Vetus Testamentum Vetus Testamentum 60 (2010) 560-564 brill.nl/vt ‘To’ or ‘Against’?: he Interpretation of יׇ בׂא ַעלin 2 Chr 28:20 Mary Katherine Y. H. Hom Calgary, Canada Abstract he preposition ﬠל, ַ which contributes to the interpretation of 2 Chr 28:20 as a whole, should be understood as ‘against’, not ‘to’. Relatedly, יׇבא ׁ is best translated in v. 20 with a sense of hostility. Keywords 2 Chr 28:20, בֺּא ֶאל, בֺּא ַﬠל, Ahaz, Tiglath-pileser III his article concerns the translation of ַﬠלin 2 Chr 28:20. At issue is the Chronicler’s depiction of Tiglath-pileser III and his relation with Judah in both the speciic verse and its immediate context, 28:16-21. As one follows the narrative sequentially, the presentation of Tiglath-pileser III moves from Ahaz’s ill-fated positive estimation of Assyria (v. 16) to the narrator’s explicit statements of Tiglath-pileser III’s opportunism (vv. 20b-21b) and implicit indications of Tiglath-pileser III’s duplicity (v. 21c). Where exactly the change in narratorial perspective concerning Assyria occurs may depend in large part on the sense communicated by ַﬠלin v. 20. he wooden translation of ‘upon’ (as in the KJV/ASV) is not very helpful, and a more precisely nuanced translation, if possible, is preferable. Major translations illustrate well the locus of the problem. he translations NJPS, NEB, NRSV, and NASB all interpret ַﬠלas ‘against’. he NJPS and NEB convey an additional and immediate sense of Tiglath-pileser III’s hostility by translating יׇבאas ‘marched’. However, the (T)NIV interprets ַﬠלas ‘to’, thus placing a clear sense of Tiglath-pileser’s enmity later in the verse (i.e., after the ’atnāḥ). Ancient witnesses are similarly divided. he LXX follows fairly closely the general semantics of the elements יׇ בׂא ַﬠלwith its translation: © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI: 10.1163/156853310X527851 M. K. Y. H. Hom / Vetus Testamentum 60 (2010) 560-564 561 ἦλθεν ἐπί. he Vulgate, on the other hand, more freely interprets the two ele- ments together as an apparent idiomatic phrase, adduxitque contra.1 בֺּא ַﬠלoccurs frequently enough in the OT to merit recognition as a conventional phrase in Hebrew.2 Apart from BDB and DCL, however, the lexica fail to comment adequately on the nuances of בֺּא ַﬠל. BDB asserts that the preposition ַﬠלusually does not express direction towards, except in the sense of ‘against’.3 By way of contrast, the preposition ֶאלmore commonly denotes motion ‘to’ or direction ‘towards’, and occasionally on the basis of context may be understood as a hostile ‘against’.4 BDB recognises the frequent use of both prepositions with בֺּא, interpreting the use of בֺּאwith ֶאלmore intensely as ‘come upon, attack’ (which implies a sense of ‘against’).5 DCL cites almost equal numbers of occurrences for בֺּא ַﬠלas ‘(come) to’ and as ‘(come) against’.6 Curiously, DCL does not seem to regard the distinction between ‘(in)to, onto’ and ‘against’ as signiicant for בֺּא ֶאל, because the occurrences are listed indiscriminately together under one entry.7 A survey of Chronicles commentaries, essays, and articles yields very scant discussion. Most works bypass the issue entirely, and none discuss the particular grammar of ( ַﬠלlet alone )בֺּא ַﬠל. Myers and Dillard, in their own translations, and Japhet, in her paraphrase, support ‘against’.8 In their discussions, Kalimi and Johnstone assume ‘to’ and an explicit adversative sense for the second half of the verse.9 A computerised search for בֺּאfollowed within four words by ֶאלor ַﬠלin Chronicles resulted in 36 and 17 occurrences, respectively. Occurrences of the combination בֺּא ֶאלmay be further subdivided as ‘come to(wards)’, 26 instances (1 overlaps possibly with ‘come in’); ‘come against’, 2 instances; and other nuances (‘come in’, euphemism for procreation, etc.), 9 instances 1) Cf. OLD 1: p. 38, col. 1. E.g., see references listed under DCL 2: pp. 113-14. 3) BDB, p. 757b; cf. p. 757d. 4) Ibid., p. 39c, p. 40b. 5) Ibid., p. 98b, c. 6) DCL 2: pp. 113-14. 7) Ibid., p. 112. 8) J. M. Myers, 2 Chronicles: Translation and Notes (AB; Garden City, 1965), p. 160; R. B. Dillard, 2 Chronicles (WBC; Waco, 1987), p. 218; S. Japhet, 1 and 2 Chronicles: A Commentary, (OTL; Louisville, 1993), p. 907. 9) I. Kalimi, he Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles (Winona Lake, 2005), p. 361; W. Johnstone, 1 and 2 Chronicles, vol. 2, 2 Chronicles 10-36: Guilt and Atonement (JSOT Sup 254; Sheield, 1997), p. 186. 2) 562 M. K. Y. H. Hom / Vetus Testamentum 60 (2010) 560-564 (1 overlaps with ‘come to[wards]’). For the combination בֺּא ַﬠל, the results were less clear-cut: ‘come to(wards)’, 5 instances (1 overlaps possibly with ‘come before/in front of ’; for the sake of argument at present, 1 overlaps with ‘come against’, 2 Chr 28:20); ‘come against’, 11 instances (1 overlaps with ‘come to[wards]’, 2 Chr 28:20; 4 overlap with the ‘other’ nuances category); and other nuances, 6 instances (1 overlaps with ‘come to[wards]’; 4 overlap with ‘come against’).10 For the purposes of this study, 2 Chr 15:5 is negligible, because בֺּאand ַﬠלoccur in diferent clauses and are not directly related to each other in this particular case. his distribution of meanings for בֺּא ֶאלand בֺּא ַﬠלsuggests that within Chronicles: 1) ( ֶאל+ )בֺּאis generally more strictly translated ‘to’, and 2) ( ַﬠל+ )בֺּאis most often translated ‘against’, but is also often used to convey ‘to’ and other meanings. he relatively high degree of overlapping semantic possibilities for ַﬠלin Chronicles indicates that ַﬠלis a more malleable term than ( ֶאלat least, for the Chronicler). What may the reader conclude from this? On the one hand, it may be argued that if the Chronicler wanted clearly to convey ‘to’ in v. 20, he more likely would have used אל. ֶ he converse may also be seen to be true: if the Chronicler did not want clearly to convey ‘to’ in v. 20, he more likely would have not used אל. ֶ However, this does not necessarily mean that the Chronicler’s choice of a preposition other than ֶאלindicates an intention to avoid—or include—any sense of ‘to’. When we add to this fact that the Chronicler employs the more malleable term ﬠל, ַ the semantic possibilities remain wide. he immediate context should narrow down the possibilities, if not reine the sense of ַﬠלin v. 20. Verse 16 appears to relect Ahaz’s point of view in describing Assyria as ‘the kings of Assyria’, a pluralisation that conveys the imperial power of Assyria typologically.11 Assyria is ‘positively’ viewed (by Ahaz) as a potential deliverer in v. 16, and the desperation in this reliance is reinforced by the descriptions of invading enemy peoples in vv. 17-18. he theological explanation for Judah’s misfortunes is explicitly stated in v. 19 to be YHWH’s response to Ahaz’s misguided leadership and unfaithfulness to YHWH. hus, v. 19 both retroactively explains the hostility of the nations in 10) See Appendix 1 for further details. hough its dominant function is typological, this pluralisation may have other functions (e.g., hyperbole, innerbiblical allusion). 11) M. K. Y. H. Hom / Vetus Testamentum 60 (2010) 560-564 563 vv. 17-18 and anticipates a contrary end to Ahaz’s appeal to Assyria. he chiastic nature of vv. 16-21 may be seen to reinforce further this Janus function of v. 19.12 Informed by v. 19, the narrative continues to v. 20, which begins וַ יָּבאׁ ָﬠ ָליו. One would be inclined to interpret this with a hostile sense, similar to the Edomites’ ָבּאוּin v. 17, which clearly denotes hostility. In a similar vein, —ﬠ ָליוwhich ָ contains a preposition that, we observed, may be used easily to convey ‘to’, ‘against’, or even both—is contextually given the force of ‘against’. Narrative shock follows the articulation of the Assyrian king’s personal name, ‘Tillegath-pilne’eser’; idealised typology gives way to historicised particularity. On one level, the reader shares a small sense of Ahaz’s surprise that Tiglath-pileser III has countered his expectations of help and, likewise, that the Assyrian power has disappointed him.13 At the same time, the reader has been prepared by the preceding verses to expect this disappointment, and the apparent attack. When considered in terms of the chiastic structure of vv. 16-21, a hostile sense conveyed by all elements of vv. 20-21 pairs well with vv. 17-18. In conclusion, the translation of ַﬠלas ‘against’ in v. 20 is most supportable and consistent with its context of vv. 16-21. Further, the NJPS and NEB rendering of ‘marched’ for ׁ וַ יָּבאis valid in that it relects the immediate circumstances of hostility that the reader expects after v. 19. he (T)NIV translation ‘to’ does not convey as efectively the sense of hostility present in the context as does NJPS, NEB, NRSV, and NASB’s ‘against’. he (T)NIV’s delayed adversative in v. 20 (‘Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but . . .’) is misplaced and suggests a benign action for v. 20a that, in the inal analysis, cannot necessarily be supported by semantics or at all by the context. 12) Verse 19 serves a pivotal function within vv. 16-21. See M. K. Y. H. Hom, “Chiasmus in Chronicles: Investigating the Structures of 2 Chronicles 28:16-21; 33:1-20; and 31:20-32:33”, AUSS 47/2 (2009), pp. 163-79 (esp. pp. 165-66). 13) Verses 16-18, 20 may be seen to contain elements that help the reader to gain a sense of Ahaz’s perspective. Note, however, that the narrative allows only a minimal degree of identiication with Ahaz. As Ahaz’s character accumulates folly and unfaithfulness, the distance between the reader and Ahaz quickly increases. 564 M. K. Y. H. Hom / Vetus Testamentum 60 (2010) 560-564 Appendix 1: Distribution of Meanings for בּוֹא ֶאלand בּוֹא ַעל בּוֹא ֶאל ‘To’ ‘To’ or Other ‘Against’ 1 Chr 11:3 11:18 12:1 12:18 13:12 19:2 19:3 21:1 2 Chr 6:32 8:18 9:1 9:12 12:5 16:7 18:14 21:12 22:7 (2x) 22:9 23:12 24:11 25:7 25:10 29:18 34:9 2 Chr 23:15 1 Chr 19:17 2 Chr 24:23 ‘Against’ or Other (e.g., ‘To’ ‘in’; ‘upon’) Other or ‘Against’ None None 1 Chr 2:21 7:23 2 Chr 7:2 8:11 23:2 23:7 26:16 27:2 בּוֹא ַעל ‘To’ ‘To’ or Other ‘Against’ 1 Chr 12:23 2 Chr 19:10 1 Chr 12:20 12:24 2 Chr 20:24 2 Chr 14:10 20:2 20:9 20:12 33:11 ‘Against’ or Other (e.g., ‘To’ ‘in’; ‘upon’) Other or ‘Against’ 2 Chr 28:20? 2 Chr 7:22 2 Chr 7:11 32:26 34:24 34:28 * In 2 Chr 15:5, the two words are in diferent clauses and unrelated to each other.