NIV Job 38:31 "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion's belt?

of the Pleiades
כִּימָ֑ה (kî·māh)
Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 3598: A cluster of stars, the Pleiades

of Orion?
כְּסִ֣יל (kə·sîl)
Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 3685: Any notable constellation, Orion


συνῆκας δὲ δεσμὸν Πλειάδος, καὶ φραγμὸν Ὠρίωνος ἤνοιξας;

There was at least a century gap between the writers of the Book of Job and the LXX. How sure are we that the LXX translators rightly associated כִּימָ֑ה to Πλειάδος and כְּסִ֣יל as Ὠρίωνος? Were there extra-biblical records to indicate these associations?

1 Answer 1


It is actually more helpful to examine the same word in Job 9:9 where other constellations are also mentioned but their precise identification is not certain. One can only say that because the translators of the LXX were more than two thousand years closer to the ancients, and better understood the surrounding mythology (from which these ancient names are derived) they might be better placed to understand them.

Note the comments by the Cambridge Commentary in Job 9:9

  1. The Hebrew names are ‘âsh (‘ayish ch. Job 38:32), keseel, and keemah. These names may possibly denote the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades or seven stars; there is, however, considerable uncertainty. The word keseel means “fool,” which is to be interpreted as the Syr. and Chal. in this place, giant, cf. Genesis 6:4, that is, some heaven-daring rebel, who was chained to the sky for his impiety. Such mythological ideas belong to a time anterior to authentic history, though as still lingering in the popular mind they are alluded to in such poems as Job. In Isaiah 13:10 the word is used in the general sense of constellations. Keemah perhaps means heap, and is a natural name for the Pleiades. Others have interpreted the expressions differently (see Delitzsch Comment. p. 127).

the chambers of the south - are probably the great spaces and deep recesses of the southern hemisphere of the heavens, with the constellations which they contain. These being known to exist, but only suggested to the eye, are alluded to generally.

The Pulpit Commentary makes similar remarks in Job 9:9

Verse 9. - Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades; literally, which maketh 'Ash Kesil and Kimah. The rendering of the LXX. (ὁ ποιῶν Πλειάδα καὶ Ἕσπερον καὶ Ἀρκτοῦρον), supported, as it is, by most of the other ancient versions and by the Targums, has caused the stellar character of these names to be generally recognized; but the exact meaning of each term is, to some extent, still a matter of dispute. On the whole, it seems most probable that 'Ash or 'Aish (Job 38:32), designates "the Great Bear," called by the Arabs Nahsh while Kesil is the name of the constellation of Orion, and Kimah of that of the Pleiades. The word 'Ash means "a litter," and may be compared with the Greek ἅμαξα and our own" Charles's Wain," both of them names given to the Great Bear, from a fancied resemblance of its form to that of a vehicle. Kesil means "an insolent, rich man" (Lee); and is often translated by "fool" in the Book of Proverbs 14:16; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 19:1; Proverbs 21:20, etc. It seems to have been an epitheton usitatum of Nimrod, who, according to Oriental tradition, made war upon the gods, and was bound in the sky for his impiety - the constellation being thenceforth called "the Giant" (Gibbor)' or "the insolent one' (Kesil), and later by the Greeks "Orion" (comp. Amos 5:8; and infra' Job 38:31). Kimah undoubtedly designates "the Pleiades." It occurs again, in connection with Kesil in Job 38:31, and in Amos 5:8 The meaning is probably "a heap," "a cluster" (Lee); which was also the Greek idea: Πλειάδες, ὅτι πλείους ὁμοοῦ κατὰ μίαν συναγωγήν (Eustath., 'Comment. in Hom. II.,' 18:488); and which has been also inimitably expressed by Tennyson in the line, "Like a swarm of dazzling fireflies tangled in a silver braid."

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