The fate of the people of Rabbah

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Si
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Location: Wisconsin

The fate of the people of Rabbah

Post by Si » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:21 pm

2 Samuel 12:31 New King James Version (NKJV)

31 And he brought out the people who were in it, and put them to work with saws and iron picks and iron axes, and made them cross over to the brick works. So he did to all the cities of the people of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 12:31 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

31 He also brought out the people who were in it, and (A)set them under saws, sharp iron instruments, and iron axes, and made them pass through the brickkiln. And thus he did to all the cities of the sons of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

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1 Chronicles 20:3 New King James Version (NKJV)

3 And he brought out the people who were in it, and put them to work[a] with saws, with iron picks, and with axes. So David did to all the cities of the people of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

1 Chronicles 20:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

3 He brought out the people who were in it, (A)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.

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So did David put them to work with saws other sharp instruments and put them to work in the brick kilns, or did he kill them with these tools and burn them in the brick kilns?

StevenD
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Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:25 am

Re: The fate of the people of Rabbah

Post by StevenD » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:10 pm

Hi Si,

At risk of erring on the side of the more humane, one might literally translate 2 Sam. 12:31 as:

..."and he brought out the people that were in it [i.e. the city], and he set/placed [them] with/at the saw and at the cutting implements of iron and with iron blades. And he brought them over by the brick kiln. So he did [lit. will do] thus to all the cities of the children of Ammon, and David and all the people returned to Jerusalem."

The less cruel reading of 1 Chr. 20:3 might read accordingly:

..."and he brought out the people that were in it, and they [i.e. the people] sawed with the saw and with the cutting implements of iron and with the blades. And David did thus [lit. will do] to all the cities of the children of Ammon, and David and all the people returned to Jerusalem."

In 2 Sam. 12:31 it appears that translators are wrestling with how to interpret and apply a verb commonly translated "set/place". The sentence does not include a direct object, so the object "them" is implied. Additionally, the NKJV and the NASB translations that you cited include wording not provided by the Hebrew text in order to make sense of what is written. As noted in your post, the NKJV supplies the thought that David put "them to work" with tools, while the NASB interprets David's action as having set "them under" the sharp instruments.

My guess is that both groups of translators were attempting to harmonize 2 Samuel with the later text of 1 Chronicles. Seeing that both the Chronicler and the writer of Samuel fronted each verse with the precise initial phrase, the translators probably put forth effort to reconcile the differing verbs that immediately follow these verbatim phrases in each account. Samuel presents the verb "put/place/set" and Chronicles contains a verb "saw/cut". As used in each text, both verbs correspond to a masculine singular subject.

The NKJV translators went with an identical interpretation of these very different verbs in the the two accounts. Though Samuel employs the verb for he "put/set" and Chronicles contains the verb "saw/cut", on both accounts the NKJV translates "put them to work". Note that the direct object "them" is implied in both cases. The translator seems to assume that the sawing (Chronicles) was done by the people, and David put (Samuel) them to work.

The NASB translators took the more harsh route of interpreting Chronicles as David cutting the Ammonites with saws and axes by taking the verb "to saw" at face value, assuming that David is the subject. The NASB translators interpreted Samuel with the similar idea that David put the Ammonites "under saws".

The literal translation that I suggested above can be accounted for by assuming that David is the subject of the verb "set/put" in Samuel. David seems to necessarily be the subject of the verb [put/set] in Samuel because of the phrase that follows related to the brick kiln (i.e. David brought the people over by the kiln; the verb doesn't permit for the people doing that reflexively [to themselves]). However, the phrase about the brick kiln is not included in Chronicles. While the verb "sawed" is linked to a 3rd masculine singular subject, "the people" as a unit qualify as the implied subject. The subject remains ambiguous. Instead of assuming that David is the subject of the Chronicles verse, for a less gruesome understanding of the passage it is possible to understand the people as the subject of this phrase. Maybe the NKJV translators had a similar idea and chose to express it through an interpretation that wasn't as literal.

Thanks for reading,
Stevend
Last edited by StevenD on Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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steve
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Re: The fate of the people of Rabbah

Post by steve » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:38 pm

StevenD,

You don't post very often, but I sure appreciate when you do!

Si
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:03 am
Location: Wisconsin

Re: The fate of the people of Rabbah

Post by Si » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:41 pm

Yes, thanks StevenD for the well thought out answer. I'm going to have to study this out more to fully understand what you wrote, but it is a great starting point. Thanks!

StevenD
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:25 am

Re: The fate of the people of Rabbah

Post by StevenD » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:16 am

Thanks for the encouragement, Steve and Si! While time constraints don't always allow me to spent a lot of time on the forum, we continue to marvel as chronic listeners of the radio program. The least I can do is try to interact on the forum to stay in touch... :D

Gratefully,
Stevend

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