Chance

chans: The idea of chance in the sense of something wholly fortuitous was utterly foreign to the Hebrew creed. Throughout the whole course of Israel’s history, to the Hebrew mind, law, not chance, ruled the universe, and that law was not something blindly mechanical, but the expression of the personal Yahweh. Israel’s belief upon this subject may be summed up in the couplet, "The lot is cast into the lap; But the whole disposing thereof is of Yahweh" (Pr 16:33). A number of Hebrew and Greek expressions have been translated "chance," or something nearly equivalent, but it is noteworthy that of the classical words for chance, suntuchia, and tuche, the former never occurs in the Bible and the latter only twice in the Septuagint.


There is also qara’, "If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way" (De 22:6). Both the above Hebrew words are combined in the statement "As I happened by chance upon Mount Gilboa" (2Sa 1:6). "And Absalom chanced to meet the servants of David" ("met the servants," 2Sa 18:9, the King James Version). "And there happened to be there a base fellow" (2Sa 20:1).

We have also pegha`, "Time and chance happeneth to them all," meaning simply occurrence (Ec 9:11). "Neither adversary, nor evil occurrence" (1Ki 5:4).

In the New Testament we have sugkuria, "coincidence," a meeting apparently accidental, a coincidence. "By chance a certain priest was going down that way" (Lu 10:31). Also ei tuchoi. "It may chance of wheat, or of some other kind," i.e. we cannot tell which (1Co 15:37). "It may be" (1Co 14:10).

If we look at the Septuagint we find tuche used twice. "And Leah said, (En tuche) With fortune" ("a troop cometh," the King James Version; "fortunate," the Revised Version (British and American); "with fortune," the Revised Version, margin, Ge 30:11). Note, it was no Israelite, but who said this. "That prepare a table for Fortune, and that fill up mingled wine unto Destiny" ("fate," Isa 65:11). In this passage tuche stands or the Hebrew meni, the god of destiny, and Fortune is for Gad, the old Semitic name for the god of fortune found in inscriptions, private names, etc. Note here, however, also, that the prophet was rebuking idolatrous ones for apostasy to heathen divinities.

We have also in the Apocrypha, "these things which have chanced," the Revised Version (British and American) "to be opened unto thee" (2 Esdras 10:49).

See also GAD; MENI.