Crime Scene Investigation: A Text-Critical Mystery and the Strange Death of Ishbosheth

  • Keith Bodner

Abstract

The troublesome reign of Ishbosheth comes to a graphic conclusion when he is assassinated – audaciously, at midday while reclining on a couch in his own house – by two of his own captains, the brothers Rechab and Baanah. That Ishbosheth is assassinated (while sleeping in his house at high noon) there is no doubt: the guilty confess, are charged, and duly executed. But the puzzle is how exactly the murder takes place – and this is subject of my analysis – as there are significant discrepancies between the Hebrew and Greek texts. This article surveys a number of “solutions” posited by scholars and evaluate various attempts that have been made to resolve this text-critical mystery. I then move toward a conclusion by summarizing the key differences between the MT and LXX in this passage and discussing some of the literary implications that emerge when these textual trajectories are compared. As a witness to the murder, the LXX provides an exciting and compelling testimony, but the MT account features several important details that cannot be ignored in light of the larger storyline.
Published
2009-03-06
Section
Articles