LXX reads: 39 ταῦτα ποιήσετε κυρίῳ ἐν ταῖς ἑορταῖς ὑμῶν πλὴν τῶν εὐχῶν ὑμῶν καὶ τὰ ἑκούσια ὑμῶν καὶ τὰ ὁλοκαυτώματα ὑμῶν καὶ τὰς θυσίας ὑμῶν καὶ τὰς σπονδὰς ὑμῶν καὶ τὰ σωτήρια ὑμῶν

ESV says: 39 “These you shall offer to the LORD at your appointed feasts, in addition to your vow offerings and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your grain offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your **peace offerings.”

Hebrew (Westminster Leningrad Codex) has: 39 אֵלֶּה תַּעֲשׂוּ לַיהוָה בְּמֹועֲדֵיכֶם לְבַד מִנִּדְרֵיכֶם וְנִדְבֹתֵיכֶם לְעֹלֹֽתֵיכֶם וּלְמִנְחֹתֵיכֶם וּלְנִסְכֵּיכֶם וּלְשַׁלְמֵיכֶֽם׃

Balz and Schneider (eds.) of the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament do not explicate this usage of the soteria for shalom. Neither does the Hatch and Redpath (eds.) Concordance to the Septuagint; whereas three instances of shalom are listed for soteria in Genesis (26.31,28.21,44.17), and one place in Numbers 6.14, where shelem is translated this way. This suggests to me that it is a textual/translation variation/error that has been preserved and remains without critical notes in Rahlf's edition. Any ideas?

  • The intention in posting this question was based on a false assumption of an anomaly. I had not parsed a word (soteria) correctly, therefore looked it up incorrectly and thought I had found an anomoly! So I will accept my answer below that corrects my oversight. However, this question also begs the question of the translation choice of soteriou for shelem and I appreciate that a few more lines of answers have added depth to the question I would have been asking, had I understood my first question! If that makes sense. Jun 12 '13 at 16:29

As you allude to, in Gen 26:31, LXX renders "sent them away in peace" (beshalom) as "sent them away meta soterias." Similarly, Gen 28:21; 44:17.

I frankly cannot attribute three separate occurrences to scribal error or a textual issue. I suppose one could say that the translator wasn't quite up to the task. BUT. I think one of the things that jars moderns with this is that we have a particular religious tradition which colours our reception of "salvation" terminology, and so we tend to associate it automatically with a sort of internal, invisible vertical "thing."

But "salvation" terminology in Scripture (including in the NT) is a bit richer and more robust than that, so needs a bit further reflection. As an example, the "healing" of a demon-possessed man in Lk 8:36 is actually described referred to by sozo, usually translated save, and essentially the verbal equivalent of soteria. Physical healings likewise use the same verb repeatedly in the Gospels, e.g. Mt 9:21, 22; Mk 3:4; 5:23, 28, 34; 6:56; 10:52; Lk 6:9; 7:50; 8:48, 50 etc etc (cf also Mt 27:42/Mk 15:31, where "He saved others" probably refers to healings).

The general connection between peace and salvation is not too hard to trace, since the latter in its most frequent usages is connected to rescue or preservation from judgment, destruction, or something similar. Being sent away in peace when there is a possibility of conflict thus at least runs in the same general conceptual field.

While the Genesis passages make the connection between peace and soteria, Acts 27:34 makes the connection between food and soteria. Perhaps that is understandable in itself (if you don't eat, you starve and die; and in the context, the sailors were working furiously rather than eating), but at any rate that provides two lines of connection between soteria and the peace offering, which of course was the only offering which was eaten by the offerer.

While the general connection between peace and soteria may be the best explanation, perhaps there is a slightly more specific theological rationale, as well. I.e. the sacrificial animal has met judgment and therefore I eat with God a meal of peace. However, I'm not sufficiently well-versed with the theology of the LXX translators to say whether that's viable.

  • Thanks for your answer here Tim, but I think we both missed it. I've explained more in my answer below. Jun 11 '13 at 21:50
  • This answer is a start on thinking about the larger question of why the LXX word choice in translating shelem. Perhaps you could open the issue in a new question. It would be too long for me to answer, so I won't raise that question. If it's too long for me to answer, I won't ask it here. But it might not be too long of an exploration for you to explore on this site. Regards. Jun 12 '13 at 16:46

The answer to this question is that a basic is fact missed: σωτηρίοv, usually in the genitive form (σωτηρίου), is an adjective (also inflected here as σωτήρια) used throughout Leviticus consistently to translate "peace offerings". It often follows "sacrifices" akin to τῶν θυσιῶν τοῦ σωτηρίου. In fact, it follows "sacrifices" in this verse (Num.29:39).

So, while Hatch and Redpath did not have the the usage of σωτήρια listed for Num.29:39, it was because I should have parsed it as an adjective (σωτηρίοv) and not a noun and found it there instead.

To be sure, σωτηρίοv ('soterion', adj.) has the expected full listing in the Concordance to the Septuagint (Hatch-Redpath); and articles in the EDNT, or similar Exegetical Dictionary will bring clarity on the theology of this translation choice.

  • Note: soteria in Num. 29:39 is the adjective, not the noun. I edited this answer to correct that remaining false assumption. Jun 11 '13 at 22:21
  • Good catch. This of course simply brings the question back a level. Why would the LXX employ σωτηρίοv to refer to peace offerings? Jun 12 '13 at 13:10
  • Richard Averbeck in NIDOTTE, s.v. "shelem", states that it has been taken to mean "a sacrifice that brings salvation" (cf. the same in EDNT), but Averbeck suggests the possibility of reading "a sacrifice that celebrates salvation". He also notes that in 1 Sam. - 2kgs eirenikos is used, instead of soteriou (i.e.1 Sam.11:15). Soteriou, being used in Leviticus and here in Numbers. This still does not answer why, or in what manner the translation choice was made. That is a good question. Perhaps the answers posted here are a start on that question, and could be followed up with further study. Jun 12 '13 at 16:20

The Hebrew Bible relates that COVENANT is the "salvation" which renders "peace." Thus the translators of the Septuagint (LXX) recognized that COVENANT was the "salvation" that brought "peace" to man.

The basic Hebrew word for peace is שָׁלוֹם, which is equivalent to the Greek word εἰρήνη; however, when the context is COVENANT in Torah, the Greek word σωτηρία (or its cognate σωτήριος) is used in the LXX.

For example, in Torah we see the Hebrew word שָׁלוֹם occur in Gen 26:29 and Gen 26:31, however, in the first instance the LXX translation is rendered by the Greek word εἰρήνη, and in the second instance, the LXX translation is rendered by the Greek word σωτηρία.

Genesis 26:29-31 (NASB)
29 that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace (εἰρήνη). You are now the blessed of the Lord.’” 30 Then he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 In the morning they arose early and exchanged oaths; then Isaac sent them away and they departed from him in peace (σωτηρία).

The reason for the translation in verse 31 is that COVENANT (the exchange of oaths) is the "salvation" that renders "peace." This contrast of these two translated words in this proximate and immediate context is remarkable. Yet another such example is Gen 28:20-21, where we see the Hebrew word שָׁלוֹם rendered by the Greek word σωτηρία, because COVENANT again is in view.

Genesis 28:20-21 (NASB)
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, 21 and I return to my father’s house in safety (σωτηρία), then the Lord will be my God.

The reason for the difference again is that COVENANT is the "salvation" that brings "peace" to man, and/or peace between God and man (as evidenced by the "peace offerings" later described in Torah).

Thus within Torah, when we see the Hebrew word שָׁלוֹם translated in the LXX by the Greek word σωτηρία (or its cognate σωτήριος), the reason lies in COVENANT, which is the "salvation" which renders "peace."

  • @GoneQuiet - Your comment is valid and well taken; however the idea in the contexts at hand is that בְּרִית is implied through "oaths" and "vows," which are parallel in meaning to בְּרִית. In other words בְּרִית is the backdrop of Torah. It is בְּרִית which "saves."
    – Joseph
    Jun 12 '13 at 0:52
  • Interesting observations on Gen. 26. This answer fits well with the larger discussion of LXX usage of soteriou vs. eirenikos for shelem. Does the covenant distinction you make here, with respect to the ways of translating "peace offerings" hold up throughout the historical books? Maybe beyond what you have time to look at, but may be interesting. Thanks. Jun 12 '13 at 16:42

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