Does the Septuagint say they cut off Adoni-Bezek's hands and feet?

 

The Septuagint (also known as the LXX) is a translation of the Hebrew Bible into the Greek language. The name “Septuagint” comes from the Latin word for seventy. The tradition is that 70 (or 72) Jewish scholars were the translators behind the Septuagint. The Septuagint was translated in the third and second centuries B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt. As Israel was under the authority of Greece for several centuries, the Greek language became more and more common. By the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C., most people in Israel spoke Greek as their primary language. That is why the effort was made to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek – so that those who did not understand Hebrew could have the Scriptures in a language they could understand. The Septuagint represents the first major effort at translating a significant religious text from one language into another. That being said, what the Septuagint says is exactly what is stated in the book of Judges.

 

Adoni-Bezek is a name meaning “lord of Bezek” and is mentioned in Judges 1:5–7 “And they found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites. But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.”

 

This violent ruler was defeated by the tribe of Judah, with Simeon’s help. Adoni-Bezek’s captors cut off his thumbs and big toes. Then he was taken as a prisoner to Jerusalem where he later died. God did not specifically command the maiming of the lord of Bezek, yet the king himself confessed that the act was just, based on his treatment of other rulers.

The town of Bezek is today called Khirbet Ibziq, a village north of Tubass in the West Bank (1 Samuel 11:8). The facts that Adoni-Bezek oversaw 10,000 soldiers and that he had tortured 70 kings indicates that he was very powerful. Bezek, meaning “lightning,” may have had a connection with the worship of the Canaanite storm god, Baal, whose images typically depicted him holding a lightning bolt.

 

Some point out the torture of Adoni-Bezek as either an evil act or an act of retributive justice, but it is clear that the Israelites’ treatment of this king was an act of disobedience.“And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them.” Deuteronomy 7:24

Rather than torturing the kings they defeated, the Israelites were commanded to completely destroy them. This lack of obedience in completely defeating their enemies is a repeated theme in Judges.

 

“And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron. And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak. And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.” Judges 1:19-21

 

The final verses of chapter 1 emphasize the incomplete nature of the conquest of the Promised Land. This introduction sets the reader up for what follows—an ongoing cycle of sin that leads to oppression from enemies, followed by a calling out to God, and then the raising up of a judge to rescue the people.

 

Adoni-Bezek was an evil Canaanite ruler. He was one among many whom the people of Israel defeated, yet he was allowed to live in direct disregard of God’s command. The Book of Judges provides many other examples of the Israelites’ disobedience and how it led to difficult times for Israel until they returned to Him in repentance and obedience.

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