II Samuel 12:31

Numberup at worldnet.att.net Numberup at worldnet.att.net
Tue Dec 14 14:10:57 EST 1999

The text of II Samuel 12:31 is open to a number of possibilities, yet the parallel
account at I Chronicles 20:3 is potentially more ominous.  Whereas the former could be
translated as "David set them ["wayasem"] to work at," ..."and he made them work at
["wehe'evir"] " since the word translated "brick-kiln" ["malken"] is better rendered
"brick mold" and could refer to brick making rather than being incinerated  (Cohen,
"Soncino Books of the Bible" ), the Chronicles text begins with "he sawed them
["yasar"]."  Or, at least so it was understood by Rashi and other classical Jewish
commentators.  However, "yasar" might also mean "he consigned them [to],"  in the
sense of  putting them to work. (Kohlenberger; New International Version)

Nearly everyone marks the text as problematic.  But if brick making is involved, the
people would have to be alive.  JPS (1985) reads: "He...set them to work with saws,
iron threshing boards, and iron axes, or assigned them to brickmaking."

Solomon Landers
Memra Institute for Biblical Research

Robert Vining wrote:

> Re: II Samuel 12:31.  Does the best rendering of the text support the
> idea that David (1) enslaved the Rabbahites, setting them to work with
> saws, iron threshing boards, and iron axes, and assigned them to
> brickmaking, or, (2) that he tortured them with the above mentioned
> instruments,  prior to incinerating them?
> Robert Vining, Owen Sound, Ontario      rvining at log.on.ca

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