[b-hebrew] code names in Numbers 13

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Mon Jun 30 01:13:40 EDT 2008

I had always thought that Ya'akov's second suggestion was the most likely - 
the spies' short names show that they were part of the younger generation, 
although I did suspect that there was something more there. The names Sodi 
and Satur ("secret" and "hidden") do seem apt for spies, so Ya'akov may be 
right in looking further.

Karl's comment that Caleb "was not even Jewish", and therefore "expendable", 
has four basic faults:

1. "Jewish" in this context is a huge anachronism. "Israelite" would be more 
fitting. "Jewish" usually refers to the religious group(s) that developed 
during the Second Temple period (or the Exile), most of whom, of course, 
were descended from the tribe/kingdom of Judah.

2. "Expendable"? If he was such a loyal Yahwist that he even became a Judge, 
he was certainly not "expendable". And why would you think that in the 
Israelite thought of the time, a non-Israelite Yahwist was "worth" less than 
an Israelite?

3. Besides, you can't have it both ways: you claim that Moses sent his 
personal assistant Joshua because he "so expected their return". In other 
words, he had full confidence that the God who commanded him to send the 
spies would not alow them to be harmed. So he would not expect Caleb to be 
harmed either - therefore his being "expendable" is really not an issue.

4. While you are correct that there is a scholarly theory that the Calebites 
were not originally part of the tribe of Judah and sort of "joined on" and 
were eventually incorporated into the tribal genealogies, that could only 
have happened after the tribe had settled in Canaan, and thus has nothing to 
to with this story. Again, you can't have it both ways: you either look at 
the Bible as a literary construction which is not neccesarily "historical", 
in which case the spy story has to be seen within its own context - and 
there is NO indication IN THE STORY that Caleb was anything but Israelite, 
OR you consider the Bible to be "historical", in which case you have no real 
criterion for accepting the details of this story, while assuming that the 
genealogies of Caleb are litearary constructions. The spy narrative and the 
genealogies are different genres, composed by different people at different 
times for diferent reasons, and "reading" one into the other is problematic 
at best.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "K Randolph" <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2008 6:54 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] code names in Numbers 13

> Yaakov:
> The spies were not the same as the princes. Joshua was the only one named
> before Numbers 13, and then not as a prince, but as Moses' personal
> assistant.
> That the names were different from the princes never bothered me, because 
> I
> expected that the princes would be considered too important to go out on a
> dangerous mission where there was a chance that they would not return.
> However, Moses so expected their return that he had his personal assistant
> named as one of the spies.
> Caleb was sort of a fluke. He was not even Jewish. Therefore, he was
> expendable. Yet his devotion to God got him and his family to receive 
> God's
> blessings the same as if he were a Jew, and his nephew was named as the
> first of the saviors in the book of Judges.
> It never crossed my mind that these names might be code names.
> Karl W. Randolph.
> On Sun, Jun 29, 2008 at 1:07 AM, Yaakov Stein <yaakov_s at rad.com> wrote:
>> The names of the spies in Numbers 13
>> (with the exception of the well-known Yehoshua and Caleb)
>> seem to be somewhat different than names encountered before
>> (e.g. the names of the princes earlier in Numbers).
>> They are mostly shorter, often end in Y (rather than )L or )B or $DY),
>> and certainly more cryptic.
>> Two, in particular, hint at "secretness"  SODY and STUR.
>> Could these names be code names, like 007 ?
>> Or are these simply names of the younger generation ?
>> Yaakov (J) Stein
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