David’s Transfer of the Ark according to Josephus -- By: Christopher T. Begg

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 07:1 (NA 1997)
Article: David’s Transfer of the Ark according to Josephus
Author: Christopher T. Begg


David’s Transfer of the Ark according to Josephus

Christopher T. Begg

Catholic University Of America

The Bible twice relates the story of David’s transfer of the ark to Jerusalem, once in 2 Samuel 6 and then, in greatly expanded form, in 1 Chronicles 13- 16. This article studies Josephus’ retelling of the episode in Ant. 7.78-89 in relation to the biblical sources (as represented by MT, Codex Vaticanus and the Lucianic/Antiochene mss of the LXX, as well as the Targums). Among its findings: Josephus drew on the presentations of both Samuel and Chronicles. There are several clear instances of his dependence on a LXX-like text of Samuel (and Chronicles), but no equally clear-cut indications of his utilization of a MT-like text. Contentually, Josephus’ version highlights the role of the priests vis-à-vis that of the Levites in the ark’s transfer. David’s role is likewise consistently accentuated, even while source suggestions of his arrogation of priestly prerogatives are eliminated. Finally, building on the LXX reading in 2 Sam 6:20, Josephus softens the vehemence of Michal’s exchange with her husband, just as he also attempts to harmonize conflicting biblical data concerning her (lack of) progeny.

Key Words: Josephus, David, ark, LXX, biblical retelling

Over the course of the 20th century the story of David’s transfer of the Ark to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6 (//1 Chronicles 13-16) has fueled a variety of scholarly endeavors: reconstructions of the history of the early monarchy, speculations on the cultic Sitz of the psalms, studies on the relationship between Chronicles and its Samuel Vorlage, and especially since the discovery of the Qumran Samuel mss, renewed attention to text-critical questions.1 In this essay I wish to examine a much earlier re-reading of 2 Samuel 6 (//1 Chronicles 13-16), i.e.,

that of Josephus in Ant. 7.78-89.2 My examination of Josephus’ retelling of the ark episode will proceed by way of a detailed comparison between it and its biblical sources as represented by the following major witnesses: MT (BHS), 4QSama,3 Codex Vaticanus (hereafter B)You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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