Discrepancies owing to the use of sources in Samuel, Kings, & Chronicles.

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Ben C. Smith
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Discrepancies owing to the use of sources in Samuel, Kings, & Chronicles.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:46 am

Asa and the High Places

The Chronicler tells us that Asa, king of Judah, removed the high places from Judah:

2 Chronicles 14.1-6: 1 So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David, and his son Asa became king in his place. The land was undisturbed for ten years during his days. 2 Asa did good and right in the sight of the Lord his God, 3 for he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherim, 4 and commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandment. 5 He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. And the kingdom was undisturbed under him. 6 He built fortified cities in Judah, since the land was undisturbed, and there was no one at war with him during those years, because the Lord had given him rest.

Elsewhere, however, in a situation involving his use either of 1 Kings or of one of its sources, the Chronicler follows in lockstep and winds up creating a tension:

1 Kings 15.13-16: 13 He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah; and Asa cut down her horrid image and burned it at the brook Kidron. 14 But the high places were not taken away; nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly devoted to the Lord all his days. 15 He brought into the house of the Lord the dedicated things of his father and his own dedicated things: silver and gold and utensils. 16 Now there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.

2 Chronicles 15.16-19: 16 He also removed Maacah, the mother of King Asa, from the position of queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah, and Asa cut down her horrid image, crushed it and burned it at the brook Kidron. 17 But the high places were not removed from Israel; nevertheless Asa's heart was blameless all his days. 18 He brought into the house of God the dedicated things of his father and his own dedicated things: silver and gold and utensils. 19 And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa's reign.

It looks like the Chronicler (or a later scribe) has attempted to smooth over the contradiction by specifying that Asa did not remove the high places from Israel, but that is rather an unnecessary thing to say, given that Asa was not king of Israel. The result, then, is an awkward tension between two different parts of Chronicles, one resulting from the author having used 1 Kings (or something very much like it) as a source.

Jehoshaphat and the High Places

Same basic thing with Jehoshaphat:

2 Chronicles 17.1-9: 1 Jehoshaphat his son then became king in his place, and made his position over Israel firm. 2 He placed troops in all the fortified cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah and in the cities of Ephraim which Asa his father had captured. 3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father David's earlier days and did not seek the Baals, 4 but sought the God of his father, followed His commandments, and did not act as Israel did. 5 So the Lord established the kingdom in his control, and all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. 6 He took great pride in the ways of the Lord and again removed the high places and the Asherim from Judah. 7 Then in the third year of his reign he sent his officials, Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah; 8 and with them the Levites, Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tobadonijah, the Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, the priests. 9 They taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the Lord with them; and they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.

So Jehoshaphat removed the high places from Judah. But... did he though?

1 Kings 22.41-44: 41 Now Jehoshaphat the son of Asa became king over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 43 He walked in all the way of Asa his father; he did not turn aside from it, doing right in the sight of the Lord. However, the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burnt incense on the high places. 44 Jehoshaphat also made peace with the king of Israel.

2 Chronicles 20.31-33: 31 Now Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 32 He walked in the way of his father Asa and did not depart from it, doing right in the sight of the Lord. 33 The high places, however, were not removed; the people had not yet directed their hearts to the God of their fathers.

The Mother of Abijah

This case is more complicated, but it still seems obvious that at the root of the discrepancy lies the use of sources, probably sources of a genealogical nature in this case:

1 Kings 15.1: 1 Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah. 2 He reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Maacah [מַעֲכָה] the daughter of Abishalom [אֲבִישָׁלוֹם].

2 Chronicles 11.18-21: 18 Then Rehoboam took as a wife Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David and of Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse, 19 and she bore him sons: Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham. 20 And after her he took Maacah [מַעֲכָה] the daughter of Absalom [אַבְשָׁלוֹם], and she bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. 21 And Rehoboam loved Maacah the daughter of Absalom more than all his other wives and concubines. For he had taken eighteen wives and sixty concubines and fathered twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters.

So far so good. But elsewhere, at a spot at which the Chronicler is actually following along with 1 Kings 15.1 (above) pretty closely, Abijah has a different mother!

2 Chronicles 13.1-2: 1 In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, Abijah became king over Judah. 2 He reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Micaiah [מִיכָיָהוּ] the daughter of Uriel [אוּרִיאֵל)] of Gibeah. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.

The complication, of course, is that where the Chronicler is following 1 Kings closely he disagrees on the identity of this woman, and where he is not following 1 Kings he agrees. This is why I suspect that genealogical sources are at issue here. There may also be some confusion going on with Asa's mother:

1 Kings 15.9-10: 9 So in the twentieth year of Jeroboam the king of Israel, Asa began to reign as king of Judah. 10 And he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Maacah [מַעֲכָה] the daughter of Abishalom [אֲבִישָׁלוֹם].

However one slices it, though, the fact remains that the Chronicler contradicts himself, and the use of sources seems to be at least part of the reason.
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Ulan
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Re: Discrepancies owing to the use of sources in Samuel, Kings, & Chronicles.

Post by Ulan » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:53 am

Even if Chronicles is a comparatively young text, it seems to use rather old sources in some places. Just think of how the whole "Egyptian exile" story is excised (or rather absent) from the patriarchal genealogies in the beginning. In other parts, Egypt is mentioned.

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Re: Discrepancies owing to the use of sources in Samuel, Kings, & Chronicles.

Post by andrewcriddle » Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:54 am

It has been suggested (by Margaret Murray IMS) that the early kings of Judah followed Egyptian custom by marrying as many royal women as possible sometimes including their mother.

In this scenario Maacah is both the mother and the wife of Abijah.

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Re: Discrepancies owing to the use of sources in Samuel, Kings, & Chronicles.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:05 pm

andrewcriddle wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:54 am
It has been suggested (by Margaret Murray IMS) that the early kings of Judah followed Egyptian custom by marrying as many royal women as possible sometimes including their mother.

In this scenario Maacah is both the mother and the wife of Abijah.
Eww. Well, that would clear up the minor mystery; the major mystery would remain.
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Re: Discrepancies owing to the use of sources in Samuel, Kings, & Chronicles.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:45 pm

Michal and David

Not exactly a discrepancy, but a detail that seems to come as a surprise.

1 Chronicles 15.25-29: 25 So it was David, with the elders of Israel and the captains over thousands, who went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-edom with joy. 26 Because God was helping the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams. 27 Now David was clothed with a robe of fine linen with all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the singing with the singers. David also wore an ephod of linen. 28 Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, and with sound of the horn, with trumpets, with loud-sounding cymbals, with harps and lyres. 29 It happened when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and celebrating; and she despised him in her heart.

Nothing has been said about David leaping or dancing to this point, so the notice that this is what Michal saw David doing is a bit abrupt. This slightly abrupt effect can be set down to the Chronicler having omitted the dancing from earlier in his source:

2 Samuel 6.12-16: 12 Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, on account of the ark of God.” David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness. 13 And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 14 And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouting and the sound of the trumpet. 16 Then it happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

It is interesting, too, that this is the only time in 1 or 2 Chronicles that an ephod, something usually associated with priests, is mentioned, and it is David (not a priest) who is wearing it.

Finally, this detail about Michal despising David for his raucous celebration goes nowhere in the Chronicles. She is not mentioned again. But the anecdote wraps up with a punch in 2 Samuel:

2 Samuel 6.20-23: 20 But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, "How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants' maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!" 21 So David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished." 23 Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sat Dec 16, 2017 6:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Discrepancies owing to the use of sources in Samuel, Kings, & Chronicles.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:19 pm

David at Rabbah

A solid discrepancy owing to the use of sources:

1 Chronicles 20.1-3: 1 Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that Joab led out the army and ravaged the land of the sons of Ammon, and came and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. And Joab struck Rabbah and overthrew it. 2 David took the crown of their king from his head, and he found it to weigh a talent of gold, and there was a precious stone in it; and it was placed on David’s head. And he brought out the spoil of the city, a very great amount. 3 He brought out the people who were in it, and cut them with saws and with sharp instruments and with axes. And thus David did to all the cities of the sons of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

Immediately after claiming that David stayed in Jerusalem for this campaign against the Ammonites, the Chronicler writes as if David was actually there, personally taking their king's crown from his head and bringing out both the people to have them slaughtered before him and the spoils to enjoy. To confirm what seems to be the case already, the Chronicler explicitly adds that David returned to Jerusalem! So he was at Rabbah, despite it being claimed that he stayed at Jerusalem. The harmonizing approach would suggest that David remained at Jerusalem for a time, but then joined Joab in Rabbah; but his trip to Rabbah is not narrated, thus confusing the reader. What is going on?

We find the solution to this problem in Samuel:

2 Samuel 11.1; 12.26-31:

11.1 Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.

....

12.26 Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the sons of Ammon and captured the royal city. 27 Joab sent messengers to David and said, "I have fought against Rabbah, I have even captured the city of waters. 28 Now therefore, gather the rest of the people together and camp against the city and capture it, or I will capture the city myself and it will be named after me." 29 So David gathered all the people and went to Rabbah, fought against it and captured it. 30 Then he took the crown of their king from his head; and its weight was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone; and it was placed on David’s head. And he brought out the spoil of the city in great amounts. 31 He also brought out the people who were in it, and set them under saws, sharp iron instruments, and iron axes, and made them pass through the brick kiln. And thus he did to all the cities of the sons of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

That ellipsis marks the narration of the Bathsheba affair, which Samuel tells us about but which the Chronicler omits. It is the omission of this shameful episode and the sewing of two disparate parts of the story together on the part of the Chronicler that has produced the confusion in his text. What he cut out along with the Bathsheba affair was Joab's message to David and David's journey to Rabbah.

Sometimes the abbreviation of an account can be too thoroughgoing and will remove information that would have helped keep things clear in the derivative text.
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