Translation of 1 Kgs 1:1-14 Ant. (= 1 Kgs 1:12-25 MT)

1) And Solomon sat upon the throne of David, his father, and his kingdom was very prepared.
2) And Orneias, the son of Angeith, went to Beersabee, the mother of Solomon, and he did obeisance to her. And she said to him, “Is your coming peace?” And he said, “Peace.”
3) And he said, “A word for me to you.” And she said to him, Beersabee [did], “speak!”
4) And he said to her, “You know that for me was the kingdom. And upon me to reign all Israel set their face. But the kingdom turned and was for my brother, for from the Lord was [it] for him.
5) “And now, one small request I ask from you; you should not turn your face away.” And she said to him, Beersabee [did], “speak!”
6) And he said to her, Orneia [did], “Please speak to Solomon, the king, for he will not turn your face away, and he will give me Abeisak the Somaneite for a wife.”
7) And she said to him, Beersabee [did], “Good. I will speak about you to the king.”
8) And Beersabee went to the king, Solomon, to speak to him about Orneia. And the king, Solomon, arose to escort her. And he kissed her and sat upon his throne. And he set a throne for the mother of the king, and she sat on his right.
9) And she said to him, “One small request I would ask from you. You should not turn my face away.” And he said to her, the king [did], “Ask, my mother, for I will not turn you away.”
10) And she said, “Please give Abeisak the Somaneite [to] Orneia, your brother, for a wife.”
11) And Solomon, the king, answered and said to his mother, “And to what end are you requesting Abeisak for Orneia for a wife? And request for him the kingdom, for he is the brother of me, the greater one than me! And for him [was] Abiathar the priest, and to him was Joab, son of Sarouia, the general a friend.”
12) And the king, Solomon, swore by the Lord, saying, “Thus may he—the God—do to me, and thus may he add! Yes, in [surrendering] his life did Orneia speak this word!
13) “And now, as the Lord lives, who prepared me and put me on the throne of David, my father, and who made me a house, just as he—the Lord—said to me: yes, today Orneia will surely die!”
14) And Solomon, the king, sent out by the hand of Banaia son of Ioad, and he killed Orneia. And Orneia died on that day.

Batseba dient het verzoek van Adonia in bij Salomo. 16th-17th Cent. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Public Domain.

Comments on the Text

Noting the greater similarity between the Greek versions in this pericope when contrasted with the preceding ones is of utmost importance. The versions differ less in their number, as well as in the quality of their variants. The amount of kaige influence in LXX is strongly reduced, as should become apparent. This observation is not new, yet it is nonetheless worth reiterating. Ant. also appears to have more recensional elements than in some preceding passages, making it a more problematic witness of the OG in some cases.

For those unfamiliar with the Lucianic textual tradition, it is worth noting that the book of Kings only begins with this passage in that textual tradition, as opposed to the first notice about Abishag in the other versions. That might be significant for appreciating the compositional history of the books of Samuel and Kings.

Verse 1 in Ant. perfectly reflects MT and lacks the plus including Solomon’s age attested in LXX. Otherwise Ant. also perfectly matches LXX in this verse. This observation tends to validate the more consistent readings of the versions from here on out, though an important difference still appears in this case. Since Solomon’s age in LXX presents somewhat of a problem, Ant. likely transmits a revised version in lacking the plus of LXX.

Three differences appear in verse 2: 1) Ant. includes the definite article before “mother of Solomon” that is missing in LXX (but also not literally present in MT, though syntactically implied therein). 2) The change in the subject from Orneias to Beersheba is simpler in Ant., and a more direct translation of MT, using only the simple “and.” LXX, on the other hand, reads, “but this one [feminine],” making the change in subject more obvious. 3) Finally, Ant. has an indirect object for Beersheba’s speech (“to him”) missing in LXX and MT. In the first and last cases, LXX and MT read together, whereas in the middle case, Ant. looks more similar to MT. That could commend Ant. as OG in cases 1 and 3, but unlikely is it such in 2.

The Antiochene text of v. 3 opens matching MT, but not LXX, by reintroducing Orneias’s speech. Here, it may not be OG and even appears more like kaige than LXX does. Ant. presents the longest version of the second sentence, including both the mention of the indirect object (which matches LXX, but not MT) and the subject (which matches neither of the other versions). The priority is unclear in these cases, but the conforming readings against MT make them likely OG at least, if not representative of a distinct Vorlage. The inclusion of the subject in Ant. could evince editing exclusive to that textual tradition.

The only difference between the Greek versions in v. 4 consists of distinct conjugations of the last two occurrences of the verb “to be.” They are each good reflections of the Hebrew, so on this internal evidence alone, it would be impossible to say which form is OG. More study is required over the whole of the versions and how they translate this verb. We’ll stick a pin in that and hopefully be able to return to this problem once I have fully digitized Ant. (So I don’t have to search it manually, you know.)

Verse 5 presents only one “small” difference between Ant. on the one hand and LXX and MT on the other: only Ant. reports that the request is “small.” The usage in Ant. matches that in v. 9, suggesting that Ant. could represent a correction for consistency.

The subject of the first sentence in v. 6 is explicit in Ant., but only implicit in the other versions. The shorter reading may be older, as the text-critical rule of thumb lectio brevior commends. Ant. matches LXX with the inclusion of the indirect object, both against MT, and indicative of their quality as OG, whether as the product of a distinct Vorlage or not. But Ant. matches MT against LXX in recording whose face will turn from whom. Ant. and MT both state that the king will not “turn your face,” whereas LXX notes that he will not “turn his face from you.” That might suggest that LXX is OG there.

There’s only one difference in v. 7: Ant. has the indirect object “to him,” but the other witnesses do not. That’s it. The Greek tends to favor these indirect objects in this passage, so maybe this is OG.

Verse 8 Ant., unlike the others, includes the name “Solomon” a second time. Ant. uses a slightly different word for “meet,” including a change in the object’s case, as well as a shorter form of the verb “kiss.” The terms in Ant. differ from the more standard equivalents attested in LXX, suggesting that they may be the OG readings.

A single difference in v. 9 distinguishes the Greek versions. Ant. reads “my face,” but LXX reads “your face.” In this case Ant. matches MT and appears to better reflect the conclusion of the verse. That makes it an unlikely candidate for the OG. However, the Greek versions also match each other against MT by including “to him” before Beersabee’s speech to the king, perhaps indicating that they stem from a distinct Vorlage, or at least that the OG was distinct from MT in that case, whether the result of a distinct Vorlage or not.

Other than the orthography of the proper nouns, only two variants distinguish the Greek versions in v. 10. The first is the use of δὴ in Ant. instead of δὲ in LXX. LXX likely attests a mistake within the Greek tradition in this case (cf. v. 6) and should be restored to look like Ant. In the other case, LXX includes the definite article before the name Orneia, which matches MT more closely in a style reminiscent of kaige. Perhaps this presents a later corrective in this case. Ant. could be OG with both its readings in this verse.

The verb “to ask,” in its first appearance in v. 11 differs between the Greek witnesses, with Ant. closely reflecting MT in a manner essentially consistent with kaige. Since MT reads the participle, the best Greek translation would be a present tense, as in Ant., not the past, as in LXX. Ant. also contains a longer reading than LXX or MT, including “for a wife” as part of the request. This looks like an adaptation for the sake of consistency. When describing Orneia, Ant. uses the definite article before “brother,” which distinguishes it syntactically from LXX and MT. In this instance, LXX again looks slightly like a kaige translation, particularly when contrasted with Ant. The final difference among the Greek versions in this verse attests the opposite phenomenon: LXX includes an article before the word “son,” which does not appear in MT. Ant. lacks it, making it look more like MT. That again makes Ant. reflect a translation technique more similar to kaige in this verse (as in the first instance) than LXX does.

Verse 12 differs only in the Greek versions regarding the orthography of the proper name Orneia / Adonias.

Three matters differ in the Greek versions of v. 13: 1) Ant. is consistent in its usage of the relative particle “who” and matches MT in this regard, whereas LXX does not; 2) the king notes in Ant. (and only in Ant.) that the Lord spoke to him; and 3) the repetition and emphasis on the certainty of Orneia’s death that day in Ant. implies a figura etymologica in the Vorlage inapparent in the other witnesses. How to evaluate these differences? The first case probably indicates that the inconsistent usage of pronouns and particles in LXX resulted from an error in the Greek transmission. The difference is inconsequential (αυτος vs. ος) and most easily explained that way. That would imply that Ant. attests the OG in that case. The second case also favors Ant. as the OG, since the statement that the Lord spoke to Solomon in this regard is inconsistent with any other biblical text. That makes an adaptation toward a text like Ant. unlikely. The third case seems to commend Ant. as the OG as well, since no reason exists for the text to have otherwise been changed from a text like LXX to a text like Ant., while the opposite cannot be said. LXX better reflects MT, making a change away from something like Ant. at least more plausible and consistent with translational techniques in the vein of kaige.

The only difference among the Greek versions in v. 14 is the inclusion of the definite article and the name “Orneia” as the object whom the king struck. LXX just reads “him” as the object, a closer reflection of MT. With the longer reading in Ant. the duplication at this verse’s conclusion stands out much more pronounced in the Greek, suggesting—in addition to its distance from MT—that Ant. could be OG in this case. It is worth reiterating that the conclusion of this verse in MT probably presents the youngest version, meaning that it should be rejected here as diachronically determinative, which opens up new avenues for literary-critical evaluations of this passage. An older version apparently recounted the death of Adonijah/Orneia twice.

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