The Syntax Of זֶרַע -- By: Robert Hutcheson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 038:150 (Apr 1881)
Article: The Syntax Of זֶרַע
Author: Robert Hutcheson

The Syntax Of זֶרַע

Rev. Robert Hutcheson

Since the time of Jerome philologists have been working a puzzle on the etymology of this word and its equivalent σπέρμα, in view of the use made of the latter in Gal. 3:16.

The etymology and the collective use of the word, both in Hebrew and Greek are sufficiently familiar; but the syntax has not been generally examined. In fact, I find but one writer, Windishmann, a Roman Catholic, as cited by Alford (in loco), who even hints at it, and neither of these have worked it out.

זרַע is used very early in an individual sense, as in Gen. 4:25, when Eve says of Seth “God has appointed me another seed (זרַע) instead of Abel, whom Cain slew,” where the reference is evidently to the individuals. The Targum Onkelos, as well as those of Ben Uzziel and Jerusalem, here reads בַּר. The LXX has σπέρμα (so also Aquila), and it is noticeable, in passing, that they also render בַּר by σπέρμα in Deut. 25:5; here the sense might be in doubt between the individual and the collective sense, but Targum Onkelos has בַּר, while the other Targums avoid the expression. Possibly the individual sense may have been in the apostle’s mind when, in 2 Cor. 11:22, he says: “Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.” However this may be, essentially the same argument as that of Gal. 3:16 is used by Peter in Acts 3:24–26, quoting Gen. 22:17-18, to which reference is also made in Ps. 72:17. There must then be some principle, well known at the time, which enabled these several Hebrews in certain cases to take זֶרַע not in a collective, but in an individual sense. Of this usage other instances will be given farther on.

The word is of frequent occurrence and its construction with nouns, adjectives, and verbs shows nothing to our purpose. With the adjective it is seldom used except with the indeclinable בּר. Other adjectives always agree in form with זֶרַע even when the connection shows a plural idea, as You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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