A Note on Nahash: An Exegetic Stalemate and Language Usage in 4Q51 (4QSama) 10:6-9

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The long plus of 4Q51 at 1Sam 10:27, describing the Ammonite attack on the Reubenites and Gadites and the flight of the fugitives to Jabesh-Gilead, has been accepted as original by Cross, Tov and others, whereas it has been viewed as a secondary expansion by other scholars, first and foremost Barthélemy. Since both sides have advanced important arguments, this discussion has led to a stalemate (Kratz). The present study shows that syntactic-stylistic analysis indicates significant differences between the style of the Jabesh tale (1Sam 11) and the plus of the scroll. In particular one notes a series of long noun groups in antecedent and relative clause mentioning "anybody among the Israelites be[yond the Jordan wh]ose right eye was no[t go]uged out by Nahash, king of the Ammonites."Since such constructions are extremely rare in 1-2Samuel, and in classical biblical narrative in general (although they do occur in rhetorical discourse, such as Deut 4:8, and in headings and endings, such as Lev 26:46; Deut 4:45-46; Ezra 7:11), it is important to point out that expressions of such complexity are not infrequently found in Qumran texts, such as 1QS 5:8-10; 1QpHab 2:6-10. In biblical texts this constellation is so exceptional that it is impossible the disregard it. Thus, syntactic-stylistic analysis leads to the virtually inevitable conclusion that the long plus concerning Nahash represents secondary expansion, possibly inspired by 1Chron 5:10, 18-22. The analysis of syntactic-stylistic features, then, is an indispensible part of textual study.

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • 1 Samuel 11
  • Biblical Hebrew syntax
  • Qumran scrolls
  • stylistics Biblical Hebrew
  • textual expansion


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