II Sam. 12:31

Robert Vining rvining at log.on.ca
Fri Dec 24 10:47:16 EST 1999

On Dec. 16/99, Solomon Landers wrote:

Anything is possible, but I wonder if many modern scholars are not
correct in trying
to pin down the real meaning of "malben."  Does it mean a place where
bricks were
burned, or does it mean the small, rectangular mold used to shape
bricks?  Many
buildings  in ancient Israel used bricks that were sun-dried, not
tempered in a kiln.
And from Egypt on, brick making was often delegated to slaves and
captives.  If the
text contains a genuine clue that brick making was involved, that would
seem to carry
more weight than observations of people writing centuries or millenia
after the fact
of the events described in II Samuel 12:31.  It would also downgrade the
torture" of the captives to menial or slave labor rather than the

It's not a matter of exonerating David, just of getting all the facts to
make a
reasonable judgment.  Out of 10  Bible translations I have checked,
seven tend to
favor the "put them to work"  idea in rendering II Samuel 12:31.

Solomon Landers
Memra Institute for Biblical Research
Re: Pinning down the meaning of "melban".  Also found in Jer. 43:9.  A
brick structure of sufficient size to accommodate large stones.  Nahum
3:14, who knows?  6  translations have it congruent with the preceding
phrases of preparing for the siege by working the clay, treading the
mortar, making strong the brickwork;  3 retain brickkiln.  4 others,
including JPS   favor the  brickmold idea.

Re: Sticking to early sources.  I can do no better than  the already
referred to "Chronicler" who in looking at his text saw "cut with"  or
‘hacked with" the iron instruments.  If he saw the more benign
"brickmaking" he more likely  would have retained it. The omission
suggests he saw "brickkiln"..Also, Josephus, 1 st century, whatever text
he was looking at prompted him to write of David's tormenting and
destroying.  More significant than the work of later redactors is the
evidence of the overall picture painted by the author(s)  of the life of
David found in I Samuel 16 through I Kings 2. If this author would
clearly describe two wide scale atrocities* perpetrated by David, why
not a third?

Re: Exonerating David, and Anything is possible. Yes!  We don't know for
sure what the narrator was up to.  We are dealing with something as
elusive as what was in the mind of the author at the time of writing.
In my reading and re-reading of this drama, it appears that he** wants
to have David disobey as many of God's commandments as can be skillfully
(often subtly, obliquely)  woven into what appears like a
historiography-the David and Bathsheba classic being the best known of
his masterpieces. On balance, the aggrandizement scenarios (the handsome
harpist, giant-slayer who kills lions and bears with his bare hands) are
overshadowed by the more frequent  paint-em-black depictions.  The
corvee interpretation may be more congenial to later exegetes. The
crematorium may be what the author had in mind.

*I Samuel 27:8-12; II Samuel 8:2

**Re: "he"   Although, Harold Bloom believes the Yahwist was a woman, I
am not aware of any who suggest the life of David  narrator(s) was a

Robert Vining, Owen Sound, Ontario     rvining at log.on.ca

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