I was reading 1 Samuel this evening and was struck by chapter 2, verse 25:

כה אִם-יֶחֱטָא אִישׁ לְאִישׁ, וּפִלְלוֹ אֱלֹהִים, וְאִם לַיהוָה יֶחֱטָא-אִישׁ, מִי יִתְפַּלֶּל-לוֹ; וְלֹא יִשְׁמְעוּ לְקוֹל אֲבִיהֶם, כִּי-חָפֵץ יְהוָה לַהֲמִיתָם.

"If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?" But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.

When I first read this, I speculated that maybe some Calvinist was overinterpreting a vav ("and"), but looking at the Hebrew, I found ki instead. The above is the ESV; other translations have "because" in this verse, with essentially the same meaning.

I looked at Brown-Driver-Briggs and found a plethora of meanings for ki, most of which don't seem to fit here. The one that might fit was this:

  1. concessive: even when, even though

But the only citations are Isaiah 16:12 (which doesn't seem very convincing) and Ecclesiastes 4:14 (which does).

Is it reasonable, or even possible, to take ki in 1 Samuel 2:25 as meaning "even though" rather than "because"?

  • 1
    It may not be that relevant here, but according to the editors of the Oxford Jewish Study Bible, some of the Hebrew in the verse you cite is "uncertain". The Septuagint translates this instance of כי with ὅτι, which by itself is maybe a little less ambiguous than ki, but I don't think that it ever means something like "although" or "even though".
    – user33515
    Apr 27, 2017 at 22:42
  • 1
    The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew gives a fuller survey of the concessive use of כי you mention. (He hasn't included your example, which is not the usual interpretation but may be valid -- I don't know. Also the Ps. 23:4 example from the answer here is really the compound גם כי so not included, though presumably related.) Not rare, it seems.
    – Susan
    May 26, 2017 at 6:20

2 Answers 2


I would translate the passage 1 Samuel 2:22-25 like this:

22 And Eli was very old. And he heard all that his sons were doing to all of Israel, that they lay with the women who were being made to wait at the door of the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, "Why are you doing such things as these that I hear? Evil things, from all these people.
24 Let it not be so, my sons! For the report is not good that I hear being passed among the people of the LORD.
25 If one man should sin against another, then they appeal to the judges. And if a man should sin against the LORD, who will make an appeal for him? But those who will not hearken to the voice of their father, the LORD shall surely be pleased to put to death.

Details for verse 25:

enter image description here

The KJV uses more than 40 different words to translate כִּֽי (kî), with "though" featuring 35 times. For example, this from the KJV:

But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.
-- Joshua 17:18 (KJV)

"even though they have iron chariots, and even though they be strong" would not hinder the translation.

And this well known verse from the KJV:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
-- Psalm 23:4

"Yea, even though I walk through the valley of death", would not hinder the translation.

So, yes. I believe you have the support of the KJV on this matter.

Further Comment

Having just looked up the various translations of Psalm 23:4, the NIV has this:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

The ESV, NASB and RSV also give "Even though", with others giving "Even when"

Of course, they are giving "even though" for גַּ֤ם כִּֽי, but to do so lessens the impact of what the Psalmist is saying. The LXX has εαν γαρ και for גַּ֤ם כִּֽי, i.e. "And, even though ..." or "But, even though ..." or "Yet, even though ...


As I understand your question, it has two parts:

  1. Can כִּי be concessive?
  2. Is a causal translation a Calvinist "overinterpreting"?

כִּי as concessive

Jouon-Muraoka lists this as concessive options for כִּי:

§ 171. Concessive clause

171a Concession takes two main forms, represented in English by although and even though. The nuance although is associated with the notion of causality (§ 170) and can be expressed by the same means. The nuance even though is a simple modality of the conditional notion and can be expressed by the same means. In fact, for although we find, as for causality, כי (§ 170 d), על (§ 170 h), and also גּם כי, which more formally expresses the notion of although. For even though we have, as for the simple condition, אִם (§ 167 f) and כי (§ 167 i); but we do not find, e.g. גּם אם* as in Modern Hebrew. Examples:

171b כי even though or though: Is 54.10; Jr 14.12; 49.16; 50.11; 51.53; Ez 11.16; Zc 8.6; Ps 37.24; Pr 6.35.

Paul Joüon and T. Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. 27 of Subsidia biblica Accordance electronic ed. (Roma : Pontificio istituto biblico, 2006), 601-602.

What is interesting here is that, while we would normally expect a "גּם כִּי ", as in Psalm 23. It doesn't need to be there. On its own, כִּי, Can take on concessive force.

The question I think you are driving at though is how likely is it to have concessive force in this verse. The answer to that is "not likely." There's no compelling context within the Hebrew text to go in that direction. So also, as one looks the versions we see that they translate the verse with causal nuance:

  • “ὅτι βουλόμενος ἐβούλετο Κύριος διαφθεῖραι αὐτούς.” (1 Sam. 2:25 LXXS-T) ("For the Lord surely intended to destroy them")
  • “quia voluit Dominus occidere eos” (1 Sam. 2:25 VULG-T). ("Because it was the Lord's will too put them to death")
  • ”ܡܛܠ ܕܨܒܐ ܡܪܝܐ ܕܢܡܝܬ ܐܢܘܢ܂“ (1 Sam. 2:25 PESHOT-T) ("Because the Lord wanted to put them to death.")

To add to this, it is interesting to note that even English translations that have a Baptist beginning don't translate with concessive force:

  • “But they would not listen to their father, since the LORD intended to kill them.” (1 Sam. 2:25 CSB17)
  • “But Eli’s sons would not listen to their father. Indeed the LORD had decided to kill them.” (1 Sam. 2:25 NET). (note that the NET gives the "asseverative", "indeed" emphasis. But that strengthens the causal idea, not a concessive idea)

Summary: Is it possible to take it as concessive? Possibly. Is it probable to conclude that it's concessive here? Probably not.

Is a causal translation a Calvinist "overinterpreting"?

This question is not as much an exegetical or hermeneutical one. Instead, it's far more in the realm of dogmatics. And, as such, I think it would be best to stick to hermeneutics in the Hermeneutics section. As much as I'd like to add comments here, I think it'd be out of the scope of "hermeneutics."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.