Jtcthesisch01Chapter 1:EUNUCHS IN THE HEBREW BIBLEBefore looking specifically at the three passages that will be the main focus of this project itis necessary to look more generally at the subject of the eunuch in the Hebrew Bible.Who werethe
(s`r's'm)? What was their role in society? And, what was their social standing? Theanswers to these questions will bear heavily on our reading of the stories of Ebed-melech,Hathach, and Ashpenaz.Although it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about a world sofar distant from our own, and although we must be careful to recognize the cultural distinctionsamong the various books of the Hebrew Bible, we can nevertheless make some usefulobservations as we attempt to answer the questions the s`r's'm raise in our minds.The Difficulty of TranslationThe first question to be addressed when studying the s`r's'm is that of the proper translationof the word.Should
(s`r's) be consistently translated eunuch?1 Or can it also refer tonon-castrated officials in the court of the king? Gene McAfee in the Oxford Companion to theBible cites the common wisdom, Context largely determines whether the Hebrew should betranslated eunuch or simply official.2 According to this way of thinking, the translatorshould look at the context of the story and decide if a translation of eunuch would causedifficulties for a modern reader
as in the case of Potiphar, a married s`r's mentioned in
1 Here, and throughout, I use the word eunuch in the standard English sense of a man who has been castratedor emasculated.2 Gene McAfee, Eunuch, OCB, 205.2Gen 37: 3940, or in cases where s`r's'm are seen commanding troops or acting with authority(1 Kgs 22:9; 2 Kgs 8:6, 25:19; 2 Chr 18:8; Jer 52:25).
However, this translation principle simplybows to modern stereotypes about eunuchs and does not actually answer the question of whetheror not all s`r's'm were indeed castrated or emasculated.The most definitive answer to thequestion thus far has been Hayim Tadmors essay Was the Biblical s`r's a Eunuch?3 in whichhe argues for what he calls the pan-eunuch view, offering evidence for consistently translatings`r's as eunuch.Tadmor begins with the axiom that the Hebrew s`r's was borrowed from the Akkadianv~/v%T r@v!.These court officials were often depicted in Assyrian monuments as beardlesscourtiers, and therefore may have been eunuchs.4 However, Tadmor points out that whether theseofficials were merely young pages and clean shaven adults or emasculated males is a matterof debate.5
As a scholar working in Akkadian, Tadmors hope is that an examination of thetextual evidence in the Hebrew Bible will shed some light on the meaning of the Akkadian wordsfrom which s`r's was borrowed.So, in the body of his essay he works through groups ofbiblical texts that contain the words s`r's/s`r's'm, in an attempt to ascertain a definition foreach.
3 Hayim Tadmor, Was the Biblical s`r's a Eunuch, in Solving Riddles and Untying Knots: Biblical,Epigraphic, and Semitic Studies in Honor of Jonas C.Greenfield (ed.Ziony Zevit, Seymour Gitin, and MichaelSokoloff; Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 1995), 31725.4 A man castrated before the age of puberty does not develop secondary sexual characteristics, such as beardgrowth.Patrick Barbier, The World of the Castrati: The History of an Extraordinary Operatic Phenomenon (trans.Margaret Crossland; London: Souvenir, 1998), 1415.5 Tadmor, 31718.3The first of Tadmors groups includes pre-exilic texts in which s`r's'm are portrayed inconnection with or working in the queens quarters of Israel or Judah.6 Associations between thecourts of Israel and Judah and other western Asian and north-eastern African courts would leadto a conclusion that these s`r's'm were eunuchs.It is very unlikely that any other males buteunuchs would be permitted to move freely in [the queens] private quarters.7 For, as Tadmorpoints out, in contemporary Assyria the only males permitted to enter the royal harem wereeunuchs and the efficacy of their castration was periodically checked and verified.8 The mostfamous Israelite queen to be associated with eunuchs is Jezebel of Tyre (a region that was laterpart of Phoenicia), and though the practices of the court of Tyre are unknown, the laterPhoenicians were the main source of harem eunuchs for the Greek city-states.9 Therefore, incases where the s`r's is working in the queens quarters of Israel or Judah, eunuch would bethe most appropriate translation.The second of Tadmors groups is those pre-exilic texts that do not reference people workingin the queens quarters.10 One of these is particularly interesting, because s`r's'm appears in alist that includes men, women, and children.11 The s`r's'm are clearly a separate category
6 2 Kgs 9:32, 24:12, 15; Jer 29:2.7 Tadmor, 319.8 Ibid.9 David F.
Greenberg, The Construction of Homosexuality
1 Sam 8:15, 1 Kgs 22:9; 2 Kgs 8:6, 23:11, 25:19; 1 Chr 28:1; 2 Chr 18:8; Jer 34:19, 38:7, 41:16, 52:25.11 Then Johanan son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces with him took all the rest of the people whomIshmael son of Nethaniah had carried away captive from Mizpah after he had slain Gedaliah son of Ahikam soldiers [/a^nv? h^mm!lj`m`h], women, children, and eunuchs, whom Johanan brought back fromGibeon (Jer 41:16 NRSV).4alongside males, females, and minors and are rendered eunuchs in the ancient and moderntranslations.12 Likewise, there are several instances where s`r's'm are juxtaposed against (c`r'm), the Hebrew word for officials,13 or against other types of courtly men,14 indicating theyare not officials
at least in the usual sense.Jeremiah 38 is such a case: Verse 1 uses thestandard c`r'm when referring to the court officials, while Ebed-melech is called a s`r's inverse 7.There are also three instances where an individual s`r's is mentioned with no othercontext.15 In two of these (1 Kgs 22:9 and 2 Kgs 8:6) it is impossible to ascertain a propertranslation
48d187322976fLast modified on 13-Aug-03 This list is intended to give the student and pastor an introduction to the major reference works available for the study of the Bible in Greek and Hebrew.Those works intended to help with the study of the Bible in English (or in general, e.g., Bible dictionaries) are covered in a separate guide.All works included in this guide are part of the reference collection of the Library at Covenant Theological Seminary.Covenants call numbers appear to the left of each work.Table of Contents Exegetical Works - OT
2 Exegetical Works - NT
Dictionaries, non- Biblical Greek 7
Dictionaries, Biblical Greek 9 Hebrew
Oliver Buswell, Jr.Library Whats What in the Reference Collection 2
Exegetical Works Old Testament Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament G.Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren.
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, continuing to be released.
REF 440 .B5713 A major, multi-volume reference work in which the key Hebrew and Aramaic words of the Old Testament are discussed in depth.
With the emphasis on meaning, each word study starts from the narrower everyday senses of the word and builds to an understanding of theologically significant concepts.Included under each keyword is consideration of the larger groups of words related semantically, as well as detailed surveys of a word's occurrences, both in the biblical material and elsewhere.New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis Willem A.VanGemeren, ed.
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997.
REF 440 .N438 1997 This work is intended to supplant Harris, Archer, and Waltkes Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT).Includes a lexical dictionary similar to the one found in TWOT, preceded by the Guide to Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (11 essays covering introductory topics).A topical dictionary in volume four, giving articles of a more standard Bible dictionary scope follows the lexical dictionary.
Volume five consists of indexes of semantic fields, Hebrew words, Scripture, subject, and numbering system (converting Strongs numbers to Goodrick-Kohlenberger
from the NIV Exhaustive ConcordanceTheological Lexicon of the Old Testament
Ernst Jeddi and Claus Westermann, eds.3 vols.Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997.
REF 440 .T4813 1997 This translation of a German work is similar to both NIDOTTE and TWOT, this work seeks to cover the historical, semantic, and theological meanings of Old Testament concepts.Arranged by root, many words are covered in articles under synonyms, antonyms, or derivatives so it is best to look the word up in the index in volume three of all Hebrew and Aramaic terms covered by the set.Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
Laird Harris, Gleason Archer, and Bruce Waltke, eds.
Chicago: Moody Press,
REF 440 .T49 Articles discuss every Hebrew word of theological significance in the Old Testament.Also provides the definitions of all other words.
Articles stress theological, not linguistic, understanding and include bibliographies.For the English-only user, a cross-index from the "Hebrew word number" in Strong's Concordance to entries in this wordbook is appendedNIV Triglot Old Testament Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1981.
REF 701 1981 The Old Testament presented in three columns per page
the Masoretic text (Hebrew), the Septuagint (Greek), and the NIV.Simplified Guide to BHS
Berkeley: Bibal Press, 1990.
REF 715 1977e Gives brief understandable explanations of the divisions; special points, unusual letters, and other marks; the Masorah; critical apparatus; accents; symbols and abbreviations; a transliteration of names and terms; an abbreviated bibliography; an English key to the Latin words and abbreviations and the symbols of the BHS; and a table of Hebrew numbers on the back cover.
The Masorah of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: an introduction and annotated glossaryPage H.Kelly, Daniel S.Mynatt, and Timothy G.Crawford.
Grand Rapids, MI:
REF 715 1977f An introductory work aimed at making the Masorah of the BHS understandable to beginning students of Hebrew.The first half of the work consists of essays on the history, meaning, and use of the Masorah.
The second half of the work is a glossary of the Hebrew terms and abbreviations used in the Masorah giving both an explanation and examples from the BHS.
NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament
John R.Kohlenberger, III, ed.
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979-85.
REF 715 1979 The Hebrew Old Testament with a literal English translation printed word (or phrase)-by-word below the Hebrew and the NIV text provided in the margin for quick comparison.
The Septuagint Version, Greek and English Lancelot C.L Brenton, translator.
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970.
REF 741 .B7 1970 This edition of the Septuagint has the Greek on the inside column of each page with a useful English translation in a parallel outer column.Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum Gttingen : Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1931-.
REF 741 .Z5 The standard critical edition of the Septuagint.
Be aware that the full Septuagint is not yet available (that is, not all books of the Bible are available in this set yet).The text is in Greek with the editorial matter in German.Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint: A Complete Parsing GuideBernard A.Taylor.
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994.
REF 744 .T38 1994 All the words of the Rahlfs text of the of the Septuagint are presented in alphabetical sequence fully parsed, and the dictionary form for each word is listed.New Concordance of the Bible Abraham Even-Shoshan.
Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, 1989.