Codex Sinaiticus gives the following rendition of Isa. 29:12:

και δοθηϲεται το βιβλιον τουτο ειϲ χιραϲ ανθρωπου · μη επιϲταμενου γραμʼματα ˙ και ερι αυτω · αναγνωθι ταυτα και ερι . ουκ αιπιϲταμαι γραμʼματα

Is χιραϲ = χεῖρας?

Is χιραϲ used in the codex as a proper noun to mean Hira or as another part of speech to mean hands? Do codices differ on the grammar on this matter?

  • 1
    "αιπιϲταμαι" is comically misspelled. Why shouldn't there be more misspelled words? Jan 29, 2022 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


I would say "hands" without a doubt.

The "standard" rendition of the first half is, very literally:

καὶ δοθήσεται τὸ βιβλίον τοῦτο
And this book will be given

εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπου
into [the] hands of a person

μὴ ἐπισταμένου γράμματα…
[who is] not knowing letters…

Or, using more idiomatic English, "and this book will be placed in the hands of one who cannot read". (It's entirely reasonable Greek, it just sounds awkward when I try to keep every Greek word intact in English.)

Given the context, ειϲ χιραϲ ανθρωπου has to mean "into [the] chiras of a person". Using a proper noun here, "into the Hira of a person", makes less sense than assuming a simple mistake—swapping ι for ει is an extremely common error from the Koinë period onward, since they were pronounced identically.

EDIT: Google has led me to a very…eccentric…theory that this passage is meant to say "will be given to a man at Mount Hira". I'm guessing you've found that too, and that's where this question is coming from.

But I'm quite confident that's not the case here:

  • Εἰς very clearly means "into", indicating a direction of motion; I've never seen a situation where it can mean "at" or "in".
  • Proper names, especially foreign ones, almost always take a definite article—which is lacking here.
  • Ἀνθρώπου is very clearly in the genitive, and εἰς always requires an accusative.
  • The Greek letter χ isn't generally used for an H-like sound in the Septuagint: look at 2 Samuel 23:26, where the name "Hira" is written Εἴρας. Using χ where it doesn't belong could be scribal error, but if so it's not anywhere near as common as ειι.

EDIT 2: As brianpck points out in the comments, confusing ει and ι happens just a few words later, where this codex has ερι for standard ἐρεῖ "shall say" (to read this).

  • 1
    Probably worth pointing out that the diphthong change happens just a few words afterwards too: ερει -> ερι
    – brianpck
    Nov 25, 2019 at 22:16
  • @brianpck Right, which is why you also get things like Δαυιδ v. Δαυειδ. This substitution is very common in the Codex Sinaiticus.
    – cmw
    Jan 19 at 17:31

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