To Bekhoro or Not to Bokheru? And Where’d That Brother Go?
1 Chronicles 9:44 (and 8:38)
We note a curiosity in 1 Chronicles 9:44. Take a close look at the NET Bible’s translation of the Hebrew:
Azel had six sons: Azrikam his firstborn, followed by Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah, and Hanan. These were the sons of Azel. (NET)
Azel had six sons, yes? Six of them:
As far as we’ve seen the NET Bible is the only translation which lists five, not six offspring of Azel.
Here’s the good ol’ King James translation:
And Azel had six sons, whose names are these, Azrikam, Bocheru, and Ishmael, and Sheariah, and Obadiah, and Hanan: these were the sons of Azel. (KJV)
And in the modern, “word-for-word” NASB:
Azel had six sons whose names are these: Azrikam, Bocheru and Ishmael and Sheariah and Obadiah and Hanan. These were the sons of Azel. (NASB)
And so, again, Azel had six sons, yes? And here they are:
All these English translations list Bocheru (or Bokeru, Bocru, Bo’cheru, Bochru, Bokhru) in the number two spot: KJV, NASB, NKJV, NLT, NIV, ESV, CSB, HCSB, RSV, NRSV, ASV, YLT, Darby, WEB, Hebrew Names Version, Amp, Lexham, Berean, and CJB plus the latin Vulgate.
We do not find an English translation other than the NET which erases Bocheru from Hebrew history. The NET translation stands out.
But then, take note of the Greek Septuagint:
καὶ τῷ Εσηλ ἓξ υἱοί καὶ ταῦτα τὰ ὀνόματα αὐτῶν Εσδρικαμ πρωτότοκος αὐτοῦ Ισμαηλ καὶ Σαρια καὶ Αβδια καὶ Αναν οὗτοι υἱοὶ Εσηλ
The New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS, not to be confused with the unrelated NET Bible) turns this into English:
And Esel had six sons, and these are their names: Esdrikam his firstborn, Ismael and Saria and Abdia and Hanan: these were Esel’s sons. (NETS translation of the LXX, 2009)
Likewise, the 1851 Brenton English translation of the Septuagint:
And Esel had six sons, and these their names; Esricam his first-born, and Ismael, and Saraia, and Abdia, and Anan, and Asa: these the sons of Esel. (Brenton LXX, 1851)
So finally, the translators of the NET English have support from the ancient Septuagint Greek.
Perhaps Bocheru isn’t a name at all.
Aside: The NET (New English Translation) Bible publication is a translation of the Old and New Testaments into English from the early Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT) manuscripts. The NET Bible was created and published in the 1990 – 1996 time frame by a group of translators and scholars. The NETS (New English Translation of the Septuagint) is an entirely different publication. It is a translation of the ancient Greek translation/version of the Hebrew Old Testament, based on the several ancient manuscripts in Greek but primarily on a 1935 Greek “critical” edition by Alfred Rahlfs. It “replaces” finally an 1851 translation of the Greek into English by Lancelot Brenton. The NETS was created and published in the 2005-2009 time frame by an entirely separate group of translators and scholars than those of the NET.
NET Bible = regular ol’ full Bible translation in English read by everyday people
NETS = translation into English of the ancient Greek Old Testament, read mostly by scholars and Bible nerds.
And if your memory on this Septuagint stuff is shaky, recall that the “Septuagint” is a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek created 100+ years prior to Christ, and that this Septuagint is often referred to as the “LXX.” Septuagint = LXX = ancient Greek OT.
Jesus and Paul knew their Hebrew Old Testament scriptures in both Greek and Hebrew languages. But they did not call it the “Old Testament.” (Nor should we.) 🙂
But let us not forget the actual source-language Hebrew.
From the wonderful Hebrew-English Interlinear at Scripture4All, here is a view of the Hebrew (reading left-to-right):
The name/word of interest from the “official” Hebrew at Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartsensia (BHS):
And from the older “standard” Hebrew source, the Westminster Lenindgrad Codex (WLC):
What is this בֹּ֨כְרוּ֙? Is it somebody’s name? Or is it something else?
The NET Bible translators explain their elimination of poor Bocheru by their examination of Hebrew lettering in this verse. By flipping around some pesky Hebrew vowel lettering, they come up with a Hebrew phrase, not the name of a son.
They contend that:
1) the name of the actual second son of Azel has been dropped and lost, and that …
2) the Hebrew lettering bokheru should instead be lettered as bekhoro …
3) yielding in English translation “his firstborn”
And so we tweak here the NET translation:
Azel had six sons: Azrikam his firstborn, then some other guy, followed by Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah, and Hanan. These were the sons of Azel. (NET Bible, modified only slightly by Bible Bits.)
We at Bible Bits have only enough knowledge of Hebrew words to find them and cut & paste them if somebody shows us where they are. So we cannot weigh-in on the NET Bible translator’s take on all this. (Plus, we are generally inclined only to point things out, rather than offer our ignorant layman’s opinions.)
Oh by the way, the same phenomenon occurs in 1 Chronicles 8:38.
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Please read the actual Bible for yourself. It’s nice that you read Bible Bits, but shouldn’t you perhaps be reading the actual Bible instead? We here at Bible Bits are pretty clever, but we are not God. 🙂 Read his stuff first. 🙂
Blessings to you! God’s merciful blessings to you!