Not to be pedantic or overly-literal, it strikes me odd that God invokes the words "my soul" in this particular context. Is this an anthropomorphism? Is this intended to be particularly personal in some way?

[Heb 10:38 YLT] (38) and 'the righteous by faith shall live,' and 'if he may draw back, My soul hath no pleasure in him,'

[Heb 10:38 MGNT] (38) ὁ δὲ δίκαιός μου ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται καὶ ἐὰν ὑποστείληται οὐκ εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ

3 Answers 3


Great question!

First, "my soul" is very common phrase in the Hebrew (in this case quoting Hab 2:4) and according to BDAG #2 has the meaning of the person or inner human life. This is why most version render Heb 10:38 (and usually correspondingly Hab 2:4) with a personal pronoun giving something like, "I take no pleasure in him" (eg, NIV, NLT, BSB, CSB, GNB, etc). The other render it more literally.

The phrase "my soul" is common in the OT and usually means "me" or "self" or "myself" or even "I", etc, as the inner seat of emotions: see Luke 12:19 "And I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of grain laid up for many years … '" (NIV); "And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years … '" (ESV).

For example in the OT:

  • Ps 43:5 - Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
  • Psalm 104:1 - Praise the LORD, my soul. (see also v35, Ps 146:1, 103:1, 22, Luke 1:46, etc)
  • Psalm 42:11 - Why, my soul, are you downcast?
  • Psalm 84:2 - My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD
  • Ps 31:7 - I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
  • Ps 31:9 - my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.
  • Ps 62:1 - Truly my soul finds rest in God;
  • Ps 62:5 - Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
  • Isa 26:9 - My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.
  • Isa 42:1 - Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen One, in whom My soul delights. (This is quoted in matt 12:18)
  • Jer 32:41 - I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.

See also Matt 26:38, Mark 14:34, John 12:27 where Jesus uses the same phrase.

Hab 2:4 Isa 42:1, and Jer 32:41 are interesting as God is speaking and uses the phrase "my soul" (in one place "my heart"). I assume that this is simply the way Hebrews talked and God uses similar phraseology. Therefore, it is possible to call this an anthropomorphism, if one prefers.


I made an astonishing discovery. ψυχή is **never used in reference to God, as far as I can see. (Eg. God says: My soul takes pleasure in him)

c. 500 uses of the word psuche in LXX. I'm having to search them manually, w/ STEP concordance tool, which is very slow.

Can anyone see any one example in LXX where God is the owner of the ψυχή? If you have a better concordance than me.

Bear in mind that the verse from the LXX, or half-verse Hab 2.4a, is not there in the Hebrew MT

ἐὰν ὑποστείληται, οὐκ εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ· ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεώς μου ζήσεται.

What is in Hebrew is even more perplexing, and looks out of place.

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. ▼ (THOT)הִנֵּ֣ה עֻפְּלָ֔ה לֹא־יָשְׁרָ֥ה נַפְשׁ֖וֹ בּ֑וֹ וְצַדִּ֖יק בֶּאֱמוּנָת֥וֹ יִחְיֶֽה

But my point is: it's different. I can't see where the LXX verse has come from. Not obviously from a different read/edit of the Hebrew (but I'm no Heb expert).

View it all in the STEP Bible

Heb 10.37-38 is based on Hab 2.3-4 in the LXX, but still quite loosely. ἔτι γὰρ μικρὸν ὅσον ὅσον seems to be simply added in Heb. It may not even be intended as a quotation.

Is it possible that the LXX text has been altered to make it conform to Hebrews? (and that the half-verse we are discussing is a concoction, simply)?

It is not unusual for Heb to quote words and give them a different meaning. Heb 10: ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἥξει καὶ οὐ χρονίσει - seems to refer to (the 2nd?) coming of Christ. In Hab 2 (MT) it refers to the vision, not to a person. This wouldn't surprise me in itself.

But consider this:
In the LXX ὅρασις is feminine; erchomenos cannot pick it up. (In fairness, and on reflection, this may be my ESV more than the MT. The ESV assumes it is the vision that is coming. But the Hebrew may not (I am not sure). Is chazon vision the subject of the verb? I think it can be but doesn't have to be.

I have so many questions.


Greek dictionaries are outdated, the definitions of words are not just what we think, they are almost always polysemantic and they gain linguistic meaning in many contexts.

σοφία αἰνέσει ψυχὴν αὐτῆς καὶ ἐν μέσῳ λαοῦ αὐτῆς καυχήσεται (Sir. 24:1)

Does Wisdom have a soul?

διὰ τοῦτο αὐτὸς κληρονομήσει πολλοὺς καὶ τῶν ἰσχυρῶν μεριεῖ σκῦλα ἀνθ᾽ ὧν παρεδόθη εἰς θάνατον ἡ ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἀνόμοις ἐλογίσθη καὶ αὐτὸς ἁμαρτίας πολλῶν ἀνήνεγκεν καὶ διὰ τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν παρεδόθη (Isa. 53:12 LXX)

Does the logos tabernacle have a soul? How was the "death" [thanatos] of the tabenaculate logos?

Does the inclusion of the word soul in Hebrews 10:38 in reference to Habakkuk 2:4 invoke a messianic feeling in the recent church age? I'm inclined to think so.

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