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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Dec 15 12:03:40 EST 2004

On 15/12/2004 16:37, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:

> 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.

A Google search for "about thirty six" (including quotation marks) shows 
that even modern English authors don't consider this kind of expression 
nonsensical. Consider the following:

 From http://www.worldwar2history.info/Midway/war.html:

> At the time the new code first appeared on June 1, 1939, the U.S. 
> Navy's Washington code breaking staff had grown to about thirty-six hands.

 From http://www.cybervillage.com/ocs/sports.htm:

>         This year about thirty-six boys and girls signed up.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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