I haven't seen this question asked at all in the threads I've searched, so this shouldn't be a duplicate.

I've been looking for answers about God's curse over the serpent in Gen 3:15. The question I originally had is stated in this thread. I would go there and ask my questions/comments but I'm too new and I don't have enough rep to comment yet. So I tried looking for answers myself, I found an interesting difference between the Hebrew text (LEB) and the Septuagint (LES) on Logos Bible Software:

Genesis 3:15 (LEB): 15 And I will put hostility between you and between the woman, and between your offspring and between her offspring; he will strike [שׁוף sh-w-p] you on the head, and you will strike [שׁוף sh-w-p] him on the heel.”

Genesis 3:15 (LES): 15 I will place enmity between you and between the woman, and between your seed and between her seed; he will watch carefully [τηρέω tereo] your head, and you will watch carefully [τηρέω tereo] his heel.”

Questions What's the meaning behind this supposed translation difference? Is it really different, or does שׁוף in Gen 3:15 actually mean something like "watch carefully; keep; guard" as the LXX writers seem to suggest? What are some good resources to use to understand the LXX writers' decisions?

Also, am I allowed to ask a related (but distinct) question in this thread too, such as the one in the hyperlink, or do I have to wait to get enough rep to participate in the thread above? I'm really curious about all of Gen 3.

  • The Romanian verb a ochi (to aim, from ochi meaning eye) shares the same ambivalence. It's like saying in English to set one's eyes on something.
    – Lucian
    Nov 14, 2019 at 0:02

2 Answers 2


The hebrew root שׁוף means 'to bruise, to strike or to crush'.

The greek word τηρέω is able to translate as 'to watch carefully', but the indicative future like in Gen 3,15, it means 'to lie in ambush for someone'. If we translate τηρήσει with 'to lie in ambush for someone', we will get a similar meaning like the hebrew text, because emphasises the hostility between the woman and the serpant.

I translated the hebrew word with the Gesenius und the greek word with the Gemoll.

  • 1
    Thanks, this is exactly the type of answer I was hoping for. Since τηρέω can have the meaning "to lie in ambush", can the reader infer a connection between Gen 3:15 and Gen 4:7? I ask because the FSB has a note about sin "is crouching" (רבץ ravats); apparently רבץ is a cognate of the Akkadian word "rabitsu", referring to an ambushing guardian-demon. Maybe I should make a separate thread for this question.
    – el_maiz
    Apr 1, 2019 at 21:26
  • Where do you find a meaning of to lie in ambush for τηρέω? Mar 11, 2020 at 19:50

This lexicon of the LXX attributes it to a spelling error in the LXX, since the words sound similar and the scribe used the spelling of the more common word.

*Gn 3,15 τηρήσει he will lie in wait, he will watch corr.? τειρήσει he will bruise, he will break for MT ⋄ שׁוף he will bruise

Lust, J., Eynikel, E., & Hauspie, K. (2003). A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint : Revised Edition. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart.

The correction is not a easy word to find the meaning of.

  • Seems unlikely, based on the fact that 1) Onkelos and other targums translated similarly 2) there is no easy error in the Hebrew/Greek to explain such a translation 3) since we don't have a clear meaning for Sh-u-f, and 4) since have a fairly good explanation for why this would be translated in this way (see flyingdragon's answer above)
    – user22655
    Apr 2, 2019 at 14:20
  • @Large Computers/Many Thoughts - Yes, I've reworded this to better reflect the lexicon's wording. Such a textual error is unlikely to go from clear to unclear.
    – Perry Webb
    Apr 2, 2019 at 20:45

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