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Numbers 1:47-49

Context
The Exemption of the Levites

1:47 But 1  the Levites, according to the tribe of their fathers, 2  were not numbered 3  among them. 1:48 The Lord had said to Moses, 4  1:49 “Only the tribe of Levi 5  you must not number 6  or count 7  with 8  the other Israelites.

1 tn The vav (ו) on this word indicates a disjunction with the previous sequence of reports. It may be taken as a contrastive clause, translated “but” or “however.”

2 tn The construction is unexpected, for Levites would be from the tribe of Levi. The note seems more likely to express that all these people were organized by tribal lineage, and so too the Levites, according to the tribe of their fathers – individual families of Levites.

3 tc The form in the text is הָתְפָּקְדוּ (hotpaqÿdu); if this is correct, then it is an isolated instance of the reflexive of the Qal of פָּקַד (paqad). Some, however, explain the form as the Hitpael without the doubling of the middle letter and with a compensatory lengthening of the vowel before it (G. B. Gray, Numbers [ICC], 10).

4 tn Heb “had spoken to Moses, saying.” The infinitive construct of אָמַר (’amar), sometimes rendered “saying” in older English translations, does not need to be translated, but can be taken simply as the indicator of direct discourse. Most recent English translations, including the present one, leave the form untranslated for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.

5 sn From the giving of the Law on the priesthood comes the prerogative of the tribe of Levi. There were, however, members of other tribes who served as priests from time to time (see Judg 17:5).

6 tn The construction has literally, “only the tribe of Levi you shall not number.” The Greek text rendered the particle אַךְ (’akh) forcefully with “see to it that” or “take care that.” For the uses of this form, see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 65, §388-89.

7 tn Heb “lift up their head.”

8 tn Heb “in the midst of the sons of Israel.”



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