lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)
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When I reached the King David narrative in Antiquities of the Jews, I slowed down to reread, in parallel, Gary Greenberg's The Sins of King David. I'm not going to add to my review everything that this book alerted me to (though I shall point you to my review of it), however sometimes they colour my reaction to what Josephus reports, for example, after the killing of Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:54 reports:
David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent. וַיִּקַּח דָּוִד אֶת־רֹאשׁ הַפְּלִשְׁתִּי וַיְבִאֵהוּ יְרוּשָׁלִָם וְאֶת־כֵּלָיו שָׂם בְּאָהֳלוֹ׃
It makes no sense that David would take the head of Goliath to Jerusalem, as Jerusalem was not yet David's capital; the city was still controlled by the Jebusites and David had no connection with it. Josephus evidently noticed this, and removes the reference (VI.9.192):
But Saul returned to their camp, and pulled their fortification to pieces, and burnt it; but David carried the head of Goliath into his own tent, but dedicated his sword to God [at the tabernacle].
Of the conquest of Jerusalem, Josephus says:
It was David, therefore, who first cast the Jebusites out of Jerusalem, and called it by his own name, The City of David: for under our forefather Abraham it was called (Salem, or) Solyma; but after that time, some say that Homer mentions it by that name of Solyma, [for he named the temple Solyma, according to the Hebrew language, which denotes security.]

Homer!? (The (online commentary says "that which is put into brackets can hardly be supposed the genuine words of Josephus, as Dr. Hudson well judges," without giving me a reason.) Doubt it. This page says:

The Solymi were an ancient nation inhabiting the mountainous parts of Asia Minor, between Lycia and Pisidia. Pliny mentions them as having become extinct in his time.
There are two references to the Solymæ in the Iliad, and one in the Odyssey, as this page pointed out.

VII.3.69 says:
Now the whole time from the warfare under Joshua our general against the Canaanites, and from that war in which he overcame them, and distributed the land among the Hebrews, (nor could the Israelites ever cast the Canaanites out of Jerusalem until this time, when David took it by siege,) this whole time was five hundred and fifteen years.

This took me a bit by surprise, as David's conquest of Jerusalem is taken to be around 1000 BCE, and Hertz dates the Exodus to ca. 1230 BCE. Wikipedia tosses around a variety of dates over a four hundred year period, whilst also saying that no serious scholars now consider the Israelites as having conquered Canaan rather than arising autochthonously within it.

Another well-known passage in Judaism, 2 Samuel 6:20-23, says:
David returned to bless his household. Michal the daughter of Saul came out to greet David, and said, "How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of his servants' handmaids, as one of the rifraff shamelessly uncovers himself!" David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, Who chose me before your father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which you have spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour." Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death. וַיָּשָׁב דָּוִד לְבָרֵךְ אֶת־בֵּיתוֹ וַתֵּצֵא מִיכַל בַּת־שָׁאוּל לִקְרַאת דָּוִד וַתֹּאמֶר מַה־נִּכְבַּד הַיּוֹם מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר נִגְלָה הַיּוֹם לְעֵינֵי אַמְהוֹת עֲבָדָיו כְּהִגָּלוֹת נִגְלוֹת אַחַד הָרֵקִים׃ וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד אֶל־מִיכַל לִפְנֵי ה׳ אֲשֶׁר בָּחַר־בִּי מֵאָבִיךְ וּמִכָּל־בֵּיתוֹ לְצַוֹּת אֹתִי נָגִיד עַל־עַם ה׳ עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְשִׂחַקְתִּי לִפְנֵי ה׳׃ וּנְקַלֹּתִי עוֹד מִזֹּאת וְהָיִיתִי שָׁפָל בְּעֵינָי וְעִם־הָאֲמָהוֹת אֲשֶׁר אָמַרְתְּ עִמָּם אִכָּבֵדָה׃ וּלְמִיכַל בַּת־שָׁאוּל לֹא־הָיָה לָהּ יָלֶד עַד יוֹם מוֹתָהּ׃
Which is why I was surprised to see (VII.4.89):
So this Michal, who was David's wife, had no children; however, when she was afterward married to him to whom Saul her father had given her, (for at this time David had taken her away from him, and had her himself,) she bare five children.
The reference here is to 2 Samuel 21:8:
But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephiboshes; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite: וַיִּקַּח הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת־שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי רִצְפָּה בַת־אַיָּה אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְשָׁאוּל אֶת־אַרְמֹנִי וְאֶת־מְפִבֹשֶׁת וְאֶת־חֲמֵשֶׁת בְּנֵי מִיכַל בַּת־שָׁאוּל אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְעַדְרִיאֵל בֶּן־בַּרְזִלַּי הַמְּחֹלָתִי׃

"Brought up", says the KJV; "bore" says the Hebrew. So they were definitely hers... but who was she? [livejournal.com profile] aviva_m's JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh says most MSS read "Michal" here; however two Hebrew MSS, many Septuagint MSS and the Peshitta read "Meirav"; cf. (it says) also the Targum, Sanhedrin 19b and 1 Sam. 18:19, where it says that after Saul got narked with David, he gave Meirav, whom he had previously promised to him, in marriage to Adrial the Meholathite. (Strangely, [livejournal.com profile] aviva_m's Tenach, although it gives the above information in a footnote, gives "Michal" in the Hebrew and "Merab" in the English!)

On the basis of identity of husband, I reckon it's probably Meirav who had the children, not Michal. Not that it gained her anything; the next verse sees all seven children put to death.

VII.5.101 provides an interesting reference to David in a non-Jewish source:
Nicolaus [of Damascus] makes mention of this king in the fourth book of his histories; where he speaks thus: "A great while after these things had happened, there was one of that country whose name was Hadad, who was become very potent; he reigned over Damascus, and, the other parts of Syria, excepting Phoenicia. He made war against David, the king of Judea, and tried his fortune in many battles, and particularly in the last battle at Euphrates, wherein he was beaten. He seemed to have been the most excellent of all their kings in strength and manhood."

Though of course Josephus is writing sufficiently late that Nicolaus might well have got his information from Jewish sources; he does seem to have hung out with Jews. See also the Limmud notes I will post when I am up to books XIII–XVII of Antiquities.

VII.9.194, on the start of the coup d'état of the ironically named Avshālom ("Father of Peace"):

Now Absalom, upon this his success with the king, procured to himself a great many horses, and many chariots, and that in a little time also. He had moreover fifty armor-bearers that were about him; and he came early every day to the king's palace, and spake what was agreeable to such as came for justice and lost their causes, as if that happened for want of good counselors about the king, or perhaps because the judges mistook in that unjust sentence they gave; whereby he gained the good-will of them all. He told them, that had he but such authority committed to him, he would distribute justice to them in a most equitable manner. When he had made himself so popular among the multitude, he thought he had already the good-will of the people secured to him; but when four years had passed since his father's reconciliation to him, he came to him, and besought him to give him leave to go to Hebron, and pay a sacrifice to God, because he vowed it to him when he fled out of the country. So when David had granted his request, he went thither, and great multitudes came running together to him, for he had sent to a great number so to do.

Among them came Ahithophel the Gilonite, a counsellor of David's, and two hundred men out of Jerusalem itself, who knew not his intentions, but were sent for as to a sacrifice. So he was appointed king by all of them, which he obtained by this stratagem. As soon as this news was brought to David, and he was informed of what he did not expect from his son, he was aftrighted at this his impious and bold undertaking

It's odd that Josephus leaves out a verse (2 Samuel 15:10) which makes how his rebellion was so rapidly accepted by Israel understandable:
Absalom sent agents throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, "As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, proclaim 'Absalom reigns in Hebron!'" וַיִּשְׁלַח אַבְשָׁלוֹם מְרַגְּלִים בְּכָל־שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר כְּשָׁמְעֲכֶם אֶת־קוֹל הַשֹּׁפָר וַאֲמַרְתֶּם מָלַךְ אַבְשָׁלוֹם בְּחֶבְרוֹן׃
Similarly in VII.9.216, where Ḥushai the Arkite, a man loyal to David, has managed to gain access to Avshālom's inner circle, and Aḥithophel advises Avshālom to fall upon David's party with twelve chosen platoons (or ten in Josephus, or rather ten thousand men, for so renders Josephus אֶלֶף) and wipe them out:
Now he was sensible that if Ahithophel's counsel were followed, David would be in danger of being seized on, and slain; so he attempted to introduce a contrary opinion, and said, "Thou art not unacquainted, O king, with the valor of thy father, and of those that are now with him; that he hath made many wars, and hath always come off with victory, though probably he now abides in the camp, for he is very skilful in stratagems, and in foreseeing the deceitful tricks of his enemies; yet will he leave his own soldiers in the evening, and will either hide himself in some valley, or will place an ambush at some rock; so that when our army joins battle with him, his soldiers will retire for a little while, but will come upon us again, as encouraged by the king's being near them; and in the mean time your father will show himself suddenly in the time of the battle, and will infuse courage into his own people when they are in danger, but bring consternation to thine."
It's odd that Josephus misses out the half-verse (2 Samuel 17:8) that conveys the strongest why David would be likely to survive such an attack:
Ḥushai said, "You know your father and his men are valiant, and they are as desperate as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field." וַיֹּאמֶר חוּשַׁי אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ אֶת־אָבִיךָ וְאֶת־אֲנָשָׁיו כִּי גִבֹּרִים הֵמָּה וּמָרֵי נֶפֶשׁ הֵמָּה כְּדֹב שַׁכּוּל בַּשָּׂדֶה
The rebellion fails, and Avshālom is famously caught by his hair in the forest, VII.10.241:
Joab bade him show him where it was that he saw Absalom hang; whereupon he shot him to the heart, and slew him, and Joab's armour-bearers stood round the tree, and pulled down his dead body, and cast it into a great chasm that was out of sight, and laid a heap of stones upon him, till the cavity was filled up, and had both the appearance and the bigness of a grave.
So says Josephus. 2 Samuel 18:14–15, however, says the following, using a translation suggested by the reading in The Sins of King David (in one of the few places in the book where it's clear he's looking at the Hebrew rather than just quoting the KJV):
Yo'av said, "Then I will not wait for you." He took three truncheons in his hand, and thrust them at Avshālom's heart, while he still lived, in the midst of the oak. Then Yo'av's ten armour-bearers surrounded Avshālom, struck him and killed him. וַיֹּאמֶר יוֹאָב לֹא־כֵן אֹחִילָה לְפָנֶיךָ וַיִּקַּח שְׁלֹשָׁה שְׁבָטִים בְּכַפּוֹ וַיִּתְקָעֵם בְּלֵב אַבְשָׁלוֹם עוֹדֶנּוּ חַי בְּלֵב הָאֵלָה׃ וַיָּסֹבּוּ עֲשָׂרָה נְעָרִים נֹשְׂאֵי כְּלֵי יוֹאָב וַיַּכּוּ אֶת־אַבְשָׁלוֹם וַיְמִתֻהוּ׃
So who killed Avshālom, Yo'av or his armour bearers? It's a tricky one, this. The KJV reads:
He took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive.

Bible.org offers a variety of "spears", "javelins", "daggers", "knives" and "darts" in different translations. The problem with all of these is that I've only ever come across the word meaning a blunt rod, not a pointy sharp one. Klein's Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language gives "stick, rod, staff, club, sceptre [Gen 49:10, anyone?], tribe"; my Bantam-Megiddo modern Hebrew dictionary gives "tribe, clan, rod, stick, thin branch, sceptre". Langenscheidt's Pocket Hebrew Dictionary to the Old Testament gives "stick, staff, rod, thrashing-stick, ruler's staff, sceptre; stem, tribe, division; lance, spear". I'd like to know whether the last two meanings are based on more verses than just this one, but I don't have a Bible concordance so I can't tell.

What about the verb, תקע? Langenscheidt gives "strike, beat, drive in, fix, thrust, blow [a horn]"; it is, of course, the last that is the most familiar to us, in תְּקִיעָה. Klein offers "thrust, drive into" of the relevant meanings. So both of those would support either of the meanings, but I suppose as it would make little sense for Yo'av to beat him with three separate truncheons, they probably were spears. It's just not at all the image that comes to my mind when I read שְׁבָטִים.

VII.13 describes how G-d sent a plague upon Israel because David numbered them in a census. The Bible just records the death-count, but Josephus goes overboard on it:

When the prophet had heard this, he declared it to God; who thereupon sent a pestilence and a mortality upon the Hebrews; nor did they die after one and the same manner, nor so that it was easy to know what the distemper was. Now the miserable disease was one indeed, but it carried them off by ten thousand causes and occasions, which those that were afflicted could not understand; for one died upon the neck of another, and the terrible malady seized them before they were aware, and brought them to their end suddenly, some giving up the ghost immediately with very great pains and bitter grief, and some were worn away by their distempers, and had nothing remaining to be buried, but as soon as ever they fell were entirely macerated; some were choked, and greatly lamented their case, as being also stricken with a sudden darkness; some there were who, as they were burying a relation, fell down dead, without finishing the rites of the funeral.
Now when David had done speaking, there appeared great alacrity among the rulers, and the priests, and the Levites, who now contributed and made great and splendid promises for a future Contribution; for they undertook to bring of gold five thousand talents, and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and many ten thousand talents of iron; and if any one had a precious stone he brought it, and bequeathed it to be put among the treasures; of which Jachiel, one of the posterity of Moses, had the care.
This was new to me, because the impression we get in a general Jewish education is that the posterity of Moses drops out of our knowledge after one generation. There's nothing in the Book of Samuel about this, but in Chronicles has the following, which does not quite agree with Josephus:
1 Chronicles 26:21-26 דברי הימים א כו כא-כו
As concerning the sons of Laadan; the sons of the Gershonite Laadan, family patriarchs, even of Laadan the Gershonite, were Jehieli. The sons of Jehieli; Zetham, and Joel his brother, which were over the treasures of the house of the LORD. Of the Amramites, and the Izharites, the Hebronites, and the Uzzielites: And Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, was ruler of the treasures. And his brethren by Eliezer; Rehabiah his son, and Jeshaiah his son, and Joram his son, and Zichri his son, and Shelomith his son. Which Shelomith and his brethren were over all the treasures of the dedicated things, which David the king, and the chief fathers, the captains over thousands and hundreds, and the captains of the host, had dedicated. בְּנֵי לַעְדָּן בְּנֵי הַגֵּרְשֻׁנִּי לְלַעְדָּן רָאשֵׁי הָאָבוֹת לְלַעְדָּן הַגֵּרְשֻׁנִּי יְחִיאֵלִי׃ בְּנֵי יְחִיאֵלִי זֵתָם וְיוֹאֵל אָחִיו עַל־אֹצְרוֹת בֵּית ה׳׃ לַעַמְרָמִי לַיִּצְהָרִי לַחֶבְרוֹנִי לָעָזִּיאֵלִי׃ וּשְׁבֻאֵל בֶּן־גֵּרְשׁוֹם בֶּן־מֹשֶׁה נָגִיד עַל־הָאֹצָרוֹת׃ וְאֶחָיו לֶאֱלִיעֶזֶר רְחַבְיָהוּ בְנוֹ וִישַׁעְיָהוּ בְנוֹ וְיֹרָם בְּנוֹ וְזִכְרִי בְנוֹ וּשְׁלֹמִית בְּנוֹ׃ הוּא שְׁלֹמוֹת וְאֶחָיו עַל כָּל־אֹצְרוֹת הַקֳּדָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר הִקְדִּישׁ דָּוִיד הַמֶּלֶךְ וְרָאשֵׁי הָאָבוֹת לְשָׂרֵי־הָאֲלָפִים וְהַמֵּאוֹת וְשָׂרֵי הַצָּבָא׃

Of course at least one of those בֶּןs must mean "descendant", rather than "son"...

Modern scholarship is divided as to whether David even existed, and yet Josephus claims evidence in events less than a century before his own time (VII.15.392):
He was buried by his son Solomon, in Jerusalem, with great magnificence, and with all the other funeral pomp which kings used to be buried with; moreover, he had great and immense wealth buried with him, the vastness of which may be easily conjectured at by what I shall now say; for a thousand and three hundred years afterward Hyrcanus the high priest, when he was besieged by Antiochus, that was called the Pious, the son of Demetrius, and was desirous of giving him money to get him to raise the siege and draw off his army, and having no other method of compassing the money, opened one room of David's sepulchre, and took out three thousand talents, and gave part of that sum to Antiochus; and by this means caused the siege to be raised, as we have informed the reader elsewhere. Nay, after him, and that many years, Herod the king opened another room, and took away a great deal of money, and yet neither of them came at the coffins of the kings themselves, for their bodies were buried under the earth so artfully, that they did not appear to even those that entered into their monuments. But so much shall suffice us to have said concerning these matters.

[Josephus] Josephus notes

Date: 2012-02-07 01:51 pm (UTC)
curious_reader: (Default)
From: [personal profile] curious_reader
Oh, I did not know you have a Langensheidt dictionary or did you borrow it? As far as I know you can only get in Germany. I have one two in Modern Hebrew/German.


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Lethargic Man (anag.)

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