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

George F Somsel gfsomsel at juno.com
Wed Dec 15 13:08:39 EST 2004

On Wed, 15 Dec 2004 17:48:10 +0200 "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
> 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)
> _______________________________________________

Unless I am misreading the text, the entry in BDB under "K" seems to
indicate that it can be used to express EITHER an exact or an approximate
number.  You might check it out and see what you think it's saying.


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