40 days/nights

Barry Davis bdavis at multnomah.edu
Sat Sep 25 19:59:53 EDT 1999


Subject: 
            40 days/nights
       Date: 
            Sat, 25 Sep 1999 00:15:13 +0200
      From: 
            "Mark Markham" <markhamm at topsurf.com>
        To: 
            Biblical Hebrew <b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
References: 
            1


What is the understanding of the number 40 as an idiom meaning a long
time
in  Biblical Hebrew.  Is this understanding legit?

Should 40 days/nights be taken as lit. or as an idiom or both?

Thanks for you help.

Mark Markham
Heidelberg, Germany


Subject: 
         Re: 40 days/nights
   Date: 
         Fri, 24 Sep 1999 20:35:00 -0400
  From: 
         Jim West <jwest at highland.net>
     To: 
         Biblical Hebrew <b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
    CC: 
         b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu


At 12:15 AM 9/25/99 +0200, you wrote:
>What is the understanding of the number 40 as an idiom meaning a long time
>in  Biblical Hebrew.  Is this understanding legit?

yes- its merely a formulaic way of saying "a long time".  See any
commentary
on, for instance, the 40 years in the wilderness.

>
>Should 40 days/nights be taken as lit. or as an idiom or both?

as a way of saying "a long time".

jim

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Jim West, ThD
email- jwest at highland.net
web page-  http://web.infoave.net/~jwest

-------------

Mark,

As Jim points out, the number 40 may be taken as a Hebrew idiom
indicating a long time.  Understandably, the context in which the number
40 appears determines whether the numeral is to be interpreted literally
or figuratively. In the case of the 40 years of the wilderness
wanderings, there is a cross reference (Deut. 2:14) that suggests that
the number 40 is intended to be understood literally (i.e.,
approximately 40 actual years) rather than figuratively (i.e., a long
time).  Deuteronomy 2:14 indicates that, as part of their wilderness
wanderings, the Israelites took 38 years to move from Kadesh-barnea
until they crossed over the brook Zered and that during that time the
generation that God had condemned to death in Num. 14:22-23 had, in
fact, perished.  Unless we assume the number 38 is intended to be taken
figuratively (a number that appears to be too specific to be understood
in that way), then we should not automatically assume that the number 40
should be understood in all cases (and definitely not in this case) as a
figurative reference to "a long time."

Barry
bdavis at multnomah.edu



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