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

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Wed Dec 15 14:29:53 EST 2004

Thank you Jerry and James for pointing out that 36 is a multiple of 12,
which is, of course, a significant number in the Bible. So why not say,
"about 12". Why 36? Why the "code"?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jerry Shepherd" <jerry.shepherd at taylor-edu.ca>
To: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>; "b-hebrew"
<b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>; <biblical-studies at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2004 9:02 PM
Subject: RE: [b-hebrew] "about" Josh. 7:4-5

> Yigal,
> 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
> use.
> 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.
> Berachot,
> Jerry
> 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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