Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Hebraism in Ephesians 1:11?

Earlier today, I was considering Ephesians 1:11 and my friend, Dan, pointed out that the word for "obtained an inheritance" is derived from a word that means to select by lot.  This came up because we had been discussing Ezekiel 24 and the non-choice there:

Ezekiel 24:6 Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose scum is therein, and whose scum is not gone out of it! bring it out piece by piece; let no lot fall upon it.

In the English Standard Version, the translation for "let no lot fall upon it" was something like "without making any choice."  

In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul uses a Greek word that has a "lot" connotation to it:

Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance (ἐκληρώθημεν), being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

The verb ἐκληρώθημεν (eklerothemen) comes from the verb, κληρόω (klero'o), which is thought to come from κλῆρος (kleros) which in its most literal sense refers to lot.  

However, κλῆρος (kleros) is translated as heritage or inheritance in a few places:

Acts 26:18

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

Colossians 1:12

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

1 Peter 5:3

Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

The same Greek word has similar usage in the Septuagint:

Genesis 48:6

And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.

Exodus 6:8

And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.

In reading the various translations of Ephesians 1:11, one caught my eye.  It was an "Orthodox Jewish Bible" translation, but what was interesting was that it cross-referenced Psalm 16.

Psalm 16:5-6 

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

I don't know how a word about casting lots became linked with the concept of inheritance.  The most obvious connection to me in light of Psalm 16 was the division of Canaan.

Numbers 26:55 Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit.

However, when I checked the LSJ lexicon, I found that apparently Greek already had a similar usage, even outside Septuagint usage (link to entry).

So, in the end, while I thought this might be an example of a Hebraism, now I'm thinking it is interesting parallel in linguistic development, but not necessarily a Hebraism.

Interesting food for thought.