Thursday, May 19, 2011

Merib-Baal or Meri-Baal in 1 Chronicles 9:40

My wife and I read an interesting note about the tiqqune sopherim ("emendations of the scribes") in my wife's archaeological study Bible today, and they mentioned that often scribes changed the names of individuals to remove the name of a pagan deity (for instance Ish-Baal "man of Baal" becomes Ish-Boshet "man of shame," and likewise Merib-Baal becomes Mephi-Boshet). Irony of ironies, in my personal reading tonight I was in 1 Chronicles 9 and came across exactly this genealogy of Saul. I noted a textual problem beyond the question of what the article in the study Bible mentioned, however, in the name of Merib-Baal.

1 Chronicles 9:40 gives the name of Jonathan's son Meri(b)-Baal twice:

"And the son of Jonathan was Merib-Baal (מריב בעל), and Meri-Baal (מרי בעל) begot Michah."

In 1 Chronicles 8:34, an identical verse, both instances are spelled Merib-Baal מריב בעל, strongly arguing that this is the correct spelling. It is interesting though, that the LXX (according to Rahlfs) has in all cases Μεριβααλ without two betas, which may mean that מרי בעל was read. HALOT mentions that an ostracon was found with the name מרבעל. Holladay actually argues that מריב בעל "antagonist of Baal" may even have been "reconceived" from מרי בעל.  In the end, it is clear that one of these two spellings put side by side is textually corrupt, either by haplography or dittography of the additional ב beth.

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