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Numbers 4:5-6

Context
4:5 When it is time for the camp to journey, 1  Aaron and his sons must come and take down the screening curtain and cover the ark of the testimony with it. 4:6 Then they must put over it a covering of fine leather 2  and spread over that a cloth entirely of blue, and then they must insert its poles.

Numbers 10:33-36

Context

10:33 So they traveled from the mountain of the Lord three days’ journey; 3  and the ark of the covenant of the Lord was traveling before them during the three days’ journey, to find a resting place for them. 10:34 4  And the cloud of the Lord was over them by day, when they traveled 5  from the camp. 10:35 And when the ark traveled, Moses would say, “Rise up, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered, and may those who hate you flee before you!” 10:36 And when it came to rest he would say, “Return, O Lord, to the many thousands of Israel!” 6 

1 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive construct in an adverbial clause of time; literally it says “in the journeying of the camp.” The genitive in such constructions is usually the subject. Here the implication is that people would be preparing to transport the camp and its equipment.

2 tn The exact meaning of the Hebrew word here is difficult to determine. The term תַּחַשׁ (takhash) has been translated “badgers’ [skins]” by KJV. ASV has “sealskin” while RSV uses “goatskin”; NEB and NASB have “porpoise skin,” and NIV has “hides of sea cows.” This is close to “porpoise,” and seems influenced by the Arabic. The evidence is not strong for any of these meanings, and some of the suggestions would be problematic. It is possible the word is simply used for “fine leather,” based on the Egyptian ths. This has been followed by NRSV (“fine leather”) and NLT (“fine goatskin leather”) along with the present translation. See further HALOT 1720-21 s.v. תַּחַשׁ.

3 tn The phrase “a journey of three days” is made up of the adverbial accusative qualified with the genitives.

4 tc The scribes sensed that there was a dislocation with vv. 34-36, and so they used the inverted letters nun (נ) as brackets to indicate this.

5 tn The adverbial clause of time is composed of the infinitive construct with a temporal preposition and a suffixed subjective genitive.

6 sn These two formulaic prayers were offered by Moses at the beginning and at the end of the journeys. They prayed for the Lord to fight ahead of the nation when it was on the move, and to protect them when they camped. The theme of the first is found in Ps 68:1. The prayers reflect the true mentality of holy war, that it was the Lord who fought for Israel and defended her. The prayers have been included in the prayer book for synagogue services.



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