[b-hebrew] "about" Josh. 7:4-5

Uri Hurwitz uhurwitz at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 15 11:35:41 EST 2004

 This may be simply another example of  an ancient scribal mistake  -- either in verse 4 or the next one. 
  Another example is Isaiah 53:8, the ending of which was much discussed here in recent days.The Heb. text there was garbled.
  In such cases, and as Karl pointed out, quite a few occur in the MT, any suggested solution must be speculative, that is till the reappearance of Elijah who, according to the Talmudic expression, will solve questions and problems.
  (incidentally the acronym of the above saying serves as the word for "draw" in modern Heb. for sporting events etc.)

Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il> wrote:
According to Joshua 7:4, Joshua's first attempt at capturing Ai was made with ke$lo$et alapim i$, "about three thousand men". In the next verse, the men of Ai smote of them ke$lo$im ve$iSah i$, "about thirty six men".

The prefix kaph is usually translated "like", "about" and so on. However in this context, "about 36" does not make sense. 36 is an exact number. I know that the Greek gives "eis", "into", but that doesn't explain anything. I've seen theories ranging from scribal error (dittography due to the preceding "ke$lo$et" - but with no textual evidence) through a theory of a 6-based system of counting, to the midrash that only Jair ben Manasseh was killed, but he was "like 36 men". I know that "eleph" is often thought to be a military or clan unit, so "about three elephs" makes sense. I also know that "$elo$im" may also be a military unit (as in 2 Sam. 23), so that "about a $elo$im" would also work, but then what about the extra 6? "about a $elo$im and six" does not. 

And before anyone asks, the only known Qumran version (4QJosh a and b) is missing this particular column.

Any ideas?

Yigal Levin
(and please excuse the cross-posting)
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