I have encountered a word only used in the Septuigent/LXX in Job 40:19 and 41:33. Sir Brenton translates it as "to be played with" while the Apostolic Polyglot translates it as "mocked". I am struggling to find if this word is ever used outside of Job in Greek literature and what exactly it means given the two listed translations translate it very differently.

  • 1
    Those are similar meanings. Lexicons pretty unanimously define ἐγκαταπαίζω (ἐν) as "to mock," "deride," or to "treat as a joke" and there is at least one example of παίξομαι in ancient Greek literature such as the Anthology. See LSJ
    – Dan
    Aug 7, 2023 at 21:19
  • @Dan Maybe I'm getting confused due to the generally positive connotations of playing with someone in modern English. Thank you for the comment.
    – William
    Aug 7, 2023 at 21:24
  • It can carry both senses idiomatically. See this dictionary entry for "play with" which includes the sense "to tease, fool, or joke with" someone. I suspect that in the more archaic usage of English by Brenton, it had more of a negative connotation (but I don't have a good dictionary of archaic English to consult to verify this!)
    – Dan
    Aug 7, 2023 at 21:47
  • @Dan Archaic English seems the most likley explanation for the different translations.
    – William
    Aug 7, 2023 at 21:49
  • @Dan - why not turn your first comment into an answer?
    – Dottard
    Aug 7, 2023 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


You're asking two question:

  • Is the verb (ἐγκαταπαίζω) used outside of biblical literature?
  • What does it mean?

Extra-biblical Usage

The newly released Brill DAG gives this as the definition:

ἐγκαταπαίζω [ἐν, καταπαίζω] to mock, treat as a joke ▸ with acc. VT Job 40.14 Eus. H.E. 2.13.18 etc.

<The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek, s.v. “εγκαταπαιζω,” 584.>

Notice the almost complete absence of any usage of the compounded verb.

Here's the one reference from Eusebius:

  • “Ὅ τι ποτὲ γὰρ ἂν εἴη ἢ ἐπινοηθείη παντὸς αἰσχροῦ μιαρώτερον, τοῦτο πᾶν ὑπερηκόντισεν ἡ τῶνδε μυσαρωτάτη αἵρεσις, ταῖς ἀθλίαις καὶ παντοίων ὡς ἀληθῶς κακῶν σεσωρευμέναις γυναιξὶν ἐγκαταπαιζόντων.” (2Eusebius 13:8 EUSEB-T)
  • “For what ever could be conceived of, viler than the vilest thing — all that has been outdone by this most abominable sect, which is composed of those who make a sport of those miserable females that are literally overwhelmed with all kinds of vices.” (2Eusebius 13:8 EUSEB-E)

Likewise, here is the listing from the NIDNTTE:

JL In the LXX the simple vb. παίζω occurs c. 20x (e.g., Gen 21:9 [for Heb. צָחַק H7464]; Exod 10:2 [‏עָלַל‎ I H6618 hithp.]; et al.), but the compound ἐμπαίζω is found close to 30x, always with a negative sense, “to make fun of, mock, insult” (Gen 39:14 [‏צחק‎ pi.]; Hab 1:10 [‏שָׂחַק‎ H8471]; of sexual abuse in Judg 19:25 [‏עָלַל hithp.]). Also used are several other compounds (with basically the same meaning) and derivatives that are rare or unknown prior to the LXX, such as ἐκπαίζω (only 1 Esd 1:49), καταπαίζω (2 Kgs 2:23; Jer 2:16; 9:4), ἐγκαταπαίζω (Job 40:19; 41:25), ἐμπαιγμός, “mockery” (8x, the form ἔμπαιγμα 2x), ἐμπαίκτης, “mocker” (only Isa 3:4).

<The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis, s.v. “ἐμπαίζω ἐμπαιγμονή ἐμπαιγμός ἐμπαίκτης,” 2:190-191.

The meaning of ἐγκαταπαίζω in Job (in LXX)

Before we have a look at ἐγκαταπαίζω, we have to recognize that the state of the LXX in Job is messy (and in this verse, most likely corrupt). The Greek of this verse has very little in common with the Hebrew text.

The Hebrew reads:

  • ”הוּא רֵאשִׁית דַּרְכֵי־אֵל הָעֹשׂוֹ יַגֵּשׁ חַרְבּוֹ“ (Job 40:19 HMT-W4)
  • "He is the first of the works/ways of God; His maker will bring out his sword."

The LXX reads:

  • “τοῦτ̓ ἔστιν ἀρχὴ πλάσματος κυρίου, πεποιημένον ἐγκαταπαίζεσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἀγγέλων αὐτοῦ.” (Job 40:19 LXX1)
  • "that one is the first/foremost of the image/figure of the Lord—made to be made fun of by his angels."

And if we were in any doubt that the LXX is not the primary textual stream here, the versions do not follow the LXX. The VL (which often follows the LXX) has: “Hoc est initium figmenti Domini, quod fecit, ut illudatur ab angelis eius.” (Job 40:14 V-LATINA). But Jerome follows the Hebrew closely: “ipse principium est viarum Dei qui fecit eum adplicabit gladium eius” (Job 40:14 VULG-T). Likewise the Peshitta follows the Hebrew closely too: ”ܗܘܝܘ ܪܝܫ ܟܘܠܗܝܢ ܒܪ̈ܝܬܗ ܕܐܠܗܐ. ܕܥܒܕܗ ܕܢܥܒܕ ܩܪܒܐ.“ (Job 40:19 PESHOT-T). (" He is the first out of all the creations of God; the Maker will make use of his sword.")

My point in bringing up the state of the LXX here is simply this: If the LXX has almost no correspondence to the original, how in the world could any person figure out what the translators meant by using the compounded verb, ἐγκαταπαίζω?

In short, your question is unanswerable due to the state of the LXX text.

  • Thank you, this does a good job clearing up the meaning of the word. I appreciate the references to non-biblical works and other books of the Bible to find the meaning of the word as well as the comparison of the verse to the other textual streams.
    – William
    Aug 9, 2023 at 14:21

The term εγκαταπαίζεσθαι (engkatapaizesthai), as you noted, appears in the Septuagint, specifically in the book of Job. It's indeed a rare word, and its use outside of these biblical texts seems to be limited.

The word is a compound of the preposition εν (en), meaning "in," the preposition κατα (kata), often meaning "down" or "against," and the verb παιζω (paizo), which can mean "to play," "to jest," or "to mock." When these elements are combined, you get a term that could potentially mean "to be played with in a negative way" or "to be mocked."

The reason for the different translations between "to be played with" and "mocked" likely stems from the ambiguity of the root verb παιζω (paizo). It can refer to playful actions but also to insulting or mocking actions, depending on the context. The prefixes εν and κατα add a layer of intensity or negativity to the action, which might be why some translators opt for "mocked," which carries a more negative connotation than "played with."

As you've discovered, the challenge in understanding this term is the lack of use in other ancient texts, which means we don't have many points of comparison. The precise meaning can also depend heavily on the context within the book of Job itself.

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