timing in 2 Chron 21.19

Joe Sprinkle jsprinkl at tfc.edu
Sat Sep 7 05:08:26 EDT 2002

> The time phrases in 2 Chron 21:19 are confusing me a bit. The first part of
> the verse says:
> wayehi leyamim miyyamim ukeet ze't haqqez leyamim shenayim yaz'u me'an.
 I don't understand the contextual reasons 
> for translating yamim as "years" rather than days. 
I read today 1 Samuel 1:3 that Elkanah went up to Jerusalem to sacrifice
and worship MIYYAMIM YAMIMAH, literally "from days to days."  There the
context demands that the annual festivals are in mind, and so it is
justified to render "year by year" (NRSV; NASB; NIV).  That usage no doubt
has affected the translation here of YAMIM as "years" rather than days. 
Also Genesis 18:11, Abraham and Sarah were old, "going on in YEARS" is
literally "DAYS." In both cases and the first part of 2 Chr 21:19, YAMIM
refers to indefinite, relatively long periods of time, not specifically
years, though years in length by implication. It seems questionable that
YAMIM means "years" in and of itself, though that could be a development
out of the earlier usage.

BHS suggests emmendation of LEYAMIM SHENAYIM "with regard to two days
[years?]" to LIYMEY SHANAYV "with regard to the days of his years." 
Though conjectual and still leaving some awkwardness, it might solve the
problem, especially if we connect the first part of the verse to the
previous verse: "[The LORD struck him with an incurable disease]that
existed over an extended period of time [wayehi leyamim miyyamim].  Now
when the time of the end of the days of his years [of life] came, his
bowels ... "

Joe Sprinkle

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