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.

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