Translation of 2 Sam 25:28-37 (1 Kgs 1:28-37 Ant.)

28) And David answered and said, “Summon to me Beersabee.” And she entered and stood before the king.
29) And the king swore and said, “As the Lord lives, who rescued my spirit from every tribulation
30) “yes, just as I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel, saying that ‘Solomon your son will reign after me and he will sit on my throne after me,’ yes, thus I will do on this day.”
31) And Beersabee bowed upon her face upon the ground and prostrated to the king and said, “May the king, my lord David, live forever!”
32) And the king said, “Summon to me Saddouk the priest and Nathan the prophet and Banaias son of Ioad!” And they entered before the king.
33) And he spoke to them—the king [did]—“Take with you your lord’s children [=servants] and set Solomon, my son, upon my mule and lead him to Gion.
34) “And anoint him there, Saddouk the priest and Nathan the prophet, as king over Israel and Judah. And blow in the horn and you will say, ‘Long live the king, Solomon!’
35) “And you will ascend after him and he will enter and sit upon my throne and he will reign after me. And him I have commanded to be hegemon over Judah and over Israel.”
36) And Banaias son of Ioad answered the king and said, “So be it! Thus shall God establish the words of my lord the king! Thus the Lord your God has spoken, o my lord, o king!
37) “And as the Lord was with my lord the king, so will he be also with Solomon. And he will make his throne greater than the throne of my lord, the king, David!”

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout. David Promises Bathsheba that Solomon will be his Successor. 1646. Public Domain. From Wikimedia Commons.
Gerbrand van den Eeckhout. David Promises Bathsheba that Solomon will be his Successor. 1646. Public Domain. From Wikimedia Commons.

Comments on the text:

Verse 28 in Ant. is shorter than LXX and MT. Ant. matches MT but for the phrase “before the king” between “she entered” and “she stood.” LXX also contains that phrase, but concludes the verse “before him” instead of “before the king.” The brevity of Ant. commends it as the older reading, with the other two versions representing minor corruptions in two distinct fashions. Verse 29 contains no differences between LXX and Ant.

The Greek versions of v. 30 present different preposition combined with “swearing.” (The difference in the prepositions also mandated different cases for the following nouns and articles.) LXX more accurately reflects MT, using the preposition “in” as an isomorphic translational equivalent consistent with kaige techniques (and the requisite cases for the following terms). The final phrase includes the preposition “in/on” in Ant., which is not attested in LXX or MT. The consistent readings between MT and LXX in this case again make the LXX reading a likely revision toward MT.

Similarly, in v. 31 Ant. and LXX present the phrases “the king” and “my lord” in different orders, with LXX matching MT. This again suggests that LXX likely attests a revision toward MT. In the next verse—v. 32—as well, both MT and LXX attest the name “David” after “the king.” This name is absent in Ant., suggesting that it was missing in the OG, but added into LXX to more consistently correspond with MT.

Most variants in v. 33 also suggest that LXX was revised to be more consistent with MT. In the first phrse, Ant. places the indirect object before the subject, whereas both MT and LXX attest the opposite order. Ant. includes the prepositional phrase “with you” immediately after the verb, whereas MT and LXX have it at the end of the phrase. The word for “servants” differs between LXX and Ant., with LXX using the kaige term, a more accurate reflection of the Hebrew. The verb for “lead” differs in the Greek versions, but LXX seems to be a more isomorphic translation of MT than Ant. would be, making it more consistent with kaige and, thus, secondary. All of these readings in this verse suggest that LXX is not OG in these cases and was likely edited to better reflect MT.

However, there is one case in v. 33 in which the opposite is true. Ant. matches MT in the order “Solomon, my son.” That suggests that LXX may be the older reading here, with Ant. representing a revision toward the Hebrew Vorlage in this case.

Nonetheless, verse 34 again presents some readings in which Ant. may be the OG with LXX presenting a revision. Thus, Ant. includes “and Judah” in the territory Solomon should reign, an element missing in LXX and MT. This perhaps presents an ideological distinction, by which Israel and Judah are subsumed in LXX and MT into the unity “Israel.” Each Greek version uses a different word for “horn,” with the instrument mentioned in Ant. (and from the same root as the preceding verb, as opposed to MT and LXX) and LXX instead using kaige terminology, “horn” like an animal or altar. These differences in this verse again indicate kaige revision and commend Ant. as preserving the older readings.

The opening of v. 35 is substantially longer in Ant. than in LXX and matches MT in this case. That could again imply later editing in Ant. in this case. The verb for sitting is in a different unclear form in Ant. than in LXX. Ant. is unclear in this case and perhaps an error. Whereas MT and LXX emphasize the king as the one commanding, Ant. emphasizes his son as the commanded. The form of the verb for commanding differs between LXX and Ant., again for unclear (perhaps dialect?) reasons. Ant. has Judah and Israel in the reversed order of MT and LXX, but LXX also lacks the preposition in the second case. Some of these differences suggest that Ant. could provide older readings in this verse, but the data is relatively mixed and sometimes unclear in this verse.

Verse 36 presents another complicated case. Ant. has two longer phrases, one of which is missing in MT. LXX partially attests both. For these reasons, it seems possible, if not likely, that Ant. attests an older Hebrew reading that has since gone missing due to a combination of homoioarkton and homoioteleuton. LXX still supports Ant. to some degree, making this the best option. Ant. reads:

οὕτως πιστώσαι ὁ Θεὸς τοὺς λόγους τοῦ κυρίου µου τοῦ βασιλέως.
οὕτως εἶπε Κύριος ὁ Θεός σου, κύριέ µου βασιλεῦ.

The similarities between these phrases cannot be overlooked. The second phrase reflects MT, with the exception of the “your” after God, i.e., a single Hebrew letter. LXX attests a combination of the first two words followed by an isomorphic translation of MT. I think it likely that Ant. attests an older Hebrew Vorlage that read as follows:

כן יאמן אלהים את־דברי אדני המלך
כן יאמר יהוה אלהיך אדני המלך

The similarities make the likelihood of an oversight quite high, making Ant. the preferable older reading that stood behind both of the other versions, in my opinion.

In v. 37 Ant. begins with a conjunction that is missing in LXX and MT and neither really syntactically necessarily nor nice. That might suggest that it is older here, but its inclusion is hardly relevant and could just as easily be explained as an error toward parataxis in Ant. Banaias’s proclamations about the future is not expressed as an optative in Ant., like it is in LXX; in the first case, Ant. reflects the Qere, but LXX reflects the Kethib. That could suggest that each version reflects a distinct Vorlage that made its way into MT, one as the written text and one as the text to be read. (There are similar examples of this elsewhere in Kings.) In both cases of optative usage, LXX more closely matches the text of MT. His wish also contains an “also” in Ant. lacking in LXX and MT. The reading in Ant. could represent an older version in which a גם was overlooked due to the following עם (homoioteleuton).

This passage, then, evinces a very difficult text history when the witnesses are contrasted. The argument can be made for various constellations of how the readings are related, with no single tradition meriting the status of an oldest version. Rather, changes and difference crept in (or were intentionally brought in) to every witnessing tradition.

Translation of 2 Sam 25:22-27 (1 Kgs 1:22-27 Ant.)

22) And dude! She was still speaking with the king, and Nathan the prophet came.
23) And they reported to the king, saying, “Dude! Nathan the prophet!” And Nathan came before the kin, and he bowed to King David on his face upon the ground.
24) And he said, “You, lord king, have you spoken, saying, ‘Ornia will reign after me and he will sit upon my throne?’
25) “For he went down today and sacrificed calves and sheep in multitude, and he called all of the sons of the king and the chief officer Ioab and Abiathar the priest. And dude! They are eating and drinking before him and they said, ‘Long live king Ornia!’
26) “And me, your servant, and Saddouk the priest and Banaias son of Ioad and Solomon your son they did not call.
27) “And if because of my lord the king this thing has come to be, and to what end [lit. because of what] have you not made known to your servant who should sit upon the throne of my lord the king after him?”

Iconostasis of Transfiguration church, Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia. 18th cent. Public Domain. WikimediaCommons.

Comments on the Text

The only difference between Ant. on the one hand and MT and LXX on the other in v. 22 is the Transposition of “still.” Likely LXX presents a revision toward a Hebrew Vorlage like MT.

Verse 23 contains a number of distinctions. The first verb form in Ant. has a different preposition appended—which does not really change the meaning in this case—and is an active plural in Ant., but a passive in LXX. In this case, Ant. more accurately reflects MT, suggesting that LXX cannot be a revision to a text like MT and may in fact attest the Old Greek in this case. The LXX is missing the verb “saying,” but Ant. attests it and matches MT again in this case, suggesting that LXX could be the older reading. Ant. includes “Nathan” as the subject who is entering, which is not in MT or LXX. This can be regarded as a transposition from the next verse. The phrase translated “before” is different in the Greek versions; LXX reflects each element of the Hebrew suggesting that it represents a revision. Ant. includes the name “David” in referring to whom Nathan bowed. The Greek versions do not read “upon his nose” as in the MT, but each reflects the Hebrew לפני in the same manner as previously in the verse. Whether those distinctions permit the reconstruction of a variant Vorlage in that case is difficult to tell.

In verse 24 Ant. lacks the subject “Nathan,” which does appear in LXX and MT. It seems reasonable to regard its absence here as the result of a transposition to the previous verse. Ant. transposes the second-person subject “you” in Nathan’s speech to precede the vocative. The vocative in Ant. lacks “my” as found in MT and LXX. Since LXX both matches MT and is the easier reading in this case, one can regard its reading as the result of a later recension. The verb for speaking is a perfect in Ant. as opposed to an aorist in LXX, and Ant. attests an introduction to the speech missing in LXX and MT. Ant. has a different preposition than LXX for “after.” As many of the distinctions in Ant. differ (more) from MT, it is quite possible that it better reflects the Old Greek in several instances in this verse.

The verb for “sacrifice” in v. 25 is a perfect in Ant. and an aorist in LXX. LXX lists three kinds of animals, consistent with MT, suggesting that it might present a revision in this reading. There is no obvious reason for Ant. to be missing the third animal category. Ioab’s title in Ant. varies from LXX, but is consistent with the other translations of this term in Ant. LXX more accurately reflects the Hebrew in these cases, again suggesting that it stems from a revision. After the “dude,” both Ant. and LXX—though they differ—present an item missing from MT, likely a המה (“they”) that has since been lost in Hebrew and should probably be restored. The verbs for eating and drinking are finite in Ant. and participles in LXX, which matches MT, again suggesting that LXX is a revision.

Ant. lacks an emphatic at the opening of v. 26 and, in this case, matches MT. That suggests that LXX may be Old Greek in that case. Solomon is called “your servant” in LXX and MT, but “your son” in Ant. The final verb in the verse is a perfect in Ant. and an aorist in LXX.

The last verse this week opens with a conjunction missing in MT and LXX. The opening of the second phrase in Ant. includes the element “to what end” that is missing in both MT and LXX. Deciding these cases is particularly difficult, but nothing speaks against Ant. representing the OG here.

2 Sam 25:15-21 (1 Kgs 1:15-21 Ant.)

15) And Beersabee went to the king into the bedroom. And the king [was] very old. And Abisaak the Somanite [was] serving the king.
16) And Beersabee bowed down and did obeisance to the king. And to her the king said, “What is for you?”
17) And Beersabee said, “O lord, o king, you swore by the Lord God saying that ‘Solomon, your son, he will reign after me and he will sit upon my throne.’
18) “And now, dude! Ornias has begun to reign. And you, o lord, o king, do not know.
19) “And he sacrificed calves and sheep in multitude. And he called all the king’s sons and Abiathar the priest and Ioab the chief general. And did this thing come about through my lord the king?”
20) “For the eyes of the whole people [are looking] to you to tell them who will sit upon the throne of my lord, the king, after him.
21) “And it will be, at my lord the king’s sleeping with his fathers, and I and my son Solomon will be sinners.”

Notes on the Text

There aren’t too many differences in the text this week and really only one of them is substantial. Let’s begin with v. 15. Rather than read the term “chamber” like LXX, Ant. has “bedroom.” Two matters are worth noting in this regard. First, the more general “chamber” matches the Hebrew more closely. Second, the term used here for bedroom has the same root as sexual intercourse, which makes the mention of Abisaak quite awkward. Both of these reasons favor regarding Ant. as the older reading here. The finite verb “was” does not appear in the final phrase of this verse in Ant. Since there is no term for this in the Hebrew, it’s appearance in the kaige version of LXX is unusual, meaning that LXX might be the original reading in that case.

Verse 16 attests only one variant in Ant.: it includes the indirect object “her.” While this does not appear in the Hebrew or LXX, it is widely attested in other ancient translations, making it at least viable as the original reading. LXX would have been corrected to match the Hebrew, consistent with kaige technique.

The Antiochene text of v. 17 includes “Beersabee” as the named subject. This can be regarded as an explanatory gloss, since the verb alone would be ambiguous in Greek in terms of Gender, which is not the case in Hebrew. (LXX has its own solution to that ambiguity, in which it includes a feminine article and an postpositive conjunction to distinguish who is speaking.) The vocative phrase in Ant. is different than other witnesses: the Hebrew only reads “my lord,” whereas LXX reads “my lord, o king.” I tend to favor LXX as the older reading in this case, since it reads somewhat more awkwardly and does not match the Hebrew. Ant. uses a different preposition for “by,” that appears to contravene the standard equivalent found in LXX. That could mean that LXX represents a change from an older Greek version still attested in Ant. In LXX and MT, the king swore by the Lord “your God” to “your servant.” In this case, there’s probably some corruption: either the Ant. text (or its Vorlage) accidentally skipped a word or MT and LXX accidentally added one; cf. לאמתך and לאמר. Since this error, irrespective of direction, ir more likely in Hebrew, I tend to favor dittography in MT and then in LXX as opposed to Haplography in Ant. Ant. emphasizes the subject of reign with an extra “he.” I imagine that this represents a stylistic change so that both phrases about Solomon’s future match formally.

Verse 18 has a distinct verb forms for “reign” in the Greek versions. Since LXX is more consistent in its translation, that makes it a likely later reading. Again, the “my lord” in LXX and MT is only “lord” in Ant. The consistency of MT and LXX could indicate that LXX presents a revision toward MT. The “and you” in Ant. matches the LXX , but represents ועתה in MT. MT is likely an error from ואתה.

There are only two kinds of animals listed in v. 19 Ant., whereas the other versions have three. Ioab’s title is different from the LXX, which more literally matches the MT. The whole final phrase is distinct from LXX and MT (cf. v. 27). In Ant. this phrase strongly resembles v. 27 but it cannot be copying from there, since there are some distinctions between the semantics. That could imply that Ant. attests an older Vorlage since lost in the Hebrew.

The first phrase of v. 20 in Ant. is substantially different from and shorter than the other versions. That could suggest that it is older. Of particular significance in this case is that Ant. perfectly matches Hebrew syntax, suggesting that it cannot be a revision within the Greek text.

Similarly in v. 21 the reference to sleeping with the fathers begins differently in Ant. LXX unsurprisingly matches MT, but Ant. represents a distinct Hebrew reading, with the preposition ב instead of כ. Ant. could represent an older, or at least distinct, Hebrew reading since lost. The final verb in LXX more accurately matches MT than does Ant. Each Greek version features a distinct term for “sinners.” The reading in Ant. does not appear anywhere in LXX, suggesting that it might be an older reading.

Translation of 2 Sam 25:11-14 (1 Kgs 1:11-14 Ant.)

11) And Nathan went to Beersabee, the mother of Solomon, and he said, “Have you not heard that Ornias, son of Angeith, has become king, and our lord David does not know?
12) “And now, indeed I will advise you advice so that you will save your life and the life of your son Solomon.
13) “And come! Go to the king, David, and you will say to him, ‘Did you not, o lord king, swear to your servant by the Lord God saying that, “Solomon your son, he will reign after me and he will sit upon my throne? And why then has Ornia become king?”‘
14) “While you are still speaking there with the king, I will enter after you and I will fill your words.”

Nathan and Bathsheba. North Portal, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Chartres, France. (c) 2009 Nick Thompson. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Verse 11 attests some significant differences. First, it opens with a notice that Nathan went to Bathsheba, which is missing in the other versions, before he spoke to her. This distinction appears rather dramatic, but it really only requires two minor variant readings. The most significant variant is the first verb, which the Lucianic text records as “went” as opposed to “said” in LXX and MT. The second difference is less dramatic, in that it merely represents a different form of the verb “to say.” If the Lucianic text is older in these cases, the distinction probably developed from a change in the form of the second verb leading to a change in the first in MT and LXX. That is possible, but by no means certain. The other difference in the Lucianic text distinguishes it from the LXX, but both accurately reflect MT. Rather than read an aorist, noting that Ornias “reigns,” the Lucianic text reads a perfect, “has become king.” While this may be important for the reconstruction of the Old Greek, it does not impact any presumed Hebrew Vorlage of the Greek text. The phrasing in LXX in every variant in this verse is consistent with kaige translation technique, suggesting that the Lucianic text may well attest the Old Greek in this case. That means that the opening of the verse could in fact represent the Lucianic text’s transmission of an older Greek version stemming from a variant Hebrew text to that known today.

The next verse, v. 12, also presents a few differences from the LXX and Hebrew text. Since the LXX is identical to the MT, these differences can be handled together. First, the Lucianic text does not have the imperative “come” after “now,” making it the shorter and preferable reading. Rather it has the element “indeed” there, which in the LXX has been transposed to match its position in MT. The phrasing in the Lucianic text combines the sentences more explicitly, using a conjunction that means “so that” rather than the more paltry “and” of the Hebrew and LXX. The verb in the verse’s final phrase in Greek is distinct between the LXX (“deliver”) and the Lucianic text (“save”). In this case again, the LXX more explicitly reflects the MT, suggesting that it is an editorial revision away from something like the Lucianic text. Nonetheless, really only the absence of the first imperative in the Lucianic text might indicate a different Hebrew Vorlage. N.b. that verse 13 opens with precisely this term in all three versions (albeit with a conjuction in the Lucianic text).

A number of differences appear in v. 13 as well, this time with some theological relevance. The Lucianic text opens the verse with conjunction that is missing in the other witnesses. Perhaps this represents a transposition from before the second imperative as attested in the Hebrew text and missing in LXX. Further, Nathan introduces Beersabee’s indirect speech in a manner more consistent with Hebrew usage in MT and LXX, adding the element “saying.” Likely it represents an addition in those cases. More importantly, the Lucianic text includes the addition of “by the Lord God” after the recounring of Beersabee’s swearing. This makes her statement naturally more impressive, which could indicate that it is an addition in the Lucianic text. However, it is more likely that the other witnesses removed it, since this event is never recounted elsewhere in the Bible. That makes Nahtan and Beersabee perhaps liars, even blasphemers in the Lucianic version. The Lucianic text emphasizes Solomon with an additional “he” before the indication that he will reign. This verb form, for reigning, matches that in v. 1 in each Greek case. For the most part again, I would go so far as to presume that the differences between the LXX and the Lucianic recension favor the Lucianic text as closer or identical to the Old Greek. This would have one important distinction (and probably some minor ones) regarding the presumed Hebrew Vorlage: the inclusion of a reference to “the Lord God” as a witness to the swearing lends substantially more theological weight to the whole passage of 1 Kgs 1.

The Greek variants in v. 14 again suggest that LXX has been corrected ot match a text like MT. The opening of the verse in the Lucianic version lacks the exclamation “dude!” that is present in the MT and even includes the conjunction preceding it in LXX. In the phrase, “while you are speaking” presents a transposition of “you” between the Greek witnesses. While this does not change the meaning, the phrasing in LXX matches identically the word order in the Hebrew, suggesting that LXX presents a revision. Finally, the phrase “after you” in the Greek versions, each of which independently matches the Hebrew in this phrase, contains a distinct preposition with the preposition’s object in the necessary case in each version. Again, LXX here appears to be consistent with kaige translational technique, suggesting that its version is editorial and that the Lucianic version could well be the Old Greek, or at least closer to it.

2 Sam 25:5-10 (1 Kgs 1:5-10 Ant.)

5) And Ornia son of David raised himself, saying, “I will be king!” And he made himself chariotry and horses and 50 men running before him.
6) And not did his father rebuke him ever, saying, “Why have you done thus?” And he was good in appearance, very. And this one (she?) bore after Abessalom.
7) And his words were with Ioab son of Sarouia and with Abiathar the priest. And they supported him.
8) And Saddouk the priest and Bananias son of Ioad and Nathan the prophet and Samaias and his others, the strong ones for David, not were they with Ornia.
9) And Ornia sacrificed steer and sheep at the stone, the one in Sellath, the one having the spring of Rogel. And he called all of his brothers, the sons of the king, and all of the men of Judah, the servants of David, of the king.
10) And Nathan and Bananias and the mighty ones and Solomon he did not call.

Notes on the Text

There are a few noteworthy differences in this passage. Some of them regard the orthography of names, but only on of these really merits comments, as far as I see it. The name Ornia looks quite a bit different than the Hebrew and Greek form generally transliterated in English as Adonijah. The confusion of the Hebrew letters /d/ and /r/, which look quite similar, presents the easiest explanation. This could have been influenced by the preceding story of Orna (the Greek version of the Jebusite’s name) in 2 Sam 24.

A more significant difference is the identification of Ornia, who in the Lucianic text is called the “son of David” and not the “son of Angith / Haggith” as in the other versions. That is, he is identified with his father, and not with his mother. This makes the statement about his birth in v. 6 more awkward, which could mean it presents the older reading. At the same time, it does clarify who his father is, making the reference to his father in the beginning of v. 6 more clear. Needless to say, this is a difficult text-critical issue to decide which reading is older.

The phrasing in v. 6 is distinct in the Lucianic text, though the meaning remains generally the same. For example, the verb “rebuke” is stronger than the LXX’s “stopped / held back.” The reading in the Lucianic text is also more distinct from the Hebrew, meaning that it could be the older version with LXX representing a correction toward the proto-Masoretic Hebrew.

The final phrase of v. 7 differs in the Greek versions, with LXX representing a isomorphic translation of the Hebrew. It literally says, “and they helped after Adonijas,” an non-colloquial translation of the Hebrew consistent with kaige translation technique. That suggests that the Lucianic text probably represents the Old Greek translation in its phrasing with LXX presenting a correction toward MT.

Verse 8 contains an important distinction in the Lucianic text that again probably represents an older reading before the corruption of MT and the LXX that was corrected toward it. In the list of people that were not with Ornia, the Lucianic text follows the name Samaias with “the others” in apposition to the phrase about David’s mighty men. This reference stands in contrast to the unclear mention of “Rei” in the MT and the LXX, which is then followed by “and David’s mighty men.” (I.e., the use of the conjunction includes the mighty men as an additional unit and not as a clarification of Rei or “the others.”) While this difference is marked in English, the distinction in any presumed Hebrew Vorlage would only require the division of the Hebrew words one letter earlier to arrive at the Lucianic reading. Since it is debatable whether Lucian (or whoever was responsible for this so-called revision) knew Hebrew, this difference probably cannot come from him (or whomever) and thus should be regarded as Old Greek and traced back to a (barely) distinct Hebrew Vorlage that had the division of the words one letter later.

In verse 9, Ornia sacrifices less than in the other versions. It also attests two other distinctions with the LXX version where it does match MT, however. The Lucianic text includes the phrase “the sons of the king” as a qualifier for “his brothers.” LXX is missing this qualifier, but MT has it. That is, this could be a case of correction toward MT in the Lucianic text, since there is no particular reason that the qualifying phrase should otherwise be absent from the LXX (whether intentionally or as the result of an error). The Lucianic text reads “men of Judah” just like MT, whereas the LXX has “nobles of Judah.” The error is probably in the Greek tradition and probably in LXX in particular. Somewhere in the transmission, some mistook ανδρας (Lucianic Text = MT) for αδρους (LXX). This explanation is easier than assuming that either Lucian corrected to MT or that MT and Lucian coincidentally read consistently. The final phrase of this verse includes the name “David” after “the king,” again distinguishing it from both MT and LXX.

Finally, v. 10 in the Lucianic text is missing Nathan’s office and the identification of Solomon as Ornia’s brother. The shorter text of the Lucianic version can easily be understood as the older version, with both MT and LXX adding the other information to better fit the context. After all, there is no particular reason that Lucian (or anyone else) should have removed these elements.

2 Sam 25:1-4 (1 Kgs 1:1-4 Ant.)

Introductory Note

With this post, I am returning to the beginning of the book of Kings, albeit in a major Greek textual tradition that is probably unknown to most readers of the text: the so-called Lucianic Recension (L), which is also known as the Antiochene Text (Ant.). To my knowledge, this is the first publicly available or published English translation of this version. As with the text of Kings thus far, I will present my translation of the Greek text and then offer some comments on the distinctions of the passage, trying to keep both the so-called Septuagint text and the Hebrew text in mind. It is worth noting that the Lucianic version of Samuel and Kings does not divide the books in the same way as the Hebrew text. Rather, the first chapter and a half of 1 Kings as known in Hebrew present the last two chapters of the book of Samuel. That complicates citing the text, put hardly presents and insurmountable obstacle.

The Translation

1) And the King, David, was a very old man, advancing in days. And they clothed him with garments, and he could not be warmed.
2) And his servants said to him, “Someone should take for the lord, for the king, a virginal maiden. And she will present herself before the king and lie in his lap. And the king will be warmed.
3) And they sought a good girl in all Israel, and the found Abisak the Somanite, and they brought her to the king.
4) And the girl was good to look at, very. And she was for the king a bedfellow and she served him. And the king did not know her.

Pedro Amério. 1879. King David and Abisag. Public Domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Notes on the Text

The first verse in the three versions is essentially identical. In the second verse, the Lucianic text includes the indirect object “to him” in reference to the servants’ speaking. This plus matches the Hebrew text, but not the Septuagint text. Again, the Lucianic text differs from the text of the Septuagint (other than Vaticanus) in that it does not read “our lord” in verse 2. This however matches both Vaticanus and the Hebrew text, as well as the Vulgate. Finally, in verse 2, the Lucianic text better matches the Hebrew than the rest of the Greek tradition in that the girl should “lie in his lap” and not “lie with him” as in the rest of the Greek tradition. However, the Lucianic text is shorter in this verse as well, as has no translation for anything like the Hebrew phrase ותהי־לו סכנת, which also has an unusual translation in the Septuagint. Likely, this longer phrase represents a later attempt to de-sexualize David’s relationship with Abishag. See also the comments below to verse 4.

Verse three has one difference from the Septuagint and the Hebrew text. The Lucianic text refers to “all Israel” rather than the longer “in all the boundaries of Israel” as in the Hebrew text and the Septuagint.

The final difference in these verses goes back to a familiar problem: What exactly is Abishag doing to/for the king? In Hebrew she appears to be some kind of official. In the Septuagint, she is his “warmer.” In the Lucianic text, she is his “bedfellow.” It is possible that either a distinct Hebrew version or an error stands behind the distinction in the Hebrew and the Lucianic text. The Masoretic text reads סכנת here, a rare term that appears to represent some kind of officer. The Lucianic text presumes something more like a Hebrew Vorlage that read משׂכבת (cf. Mic 7:5). The similarity between the Hebrew terms is striking, and the Lucianic reading is more difficult in its context. That suggests that it might easily represent an older Hebrew version that has since been lost. Perhaps this distinction should have literary-critical implications as well, with some version of the text in which David was sexually active with Abishag which was later revised so that he wasn’t or added to some other text in which he wasn’t.

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.

Translation of 3 Reigns 2:35a-l (Miscellanies from 1 Kings)

Introductory Note

This piece distinguishes itself from the preceding in that this text has no known Hebrew Vorlage in this form. That is, while it appears to be a translation from a Hebrew text, it is not a Hebrew text still known to us as a whole. Rather, pieces of the plus in the Septuagint appear in a few places in the Hebrew version of Kings. Sometimes these verses appear as duplicates in the Greek text as well. For this reason, these verses in particular commend themselves to an analysis at the juncture of textual criticism and literary criticism. At the conclusion of this post I will offer some cursory thoughts on that.

Translation of the Miscellanies after 3 Reigns 2:35 (= 1 Kgs 2:35)

a) And the Lord gave insight to Solomon and very great wisdom and breadth of heart like the sand that is at the sea.
b) And the insight of Solomon was multiplied greatly beyond the insight of all of the ancient sons and beyond all the wise men of Egypt.
c) And he took the daughter of Pharaoh and brought her into the city of David until he completed it, his house and the house of the Lord (at) the first and the wall surrounding Jerusalem. In seven years he did (this) and completed (it/them).
d) And there was for Solomon 70,000 load-bearers and 80,000 stone-cutters in the mountains.
e) And Solomon made the sea and the supports and the large washbasins and the pillars and the fountain of the court and the bronze sea.
f) And he built the citadel and its fortifications and he cut through the city of David. Thus the daughter of Pharaoh had come up from the city of David in to her house, which he had built for her. Then he built the citadel.
g) And Solomon offered up three times in the year whole burnt offerings and peace (offerings) upon the altar that he had built for the Lord. And he burned incense before (the) Lord. And he finished the house.
h) And these are the appointed officers over the works of Solomon: 3,600 overseers of the people of the doers of the works.
i) And he built the Assour (= Hazor?) and the Magdo (= Megiddo) and the Gazer (= Gezer) and the upper Baithoron (= Beth-Horon) and the Baalath.
k) Only after he built it, the house of the Lord and the wall surrounding Jerusalem, after these he built these cities.
l) And still during David’s life, he commanded Solomon, saying, “Dude! With you is Semei son of Gera son of the seed of Iemini from Hebron.
m) “This one cursed me (with) a distressing curse in the day I went into the Barracks.
n) “And he had come down to meet me at the Jordan. And I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘If he will be put to death with the sword…’
o) “And now, you will not let it go unpunished, for a man of insight (are) you. And you will know what you will do to him and you will take his gray head in blood down to Hades.”

Remnants of Solomon’s building activities in Jerusalem? Ophel Museum. (c) 2019 Jonathan Miles Robker

Notes on the Text

Several matters immediately jump out. The most obvious, at least if you’re reading Kings from the beginning up to this point, is that the conclusion of the passage is essentially a return to David’s words. That is l-o parallels 2:8-9, albeit with a distinct introduction mandated by the contexts. Since David has been dead for some time, it only makes sense the some one introduce this passage in this way. The question is which version of this text is older….

People more familiar with Kings might also notice that a-b are repeated in 5:9-10 in the Greek version of Kings, which is where they appear in the Hebrew version. This observation is even more conspicuous from a literary-critical perspective, since there is a plus in 5:14a in Greek that mostly matches 2:35c (the version in 5:14a is missing the last phrase including the dating with seven years).

That is, this passage in Greek version of Kings consists of elements that appear elsewhere in Greek, Hebrew, or both. And they often appear in slightly different versions (i.e., they are inconsistent even within the same textual tradition). They also span a number of passages about Solomon’s reign, appearing also in chapters 5, 7, and 9. With that, one could think that someone either collected diverse notices from Solomon’s reign and placed them here, albeit in a form that doesn’t make much sense or have a particular cogency, or that someone found these verses here and spread them over more logical contexts in Kings.

Personally, I think that there are literary-critical issues that stand behind what is going on here, and I think that the Greek text is older than the Hebrew version. If you are interested in seeing how I think that developed, let me know. I’ve already started a longer piece on it.

Translation of 3 Reigns 2:28-35 (1 Kgs 2:28-35 LXX)

28. And the report came to Ioab sond of Sarouias, for Ioab was inclined after Adonias and after Solomon he did not incline. And Ioab fled to the tent of the Lord and he grasped the horns of the altar.
29. And it was reported to Solomon, saying that “Ioab fled to the tent of the Lord. And dude! He grapsed the horns of the altar.” And Solomon sent to Ioab, saying, “What is for you, that you fled to the altar?” And Ioab said, “Because I was afraid before you, and I fled to the Lord.” And Solomon, the king, sent Banaias son of Iodae, saying, “Go and kill him and bury him.”
30. And Banaias son of Iodae went to Ioab to the tent of the Lord and said to him, “Thus said the king: ‘Come out!'” And Ioab said, “Not will I come out, for here I will die.” And Banaias son of Iodae returned and he spoke to the king, saying, “Thus has Ioab spoken and thus he answered me.”
31. And the king spoke to him, “Go and do to him just as he has said and kill him and bury him. And you will remove today blood, which Ioab poured out for no reason, from me and from the house of my father.
32. “And the Lord returned the blood of his injustice to his head, how he encountered two people, more righteous and better than him, and killed them with the sword. And my father David did not know their blood, Abenner son of Ner (the chief officer of Israel) and Amessa son of Iether (the chief officer of Judah).
33. “And the blood returned to the head of his seed for eternity. And for David and for his seed and for his house and for his throne may there be peace for eternity from the Lord.”
34. And Banaias son of Iodae fell upon Ioab and killed him and buried him in his house in the desert.
35. And the king set Banaias son of Iodae in place of him over the military. And the kingdom was established in Jerusalem. And Sadok the priest, the king set as first priest in place of Abiathar.

1 Kgs 2:30 according to The Brick Testament.

Notes on the Text

A lengthier passage with time with a number of differences between the Hebrew and Greek versions, some of them potentially relevant for understanding the diachrony of Kings.

Verse 28 includes the addition of patronymic for Ioab in Greek. Since this is the first time that he has been mentioned since the translation technique changed in 2:12, one wonders if this might evince and older division of the books at that point (as in the Lucianic recension and Chronicles). Ioab did not support Solomon in Greek, whereas in Hebrew the reference is to Absalom, the last son of David before Adonijah who supposedly rose up against his father. To me, this looks like the Hebrew is attempting to conform the text better to its immediate context: the dispute between Solomon and Adonijah. The difference between the names Absalom and Solomon in Hebrew is not as marked in the Hebrew, making it at least possible that the Greek reading resulted from an error.

Solomon’s title missing in the first instance of his name in the Greek of v. 29. This variant might have implications for appreciating the diachrony of these chapters, in that the change between Solomon and King Solomon could have relevance. It is reiterated in the Greek of this verse as well that Ioab grabbed the horns of the altar. This plus in the Greek could represent a gloss for narrative consistency. Then there is a lengthy plus in the Greek that includes a first discussion between Solomon and Ioab before Solomon sends Banaias to kills Ioab. This likely went lost in the Hebrew text due to parablepsis, when a scribe oversaw the material between the two phrases beginning “Solomon sent.” Finally, King Solomon’s command in Greek includes the order to bury Ioab. This plus perhaps represents an attempt to make the story more consistent, with the conclusion in v. 34 now better matching King Solomon’s command.

The Greek in v. 30 adds Banaias’s patronymic each time he is mentioned in this verse, thus including his patronymic in every circumstance in which he is mentioned. This is unusual, but I have no ready explanation for it. Verse 30 also includes the name “Ioab” as the subject when he answers Banaias, perhaps a clarifying gloss. In this version, Ioab is also more explicit in that he states that he will not come out instead of just saying “no” as in the Hebrew and the divinely inspired Brick Testament (see above). This longer reading could also be a gloss. The Greek of this verse includes a different expression for how Banaias began his speech to Solomon. Likely the Greek version reflects an older and better Vorlage and the Hebrew text is corrupt, since it does not make much sense. Probably something was overlooked in the Hebrew tradition leading to the curious syntax as it now stands (“Benaijah brought back with the king a word [direct object], saying…”).

The king’s command is more explicit in the Greek of verse 31, including the first imperative “go!” and the preposition with its object “to him” after the imperative “do!”. The first plus likely represents a longer version that disappeared in the Hebrew due to haplography (the repetition of לך after מלך). The second difference is not as easy to explain as the result of an error in either direction. It is also explicitly stated in the Greek of this verse that the fulfilment of these commands should occur “today.” It remains unclear which version here might be the older of the two. It is possible that it was overlooked in the Hebrew at some point and went missing due to the similarity of several letters (היום followed by דמי), but this is quite speculative.

The Greek of v. 32 describes the “blood of his injustice,” an unusual phrase that could represent a distinct Hebrew Vorlage. Again, it remains unclear what errors might have stood behind such a difference in the versions, which could suggest that the Greek represents and interpretive gloss. The Greek here also notes that David knew nothing of the blood of those that Ioab killed. The Greek syntax is curious, with two direct objects in apposition, which might speak to its status as the older reading.

The Hebrew of v. 33 is more explicit about the blood being brought back upon Joab’s head, mentioning him by name. Perhaps that represents explicating gloss, commending the Greek as the older version.

The first phrase of v. 34 varies substantially between the Greek and Hebrew versions. The Greek has one fewer verb than the Hebrew and includes Ioab’s name as to whom Banaias “encounters.” The end of the verse notes in the active voice that Banaias buried “him,” not passively that Ioab “was buried” as in the Hebrew. Likely the single letter ו went missing after the ר in the Hebrew text, suggesting that the Greek is older.

There is a major difference in v. 35 between the Hebrew and the Greek. The Hebrew consists of two roughly parallel phrases about the king’s replacing personnel: first Joab and then Abiathar. In the Greek, there is another sentence between these two phrases: the kingdom was established in Jerusalem. This phrase sounds a lot like 2:12, which could have substantial literary-critical implications. It is unlikely that this sentence was accidentally included in the Greek, and probably just as unlikely that someone unintentionally left it out of the Hebrew. That is, I think that the Greek represents an older version and that someone intentionally deleted this phrase from the Hebrew. Finally, in this verse, the Greek includes the title “first priest” for Sadok. As far as I see it, this is the only occurrence of this term, increasingly the likelihood that it is an explanatory product of the translator and was not present in the Vorlage.

Translation of 3 Reigns 2:26-27 (1 Kgs 2:26-27 LXX)

26. And to Abiathar, the priest, the king said, “get yourself to Anatoth in your countryside! For a man of death are you on this day. And I will not kill you, for you carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord before my father and because you were afflicted with trials, those that afflicted my father.”
27. And Solomon cast out Abiathar from being priest of the Lord, fulfilling the word of the Lord that he had spoken about the house of Eli in Selom.

Notes on the Text

In spite of the brevity of this text, there are a number of differences between the Greek and Hebrew versions. All of them (beyond orthography) are in v. 26.

First, the Greek emphasizes “you” after the imperative in v. 26. I find it difficult to imagine that this represents a distinct Hebrew Vorlage (cf., however the לך לך in Gen 12:1 and 22:2, neither of which has a Greek translation similar to the phrase here).

The phrase “on this day” is transposed behind the conjunction “and” in the Hebrew. Most likely there is an error in the Hebrew text. Otherwise, one would expect a Hebrew story at some point that explained how Solomon killed Abiathar. In the Hebrew version he states, “on this day I will not kill you,” after all, suggesting that he could and/or would do it some other day. This never happens in the versions of Kings.

Instead of the curious phrase “the ark of the Lord Yhwh,” the Greek reads “the ark of the covenant of the Lord (=Yhwh).” In this case the Hebrew likely again represents an errant text. It looks like the form to be read in the Hebrew was included adjacent to the term as written (i.e., the Qere-Kethib elements stand next to each other in the text). The question remains open as to whether the Greek stems from a variant Hebrew reading or was added by the translator.

Finally, the Hebrew includes the name “David” before “my father.” I regard this as adding emphasis to the figure David in the Hebrew version and would consider strongly the possibility that this presents a later addition.

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