Goliath

Dan Wagner Dan.Wagner at datastream.net
Thu Feb 8 17:22:27 EST 2001


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jan Britten [mailto:janbritten at yahoo.com]
> Sent: Monday, February 05, 2001 03:09
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Goliath
> 
> 
> > You'll find that the words [the brother of] are
> missing from 2 Samuel 21:19.
> > Compare 1 Chronicles 20:5. Elhanan slew *Lahmi*;
> David slew Goliath.
> 
> > Shalom
> > Ben
> 
> This is perhaps POSSIBLE,

I think it's extremely likely.

> but I think you will find
> that almost all modern commentators agree that the
> Chronicles version is an attempt to harmonise the
> obvious discrepancy. 

I don't find the issue that difficult. First, 1 Sam. 17:22-51 makes the
issue quite certain beyond any textual questions (i realize that this is not
an impressive point for those who have the tool of redaction ready to wield
against any text that seems inconvenient). Second, Samuel is the most poorly
preserved Heb. MS. we have now, but at the time of the Chronicler (late 5th
cent), it may have been in good condition. In any case, the discrepancy is
fairly easy to piece together if Chronicles represents Samuel's original,
but not so easy otherwise. Each can evaluate for himself. Here is the data:

2 Samuel 21:19 ...and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite
killed Goliath the Gittite... like a beam of weavers.
1 Chronicles 20:5 ...and Elhanan the son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of
Goliath the Gittite... like a beam of weavers.

Consonants only:
2SM: WYK )LXNN BN Y(RY )RGYM BYT HLXMY )T  GLYT HGTY ... )RGYM
1CR: WYK )LXNN BN Y(WR [____] )T  LXMY )XY GLYT HGTY ... )RGYM

Our extant Samuel is corrupt:
1. "Elhanan the son of _Y(RY_-_)RGYM_" might be unusual; he's simply the son
of _Y(RY_ in Chron. The word _)RGYM_ means "weaver" and is surely out of
place as a proper noun in its first occurrence in Samuel. _)RGYM_ properly
occurs only once at the end of the verse as in Chronicles rather than twice
as in our extant Samuel, and is perhaps the origin of the entire problem. 
2. The original untranslatable sign of the direct object _)T_ was read to be
"house" _BYT_ by the copyist of the text of Samuel which was damaged at this
point.
3. The article was assumed from a damaged MS of Samuel and added to give
_BYT HLXMY_ "the Bethlehemite" in place of _LXMY_ as the object of the verb
to kill.
4. "The brother of" _)XY_ was taken the very similar appearing sign of the
object _)T_, changing Elhanan's victim from Goliath's brother, Lahmi, to
Goliath himself.

If it is necessary to one's theology that one find errors in the autographa,
then the issue of who killed Goliath will satisfy that desire. But i see no
good basis to assume anything except for problems in the transmission of
Samuel's text--one well-known for such problems (e.g. 1 Sm. 13:1). It's easy
enough to see how the above could develop, but if our extant Samuel is
correct, then the Chronicler was quite the genius! 

Dan Wagner



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