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The LXX lists 12 stones in the covering of the King of Tyre:

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation for the prince of Tyre, and say to him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou art a seal of resemblance, and crown of beauty. Thou wast in the delight of the paradise of God; thou hast bound upon thee every precious stone, the sardius, and topaz, and emerald, and carbuncle, and sapphire, and jasper, and silver, and gold, and ligure, and agate, and amethyst, and chrysolite, and beryl, and onyx: and thou hast filled thy treasures and thy stores in thee with gold. (LXX Ezekiel 28:11:13)

The Hebrew text only has 9:

Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. (Ezekiel 28:11-13 ESV)

What is the significance of the LXX translator adding 3 stones to the King of Tyre’s covering?

  • Not necessarily the translator adding something. The proto-Hebrew text the Septuagint translates is much older than the Masoretic Text. – user33515 Jan 12 '18 at 13:13
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    @user33515 Based upon English translations of the OT it appears the MT is accepted as original so the LXX is seen as deviant. – Revelation Lad Jan 12 '18 at 16:36
  • Oldest manuscript of MT dates to 11th century (Leningrad Codex). Oldest manuscript of LXX is in the Codex Sinaiticus, dating to early 4th century. MT is not the original Hebrew. – user33515 Jan 12 '18 at 19:01
  • @user33515 Is your point the LXX is the definitive source and in all cases where there is a difference the MT is deviant? – Revelation Lad Jan 12 '18 at 19:08
  • No. I would say that neither is definitive, since the original Hebrew text is not available. – user33515 Jan 12 '18 at 19:17
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The JPS Tanakh translates the Masoretic Text version of Ezekiel 28:11-13 as:

The word of the LORD came to me: O mortal, intone a dirge over the king of Tyre and say to him: Thus said the Lord GOD: You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and flawless in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your adornment: Carnelian, chrysolite, and amethyst; Beryl, lapis lazuli, and jasper; Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald; And gold beautifully wrought for you, Mined for you, prepared the day you were created.

The Oxford Jewish Study Bible footnotes the portion in bold - which happens to correspond to the text conflicting with the LXX - with the comment, "Meaning of Heb. uncertain", while also pointing out a possible allusion to Exodus 28:17ff, which designates each stone to represent a tribe of Israel:

Set in it mounted stones, in four rows of stones. The first row shall be a row of carnelian, chrysolite, and emerald; the second row: a turquoise, a sapphire, and an amethyst; the third row: a jacinth, an agate, and a crystal; and the fourth row: a beryl, a lapis lazuli, and a jasper. They shall be framed with gold in their mountings.

The Masoretic Text version of the Ezekiel passage omits three of the 12 stones specified in Exodus - jacinth, agate, and crystal (Tanakh translation). The LXX versions of the Ezekiel and Exodus passages agree on both the names and numbers of the stones and even list them in the same order:

Exodus 28:17-21 LXX (Brenton)

And thou shalt interweave with it a texture of four rows of stone; there shall be a row of stones, a sardius, a topaz, an emerald, the first row. And the second row, a carbuncle, a sapphire, and a jasper. And the third row, a ligure, an agate, an amethyst: and the fourth row, a chrysolite, and a beryl, and an onyx stone, set round with gold, bound together with gold: let them be according to their row. And let the stones of the names of the children of Israel be twelve according to their names, engravings as of seals: let them be for the twelve tribes each according to the name.

Ezekiel 28:12-13 (Brenton)

Son of man, take up a lamentation for the prince of Tyre, and say to him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou art a seal of resemblance, and crown of beauty. Thou wast in the delight of the paradise of God; thou hast bound upon thee every precious stone, the sardius, and topaz, and emerald, and carbuncle, and sapphire, and jasper, and silver, and gold, and ligure, and agate, and amethyst, and chrysolite, and beryl, and onyx: and thou hast filled thy treasures and thy stores in thee with gold.

I do not know why the JPS editors considered part of Ezekiel 28:13 "uncertain"; perhaps only because it conflicts with the LXX. It seems, though, that two possibilities might exist that explain the discrepancy between the MT and LXX:

  1. The older proto-Hebrew text behind the LXX (c. 100-200 BC) contained the additional stones, but the proto-text of the MT (c. 700-800 AD) did not.

  2. The proto-text of the LXX did not contain the additional stones, but the LXX translators wished to correct what they thought was perhaps an omission in the Ezekiel text in order to harmonize it with Exodus 28:17-21.

Interestingly, the Latin Vulgate - based on yet a third proto-text dating somewhere between the LXX and MT - seems to agree with the MT (only 9 stones, not 12, listed):

Thou wast in the pleasures of the paradise of God: every precious stone was thy covering: the sardius, the topaz, and the jasper, the chrysolite, and the onyx, and the beryl, the sapphire, and the carbuncle, and the emerald: gold the work of thy beauty: and thy pipes were prepared in the day that thou wast created. (Douay-Rheims translation)

This might weight the possibility more toward the second hypothesis above.

It would be useful if someone might contribute an answer explaining why the MT in Ezekiel 28:13 could be considered "uncertain" (if, in fact, the JPS footnote is accurate).

  • +1) @user33515 I appreciate your contribution, very clear, honest and informative. Thanks for being here. – N.Ish Jan 13 '18 at 20:56
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In the paper, Did The Septuagint Translators Always Understand Their Hebrew Text? Emanuel Tov cites several factors to support the thesis expressed in the title. One is the reoccurring pattern of translating the same word such as the precious stone, שהם differently.

As I was working through Tov’s examples, I noticed the difference in the number of stones in Ezekiel (a use Tov omits) and saw purposeful changes in the Greek text of Ezekiel 28:13 because when the passages on the High Priest’s Breast Plate and the King of Tyre’s adornment are compared, it is obvious there is a much greater issue then correctly identifying a single stone:

First Breast Plate Description:
You shall set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle shall be the first row; and the second row an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold filigree. (Exodus 28:17:20 ESV)

And thou shalt interweave with it a texture of four rows of stone; there shall be a row of stones, a sardius, a topaz, and emerald, the first row. And the second row, a carbuncle, a sapphire, and a jasper. And the third row, a ligure, an agate, an amethyst: and the fourth row, a chrysolite, and a beryl, and an onyx stone, set round with gold, bound together with gold: let them be according to their row. (Exodus 28:17-20 LXX)

17καὶ καθυφανεῖς ἐν αὐτῷ ὕφασμα κατάλιθον τετράστιχον. στίχος λίθων ἔσται σάρδιον, τοπάζιον καὶ σμάραγδος, ὁ στίχος ὁ εἷς· 18καὶ ὁ στίχος ὁ δεύτερος ἄνθραξ καὶ σάπφειρος καὶ ἴασπις· 19καὶ ὁ στίχος ὁ τρίτος λιγύριον, ἀχάτης καὶ ἀμέθυστος· 20καὶ ὁ στίχος ὁ τέταρτος χρυσόλιθος καὶ βηρύλλιον καὶ ὀνύχιον· περικεκαλυμμένα χρυσίῳ, συνδεδεμένα ἐν χρυσίῳ ἔστωσαν κατὰ στίχον αὐτῶν. [Exodus 28]

Second Breast Plate Description:
And they set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle was the first row; and the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; and the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They were enclosed in settings of gold filigree. (Exodus 39:10-13 ESV)

And there was interwoven with it a woven work of four rows of stones, a series of stones, the first row, a sardius and topaz and emerald; and the second row, a carbuncle and sapphire and jasper; and the third row, a ligure and agate and amethyst; and the fourth row a chrysolite and beryl and onyx set round about with gold, and fastened with gold (Exodus 36:17-20 LXX)

17καὶ συνυφάνθη ἐν αὐτῷ ὕφασμα κατάλιθον τετράστιχον· στίχος λίθων σάρδιον καὶ τοπάζιον καὶ σμάραγδος, ὁ στίχος ὁ εἷς· 18καὶ ὁ στίχος ὁ δεύτερος ἄνθραξ καὶ σάπφειρος καὶ ἴασπις· 19καὶ ὁ στίχος ὁ τρίτος λιγύριον καὶ ἀχάτης καὶ ἀμέθυστος· 20καὶ ὁ στίχος ὁ τέταρτος χρυσόλιθος καὶ βηρύλλιον καὶ ὀνύχιον· περικεκυκλωμένα χρυσίῳ καὶ συνδεδεμένα χρυσίῳ [Exodus 36]

King of Tyre's Adornment:
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. (Ezekiel 28:13 ESV)

Thou wast in the delight of the paradise of God; thou hast bound upon thee every precious stone, the sardius, and topaz, and emerald, and carbuncle, and sapphire, and jasper, and silver, and gold, and ligure, and agate, and amethyst, and chrysolite, and beryl, and onyx: and thou hast filled thy treasures and thy stores in thee with gold. (Ezekiel 28:13 LXX)

13ἐν τῇ τρυφῇ τοῦ παραδείσου τοῦ θεοῦ ἐγενήθης· πᾶν λίθον χρηστὸν ἐνδέδεσαι, σάρδιον καὶ τοπάζιον καὶ σμάραγδον καὶ ἄνθρακα καὶ σάπφειρον καὶ ἴασπιν καὶ ἀργύριον καὶ χρυσίον καὶ λιγύριον καὶ ἀχάτην καὶ ἀμέθυστον καὶ χρυσόλιθον καὶ βηρύλλιον καὶ ὀνύχιον, καὶ χρυσίου ἐνέπλησας τοὺς θησαυρούς σου καὶ τὰς ἀποθήκας σου ἐν σοὶ ἀφ᾽ ἧς ἡμέρας ἐκτίσθης σύ. [Ezekiel 28]

Here is a comparison of the stones in the Breast Plate and the adornment:

      High Priest Breast Plate (both descriptions)
      Masoretic                        Septuagint
Row 1 sardius  topaz    carbuncle      sardius    topaz    emerald  
Row 2 emerald  sapphire diamond        carbuncle  sapphire jasper  
Row 3 jacinth  agate    amethyst       ligure     agate    amethyst   
Row 4 beryl    onyx     jasper         chrysolite beryl    onyx       

      King of Tyre's Adornment
      Masoretic                        Septuagint
Row 1 sardius  topaz    diamond        sardius    topaz    emerald    
Row 2 beryl    onyx     jasper         carbuncle  sapphire jasper     
Row 3 sapphire emerald  carbuncle      ligure     agate    amethyst   
Row 4                                  chrysolite beryl    onyx   

And how both are called in the Septuagint:

      High Priest's Breast Plate       King of Tyre's Adornment
Row 1 σάρδιον    τοπάζιον  σμάραγδος   σάρδιον    τοπάζιον  σμάραγδον  
Row 2 ἄνθραξ     σάπφειρος ἴασπις      ἄνθρακα    σάπφειρον ἴασπιν  
Row 3 λιγύριον   ἀχάτης    ἀμέθυστος   λιγύριον   ἀχάτην    ἀμέθυστον   
Row 4 χρυσόλιθος βηρύλλιον ὀνύχιον     χρυσόλιθον βηρύλλιον ὀνύχιον   

If the Masoretic text is reliable, as Tov and most scholars assume, then the LXX translator of Exodus chose to rearrange the stones, something Tov does not discuss in the paper.1 In other words, Tov’s focus is on whether the translator correctly and consistently rendered the individual stones, despite the fact the stones have been rearranged. This issue is even greater in Ezekiel where 7 of the 9 are in a different position and 3 have been added.

However, when Ezekiel is compared to Exodus, the explanation is obvious: the translator chose to adorn the King of Tyre following the LXX translation of the rearranged stones on the Breast Plate of the High Priest.

Pseudo-Variant

Tov recognizes intentional changes:

We submit that the translators sometimes knowingly manipulated the Hebrew consonants in order to create words which would fit the context better than the words of their Vorlage, either because the Vorlage was not understandable to them or because the translator made certain adaptations in the wake of other changes or mistranslations, Such renderings do not reflect real variants, but rather ‘pseudo-variants,’ that is, Hebrew readings which existed only in the translator’s mind and not on parchment (see TCU [The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research], 162-171).2

While it is possible the rearranged and additional stones are a result of corrupted texts, or a lack of understanding of the Hebrew text on the part of the translator, in these three instances, it is more likely the changes were intentional and we can speculate “Why does this particular reading exist in the translator’s mind?”

The sequence for both the original giving of the text and subsequent translation from Hebrew to Greek is Exodus then Ezekiel:

Original and Translation Sequence:
Hebrew: Exodus ------------> Ezekiel
Greek: Pentateuch ---------> Ezekiel

The adornment in Ezekiel begins by placing the King of Tyre in "Eden, the garden of God." This location has been "off limits" to human occupants long before there was a High Priest in Israel:

He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:24)

Therefore this particular event in Ezekiel can be placed before the High Priest:

Literal Sequence of Events:
Ezekiel 28:13 ------> Exodus 28:17-20
Adornment -------------> Breast Plate

By copying the sequence of the High Priest’s Breast Plate from Exodus and using it for the adornment of the King Tyre in Eden, the LXX translator of Ezekiel is effectively saying the High Priest’s Breast Plate was patterned after the one found in Eden. In this translator's mind, it is the High Priest who was been adorned to look like the King of Tyre.

When the Greeks ruled over the nation of Israel, the office of the High Priest became increasingly corrupt to the point of going to the highest bidder. First, Jason bribed Antiochus Epiphanes. He served until being outbid by Menelaus.

Therefore, the LXX translator has cleverly used the existing text in Exodus to create a text in Ezekiel which reflects the corruption to the office of High Priest.

Notes:
1. Tov states the LXX has βηρύλλιον for שהם in Exodus 28:20. Apparently he does not recognize the altered sequence from beryl, onyx, jasper to chrysotile, beryl, onyx in the Greek (χρυσόλιθος βηρύλλιον ὀνύχιον). βηρύλλιον means beryl.
2. Emanuel Tov, Did the Septuagint Translators Understand Their Hebrew Text?, pp. 210-211

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