Elijah The Tishbite: A Note On I Kings 17:1 -- By: James T. Dennison, Jr.

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 41:1 (Fall 1978)
Article: Elijah The Tishbite: A Note On I Kings 17:1
Author: James T. Dennison, Jr.


Elijah The Tishbite: A Note On I Kings 17:1

James T. Dennison, Jr.

The translation of I Kings 17:1 is a notable crux. The perTtinent portion of the Hebrew text is the phrase:

אליהו התשבי מתשבי גלעד

which the Massoretes pointed ʾēliyyāhū hattis̆bī mittōs̆ā

    b
ē gilʿā
    d
. Specifically, the crux involves the meaning of מתשבי which the MT understands as a derivative of the root ישב > תושב (= “sojourner”, “settler”).1 In spite of the sequence of duplicate Hebrew consonants, the Massoretes have not read 4=11n as an elucidation of the gentilic (מתשבי). For their troubles, they have been charged with interpreting the text by means of their pointing.2 However, if the Massoretic reading is so patently incorrect, whatever induced them to point it as such? Perhaps the explanation lies in the fact that the gentilic, in I and II Kings, is never composed with a duplicate set of consonants as a means of defining location. In other words, the text of I and II Kings uses the gentilic itself to designate place of origin; no repetition of consonants is found indicative of a clarification of locale.3 Thus, since אליהו התשבי identifies the prophet as to name and place of origin, some alternative root must be involved in התשבי. We may conclude by suggesting that had the TATassoretes believed the received text meant to teach that Elijah was from Tishbe of Gilead, the Hebrew would have read “Elijah from Tishbe in Gilead” or “Elijah the Tishbite of Gilead”. With a certain degree of plausibility therefore, the

Massoretes read מתשבי as a substantive rather than a denominative.

Yet, the LXX reads מתשבי tautologically,4 i.e., as a proper name for a site on the east bank (‘Tishbe of Gilead’):

Ἐκ Θεσβῶν τῆς Γαλὰδ5

This reading makes מתשבי an elucidation of the gentilic התשבי. In sea...

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