Textual Issue (sample)

Prov 3:10, 'with plenty' v. 'with grain'

Synopsis

The preferred reading שָׂבָע 'plenty, satiety, abundance' is supported by MT, a Targum, the Vulgate and Peshitta. The Septuagint seems to differ, having πλησμονῆς σίτου 'with an abundance of grain.' The word σίτου 'grain' can be explained as a scribal gloss or a translational addition, while πλησμονῆς 'abundance' is a common rendering of שָׂבָע. Some commentators (particularly Dahood) take שָׂבָע itself to mean 'grain' because it is poetically paired with תִירוֹשׁ 'wine.' However, it is better to recognize that שָׂבָע does not include the explicit meaning 'grain' and to follow instead a significant number of modern translations in rendering MT שָׂבָע according to its demonstrable, core meaning (in this context, 'plenty' or 'abundance').
Grp Source Reading Retroversion Gloss V TRV Variant Classes Comments
a MT שָׂבָ֑ע - plenty, overflowing, abundance, satiety, grain? - - - Lexicons list the following senses: -BDB: 'plenty, satiety.' -HALOT: 'satiety, abundance.' -Gesenius: 'plenty, abundance' (cf. DBL). -NIDOTTE: 'satiety; plenty; produce/grain(?)'
a Targ\Prov שבעא שבע plenty, satiety NV - -
a Vulg saturitate שבע abundance, satiety NV - -
a Syr ܩܢܝܢܟ שבע satiety, plenty NV - -
b LXX πλησμονῆς σίτου שבע or שבע שבר completely with corn / with an abundance of grain V TRV Plus Some see a conflation and may even regard שבר as preferable. Others regard σίτου as a gloss or translational addition within the Greek transmission.

TRV = a translatable variant / variation, a difference from MT that is distinguishable in translation.

Grp Ref Pages Ref. Argument Ref. Conclusion CTP Comments
1 BHS 1278 G πλησμονῆς σίτου (-ῳ) dupl, l שֶׁבֶר cf ותירוש Based on the LXX rendering, BHS suggests the reading שֶׁבֶר.
1 ICC, Proverbs 62-64 "[The word plenty] is elsewhere always adverbial ... and never a thing with which something may be filled.” Toy proposes: “an easy emendation (suggested by the Grk.) gives corn, parallel to must.” Against Toy: שָׂבָ֑ע is not always adverbial (e.g. Gen 41:30.31). Also, it is rather uncertain to reconstruct the Vorlage on the basis of the LXX rendering σίτου.
2 BHQ, Proverbs 6, 32* שָׂבָ֑ע V S T | σίτῳ G* (via שׁבר)| πλησμονῆς σίτου G Mss (confl). BHQ writes: "It seems to be likely that שֶׁבֶר is at the base of the rendering of G." And, "It is possible that G πλησμονῆς σίτου (σίτῳ) is the conflation of a double translation of שָׂבָע." SyrH has only πλησμονῆς in the text because Origen eliminated σίτου from his LXX column. BHQ (following Barthelemy) considers σίτῳ as the original rendering (via שׁבר) and πλησμονῆς as a secondary modernization. G* means “the Old Greek reading in the judgment of the BHQ book editor...” (BHQ, IX). Although the author of BHQ regards σίτῳ as the original rendering (via שׁבר) of LXX, he does not express a preference for שׁבר. So I assume that שָׂבָ֑ע is still his preferred reading.
2 Murphy, Proverbs 18, 20 “Instead of 'plenty,' some read 'grain' (שׁבר for שׂבע), which is in contrast to wine. The LXX reads 'fullness of grain' (cf. BHS).” Murphy decided in favor of 'plenty.' There are other commentators in favor of interpreting שׂבע in the sense of 'plenty, satiety,' e.g. F. Delitzsch; McKane translates 'plenty' (1970:214).
2 Fox, Proverbs 142, 378 "Lag. regards πλησμονῆς σίτου as a conflation of שבר and שבע. But since a note in SyrH says that σίτου is found in neither the LXX nor the Heb, it is probably a scribal gloss within the Greek transmission (...), rather than a later Greek recourse to an original (and unattested) Heb." Fox opts for 'abundance' in his translation, but he writes that "The word śabaʿ ('satiety, abundance') in collocation with tiroś ('new wine') probably denotes grain" (cf. Dahood). Fox regards σίτου as scribal gloss. Whereas Fox regards σίτου as a scribal gloss, BHQ (cf. Barthelemy) sees it as being eliminated from SyrH.
2 Fritsch, Hexaplaric Signs 169, 170 Fritsch classified 76 examples of double translations from LXX Prov. among which he grouped 3:10 under "Double translations of words." While Fritsch acknowledges that the LXX has important textual variations from the Hebrew, he regards Prov. as a rather free translation. For a similar view with regard to the freedom the translator of LXX Prov took, see Tauberschmidt (2004: 175-176).
2 NICOT, Proverbs - "Plenty (śābāʿ) refers to satiety and may be a metonymy for grain. ... The chiastic parallel, with new wine (tîrôš; see 9:5; 20:1), functions as a merism with 'plenty' for a full and adequate supply of food and drink." Waltke translates 'plenty' (but mentions Dahood positively in a footnote).
3 Dahood, Proverbs 9 "Frequently śābāʿ is emended with the LXX to šeber 'grain' (so CCD), but this alteration overlooks the neat Phoen. parallel śbʿ wtrš 'grain and new wine,' found twice in the Karatepe Inscription, III, 7,9, as first pointed out by H. L. Ginsberg." The combination of śbʿ wtrš 'grain and new wine' in Phoenician is evidence that śbʿ means 'grain' in Prov 3:10. Clifford 1999:50 (transl: 'filled with grain') supports Dahood's idea; similarly Whybray 1994:64. Against: THAT holds that śbʿ in combination with trš is used in its real sense 'satiety' in the Karatepe Inscription, III, 7,9 and others (THAT vol. 2, 1979:819).
4 HPR 3:450-451 Factor 14 conjecture; B rating for שבע 'fullness / corn.' HPR states: "The meaning of שבע is not only 'fullness,' but also 'corn / wheat.'" Accordingly, the suggested translation is 'with corn / wheat.' There is no clear evidence that the lexeme שבע as such means 'corn.'
Grp Trans. Eng. Rend. [or Gloss] [Other Lang. Rend.] Marginal Note Other Note C TC Comments
n KJV So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. NC -
n RV So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, And they fats shall overflow with new wines. NC -
n ASV So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, And thy vats shall overflow with new wine. NC -
n JPS So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy vats shall overflow with new wine. NC -
o JM so shall your barns be full of corn, your vats brim over with new wine. C TC Translation may be based on σίτου (-ῳ).
o AT So will your barns be filled with grain, and your vats will be bursting with wine. so LXX; Heb. "with plenty." C TC-n Translation is based on σίτου (-ῳ).
n RSV then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. NC -
o JB then your barns will be filled with wheat, your vats overflowing with new wine. C TC Translation may be based on σίτου (-ῳ).
o NAB Then will your barns be filled with grain, with new wine your vats will overflow. sheber: cf LXX. C TC-n Translation is based on σίτου (-ῳ).
r NEB then your granaries will be filled with corn(b) and your vats bursting with wine. [b] with corn: or to overflowing. [no note] C NTC The choice between 'corn' and 'to overflowing' seems to be made on lexical grounds.
n NASB So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine. NC -
o TEV If you do, your barns will be filled with grain, and you will have too much wine to store it all C TC Translation may be based on σίτου (-ῳ).
p NIV then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. NC -
n NKJV So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine. NC -
o NJB then your barns will be filled with corn, your vats overflowing with new wine. 'with corn', Gk; 'to repletion', Hebr. The offering of the first fruits. Dt 26:1a is the sole cultic observance explicitly commanded by the Proverbs, but there is frequent mention of prayer. C TC-n Translation is based on σίτου (-ῳ).
r NJPS And your barns will be filled with grain, your vats will burst with new wine C NTC The rendering 'grain' may be chosen on lexical grounds.
r REB then your granaries will be filled with grain and your vats will brim with new wine. with grain: or to overflowing. C NTC The choice between 'corn' and 'to overflowing' seems to be made on lexical grounds.
n NRSV then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine NC -
q CEV Then you will have more grain and grapes than you will ever need. C TC Translation may be based on σίτου (-ῳ).
r NLT Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine. C NTC The rendering 'grain' may be chosen on lexical grounds.
n ESV then your(A) barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. NC -
p NET then your barns will be filled completely,(1) and your vats will overflow with new wine. 1 Heb “with plenty” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NIV “to overflowing.” The noun שָׂבָע (sava’, “plenty; satiety”) functions as an adverbial accusative of manner or contents: “completely.” NC -
p TNIV then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. NC -
n ISV So your barns will be filled with abundance, NC -

Description

MT שָׂבָ֑ע is translated 'plenty, satiety, abundance' in the lexicons; NIDOTTE adds 'produce / grain(?)' with the question mark. The MT reading שָׂבָע is supported by evidence from TargProv, Vulg, and Syr. The LXX, however, has πλησμονῆς σίτου 'abundance of grain,' which differs from MT by the apparent addition of the word σίτου 'grain.' The LXX rendering might reflect an earlier conflation of שבר and שבע, and some scholars estimate that שבר ('grain') would have been the Vorlage of an original LXX (Old Greek) σίτῳ 'grain.' Others regard LXX σίτου as a gloss within the Greek transmission or as a translational addition intended to make explicit the implied meaning of שבע.

Favoring the Old Greek reconstruction, BHS commends שֶׁבֶר even as Toy had preferred 'corn' (in the sense of 'grain') on the basis of the Greek and on contextual grounds, thinking specifically of the parallel to 'must' (i.e. 'wine'). More recently BHQ again expressed the view that σίτῳ is the original, Old Greek rendering and πλησμονῆς is a secondary modernization. Against the proposed reconstruction, Fox thinks that σίτου (in LXX πλησμονῆς σίτου) is a scribal gloss because a note in the Syro-Hexapla indicates that σίτου was not present in either the LXX or the Hebrew. Taking a slightly different approach, Fritsch regards LXX πλησμονῆς σίτου as a double translation, a "doublet."

Although BHQ considers σίτῳ as the original LXX rendering (based on שׁבר), the editor did not express a preference for that reading, and some commentators, e.g. Murphy, Delitzsch, McKane, and Meinhold ('Sättigung'), clearly opt for שׂבע in the sense of 'plenty' or 'satiety.' Waltke too prefers 'plenty,' but he does not rule out the sense of 'grain,' and the same holds for Fox, who translates 'abundance.' The sense 'grain' for שׂבע was first suggested by Dahood (1963). The evidence goes back to the Phoenician Karatepe inscription from the 8th cent. B.C.E. in which the phrase śbʿ wtrš occurs in the sentence, 'May this city be the possessor of plenty [implying 'plenty of grain'] and wine.' So śbʿ 'plenty' in connection with trš 'wine' has been taken to mean 'grain.' But THAT provides evidence that, even in combination with trš, śbʿ is used in its core sense 'plenty, satiety' in inscriptions, including the Karatepe inscription. Still, Clifford follows Dahood's lexical argument and translates 'filled with grain,' as does Whybray. HPR leaves open the possibility of translating שָׂבָע as 'fullness' or as 'corn.'

English translations may be divided into three groups: (1) those that are based on MT שָׂבָע 'plenty, abundance, satiety' etc., e.g. KJV, RV, ASV, JPS, RSV, NASB, NRSV, NKJV, ESV, ISV, NIV, NET, TNIV, (2) those that explicitly rely on a presumed LXX Vorlage שׁבר, e.g. AT, NAB, NJB, and (3) those that interpret שָׂבָע as 'grain' or else they too rely on LXX as in the second group, e.g. JM, JB, TEV, NJPS, NLT, CEV, NEB, REB. In the absence of explicit textual notes, it is difficult to know for sure which textual base these translations reflect.

Evaluation

To review the external evidence, MT שָׂבָע is supported by TargProv, Vulg, and Syr. The LXX rendering πλησμονῆς σίτου may rest on a conflation, שבע שבר, in which case σίτῳ, with שבר as Vorlage, is assumed to be the original, Old Greek. Otherwise, σίτου may be a gloss within the Greek transmission or simply a translational addition. We take the latter view, since the translator of LXX Proverbs commonly adapted parallel lines to make them correspond more closely (cf. Tauberschmidt 2004). Also, there are five occurrences of σίτος 'grain' in LXX Prov, of which only one (Prov 11:26) is a literal rendering of the Hebrew. In Prov 4:17 and 31:27 σίτα 'grains' is used for לחם 'bread' and in 20:4 σίτος has no equivalent in MT. Thus we cannot be certain that the LXX rendering in 3:10 precisely reflects its Hebrew Vorlage.

Αlso pertinent to the present discussion is the question of whether the usual meaning for שָׂבָע 'plenty, satiety, abundance' shifts to 'produce, grain' under certain contextual pressures (cf. NIDOTTE). If so, Prov. 3:10 is a unique case in the OT, for שָׂבָע occurs elsewhere seven times in the sense of 'satiety, plenty,' but never (not even in connection with 'wine') in the sense of 'grain.' Similarly, the argument for שָׂבָע 'grain'* that relies on the Karatepe inscription seems rather uncertain, because in that context, as in other inscriptions where it is paired with trš, śbʿ can be interpreted as 'satiety' (THAT). Thus there is no clear evidence that the lexeme שבע refers directly to 'grain' even in combination with 'wine.' This is so, even if 'abundance of grain' may have been implied for the early recipients because grain was what an abundantly full barn was understood to contain.

Among the 24 English translations that have been evaluated, there are 13 that support שָׂבָע in the sense of 'plenty, abundance, satiety' and 11 that favor 'grain, corn,' three of which definitely reflect an LXX base (and maybe others too), but apparently some have interpreted שָׂבָע in the sense of 'grain, corn' in line with Dahood's lexical argument. According to our findings, however, it is preferable to follow the example of modern translations that follow MT and seek to express the core lexical meaning of שָׂבָע.

Common Text

שָׂבָע (ncmsa) 'plenty, abundance, satiety'
Textual Evidence
LXX Rahlfs, A., ed. 1935. Septuaginta, id est Vetus Testamentum graece iuxta LXX interpretes. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

Septuaginta, Vetus Testamentum graecum auctoritate academiae scientiarum gottingensis editum. 1931-. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

MT Freedman, David Noel, ed. 1998. The Leningrad Codex: A Facsimile Edition. Grand Rapids / Leiden: Eerdmans / Brill.

Syr Jenner, K. D., and Arie van der Kooij, eds. 1966-. The Old Testament in Syriac according to the Peshitta Version. Leiden: Brill.
TargProv Kaufman, Stephen A., ed. 2005. Targum Proverbs (The Late Jewish Literary Aramaic Version of Proverbs as reproduced in the database of the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project). Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College.
Vulg Weber, R., ed. 1994. Biblia Sacra iuxta vulgatam versionem. 4th ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
Published Evaluations
BHQ, Proverbs de Waard, Jan, ed. 2008. Proverbs. Biblia Hebraica Quinta, 17. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
BHS Elliger, K., and W. Rudolph, eds. 1967/77, 1983. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
Dahood, Proverbs Dahood, Mitchell. 1963. Proverbs and Northwest Semitic Philology. Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Fox, Proverbs Fox, Michael V. 2000. Proverbs 1-9: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Bible, 18a. N.Y.: Doubleday.
Fritsch, Hexaplaric Signs Fritsch, Charles, T. 1953. "The Treatment of the Hexaplaric Signs in the Syro-Hexaplar of Proverbs." Journal of Biblical Literature 72, 169-81.
HPR Barthélemy, Dominique, et al. 1979-1980. Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project / Compte rendu préliminaire et provisoire sur le travail d'analyse textuelle de l'Ancien Testament hébreu. 5 vols. New York, N.Y.: United Bible Societies.
ICC, Proverbs Toy, Crawford H. 1899/1988. The Book of Proverbs: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary. The International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
Murphy, Proverbs Murphy, Roland E. 1998. Proverbs. World Biblical Commentary, 22. Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson.
NICOT, Proverbs Waltke, Bruce K. 2004. The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1-15. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. / Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans.
Modern Translations
KJV 1611 The Authorized Version / King James Version (London)
RV 1885 The Revised Version (Oxford / Cambridge)
ASV 1901 American Standard Version (Nashville)
JPS 1917 The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text (Philadelphia / New York)
JM 1924 A New Translation of the Bible, trans. by James Moffatt (London / New York)
AT 1931 An American Translation (Chicago)
RSV 1952 Revised Standard Version (London / Glasgow)
JB 1966 The Jerusalem Bible (London)
NEB 1970 The New English Bible (Oxford / Cambridge)
NAB 1970 The New American Bible (New York / London)
NASB 1971 New American Standard Bible (Carol Stream)
TEV 1976 Good News Bible / Today's English Version (New York)
NIV 1978 New International Version (Grand Rapids)
NKJV 1982 The New King James Version (Nashville)
NJB 1985 The New Jerusalem Bible (London)
NJPS 1985 Tanakh, The New JPS Translation (Philadelphia)
NRSV 1989 New Revised Standard Version (New York / Oxford)
REB 1989 The Revised English Bible (Oxford / Cambridge)
CEV 1995 Contemporary English Version (New York)
NLT 1996 New Living Translation (Wheaton)
ESV 2001 English Standard Version (Wheaton)
NET 2004 New English Translation (Richardson)
TNIV 2005 Today's New International Version (Colorado Springs)
ISV 2009 International Standard Version (Paramount CA)