[b-hebrew] 2 Sam 24 vs. 2 Chron 21 (was something else)

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Thu Aug 4 17:18:04 EDT 2005

Your sketch does make sense, Jim; it is historically plausible and  
logically coherent. But I think we should at least ask the question  
whether we can be sure that _satan_ in 1 Chronicles really _is_ being  
used as a proper name, rather than as a common noun, which is the  
conventional use of the term within the Tanakh. I have long _assumed_  
the model you outline below, but have recently begun to question it,  
along the lines that I outlined earlier. Obviously, somehow, the word  
moved from being a common noun to a proper noun. The question is  
where Chronicles stands in that process. Certainly by the time the  
LXX Chronicles was translated, the passage had come to be read in  
such a way that Hebrew _satan_ was rendered by Greek _diabolos_.  
Anybody know what the Targums do here? I don't have easy access at  
this moment.


On Aug 4, 2005, at 2:02 PM, Jim West wrote:

> Really interesting stuff Chris, and I have to admit, persuasive.   
> But I wonder- has the fact that the definite article dropped out  
> signalled something of a further development in terms of  
> "satanology" (forgive me that) in the Hebrew Bible?  That is- in  
> older texts, Yahweh causes weal and woe.  In Job, HaSatan causes  
> woe.  In the Chronicler Satan (as a full blown proper name) is  
> given credit for inciting David to act against Yahweh's wishes.   
> Does that make sense?  In other words, we have, within the HB  
> itself, a clear, temporally noticeable development of this theme.
> Heard Christopher wrote:
>> Although 2 Samuel 24:1 vs. 1 Chronicles 21:1 is a _locus  
>> classicus_  in understanding the difference between the  
>> Chronicler's treatment of  David and the Deuteronomistic  
>> Historian's treatment of David, and  although I have often thought  
>> about the texts in question in the  terms Jim expressed earlier,  
>> quoted above, in the last few times I  have looked at these  
>> verses, I have begun to doubt its accuracy.
>> Specifically, in 1 Chronicles 21:1 it is _not_  השטן [H&+N]  
>> that  incites David to count the people; it is merely שטן [&+N]  
>> (no  definite article). Now the lack of a definite article is  
>> very  important here, it seems to me. For the verse ought not be  
>> translated  "Satan opposed [stood against] Israel, and incited  
>> David to count  Israel," nor "The Adversary opposed ..." since  
>> there is no definite  article, but rather, "_An_ adversary  
>> opposed ...," with an indefinite  article. Now I wonder--I have  
>> not done the real legwork on this yet,  so I'm thinking out loud-- 
>> whether the Chronicler thinks he is  referring to YHWH, or an  
>> entity other than YHWH, by this word,  indefinite שטן [&+N]. The  
>> Hebrew word שטן [&+N], of course, does  not _inherently_ refer  
>> to some malignant supernatural entity; see 1  Kings 11:23-25,  
>> where the noun שטן [&+N] refers to a purely human  opponent,  
>> though one who, importantly, was incited _by God_ to be  such.  
>> Moreover, there is nothing semantically out of bounds about God   
>> being a שטן [&+N], or at least we can say that at least one  
>> writer  had no trouble characterizing the מאלך יהוה [M)LK  
>> YHWH] "angel  of YHWH" as a שטן [&+N] to someone (Numbers  
>> 22:22). Clearly, the  Chronicler is altering his Deuteronomistic  
>> source text. But is he  completely changing the referent, or just  
>> using a subtle circumlocution?
>> Chris
> Best,
> Jim
> -- 
> D. Jim West
> Biblical Studies Resources -  http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
> Biblical Theology Weblog -  http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com

R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352

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