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2 Samuel 12:14-22

Context
12:14 Nonetheless, because you have treated the Lord with such contempt 1  in this matter, the son who has been born to you will certainly die.”

12:15 Then Nathan went to his home. The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and the child became very ill. 2  12:16 Then David prayed to 3  God for the child and fasted. 4  He would even 5  go and spend the night lying on the ground. 12:17 The elders of his house stood over him and tried to lift him from the ground, but he was unwilling, and refused to eat food with them.

12:18 On the seventh day the child died. But the servants of David were afraid to inform him that the child had died, for they said, “While the child was still alive he would not listen to us 6  when we spoke to him. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He will do himself harm!” 7 

12:19 When David saw that his servants were whispering to one another, he 8  realized that the child was dead. So David asked his servants, “Is the child dead?” They replied, “Yes, he’s dead.” 12:20 So David got up from the ground, bathed, put on oil, and changed his clothes. He went to the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then, when he entered his palace, he requested that food be brought to him, and he ate.

12:21 His servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? While 9  the child was still alive, you fasted and wept. Once the child was dead you got up and ate food!” 12:22 He replied, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, 10  ‘Perhaps 11  the Lord will show pity and the child will live.

1 tc The MT has here “because you have caused the enemies of the Lord to treat the Lord with such contempt.” This is one of the so-called tiqqune sopherim, or “emendations of the scribes.” According to this ancient tradition, the scribes changed the text in order to soften somewhat the negative light in which David was presented. If that is the case, the MT reflects the altered text. The present translation departs from the MT here. Elsewhere the Piel stem of this verb means “treat with contempt,” but never “cause someone to treat with contempt.”

2 tn Heb “and the Lord struck the child…and he was ill.” It is necessary to repeat “the child” in the translation to make clear who became ill, since “the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became very ill” could be understood to mean that David himself became ill.

3 tn Heb “sought” or “searched for.”

4 tn Heb “and David fasted.”

5 tn The three Hebrew verbs that follow in this verse are perfects with prefixed vav. They may describe repeated past actions or actions which accompanied David’s praying and fasting.

6 tn Heb “to our voice.”

7 tn Heb “he will do harm.” The object is not stated in the Hebrew text. The statement may be intentionally vague, meaning that he might harm himself or them!

8 tn Heb “David.” The name has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun (“he”) for stylistic reasons.

9 tc For the MT בַּעֲבוּר (baavur, “for the sake of”) we should probably read בְּעוֹד (bÿod, “while”). See the Lucianic Greek recension, the Syriac Peshitta, and the Targum.

10 tn Heb “said.”

11 tn Heb “Who knows?”



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