Note On Galatians 3:16 -- By: Frederic Gardiner

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 036:141 (Jan 1879)
Article: Note On Galatians 3:16
Author: Frederic Gardiner

Note On Galatians 3:16

Rev. Frederic Gardiner

οὐ λέγει, καὶ τοῖς σπέρμασιν, ὡς ἐπὶ πολλῶν, ἀλλ᾿ ὡς ἐφ᾿ ἑνός, καὶ τῳσπέρματί σου, ὅς ἐστιν Χριστός.

The argument in this passage has generally been considered difficult. Among those commentators who have not regarded it as altogether rabbinical and inconsequential, there has been no little variety of explanation.

It is admitted by all that σπέρμα, like the Hebrew זֶרַע, or the English seed, is a collective noun, and that the promise would still have been expressed in the singular if it had been intended to embrace all the individuals of the posterity of Abraham. It is frequently so used of the Israelites, e.g. Gen. 12:7; 13:15; 15:5, 13, 18, etc. In all such cases it is rendered in the LXX by σπέρμα in the singular, and in fact, this is the usual rendering of זֶרַע, is this ever translated by any plural form. The same thing is true of the same word in Chaldee, and of its translation in the LXX, although the Chaldee word is twice used in a different sense in the plural (Dan. 1:12, 16), and is then correspondingly translated by the Greek plural.

Several instances (Gen. 10:18; Josh. 7:14; Jer. 23:24) have been cited in which the Chaldee word is used in the plural in the Targum in a somewhat similar sense; but the sense is not the same (as asserted by Lightfoot), and in all these cases the Hebrew word is מִשְׁפָּחָח 1 =family, variously rendered in the Greek. A single instance of the use of the Greek plural is frequently referred to in 4 Macc. 18:1: ὦ

τῶν ᾿Αβραμιαίων σπερμάτων ἀπόγονοι παῖδες ᾿Λσρ...

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