4 and Exodus 21:8 have forms of the Greek word in question but the Hebrew does not have a word for walk. Instead, Genesis 39:4 has "found favor in his sight" and Exodus 21:8 has "displeasing in the eyes." Those are expected.

In a third category, we have Judges 10:16 where "served the Lord" is translated into Greek as "pleased the Lord." This is a different Hebrew phrase, but the end is the same. That is, serving God does please him.

Uses in the Hebrew

When some other verses use "walk with God" (and similarities) it definitely implies pleasing God.

Deu 5:33 You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.

Deu 10:12 Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

Jos 22:5 Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

1Ki 2:4 so that the LORD may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, 'If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'

1Ki 8:23 (cf. 2Chron 6:14) He said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart,"

1Ki 8:25 (cf. 2Chron 6:16) Now therefore, O LORD, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David my father that which You have promised him, saying, 'You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.'

2Ki 23:3 The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant.

2Ch 6:14 He said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no god like You in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart;

2 Chronicles explicitly states that God shows lovingkindness (covenant mercy) to those who walk before Him.

2Ch 34:31 Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in this book.

Jer 7:23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.'

Mic 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

In these above, those who walk with God are those who are righteous and those who desire to be righteous. We know that righteousness does indeed please God.

We can also see the opposite. Someone doesn't walk with God, and it is displeasing.

2Ki 10:31 But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel sin.

Other Writings

The connection between walking and pleasing God is made explicit by Paul in 1 Thess 4:1 "Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more."

Though he uses a different Greek word for "please," this Hebrew thinker explicitly connects "walk" and "please God." Likewise, in Romans 8, he says that those in the flesh cannot please God. But believers are not in the flesh, they are alive in the Spirit and must act accordingly.

In the rabbinic literature, the rabbinic law is also called halakhah. This means that it is not just a set of laws, but a "path to walk" and live your life by. This should be done not in fear or with an attitude of legalism but because "When you do these things, you are constantly reminded of your relationship with the Divine, and it becomes an integral part of your entire existence" (prior citation).


In conclusion, translating "walked with God" as "pleased God" is justifiable with a caution. We see this first by the examples of those who "walked with God." Enoch, Abraham, and Noah are known for their righteousness. Abraham is even called a friend of God.

The danger in translating "walk" idiomatically as "pleased" is in confusing cause and effect. Abraham and the others pleased God because of their actions. A reader who only had the Septuagint should still realize this as they would be expected to have read more of Abraham's tale and see how the actions God praises are righteous ones (and not his failures). However, it is a danger that the translator needs to weigh.

  • 1
    Thank you. I will edit the conclusion to reflect the above.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 15:21
  • 1
    Even tho I had already upvoted and accepted, I finally just got to read this answer in detail. It deserves every upvote it has and I hope it picks up several more because it is exemplary of what answers here should be.
    – Kazark
    Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 3:50
  • @Frank Luke I was about to ask a question re: the words "walked with God"; then I reached you answer above. I'd only read those specific words (in the Bibles I read) for Enoch and Noah. Did you happen to see those 3 for Abraham or anyone else? Thanks. Commented May 20, 2014 at 12:21
  • @JohnMartin, Enoch and Noah are the only ones I find who are explicitly stated using the phrase "walked with God." There are implications such as in Psalm 119:105 where the psalmist obviously intends to walk in the light provided by the Lord's light. Gen 48:15 comes very close also: "...May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked..."
    – Frank Luke
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 19:47
  • @Frank Luke Maybe this has been noted somewhere else in BHSE, but not long ago I noticed something unique about the only two in Genesis who "walked with God" (i.e. Enoch and Noah). At that specific point in his life where it says he "walked with God", that man has his life saved. That's permanently at the end of Enoch's life on earth since he never died, and temporarily as Noah "walked with God" right when he was told to build the ark and survive the flood. Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 2:31

The understanding of the usefulness and accuracy of the LXX translation is greatly enhanced by undercutting the idea that this phrase refers to a lifestyle. It clearly does not because the context is the end of each patriarch which is usually death. In Enoch's case this was not death but instead it was an unusual end where God intervened.

The question at first glance seems to be asking for a language based approach to the question. I claim that it is not required because I am able to undercut an assumption regarding the literally translated phrase "Enoch walked with God" which is likely to be the basis of the question. The Assumption that is common is highlighted by examining any modern English phrase for phrase bible translation. (NIV)22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. The assumption is that this describes Enoch's lifestyle. When in fact this is something that Describes God's action.

Given that this is a chapter that is simply a genealogy from Adam to Noah there are things that are guaranteed to happen in this chapter. Without fail each patriarch's lifespan before their son is recorded. Without fail their lifespan after the birth of their son is recorded. Without fail The total years of their life are recorded. Also since Enoch did not die his end will without fail be described in another way than describing it as death.

When we examine a word for word approach translation we see all these parts even though they didn't bother to place the parts in the same order that they did elsewhere. (KJV) And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:

If we were to remove all the parts that are guaranteed to be there we would only add that he also begat other sons and daughters. The likelihood of Enoch being converted the year of Methuselah's birth are probably low. The likelihood of going out of the way to describe Enoch's conversion is low. Noah's year that he started his "Walked with God" phase was not directly recorded either. The likelihood that all the other patriarchs did not walk faithfully with God is low. The likelihood of a double meaning to this span of time is low and the only thing that "walked with God" in Enoch's case describes is his end. An end is not a lifestyle. The thing that happened in the end is that God took him. That example of "walked with God" cannot be a lifestyle. The thing that God did for Noah was cause him to build an arc and cause him also to be saved from death.

Unlike other answers I see how this phrase located in only 3 places should be considered distinct from references to righteous lifestyles since in one case it was an event marking the end of a physical life. Any word in any language has no definition outside of the context of it's use. This fact also matches the unique handling of the phrase and gives another feather in the cap of the LXX translators. It appears to me like I am now become the utmost authority on this Hebrew phrase even without bothering to learn to spell it or pronounce it since I alone seem to be able to distinguish it.

And now to speak more directly to the positive usefulness of the LXX translation: We find the LXX translation of this passage quoted in Heb 11:5 where it says "pleased God". While the writer of the book of Hebrews is not confirmed, we do not assume that he used LXX and quoted this passage from there because he did not know Hebrew. This is likely Paul who studied at the feet of Gamaliel and used Greek out of consideration for his audience. If it was not Paul does the writer really need a pedigree as an expert source beyond the fact that he thought he would be well suited to use the Hebrew scriptures to speak to Hebrew people?

How is the writer of Hebrews not then an expert reference? He quotes this phrase in Heb 11:5 using LXX without the need of clarification or explanation of the translation provided to him. This is an endorsement of LXX unless we assume he was uneducated.

I am not sure if I will loose people when I say that Paul used the text to support Heb 11:1 regarding understanding the unseen hopes and desires that these men of action showed in acting and using God's expression of pleasure in Enoch as evidence of Enoch's unseen and unrecorded righteous lifestyle. If anyone chooses to be lost at this point my previous points are still pretty clear and constitute a partial answer to the question posed.

I must admit I had to read to find where it said Noah died before I thought he was not also translated. If all of my previous conclusions are correct the unique thing in Noah's life is that he was spared from death also by God's intervention and singling out. While walking with God is evidence that these men are righteous only a few walk with god in the sense of this phrase that occurs 3 times. Something has to define ordinary and that is everyone else. Not all righteous people can expect to be singled out and shown to be approved by God in a dramatic way that separates then from all others

I also allow the possibility that the phrase "this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased" might fit into the theme. We do know that the claim is that he was declared to be the son of god with power. He was also singled out as the only man to be resurrected to never die again. The use of this phrase does not apply to the people who will be resurrected but only to the one singled out by it.

I am not sure how it could be possible for you to get any more linguistic a perspective on a rare phrase such as this and I am not sure how you think you can answer the question without using this perspective that I have applied. If someone asks if "get moving" is interchangeable with "hit the road" and I can point out that no one ever punches the road or in any other way mistreats the road upon receiving this command, I think I have contributed greatly to the conversation and have no less than partially answered the question. I have certainly contributed more than someone who finds all examples of the word "hit" in the limited context of hitting things. And if you think that someone who knows the individual words "hit" "the" and "road" in some dead language can address rare idiomatic expressions because they can conjugate the verb "hit" I would say that your perspective is too limited.

Lets use our imagination on this phrase for a second. Moses did a lot of walking through the desert. If Moses chooses to walk with Joshua he must really like Joshua. He may also appreciate Caleb but he spends his time with Joshua. The people might say that Joshua walked with Moses. For societies that do a bit less walking you might not first come to think of a clique so you might have more success saying that Joshua pleased Moses. Then you ask didn't Caleb please Moses. I am sure Caleb was pleasing to Moses but Moses didn't show it in the same way. Is that a flaw of the LXX version? only if you cannot see God's expression of pleasure contained in the context that gives the phrase it's full meaning.

  • This is no longer 'not an answer' by our site's standards given the most recent edit. I've thus undeleted it.
    – Dan
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 1:07
  • @Thad Walker You might find something interesting that I just sent to Frank Luke in a comment just below his answer to this question. Put it this way: What I'd tell myself is that "walked with God" is written just as each of the two men who did so (Enoch and Noah) is about to have his life saved. I'd tell myself that if the translation is made for Enoch, the exact same one should be shown for Noah, and only those two. Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 2:38

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