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Numbers 1:3

Context
1:3 You and Aaron are to number 1  all in Israel who can serve in the army, 2  those who are 3  twenty years old or older, 4  by their divisions. 5 

1 tn The verb (פָּקַד, paqad) means “to visit, appoint, muster, number.” The word is a common one in scripture. It has as its basic meaning the idea of “determining the destiny” of someone, by appointing, mustering, or visiting. When God “visits,” it is a divine intervention for either blessing or cursing. Here it is the taking of a census for war (see G. André, Determining the Destiny [ConBOT], 16).

2 tn The construction uses the participle “going out” followed by the noun “army.” It describes everyone “going out in a military group,” meaning serving in the army. It was the duty of every able-bodied Israelite to serve in this “peoples” army. There were probably exemptions for the infirm or the crippled, but every male over twenty was chosen. For a discussion of warfare, see P. C. Craigie, The Problem of War in the Old Testament, and P. D. Miller, “The Divine Council and the Prophetic Call to War,” VT 18 (1968): 100-107.

3 tn The text simply has “from twenty years old and higher.”

4 tn Heb “and up.”

5 tn The noun (צָבָא, tsava’) means “army” or “military group.” But the word can also be used for nonmilitary divisions of labor (Num 4:3).



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