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.

  • 2
    That's a good point - this passage isn't listed as one of the official "songs" in Tanach, and Minchas Shai doesn't say anything about it being written unusually. So it may indeed be that the arrangement in the Aleppo Codex was just Ben Asher's predilection. By the way, welcome to J.SE! We hope you stick around and enjoy it. – Alex Apr 30 '12 at 21:06
  • @Alex Predilection or not, the Aleppo Codex is likely the most official edition of the Cannon available today. Even if you find a tradition that argues, I still think the Mesora from which the Rambam wrote his Sefer Torah and has been the arbiter of countless questions regarding the proper girsa throughout the ages deserves to be explored in its own right. So -1 for not answering the question. But smichak, I echo Alex's welcome and hope to see you around the site. – Double AA Apr 30 '12 at 21:30
  • Plus, when the Gra re-instituted haftorah from a klaf, he (or maybe one of his talmidim) had to send someone to Israel and to Allepo to find out how to do the petuchot and setumot correctly, because all the printed versions had many differences between them. Since no one was using Nach from a klaf, the traditions got lost. That is why you see different alignments in Nach (not because less restriction apply to a kosher Sefer), but that doesn't mean we have to continue using incorrect setups. – Double AA Apr 30 '12 at 21:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .