A note on David

The students in my Sunday School class wanted to go learn about David. As a result I’m walking them through the David narratives. These stories about the founder of the dynasty which bears his name are so new to them. This makes me wonder about the effectiveness of Sunday School in our churches, but I must stop myself before going off topic. The point is that as new as they are to the students, they really are exciting.

On Sunday I had the opportunity to be very proud of one of the teens because she picked up on the two separate David introduction stories. We talked about the options for them, and although I’m not sure they completely understood ancient historiography and storytelling they at least understand that such contradictions should not startle them. This was extremely encouraging to me.

This coming Sunday we’ll be discussing David’s various adventures when he flees from Saul. We won’t cover all of them, since although we are moving pretty fast, and although this is only really a survey to help them know the overarching structure of the David Story (to borrow the title of Alter’s excellent translation and commentary), we are hardly moving fast enough to cover half the book of 1 Samuel in one hour. At any rate, we’ll cover the narratives from Jonathan meeting David until David manages to acquire his own priest, Abiathar, giving him a crucial advantage over Saul–he can talk to God.

Working my way through the David narratives again makes me very glad that I took Exegesis in 1 and 2 Samuel last semester. It was a fun class, and I learned a ton. It also makes me extremely disappointed that taking Heroic Traditions in the Bible at Andover Newton didn’t work into my schedule this summer.


Adoni-Bezeq and the seventy thumbless kings (Judges 1.1-7)

That title could almost be a fairy tale. On a whim I decided that I hadn’t interacted with Hebrew nearly enough this semester. This should come as no surprise since I have no class that requires me to work with Hebrew this semester. I’ve been having a great time with Greek, and Aramaic has even begun to be an enjoyable experience. To be sure, I’ve translated shorter passages, and looked up a verb here or there as I’ve been preparing lessons, but I haven’t made a concerted effort to keep my Hebrew up to snuff. I’ve decided that that must change. So, in order to attempt to rectify the situation I’m going to begin translating a bit from Judges every Saturday. I’m going to take things at whatever pace I feel like. This evening I read/translated the first seven verses. All-in-all I was pleased that I didn’t make any major mistakes with parsing things. So, now for my thoughts.

The Story:
This is a great little introduction to the book of Judges. It manages to set the stage perfectly for what follows after. The entirety of chapter one is an account of how the Israelites defeated the Canaanites, or failed to defeat them, as the case may be. In these seven verses the tribe of Judah gets picked to go do some fighting. The oblige, after talking Simeon into helping them, and off they go to Bezeq, where they kill 10,000 men!

Of course, they also catch up with Adoni-Bezeq (er, “My Lord of Bezeq”?). They cut off his thumbs and big toes, and fitting punishment considering that he had done the same to seventy(!) kings. He gives a fitting final speech, before being drug off to Jerusalem and summarily executed.

My thoughts on the Hebrew text:
Verse 1 – This verse was, I thought, pretty straight forward. I didn’t have an problems with any parsing or vocab, aside from needing to look up תחלה.
Verse 2 – Again, nothing overly interesting. I almost misparsed יעלה because it had a patah under the yod. My first thought was Hifil yiqtol 3ms of עלה. However, after looking at it for a moment I remember that gutturals like patahs, and so it is a straightforward Qal, yiqtol 3ms of עלה. Other than that, my favorite verb–נתן–shows up in this verse, which deserves a mention.
Verse 3 – Judah cuts a deal with Simeon. An imperative, and a niphal show up. The object is set before the subject in the final clause contra the normal V-S-O order, but nothing exceptional.
Verse 4 – I had a little trouble finding the root of ויכום, but I eventually nailed it as Hifil wayyiqtol 3mp of נכה with 3mp suffix, “and they struck them.”
Verse 5 – I’m embarrassed to admit that I tried to make Adoni-Bezeq into some kind of phrase before realizing it was a proper name.
Verse 6 – I had to look up אחז as well as בהן. I don’t think I’ve forgotten those words, I never knew them. Otherwise verse six is just a fun bit of recompense.
Verse 7 – Leaving aside the sudden appearance of Jerusalem as a city of importance, a pual and piel participle show up here, so they were fun. I’m still not completely satisfied with my rendering of them though. I also almost misparsed the Hifil in this verse. I always forget that Hifil’s can take a shewa under the prefix pronoun when we start attaching suffixes.

My translation:
A bit rough.

1. It happened after the death of Joshua that the sons of Israel asked of Adonai saying, “Who will go up for us to the Canaanites first, to fight against them.”

2. And Adonai said, “Judah will go up. See! I have given the land into his hand.”

3. And Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Go up with me against my lot and let us fight against the Canaanites and I will go, even I, with you against your lot.” So Simeon went with him.

4. And Judah went up and Adonai gave the Canaanites and the Perizites into their hand and they struck them at Bezeq, ten thousand men.

5. They found Adoni-Bezeq at Bezeq and they fought against him and they struck the Canaanites and the Perizites.

6. Adoni-Bezeq fled and they followed after him and they took hold of him and they cut off his thumbs and his big toes.

7. Adoni-Bezeq said, “Seventy kings, who had their thumbs and their big toes cut off, they were gleaning under my table. As I did, thus God has repaid me.” They brought him to Jerusalem and they killed him there.

I think I need to spend some time reviewing vocab. Looking over my weak verb paradigms wouldn’t hurt either.

Kevin Wilson’s The Campaign of Pharaoh Shoshenq I into Palestine

So a couple months back I was given a copy of The Campaign of Pharaoh Shoshenq I into Palestine by the author himself. This past weekend I decided to sit down and read it. I’m glad I did.

A year ago I would have had no concept of who Shoshenq was. Mandy took a course in Ancient Near Eastern history and archeology last semester, and I remember helping her study for an exam dealing with Shoshenq. In addition, during my Exegesis in Samuel course, Dr. Petter mentioned Shoshenq as an aside (and spent a good 30 seconds muttering to himself trying to decide between various vocalizations of the name, it was most enjoyable). So, I knew that he had something to do with Israel and the book of Kings. As would seem to be the case with anything that directly mentions or interacts with the Bible, this poor Pharaoh was caught up in the eternal debate of whether or not the Deuteronomistic History (ie, Joshua-2 Kings) constitutes reliable history or not.

The basic issue, as Kevin discusses it, is that scholars have largely focused on the topographical list of Shoshenq’s triumphal relief at Karnak and attempted to reconstruct an itinerary for Shoshenq’s campaign into Palestine based on said list. Of course, the problem is that the account in 1 Kings mentions a campaign focused on Jerusalem, with no mention of any foray into Israel, whereas the topographical list doesn’t mention Jerusalem at all.

The book is divided broadly into six chapters, one each devoted to introductory materials and Kevin’s conclusions. Chapter two, a sizable portion of the text, is devoted to surveying various Triumphal Reliefs of other Egyptian Pharaohs. Namely, Thutmose III, Seti I, Ramesses II and Ramesses III. Kevin’s discussion of these reliefs are descriptive, enjoyable, helpful, and extremely relevant to his later discussion of the Shoshenq relief. Chapter three looks at the Shoshenq relief itself, while chapter four surveys other relevant Egyptian texts. Chapter five is devoted to the Biblical texts discussing Shoshenq (Shishak). Here Kevin excels at presenting a balanced and intellectual view of the material without thinking for others. It was a breath of fresh air compared to several of the books I’m being required to plod through for classes this semester. Chapter six briefly summarizes the conclusions that the author draws from the material.

Kevin’s arguments are lucid and convincing. In fact, processing through his arguments on the topic have caused me to come to the conclusion that I might really enjoy doing some research into the early monarchic period, or into the time of the judges. Given, both of those are earlier than Shoshenq, and tracing my line of reasoning would take far to long to include here, but I digress.

I enjoyed the book, which isn’t long enough to be called a tome, but contains quite a bit of data. Think about that first clause for a moment. The fact that I have just said “I enjoyed the book” in reference to a manuscript about Shoshenq I’s campaign into Palestine reveals one of two things:
1. I am an incredibly sick person.
2. Kevin is a very engaging writer.

I’ll opt for option #2, but you can judge for yourself by visiting his blog.