Arrangement 18: David


A section which visualizes the court of David with a total of 32 roundels. Dimensions: 8 wide by 10 tall. Liber Genealogus counterpart: section 35.

Family of King David of Israel

The four plots are from (top) the Plutei manuscript (blue) and Gerona Beatus (fuchsia) and (below) the Roda manuscript (orange) and Foigny bible (dark green). The key to the numbers:

  1. Gebear
  2. Elisbe
  3. Eliada
  4. Eliphala
  5. Eliphelec
  6. Nage
  7. Naphag
  8. Elisama
  9. Iecte
The Davidian court


This is among the most ambitious sections of the Great Stemma and has a complex transmission history. The likely graphic principles applied in assembling the "ostraca" are discussed in Piggin, Mind's Eye.[*]Piggin, Jean-Baptiste. Mind's Eye. Auckland: Cernimus, 2018.

As described in 2 Samuel and further synthesized in 1 Chronicles, David's offspring comprised three groups:

The seeming intention was to build a first row comprising the six mothers of the Hebron group, each with a son attached vertically below. Note how the sixth mother, denoted Ag, has been either pushed into the wrong position or omitted completely.

The Bathsheba group was drawn separately at the right, perhaps with Bathsheba (Bb) slightly raised above the Hebron wives to emphasize her difference from that group. Abishag, the girl forced to pleasure David on his deathbed, is attached as the final wife at the top of the drawing. The Jerusalem Nine are drawn as a loosely gathered group below.

The tenth roundel, Satra, is plainly anomalous. Satra may be a corrupted form of Jerimoth, a person not listed in the main tally at 1Ch 3, but mentioned in passing at 2Ch 11:18. However it is difficult to see how the name could have become so altered. Jerimoth's LXX form transliterates to Ierimouth; the Vulgate adopts Hierimuth.

The most likely explanation for Satra is that David's son Nathan was once represented doubly in the section, maybe in error or perhaps by design. None of the extant manuscripts shows Nathan twice (whereas the manuscripts do generally emphasize that Nathan the Prophet was a different person from Nathan the Prince). But there clearly are two different modes of representing Nathan extant in the graphic. In the one case, there is a small Nathan roundel near Bersabee (as in Roda) in the role of son. In the other case, an enlarged Nathan anchor for Filum D is displayed (as in Plutei).

This could be explained if a gloss were to have formerly been placed below Bersabee's sons, pointing out Nathan belongs among the sons but has been transferred to a remote location at the bottom of the page. At some point this gloss would have confused a scribe, so that it was encircled with a roundel and evolved into the phantom "Satra". Parchment damage to the upper right margin of the word "Nathan" would be sufficient to explain such an orthographic alteration: if the ascender of "h" and the horizontal stroke representing "n" were both illegible, "han" could be misread as "ra"; S and N are confusibles, since they share an oblique middle stroke.

Alternative but less plausible explanations for "Satra" might involve a grandson of David, or a confusion with the fifth Hebron son, Safathia (Shephatiah). An adaptation of the LXX name Balegdae in 1Ch 14:5 (for Eliada) appears entirely implausible. The inconsistency between the lists at 1Ch 3:1-9 and at 2Sa 5:15-16 might have led to the invention of a different name (Samae? Ianatha?), but it is hard to see how "Satra" could evolve from such a revision.

The most reliable indicator of the tangled manuscript history of this section arises from the roundel for Ithream, a Hebron son whose mother is named as Eglah. In Plutei and the Iota group, this mother is present, to the right of Abiathar, but the son (marked E, in a dotted-line circle in the uppermost plot above) is omitted. It therefore seems likely that the Iota and Plutei manuscripts attach to a common tradition. (Curiously, Plutei uses the mother Eglah as a bridge between Bathsheba and Samua, as if she were an intermediate generation. This may indicate some deliberate but incompetent rearranging by that recension's editor. Burgos handles this much more neatly.) It seems that apart from this error, Plutei and the Iota recension reproduce the author's orginal design the most closely.

In the Alpha manuscripts, the son Ithream is present, whereas the mother Agla is omitted (marked Ag, in a dotted-line circle in the graphic). This is a distinctive Alpha feature which suggests that the forking from the Plutei tradition is very ancient. The Alpha arrangement is unsatisfactory, but these two contrasting traditions offer some invaluable clues to the earlier layout.

A third tradition is represented by the Gamma and Beta manuscripts, where both Eglah and Ithream are present, but are part of a spray of roundels that push far to the left of David, suggesting an interchange of Gamma-Beta influence.

Eglah and Ithream appear regularly in Delta too, but the graphic arrangement there is a "modern" reworking of the theme.

Plutei contains a gloss which marks the six sons and one daughter born to David at Hebron, "hos septem habuit in Ebron", while curiously omitting Ithream which would make the number up to seven. The error makes it clear that this gloss was written well before the making of the defective Plutei copy. The gloss, and the fact that the four sons of Bathsheba are all marked "filius Bersabee" or some such, suggest that there may once have been a matching gloss denoting the group of nine Jerusalem sons of David. This might have had to be deleted to avoid confusion, since there are now ten in the Jerusalem group as drawn. As noted above, the Liber Genealogus G omits the Jerusalem Nine.

Burgos, curiously, reduces the Jerusalem list to nine illegitimately: by combining Eliphalet I and II (marked 4/5 in the graphic) while leaving Satra unchanged.

In addition to David, his wives and his sons, the hypothetical reconstruction shows the positions of the court prophet Nathan, the contemporary high priest Sadoch and the wife of Solomon. This reconstruction aligns most closely to the layout in the Plutei manuscript:

The name forms in the David section generally follow the Septuagint and the presumed orthography of the Vetus Latina (which is largely lost) with the exception of Chileab. The following lists set out the usual LXX transcriptions to Latin together with notable anomalies from the GS:

Hebron Seven

All primary readings above come from LXX 2 Samuel 3:2-5. The G recension of the LG does not transmit any of the mother names.

Bersabee Four

These spellings from LXX 1Chr 3.

Jerusalem Nine

Next: The Cainites

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