Translation of 2 Sam 25:50–53 (1 Kgs 1:50-53 Ant.)

50) And Ornia feared before the face of the king, Solomon. And he arose and went to the tent of the Lord [=Yhwh] and he dominated the horns of the altar, saying “the king, Solomon, should swear to me today [that he will] not kill his servant with the sword.”
51) And they told Solomon, saying, “Dude! Ornia fears the king, Solomon. And dude! He grasps the horns of the altar, saying, ‘the king, Solomon, should swear to me today [that he will] not kill his servant with the sword.’”
52) And Solomon said, “If he is to be a man of might, not will fall from his head a hair onto the ground. But if wickedness is found in him, he will die.”
53) And Solomon sent and brought him down from the altar. And Ornia entered and prostrated to the king, Solomon. And he spoke to him, Solomon [did], “Walk to your house.”

First Book of Kings Chapter 1-8 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media).jpg. CC BY-SA 3.0 (view terms).
Created: 1 January 1984. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Comments on the Text

These few verses present some substantial and minor differences among the witnesses. (Ignoring, again, the orthography of proper nouns).

Verse 50 Ant. presents a much longer text than either LXX or MT. LXX and MT are identical in every case, at least permitting the preliminary conclusion that Ant. represents an older, or at least a distinct Vorlage from that used by LXX and in the Masoretic tradition. First, Ant. includes the title “the king” before Solomon’s name. Either Ant. presents an interpretive expansion or this term went missing in the Hebrew at some point. Ant. refers to the altar within the “tent of the Lord,” an element missing both in LXX and MT. Likely, this presents an older reading, since there is some uncertainty at this point where the tent should be. It really only plays a greater role in 2:28-30 and 8:4. Curiously, the verb “dominate” in Ant. presents a good translation of the same Hebrew term in MT. LXX does too, but makes more sense in the context. In this case, it again appears possible that Ant. could be recensional, though LXX likely represents a contextual correction toward the Hebrew idiom. Finally, Ant. concludes with a lengthy passage, perhaps copied from the following verse. This lengthy plus could represent an attempt at consistency, making the text here match what is reported to Solomon in the next verse. Should that indeed be the case, this might present the independent confirmation of the OG in the next verse, since LXX matches MT in that case, but Ant. does not.

The Ant. of v. 51 opens with a plural active verb in contrast to the passive construction of LXX and MT. That suggests that LXX could be a revision toward MT. The verb “fear” appears in different conjugations in the Greek witnesses, which makes no real difference in terms of meaning. However, since kaige appears to prefer the aorist, which LXX attests, we can safely regard that as a later editorial transition to be closer to the Hebrew. At the same time, LXX lacks the interjection “dude!” as in Ant. and MT, suggesting that LXX could be OG in this case. The final difference among the Greek witnesses in this verse appears in Ornia’s oath, in which LXX more accurately reflects MT than Ant. does. That again suggests that LXX attests a revision toward a Vorlage like MT.

Verse 52 presents another case in which LXX and MT are essentially identical, yet contrast in their uniformity with Ant. The differences among the Greek witnesses all occur within Solomon’s oath. The formulation of the oath itself relies on disparate verb forms in the Greek versions. The Antiochene text explicitly references Ornia’s head, a reference absent in the other versions. For the metaphor of hair fallen to the ground, Ant. uses the singular instead of the plural for hair. Finally, two minor differences with somewhat important implications present themselves in the conclusion of Solomon’s oath. First, Ant. uses the more disjunctive δε at the opening of the final phrase, whereas LXX more tediously reflects the syntax of MT. Second, the final verb in Ant. and LXX differs. Both represent a satisfactory translation of MT, however LXX betters matches the context and explicitly justifies Solomon’s actions against Adonijah in the next chapter. In Ant., Solomon merely states that Ornia will die if wickedness is found in him. That leaves open, for example, the possibility of divine retribution. But LXX states that Adonaias will be put to death—i.e., executed—if wickedness is found in him. Since the next chapter of Kings proffers a detailed account of the justification for his execution as well as the execution itself, it seems likely that LXX represents a contextual emendation to better reflect this. Wouldn’t it be unlikely for someone to change a text like LXX to be like Ant. in this context? The more solid moral or ethical footing for Solomon’s execution of his half-brother motivated this change.

The final verse of this chapter presents only a few variants among the Greek witnesses. As per usual in this chapter, LXX generally more accurately reflects MT than Ant. does. Ant. does not mention the honorific “the king” as part of the subject of the first phrase. The tense of the verb of the second phrase also appears to have been emended for consistency in LXX, as was the preposition “from upon.” MT and LXX do not mention Adonaias/Ornia at all, but Ant. includes him as the subject who explicitly submits to Solomon. The reading in Ant. could thus present a clarifying gloss, but since it is unnecessary in the context (clearly Ornia—and no one else here—prostrates to Solomon) it may have been deleted in the other witnesses. Explicitly removing Ornia from this passage could also serve to make him appear less favorable in preparation for his coming demise. Finally, the imperative in the final clause appears in two different forms. Determining priority in this case may not be possible, but further research, which I don’t have time for right this second remains outstanding.

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1 Comment

  1. Yes! This pic is from the International Children’s Bible, which I used until almost puberty. All of the pictures are emotional!


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