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.

Leave a comment

2 Comments

  1. “beyond the insight of all of the ancient sons”
    I really like this wording and wonder who in particular this is referencing.

    Reply
    • I assume it just refers back to the idea of a golden age, the age of heroes. Something like in Gen 4:17-26. It’s likely that they are thinking more generally rather than of some group in particular. But it’s not really clear.

      Reply

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