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Inherent Qualities

Elect of God: LXX

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old testament

Category A: Inherent Qualities

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]T[/dropcap]o illustrate this nuance of the word, let us imagine a young man infatuated with a lovely maiden.  If we were to ask him what it is about this young lady which he finds attractive, he would blissfully speak to us at length of the beauty of her countenance, her sparkling eyes, the smile on her lips, her grace and feminine form, her delightful conversation and lovely personality, along with all of her characteristics and qualities that have won his heart.  As we listen to his glowing description of her attributes and beauties, we very well might be convinced that she is a choice young lady, one in a thousand.

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]I[/dropcap]n the last sentence of the illustration, the word 'choice' was used as a summary descriptive of the young maiden to indicate her as a person with the finest of excellent qualities.  This use serves to illustrate the first nuance of the adjective, G1588.  The LXX frequently used the word as a descriptor of people and objects with inherently excellent qualities.  An obvious example of this nuance is the first use of the word, found in the context of Abraham obtaining a plot of land in which to bury his wife, Sarah.  When he approached the local inhabitants with his request to purchase a burial place, their response contained the use of G1588.

“Hear us, my lord: You are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places.  None of us will withhold from you his burial place, that you may bury your dead.”  (Genesis 23:6)

In this NKJV translation of this verse, we see the local inhabitants expressed their desire that this mighty prince would have for his use the best of their sepulchers as a burying place.

Keep in mind, the quotation of the verse above is an English translation of the Hebrew scriptures.  The significance is that the English text above conveys the meaning of the original Hebrew text.  From our English translation, it is evident the Hebrew text referred to a burial place having inherent qualities which made it superior to other sepulchers.  The Hebrew phrasing is significant to us because when the translators translated the passage from Hebrew to Greek, we find they selected G1588 as an appropriate adjective to convey the meaning of the Hebrew text.  Since the English translation used ‘choicest' to convey the essence of the Hebrew, we can assume the Greek word carried a similar meaning (assuming the Greek translators provided an accurate translation).  Thus, even we who are illiterate in Greek can easily see that this nuance of G1588 evidently had a meaning similar to ‘choicest.'

If this was the only passage that used G1588 in this sense, one might persuade us that it was an exception to the norm.  However, there are many additional passages where G1588 clearly had the meaning of inherent excellent qualities.  In fact, this nuance was the predominate use of G1588 throughout the LXX: of the 79 verses where the word occurs, 64 verses used the word to describe the inherent quality of an object.  Thus, with regards to quantity, this sense of the word would normally be considered the primary meaning within the LXX.

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]T[/dropcap]o give the reader an idea of the variety of contexts in which this nuance of G1588 occurs, a few additional passages are provided below.

Suddenly there came up out of the river seven cows, fine looking and fat [choice]; and they fed in the meadow...  ...And the ugly and gaunt cows ate up the seven fine looking and fat [choice] cows.  So Pharaoh awoke.  He slept and dreamed a second time; and suddenly seven heads of grain came up on one stalk, plump [choice] and good...  ...And the seven thin heads devoured the seven plump [choice] and full heads.  So Pharaoh awoke, and indeed, it was a dream.  (Genesis 41:2-7)

“Also take for yourself quality spices–five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon (two hundred and fifty shekels), two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane,”  (Exodus 30:23)

All these were the children of Asher, heads of their fathers’ houses, choice men, mighty men of valor, chief leaders.  And they were recorded by genealogies among the army fit for battle; their number was twenty-six thousand.  (1 Chronicles 7:40)

The reader is encouraged to reference the appendix for additional passages of this category, for even a quick perusal through the verses will show how often the LXX used G1588 to describing things and people that were superior in some fashion to other similar objects.  It is strong evidence that this was the primary sense of the word.

Interestingly, the objects described in this category were not necessarily objects which had undergone a G1586 type of careful selection process, as might have been expected due to G1588 having been derived from G1586.  However, one could say the two words are related in the sense that the adjective described objects that surely would be chosen in a G1586 type of selection.

[dropcap class="article-dropcap"]I[/dropcap]t appears a good definition of this nuance of the word would be one similar to the definitions of the adjective forms of the English words ‘choice' and ‘elect,' which are as follows:

Choice: (adj.) of excellent quality: 'a choice cut of meat.'

Elect: (adj.) select or choice: 'an elect circle of artists.'

This nuance described objects which had inherently excellent qualities.  It may be tempting to apply this meaning to the opening verse, and read it as "And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the [inherently excellent ones'] sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days."  However, to do so before exploring the other nuances would be premature.