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.

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