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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

1 Chronicles 18

Verses 1-17

1 Chronicles 18:13 Comments - We read in the parallel passage of 2 Samuel 8:13 that David smote the Syrians Hebrew ( אֲרַמ ) (H758) in this great battle, and not the Edomites ( אֱדֹם ) (H123).

2 Samuel 8:13, “And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men.”

The context of this passage implies the Edomites were defeated, since the following verses immediately refer to them. In addition, Psalms 60:0 very likely refers to this battle, telling us that David fought with Edom, and not Syria.

Psalms 60:1, To the chief Musician upon Shushaneduth, Michtam of David, to teach; when he strove with Aramnaharaim and with Aramzobah, when Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the valley of salt twelve thousand. “O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.”

This is considered an orthographical error, where a scribe accidentally wrote the Hebrew word for Aram (Syria) ( ארם ) instead of Edom ( אדם ). These words are similar except for the letters daleth ( ד ) and resh ( ר ) being interchanged in the middle. The error obviously occurred because the two letters are very similar.

Because of the tremendous reverence that the Jews gave the Hebrew Scriptures, they feared to correct the text even when it was an obvious scribal error. Therefore, any corrections of recognized errors were made in the margin or footnote of the text, while the misspelled words were retained within in the text.

In this particular passage, the LXX and Syriac versions, as well as some ancient Hebrew manuscripts read “Edom.” Some modern versions also make the correction.

NIV, “Abishai son of Zeruiah struck down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 18". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.