Just in time for the yearly commemoration of the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem, this Sunday, the news brings that archeologists disproved the description of the destruction in the Prophets’ section of the Hebrew Bible. Really? That would be a first. Let’s check it out.
The article quotes the Jewish Publication Society’s translation of 2 Kings 25:10, which reads: ‘The entire Chaldean [Babylonian] force that was with the chief of the guard tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side.’ But now, parts of that wall are found that weren’t torn down. This “contradiction” turns out an attack on a straw man‘s argument.
II Kings 25:9-10 reads: ‘He burned the Temple of G^d, …; but the entire Chaldean force that was with the chief of the guard earlier already had torn down the surrounding city wall of Jerusalem.’
Could we interpret that the wall wasn’t surrounding the city but rather that it was destroyed all-around? Why would that be the only, the best, or even a likely or possible translation? The Hebrew word order makes unmistakably clear that the encircling concerns the wall, not the ruining.
There is further proof that the wall stood completely enclosing the city, rather than that destructing it was on every side. The parallel report in Jeremiah 39:8 simply says that the city wall of Jerusalem was smashed, without mention of encirclement. There was no reason to play down the scope of destruction. Rather, it left out the obvious totality of the wall.
Translators have no time to sit with every verse. Every new Bible edition seems a rush job. The Word of G^d has not yet seen a proper translation I’m aware of. But, anyway, the Hebrew is very precise. You can trust it.