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Numbers 21:2-3

Context

21:2 So Israel made a vow 1  to the Lord and said, “If you will indeed deliver 2  this people into our 3  hand, then we will utterly destroy 4  their cities.” 21:3 The Lord listened to the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites, 5  and they utterly destroyed them and their cities. So the name of the place was called 6  Hormah.

1 tn The Hebrew text uses a cognate accusative with the verb: They vowed a vow. The Israelites were therefore determined with God’s help to defeat Arad.

2 tn The Hebrew text has the infinitive absolute and the imperfect tense of נָתַן (natan) to stress the point – if you will surely/indeed give.”

3 tn Heb “my.”

4 tn On the surface this does not sound like much of a vow. But the key is in the use of the verb for “utterly destroy” – חָרַם (kharam). Whatever was put to this “ban” or “devotion” belonged to God, either for his use, or for destruction. The oath was in fact saying that they would take nothing from this for themselves. It would simply be the removal of what was alien to the faith, or to God’s program.

5 tc Smr, Greek, and Syriac add “into his hand.”

6 tn In the Hebrew text the verb has no expressed subject, and so here too is made passive. The name “Hormah” is etymologically connected to the verb “utterly destroy,” forming the popular etymology (or paronomasia, a phonetic wordplay capturing the significance of the event).



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