While looking into a question about the Greek phrase "ο ων" ("the one being") as a title for Yahweh in Koine Greek literature, I ran across this appellation in LXX Jeremiah. It occurs three times in Swete's edition, each time as a vocative:

Ὁ ὢν [δέσποτα] Κύριε

See Jer 1:6, 14:13, and 39:17 (= 32:17 in Hebrew/English). However, ο ων does not appear in the Rahlfs-Hahart edition. There's no mention of this in Swete's apparatus; Rahlfs-Hanhart does give, "ο ων mss.", acknowledging the existence of the variant but without further explanation of its exclusion. Although I don't have access to Ziegler's edition, I gather that the phrase is included there (also 4:10), since NETS gives:

You That Are, [Sovereign], Lord!

I have found thorough discussions of LXX text critical issues hard to come by. Can anyone offer a summary of the internal and external evidence on which this text critical decision is based?

This question seems important to me because 1) there is no corresponding phrase in any Hebrew manuscript as far as I am aware; 2) LXX Jeremiah is widely considered to be a largely isomorphic representation of the translator's source text[s]; and 3) this would be the earliest (again, to my knowledge) use in Greek literature (outside of LXX Ex 3:14 whence it was drawn) of a phrase which was recycled extensively in later Jewish literature, most notably by Philo.

  • ων is also not in Septuaginta: With morphology. (1979). (electronic ed., Je 39:17). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 23:54

1 Answer 1


This expression is a purported translation of the Hebrew, so let's go there first, just to make sure there really is no basis for this translation.

Jer. 1:6 reads in the English reads, "Then said I, Ah, Lord Yehovah! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child."

וָאֹמַ֗ר אֲהָהּ֙ אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהֹוִ֔ה הִנֵּ֥ה לֹא־יָדַ֖עְתִּי דַּבֵּ֑ר כִּי־נַ֖עַר אָנֹֽכִי

The word translated as "Ah" is the Hebrew word Ahah, which just like "Ah" is an onomatopoeia of the sound one makes when exasperated. This word אֲהָהּ֙ looks very similar to the Hebrew verb הָיָה 'to be' especially when conjugated in the 1st person as אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה "I will be." But, if the scribe accidentally thought the Hebrew read "I will be the Lord..." he must have thought it more proper to render it "The [one who] is the Lord..." in Greek, as we have in this version.

Since all the verses you mention have this phrase אֲהָהּ֙ (Ah!) Adonai Yehovah in Hebrew translated as "the one being The Lord" in Greek, the only logical explanation is a scribal error, but not that this originally was a form of H.Y.H in Hebrew, as the presence of an Aleph would hedge against such a 1st person imperfect construction of H.Y.H as being inappropriate to the context.

  • 1
    This is an intriguing observation/theory, especially since the Greek versions that include Ὁ ὢν also lack the alternative translation of אהה --- Ὦ (oh!) -- found in the versions (presumably the mss) which lack Ὁ ὢν. However, I don't think you've actually answered the question, which is framed as a text critical one. (This theory could be repackaged as an internal argument for the originality of Ὁ ὢν, I suppose, but given that we all agree it would be a mistranslation, I'm not sure how far that gets us.) Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts!
    – Susan
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 6:50

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