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When in despair for a son, Hannah prays to YHVH. She begins by addressing יהוה צבאות:

10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow 11 and said, “O LORD of hosts, יהוה צבאות, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” (1 Samuel 1 ESV)

Her address is simply יהוה צבאות which is understood as Lord of Hosts.

The LXX translator understood יהוה צבאות much differently:

10 And she was deeply distressed in soul and prayed to the Lord, and weeping she wept, 11 and vowed a vow to the Lord saying, “Adonai, Lord, Eloai, Sabaoth, if looking you will look on the humiliation of your salve and remember me and give to your slave an offspring of men, and I will give him as one devoted before you until the day of his death, and wine and strong drink he shall not drink, and no iron shall come upon his head
(LXX-1 Samuel 1 NETS)

10 καὶ αὐτὴ κατώδυνος ψυχῇ καὶ προσηύξατο πρὸς κύριον καὶ κλαίουσα ἔκλαυσεν 11 καὶ ηὔξατο εὐχὴν κυρίῳ λέγουσα Αδωναι κύριε ελωαι σαβαωθ ἐὰν ἐπιβλέπων ἐπιβλέψῃς ἐπὶ τὴν ταπείνωσιν τῆς δούλης σου καὶ μνησθῇς μου καὶ δῷς τῇ δούλῃ σου σπέρμα ἀνδρῶν καὶ δώσω αὐτὸν ἐνώπιόν σου δοτὸν ἕως ἡμέρας θανάτου αὐτοῦ καὶ οἶνον καὶ μέθυσμα οὐ πίεται καὶ σίδηρος οὐκ ἀναβήσεται ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ

As is typical in LXX Isaiah and a few isolated occurrences, יהוה צבאות seems to be treated as κύριε σαβαωθ which would be Lord Sabaoth. However, the translator began by adding Adonai, the transliteration of אדון. Then they also treated צבאות as two words by adding ελωαι which sounds like a transliteration of אלוה.

As far as I can tell, this is the only occurrence of ελωαι in the LXX.

What is the significance of the Greek rendering of Hannah's address to the LORD of Hosts?

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The LXX rendering of יהוה צבאות , namely, Ἀδωναὶ Κύριε Ἐλωὲ σαβαώθ is not as strange at it first appears. If translated back into Hebrew, it would be, "LORD [ie YHWH] Lord, God of Hosts."

Notes on the above:

  • A literate Hebrew scribe would never pronounce the name YHWH but would always substitute "Adonai".
  • σαβαώθ is simply the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew צְבָא֜וֹת = "hosts"
  • Ἐλωὲ is a Hellenized version of אֱלהִים ("Elohim"). Compare the similar language in Mark 15:34, ie, Ἐλωῒ = "My God" (but in Aramaic here)

All this simply says that the exemplar from which the LXX was translated was a different text from what we now have in Hebrew Masoretic text.

This is simply another of the many thousands of places where the LXX and MT show differences.

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  • The only occurrence of Αδωναι and ελωαι in the LXX and NT is not strange? And is of no significance other than another difference between the Hebrew and Greek? Aug 29, 2023 at 4:15
  • @RevelationLad - "Lord LORD God of Hosts" (or a slight variant) is common in the OT in places such as Jer 46:10, 27:21, 35:17, 38:17, Ps 69:6, Isa 22:5, Amos 5:16, etc.
    – Dottard
    Aug 29, 2023 at 4:46
  • Isaiah 22:5 לאדני יהוה צבאות in Hebrew becomes κυρίου σαβαωθ in Greek. In what way does that explain 1 Samuel 1? If anything it demonstrates the unusual rendering. Aug 29, 2023 at 5:04
  • @RevelationLad - I agree it is unusual, but many of the variations between the LXX and MT are similarly mystifying.
    – Dottard
    Aug 29, 2023 at 6:56
  • + 1 ... although I'm not convinced this is a textual variant rather than a translation issue in which the Hebrew was translated into Greek in a way that seems clumsy to us today. @Dottard could you explain more? Aug 31, 2023 at 3:44

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