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Answers to Correspondents.
pp. 12, 13
No. 29. An esteemed reader (W.H.G.T.) of The Berean Expositor writes:--
"I am preparing a series of papers on Hebrews, and I have just given special
attention to your most interesting interpretation of Heb. 2: 16, on p. 120 of
Volume 11: While I do not yet see that your view is correct, I readily and gladly
recognize that it is worthy of careful attention. My object, however, in writing to
you is to raise one question connected with it. You say in the B.E. for last June
(page 91 of Volume XII), that you continually find help and light on vexed
questions by following the simple self-made motto, `When in doubt consult the
Septuagint'. But I cannot see in your treatment of Heb. 2: 16 that you have
applied this principle. In the Septuagint of Isa. 41: 8, 9, the phrase `seed of
Abraham' occurs, together with the verb found in Hebrews, and I observe that
some commentators think that Hebrews is a reminiscence of this passage in
Isaiah. Now there can be no doubt that the verb in Isa. 41: 9 means, `taken
hold' in the sense of the Revised Version of Heb. 2: 16. While, therefore, you
rightly say that the word itself is colourless, with no moral meaning inherent in it,
I should much like you to consider Heb. 2: 16 in the light of the Septuagint and
give a further comment on the passage."
Of all the letters that we receive, one of this description is the most encouraging. It
has been suggested that we take a dose of our own medicine, and test the suggested
interpretation of Heb. 2: 16 by the Septuagint. This we gladly do, and should the further
investigation indicate that our suggestion is not tenable, we shall gladly set it aside and
still seek the mind of God in His Word. The interpretation referred to reads:--
"For truly it (i.e., the fear of death, or death itself) does not lay hold of, or seize on
angels, but of the seed of Abraham it does lay hold."
Upon opening the LXX at Isa. 41: 9 we find the word used is antilambanomai,
whereas in Heb. 2: 16 the word is epilambanomai. The difference is slight, but as the
inspired Word uses every word with precision, we have to conclude that the two passages
are not strictly parallel. We drew attention to the usage and meaning of antilambanomai,
and as both words occur in the N.T. we must believe that the word that expresses the
Spirit's meaning has been rightly chosen. While we set Isa. 41: 9 aside, we very gladly
give heed to the usage of epilambanomai in the LXX:--
"His hand took hold on Esau's heel" (Gen. 25: 26).
"Take it by the tail" (Exod. 4: 4).
"They took him, and slew him" (Judges 12: 6).
These first occurrences are a fair sample of the thirty or more passages that contain the
word; "colourless and without moral meaning inherent" must be said of the LXX usage
as of the N.T. There are however three passages where the usage of the word turns the
scale of evidence in favour of the suggested interpretation of Heb. 2: 16:--