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Numbers 1:16

Context
The Census of the Tribes

1:16 These were the ones chosen 1  from the community, leaders 2  of their ancestral tribes. 3  They were the heads of the thousands 4  of Israel.

1 tc The form has a Kethib-Qere problem, but the sentence calls for the Qere, the passive participle in the construct – “the called of….” These men were God’s choice, and not Moses’, or their own choice. He announced who they would be, and then named them. So they were truly “called” (קָרָא, qara’). The other reading is probably due to a copyist’s error.

2 tn The word is נָשִׂיא (nasi’, “exalted one, prince, leader”). Cf. KJV, ASV, NAB “princes.” These were men apparently revered or respected in their tribes, and so the clear choice to assist Moses with the leadership. See further, E. A. Speiser, “Background and Function of the Biblical na„sÃþá,” CBQ 25 (1963): 111-17.

3 tn Heb “exalted ones of the tribes of their fathers.” The earlier group of elders was chosen by Moses at the advice of his father-in-law. This group represents the few leaders of the tribes that were chosen by God, a more literate group apparently, who were the forerunners of the שֹׁטְּרִים (shottÿrim).

4 tc The Hebrew text has אַלְפֵי (’alfey, “thousands of”). There is some question over this reading in the MT, however. The community groups that have these leaders were larger tribes, but there is little certainty about the size of the divisions.



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