Scratchpad: Exegesis of 2nd Samuel 7.4-17 lxx – Suggestions?

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We are required to submit notes this go around. I wouldn’t mind some helpful suggestions…

2nd Samuel 7.4-17

Preliminary Observations:

Second Samuel 7.4-17 has long been used in connection to Messianic Expectation[1] in connection with Jesus Christ, rather, the periscope of verse 14-16 which speaks specifically to the future King. Ideally, however, the passage (both the Temple and the Dynastic Promise) should be taken as a whole given that promises once made to David by YHWH are now being removed from him and given to another, namely to that of Solomon. To blindly allow the passage to speak only in regards to Christ would be violently destructive to the text itself, to the intentions of the original author, and to the original application. No doubt that the original author(s) was writing in hope of something while attempting to misalign David as the ideal king, but it is doubtful that a future event some five centuries later was expected. While the text is prophetic, note that it is given from God to the Prophet Nathan and then to David in response to David’s prayer, prophecy was not about some long expected future event, but about the almost immediate present, although in this case, it would have been some decades later before Solomon was given the promises fully.

Two things are taken from David on this night, namely his goal of centralizing the cult via his service to God in building the Temple and the fact that his son’s throne will be the established Throne, or restored throne as the LXX[2] has it. What is interesting is that in 2nd Samuel, God refuses David’s offer of building the House of the Lord while in 1st Chronicles 22.9, David recounts a prophecy which has it that as part of his punishment, God has removed from David the right to build the Temple while promising that in the future, Solomon would be given the honor and duty. Added to this is Solomon’s words in 1st Kings 8.14-21 which has God praising David’s desire to build the house, couching the refusal into a prophetic statement that Jerusalem, named by Solomon, would be chosen and that Solomon would build the Temple. I note the differences as well in where, and perhaps when, the son of David will come from, as given in the various statements mentioned above. In 2nd Samuel, the son comes from the belly (7.12, LXX), in 1st Kings 8.19, the son comes from the King’s side, while only in 1st Chronicles 22.9 is the son said to be born unto the King. While the language may all mean the same thing, I find it difficult to see it as such, especially given the translation, and oftentimes interpretation via translation, of the Septuagint. The Hebrew, at least preliminary, seems to all contain the same thought, that the son of David which will have the established throne will be an immediate descendent of David.

Passage Comparisons:

New English Translation of the Septuagint New American Standard Version New Revised Standard Version
And it happened on that night that a word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: Go, and say to my slave Dauid: This is what the Lord says: You shall not build me a house for me to live in; for I have not lived in a house from the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt to this day, and I was moving about in a temporary abode and in a tent. In all places to which I have moved about among all Israel, speaking did I speak with one tribe of Israel whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why is it that you have not built me a house of cedar?” And now this is what you shall say to my salve Dauid: This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the sheepfold for you to be leader for my people, for Israel and was with you in all to which you went and destroyed all your enemies from before you and made you renowned like the name of the great ones who are upon the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, and they will encamp by themselves, and the will be distressed no more, and a son of injustice shall not add to afflict them as formerly from the days that I appointed judges over my people Israel, and I will give you rest from all your enemies,

and the Lord will tell you that you will make a house for him.

And it will be if your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, that I will raise up your offspring after you who shall be from your belly, and I will prepare his kingdom; he shall build me a house for my name, and I will restore his throne forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me, and if his injustice comes, then I will punish him with a rod of men and with attacks of sons of men,  but I will not remove my mercy from him, as I removed it from those whom I removed from before me. And his house and his kingdom shall be made sure forever before me, and his throne shall be restored forever.

According to all these words and according to all this vision, thus Nathan spoke to Dauid.

But in the same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, “Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’”‘

Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth. I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies.

The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you.

When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”‘

In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.

But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar? Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies.

Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

Significant Differences:

  • 7.5 affirms that David will not build a house in the Gr, but in translations made from the Hebrew, God is merely asking a question.
  • 7.6 (Gr) implies that the Wilderness Tabernacle was only supposed to be temporary, whereas the Hebrew has a more permanent perspective. This may be as a result of the time period in which the Greek translators were writing in.
  • 7.9-11 seems to imply that YHWH is speaking before Israel entering the Promised Land, with a future tense being applied to a future security in a future place.
  • 7.9 (Gr) solidifies the tenses. Whereas in the Hebrew, YHWY tells David that He has been with him in battle already and that He will make David a great name, in the Greek, David already has the great name, again, implying the date of the LXX translation.
  • 7.11 (Gr)  implies that there is hope for David making a house for God, whereas the Hebrew in the NASB has YHWH making a house (dynasty ) God and the NRSV turns this a bit with YHWH making David into a dynasty.
  • 7.12 (Gr) has the future son coming from David’s belly (NETS; womb, mine) whereas the Hebrew notes that the future son will come from David’s body. It may be that the Greek is looking forward to a yet unfulfilled expectation or is relying upon Psalm 131 (132 Eng) in which, having been written on David’s behalf, attempts to remind God of the promise made to David while the author sits in exile of some sort. Further, the same Greek word is used in 2nd Samuel 16.11 in which David laments after Absalom, the ‘son who came out of my belly’ (NETS) in what may an author’s trick and getting the audience to think that Absalom was the future son from chapter 7.
  • 7.15 (Gr) doesn’t mention Saul’s name, but leaves room for the assumption of plenty of kinds which God has removed. The Hebrew mentions Saul.
  • 7.13-16 (Gr) has YHWH promising to ‘restore’ the throne of the future son, or perhaps restore the throne for the future son whereas the Hebrew has God establishing the throne for the future son.

I will explore the meaning of the Greek text in comparison to that of the Hebrew text, along with intertextual readings from the Psalms, in hopes of understanding the sitz im leben of the translator(s) and how it might play into the rising Messianic Expectation of the times. The passage in particular seems to have enjoyed a rewrite during translation which allows for a more definitive answer to David’s question and a hope for a future king of Israel which would (re)build the Temple. Further, I will try to compare it to Psalm 131 lxx (132 Eng), especially for a source of the translator’s thought. I will also attempt to excess the Dead Sea Scrolls for any important information on the formation of the text as well as well as understanding how the communities at Qumran may have understood this passage.


[1] Although, the connection is rather weak in the New Testament. Paul uses it in 2nd Corinthians 6.18, not for Christ in particular, but for the Church corporately.

[2] I will be using the NETS: Pietersma, Albert, & Wright, Benjamin G. (2007). A New English Translation of the Septuagint. Oxford University Press, USA.

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Post By Joel Watts (10,056 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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8 thoughts on Scratchpad: Exegesis of 2nd Samuel 7.4-17 lxx – Suggestions?

  1. Also note that in Chronicles, God reveals the plans (tavnit/paradeigma) of the temple to David, who then passes those divinely revealed plans to Solomon–something reminiscent of God revealing the pattern (tavnit) of the tabernacle to Moses (Exodus 25) but absent in the narrative surrounding the temple in 2 Samuel and 1 Kings.

  2. Just a note to get you moving in an ‘out of the box’ direction: I would not neglect Genesis as the origination of much of the intertextual origins of the text.

  3. there is a lot of scholarship on the messianic expectation of the qumran community. i’d check collins’ work on it and see if he brings up any specific examples of how they may have interpreted this idea.

    for some reason i have the temple scroll (11Q19–21) in mind. i’ll do some digging tomorrow when i’m back at the office. it’s interesting stuff!

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