[b-hebrew] Exodus Miracles and 'elep

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Aug 3 08:27:42 EDT 2004


On 03/08/2004 12:27, Walter R. Mattfeld wrote:

>...
>
> Below is an excerpt of Halpern's argument on 'elep :
>  
>

While I am not sure that I accept Mendenhall's proposal, Halpern's 
criticism can be disposed of very easily. See below.

>...
>This is the first weakness of the hypothesis: there is no reason to supply
>any figure before the 730 of Numbers 26:51 or the 550 of Numbers 1:46, let
>alone the specific figures that must be chosen. Moreover, there is no reason
>to suppose that the Israelite reader to whom these texts were directed would
>divine that he was expected to supply these figures -how could the Israelite
>be expected to understand that the notation 601,730 or 601 thousands and 730
>really meant 601 clans and 5,730 people ? But this first difficulty is
>compounded by a more serious one. Read with Mendenhall, the lists and the
>summations do not tally. Numbers 1, read with Mendenhall mentions 598
>"clans" and 5,550 warriors. Numbers 1:46 has the same number of warriors if
>we supply the figure 5,000; but it thinks there were 603 "thousands" or
>"clans". Numbers 26 has 596 clans and 5,730 warriors. But Numbers 26:51
>(601,730), even read with Mendenhall to imply 5,730 warriors, has 601
>"clans." (pp. 113-115. Halpern)
>  
>

It is very obvious what has happened here, if we assume the basis of 
Mendenhall's hypothesis. Here are the figures (use a fixed width font):

Numbers 1

Tribe  Hebrew text  Clans Warriors Warriors
                                   per clan

Reuben      46,500    46    500    10.9
Simeon      59,300    59    300     5.1
Gad         45,650    45    650    14.4
Judah       74,600    74    600     8.1
Issachar    54,400    54    400     7.4
Zebulun     57,400    57    400     7.0
Ephraim     40,500    40    500    12.5
Manasseh    32,200    32    200     6.3
Benjamin    35,400    35    400    11.4
Dan         62,700    62    700    11.3
Asher       41,500    41    500    12.2
Naphtali    53,400    53    400     7.5
               
Total      603,550   598  5,550     9.3       

Numbers 26                       

Tribe  Hebrew text  Clans Warriors Warriors  Clan  Warrior
                                   per clan change  change

Reuben      43,730    43    730    17.0     -6.5%    46.0%
Simeon      22,200    22    200     9.1    -62.7%   -33.3%
Gad         40,500    40    500    12.5    -11.1%   -23.1%
Judah       76,500    76    500     6.6      2.7%   -16.7%
Issachar    64,300    64    300     4.7     18.5%   -25.0%
Zebulun     60,500    60    500     8.3      5.3%    25.0%
Ephraim     32,500    32    500    15.6    -20.0%     0.0%
Manasseh    52,700    52    700    13.5     62.5%   250.0%
Benjamin    45,600    45    600    13.3     28.6%    50.0%
Dan         64,400    64    400     6.3      3.2%   -42.9%
Asher       53,400    53    400     7.5     29.3%   -20.0%
Naphtali    45,400    45    400     8.9    -15.1%     0.0%
                       
Total      601,730   596  5,730     9.6     -0.3%     3.2%

These figures basically make sense. The number of warriors per clan 
varies from 4.7 to 17, which is believable. The large increase in 
Manasseh and reduction in Simeon between the two censuses may need some 
special explanation. The obvious explanation for the totals is that the 
texts originally read "598 clans and 5,550 warriors" and "596 clans and 
5,730 warriors", but after the distinction between "clan" and "thousand" 
was lost "598 thousand and 5 thousand" was regularised by a redactor or 
copyist to "603 thousand", etc. Or else the totals were added by this 
redactor.

So there is no reason to think that the original author was thinking in 
terms of millions, only that a later redactor misunderstood the earlier 
figures.

-- 
Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
http://www.qaya.org/





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