Amos 6:1 in the LXX
There are several curious matters in the vocabulary of Amos 6:1 in Hebrew, in Greek and in English. I don’t know what to make of it, but will wade through some of them and see where they lead, back to neqabah and ἀρχή – arché – eventually.
הוֹי הַשַּׁאֲנַנִּים בְּצִיּוֹן
וְהַבֹּטְחִים בְּהַר שֹׁמְרוֹן;
נְקֻבֵי רֵאשִׁית הַגּוֹיִם,
וּבָאוּ לָהֶם בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל.
Woe to them that are at ease in Zion,and to them that are secure in the mountain of Samaria,the notable men of the first of the nations,to whom the house of Israel come!
ουαι τοις εξουθενουσιν σιωνκαι τοις πεποιθοσιν επι το ορος σαμαρειαςαπετρυγησαν αρχας εθνωνκαι εισηλθον αυτοι οικος του ισραηλ
Neqabi, at the beginning of the third line, is translated with απετρυγησαν apetrugésan, an obscure Greek word which seems to have something to do with the harvest, in Greek τρύγησις – trugésis. Was neqabi understood as “plucking” or “gathering” the harvest?
And רֵאשִׁית is translated into αρχας, the plural accusative of ἀρχή, so that makes it “beginnings” or perhaps the “powers” or “governments” of the nations. Although ἀρχή in the singular is not usually associated with government or authority, in the plural it is. It does not refer to any singular person who is a ruler, but to the seat of power, the abstract government.
This is interesting to some people, because rosh “head” is kephale in Greek. Άρχή arché is usually considered to be a synonym for kephale, here is translates the Hebrew rosh “head” and means beginning, or origin, whereas ἀρχῶν archon, meaning a person who is a commander or ruler, is not a synonym for kephale. Nonetheless, in the plural ἀρχή suggests “powers” or “governments” in an impersonal way. I am looking in particular at the translation of the third line,
נְקֻבֵי רֵאשִׁית הַגּוֹיִם
neqabi resheit hagoyim
notables of the first of nations
απετρυγησαν αρχας εθνων
apetrugésan archas ethnon
plucked the powers of nations
And here is this verse in three different English translations of the Septuagint. The first is from Charles Thomson, the first translator of the Septuagint into English, and retired secretary of the American continental congress, printed in 1808 by Jane Aitken.
Alas for them who despise Sion
and have put their trust in the mount of Samaria.
They have gathered as a vintage the governments of nations
and gone in.
The second is Lancelot Brenton’s, published in 1851,
Woe to them that set at nought Sion,
and that trust in the mountain of Samaria:
they have gathered the harvest of the heads of the nations,
and they have gone in themselves.
The third is from the NETS,
Alas for those who count Sion as nothing
and for those who trust in the mountain of Samaria.
They have harvested the rule of the nations
and entered for themselves.
I am wondering how easy it would be to see the singular resheit as a plural. Did resheit get mistaken for roshim? I don’t even know if that is likely.