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

Jerry Shepherd jerry.shepherd at taylor-edu.ca
Wed Dec 15 14:02:53 EST 2004


I have one possible perspective on your very interesting question.
There is a somewhat similar phenomenon in the New Testament in Acts
19:6-7 where the Apostle Paul imparts the Holy Spirit to "about twelve
men" (hosei dodeka).  It has long been recognized in various monographs
and articles that Luke paints his portrait of Paul using Christ-motifs,
so much so that Paul could be described as the "Saviour Who Is Present"
(Glenn Jacobsen in SBL Seminar Papers 22 [1983], pp. 31-46).  I have
argued that in Acts 19, the number twelve, is not an exact, but rather a
symbolic number, the intention of which is to trigger in the reader's
mind Jesus' impartation of the Holy Spirit to "about twelve men" in the
Upper Room in John 20:22.  This then paints Paul as continuing the
Christ's ministry, as an event in that ministry is replicated in the
life of Paul. Thus the use of the qualifier "about" signals a symbolic

Perhaps along the same lines, the use of the kaph in Jud 9:5 signals
something symbolic with regard to the number thirty-six.  Since this
number is a multiple of twelve, there could be some kind of symbolic
reference to the participation of all the tribes in the failed venture,
and that the judgment for the rash attempt to fight a holy war without
God's approval or command was against Israel as a whole, and not just
any one tribe -- hence the narrowing process that takes place in the
following passage to find out from which tribe and clan the cause of the
failure actually resides.  Perhaps.



Dr. Jerry E. Shepherd
Associate Professor of Old Testament
Taylor Seminary
11525 - 23 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T6J 4T3
Office: (780)431-5250
Home: (780)434-1164
Fax: (780)436-9416
Email: Jerry.Shepherd at taylor-edu.ca
Internet: http://www.taylor-edu.ca 

-----Original Message-----
From: Yigal Levin [mailto:leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2004 8:48 AM
To: b-hebrew; biblical-studies at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [b-hebrew] "about" Josh. 7:4-5

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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