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Acta Theologica

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Eunugs in die Bybel

F.P. Retief, S.J.P.K. Riekert, J.F.G. Cilliers

Abstract


In Original Bible texts ";eunuch"; is described as saris (Old Testament, Hebrew) or eunouchos (New Testament, Greek). However, both words could also mean ";official"; or ";commander";. The 38 original Bible references to saris and 2 references to eunouchos were studied in order to determine their meaning in context. In the Septuagint saris was translated as eunouchos, except for Genesis 37:36 and Isaiah 39:7 where spadon was used; in Jeremiah 38:7 Ebed-Melek was described as ";he who lived in the king's house";; in Daniel 1 there is reference to archi-eunouchos and archon satrapon. In the Vulgate saris was translated as eunuchus, except for Esther 2:3 where minister is used, and the terms praepositus eunuchorum and praefectus magistratuum in Daniel 1:3- 18 and Daniel 2:48 respectively. In Deuteronomy 23:1 the act of human castration is condemned, without using the word saris, while Leviticus 22:24 refers to animal castration by crushing (Hebrew word katut) of the testes.
It is suggested that saris refers to eunuch in Esther 1:10-12; 2:3, 14; 4:4, 5; 6:14 and 7:8; 2 Kings 20:18; Isaiah 39:1 and 56:3-5. Saris probably meant official or commander in Genesis 37:36, 39:1, 40:27; 1 Kings 22:9; 2 Kings 8:6, 23:11, 24:12; 1 Chronicles 28:1; 2 Chronicles 18:8; 1 Samuel 8:15; Esther 2: 21, 6:2; Jeremiah 34:19, 41:16, 52:25 and Daniel 2:48, 11:18. The meaning of saris is unclear in 2 Kings 9:32, 18:17; Jeremiah 38:7-13, 39:3, 13 and Daniel 1:3, 7, 8-15. The view that Nehemiah was a eunuch (Neh. 1:11) could be based on confusion between the Greek words oinochoos (cupbearer) used by the Septuagint and eunouchos (eunuch). In Acts 8:27-39 the Ethiopian official was probably not a eunuch. Matthew 19:12 refers to three kinds of ";eunuchs";, viz. castrates, congenital eunuchs and those who voluntarily renounce marriage (asceticism). The latter two concepts are further discussed.


(Acta Theologica: 2002 22(2): 114-125)



http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/actat.v22i2.5382
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