The fear of the LORD is a phrase used throughout Proverbs. The phrase commonly uses the noun יראת, but twice is the verb יָרֵא and twice the adjective יָרֵא. The Septuagint (LXX) is fairly consistent in the treatment of the phrase. There is an exception but יראת is translated as the noun φόβος and יָרֵא/יָרֵא as the verb φοβέω:

      ירא                     יראת      
1:7   φοβος θεου         3:7   φοβου δε τον θεον 
1:29  φοβον του κυριου   14:2  φοβειτα τον κυριον    
2:5   φοβον κυριου       24:21 φοβου τον θεον
8:13  φοβος κυριου       31:30 φοβον δε κυριου
9:10  φοβος κυριου
10:27 φοβος κυριου
14:26 φοβω  κυριου
14:27 προσταγμα κυριου
15:16 φοβου κυριου
15:33 φοβος θεου
16:6  not included
19:23 φοβος κυριου
22:4  φοβος κυριου
23:17 φοβω  κυριου

Following the custom of saying Adonai, "Lord," rather then the Name, the LXX translates the Name as a title, Lord. However, on four occasions it is rendered with God:

Beginning of wisdom is fear of God, and understanding is good for all those who practice it, and piety unto God is the beginning of perception; the impious, however, will despise wisdom and discipline. (1:7) [NETS]
ἀρχὴ σοφίας φόβος θεοῦ σύνεσις δὲ ἀγαθὴ πᾶσι τοῗς ποιοῦσιν αὐτήν εὐσέβεια δὲ εἰς θεὸν ἀρχὴ αἰσθήσεως σοφίαν δὲ καὶ παιδείαν ἀσεβεῗς ἐξουθενήσουσιν

Be not clever in your own eyes, but fear God, and turn away from every evil. (3:7)
μὴ ἴσθι φρόνιμος παρὰ σεαυτῷ φοβοῦ δὲ τὸν θεὸν καὶ ἔκκλινε ἀπὸ παντὸς κακοῦ

Fear of God is disciple and wisdom, and the beginning of glory will respond to it. (15:33) φόβος θεοῦ παιδεία καὶ σοφία καὶ ἀρχὴ δόξης ἀποκριθήσεται αὐτῇ

My son, fear God and the king and disobey neither of them. (24:21)
φοβοῦ τὸν θεόν υἱέ καὶ βασιλέα καὶ μηθετέρῳ αὐτῶν ἀπειθήσῃς

The use of God in the final passage makes sense since the king is included and using "Lord" for God would be confusing since the king would also be addressed as "Lord." However, using Lord in the other three would not be confusing.

Is there significance to these passages which would cause a translator to see God as more appropriate than Lord in the other three?

  • It could simply be that the copy from which the LXX was translated read "God" for the Masoretic "Yahweh;" it woudln't be the first time the LXX represents another Hebrew tradition than the Masoretic. May 21, 2019 at 14:32

1 Answer 1


In the first english translation of the Bible in 1382, John Wycliffe decided to translate the tetragammon YHWH as "Lord", roughly following the Masoretic pronunciation tradition of "Adonai".

In the 1500s, Myles Coverdale when translating the Coverdale Bible, used all caps "LORDE", and then the KJV used small-caps "LORD", and due to the popularity of the KJV, this tradition became widespread.

So you would not expect the LXX, which dates to the second century BC and is a translation into Greek rather than English, to follow the KJV tradition and translate the tetragammon into the Greek equivalent of Lord or Master in allcaps. It is an unreasonable expectation to expect the LXX to follow the KJV tradition.

Rather, the Old Greek follows its own traditions regarding the tetragammon, traditions which long predate the English language, let alone the Wycliffe translation. Here is an article

The first Greek translations of the Hebrew books, collectively known as the Septuagint, reflect this custom in various ways. In some ancient manuscripts of the Greek version the tetragrammaton is neither translated nor transliterated, but given in Hebrew characters (without vowels). This effectively hides the pronunciation from those who are not already familiar with it. Jerome mentions that he had seen such manuscripts in his day. 4 In some manuscripts a blank space is left where the Name would appear. In one manuscript of the Greek version of Leviticus found at Qumran, the name is represented by a series of three Greek letters, ιαω. This ιαω is also found in Gentile sources which purport to give the pronunciation of the Name. Because there is no αω diphthong in Greek, one would have to insert the rough breathing between these letters, and pronounce the name as Ya-hoe. But no one who knew Hebrew would have thought that this was a possible vocalization of יהוה. Probably it is based upon the form יהו which occurs as a component of many Hebrew names (e.g. Jehoseph, Jehoram, Jehoshua), and which was understood to be an abbreviated form of יהוה. This abbreviated form might have been used as a deliberately obfuscating pronunciation of the Name invented by Jews who wished to avoid the true pronunciation. 5 Some manuscripts have the Greek letters πιπι, which resemble the later Hebrew characters in appearance, but not at all in pronunciation. These manuscripts must have been produced by copyists who didn’t know that the letters of the Name were Hebrew.

  • Thank you. Is there a reason why θεου rather than either of the other methods would be used? Feb 18, 2021 at 18:59
  • They have to come up with some name for God, so "God" is a good fit. Also, the LXX predates the Masoretes themselves, there is a good chance that not even the hebrew community had a consistent reading tradition - some groups might have skipped pronouncing the word, others ,might have said elohim, others adonai, etc. - So the LXX's inconsistent handling might also reflect Hebrew practice of the era.
    – Robert
    Feb 18, 2021 at 19:07

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