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καθωμολογησατο exact meaning (Exodus 21:8-9)

Posted: May 11th, 2019, 4:33 pm
by rubenk
Hi there,
The words καθωμολογησατο/καθομολογήσηται in the following verses are usually translated as dealing with betrothing, while the original Hebrew word says something like "designated to". Is the translation "betrothed to" attested also somewhere else, or is it possibe to understand the words differently?
(especially: could it mean that the maid is designated to - as a maid, not as a wife or concubine?)

I quote:
Exo 21:8 ἐὰν μὴ εὐαρεστήσῃ τῷ κυρίῳ αὐτῆς ἣν αὑτῷ καθωμολογήσατο, ἀπολυτρώσει αὐτήν· ἔθνει δὲ ἀλλοτρίῳ οὐ κύριός ἐστιν πωλεῖν αὐτήν, ὅτι ἠθέτησεν ἐν αὐτῇ.
Exo 21:9 ἐὰν δὲ τῷ υἱῷ καθομολογήσηται αὐτήν, κατὰ τὸ δικαίωμα τῶν θυγατέρων ποιήσει αὐτῇ.

(BTW, ABP has a different version: εαν δε τις αποδωται την εαυτου θυγατερα οικετινουκ απελευσεται ωσπερ αποτρεχουσιναι δουλαι )

Thank you!

Re: καθωμολογησατο exact meaning (Exodus 21:8-9)

Posted: May 12th, 2019, 4:05 am
by Peng Huiguo
"Betrothed", "agree", "commit", or "designate" are all attested in various texts. Original Hebrew word aside, I think this is a great word choice in LXX, evoking the complexities of familial/gender roles in a dreamy state of benevolent slavery.

Maid, wife, or concubine? Can we really distinguish it in say the handmaids of the OT matriarchs? In some cultures, such ambiguity persists even to this day. Although reading polysemy into words is generally discouraged, I think it's helpful in this case (and many other cases).

Re: καθωμολογησατο exact meaning (Exodus 21:8-9)

Posted: May 12th, 2019, 10:45 am
by rubenk
Thank you, Dimi, for your reply.
For both the lexical information and your insights about the realm of slavery, which is indeed relevant.
It seems to me that the OT has a special gift to leave things ambiguous, and that somehow the LXX translators knew how to maintain this ambiguity...

Re: καθωμολογησατο exact meaning (Exodus 21:8-9)

Posted: May 12th, 2019, 12:28 pm
by Peng Huiguo
"Ambiguous", with its attendant sense of uncertainty, is probably the wrong word to use here. Rather, it's polysemy, compressed into a rich composite meaning that's impossible to gloss elegantly. And it isn't just in OT; NT has many wonderful cases as well. My fav is at the very end of Mark 14 when Peter, on hearing the rooster crow,

ἐπιβαλὼν ἔκλαιεν.

ἐπιβάλλω occurs in Mark 4:37 (describing the waves crashing into the boat), Mark 11:7 (throwing cloak on the colt for the triumphal entry), and various occasions of hand-laying to heal or arrest. So in a compact aorist, Peter had a flashback of all his great times with Jesus. Here, the word also means throwing oneself down, leading naturally and poignantly to the ingressive (imperfect) ἔκλαιεν. Interestingly BDAG says
The meaning of καὶ ἐπιβαλὼν ἔκλαιεν is in doubt.
before listing a bunch of speculations.

Looser reading is often clearer.

Re: καθωμολογησατο exact meaning (Exodus 21:8-9)

Posted: May 14th, 2019, 10:41 am
by rubenk
A beautiful example!