2 Sam 25:1-4 (1 Kgs 1:1-4 Ant.)

Introductory Note

With this post, I am returning to the beginning of the book of Kings, albeit in a major Greek textual tradition that is probably unknown to most readers of the text: the so-called Lucianic Recension (L), which is also known as the Antiochene Text (Ant.). To my knowledge, this is the first publicly available or published English translation of this version. As with the text of Kings thus far, I will present my translation of the Greek text and then offer some comments on the distinctions of the passage, trying to keep both the so-called Septuagint text and the Hebrew text in mind. It is worth noting that the Lucianic version of Samuel and Kings does not divide the books in the same way as the Hebrew text. Rather, the first chapter and a half of 1 Kings as known in Hebrew present the last two chapters of the book of Samuel. That complicates citing the text, put hardly presents and insurmountable obstacle.

The Translation

1) And the King, David, was a very old man, advancing in days. And they clothed him with garments, and he could not be warmed.
2) And his servants said to him, “Someone should take for the lord, for the king, a virginal maiden. And she will present herself before the king and lie in his lap. And the king will be warmed.
3) And they sought a good girl in all Israel, and the found Abisak the Somanite, and they brought her to the king.
4) And the girl was good to look at, very. And she was for the king a bedfellow and she served him. And the king did not know her.

Pedro Amério. 1879. King David and Abisag. Public Domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Notes on the Text

The first verse in the three versions is essentially identical. In the second verse, the Lucianic text includes the indirect object “to him” in reference to the servants’ speaking. This plus matches the Hebrew text, but not the Septuagint text. Again, the Lucianic text differs from the text of the Septuagint (other than Vaticanus) in that it does not read “our lord” in verse 2. This however matches both Vaticanus and the Hebrew text, as well as the Vulgate. Finally, in verse 2, the Lucianic text better matches the Hebrew than the rest of the Greek tradition in that the girl should “lie in his lap” and not “lie with him” as in the rest of the Greek tradition. However, the Lucianic text is shorter in this verse as well, as has no translation for anything like the Hebrew phrase ותהי־לו סכנת, which also has an unusual translation in the Septuagint. Likely, this longer phrase represents a later attempt to de-sexualize David’s relationship with Abishag. See also the comments below to verse 4.

Verse three has one difference from the Septuagint and the Hebrew text. The Lucianic text refers to “all Israel” rather than the longer “in all the boundaries of Israel” as in the Hebrew text and the Septuagint.

The final difference in these verses goes back to a familiar problem: What exactly is Abishag doing to/for the king? In Hebrew she appears to be some kind of official. In the Septuagint, she is his “warmer.” In the Lucianic text, she is his “bedfellow.” It is possible that either a distinct Hebrew version or an error stands behind the distinction in the Hebrew and the Lucianic text. The Masoretic text reads סכנת here, a rare term that appears to represent some kind of officer. The Lucianic text presumes something more like a Hebrew Vorlage that read משׂכבת (cf. Mic 7:5). The similarity between the Hebrew terms is striking, and the Lucianic reading is more difficult in its context. That suggests that it might easily represent an older Hebrew version that has since been lost. Perhaps this distinction should have literary-critical implications as well, with some version of the text in which David was sexually active with Abishag which was later revised so that he wasn’t or added to some other text in which he wasn’t.

Translation of 3 Reigns 2:46a-l (More Miscellanies from 1 Kings)

Introductory Note

The verses in this passage cover a variety of material, not all of which is known from the Hebrew version of Kings. Like in the previous case of miscellanies, this could have quite substantial implications for the literary history of the text of Kings far beyond any simple text-critical issues. Should it be desired, I can certainly offer some detailed thoughts on this issue in the future.

Translation of the Miscellanies after 3 Reigns 2:46 (= 1 Kgs 2:46)

a) And the king, Solomon, was very insightful and wise. And Judah and Israel (were) very many, like the sand that is upon the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing.
b) And Solomon was ruler in all the kingdoms. And they were bringing presents and serving Solomon all the days of his life.
c) And Solomon began to exploit (literally, “lay open”) the natural resources of the Lebanon.
d) And he built Themai in the desert.
e) And this (was) the midday meal for Solomon: 30 Kors of fine flour and 60 Kors of ground grain flour, 10 choice calves, and 20 grazing cattle and 100 sheep besides deer and gazelles and choice roaming birds.
f) Yes, he was ruler in the whole of Transeuphratene, from Raphi to Gaza, in all the kingdoms of Transeuphratene (or “across the river”).
g) And with him was peace from all portions surrounding him. And Judah and Israel settled, trusting, each under his vine and under his fig tree, eating and drinking, from Dan and until Beersabee, all the days of Solomon.
h) And there (were) the leaders of Solomon: Azarias son of Sadok (was?) the priest and Ornias son of Nathan (was) leader of the appointees. And Edram (was) over his house. And Souba (was) scribe. And Basa son of Achithalam (was) recorder. And Abi son of Ioab (was) chief officer and Ahire son of Edrai (was) over the forced laborers. And Banaias son of Iodae (was) over the temple court and over the brickworks. And Zakour son of Nathan (was) the advisor.
i) And there were for Solomon 40,000 breeding horses in chariotry and 12,000 equestrians.
k) And he was ruler in all the kingdoms from the river and until the land of the foreigners (= Philistines) and until the borders of Egypt.
l) Solomon son of David reigned over Israel and Judah in Jerusalem.

How many Kors did Solomon have?!

Notes on the Text

What really makes this text interesting is the number of contradictions and repetitions it presents to the rest of Kings. Of particular interest in this regard is the list of officers, which both “repeats” material found in chapter 4, though substantially different, and contradicts much of the surrounding material, such as who was priest, over the forced labor, and what role Banaias played in Solomon’s governing. In this case, I think that we are dealing with a legitimately different source from the material as it appears in chapter 4, which does not seem familiar with the material preceding this passage in chapter 2. That is, it came from somewhere else. If you’re interested in more information on this, I can supply that in a future post.

Translation of 3 Reigns 2:36-46 (1 Kgs 2:36-46 LXX)

36) And the king called Semei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell (literally: ‘sit’) there and you shall not go out from there anywhere.
37) “And it shall be on the day of your exodus, and you shall cross over the Kedron stream, you surely know that you will die a death. Your blood will be on your head.” And the king bound him by oath on that day.
38) And Semei spoke to the king, “True (is) the word that you spoke, o my lord king. Thus your servant will do.” And Semei dwelt (literally: “sat”) in Jerusalem three years.
39) And it was after three years. And two servants of Semei fled to Anchous son of Maacha, the king of Geth (= Gath). And it was told to Semei, saying, “Dude! Your servants (are) in Geth.”
40) And Semei got up and saddled his donkey and went to Geth, to Anchous, to search for his servants. And Semei went and brought his servants from Geth.
41) And it was told to Solomon, saying, “Semei went from Jerusalem to Geth and returned his servants.”
42) And the king sent and called Semei and said to him, “Did I not bind you by an oath by the Lord? And did I (not) bear witness to you, saying, ‘On whatever day you go out from Jerusalem and go to the right or to the left, you will surely die a death’?
43) “And why did you not guard the oath of Lord (= Yhwh, here and subsequently without the article) and the commandment that I commanded upon you?”
44) And the king said to Semei, “You know all your wickedness that your heart knows, what you did to David, to my father, and Lord has repaid your wickedness upon your head.
45) “And the king, Solomon, is blessed. And the throne of David is prepared before Lord for eternity.”
46) And the king, Solomon, commanded Banaias son of Iodae, and he went out and killed him. And he died.

I think of Arsenio Hall in this role every time I read the name “Semei.” (I know it’s spelled “Semmi” in Coming to America…)

This post is back to a text attested in both Hebrew and Greek at the same place that is more or less the same. Still, there are a number of differences between the Hebrew and Greek versions:

The Hebrew of v. 36 opens with “And the king sent and called,” whereas the Greek reads only “And the king called.” While this only presents one difference in English (the absence/presence of “sent and”), the distinction in Hebrew would imply two differences: the absence/presence of the verb “sent” and the transposition of the subject “the king” after “called.” The longer reading in the Hebrew could represent a contextual expansion, since the king or Solomon has often “sent” to his enemies, as in the case of Adonijah (1:53; 2:25) and Joab (2:29).

The Greek of v. 37 includes the additional phrase at the verse’s conclusion the king making Semei swear. The shorter Hebrew text could be the result of a scribal oversight, but at first glance I see no obvious occasion for that. Alternatively, the longer Greek reading could represent a harmonization in the Greek (or its Vorlage) at this point so that it better matches v. 42. That seems possible, even likely here.

The phrasing of v. 38 is different in the Hebrew when compared to the Greek. The Hebrew reads, “The word is good. Just as my lord the king spoke…” whereas the Greek reads “The word that my lord the king spoke is good.” The difference may appear substantial in English, but it represents a single letter in Hebrew. Either reading could have resulted from an error from the other. The phrasing in the Greek is somewhat more cumbersome (particularly regarding the subsequent phrase), which is why I favor it as the older reading. At the end of the verse, the Hebrew text notes that Semei lived in Jerusalem “many days,” whereas the Greek reads the more specific and consistent (cf. v. 39) “three years.” In this case, the Greek (or its Vorlage) could again be regarded as a harmonization.

Rather than mention that someone told Semei, as in the Hebrew of v. 39, the Greek reads a passive (“Semei was told”). This is barely a difference and may not have resulted from a variant Hebrew text. If the Greek reading did result from a distinct Hebrew text, the likely variant is only in the stem: rather than a Hiphil as in the MT, the Greek would presume a Hofal. The reading possibly presupposed by the Greek is shorter and less common, both of which could suggest that it is older. But there is no absolute need to presume a distinct Hebrew Vorlage in this case.

The Greek text of v. 42 includes the more precise notice that the departure must be “from Jerusalem,” an element missing in the Hebrew. This longer reading could represent a harmonization in the Greek (or its Vorlage). On the other hand, the Hebrew text concludes this verse with a harmonizing phrase, absent in the Greek. It appears that each tradition harmonized in this verse to better match its context, though in different ways.

The Greek references “your” wickedness regarding Semei in v. 44, whereas the Hebrew more generally describes “the wickedness.” The forms in MT and any presumed Vorlage of the Septuagint would have differed only slightly. Since the phrasing of the Greek is more awkward in its context, I tend to favor it as the older reading here.

The Greek of v. 46 refers to “the king, Solomon” as the subject of the first phrase. This is likely a harmonization in the context in Greek, since both the preceding verse (whether Hebrew or Greek) has “the king, Solomon” as its subject. Additionally, the following phrase in Greek (the beginning of a lengthy plus) also references “the king, Solomon.” This harmonization could have been intentional or, just as likely based on its context in the Greek, unintentional. Finally, v. 46 continues with a lengthy plus in Greek vis-à-vis the Hebrew. The Hebrew phrase that stands in place of this plus has no direct parallel anywhere in the Greek text, though it bears a striking resemblance to the Greek plus 1 Kgs 2:35, albeit with some minor variants. The Hebrew of MT reads והממלכה נכונה ביד־שׁלמה at this point. The presumed Vorlage of the plus in 2:35 could have read: והממלכה נכונה בירושׁלם, a rather modest difference of essentially two or three consonants. While the difference is small, the location of this phrase in the different versions could have substantial implications for the literary history of the versions, something that I will not address in this post.

Translation of 3 Reigns 2:35a-l (Miscellanies from 1 Kings)

Introductory Note

This piece distinguishes itself from the preceding in that this text has no known Hebrew Vorlage in this form. That is, while it appears to be a translation from a Hebrew text, it is not a Hebrew text still known to us as a whole. Rather, pieces of the plus in the Septuagint appear in a few places in the Hebrew version of Kings. Sometimes these verses appear as duplicates in the Greek text as well. For this reason, these verses in particular commend themselves to an analysis at the juncture of textual criticism and literary criticism. At the conclusion of this post I will offer some cursory thoughts on that.

Translation of the Miscellanies after 3 Reigns 2:35 (= 1 Kgs 2:35)

a) And the Lord gave insight to Solomon and very great wisdom and breadth of heart like the sand that is at the sea.
b) And the insight of Solomon was multiplied greatly beyond the insight of all of the ancient sons and beyond all the wise men of Egypt.
c) And he took the daughter of Pharaoh and brought her into the city of David until he completed it, his house and the house of the Lord (at) the first and the wall surrounding Jerusalem. In seven years he did (this) and completed (it/them).
d) And there was for Solomon 70,000 load-bearers and 80,000 stone-cutters in the mountains.
e) And Solomon made the sea and the supports and the large washbasins and the pillars and the fountain of the court and the bronze sea.
f) And he built the citadel and its fortifications and he cut through the city of David. Thus the daughter of Pharaoh had come up from the city of David in to her house, which he had built for her. Then he built the citadel.
g) And Solomon offered up three times in the year whole burnt offerings and peace (offerings) upon the altar that he had built for the Lord. And he burned incense before (the) Lord. And he finished the house.
h) And these are the appointed officers over the works of Solomon: 3,600 overseers of the people of the doers of the works.
i) And he built the Assour (= Hazor?) and the Magdo (= Megiddo) and the Gazer (= Gezer) and the upper Baithoron (= Beth-Horon) and the Baalath.
k) Only after he built it, the house of the Lord and the wall surrounding Jerusalem, after these he built these cities.
l) And still during David’s life, he commanded Solomon, saying, “Dude! With you is Semei son of Gera son of the seed of Iemini from Hebron.
m) “This one cursed me (with) a distressing curse in the day I went into the Barracks.
n) “And he had come down to meet me at the Jordan. And I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘If he will be put to death with the sword…’
o) “And now, you will not let it go unpunished, for a man of insight (are) you. And you will know what you will do to him and you will take his gray head in blood down to Hades.”

Remnants of Solomon’s building activities in Jerusalem? Ophel Museum. (c) 2019 Jonathan Miles Robker

Notes on the Text

Several matters immediately jump out. The most obvious, at least if you’re reading Kings from the beginning up to this point, is that the conclusion of the passage is essentially a return to David’s words. That is l-o parallels 2:8-9, albeit with a distinct introduction mandated by the contexts. Since David has been dead for some time, it only makes sense the some one introduce this passage in this way. The question is which version of this text is older….

People more familiar with Kings might also notice that a-b are repeated in 5:9-10 in the Greek version of Kings, which is where they appear in the Hebrew version. This observation is even more conspicuous from a literary-critical perspective, since there is a plus in 5:14a in Greek that mostly matches 2:35c (the version in 5:14a is missing the last phrase including the dating with seven years).

That is, this passage in Greek version of Kings consists of elements that appear elsewhere in Greek, Hebrew, or both. And they often appear in slightly different versions (i.e., they are inconsistent even within the same textual tradition). They also span a number of passages about Solomon’s reign, appearing also in chapters 5, 7, and 9. With that, one could think that someone either collected diverse notices from Solomon’s reign and placed them here, albeit in a form that doesn’t make much sense or have a particular cogency, or that someone found these verses here and spread them over more logical contexts in Kings.

Personally, I think that there are literary-critical issues that stand behind what is going on here, and I think that the Greek text is older than the Hebrew version. If you are interested in seeing how I think that developed, let me know. I’ve already started a longer piece on it.

Translation of 3 Reigns 2:28-35 (1 Kgs 2:28-35 LXX)

28. And the report came to Ioab sond of Sarouias, for Ioab was inclined after Adonias and after Solomon he did not incline. And Ioab fled to the tent of the Lord and he grasped the horns of the altar.
29. And it was reported to Solomon, saying that “Ioab fled to the tent of the Lord. And dude! He grapsed the horns of the altar.” And Solomon sent to Ioab, saying, “What is for you, that you fled to the altar?” And Ioab said, “Because I was afraid before you, and I fled to the Lord.” And Solomon, the king, sent Banaias son of Iodae, saying, “Go and kill him and bury him.”
30. And Banaias son of Iodae went to Ioab to the tent of the Lord and said to him, “Thus said the king: ‘Come out!'” And Ioab said, “Not will I come out, for here I will die.” And Banaias son of Iodae returned and he spoke to the king, saying, “Thus has Ioab spoken and thus he answered me.”
31. And the king spoke to him, “Go and do to him just as he has said and kill him and bury him. And you will remove today blood, which Ioab poured out for no reason, from me and from the house of my father.
32. “And the Lord returned the blood of his injustice to his head, how he encountered two people, more righteous and better than him, and killed them with the sword. And my father David did not know their blood, Abenner son of Ner (the chief officer of Israel) and Amessa son of Iether (the chief officer of Judah).
33. “And the blood returned to the head of his seed for eternity. And for David and for his seed and for his house and for his throne may there be peace for eternity from the Lord.”
34. And Banaias son of Iodae fell upon Ioab and killed him and buried him in his house in the desert.
35. And the king set Banaias son of Iodae in place of him over the military. And the kingdom was established in Jerusalem. And Sadok the priest, the king set as first priest in place of Abiathar.

1 Kgs 2:30 according to The Brick Testament.

Notes on the Text

A lengthier passage with time with a number of differences between the Hebrew and Greek versions, some of them potentially relevant for understanding the diachrony of Kings.

Verse 28 includes the addition of patronymic for Ioab in Greek. Since this is the first time that he has been mentioned since the translation technique changed in 2:12, one wonders if this might evince and older division of the books at that point (as in the Lucianic recension and Chronicles). Ioab did not support Solomon in Greek, whereas in Hebrew the reference is to Absalom, the last son of David before Adonijah who supposedly rose up against his father. To me, this looks like the Hebrew is attempting to conform the text better to its immediate context: the dispute between Solomon and Adonijah. The difference between the names Absalom and Solomon in Hebrew is not as marked in the Hebrew, making it at least possible that the Greek reading resulted from an error.

Solomon’s title missing in the first instance of his name in the Greek of v. 29. This variant might have implications for appreciating the diachrony of these chapters, in that the change between Solomon and King Solomon could have relevance. It is reiterated in the Greek of this verse as well that Ioab grabbed the horns of the altar. This plus in the Greek could represent a gloss for narrative consistency. Then there is a lengthy plus in the Greek that includes a first discussion between Solomon and Ioab before Solomon sends Banaias to kills Ioab. This likely went lost in the Hebrew text due to parablepsis, when a scribe oversaw the material between the two phrases beginning “Solomon sent.” Finally, King Solomon’s command in Greek includes the order to bury Ioab. This plus perhaps represents an attempt to make the story more consistent, with the conclusion in v. 34 now better matching King Solomon’s command.

The Greek in v. 30 adds Banaias’s patronymic each time he is mentioned in this verse, thus including his patronymic in every circumstance in which he is mentioned. This is unusual, but I have no ready explanation for it. Verse 30 also includes the name “Ioab” as the subject when he answers Banaias, perhaps a clarifying gloss. In this version, Ioab is also more explicit in that he states that he will not come out instead of just saying “no” as in the Hebrew and the divinely inspired Brick Testament (see above). This longer reading could also be a gloss. The Greek of this verse includes a different expression for how Banaias began his speech to Solomon. Likely the Greek version reflects an older and better Vorlage and the Hebrew text is corrupt, since it does not make much sense. Probably something was overlooked in the Hebrew tradition leading to the curious syntax as it now stands (“Benaijah brought back with the king a word [direct object], saying…”).

The king’s command is more explicit in the Greek of verse 31, including the first imperative “go!” and the preposition with its object “to him” after the imperative “do!”. The first plus likely represents a longer version that disappeared in the Hebrew due to haplography (the repetition of לך after מלך). The second difference is not as easy to explain as the result of an error in either direction. It is also explicitly stated in the Greek of this verse that the fulfilment of these commands should occur “today.” It remains unclear which version here might be the older of the two. It is possible that it was overlooked in the Hebrew at some point and went missing due to the similarity of several letters (היום followed by דמי), but this is quite speculative.

The Greek of v. 32 describes the “blood of his injustice,” an unusual phrase that could represent a distinct Hebrew Vorlage. Again, it remains unclear what errors might have stood behind such a difference in the versions, which could suggest that the Greek represents and interpretive gloss. The Greek here also notes that David knew nothing of the blood of those that Ioab killed. The Greek syntax is curious, with two direct objects in apposition, which might speak to its status as the older reading.

The Hebrew of v. 33 is more explicit about the blood being brought back upon Joab’s head, mentioning him by name. Perhaps that represents explicating gloss, commending the Greek as the older version.

The first phrase of v. 34 varies substantially between the Greek and Hebrew versions. The Greek has one fewer verb than the Hebrew and includes Ioab’s name as to whom Banaias “encounters.” The end of the verse notes in the active voice that Banaias buried “him,” not passively that Ioab “was buried” as in the Hebrew. Likely the single letter ו went missing after the ר in the Hebrew text, suggesting that the Greek is older.

There is a major difference in v. 35 between the Hebrew and the Greek. The Hebrew consists of two roughly parallel phrases about the king’s replacing personnel: first Joab and then Abiathar. In the Greek, there is another sentence between these two phrases: the kingdom was established in Jerusalem. This phrase sounds a lot like 2:12, which could have substantial literary-critical implications. It is unlikely that this sentence was accidentally included in the Greek, and probably just as unlikely that someone unintentionally left it out of the Hebrew. That is, I think that the Greek represents an older version and that someone intentionally deleted this phrase from the Hebrew. Finally, in this verse, the Greek includes the title “first priest” for Sadok. As far as I see it, this is the only occurrence of this term, increasingly the likelihood that it is an explanatory product of the translator and was not present in the Vorlage.

Translation of 3 Reigns 2:26-27 (1 Kgs 2:26-27 LXX)

26. And to Abiathar, the priest, the king said, “get yourself to Anatoth in your countryside! For a man of death are you on this day. And I will not kill you, for you carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord before my father and because you were afflicted with trials, those that afflicted my father.”
27. And Solomon cast out Abiathar from being priest of the Lord, fulfilling the word of the Lord that he had spoken about the house of Eli in Selom.

Notes on the Text

In spite of the brevity of this text, there are a number of differences between the Greek and Hebrew versions. All of them (beyond orthography) are in v. 26.

First, the Greek emphasizes “you” after the imperative in v. 26. I find it difficult to imagine that this represents a distinct Hebrew Vorlage (cf., however the לך לך in Gen 12:1 and 22:2, neither of which has a Greek translation similar to the phrase here).

The phrase “on this day” is transposed behind the conjunction “and” in the Hebrew. Most likely there is an error in the Hebrew text. Otherwise, one would expect a Hebrew story at some point that explained how Solomon killed Abiathar. In the Hebrew version he states, “on this day I will not kill you,” after all, suggesting that he could and/or would do it some other day. This never happens in the versions of Kings.

Instead of the curious phrase “the ark of the Lord Yhwh,” the Greek reads “the ark of the covenant of the Lord (=Yhwh).” In this case the Hebrew likely again represents an errant text. It looks like the form to be read in the Hebrew was included adjacent to the term as written (i.e., the Qere-Kethib elements stand next to each other in the text). The question remains open as to whether the Greek stems from a variant Hebrew reading or was added by the translator.

Finally, the Hebrew includes the name “David” before “my father.” I regard this as adding emphasis to the figure David in the Hebrew version and would consider strongly the possibility that this presents a later addition.

Translation of 3 Reigns 2:13-25 (1 Kgs 2:13-25 LXX)

13) And Adonias, son of Angith, came to Beersabee, mother of Solomon, and bowed to her. But she said, “is your coming (in) peace?” And he said, “peace.
14) “A word for me to you.” And she said to him, “speak.”
15) And he said to her, “you know that for me was the kingdom and upon me placed all Israel its face to (be) king. But the kingdom was turned and became for my brother, for from the Lord was it for him.
16) “And now, one request I request from you. You should not turn away your face.” And to him Beersabee said, “speak.”
17) And he said to her, “speak now to Solomon, the king, for he will not turn away his face from you. And he will give me Abisak the Somanite for a wife.”
18) And Beersabee said, “good. I will speak on your behalf to the king.”
19) And Beersabee went to King Solomon to speak to him about Adonias. And the king arose in meeting her, and he kissed her and sat upon his throne. And a throne for the king’s mother was set up, and she sat on his right.
20) And she spoke to him, “one small request I am requesting from you. Not should you turn your face.” And to her the king said, “request, my mother, for not will I turn you away.”
21) And she said, “give, now, Abisak the Somanite to Adonias, your brother, for a wife.”
22) And Solomon, the king, answered and said to his mother, “to what end have your requested Abisak for Adonias?” And you should request for him the kingdom! For this on is my brother, greater (= older) than me and for him were Abiathar the priest and for him was Joab son of Sarouias, the commander-in-chief, a companion.”
23) And King Solomon swore by the Lord, saying, “this shall God do to me and this he shall add, for against his life has Adonias spoken this word!
24) “And now, as the Lord lives, who prepared me and set me upon the throne of David, my father, and he made me a house, just as the Lord had spoken, for today Adonias will be put to death.”
25) And Solomon, the king, sent by the hand of Banaias son of Iodae and he killed him and Adonias died on that day.

“Benaiah” by William Etty (1829). York Art Gallery. Public Domain

Comments on the Text

This passage presents a number of differences between the Hebrew and the Septuagint. As per usual, I will be leaving aside the orthography of the names in these considerations.

One recurrent issue in this passage is the addition of indirect objects (or objects of prepositions) regarding the audience of lines of dialogue. The Greek contains no fewer than four more instances of this in these verses than in the Hebrew (1x each in vv. 14, 15, v. 17, and 20). While it is possible that in some or all of these instances that the Greek reflects a variant Vorlage, to me it seems just as likely that the addition of these indirect objects serves to distinguish who is speaking. Without these objects in the Greek text, it would be somewhat unclear who is speaking to whom. That is because, different than in Hebrew, the Greek does not differentiate between the masculine and feminine in the verb forms in the third person singular. So, while it remains possible, that the Greek text represents a Hebrew version distinct from that of the Masoretic text, I find it difficult to affirm that with any great degree of certainty in these cases. It’s certainly possible that the Greek stems from a variant version, but it is hardly necessarily so.

Another repeating issue is whose face should be turned away. In vv. 16 and 20, the Greek reads “your face” and the Hebrew reads “my face.” This seems to imply some insecurity about the idiom as it relates to making a request. What was the sign of the rejection of a request? The turning of the inquirer’s face or the face of the one being asked? There is no clear answer to this question in this text.

Additionally, there are a number of other minor and larger differences between the Hebrew and Greek versions.

Verse 13 in Greek mentions Adonias bowing to Beersabee, which is something missing from Solomon’s engaging with her in v. 19 (in the Greek version there, Solomon kisses her instead). These differences seem unlikely to have resulted from an error, suggesting that someone changed the text in one direction or the other. The Greek text of v. 14 is missing “and he said” in its opening. In this case, I would argue that the shorter reading likely is older and that the addition of “and he said” crept in as a result of dittography (n.b. the two other cases of this Hebrew term in vv. 13 and 15).

Verse 16 in Greek explicitly names Beersabee as the subject of the final clause. The reference is only implicit in the Hebrew. At first glance, one might think that this presents a clarifying addition similar to the indirect objects noted above, but in this case, the Greek also contains an indirect object as in the Hebrew (object of a preposition, in that case), making the need for further clarification extraneous. The situation remains murky, but it seems that we have a duplication in vv. 14b and 16b. That could suggest that the Hebrew text removed her name for consistency, but that is not entirely clear here.

Beyond the kissing instead of prostrating in v. 19, the verb for setting up the throne is passive in G. This hardly presents a real variant and can be resolved merely through a repointing of the same consonantal text. That is, the Hebrew Vorlage of the Greek version was probably identical to the current Hebrew version, but understood the verb as a passive whereas the Masoretes made it an active verb.

Verse 21 in Greek includes and element that is not present in the Hebrew. Most likely this reflects the Hebrew particle נא (“please, indeed”), common in requests; cf., e.g., v. 17. The most likely explanation is that it has gone missing in the Hebrew text due to an oversight between תתן and את (haplography). The Greek probably represents an older, though slightly longer text in this case.

The Greek of v. 22 contains a number of differences when contrasted with the Hebrew. First, it lacks “the Somanite” as a descriptor for Abishag. Since the Greek version of this verse presents the only case in the Bible in which the name Abishag is mentioned without “the Shumanite,” the most likely explanation is that someone added it to the Hebrew for the sake of consistency after the translation of the Septuagint. The syntax of the last phrase is much clearer in the Greek, which contains several extra elements. Each of the names is preceded by the preposition “to/for” in Hebrew, making this text difficult to understand. It is probably the result of an error. The reference to Joab also includes his office in addition to his patronymic in Greek, as well as the modifier that he was “a friend” or “friendly” to Adonias. Perhaps these elements were lost due to an oversight in the Hebrew due to the similarities with the opening of the next verse. I’m not certain about this though and it’s just an idea.

Verse 24 in Greek includes a further reference to “the Lord” regarding the construction of Solomon’s house. While this could present an attempt to make the text more precise, ultimately it makes the syntax more clunky, suggesting that it may be original and then later removed in the Hebrew.

Finally, the last verse of this passage, v. 25, in Greek essentially duplicates Adonias’s death. This occurs because it includes his name in the final phrase. With that, Benaias kills him and he dies. The verse ends with the additional notices that his death occurred “on that day.” This likely presents an adaptation to better match the context of v. 24, in which King Solomon announces that he should die on that die. Someone, either LXX or its Vorlage may well have seen a need to provide a strengthened notion that this promise had indeed been fulfilled.

Reviewing My Goals for 2020: A Retrospect

After taking break for the holiday last week, especially since I had reached a natural cesura in the content I was translating, I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to look back on the year I’ve had. Particularly, I want to look back on the goals that I set out last year. Last year, I basically set out four pairs of objectives, trying to replace one superfluous or more negative behavior with something better. So, let’s review.

Quitting Facebook in Favor of More Blogging

In my post one year ago, I said that I would delete Facebook by January 31st, 2020. That didn’t happen, and my final deletion of Facebook did not occur until November. That being said, I only viewed Facebook maybe three during those ten months, so I achieved my goal in spirit, if not literally for several months. But what was the impact of disregarding and ultimately leaving Facebook? Has this increased more meaningful interaction between me, my friends, my colleagues and my family?

This is a mixed bag. I have probably had more regular and deeper contact with my family during this period. The contact may not have been as often, since I didn’t see pictures of them or posts from them, but our interaction was certainly more meaningful, since we actually made the effort to call and catch up rather than merely click a blue icon of a hand with its thumb raised. Part of the greater contact surely also resulted from the pandemic and the transition to a life lived in the virtual universe of Zoom. Nonetheless, the family aspect must be counted as a win and a great point against Facebook.

On the other hand, I essentially lost access to a number of people that I enjoyed hearing from, even if only indirectly. This lost access applies to both colleagues and friends. For that reason, I have no real insight in to the things that many respected people are involved with or working on. That’s an unenviable position to be in. It also tends to make me feel a bit lonely sometimes, particularly in academic contexts. I imagine that there is networking going on among other scholars that I am missing out on. Mind you, I have no evidence to support this, and I personally never made any concrete plans for cooperation on Facebook, but the pessimist in me just assumes that others are doing this. Missing out on friends and colleagues is certainly a negative aspect.

On the other hand, I did get to hang out with this tiger.

The deciding vote is unambiguously in favor of my leaving Facebook, however. I am seriously glad that I did not receive or view any content related to the election in the United States on Facebook. I didn’t see the ignorant posts of raving lunatics on Facebook. For that, I was still on Twitter. As far as I can tell, most of the people who made me rage on Facebook have not discovered Twitter yet, which means that I could peacefully network there socially (and even academically).

The objective of leaving Facebook was more blogging, which I certainly achieved. While I did not fulfill my goal of writing every week, I did do pretty regular writing on this site. This included two series about my work, neither of which has been concluded: one on the general textual history of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament and one translating the different versions of the biblical book of Kings. At the same time, beginning in the autumn, I accepted a position on the editorial board of the Digital Orientalist, which I published two pieces (with three more to come in 2021). The first was on trustworthy online resources for studying the Bible, and the second was on biblical manuscripts available online. None of this online publishing got the kind of traction that I was hoping for, but there is a small core of supporters who read this material regularly. To you, I say “thank you!” Since I hope to expand my audience, if you think that someone might enjoy what I am doing, pass it on. Or if you or someone you know might have questions about biblical studies you’d like more information on, reach out and let me know. I’d love to cover things that you want to read about, particularly ethical and theological issues! In conclusion, I made some big steps in this regard this, but there is still room for improvement in 2021. Stay tuned!

Less Meat and Sugar /
More Vegan Meals and Walking

This one turned out to be pretty easy in the beginning, but grew somewhat tougher as the year dragged on. At the beginning of the year, I committed to eating vegan almost every breakfast (overnight oats). This still had a lot of carbohydrates in it (maple syrup and dried fruit) and not much protein. After my annual physical, I got a recommendation from my doctor about a different kind of cereal and reducing the portion size dramatically. That led to me eating a special kind of overnight oats for both breakfast and lunch almost every day. At the same time, I cut out all snacking and sweets, particularly between lunch and dinner. At dinnertime we generally reduced our intake of meat, but often did not eat vegan. Sometimes we did.

My Sweet Potatoes are Legit (though not vegan because of the cheese).

At the same time, I increased my amount of movement substantially, which mean that I did a good job getting rid of some weight. I kept this up for a while, but once the amount of work that I had to do increased dramatically and our working conditions became significantly more difficult due to the pandemic, the amount of walking that I did really tapered off. The snacking crept back in as well, especially as summer turned to autumn and autumn to winter. I need to get back to the basics again in the new year and am recommitting myself to this.

What “Home Office” Looks Like with a Two-Year Old.

Less Listening to Respond / More Listening to Learn

As part of the process of bettering myself, I decided that I should spend more time listening without trying to always insert my thoughts into the discussion, just learning from what others are saying. In particular, I decided to strive to hear more voices from women, people of color, and others who have often been excluded from power and decision-making processes. To this end, I did a lot of reading, listening to podcasts, and following people on Twitter. The undertaking has thus far been enlightening, so I also plan to continue this in 2021 (and beyond). I have to take this opportunity to recommend the book How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (I want to write a full-length review of this in the future) and the podcast Scene on Radio (which David Loti recommended to me). If you want to critically reflect on what racism looks like and how it impacts power dynamics and history, these are good places to start.

Less Working Time Alone / More Collaboration

Alright. This was a seriously good intention, but there is nothing I can do about how this developed. I did not get to cooperate with others as much as I had hoped.

I would’ve loved to share this veggie burrito with a colleague or two.

But I need to qualify that: I still began more cooperation with others than at any point in my academic career thus far. It wasn’t the way that I had expected, meeting up and discussing texts and interpretations. Rather, we did it all online. This has led to some exciting results that will hopefully be published in the not-too-distant future. Here’s a preview: we taught an artificial intelligence to decipher ancient Greek handwriting. So, the Terminator may not find John Connor, but he will be able to engage in the exegesis of Codex Vaticanus. I still want to do some entertainment-oriented podcasting, vlogging, or blogging cooperation, so contact me to make a plan and make this happen, if you are interested.

In conclusion…

For most of us, I imagine, 2020 was a more trying year than just about anyone could have anticipated. I didn’t publish all of the articles I wanted to. I didn’t lose all of the weight I needed to. I didn’t get to travel hardly at all. Nonetheless, I wanted to take this opportunity to look back on what I wanted to do with the year and evaluate my progress. All in all, I think I did pretty well. There were a lot of setbacks, but also real human connection and progress, in spite of and sometimes even resulting from adverse conditions. I hope that you can find some silver linings in 2020 and that you can progress in your endeavors in 2021. Let me know how you did and how you’re doing. All the best!

Translation of 3 Reigns 2:1-12 (1 Kgs 2:1-12 LXX)

1. And the days came for David, [for] his dying. And he commanded Salomon his son, saying:
2. “I am going in the way of all the earth, and you shall be strong and grow into a man.
3. “And you will guard the guarding of the Lord your God to walk in his ways to guard his commandments and the ordinances and the judgements that [are] written in the law of Moses, so that you might understand what you will do according to everything that I have commanded you.
4. “just as that the Lord set his word that he spoke, saying, ‘if your sons guard their way, walking before me in truth in their whole heart and in their whole spirit, saying “not will be utterly destroyed even a man from upon Israel’s throne.”‘
5. “And also, you know what Joab son of Sarouias did to me, what he did to two officers of Israel’s armies, to Abenner son of Ner and to Amessai son of Iether, and he killed them and arranged the blood of battle in peacetime and gave guiltless blood in his belt on his loins and on his sandals on his feet.
6. “And you will do according to your wisdom and not bring down his gray hair in peace to Hades.
7. “And with the sons of Berzillai the Galaadite you will practice compassion, and they will be with those eating at your table, for thus they approached me in my fleeing from before Abessalon, your brother.
8. “And dude! with you [is] Semei son of Gera son of Iemeni from Baourim, and he cursed me [with] a distressing curse on the day that I went in to the barracks, and he came down in meeting me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘If I will kill you with the sword…’
9. “And not will you let him go unpunished, for a wise man are you. And you know what you will do to him and you will bring down his gray hair in blood to Hades.”
10. And David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.
11. And the days that David reigned over Israel [were] forty years. In Hebron he reigned seven years and in Jerusalem 33 years.
12. And Salomon sat upon the throne of David his father, a son of twelve years [= as a twelve year old], and his kingdom was prepared greatly.

Hendrik ter Brugghen: King David Playing the Harp. (1628). National Museum of Warsaw. Public Domain.

Comments on the Text

This passage attests several variants between the Greek and the Hebrew. The syntax of v. 1 in Greek is somewhat clumsy, specifying that it is David’s death by including a possessive on the verb “dying.” Since this makes little sense in Greek, but is consistent with Hebrew syntax, it probably goes back to a different Hebrew version than the Masoretic Text.

Verse 3 contains a number of variants, some of them repeating a similar phenomenon. The Greek is shorter and less precise. It reads “and the” ordinance instead of “his ordinances,” attesting the same difference with “judgements”. One element of these covenant terms remains entirely lacking in the Greek when contrasted with the Masoretic Text: there is nothing in the Greek representing the Hebrew for “and his testimonies.” It is not explicated that he must act “just as” in the law of Moses as in Hebrew, rather describing the judgements “that are” in the law of Moses. In this way, the Greek is less precise than the Hebrew. The conclusion of the verse is markedly different, with the Greek mandating that Solomon do as David commanded him, whereas the Hebrew suggests that Solomon must turn to follow the strictures of the covenant terminology. In this verse in particular, the Greek likely represents the translation of a distinct Hebrew Vorlage that was not identical with the Masoretic Text.

The Greek text in v. 4 is missing the focus on David, lacking “about me” as in the Hebrew. The Hebrew, with this plus more explicitly connects to the dynastic promise in 2 Sam 7, suggesting that its longer reading here is a later gloss or interpolation.

On the other hand, the Greek of v. 5 adds “innocent” as a description of the blood, providing better justification for Solomon’s forthcoming execution of Joab. This adjective casts a more favorable light on Solomon, something that (in my preliminary opinion) happens more often in the Greek text than in the Hebrew. One would have to address this from a more global perspective: did the Greek (or its Vorlage) improve Solomon’s appearance in Kings or did the precursors to the Masoretic Text seek to make him appear worse? That is an open question, as far as I am concerned.

Of another category is one item in v. 8. The Greek translates the Hebrew proper noun of the location Mahanaim. It’s not a difference, but worth noting that it did not (merely) transliterate this name.

The final notice for David’s reign is shorter in v. 11 in Greek, lacking a second “he reigned” in reference to Jerusalem. On the other hand, the opening of Solomon’s reign in v. 12 is longer in Greek, including Solomon’s age of twelve years. This age is nowhere mentioned in the Hebrew, but did continue on in some Rabbinic traditions about Solomon. It might also be presumed that Solomon is young in 1 Kgs 3:7, in which Solomon states that he is a young man, perhaps even a child. Solomon’s age was probably removed in the Hebrew text in order to better afford the other synchronisms in Kings. According to 1 Kgs 14:21, Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) acceded the throne at the age of 41. Since Solomon is said to have reigned 40 years (1 Kgs 11:42), meaning he would have fathered him at the tender age of eleven (and before he was even married for that matter…). That is easier to explain (in my opinion) than why someone would add this age in the Greek. We are probably dealing with two (or more) different Solomon traditions behind these chronologies.

Translation of 3 Reigns 1:41-53 (1 Kgs 1:41-53 LXX)

41. And Adonias heard (and all his invited guests. And they were finished eating). And Joab heard the sound of the trumpet and said, “Why is the city’s voice resounding?”
42. Still he was speaking and dude! Jonathan son of Abiathar the priest came. And Adonias said, “Come, for a mighty man are you. And proclaim as good news a good (thing).”
43. And Jonathan answered and said, “And yet, our lord, the king, David has kinged Solomon.
44. “And the king sent with him Sadok the priest and Nathan the prophet and Banaias son of Iodae and the Chrethi and the Phelethi, and they set him upon the king’s mule.
45. “And Sadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed him to (be) king in the Gion, and they arose from there rejoicing, and the city resounded. That is the voice you heard.
46. “And Solomon sat upon the throne of the king.
47. “And the servants of the king entered, celebrating our lord, the king, David, saying, ‘May God magnify the name of Solomon, your son, above your name, and make his throne greater than your throne.’ And the king prostrated on his bed.
48. “And also thus spoke the king, ‘Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel, who gave today from my seed one sitting upon my throne and my eyes have seen.'”
49. And they were amazed and all of Adonias’s invited guests rose up and departed, each on his way.
50. And Adonias was afraid before Solomon and arose and grasped the horns of the altar.
51. And it was reported to Solomon, saying, “Dude! Adonias fears King Solomon and has grasped the horns of the altar, saying, ‘Let his swear to me today, the king, Solomon, that not will he kill his servant with the sword.'”
52. And Solomon said, “If he will turn into a son of might, then [not] will fall from his hairs upon the ground, and if wickedness is found in him, he will be put to death.”
53. And King Solomon sent and brought him down from upon the altar. And he came and prostrated to King Solomon, and Solomon said to him, “Come! To your house (you go)!”

From The Brick Testament.

Comments on the Text

This long passage contains a number of variants from the Hebrew. Verse 42 reads the verb “proclaim” as an imperative in Greek. The indirect object “to Adonias” is missing in the Greek of verse 43, and the conjunction “and” is missing at the beginning of verse 46.

Verse 47 attests several variants. It is missing “also” at the beginning, but includes “your son” after the name Solomon. Finally, it is more precise in the identification of the bed, reading “his [i.e., the king’s] bed” rather than simply “the bed.”

In verse 48, there seems to be more emphasis on David’s dynasty. At any rate, the Greek includes the phrase “from my seed” to clarify who is sitting on the king’s throne after him. It is not just anyone, but his progeny.

Solomon’s threat of capital punishment in v. 52 is passive in Greek (“he will be put to death”), but active in Hebrew (“he will die”). The Hebrew seems to remove some of the king’s culpability, not really saying who will be responsible for his death (it could just be an accident or providence…). At the same time time, the Greek attributes the “bringing” of Adonias from the altar more explicitly to Solomon. It reads “he [i.e., Solomon] brought him” whereas the Hebrew reads “they [i.e., someone] brought him”. These last two considerations make Solomon a more active participant in the Greek version, at least in my reading. The question remains whether the Greek translator is responsible for this, this represent an older understanding of the same Hebrew text, or it represents a distinct Hebrew text. Based on the translation style, I favor the last option as the most likely.

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