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A Linguistic Inquiry Solves an Ancient Crime: Re-examination of 2 Samuel 4:6*

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image of Vetus Testamentum

Second Samuel 4 describes the assassination of Ish-Bosheth, the last successor of Saul, by two of his brigade commanders. Verse 6 in this chapter gives the account of the actual killing. The verse has long been reckoned as problematic from the linguistic and literary points of view. Traditional Jewish commentators tried to solve the textual problem by means of syntactical completions. The Septuagint gives a different account here, which most scholars have adopted as original. A few, however, have raised the possibility that the Greek version is actually an attempt to solve the difficulties in the Hebrew text. In this article, I attempt to show that the Masoretic text is accurate and completely comprehensible. Furthermore, it sheds light on the entire scene, and brings to the front the personal attitude of the biblical narrator towards David and his kingship.

Affiliations: 1: The Academy of the Hebrew Language Jerusalem


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