Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Thu Feb 8 23:14:30 EST 2001

>> > 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.
>> 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
>an impressive point for those who have the tool of redaction ready to wield
>against any text that seems inconvenient).

It seems to me, Dan, that this is precisely what you fall foul of here: a
text which seems inconvenient.

The materials in 2 Sam 21-23 are usually seen as a collection of Davidic
traditions added to 2 Sam which relate to a much earlier period than that
dealt with in the preceeding or following chapters. One can see in 21:1-14
we are back dealing with repercussions of Saul; in 21:15-22 we are back
fighting Philistines, as is the case in 23:8ff; in 23:13f David is still in
the cave -- all a long way from Jerusalem and kinghood. Where in the later
tradition do we find mention of the Three, Josheb-basshebeth the
Tachemonite, Eleazar son of Dodo, and Shammah son of Agee, whose level not
even Abishai attains? Etc.

What 1 Sam 17:22-51 says is not necessarily relevant to separate Davidic

>Second, Samuel is the most poorly
>preserved Heb. MS. we have now, but at the time of the Chronicler (late 5th

You cannot simply assume such a date. It seems simply very wrong to me.

>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.

Your case does not show this.

>Each can evaluate for himself.

Fortunately, this is true.

>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
>Goliath the Gittite... like a beam of weavers.
>Consonants only:
>Our extant Samuel is corrupt:
>1. "Elhanan the son of _Y(RY_-_)RGYM_" might be unusual; he's simply the
>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.

This is definitely possible.

>2. The original untranslatable sign of the direct object _)T_ was read to
>"house" _BYT_ by the copyist of the text of Samuel which was damaged at

"Untranslatable" is only appropriate for non-Hebrew speakers, not to the
scribe whose bread and butter it was.

You would like us to believe that the same scribe who made the error implied
in #1 also conveniently had his text damaged so as not to be able to discern
an `t from a byt? He has a text good enough to allow him to lose track of
his place, going down a line to get `rgm (an error from lack of
concentration) then returning to his now obviously corrupt text, which would
require the concentration of the scribe, to make a different kind of
error -- one of judgment.

The only thing in common that these two words have is the final taw. Unless
the whole ayin was obliterated, I can see no way for a scribe to be able to
come up with a bet yod. This combination looks nothing like an ayin. (If you
don't believe me, have a look at a few of the DSS and make a comparison

>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.

Either the ms was damaged enough to make the kind of error you suppose in #2
and #3 or it wasn't, so that one could make error #1. These are errors of
different types requiring different conditions.

You seem to be saying that byt hlxmy took the place of lxmy "as the object
of the verb", which is not correct. Hopefully, I misunderstand.

lxmy only occurs in this one place. It is clearly not a Philistine name, "my
bread". Was it even a Hebrew name at the time? Naturally, if Goliath, as
indicated by 2Sam, is the object of the verb then there is no problem with
that name as Philistine.

>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.

Although there are close similarities between a chet and a taw, especially
in modern printed texts, those similarities are not so apparent in the
scribal texts found at Qumran. It is not merely a matter of an added foot,
but the tops of the two downstrokes of the chet are much more solid than the
taw formation. Add to this the yod and there is little chance that someone
could confuse the chet-yod combination for a taw. There would seem to be no
"very similar" appearance in the matter -- unless of course you can do the
legwork and find a good example of the kind of error you advocate from --
say -- the DSS corpus, Dan. (I have seen examples of letters confused
though, one which comes to mind is a taw taken for a waw-nun combination --
I seem to remember a short article on the matter in RQ a few decades back.)

Your case, Dan, rests on highly improbable scribal choices -- the confusion
of letter forms that don't look anything alike (the ayin/bet-yod claim, as
well as the chet-yod/taw claim), though if one were possible the other could
have been rationalised by the scribe, however, not both rationalised.

What you have provided is the means for a harmoniser to arrive at a better
text. All one has to do is reverse your argument, with reasons for making
the sorts of changes no simple scribe would normally make.


I think that the following polemic is the voice of a true beleeever.

>If it is necessary to one's theology that one find errors in the
>then the issue of who killed Goliath will satisfy that desire.

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