[b-hebrew] 1 Chronicles 21 - &+N revisited

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Fri Aug 26 15:14:29 EDT 2005

Hello all,

Not too long ago, we had a conversation here about שטן &+N in 1  
Chronicles 21. The most common reading of this word in that verse is  
as a proper noun, a point on the way toward the later, full-blown  
concept of Satan/the Devil. Most (professional) interpreters  
apparently think that the Chronicler could not abide the idea of YHWH  
inciting David to do something that David later characterizes as sin  
and that YHWH later punishes David for having done as per 2 Samuel  
24. During that conversation, I suggested an alternate possibility:  
that the Chronicler uses שטן &+N in 1 Chron 21 as a typical common  
anarthrous noun, and does not mean to tell a fundamentally different  
story from 2 Sam 24, but is using (anarthrous) שטן &+N "an  
adversary" as a kind of circumlocation referring to 2 Sam 24's "the  
anger of YHWH," much as the "angel of YHWH" stands as (anarthrous)  
שטן &+N "an adversary."

At the CBA meeting recently I had a conversation about this with a  
couple of folks over lunch, one of whom suggested that שטן &+N  
could also be read in 1 Chron 21 as a common noun with a purely non- 
supernatural referent. That is, this individual agreed with the usual  
consensus that the Chronicler was uncomfortable with what he read in  
the Deuteronomistic version, but instead of substituting a different  
supernatural force, substituted a completely generic, human  
"adversary," a vague military threat, which incited David to take the  
census. I have not yet thought very much about whether סות SWT  
could be used in quite this way, but I found the thought intriguing  
enough to share with all of you who followed that earlier thread.


R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Seaver Fellow in Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352
Professional Web Page: http://faculty.pepperdine.edu/cheard
Internet Resource Index: http://www.iTanakh.org
Personal Web Page: http://www.heardworld.com

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