Monday, February 04, 2008

Did Solomon Have Three Older Full-Brothers?

A modern image of David, Bathsheba (Bath-shua), and Solomon:

David, Bathsheba (Bath-shua), and Solomon

I was emailed the following interesting question today: "In 2 Samuel [12:24] it says that David comforted Bathsheba. Then he went to her and she conceived Solomon. But in 1 Chronicles 3 [v. 5] it lists four sons for Bathsheba and David, but Solomon is listed fourth and last. Was he a youngest son?"

I am not sure I have a definitive answer. The Jewish scholar David Rothstein suggests that in 1 Chr 3:5 Solomon appears as a fourth son born to David in Jerusalem, and as a fourth son of Bathsheba, as a literary trope glorifying Solomon. He writes, “The ‘three-four’ number scheme, where the fourth item is climatic (as in Judah, the fourth son of Jacob), is common in the Bible.” If the Chronicles presentation of the four names is supposed to reflect actual birth order, the glorification of Solomon would be even stronger: "Despite having three older brothers, he alone was chosen to be king."

What do readers think of this interpretation? Have you heard of other readings??


Anonymous Anonymous said...

David’s “Jerusalem” progeny is listed in three places: twice in 1 Chronicles (3:5 & 14:4) and once in 2 Samuel (5:14). While all three agree ostensibly in order, we notice that 2 Samuel only lists seven sons after “Solomon” by omitting Eliphelet and Nogah from the representation. While I like Rothstein’s hypothesis because it follows biblical-theological and literary schemas, I think there may at the very least be some textual corruption here in Chronicles (i.e., Who would utilize two names for four of his sons [that’s just cruel!], and why are there two less Jerusalem sons listed in 2 Samuel?). The beginning of the chapter offers definitive ordinals for the birth position, but when we get to vv.4-8, the ordinals are omitted from designating birth sequence and the reader is left with the assumption that the order presented ostensibly represents birth order. In light of the probable textual corruption and elided ordinals for the “Jerusalem sons,” I still question whether sequence of birth is represented here and would like to see some further data (i.e., methodologically at this point it would be good for us to see whether the Chronicler “misrepresents” lineal order for the other progeny he lists without ordinals in his writings by comparing his text with representations elsewhere…I’ve not done so).

Wed Feb 06, 12:58:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, to be corrected, my wife brought up a good point. The issue of naming the sons the same name could be an issue of the initial sons dying and the subsequent sons assuming the same names. Death could account for the variance between the lists with Nogah and the duplicate names (i.e., the Chronicler gives a more thorough list in spite of the deaths). My grandparents engaged in this act by naming my father the same name as his brother who died before he was born.

Wed Feb 06, 09:07:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Many thanks for these comments! ---SLC

Wed Feb 06, 09:27:00 PM GMT-5  

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