Post: Parashat Chayei Sarah begins (Bereishit 23:1-2):
Thus, Sarah was buried in Kiryat Arba, which is Chevron. Yet on pasuk 2, the Septuagint has a slight variant:
2 And Sarrha died in the city of Arboc, which is in the valley, this is Chebron in the land of Chanaan; and Abraam came to lament for Sarrha and to mourn.
2 καὶ ἀπέθανεν Σαρρα ἐν πόλει Αρβοκ, ἥ ἐστιν ἐν τῷ κοιλώματι [αὕτη ἐστὶν Χεβρων] ἐν γῇ Χανααν. ἦλθεν δὲ Αβρααμ κόψασθαι Σαρραν καὶ πενθῆσαι.
This parallels a variant text in the Samaritan Torah:
The text on the right is our Masoretic text, while the text on the left is the Samaritan Torah. Note how they add the definite article to Ha-Arba, as well as adding el Emek, or in some variants, al Emek (with an ayin) preceding Chevron.
This is one of many instances in which the Septuagint and the Samaritan text share a feature which the Masoretic text lacks.
Yet, the Samaritan Torah betrays a regular agenda of emending the text to make it better. I could give many examples of this phenomenon. As such, it pays to consider whether there is anything that would prompt an insertion of el Emek.
To cite a pasuk, and Rashi, from parashat Vayeshev:
|14. So he said to him, "Go now and see to your brothers' welfare and the welfare of the flocks, and bring me back word." So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.||יד. וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ לֶךְ נָא רְאֵה אֶת שְׁלוֹם אַחֶיךָ וְאֶת שְׁלוֹם הַצֹּאן וַהֲשִׁבֵנִי דָּבָר וַיִּשְׁלָחֵהוּ מֵעֵמֶק חֶבְרוֹן וַיָּבֹא שְׁכֶמָה:|
|from…Hebron: But is not Hebron on a mountain? It is stated: “And they ascended in the south, and he came as far as Hebron” (Num. 13:22). But [it is to be understood that he sent him] from the deep counsel of the righteous man who is buried in Hebron (i.e., Abraham), to fulfill what was said to Abraham between the parts (Gen. 15:13). [From Gen. Rabbah 84:13]||מעמק חברון: והלא חברון בהר, שנאמר (במדבר יג כב) ויעלו בנגב ויבא עד חברון, אלא מעצה עמוקה של [אותו] צדיק הקבור בחברון, לקיים מה שנאמר לאברהם בין הבתרים (לעיל טו יג) כי גר יהיה זרעך:|
Thus, later on we encounter an Emek Chevron. And since Chevron is on a mountain, a valley makes no immediate sense, and so Bereishit Rabba darshens it. (It might well make sense on a peshat level as an actual valley, which would be in proximity to this mountain.)
But at any rate, we see this surprise when we encounter Emek Chevron. With the Samaritan agenda to smooth the Biblical text with a mind for global information from elsewhere in Torah, el Emek makes sense. While Chevron appears in a few places, this mention in Chayei Sarah is the first mention of Chevron. Therefore, let us note at this point that Chevron is by the Emek, and there will be no surprise later.
The addition of the definite article, making it Ha-Arba is likely influenced by Kiryat Ha-Arba in Bereishit 35:27:
בראשית פרק לה
As such, it seems rather likely that the Samaritans emended the Masoretic text to fix this 'difficulty', rather than vice versa. And then, the Septuagint based itself on an erroneous text which derived from the Samaritan.