The problem of 2 Sam 21:19 and 1 Chr 20:5

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by jonathan.borland, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland
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    2 Samuel 21:19 (KJV): And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

    1 Chronicles 20:5 (KJV): And there was war again with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, whose spear staff was like a weaver’s beam.

    Scribal redaction led to the differences between the two passages, and 1 Chr 20:5 clearly reflects what originally stood in 2 Sam 21:19 before the error crept in.

    So how did the late form of 2 Sam 21:19 become corrupt?

    First, "oregim" (= weavers) crept into the text from the line below and was placed after "Jair." This could have happened easily when a scribe, after writing "son of Jair," accidentally skipped from the first letter of the next word (את) to the same first letter (i.e., Aleph) of the word on the following line (ארגים). Other possibilities may also account for the dittographic translocation of the word.

    Second, the addition of the Hebrew letter beth (ב) to the following word changed Lahmi (אתלחמי) into Bethlehemite (ביתהלחמי). This alteration would have been facilitated by remembrance of a different Elhanan (son of Dodo) who was from Bethlehem (2 Sam 23:24; 1 Chr 11:26).

    Third, the word "brother of" (אחי) before Goliath was changed into the object marker (את) making Goliath the new object instead of Lahmi, before which word the object marker had previously stood. The two words were too similar, and this change would have been easy if the exemplar had been poorly copied or badly preserved, and would have been aided further by the remembrance that it was the spear of Goliath himself that was "like a weaver's beam" (1 Sam 17:7).

    And thus the corruption was complete. The original was not so, and we might do well to flee the perfectly transmitted error of copyists/editors here and adjust our current translations accordingly.

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
  2. franklinmonroe

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  3. jonathan.borland

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    One who compares 1 Chr 20:4-8 and 2 Sam 21:18-22 will very likely conclude that the events related are in fact parallel, and that in the case of 2 Sam 21:19 and 1 Chr 20:5 one or the other has been redacted or corrupted in the course of copying. I have chosen the latter explanation. One may also see how the Gezer/Gob discrepancy came about due to confusion of similar letters in Hebrew, namely GZR (גזר) and GOB (גוב). The Zayin and Waw are basically identical, and the only difference between the Resh and Beth is a single horizontal stroke. These kinds of letter substitutions permeate the OT but are easily discovered for what they are, just as are many of the scribal errors that created the discrepancy between 2 Sam 21:19 and 1 Chr 20:5.

    1 Chr 20:4-8 (KJV)
    4 And it came to pass after this, that there arose war at Gezer with the Philistines; at which time Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Sippai, that was of the children of the giant: and they were subdued.
    5* And there was war again with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, whose spear staff was like a weaver’s beam.
    6* And yet again there was war at Gath, where was a man of great stature, whose fingers and toes were four and twenty, six on each hand, and six on each foot: and he also was the son of the giant.
    7 But when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea David’s brother slew him.
    8* These were born unto the giant in Gath; and they fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

    2 Sam 21:18-22 (KJV)
    18* And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant.
    19* And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.
    20* And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.
    21 And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David slew him.
    22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
  4. robycop3

    robycop3
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    Both Goliath and Lahmi are HEBREW names, and, as it's quite unlikely that the Philistines would give their children Hebrew names, these names were most likely ISRAELI names or nicks for those giants. "Goliath" means 'splendor', and a 9-foot-tall man would be a splendor today, let alone around 1000 BC. "Lahmi" means 'my bread', and Elhanan, by slaying him, could well have figuratively eaten 'his bread'.

    David stoned Goliath years before he became king, while the other battles took place near the end of his life. Those other giants could well have been his bros. & it's very possible that the Israelis called more than one giant 'Goliath'.
     
  5. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland
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    So in 2 Sam 21:19 and 1 Chr 20:5 do Lahmi and Goliath refer to the same person in your view, or to different people? Are the passages parallel? How do you account for the discrepancies? Did the origin of one account give rise to the other, or are they independent and yet both factually reliable? Do you take the giant referred to several times in the passages to refer to the father of Goliath and his brothers?

    No doubt Philistine names transliterated into Hebrew, though I like the probably intended play on words with Lahmi that you mentioned.

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
  6. robycop3

    robycop3
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    Yes, I believe the giants were different men. The battles mentioned took place over 30 years apart. And both Samuel and Chronicles were almost certainly written by ISRAELIS, who coulda well coined the names "Goliath" and "Lahmi" for those giants themselves. (When I was a boy, there were 3 different teenagers on my block called "Buzzy" by family & friends.)
     
  7. jonathan.borland

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    So in your view the Chronicler intentionally made a pun, namely, Elhanan the man from the house of bread (Bethlehem) defeated "my bread" (Lahmi)? I can see it. He must also then have added "brother of," which from a contextual point of view is a little out of place since the other three mentioned (in 2 Samuel) are "sons" of the giant from Gath (presumably Goliath), and thus Lahmi along with the other three presumably makes up the "four" mentioned in 2 Samuel 21:22. Such presents an interpretational problem unless Lahmi was both the brother and son of Goliath (possible but improbable and gross either way).

    But I can also see how ancient scribal error might have messed up the account in Samuel. On the other hand, I can see how possible attempted alteration of the account as presented in 2 Samuel by the Chronicler may account for the version there. But I think the latter possibility is less likely.

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
  8. robycop3

    robycop3
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    I believe that the four giants were the sons of an unnamed Philistine, and if the Israelis didn't know their real names, made up nicknames for at least two of them. Some if the Israelis mighta called the later giant Lahmi while others called him Goliath, despite his long-dead bro having also been called Goliath.

    That's all we have on their names; we have no inkling of what their PHILISTINE names were.
     
  9. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland
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    Or maybe a scribe simply made an error, a possibility that seems very likely when comparing the two accounts in Hebrew.
     
  10. Dr. Bob

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    Seems most likely to me as well.
     
  11. robycop3

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    Guess we won't know in THIS world...
     
  12. TC

    TC
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    It may simply be a scribal error. However, I am not convinced that we should change the Hebrew manuscripts to reflect what we think it should read like. Although I do not have a problem with the KJV translators adding the brother of in italics to show that the phrase is not in the underlying manuscripts, I tend to like the way the modern English versions handle it - translate the Hebrew as it is written and then give a footnote explaining the difference. This is supported by the Geneva bible. It reads:

    2 Sa 21:19 And there was yet another battel in Gob with the Philistims, where Elhanah the sonne of Iaare-oregim, a Bethlehemite slewe Goliath the Gittite: the staffe of whose speare was like a weauers beame.

    There is a footnote (actually a sidenote) that says this is the brother of Goliath and references 1 Chronicles 20:5.
     

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