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Always insightful analysis, but you like Na'aman don't explain why Ephes-dammim is out of the picture. Its true Bolen doesn't consider Gob either, which he should. But I think the geographical realia of the David and Goliath narrative allows Qeiyafa to fit quite well with Ephes-dammim. However, the questions still persist who built the site and who occupied it in the Goliath stories? I'll leave this for now and conclude. It is much easier to look for Gob somewhere else, perhaps in the Rephaim Valley or along the ridge route to Bethlehem.



I hope you are able to attend Garfinkel's presentation at ASOR and blog about it.

The identification of the site with Gob depends on the viability of a hypothesis that superimposes the 2 Sam 21 passage onto the 1 Sam passage. It stands or falls with that, which of course makes the identification precarious.


I plan on it, I present the first session in the morning and then I will celebrate by enjoying their lecture. So, then would you say that Gob=Ephes Dammim?



Be sure to blog about your own presentation, too.

No, I didn't mean to suggest that Gob=Ephes Dammim.

On the contrary, the Philistines encamp at Ephes Dammim according to 1 Sam 17:1; at the same time, the valley is between them and the Israelites, according to 1 Sam 17:3. That suggests to me that Ephes Dammim is on the same side of the valley as Socoh, which rules out an identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa with Ephes Dammim.

Unless I am overlooking something, no, Ephes Dammim and Khirbet Qeiyafa are not identifiable on a plain reading of 1 Sam 17:1-3.


I actually think that the Israelites were encamped on the edge of the hill country, where there is a moshav today, directly across from Socoh. I don't think they would have crossed the Chalk Moat and exposed themselves in case a quick retreat was necessary. The Nahal HaElah turns at this point from running down the Chalk Moat (from the south) into the Elah Valley. I think the traditional location isn't feasible in terms of geography or practicality.


Hence the biblical account is describing a movement through the valley, from Azekah to Ephes-dammim to Socoh.


I don't see how one can deduce a movement from Azekah to Ephes-Dammim to Socoh on the part of the Israelites or the Philistines from 1 Sam 17:1-3, though it is not out of the question.

For further suggestions, see my post of today.

BTW, for those listening in, suggestions of the kind Owen and I are speculative by nature, but no more so than those found in any book of historical geography. Furthermore, they are more plausible that those of Anson Rainey in the Sacred Bridge (p. 147) with respect to the location of Shaaraim, give Garfinkel's proposed identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa with Shaaraim.


Yes, I would agree. I like the idea of Shaaraim as Qeiyafa (at least better than the other possibilities) my above ideas are based on research done and many trips walking the area, while writing my MA thesis on the Chalk Moat under Rainey.

Kevin P. Edgecomb

So, even though the Samuel-Kings books are widely recognized as some of the most poorly preserved of all the OT books, the Elhanan passage is taken not as a corruption (in light of the Chronicler's knowledge of an uncorrupted text), but as evidence of a coverup?

What is this world coming to?

My own suggestion would be for people to compare the two verses and note how easily the Samuel reading might come from the Chronicles reading if the words )T LXMY )XY GLYT were somehow confused (through a damaged line, very likely), but obviously in the block-script stage, thinking primarily of the easy confusion of HE and TAW in especially block script. Notice )T LXMY > BYT HLXMY and )XY GLYT > )T GLYT. The (RGYM is obviously inserted from the latter part of the verse, as is universally recognized. Seeing the Samuel text as a corruption unknown to the Chronicler is not perhaps as interesting, but it's certainly more likely, and the most logical explanation of the evidence we have. The diversion in texts came after the Chronicler had already written, though before the LXX, so must've been third or early second century (with a date for LXX of Kingdoms/Samuel-Kings in mid-second cent.). A damaged line, either at the top or bottom of a column, is likely to blame for an attempted reconstruction on the part of a scribe unfamiliar with the passage as found in Chronicles. Thus the confusion.



It will be fun to chat with you about this in the future.


That's a very interesting line of reasoning you pursue, and the one
adopted in the NLT Study Bible. It should be pointed out that even conservative scholars such as Bertheau in his day and Rainey in our day nevertheless found this approach unconvincing. I am of that number.

Here are a few reasons why the text critic in me rebels at your suggestion:

(1) As a host of scholars have shown (Cross, Lemke, Klein), the Chronicler did not work with a pristine edition of Samuel-Kings, but a developed Palestinian text-type known from Qumran, the Old Greek, the proto-Lucianic recension, and Josephus. Similarly, Waltke has shown that the Chronicler worked with a developed text type in the case of the Pentateuch.

Thus it is now clear that the Chronicler in many cases did not introduce the historical and theological changes for which 1-2 Chronicles is famous. He found them already in his Vorlage. To charge the Chronicler with a coverup in these instances is without foundation. It is the equivalent of charging Matthew and other NT writers with text-tampering
because they quoted the scriptures according to the Old Greek even when it differs substantially from the Hebrew as we (not they) know it.

(2) Sound methodology forbids the text critic from viewing the 2 Sam and 1 Chron passages in isolation from 1 Sam 16-17. The text-critical question always is, what reading, attested or hypothetical, stands at the beginning of a process of divergence. The lectio dificilior is, as you know, usually to be preferred, and that prize, given 1 Sam 17, goes hats off to the reading preserved in MT in 2 Sam. Otherwise stated, the reading found in 1 Chron harmonizes with 1 Sam 17.

(3) Harmonization is a very well known type of well-intentioned scribal activism. It is a more economical hypothesis to suppose this here than is your hypothesis, which requires that an original את became בית ה through (a two-step?) corruption.

(4) Grammatically, the supposed Urtext with אחי instead of את is possible but not consistent with context. It is the style of the author of Samuel to use the nota accusativi after the particular verb used.

But scribes are not known to correct for style in this sense, so your proposal, which amounts to suggesting that אחי was changed to את accidentally, with the result that the style of the context was also restored accidentally, strains the imagination.

(5) Graetz, an accomplished scholar of his day, sensed the weakness of any text-critical explanation based on the notion that 1 Chron is the original text. He had the good sense to suggest haplography as an alternative solution. If one's doctrine of scripture requires that David struck down Goliath not just in terms of a literary genre which enshrines authentic collective memory by re-aggregation of originally disparate material around a central hero (a well-known occurrence in ancient and even modern literature with figures that have become legendary as subject), it would be cleaner from a text critical point of view to posit a double haplography, with this as the Urtext of 2 Sam and 1 Chron:

ויך אלחנן בן יערי בית הלחמי את לחמי אחי גלית הגתי

BTW, there are instances in which the Chronicler has things right and other witnesses clearly do not. Rest assured, I do not dismiss your proposal out of hand as many less cautious than I would. It's the details of the proposal that poorly compute.

Kevin P. Edgecomb

John, that's all interesting, but hardly probative. What happened to Ockham's Razor? It never shaves in Biblical Studies, it seems!
1) The various scholars you mention do not exactly cohere in their treatments of textual issues. Likewise, "developed text" is precisely what one must use to describe the MT of Samuel-Kings. The Old Greek shows a different layer of the literary, not textual, tradition. The same can be said of the OG Jeremiah.
2) Lectio dificilior applies in the case of a fairly well-transmitted text, not one otherwise error-ridden.
3) What would be harmonized with what to produce the Chronicles blurb? A difference of a handful of letters in one line doesn't require harmonization.
4) I don't posit "accidental change", but that in the transmission of this text, an error in copying due to a damaged exemplar, which is simple enough.
5) The Graetz suggestion is simply silly.

In the end I find it just another example of the irrational intransigence of the guild. This peculiar and erroneous reading has been accepted as authentic for so long, and Chronicles accused of harmonization (or whatever shortcoming) for so long, that no other possibilities are entertained. That Samuel-Kings is a textual nightmare is conveniently ignored, while all manner of excuses made for a kind of fundamentalist attachment to the MT reading in Samuel as original. It's foolish.



Thanks for this conversation. I'm sure others will find it instructive. I'll make a preliminary comment for now, and go back to the particulars later.

Occam's Razor applied to this case involves exploring the hypothesis that all three accounts go back to one duel between Elhanan and Goliath. There is nothing foolish about this approach.

We are dealing with texts (the Primary History and 1-2 Chronicles) which preserve the traditions and collective memory of a nation at a remove in this case of 400 to 600 years, respectively, from the time period evoked. It is to be expected that within that time frame particular events would come to be retold with differences in detail large and small.

As is well-known, it is characteristic of biblical literature to preserve traditions at variance with one another in many details. Traditionally, all three passages count as Scripture as is, "warts" and all. However one resolves the historical questions, as I do, as you do, or as others have done, the resolution cannot change the fact that all three texts are Scripture as is.

That is important to say. Otherwise, it might seem as if it matters if Elhanan rather than David struck down Goliath. For the sake of argument, let's assume that Elhanan and not David was the person responsible; but that, in the course of traditioning, the story gravitated toward the nation's hero David (a well-known phenomenon, after all). Would the author of the Primary History then be wrong to include both 1 Sam 17 and 2 Sam 23 among the traditions he preserved?

Of course not. What an absurd conclusion that would be. He should praised instead for including the discrepant traditions. And the Jewish religionists for including 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Chronicles as well, in the text forms they possessed no matter how compromised, as well.

Otherwise, Kevin, the Bible which bears authority is not the one we have, but the one you or I reconstruct, the supposed autographs or some such.

That is a move that evangelicals often make, but it has the whiff of heresy about it to me.

Kevin P. Edgecomb

You're still missing the point, John, by looking at 1Sam 21.19 as an incorrupt text. The reduplicated )RGYM is universally recognized as evidence of an internal corruption here. It cannot be original, as it produces a patently ridiculous patronym for Elhanan. I (and anyone else who finds it plausible) entirely plausibly suggest that there is more corruption in 1Sam 21.19 than the )RGYM, and that 1Chr 20.5 preserves a completely coherent and likely correct text, one that the Chronicler read in his own copy of Samuel. There is no logical way to maintain that "Elhanan killed Goliath" when the only datum presenting such a scenario is tainted by at least one universally recognized error.

We need also to recognize that MT includes not one, but two accounts of the David/Saul/Goliath pericope, interwoven. OG preserves only one of those. The two accounts present David as the killer of Goliath. So, we have the two accounts in 1Sam 17 MT, the record of David killing Goliath in 1Sam 21-22, where he takes up Goliath's sword from the Tabernacle, the error-ridden 2Sam 21.19, and the correct 1Chr 20.5. Eighty percent of the relevant texts documenting traditions on the killer of Goliath name such as David, while the other twenty percent is in a patently corrupted text.

There is no "gravitating" of some tradition of Elhanan having killed Goliath. That story is not a "tradition" but an error. This is patently the case of an error in the transmission of the text of 2Sam 21.19 dating to some time after the Chronicler's work, but before the translation of the Old Greek, whenever that was.



It looks like I will not have time to respond in exhaustive fashion to your objections to "the irrational intransigence of the guild" as you call it for the next 10 days. SBL Boston is now upon us.

I am finding that the views I espouse above were reached independently by many other accomplished text-critics before me. I see now that Knoppers in his AB Chronicles commentary - and he is a famously cautious scholar - reaches the same conclusions about 1 Chron 20:5 I do.

One thing is certain. The fact that MT and LXX 1 Sam 21:19 are not free of corruption is not going to lead text-critics to dismiss their general content (according to which Elhanan struck down Goliath) on that basis.

It is standard practice to evaluate each particular locus of variation on its own merits. 1 Sam 21:19 contains more than one locus of variation within its attested transmission history. Assuming that 1 Chron 20:5 is based on a different version of the same text, the number of loci of variation goes up further. The loci have to be examined one by one.

Kevin P. Edgecomb

Yes, John, they've been reached by many others, but these things are not decided in democratic means. Even were it so, most simply parrot what they've been taught, obviously, because they've internalized the paradigms and narrative of their instructors, and no original thinking on their part, so that their "votes" count for even less than one might think. Whatever. Come back to it when you can. Have fun in Boston!


You are certainly right that the cogency of particular arguments is what counts, not a preponderance of authorities. But that applies to your 80/20 per cent argument in terms of the number of witnesses that imagine David as the slayer of Goliath. The argument bears no weight at all.

I will come back to the crux. Now that archaeological data intersect with textual data in highly unusual and specific ways, the drama is thick.

Kevin P. Edgecomb

There is certainly a difference, John: 1.) the objective evidence of the texts, 2.) subjective scholarly interpretation of the texts. The two are not equal by any means. Priveleging one text which is corrupt over incorrupt texts is flatly wrong, whatever sophistries are used to generate support for such a position. It's simply laughable, a rididulous excess, merely another case of intransigent obfuscatory erudition that makes the field so patently irrelevant to readers and lovers of the Bible.



You say:

"Privileging one text which is corrupt over incorrupt texts is flatly wrong."

With that statement, you assume as true what in fact is contested; you assume that MT and LXX 2 Samuel 21:19 are corrupt in all relevant loci of variation, and that MT and LXX 1 Chron 20:5 do not represent a correction of 2 Sam 21:19 in deference to 1 Sam 17.

You frame the debate incorrectly as a debate between objective evidence on the one hand, and interpretation on the other. The facts are otherwise. You hold to one interpretation, your own, not that of tradition, which requires suppressing MT and LXX 2 Sam 21:19.

I hold to another interpretation which accords value and authority to MT/LXX across 1 Sam 17, 2 Sam 19, and 1 Chron 20.

You find it necessary to stand over tradition and reject a part of it. I bow to the threefold tradition in its entirety, accept each text as canonical traditioning.

For me, inspiration lies in the texts, all three. For you, it appears that inspiration lies in the events behind the texts as you reconstruct those events.

Interesting enough, Targum 1 Chron 20:5 corrects MT 1 Chron 20:5 so as to give as much glory as possible to David. David, not Elhanan, kills Goliath's brother as well. For Judaism, another valid traditioning.

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    by Mike Heiser, academic editor at Logos Bible Software
  • The Reformed Reader
    by Andrew Compton, Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (focus on Hebrew and Semitic Languages) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • The Sacred Page
    a blog written by three Catholic Ph.D.s who are professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber, Brant Pitre and John Bergsma
  • The Talmud Blog
    a group blog on Talmud News, Reviews, Culture, Currents, and Criticism
  • Theological German
    a site for reading and discussing theological German, by Mark Alter
  • theoutwardquest
    seeking spirituality as an outward, not an inward quest, by David Corder
  • This Lamp
    Incisive comment on Bible translations in the archives, by Rick Mansfield
  • Thoughts on Antiquity
    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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