Translation of 1 Kgs 2:15–25 Ant. (= 3 Reigns / 1 Kgs 2:36–46a)

15) And sending, the king—Solomon—summoned Semeei son of Gera. And he said to him, “Build for yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there. And you will not go out from there anywhere at all.
16) “And it will be on the day of your departure, when you crossover the Kedron stream, you must know that you will certainly die. And your blood will be on your head.” And the king made him swear on that day.
17) And Semeei spoke to the king, “Good is the word you spoke, o Lord King. Thus your servant will do.” And Semeei stayed in Jerusalem three years.
18) And it was after three years. And two servants of Semeei escaped to Akxous son of Maaxa, king of Geth. And they [= someone] reported to Semeei, saying, “Dude! Your servants [are] in Geth.”
19) And Semeei got up and saddled his donkey and went to Geth, to Akxous King of Geth, to seek his servants. And Semeei went out from Jerusalem and brought his servants from Geth.
20) And they [= someone] reported to Solomon, saying, “Semeei went out from Jerusalem to Geth and returned his servants.”
21) And the king sent and summoned Semeei and said to him, “Did I not make you swear by the Lord and did I not bear witnesses for you, saying, ‘On whatever day you depart from Jerusalem and go to the right or the left, you must know that you will certainly die?’ And you said to me, ‘Good [is] the word that you spoke.’
22) “And now, to what end did you not keep the oath of the Lord and the commandment that I commanded you?”
23) And the king spoke to Semeei, “You know all of you wickedness that your heart knows, what you did to David my father. And the Lord has repaid your wickedness on your head.
24) “And the king, Solomon, [is] blessed and the throne of David will be prepared before the Lord for eternity.”
25) And the king, Solomon, commanded Benaias son of Ioad and he went out and struck him. And Semeei died.

Simi vervloekt koning David. Jan Luyken. 1712. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Public Domain.

Comments on the Text

A number of variants distinguish the Greek versions in this passage. In v. 15, Ant. presents the longest version of this verse. It both appears closer to MT than LXX does and goes even beyond the MT, a version that is longer than LXX. The differences mostly impact the verse’s opening. Thus, Ant. has the “sending” found in MT (though in a distinct conjugation), but lacking in LXX. Ant. also includes the name Solomon after “the king” and Semeei’s patronymic, both of which fail to appear in the other witnesses. That suggests that Ant. presents a generally later text in this verse.

Only two minor differences distinguish the Greek versions in v. 16: Ant. reads a demonstrative after “departure,” whereas LXX reads a conjunction, and Ant. transmits a conjunction before “your blood” which has no alternative in LXX. In both of these cases LXX presents a text closer to MT, meaning that it might be editorial.

The only difference in the Greek witnesses in v. 17 is Ant.’s lacking “my” after the vocative “lord,” which makes for an unusual reading. While this could have resulted from an error, the reading’s difficulty could imply that it is the older version. The case remains unclear in my opinion.

Two verbal forms distinguish Ant. from LXX in v. 18: the opening “was” and the “reported” later in the verse. In each of these cases, Ant. presents a better reflection of precisely the MT, making revision toward a similar Vorlage possible, perhaps even likely.

Verse 19 attests a few minor variants. First, Ant. includes the title “King of Geth,” missing in the other witnesses and potentially a clarifying gloss. The verb for “search” includes an appended preposition in LXX lacking in Ant., but a transition is either direction is unclear. Curiously, the same preposition is appended to the verb for “going” later in the verse in Ant., which also has the plus “from Jerusalem” in that phrase. Both of those elements follow logically from the narrative, but neither of them is present in the other witnesses, possibly indicating later revision in the MT and then LXX traditions. On the other hand, the differences in Ant. could represent changes for consistency with the next verse, which reads identically in that tradition. To me it seems more likely that the consistency was first created in the MT tradition and then added into the LXX tradition, meaning that Ant. could well present an older Greek version and imply the existence of an older Hebrew version that included “from Jerusalem” in v. 19.

Beyond the differences in v. 20 that match v. 19 and have already been mentioned, Ant. reads a verb form in the opening verb distinct from that found in LXX and MT. LXX also contains an introduction to the king’s speech missing in Ant. In both of these cases, LXX matches MT against Ant. and could therefore present a reworked text. The final verb of the verse has an appended preposition in LXX missing in Ant. Likely the reading in LXX developed from an error in that version’s transmission.

Verse 21 is identical in Ant. and LXX with the exception of an additional phrase at the verse’s conclusion in Ant. LXX lacks everything from “And you said to me…” which both Ant. and MT transmit. This could be indicative of later editing adding this in the Greek of Ant. to more accurately reflect a text like MT.

However, the opposite appears true in v. 22. Here, Ant. opens with a reading distinct from LXX and MT, which are identical. Ant. appears to reflect a Hebrew text that read something like ועתה למה, which might have later turned into the ומדוע of MT and reflected in LXX. That seems more likely than the alternative.

The differences between Ant. and LXX in v. 23 are slight. Each attests a distinct demonstrative after “your heart knows,” with no obvious criteria for preferring one version. LXX presents a dative definite article before “David,” lacking in Ant., though perhaps a reflection of the preposition attested in MT. That is, this looks similar to kaige editing techniques. In the final case of “your head,” Ant. transmits an accusative definite article missing in LXX. In this case as well, the Greek in Ant. does not reflect any particular element in MT, meaning that it is just as likely that someone in the LXX tradition removed it—consistent with kaige techniques—as that someone in the Ant. tradition added it.

Verse 24 contains only one insignificant difference: a slight variance in the form of the verb “blessed.”

The only difference between Ant. and LXX in v. 25 is Ant.’s explicit inclusion of the subject “Semeei” in the verse’s final phrase. While this could be regarded as a explanatory gloss, it could just as well be a correction toward a text like MT on behalf of editors in the LXX tradition. That would certainly be consistent with kaige techniques. The problem is exacerbated by the circumstances that the Hebrew and Greek traditions strongly differ from this point for the rest of the chapter. That is a circumstance for another post.

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