“King” Of Deuteronomy 17:14-20 -- By: Harold M. Wiener

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 068:271 (Jul 1911)
Article: “King” Of Deuteronomy 17:14-20
Author: Harold M. Wiener


“King” Of Deuteronomy 17:14-20

Harold M. Wiener, M.A.

Happening to glance at the Hexapla, I was struck by the fact that in Deuteronomy 17:14 archōn, “ruler,” instead of the natural basileus, “king,” corresponded to the Hebrew melek, “king,” in the Septuagintal text. Nobody who knows Greek could regard this as a translation. Nor did the Old-Latin translators, for they render by princeps. On following up the clue, I found reason to suppose that the form of this law known to the LXX differed slightly, but very materially, from that of the Massoretic text. Various considerations unite to suggest this conclusion. It is true that there are other passages in which archon and its cognates appear to represent melek and its cognates, but in each case the Septuagintal text must have been different from our Hebrew. Then, too, some of the variants in the Pentateuch are not at all favorable to the view that this law was originally a law of the kingdom, but distinctly suggest that the text has had a history. Again, the other variants in this passage itself show that there was once a text relating perhaps to rulers, not a single king, in which the throne was unknown and no suggestion of the hereditary character of the office existed.

As the inquiry is necessarily very technical, I propose, for the sake of those readers who may be interested in the Pentateuchal problem and yet do not care to grapple with the minutiae of various Greek and Hebrew readings, to set out a

translation of what I believe the original Septuagintal text to have been, in parallel columns with the ordinary R. V. rendering. For the sake of convenience I italicize the differences. My reasons are given in detail in the following discussion but everybody can see for himself how different the historical setting of the two versions would be.

E.V.

Probable Text Of The LXX.

14 When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein; and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are round about me;

14 When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein; and shalt say, I will set a ruler [variant rulers] over me, like as all the nations ...

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