Eunugs in die Bybel


  • F. P. Retief University of the Free State
  • S. J. P. K. Riekert University of the Free State
  • J. F. G. Cilliers University of the Free State


Eunug, Vertaling, Seksualiteit, Sexuality, Translation, Eunuch


In Original Bible texts “eunuch” is described as saris (Old Testament, Hebrew) or eunouchos (New Testament, Greek). However, both words could also mean “official” or “commander”. The 38 original Bible references to saris and 2 references to eunouchos were studied in order to determine their meaning in context. In the Septuagint saris was translated as eunouchos, except for Genesis 37:36 and Isaiah 39:7 where spadon was used; in Jeremiah 38:7 Ebed-Melek was described as “he who lived in the king’s house”; in Daniel 1 there is reference to archi-eunouchos and archon satrapon. In the Vulgate saris was translated as eunuchus, except for Esther 2:3 where minister is used, and the terms praepositus eunuchorum and praefectus magistratuum in Daniel 1:3-
18 and Daniel 2:48 respectively. In Deuteronomy 23:1 the act of human castration is condemned, without using the word saris, while Leviticus 22:24 refers to animal castration by crushing (Hebrew word katut) of the testes.

It is suggested that saris refers to eunuch in Esther 1:10-12; 2:3,14; 4:4,5; 6:14 and 7:8; 2 Kings 20:18; Isaiah 39:1 and 56:3-5. Saris probably meant official or commander in Genesis 37:36, 39:1, 40:27; 1 Kings 22:9; 2 Kings 8:6, 23:11, 24:12; 1 Chronicles 28:1; 2 Chronicles 18:8; 1 Samuel 8:15; Esther 2: 21, 6:2; Jeremiah 34:19, 41:16, 52:25 and Daniel 2:48, 11:18. The meaning of saris is unclear in 2
Kings 9:32, 18:17; Jeremiah 38:7-13, 39:3,13 and Daniel 1:3,7,8-15. The view that Nehemiah was a eunuch (Neh. 1:11) could be based on confusion between the Greek words oinochoos (cupbearer) used by the Septuagint and eunouchos (eunuch). In Acts 8:27-39 the Ethiopian official was probably not a eunuch. Matthew 19:12 refers to three kinds of “eunuchs”, viz. castrates, congenital eunuchs and those who voluntarily renounce marriage (asceticism). The latter two concepts are further discussed.


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