Translating Misfortune

The Textual Problem of 1 Samuel 1:15 in the mt and the lxx

in Vetus Testamentum
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The divergence between the mt and lxx in Hannah’s response to Eli’s accusation of drunkenness (1 Sam 1:15) has long puzzled scholars. The Greek phrase, “I am a woman who has a hard day (σκληρὰ ἡμέρα)”, is an improbable rendering of the Hebrew קשת רוח (“hard of spirit”). This is commonly explained by way of a hypothetical Vorlage, קשת יום (lit., “hard of day”), which consequently becomes the preferred reading over against the mt. The central argument is that קשה would mean “obstinate” or “stubborn”, which is not fitting for Hannah’s speech. This brief study problematizes this prevailing view, arguing instead that the mt appropriately characterizes a misfortune perceived by Hannah to be the result of God’s action.

Translating Misfortune

The Textual Problem of 1 Samuel 1:15 in the mt and the lxx

in Vetus Testamentum



E.g. TheniusDie Bücher Samuel pp. xvii-xxii; Driver Notes on the Hebrew Text pp. xxxiii-li.


TheniusDie Bücher Samuel p. 6. N. Peters’ proposal—that the original reading was קשת רחם (“hard of womb” i.e. barren) and that רחם was abbreviated as רח and subsequently became רוח—is imaginative but unlikely (Beiträge zur Text- und Literarkritik sowie zur Erklärung der Bücher Samuel [Freiburg 1899] p. 190).


For this argument see Loretz“Weitere ugaritische-hebräische Parallelen” pp. 293-94; Ahlström “1 Samuel 115”; Muraoka “1 Sam 115 Again”; Tsumura The First Book of Samuel pp. 120-21. Loretz cites Ugaritic roots related to קשה but for Hebrew parallels he offers only אשת חיל (“a woman of strength”) (Prov 12:4; 31:10; Ruth 3:11) and קר רוח (“calm of spirit”) (Prov 17:27). Muraoka cites Deut 2:30 (quoted above) as evidence for the meaning “determined”; but Sihon’s obstinate resistance to God’s people and Hannah’s resolute commitment to prayer are scarcely analogous.


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