11:2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “The only way I will make a treaty with you is if you let me gouge out the right eye of every one of you and in so doing humiliate all Israel!”
1 tc 4QSama and Josephus (Ant. 6.68-71) attest to a longer form of text at this point. The addition explains Nahash’s practice of enemy mutilation, and by so doing provides a smoother transition to the following paragraph than is found in the MT. The NRSV adopts this reading, with the following English translation: “Now Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the Gadites and the Reubenites. He would gouge out the right eye of each of them and would not grant Israel a deliverer. No one was left of the Israelites across the Jordan whose right eye Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had not gouged out. But there were seven thousand men who had escaped from the Ammonites and had entered Jabesh-gilead.” This reading should not be lightly dismissed; it may in fact provide a text superior to that of the MT and the ancient versions. But the external evidence for it is so limited as to induce caution; the present translation instead follows the MT. However, for a reasonable case for including this reading in the text see the discussions in P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (AB), 199, and R. W. Klein, 1 Samuel (WBC), 103.
2 sn The name “Nahash” means “serpent” in Hebrew.
3 tn Heb “went up and camped”; NIV, NRSV “went up and besieged.”