Who Knew?

Last week Claude Mariottini posted a discussion of the problem with תֻכִּיִּֽים, thukkiyyîm, the last word in 1 Kings 10:22, (and 2 Chronicles 9:21). Peacocks, baboons, no one knows for sure what it means. It is surely a foreign word but from where? What Claude didn’t say is that the last three words, שֶׁנְהַבִּ֥ים וְקֹפִ֖ים וְתֻכִּיִּֽים, in I Kings 10:22 and 2 Chronicles 9:21 are all problematic in one way or another and have been for a long time. Check out Claude’s post for various modern renderings.
The predominate textural tradition in the Old Greek translation of the end of 1 Kings 10:22 reads και λιθων τορευτων και πελεκητων, “and carved/embossed and hewn stones.” Codex Alexandrinus reads the more traditional, “οδοντων ελεφαντινων και πιθηκων και ταωνων, “elephant teeth and apes and ταωνων” whatever ταωνων means. According to LSJ9 1763, they are some kind of birds native to India (peacocks?) but also perhaps some kind of fish from elsewhere! The Old Greek of 2 Chronicles 9:21 reads, οδοντων ελεφαντινων και πιθηκων, “elephant teeth and apes.” Assuming it was in their vorlage, they took a pass on תֻכִּיִּֽים, thukkiyyîm.
Oh yeah, and then there’s Josephus (Ant. VIII, 7.2 [179]) who references the passage, πολὺς ἐλέφας Αἰθίοπές τε καὶ πίθηκοι, “much elephant (teeth?), Ethiopians, and apes.”
Given the right set of presuppositions, all of these various understandings can be explained. “Justified” would be too strong a word. A few of the explanations stretch folk etymology to its limits or depend on rather unlikely scribal errors.
The bottom line: by the time of the Old Greek translation of 1 Kings 10:22, no one was sure what these words meant. No wonder we continue to have our doubts.

2 thoughts on “Who Knew?”

  1. Duane,
    Thank you for following up with my discussion of thukkiyyîm. In my research I noticed the problem, but decided not to discuss the problem.
    One thing that I had almost decided to research was Josephus’s mention of the Ethiopians. I wander where he got that information.
    It was nice hearing from you.
    Claude Mariottini

  2. Claude,
    You might want to look at 2 Corenthians 12:3, לוּבִים סֻכִּיִּים וְכוּשִֽׁים, Libyans, Sukkiim, and Ethiopians – people who came with Shishak to plunder Judah and Jerusalem. There is more than a little polyphony between סֻכִּיִּים and תֻכִּיִּֽים. According to Gary (1 & 2 Kings, 1963), H. Winckler suggested we read sukkiyyîm instead of thukkiyyîm. I can’t find the Winckler reference. I reached Winckler’s Alttestamentliche Untersuchungen (45) but couldn’t find it there. That search was part of the delay in my posting this. Josephus or his source may have confounded a couple of things to get “Ethiopians” out of סֻכִּיִּים.

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