Friday, October 23, 2009

Prov 8:30 in the Versions

Genesis Rabbah begins with a discussion of the unusual Hebrew word ‘amon in Prov 8:30. A commenter on my previous post was curious about what this verse looked like in Syriac. Did the translator use a word meaning “guardian”? Well, I had to look it up, and what I found was interesting, so here it is.

Basically, the Peshitta avoids the word altogether. The Targum, however, does support reading something like “guardian” here, using the Aramaic cognate root that also means “to believe, trust.” This is striking because the Peshitta of Proverbs often looks like someone just transcribed the Targum wholesale into Syriac script. Not so in Prov 8:30.

To round it out, I looked at the Septuagint. The translator there also wasn’t sure what to do with ‘amon. I think “fitting” or “suitable” likely reflects a similar reading of the Hebrew root. Amen. It’s appropriate.


ܥܡܗ ܡܬܩܢܐ ܗܘܝܬ܂ ܒܝ ܚܕܐ ܗܘܐ ܟܠ ܝܘܡ܂ ܘܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܩܕܡܘܗܝ ܚܕܝܐ ܗܘܝܬ

With him, I was established/created. In me, he rejoiced every day. And continually, I rejoiced before him.


והוית צידוי 1 מהימנותא 2 מהימנתא בי אחדי הוה כל יומא ויומא וחדיא אנא קדמוי בכל זמן׃

And I was beside him, a trusted one. In me, he rejoiced every day, and I was rejoicing beside him continually.


ἤμην παρ᾽ αὐτῷ ἁρμόζουσα ἐγὼ ἤμην ᾗ προσέχαιρεν καθ᾽ ἡμέραν δὲ εὐφραινόμην ἐν προσώπῳ αὐτοῦ ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ

And I was beside him, suitable. I was that in which he rejoiced daily, and I was rejoicing beside him continually.


  1. Have you looked yet into the "Ummanu" (pre-diluvian sages) of Akkadian tradition? Couple of resources:

    Reiner, Erica. "The Etiological Myth of the Seven Sages." Orientalia ns 30 (1961): 1-11.

    Hallo, William W. "Antediluvian Cities." Journal of Cuneiform Studies 23 (1970): 57-67.

    It's a long time since I looked at this, but I recall that at least some readers make a connection between the Ummanu and 'Amon.