This phrase can be found in Tobit 5:6, in the Vulgata:

Et ignorans quod angelus Dei esset, salutavit eum, et dixit : Unde te habemus, bone juvenis?

The accompanying English translation reads:

And not knowing that he was an angel of God, he saluted him, and said: From whence art thou, good young man?

It seems to me the English translation conveys the same intended meaning, and it is perhaps simpler. But would the literal translation of Unde te habemus be "From where do we have you?" Is this use of habeo common? Or is it purely a Vulgata thing? Actually, this is the first time I recall encountering such expression.

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    I was finally able to find this in the LXX. (Most versions online only include the shorter version, which is in more manuscripts but which Jerome did not use.) It has "Πόθεν εἶ, νεανίσκε," which is a pretty straightforward, "Where are you from, young man?"
    – brianpck
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 15:02

1 Answer 1


I do not know any parallel to this expression. I have the impression that the author/translator is mimicking the way that people talk to children: "How are we today?". "Are we being a good boy?". The use of the first person plural is decidedly patronising.

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    Be careful: this is Jerome's Latin translation of a (lost) Aramaic text that was dictated to him in Hebrew. We have two Greek versions of Tobit, of which the second is quite close to the Aramaic text. Regardless, it's quite likely that the unusual construction ought to be explained with reference to the language of composition. I know very little about Semitic languages, so I can't speak to whether the first-person plural is patronizing in that context.
    – brianpck
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 20:22
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    @brianpck Right, and it's worth pointing out that Hebrew (I don't know about Aramaic) lacks a verb have, so we're probably not dealing with an exact translation in any case.
    – TKR
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 0:22

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