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Thursday, 24 April 2008

The White Man's sons and the sons of Athaliah

The White man has sons who are also brothers in the Lord and fellow seekers in the way of truth. When he offered to them the three options mentioned in his previous post, they pointed out a fourth possibility, which he offers here for his readers' consideration.

By the way, I find it interesting that an official of the Zondervan Corporation saw fit to read the aforementioned post bright and early on the very day after it hit cypberspace. For a website that typically only gets a few dozen hits a week, this is significant.

This, again, is how the NIV & TNIV have consistently rendered 2 Chronicles 24:7--

"Now the sons of that wicked woman Athaliah had broken into the temple of God and had used even its sacred objects for the Baals."

Here again is a literal gloss of the Hebrew Masoretic Text:

"For Athaliahu The-Wicked, her-sons have-breached the-house of-the-Elohim, and-also all-the-sacred-things of-the-house-of YHWH they-have-made for-Baals."


"For Athaliah taught wickedly, and had broken up the house of the LORD; and also given all the dedicated things that were in the house of the LORD for the worship of the idols."

Thus reads Lamsa's translation of the Syriac Peshitta. Another version which renders the hapax mirsha'ath more as a verb rather than an appositive is the Septuagint, which reads literally:

"For Gotholia was the lawless, and the sons of her dismantled the house of the God; moreover, the sacred-things of house of Lord they offered to the Baalim."

My sons suggested that another meaning of 'son,' as found, for instance, in the phrase 'son of a house' in Gen. 15:3 and Eccl. 2:7, is simply 'servant.' Thus "the sons of Athaliah" could just as well be translated "Athaliah's henchmen." Looking at some of the more paraphrasitic versions, however, we see:

The Message
"You can see how bad things are—wicked Queen Athaliah and her sons let The Temple of God go to ruin and took all its sacred artifacts for use in Baal worship."

The New Living Translation:
"Over the years the followers of wicked Athaliah had broken into the Temple of God, and they had used all the dedicated things from the Temple of the Lord to worship the images of Baal."

Actually, I think I like this one the best. 'Followers' means 'disciples' and how better to translate the 'sons of the prophets' in the books of the Kings than 'disciples of the prophets?'

I also like the textual emendation implied in Darby's version:
"For the wicked Athaliah [and] her sons had devastated the house of God; and also all the hallowed things of the house of Jehovah had they employed for the Baals. "

One final irony:
I earlier missed the fact that an earlier publication of the Zondervan Corporation, the NIrV, had actually translated the verse the very way I suggested for the TNIV, or very close to it:

"The children of that evil woman Athaliah had broken into God's temple. They had used even its sacred objects for the gods that were named after Baal. "

Even more ironically, neither this, nor the Darby version, were any improvement on a translation done the century prior to the OKJV:

"For wicked Athaliah,& her children brake vp the house of God : and all the things that were dedicate for the house of the Lord, did thei bestowe vpon BaalĂ­m." -The Geneva Bible, 1560

In this we see the influence of the Latin version, as shown in the Douay-Rheims Bible:

"For that wicked woman Athalia, and her children have destroyed the house of God, and adorned the temple of Baal with all the things that had been dedicated in the temple of the Lord."


  1. I certainly agree with you regarding most translations having a very difficult time sticking to a consistent theory of translation. I've starting writing in my mind a similar critique of the ESV, mainly because the ESV has put together 200 page book outlining their theory and it is considered in some sense "best of breed".

    As an aside the NEB handles this verse in an interesting way which you should add to your study, "For the wicked Athaliah and her adherents had broken into the house of God and had devoted all of its holy things to the service of the Baalim".

    In general I happen to always check the NEB. Its fantastic about alternate readings. IMHO the best "2nd translation" on the market. Just which there was a great "1st translation". :-)


  2. . . .Mainly because the ESV has put together 200 page book outlining their theory and it is considered in some sense "best of breed".

    Exactly. An haughty spirit precedes a fall.


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