Translation of 2 Sam 26:1–11 (1 Kgs 2:1–11 Ant.)

1) And it was after these [things]. And David died and slept with his ancestors. And he commanded his son Solomon before his death saying,
2) “I am going in the way of the whole earth. And you will be strengthened and you will turn into a man of might.
3) “And you shall observe the charge of the Lord [=Yhwh], God of Israel, going before him, observing his way and his commands and his commandments and his judgments, his commandments and his witnesses, just as written in the Law of Moses, in order that all that you do might succeed, and everywhere where you gaze there
4) “because the Lord set his words that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘if your children guard their ways, going before me in truth and with their whole heart and with their whole spirit, not will be lifted off for you a man from the throne of Israel.’
5) “And now, you know what he did to me, Ioab son of Sarouia, and what he did to the two generals of Israel, to Abenner son of Ner and to Amessa son of Iether, the general of Judah. And he killed them and punished the blood of war in peace (time) and he gave innocent blood against my life and upon the life of my loins and against the sandals that are on my feet.
6) “And you will do according to your insight. And not will you lead down in peace his gray-haired head to Hades.
7) “And with the sons Berzelli the Gileadite you will act mercifully. And they will be with those eating at your table, for thus he stood before me in my fleeing in the face of your brother Abessalom.
8) “And Semeei son of Gera son of the Iemeni [= the Benjaminite], the one from Bathoureim! And he cursed me a painful curse on the day that I went into the barracks. And he went down to meet me at the Jordan. And I swore to him by the Lord, saying ‘If I should put you to death with the sword…’
9) “And you will not leave him unpunished, for a wise man are you. And you will know what to do to him. And you will bring down his gray-haired head in blood to Hades.”
10) And David slept with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David.
11) And the days that [he was] over Israel [were] forty years; in Hebron he reigned seven years, and in Jerusalem he reigned over Israel thirty and three years.

Cornelis de Vos. King David presenting the scepter to Solomon. 1601-1651. Public Domain. Source.

Comments on the Text

The whole of the first verse is substantially different in Ant. Most significantly, this includes a lengthier introduction with the notice that David died and was buried without, however, noting that “days had drawn near,” as in the Hebrew text and LXX. The opening of Ant. is consistent with some OG translations of the Hebrew phrase ויהי אחרי כן (cf. Judg 16:4; 2 Sam 2:1; 8:1; 10:1; and 15:1; cf. further 1 Chr 19:1!). This similarity makes it unlikely that this phrase stems from Lucian and it is very unlikely an editorial change, but is likely therefore OG. Further, Ant. transposes the elements “Solomon” and “his son” when contrasted with MT and LXX. Finally, Ant. includes the phrase “before his death” in the second half of the verse, which is necessary in this case, since David has already died in Ant. As in the opening of the verse in Ant., it is readily possible to reconstruct the presumed Hebrew Vorlage, again making this an unlikely addition from Lucian. The Hebrew Vorlage likely read something like:

ויהי אחרי כן וימת דוד וישׁכב עם אבתיו ויצו את־שׁלמה בנו לפני מותו לאמור

The difficulties in v. 1, particularly the chronological and narratological problem of David’s death preceding his final words in Ant. make it likely that the Hebrew text and then LXX were emended to remove this difficulty. The variant version of Ant. should be considered in literary-critical evaluations of this chapter.

In v. 2, LXX translates “I” with εγω ειμι—which is typical for kaige—and also presents the following verb as a participle, identical to MT and consistent with kaige. Ant. reads instead a finite form of the same verb in the first phrase. The second sentence opens with different verbs in the Greek versions, though they each mean roughly the same thing. The verb in Ant. is hapax, making it automatically the more difficult reading. The verb in LXX also appears to be a standard equivalent, favoring its stemming from kaige and making it unlikely the OG. Finally, Ant. ends the verse with the noun “might,” missing in the other versions. Deciding on the priority in this case remains difficult, since there is no clear reason that this element should be missing from either MT or LXX, whether resulting from an intentional deletion or an accidental oversight. However, it is possible to consider it a more positive reflection on the figure of Solomon, which would commend regarding Ant. as an expansion. Another factor could indicate its later status in Ant.: in Ant. Solomon is a grown man at this point, whereas he is only twelve years old in LXX. LXX—should it attest the older reading and a Hebrew version since lost—could therefore be consistent stating here that Solomon will become a man. By adding the “might,” Ant. would also be more consistent: David could hardly tell his grown son to become a man.

The form of the verb opening v. 3 is distinct in the Greek versions, but either of them could represent MT. As Ant. present the rarer form, we could consider it as a solid candidate for the OG. Of more relevance, the reference to God is impersonal in Ant. I.e., God is not the God of Solomon, but the God of Israel. This fits better more in Deuteronomistic vernacular, suggesting that Ant. could represent a later editorial mimicking of this style. In Ant., Solomon should go before God and guard his (i.e., God’s) way (sg. Instead of plural as in LXX and MT). The phrasing of the laws and mores that he should follow differs significantly between MT-LXX and Ant, both in the semantic and its syntax. Ant. refers to the written law of Moses, whereas the other witnesses are more open in this regard. The whole conclusion of the verse differs in Ant., but fits generally within the confines of an accurate translation of a Hebrew text that differs from MT. Yet it does not appear to be a revision of a Greek text like LXX.

The witnesses in v. 4 are variegated, and determining the relationship between the texts is difficult. The opening conjunction differs between Ant. and LXX. Both of them are satisfactory equivalents for the Hebrew, but the kaige recension (at least according to my cursory glance at the concordance) prefers this term for another Hebrew word (למה). That could well imply that LXX attests an OG reading in this case. The term for “word” also differs between the Greek witnesses, with LXX representing more of a standard equivalent in line with kaige. Beyond that, Ant.’s “words” is plural, whereas the other witnesses are singular. These observations both favor Ant. as the OG in these cases. However, in Ant., the word is spoken “about me [i.e., David]” instead of more generally as in LXX. Since Ant. again matches MT in this case, and LXX does not seem to reflect kaige technique, this could well imply that Ant. here represents revision of the OG. Then LXX would better attest the OG. The verb form at the beginning of the quoted divine speech differs in Greek, with LXX again better reflecting MT and therefore suggesting identifying it as recensional. Ant. recognizes David’s “children” and not “sons” as the object of the command and, of course, sons more literally reflects MT. The “ways/paths” is plural in Ant., but singular in the other versions. Ant. includes an article before the verb “going” not in the other witnesses and a conjunction before “in their whole heart” not attested in the others. The form of “me” varies in the Greek witnesses, but not in any relevant manner. Before the term “spirit,” Ant. again includes an article not attested in LXX, but which probably was removed there since it has no clear referent in the Hebrew. That is typical for kaige. Ant. lacks “saying” before “not will be…” attested in the other witnesses, again commending it as a potential for the OG against a revised LXX. The verb about what will happen to someone on the throne differs in the Greek. Ant. says that no one will be “lifted up off” (i.e., removed), whereas LXX recounts that no one will be “destroyed.” This case remains opaque, but the finality of LXX and its more violent rhetoric probably suggest it’s a revision toward the Hebrew “be cut off from.” The final prepositional phrase differs in two instances among the Greek versions, with LXX remaining closer to MT in each case: the preposition itself differs, with LXX present a composite preposition as a perfect reflection of the Hebrew composite; and Ant. contains an article not attested in LXX or MT, suggesting it may have been removed to make those versions more isomorphically similar. This verse is long and the variants manifold and complex, but it appears likely that each of the Greek versions maintains some OG readings against the other and may ultimately be indicative of a differing Hebrew Vorlage for that tradition.

Again, v. 5 attests a significant number of variants in the Greek witnesses. However, in this case, it appears likely that LXX is kaige in essentially every case, leaving open the possibility that Ant. attests the OG in some or all of them. These include: the translation of וגם with καιγε (LXX) or καὶ νυν (Ant.); different verbs for “knowing”; different relative particles; the inclusion of the conjunction “and” between the phrases “what he did” in Ant.; different forms for the number “two”; variant terminology for the specific office that Abenner and Amessa held, with LXX perfectly reflecting the Hebrew and Ant. using a single lexeme; the inclusion in Ant. of a separate title for Amessa, making the reading more difficult by adding tension; distinct verbs for what Joab did, with LXX closer to MT; different forms for the first mention of blood, with LXX reflecting the Hebrew plural; the variation for whose life was damaged; and distinct syntax toward the verse’s end. The only possible exception would be LXX’s inclusion of a definite article before the first mention of “blood,” which has no pendent in the Hebrew Vorlage. Perhaps this indicates that its Vorlage contained a marker of the definite object (which is generally untranslatable in English) that has since gone missing in the Hebrew. Using a definite article for the translation of a Hebrew object marker is a common phenomenon in kaige.

Two variants distinguish LXX from Ant. in v. 6: the word for wisdom differs and the phrase “in peace” has been transposed. I have demonstrated elsewhere (SBL 2020) that the term for wisdom in LXX is editorial, used in kaige and later editorial traditions. The other case again appears to represent a transposition within LXX in order to make it better match MT or a similar Hebrew text.

The first half of v. 7 is essentially identical in Ant. and LXX. The differences begin with “thus” and continue for the rest of the verse. I would argue that the differences generally look like LXX presenting a revised text. This includes LXX’s use of “drew near to me” (=MT) instead of Ant.’s “stand before me,” its use of “from before” (=MT) instead of Ant.’s “in the face of,” and the ordering of the elements “Abessalom” before “his brother” (=MT), which Ant. has in the reverse order. One exception to this does appear: Ant.’s “in the fleeing of me” better matches MT in form and syntactical ordering than does LXX’s “in my fleeing.” That distinction could imply that LXX is revisional here and that Ant. represents the OG in this case. While that is an exception, it is a noteworthy one.

A series of minor differences stand out between LXX and Ant. in verse 8. At the beginning of the verse, Ant. reads shorter, missing three elements that appear in LXX and matching MT in those cases. Ant. here does not match 2:11 Ant., meaning that all of these individually and collectively commend Ant. as the OG. Ant. contains a definite article absent in LXX before “from”; the easiest explanation for this would again be LXX as a revision toward an MT-like Hebrew text, which also lacks any such element. The name of the place “Bath-Oureim” differs from LXX and MT, which are the same. Likely, Ant. maintains an older reading here. Ant. proffers the preposition “in” before “the days,” which is superfluous in Greek, but does perfectly reflect MT, suggesting that it is revisional here, commending LXX as OG in its reading. Finally, the preposition before “the Jordan” differs between LXX and Ant. The Hebrew attests neither, but presumes something closer to LXX, suggesting—with all necessary caution—LXX attests a correction in that case.

Only one variant in v. 9 distinguishes the Greek witnesses: Ant. contains an emphatic subject “you” at the verse’s opening. This case is particularly difficult, since it matches neither LXX nor MT. It appears that a misreading of MT stands behind Ant. or Ant. attests an older reading that was mistakenly changed in the Hebrew textual tradition; the difference consists of a single letter: ואתה (Ant.) vs. ועתה (MT). Likely both of them represent later interpolations vis-à-vis LXX, which can be regarded as the shorter OG in this case. Interestingly, in 2:35a LXX = 2:14 Ant. the two Greek witnesses match in this instance and match MT, suggesting that Ant. cannot be regarded as an internal idiosyncratic correction within that tradition.

Verse 10 has only two minor difference, both of then tend to favor Ant. as the older text. In the first case, the verb at the verse’s opening appears in distinct forms, whereby the form attested in LXX is consistent with the translational technique of kaige. That implies that it presents a later editorial undertaking. The other case commends the same interpretation: Ant. attests the definite article before “city of David” that LXX lacks. This again appears to be likely a redaction toward the Hebrew text, which possesses no element to be translated with this article.

The final verse of this passage, and the final verse of Samuel according to Ant., has a few peculiar issues that merit discussion. The first sentence lacks three elements that appear in LXX: the verb and subject “David reigned” after “that” and the definite article before “Israel.” The verb and subject are difficult to determine, but as Ant. makes no sense and no conspicuous source for an error exists it could be regarded as the older reading. The definite article before Israel is inconsistent with kaige recensional technique in this case and therefore could be regarded as OG. The two Greek versions then proceed with an identical text until the word Jerusalem. Thereafter they continue independently. Then Ant. records three words missing in LXX that translate: “he reigned over Israel.” The first word matches MT, but the other two do not. It remains particularly difficult to determine priority in this case, though Ant. does not appear to be a strong candidate for the OG here. The final distinction is the “and” in “thirty-three” in Ant. which again matches MT in contradistinction to LXX. Therefore, perhaps LXX again provides the OG in this case.

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