In Joshua 12:9-24 there is Joshua's famous song of triumph over the 31 Kings of the Land of Canaan which he conquered. The song (and it is a song per the Talmud Megillah 16b) is structured in two columns, one having the name of the King and one having the word "Echad" = "One" as a count to the total of 31. Here is a picture of that song as written in the Aleppo Codex:
Song of the 31 Kings from Joshua 12:9-24

In I Samuel 5 and 6 we are told of the capture of the Holy Ark by the Philistines. The Philistines were afflicted with plagues of mice and hemorrhoids. Eventually they return the Ark to the Jews and send along with it gifts of golden mice and hemorrhoids (as strange as that may be). After the Jews receive the Ark, the verse (I Samuel 6:17) lists the 5 Kings of the Philistines who gave the golden hemorrhoids in two columns, one having the name of the King and one having the word "Echad" = "One" as a count to the total of 5. Here is a picture of that verse as written in the Aleppo Codex and in the Leningrad Codex:
"Song" of the 5 Kings from I Samuel 6:17 shown in Aleppo Codex "Song" of the 5 Kings from I Samuel 6:17 shown in Leningrad Codex

This seems to me to be remarkably parallel. Does anyone discuss this connection?

(An initial thought that I have is the 5 Kings "song" is a parody of the other one because the story of the Jews losing the Ark to the Philistines shows how they don't yet fully control the land. This is pure speculation on my part.)

  • Note that in the latter case they're not kings - the word used there is סרנים, which is usually translated "lords" and has also been suggested to be cognate with the word "tyrant." – Alex Mar 18 '12 at 13:57
  • @Alex Yes. But I think for our purposes it's close enough. Even if they weren't "Kings" they were the functional equivalent of that in their societies it seems. – Double AA Mar 18 '12 at 15:28
  • 2
    True. My main point was that I don't think "the 5 kings" suggests, to the average reader, this passage. (In fact, when I saw the question title, I thought you were going to be asking something about the 5 kings of Sodom, Amorah, etc.) – Alex Mar 18 '12 at 17:07
  • @Alex Ahh I hadn't even made that connection! – Double AA Mar 18 '12 at 17:13
  • Shut Avraham Ben HaRambam 16 maybe? – Double AA Sep 22 '16 at 5:43

I am not sure there is a connection... In my bible the verse from Samuel is not written that way while the verse from Joshua still is:

"Song" of the 5 Kings from I Samuel 6:17 shown in Koren Tanakh

Since this is not the Torah, less restrictions apply and you may see several forms of alignments and justifications of the same text.


It's noted in tora.us.fm that the verse in Shmuel is intended to look like the song-verses in Yehoshua because it's a continuation of what happened in the time of Yehoshua:

"הפסוק דומה מאד לפסוקים ביהושע יב 9 - 24, שבהם מפורטים המלכים שהיכה יהושע. ואכן הפסוק הזה הוא המשך ישיר של אותו הפרק, כי יהושע לא הצליח להכות את 5 ערי הפלשתים, ורק בימי השופטים הצליח שמשון להכות את עזה ואת אשקלון, ובימי שמואל היכה ה' את אשדוד גת ועקרון."

Translation: "The verse is very similar to the verses in Yehoshua 12:9-24, where there's a detailing of the kings that Yehoshua smote. And indeed this verse is a direct continuation of that chapter, because Yehoshua didn't manage to smite the five cities of the Plishtim, and only in the time of the judges did Shimshon manage to smite Azah and Ashkelon, and in the time of Shmuel Hashem smote Ashdod, Gat and Ekron."

  • Hmm. Who wrote that? Did God smite all 5 in the time of Shmuel? Why bring Shimshon into this? – Double AA Apr 6 at 0:58
  • @DoubleAA I'm not really sure who the people behind the site are, so feel free to regard their opinions the way you'd regard those of any average Joe. I myself have found that their סברות often make sense. And "smite", that was the word I was looking for last night... :) The article is an overview of the battles between Yisrael and Plishtim. First it's noted that Yehoshua didn't manage to capture their cities. Then it's noted that Yehudah captured some, but evidently the Plishtim managed to fight them off. Then Shimshon managed to Ashkelon and Azah during his life. – Harel13 Apr 6 at 5:44
  • Finally, Hashem smote the rest: Gat, Ashdod and Ekron (see Shmuel ch. 5). So it seems that this song in ch. 6 is intended to show that finally Yehoshua's mission in showing the might of Hashem has been accomplished; this song wraps things up. – Harel13 Apr 6 at 5:44

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