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.

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  1. Solomon…Soul Glow…Soul Glow…Solomon?


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