I've been exploring this verb in Deuteronomy 12:5 about the location of the place that God chooses for worship and sacrifice. In the MT, this points to the future יבחר (will choose, imperfect tense), and in the Samaritan Pentateuch, this says "have chosen" (בחר). This becomes a point of contention between the Samaritans and the Jews as to whether Gerizim (the mountain of blessing just recently described) is the location for worship. I'm not really looking to resolve all that in this question. I'm just trying to understand a greek version of the text from the Septuagint (LXX).

Basically, I want to understand the greek verb: εκλέξηται

According to the wiktionary entry, this is the "Aorist 3rd Person Singular Subjunctive Middle" for of the verb "to choose," ἐκλέγω.

Now my greek is limited, but I know enough to get this far and I know that I've learned that Aorist is typically a historically focused text, but the subjunctive seems to add a form of uncertainty to the statement. Can anyone help me interpret this? Is this a correct parsing of the verb? Should this be translated with a certainty in the future? e.g. "When God should choose..."?


1 Answer 1


The aorist is a historic tense only in the indicative mood. In the non-indicative moods, the meaning is only aspectual. Specifically, the aorist marks the perfective aspect, and is the least marked of the aspects (i.e. default choice): "he chooses," as opposed to "he is deliberating about."

The subjunctive form of ἐκλέξηται is due to the particle ἂν appearing immediately before it (ὃν ἂν ἐκλέξηται). The subjunctive mood is used in conjunction with the relative ὃν preceding it (compare ὅταν "whenever" > ὅτε "when" + ἄν) to express indefiniteness, "whichever place he will choose." No doubt is specifically implied.

  • Hi @b a and thank you for your answer. It sounds like you know for sure exactly what you are talking about and I have no particular reason to doubt it. However, (and I think this is site policy), can you please supply some kind of primary source for the assertion, or at least some significant personal credentials. Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Dec 14, 2020 at 0:04
  • @Ruminator The meaning of the aorist should be in any good textbook (though the details of aspect in Koine Greek are debated ad nauseam by linguists; what I know on it is mostly from the summary in Pang, Revisiting Aspect and Aktionsart chapter 1). For the subjunctive as marking indefiniteness with an after a relative, try Wikipedia (which includes examples and links to Smyth's grammar). I have no personal credentials.
    – b a
    Dec 14, 2020 at 0:57
  • I'm probably being a nerdy pain but could you please put the evidence in the body of your answer (even a footnote will work, I think). I believe sources are a requirement. Sources are what separate us from the animals!
    – Ruminator
    Dec 14, 2020 at 1:00
  • 1
    @Ruminator You're not being a nerdy pain. As far as I can tell, sources are not specifically required by site rules, but in any case it's much more important to know what makes the answer useful than to do the bare minimum required by the rules. I already added the source to the answer, hopefully enough to prove my humanity
    – b a
    Dec 14, 2020 at 1:05
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    @PerryWebb I don't think that's correct. The other moods might have a tendency to describe the future over the past, but it's not impossible. One example I've seen given for this is Ῥαββί, τίς ἥμαρτεν, οὗτος ἢ οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ, ἵνα τυφλὸς γεννηθῇ; (John 9:2)
    – b a
    Dec 14, 2020 at 11:14

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