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

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Wed Dec 15 11:37:50 EST 2004

Dear Yigal,

>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.

HH: Maybe they knew that thirty-six men died, but they were not sure 
whether the men of Ai were directly responsible for all the deaths. 
Perhaps someone could have mistakenly run off a cliff or something.

				Harold Holmyard

>  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)
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

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