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The LXX uses both God and Lord God in Genesis 2.

LXX-Genesis 2 (NETS)

4 This is the book of the origin of heaven and earth, when it originated, on the day that God made the sky and the earth 5 and all verdue of the field before it came to be upon the earth and all the herbage of the field before it sprang up, for God had not sent rain upon the earth and there was not a human to till the earth, 6 yet a spring would rise from the earth and water the whole face of the earth. 7 And God formed man, dust from the earth, and breathed into his face a breath of life, and the man became a living being. 8 And the Lord God planted an orchard in Edem toward the East, and there he put the man whom he formed. 9 And out of the earth God furthermore made to grow every tree that is beautiful to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the orchard’s midst and the tree for knowing what is knowable of good and evil.

15 And the Lord God took the man who he had formed and put him in the orchard to till and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded Adam saying, “You shall eat for food of every tree that is in the orchard. 17 But of the tree for knowing good and evil, of it you shall not eat; on the day that you eat of it, you shall die by death.” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man is alone; let us make him a helper corresponding to him. 19 And out of the earth God furthermore formed all the animals of the field and all the birds of the sky and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them, and anything , whatever Adam called it as living creature, this was its name. 20 And Adam gave names to all the cattle and to all the birds of the sky and to all the animals of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper like him. 21 And God cast a trance upon Adam, and he slept, and he took one of his ribs and filled up the flesh in its place. 22 And the rib that he had taken from Adam the Lord God fashioned into a woman and brought her to Adam. 23 And Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for our of her husband she was taken.” 24 Therefore a man will leave his father and mpother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

As in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 everything is attributed to God, ὁ θεὸς until the planting of the Garden of Eden and the placement of the man which is attributed to κύριος ὁ θεὸς, Lord God. After which the text returns to the use of God, ὁ θεὸς who makes every tree to grow. Then κύριος ὁ θεὸς, Lord God, is repeated as placing man in the Garden and is the one who gives the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and says Let us make him a helper... Then the text returns to ὁ θεὸς, God who makes the animals; brings them to Adam, and places him in a trance. Finally, the text ends by using κύριος ὁ θεὸς, Lord God, who makes the woman.

What is the significance of the LXX going back and forth between the use of ὁ θεὸς, God, and κύριος ὁ θεὸς throughout Genesis 2:4-24?

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  • God and the Lord God refer to the same God/Lord God.. This is a single being/person. If you are trying to make room for a multi person God/Lord God, then you should identify who this God and the Lord God you ask about in this question. Why do you see that there is a difference in the God that made Adam and the Lord God who placed him in the garden? Is it because you view God as a multi person God or Gods? Jan 29 at 2:58
  • @AlexBalilo The Hebrew text uses Lord God throughout chapter 2. The question is why is the same person referred to differently thoughout chapter 2? Jan 29 at 3:56
  • Just because a person is referred differently doesn't make the person a multi person person. Peter was called cephas Saul became Paul. Is Paul a multi person person? Jan 29 at 4:00
  • @AlexBalilo True Peter is a name and Paul is a name, but God and Lord God are not names. And even if they were that doesn’t explain why two different terms are used in the back and forth manner as they are in Genesis 2. Equally problematic to the name change is this is a translation. The Hebrew is always YHVH Elohim. So it was a translator decision not to use Lord God but to go back and forth between God and Lord God. Jan 29 at 4:46
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    'I AM' is not a name either. The name (yet to be revealed) is 'Father'. And the one who reveals it is the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 1 at 17:49

5 Answers 5

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If you do a comparison between different translations, you will see that from Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 (inclusive) simply 'God' (Elohim) is constantly used in all the texts, but from 2:4 onward, the double-barreled title, 'LORD God' (Yahweh Elohim) starts to be used constantly, in place of simply 'God'. This is deliberate. It is for a reason. It is not a mistake anywhere along the line of translation, by anybody.

Of course, anyone doing a partial quote, starting at 1:27 (say) and stopping at 2:9, could make it look as if the text was jumping back and forward between 'God' and 'Lord God'. Or, to be more honest, saying that the text consistently said 'God' until 2:4, when it switched to 'Lord God' consistently thereafter. It is not until 3:1 that the serpent starts to speak of 'God'.

This should alert us to a deliberate and significant point that would teach us important lessons about the Creation account. What does it mean, then? Let me quote from a scholar on this:

"In the opening chapters of Genesis what immediately strikes the eye is the way in which the record of the Creation is repeated. There is not just one account. There are two accounts of Creation. These differ in length, content, and emphasis. This in itself indicates a profound mystery. Yet a mystery rarely noticed, seldom considered, and hardly opened.

The first account of Creation begins at Genesis 1:1 and ends at 2:3. These verses are characterized by the name ELOHIM - translated GOD in the English Bible - used exclusively in this passage and occurring thirty-three times.

The remainder of chapter two - that is, verses 4 to 25 - presents the second record of the Creation. This is worded in a completely different manner and considered from an entirely distinct aspect. Throughout this passage the divine name Elohim is marked by the addition of the name JEHOVAH, so as to read Jehovah Elohim, translated LORD God in the English Bible. This name occurs eleven times in these verses." Creation, John Metcalfe, pp.64-65, fifth impression 2008, http://www.johnmetcalfepublishingtrust.co.uk/contact_us.htm

Notice needs to be taken of such things as why the first account makes no mention of Adam, or even the ground (Adamah), nor the fact that the man was to be a living soul. Eden is not mentioned, nor the trees of life and of the knowledge of good and evil. But the second account is concerned to introduce the man by name - Adam - and goes on at length about him, his manhood, his history and his posterity. He can then be seen as the head of the fallen race.

As the covenant name of God is only introduced on the seventh day, so did God only bring his covenant name to his people, Israel, via Moses. They had the first volume of the Torah - Genesis - and could now go back in time behind Jacob, Isaac and Abraham, to find their ultimate origin and root in Adam under the divine name Jehovah Elohim. Genesis 2:4 shows the beginning of the revelation of Jehovah to Israel, made known in Adam.

Therefore, without grasping the two accounts of Creation, and their deliberate use of certain words and avoidance of other words, there will be confusion. There was no mistake in the Hebrew manuscripts regarding this.

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  • Thank you. Some aspects which I do not believe are properly presented in this answer. 1) YHVH does not enter into the narrative until after the seventh day. 2) From the Hebrew text, the two narrative perspective is correct. Elohim is used exclusively from 1:1 to 2:3. Then YHVH Elohim is used exclusively from 2:4 to 4:25. Therefore, why does the LXX translator purposely deviate from what is clear in the Hebrew text? IOW, why does the LXX unnecessarily (wrt to the Hebrew text) use both terms? Feb 1 at 17:29
  • @RevelationLad I said Yahweh does not enter the narrative until the seventh day (not 'after' it, see Gen.2:1-4). Both terms are used in the Hebrew text as the book I quote from shows. But the LXX deviates 5 times from 2:4 to 22 (over 19 verses) while being correct 5 times. Maybe there were two schools of thought on this so they split it down the middle? (The most unhermeneutical suggestion you will likely ever get!) If their LXX MSS don't give a clue, we cannot know why.
    – Anne
    Feb 1 at 17:49
  • We may not be able to be to know "why" but that does not eliminate the ability to discern a significance to the change. If a translator chooses to introduce something which is not present in the original text, surely there is a significance. At a minimum alternating between God and Lord God indicate either two (consistent with let us...) or it signifies a shift in perspective. IE "God" creates all things, but man responds to "God" who created him by acknowledging him as "Lord." Feb 1 at 18:29
  • @RevelationLad I have amended my answer, having learned of a point of confusion the LXX causes re. the 2 accounts of creation in Genesis though does not directly relate to switching from God to Lord God. My answer to this new Q includes quotes here, plus goes into the other LXX problem should the arrangement of its words be followed too slavishly. The correct words would then be set in the wrong place, resulting in an unintelligible contradiction. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/93267/…
    – Anne
    May 20 at 10:37
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Excluding the first three verses of Gen 2, the rest of the chapter has the following distribution of the word "theos"

  • total of 11 occurrences, all have ὁ θεὸς
  • all translate the Hebrew יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים = "LORD God"
  • all are in the nominative case and record God saying or doing something
  • six with just ὁ θεὸς
  • five are preceded by kyrios giving Κύριος ὁ θεός = "Lord God"

Thus, it must be admitted that the LXX translators were quite inconsistent. I was tempted to think that when God is mentioned first in a section it was LORD God followed by just ὁ θεὸς; but not even this pattern is consistent.

I am at a loss to explain the distribution of these forms.

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  • As you know, "God" used in Genesis is Elohim, while the "LORD God" is YHWH Elohim. Some suggest that Elohim (a plural) might refer to the "divine council," YHWH’s assembly of heavenly beings popularized in Michael Heiser’s book, The Unseen Realm (2005). Others such as Dr. Emanuel Tov compared passages in the MT, the LXX, and the DSS, noting that in Deut. 32:43, Psalm 29, and Psalm 82, “the sons of God” and the “divine assembly” are present in the LXX and the DSS but were “probably removed from the MT in an act of theological editing” in the evolution of monotheistic Judaism. Odd ideas.
    – Dieter
    Jan 29 at 21:55
  • One thing that came to mind is it runs against the source theory. If a translator believes they can use or not use Lord for whatever reason they have, it suggests they don’t see a need to preserve a section which otherwise might be understood as from the YHVH source. Jan 30 at 22:12
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This is a very difficult question. From reading the LXX and the MT (Masoretic Text), it's apparent in many places that different manuscripts were originally used.

The Septuagint, also known as the LXX, is the translation of the Tanakh from Hebrew into Koine (common) Greek completed by 70 or 72 Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt with the approval of the High Priest and the Sanhedrin. Torah, the first five books of the Bible, was translated during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 BCE). The translation of the rest of the Tanakh was complete by the middle of the second century BCE. The Septuagint was translated by Jews for Jews, and was widely used at the time, including a million Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria.

The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) are a collection of almost a thousand texts discovered in caves along the Dead Sea between 1946 and 1956. They date from around 250 BCE to 68 CE, just before the destruction of Jerusalem. They provide a snapshot of the Tanakh at that time.

The Syriac Peshitta is an eastern Aramaic version of the Bible which is believed to have originated in the second century CE.

Around 235 CE, a Christian scholar in Alexandria named Origen completed a side-by-side comparison in six columns of six different versions of the Tanakh in Greek and in Hebrew. Called the Hexapla, it’s estimated that it would have filled 6,500 pages. The original Hexapla stored in Caesarea was destroyed in the 7th century Muslim invasion, but by then it had become the source for other translations, and the Septuagint column was preserved by numerous copies.

Starting in 382 CE, Jerome started translating the Septuagint into Latin, called the Vulgate (from the Latin word, vulgus, meaning common). In his desire for accuracy, he switched at some point from the Septuagint to pre-Masoretic Hebrew text in consultation with Jewish rabbis. Jerome completed his translation in 404-405 CE. The Latin Vulgate is the official translation for the Roman Catholic Church.

The Masoretes were traditionalist rabbis named after the Hebrew word masorah, which originated from the word “fetter,” and came to mean “tradition.” The Masoretic Text (MT) was the result of hundreds of “corrections” (their term) of the Tanakh in the 6th to the 10th centuries CE. These revisions, now called recensions, corrected variant readings, and the variant Hebrew texts were destroyed by the Masoretes. The Masoretes also separated the letters into words, added verse and chapter divisions, and added vowel points to the text.

There are many variations in scriptural manuscripts, the vast majority of which are trivial. For example, there are spelling variations between Aramaic and Hebrew. Some variations are due to obvious copyist errors that include skipping a word or a line of text. In a few cases, doctrinal difficulties and Messianic prophecies were deliberately altered in the text. Rabbi Simeon ben Pazi, who lived in the third century CE calls the variant readings of his time "emendations of the Scribes" (tikkune Soferim; Midrash Genesis Rabbah xlix. 7). Apparently after Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, scriptures with inconvenient doctrines or prophecies were deliberately altered. Some of these changes were later incorporated into the Masoretic text.

Modern translations are usually based on one of these sources, sometimes in conjunction with several manuscripts. Thus, for accurate study, it's important to compare differences between all these sources, bearing in mind the background of the translators and the time period in which their translations were completed.

Regarding the specific differences that you quoted, it's hard to attribute a motive to the person copying the text. One possibility is that a Greek translator wanted to distinguish between Theos/Elohim and YHWH/LORD and might have been gradually changed due to circumlocution with respect to YHWH. Such changes are usually inconsistent and do not appear in all manuscripts. Perhaps there are some published papers or theses on this specific subject.

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  • I appreciate the extensive information you have provided. No doubt different manuscripts may be an explanation in part. For example, I cited the first use of Lord God as coming at 2:8 some have it at 2:4. But all have the back and forth use betwwen God/Lord God. Manuscript differences may account for where the uses are but if manuscripts agree differences are present, then that aspect is central. Obviously the use in Hebrew manuscripts is uniform. What prompted a translator to create differences where none existed? Jan 29 at 20:08
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    In the vast majority of cases, the changes were accidental. The Assyrian "square script" alphabet is far more ambiguous than the Paleo-Hebrew script that it replaced. In general, Hebrew words were three consonants long and the reader would fill in the vowels based on context (before the time of the vowel points). If one of these letters was poorly formed or misread, it changes the entire word and meaning of the verse. In a few cases, the changes were deliberately made for doctrinal reasons. That's why we see a warning and a terrible curse in Revelation 22:18,19. Thank God for the LXX and DSS!
    – Dieter
    Jan 29 at 21:10
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Almost every subject in the Scriptures is treated from at least two aspects, which must be kept separate, if we wish to see clearly, it must be combined to comprehend the whole. Knoch

In Genesis 1:26

Elohim said: Let us make humanity in Our image, and according to Our likeness,

The Us means there are two making humanity in their image.

So Elohim created humanity in His image; in the image of Elohim, He created it: male and female, He created them.

There is only one image here, composed of male and female.

God's perfect image is the Son of His love Col 1:14

Who is the image of the invisible God. (Col. 1:15).

Since God is invisible, He needs a medium to reveal Himself to His creatures. His Son, Who is His creative, Original, in whom, and through whom He made all. Knoch

On the sixth day, Elohim finished His work that he had made; and He ceased on the seventh day from all His work that He had made. Genesis 2:3

(Brings to mind when Christ finished His work after accomplishing the work, the Father set for Him to do.)

The very next verse introduces Yahweh Elohim, who makes heaven and earth.

These are the chronological records of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that Yahweh Elohim makes earth and heavens.

From that verse forward, we see Yahweh Elohim used throughout the Old Testament.

Here are three different translations of that same verse.

Webster's Bible Translation These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

World English Bible This is the history of the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Yahweh God made the earth and the heavens.

Young's Literal Translation These are births of the heavens and of the earth in their being prepared, in the day of Jehovah God's making earth and heavens;

So, after saying, all that it shows how the "US" is God and His Son in different forms working together throughout scripture.

We see in the garden Adam hiding from Yahweh Elohim because there's a visible manifestation here of who Adam is talking to. Same person is talking to Cain.

We see Yahweh, who appeared to Abram in Genesis 12:7 and in the next verse, we see Abram building an altar there to Yahweh and Abraham called on the Name of Yahweh.

◄ 3068. Yhvh ► Strong's Concordance Yhvh: the proper name of the God of Israel Original Word: יְהוָֹה Part of Speech: Proper Name Transliteration: Yhvh Phonetic Spelling: (yeh-ho-vaw') Definition: the proper name of the God of Israel NAS Exhaustive Concordance Word Origin from havah Definition the proper name of the God of Israel NASB Translation GOD (314), LORD (6399), LORD'S (111).

OP's question is;

"What is the significance of the LXX going back and forth between the use of ὁ θεὸς, God, and κύριος ὁ θεὸς throughout Genesis 2:4-24?"

It is to show the importance of who the Us is and the different roles that they are doing together throughout scripture. The names signify the differences. They are working together as one.

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    Nice answer. The “us” aspect is also present in that Adam is made from the earth by God and woman is made from man by Lord God. Therefore male (God) and female (Lord God) he created them. The “us” is God who made Adam from the earth and Lord God who made woman from the man. Jan 29 at 16:35
  • Jesus did not identify himself as one of the "us" in Genesis 1:26. Matthew 19:4 show that he ascribed creation to his God, not to himself. Genesis 1:27 shows that it was God that Created, not the "Us". The bible shows that there is only one Creator. Jan 30 at 9:50
  • I think it's interesting that God's creation seems to go from course to detailed and from basic to refined in binary steps. This puts woman, as the last of God's creation, in a special place.
    – Dieter
    Feb 1 at 16:36
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One would love to have been a fly on the wall when the LXX editors made this choice. But here is a thought: The editors - if they had thought in terms of chapters - would have begun a new one at verse 8, with the previous verses consigned to the first chapter and YHWH ("the Lord") accordingly omitted. In other words, they thought that the verses beginning with "This is the book of the origin of heaven and earth" were the conclusion of what we think of Chapter 1. The beginning of the putative Chapter 2 would then be:

And God formed man, dust from the earth, and breathed into his face a breath of life, and the man became a living being.

But this does not completely explain the question. Regardless of the exact point where one section ends and the other begins, it appears the editors decided to ease the transition from the "Elohim" to "YHWH Elohim" by omitting Yahweh's true name several times, plus changing it from the original YHWH to "the Lord," a convention that did not yet exist in the Hebrew.

So the answer would be: they wished to made a less sudden transition from "Elohim" to "YHWH Elohim."

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  • I have revised the question to consider 2:4-24 Jan 29 at 3:52

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