Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Fri Feb 9 06:19:24 EST 2001

Ian, your case is not as good as it seems.

Firstly, you assume a single copyist. Rather more likely is two generations
of copyists who damaged the 2 Samuel text: the first who copied hurriedly,
added a second )RGYM (that word starts with aleph, not ayin), and perhaps
wrote BYT and )T unclearly; and a second who tried to make sense of the text
he saw, which may have been damaged as well as written unclearly.

Secondly, we are talking about an aleph, not an ayin, in )T as well (your
`eynayim seem to see ayin's all over the place, Ian ;-), and a damaged aleph
could well look like a beyt, with the yod being added to regularise the
spelling. Anyway, since we don't know exactly what time these errors were
made (except that they must have been after the Chronicler's time but before
LXX), we don't know what letter shapes were in use at the time. Not
necessarily just like the DSS ones.

Thirdly, just because LXMY means "my bread" in Hebrew, that is no reason to
argue that it could not be a Philistine name, especially as we know almost
nothing of the Philistine language. I know Koreans with surnames like Lee,
Park and Song, all perfectly good English words, does that mean these people
cannot really be Korean? Also, for all we know the Philistines may have
become Semitic speaking by the time of David.

Peter Kirk

-----Original Message-----
From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at mclink.it]
Sent: 09 February 2001 04:15
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: Re: 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.

>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.



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