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(0.12) (Jer 13:21)

tn Or “to be rulers.” The translation of these two lines is somewhat uncertain. The sentence structure of these two lines raises problems in translation. The Hebrew text reads: “What will you do when he appoints over you [or punishes you (see BDB 823 s.v. פָּקַד Qal.B.2 for the former, Qal.A.3 for the latter)] and you, yourself, taught them over you friends [or chiefs (see BDB 48 s.v. I אַלּוּף 2 and Ps 55:13 for the former and BDB 49 s.v. II אַלּוּף and Exod 15:15 for the latter)] for a head.” The translation assumes that the clause “and you, yourself, taught them [= made them accustomed, i.e., “prepared”] [to be] over you” is parenthetical coming between the verb “appoint” and its object and object modifier (i.e., “appointed over you allies for rulers”). A quick check of other English versions will show how varied the translation of these lines has been. Most English versions seem to ignore the second “over you” after “you taught them.” Some rearrange the text to get what they think is a sensible meaning. For a fairly thorough treatment see W. McKane, Jeremiah (ICC), 1:308-10.

(0.12) (Mar 1:34)

tc The mss vary on what is read at the end of v. 34. Some have “they knew him to be the Christ,” with various Greek constructions (ᾔδεισαν αὐτὸν Χριστὸν εἶναι [hdeisan auton Criston einai] in B L W Θ Ë1 28 33vid 565 2427 al; ᾔδεισαν τὸν Χριστὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι [hdeisan ton Criston auton einai] in [א2] C [Ë13 700] 892 1241 [1424] pc); codex D has “they knew him and he healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons,” reproducing exactly the first half of the verse. These first two longer readings are predictable expansions to an enticingly brief statement; the fact that there are significant variations on the word order and presence or absence of τόν argues against their authenticity as well. D’s reading is a palpable error of sight. The reading adopted in the translation is supported by א* A 0130 Ï lat. This support, though hardly overwhelming in itself, in combination with strong internal evidence, renders the shorter reading fairly certain.

(0.12) (Mar 8:20)

tc ‡ A difficult textual problem is found here, involving three different variants: καὶ λέγουσιν (kai legousin) is found in א pc; οἱ δὲ εἶπον (Joi de eipon) is the reading of Ì45 A D W Θ Ë1,13 33 Ï it; and καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ (kai legousin autw) is supported by B C L (Δ 579 892) 2427 pc. The first two variants would not be translated differently; the third reading, however, would add “to him” after “they replied.” What complicates the issue is that the external evidence is fairly evenly split between the second and third readings, though the first reading is in agreement with the second reading in lacking the dative pronoun. Indeed, another layout of the problem here could treat this as two distinct problems: καὶ λέγουσιν vs. οἱ δὲ εἶπον and αὐτῷ vs. omission of the word. In this second arrangement of the problem, the reading without the pronoun has slightly stronger support (Ì45 א A D W Θ Ë1,13 33 Ï it). Internally, Mark never elsewhere uses the form εἶπον for the third person plural indicative form of this verb (it is always εἶπαν [eipan]). And although only one other time in Mark is the object lacking after λέγουσιν (6:38), it is a similar context (viz., the disciples’ response before Jesus feeds the 5000). Very tentatively, the reading that is followed here is καὶ λέγουσιν. NA27 puts αὐτῷ in brackets, indicating some doubt as to its authenticity.

(0.12) (Mar 14:68)

tc Several important witnesses (א B L W Ψ* 579 892 2427 pc) lack the words “and a rooster crowed.” The fact that such good and early Alexandrian witnesses lack these words makes this textual problem difficult to decide, especially because the words receive support from other witnesses, some of which are fairly decent (A C D Θ Ψc 067 Ë1,13 33 [1424] Ï lat). The omission could have been intentional on the part of some Alexandrian scribes who wished to bring this text in line with the other Gospel accounts that only mention a rooster crowing once (Matt 26:74; Luke 22:60; John 18:27). The insertion could be an attempt to make the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in 14:30 more explicit. Internally, the words “and a rooster crowed” fit Mark’s Gospel here, not only in view of 14:30, “before a rooster crows twice,” but also in view of the mention of “a second time” in 14:71 (a reading which is much more textually secure). Nevertheless, a decision is difficult.

(0.12) (Joh 1:9)

tn Or “He was the true light, who gives light to everyone who comes into the world.” The participle ἐρχόμενον (ercomenon) may be either (1) neuter nominative, agreeing with τὸ φῶς (to fw"), or (2) masculine accusative, agreeing with ἄνθρωπον (anqrwpon). Option (1) results in a periphrastic imperfect with ἦν (hn), ἦν τὸ φῶς… ἐρχόμενον, referring to the incarnation. Option (2) would have the participle modifying ἄνθρωπον and referring to the true light as enlightening “every man who comes into the world.” Option (2) has some rabbinic parallels: The phrase “all who come into the world” is a fairly common expression for “every man” (cf. Leviticus Rabbah 31.6). But (1) must be preferred here, because: (a) In the next verse the light is in the world; it is logical for v. 9 to speak of its entering the world; (b) in other passages Jesus is described as “coming into the world” (6:14, 9:39, 11:27, 16:28) and in 12:46 Jesus says: ἐγὼ φῶς εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἐλήλυθα (egw fw" ei" ton kosmon elhluqa); (c) use of a periphrastic participle with the imperfect tense is typical Johannine style: 1:28, 2:6, 3:23, 10:40, 11:1, 13:23, 18:18 and 25. In every one of these except 13:23 the finite verb is first and separated by one or more intervening words from the participle.

(0.12) (Joh 1:16)

tn Grk “for from his fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” The meaning of the phrase χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος (carin anti carito") could be: (1) love (grace) under the New Covenant in place of love (grace) under the Sinai Covenant, thus replacement; (2) grace “on top of” grace, thus accumulation; (3) grace corresponding to grace, thus correspondence. The most commonly held view is (2) in one sense or another, and this is probably the best explanation. This sense is supported by a fairly well-known use in Philo, Posterity 43 (145). Morna D. Hooker suggested that Exod 33:13 provides the background for this expression: “Now therefore, I pray you, if I have found χάρις (LXX) in your sight, let me know your ways, that I may know you, so that I may find χάρις (LXX) in your sight.” Hooker proposed that it is this idea of favor given to one who has already received favor which lies behind 1:16, and this seems very probable as a good explanation of the meaning of the phrase (“The Johannine Prologue and the Messianic Secret,” NTS 21 [1974/75]: 53).

(0.12) (Eph 2:15)

tn Or “rendered inoperative.” This is a difficult text to translate because it is not easy to find an English term which communicates well the essence of the author’s meaning, especially since legal terminology is involved. Many other translations use the term “abolish” (so NRSV, NASB, NIV), but this term implies complete destruction which is not the author’s meaning here. The verb καταργέω (katargew) can readily have the meaning “to cause someth. to lose its power or effectiveness” (BDAG 525 s.v. 2, where this passage is listed), and this meaning fits quite naturally here within the author’s legal mindset. A proper English term which communicates this well is “nullify” since this word carries the denotation of “making something legally null and void.” This is not, however, a common English word. An alternate term like “rendered inoperative [or ineffective]” is also accurate but fairly inelegant. For this reason, the translation retains the term “nullify”; it is the best choice of the available options, despite its problems.

(0.12) (Col 1:20)

tc The presence or absence of the second occurrence of the phrase δι᾿ αὐτοῦ (diautou, “through him”) is a difficult textual problem to solve. External evidence is fairly evenly divided. Many ancient and excellent witnesses lack the phrase (B D* F G I 0278 81 1175 1739 1881 2464 al latt sa), but equally important witnesses have it (Ì46 א A C D1 Ψ 048vid 33 Ï). Both readings have strong Alexandrian support, which makes the problem difficult to decide on external evidence alone. Internal evidence points to the inclusion of the phrase as original. The word immediately preceding the phrase is the masculine pronoun αὐτοῦ (autou); thus the possibility of omission through homoioteleuton in various witnesses is likely. Scribes might have deleted the phrase because of perceived redundancy or awkwardness in the sense: The shorter reading is smoother and more elegant, so scribes would be prone to correct the text in that direction. As far as style is concerned, repetition of key words and phrases for emphasis is not foreign to the corpus Paulinum (see, e.g., Rom 8:23, Eph 1:13, 2 Cor 12:7). In short, it is easier to account for the shorter reading arising from the longer reading than vice versa, so the longer reading is more likely original.

(0.12) (2Th 3:6)

tc The reading “you received” (παρελάβετε, parelabete) is found predominately in Western witnesses (F G 1505 2464 pc), although the support of B and the Sahidic version strengthens the reading considerably. The reading “they received” is found in two different forms: παρελάβοσαν (parelabosan; in א* A [D*] 0278 33 pc) and παρέλαβον (parelabon; in א2 D2 Ψ 1739 1881 Ï). (παρέλαβον is evidently a correction of παρελάβοσαν to the more common spelling for the third person aorist form). The external evidence is divided fairly evenly, with παρελάβετε and παρελάβοσαν each having adequate support. Internal evidence leans toward “they received”: Given the second person reading, there is little reason why scribes would intentionally change it to a third person plural, and especially an archaic form at that. There is ample reason, however, for scribes to change the third person form to the second person form given that in the prior context παράδοσις (paradosis, “tradition”) is used with a relative clause (as here) with a second person verb (see 2:15). The third person form should be regarded as original.

(0.12) (Rev 15:3)

tc Certain mss (Ì47 א*,2 C 1006 1611 1841 pc) read “ages” (αἰώνων, aiwnwn) instead of “nations” (ἐθνῶν, eqnwn), which itself is supported by several mss (א1 A 051 Ï). The ms evidence seems to be fairly balanced, though αἰώνων has somewhat better support. The replacement of “ages” with “nations” is possibly a scribal attempt to harmonize this verse with the use of “nations” in the following verse. On the other hand, the idea of “nations” fits well with v. 4 and it may be that “ages” is a scribal attempt to assimilate this text to 1 Tim 1:17: “the king of the ages” (βασιλεὺς τῶν αἰώνων, basileu" twn aiwnwn). The decision is a difficult one since both scenarios deal well with the evidence, though the verbal parallel with 1 Tim 1:17 is exact while the parallel with v. 4 is not. The term “king” occurs 17 other times (most occurrences refer to earthly kings) in Revelation and it is not used with either “ages” or “nations” apart from this verse. Probably the reading “nations” should be considered original due to the influence of 1 Tim 1:17.

(0.11) (Exo 7:17)

sn W. C. Kaiser summarizes a view that has been adopted by many scholars, including a good number of conservatives, that the plagues overlap with natural phenomena in Egypt. Accordingly, the “blood” would not be literal blood, but a reddish contamination in the water. If there was an unusually high inundation of the Nile, the water flowed sluggishly through swamps and was joined with the water from the mountains that washed out the reddish soil. If the flood were high, the water would have a deeper red color. In addition to this discoloration, there is said to be a type of algae which produce a stench and a deadly fluctuation of the oxygen level of the river that is fatal to fish (see W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:350; he cites Greta Hort, “The Plagues of Egypt,” ZAW 69 [1957]: 84-103; same title, ZAW 70 [1958]: 48-59). While most scholars would agree that the water did not actually become blood (any more than the moon will be turned to literal blood [Joel 2:31]), many are not satisfied with this kind of explanation. If the event was a fairly common feature of the Nile, it would not have been any kind of sign to Pharaoh – and it should still be observable. The features that would have to be safeguarded are that it was understood to be done by the staff of God, that it was unexpected and not a mere coincidence, and that the magnitude of the contamination, color, stench, and death, was unparalleled. God does use natural features in miracles, but to be miraculous signs they cannot simply coincide with natural phenomena.

(0.11) (Ezr 1:9)

tn Heb “knives.” The Hebrew noun מַחֲלָפִים (makhalafim, “knives”) is found only here in the OT. While the basic meaning of the term is fairly clear, what it refers to here is unclear. The verb II חָלַף (khalaf) means “to pass through” (BDB 322 s.v. חָלַף) or “to cut through” (HALOT 321 s.v. II חלף; see also Judg 5:26; Job 20:24); thus, the lexicons suggest מַחֲלָפִים means “knives” (BDB 322 s.v. מַחֲלָף; HALOT 569 s.v. *מַחֲלָף). The related noun חֲלָפוֹת (khalafot, “knife”) is used in Mishnaic Hebrew (HALOT 321 s.v. II חלף), and חֲלִיפוֹת (khalifot, “knives”) appears in the Talmud. The noun appears in the cognate languages: Ugaritic khlpnm (“knives”; UT 19) and Syriac khalofta (“shearing knife”; HALOT 321 s.v. II חלף). The Vulgate translated it as “knives,” while the LXX understood it as referring to replacement pieces for the offering basins. The English translations render it variously; some following the Vulgate and others adopting the approach of the LXX: “knives” (KJV, NKJV, NRSV), “censers” (RSV), “duplicates” (NASV), “silver pans” (NIV), “bowls” (TEV), “other dishes” (CEV). Verse 11 lists these twenty-nine objects among the “gold and silver vessels” brought back to Jerusalem for temple worship. The translation above offers the intentionally ambiguous “silver utensils” (the term מַחֲלָפִים [“knives”] would hardly refer to “gold” items, but could refer to “silver items”).

(0.11) (1Th 2:7)

tc The variant ἤπιοι (hpioi, “gentle”) has fair support (א2 A C2 D2 Ψc 0278 33 1739 1881 Ï), but νήπιοι (nhpioi, “little children”) has significantly stronger backing (Ì65 א* B C* D* F G I Ψ* pc it bo). It is not insignificant that the earliest Alexandrian and Western witnesses in support of ἤπιοι are actually not Alexandrian or Western; they are the second correctors of Alexandrian and Western mss. Such correctors generally follow a Byzantine Vorlage. The reading νήπιοι is thus superior externally. Further, νήπιοι is much harder in this context, for Paul mixes his metaphors (“we became little children in your midst…Like a nursing mother…”). Thus, the scribes would naturally alter this reading to the softer ἤπιοι (“we became gentle…”). Paul is not known for his consistency of figures, however (cf., e.g., Gal 4:19); hence, the intrinsic evidence points to νήπιοι as original. On the other hand, it is possible that νήπιοι was caused by dittography with the preceding -μεν (-men). It is even possible that νήπιοι was caused by an error of hearing right from the beginning: The amanuensis could have heard the apostle incorrectly. But such a supposition cuts both ways; further, Paul would no doubt have corrected the reading in the ms before it was sent out. If so, one would surely have expected both earlier witnesses on the side of ἤπιοι and perhaps a few first correctors to have this reading. The reading “little children” thus stands as most probably original. (For an extended discussion of this problem, see J. A. D. Weima, “‘But We Became Infants Among You’: The Case for NHPIOI in 1 Thess 2.7,” NTS 46 [2000]: 547-64; T. B. Sailors, “Wedding Textual and Rhetorical Criticism to Understand the Text of 1 Thessalonians 2.7,” JSNT 80 [2000]: 81-98.)

(0.11) (2Pe 2:4)

tc The reading σειραῖς (seirai", “chains”) is found in Ì72 P Ψ 33 1739 Ï vg sy, while σιροῖς (sirois [or σειροῖς, seirois], “pits”) is found in א A B C 81 pc. The evidence is thus fairly evenly divided. Internally, the reading adopted here (σειραῖς) is a rarer term, perhaps prompting some scribes to replace it with the more common word. However, this more common term is not a synonym and hence does not follow the normal pattern of scribes. As well, the use of the genitive ζόφου (zofou) in “chains of darkness” is a bit awkward (a rare genitive of place), perhaps prompting some scribes to change the imagery to “pits of darkness” (in which case ζόφου is an attributive genitive). A further point that complicates the issue is the relationship of 2 Peter to Jude. Jude’s parallel (v. 6) has δεσμοῖς (desmois, “chains”). Apart from the issue of whether 2 Peter used Jude or Jude used 2 Peter, this parallel suggests one of two possibilities: either (1) since these two books obviously have a literary relationship, σειραῖς is original, or (2) early scribes, recognizing that these two books shared their material, changed σειροῖς to σειραῖς to conform the wording, at least conceptually, to Jude 6. On balance, σειραῖς looks to be original because scribes were not prone to harmonize extensively between books other than the Gospels (although 2 Peter and Jude do display some of this harmonizing). Further, such harmonization is often, if not usually, verbally exact, but δεσμοῖς is not a variant here.

(0.09) (Exo 2:3)

sn The circumstances of the saving of the child Moses have prompted several attempts by scholars to compare the material to the Sargon myth. See R. F. Johnson, IDB 3:440-50; for the text see L. W. King, Chronicles concerning Early Babylonian Kings, 2:87-90. Those who see the narrative using the Sargon story’s pattern would be saying that the account presents Moses in imagery common to the ancient world’s expectations of extraordinary achievement and deliverance. In the Sargon story the infant’s mother set him adrift in a basket in a river; he was loved by the gods and destined for greatness. Saying Israel used this to invent the account in Exodus would undermine its reliability. But there are other difficulties with the Sargon comparison, not the least of which is the fact that the meaning and function of the Sargon story are unclear. Second, there is no outside threat to the child Sargon. The account simply shows how a child was exposed, rescued, nurtured, and became king (see B. S. Childs, Exodus [OTL], 8-12). Third, other details do not fit: Moses’ father is known, Sargon’s is not; Moses is never abandoned, since he is never out of the care of his parents, and the finder is a princess and not a goddess. Moreover, without knowing the precise function and meaning of the Sargon story, it is almost impossible to explain its use as a pattern for the biblical account. By itself, the idea of a mother putting a child by the river if she wants him to be found would have been fairly sensible, for that is where the women of the town would be washing their clothes or bathing. If someone wanted to be sure the infant was discovered by a sympathetic woman, there would be no better setting (see R. A. Cole, Exodus [TOTC], 57). While there need not be a special genre of storytelling here, it is possible that Exodus 2 might have drawn on some of the motifs and forms of the other account to describe the actual event in the sparing of Moses – if they knew of it. If so it would show that Moses was cast in the form of the greats of the past.

(0.09) (Jer 46:16)

tc The words “in their hurry to flee” are not in the text but appear to be necessary to clarify the point that the stumbling and falling here is not the same as that in vv. 6, 12 where they occur in the context of defeat and destruction. Reference here appears to be to the mercenary soldiers who in their hurried flight to escape stumble over one another and fall. This is fairly clear from the literal translation “he multiplies the stumbling one. Also [= and] a man falls against a man and they say [probably = “saying”; an epexegetical use of the vav (ו) consecutive (IBHS 551 §33.2.2a, and see Exod 2:10 as a parallel)] ‘Get up! Let’s go…’” A reference to the flight of the mercenaries is also seen in v. 21. Many of the modern commentaries and a few of the modern English versions follow the Greek text and read vv. 15a-16 very differently. The Greek reads “Why has Apis fled from you? Your choice calf [i.e., Apis] has not remained. For the Lord has paralyzed him. And your multitudes have fainted and fallen; and each one said to his neighbor…” (reading רֻבְּךָ כָּשַׁל גַּם־נָפַל וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ instead of כּוֹשֵׁל הִרְבָּה גַּם־נָפַל אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ). One would expect אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ (’ishel-reehu) to go with וַיֹּאמְרוּ (vayyomÿru) because it is idiomatic in this expression (cf., e.g., Gen 11:3; Judg 6:29). However, אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ (’ishel-reehu) is also found with singular verbs as here in Exod 22:9; 33:11; 1 Sam 10:11. There is no doubt that the Hebrew text is the more difficult and thus probably original. The reading of the Greek version is not supported by any other text or version and looks like an attempt to smooth out a somewhat awkward Hebrew original.

(0.09) (Joh 14:2)

tn If the ὅτι (Joti) is included (see tc above), there are no less than four possible translations for this sentence: The sentence could be either a question or a statement, and in addition the ὅτι could either indicate content or be causal. How does one determine the best translation? (1) A question here should probably be ruled out because it would imply a previous statement by Jesus that either there are many dwelling places in his Father’s house (if the ὅτι is causal) or he was going off to make a place ready for them (if the ὅτι indicates content). There is no indication anywhere in the Fourth Gospel that Jesus had made such statements prior to this time. So understanding the sentence as a statement is the best option. (2) A statement with ὅτι indicating content is understandable but contradictory. If there were no dwelling places, Jesus would have told them that he was going off to make dwelling places. But the following verse makes clear that Jesus’ departure is not hypothetical but real – he is really going away. So understanding the ὅτι with a causal nuance is the best option. (3) A statement with a causal ὅτι can be understood two ways: (a) “Otherwise I would have told you” is a parenthetical statement, and the ὅτι clause goes with the preceding “There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house.” This would be fairly awkward syntactically, however; it would be much more natural for the ὅτι clause to modify what directly preceded it. (b) “Otherwise I would have told you” is explained by Jesus’ statement that he is going to make ready a place. He makes a logical, necessary connection between his future departure and the reality of the dwelling places in his Father’s house. To sum up, all the possibilities for understanding the verse with the inclusion of ὅτι present some interpretive difficulties, but last option given seems best: “Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going to make ready a place.” Of all the options it provides the best logical flow of thought in the passage without making any apparent contradictions in the context.

(0.09) (Joh 15:8)

tc Most mss (א A Ψ Ë13 33 Ï) read the future indicative γενήσεσθε (genhsesqe; perhaps best rendered as “[and show that] you will become”), while some early and good witnesses (Ì66vid B D L Θ 0250 1 565 al) have the aorist subjunctive γένησθε (genhsqe; “[and show that] you are”). The original reading is difficult to determine because the external evidence is fairly evenly divided. On the basis of the external evidence alone the first reading has some credibility because of א and 33, but it is not enough to overthrow the Alexandrian and Western witnesses for the aorist. Some who accept the future indicative see a consecutive (or resultative) sequence between φέρητε (ferhte) in the ἵνα (Jina) clause and γενήσεσθε, so that the disciples’ bearing much fruit results in their becoming disciples. This alleviates the problem of reading a future indicative within a ἵνα clause (a grammatical solecism that is virtually unattested in Attic Greek), although such infrequently occurs in the NT, particularly in the Apocalypse (cf. Gal 2:4; Rev 3:9; 6:4, 11; 8:3; 9:4, 5, 20; 13:12; 14:13; 22:14; even here, however, the Byzantine mss, with א occasionally by their side, almost always change the future indicative to an aorist subjunctive). It seems more likely, however, that the second verb (regardless of whether it is read as aorist or future) is to be understood as coordinate in meaning with the previous verb φέρητε (So M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek §342). Thus the two actions are really one and the same: Bearing fruit and being Jesus’ disciple are not two different actions, but a single action. The first is the outward sign or proof of the second – in bearing fruit the disciples show themselves to be disciples indeed (cf. 15:5). Thus the translation followed here is, “that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples.” As far as the textual reading is concerned, it appears somewhat preferable to accept the aorist subjunctive reading (γένησθε) on the basis of better external testimony.

(0.08) (Jer 48:45)

tn Or “of those noisy boasters.” Or “They will burn up the frontiers of Moab. They will burn up the mountain heights of those war-loving people.” The meaning of this verse is not entirely certain because of the highly figurative nature of the last two lines. The Hebrew text has been translated somewhat literally here. The Hebrew text reads: “In the shadow of Heshbon those fleeing stand without strength. For a fire goes forth from Heshbon, a flame from the midst of Sihon. And it devours the forehead of Moab and the skull of the sons of noise.” The meaning of the first part is fairly clear because v. 2 has already spoken of the conquest of Heshbon and a plot formed there to conquer the rest of the nation. The fire going forth from Heshbon would hence refer here to the conflagrations of war spreading from Heshbon to the rest of the country. The reference to the “midst of Sihon” is to be understood metonymically as a reference for the ruler to what he once ruled (cf. E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 583). The last two lines must refer to more than the fugitives who stopped at Heshbon for protection because it refers to the forehead of Moab (a personification of the whole land or nation). It is unclear, however, why reference is made to the foreheads and skulls of the Moabites, other than the fact that this verse seems to be a readaptation or reuse of Num 24:17 where the verb used with them is “smite” which fits nicely in the sense of martial destruction. Translated rather literally, it appears here to refer to the destruction by the fires of war of the Moabites, the part (forehead and skulls) put for the whole. TEV sees a reference here to the “frontiers” and “mountain heights” of Moab and this would work nicely for “foreheads” which is elsewhere used of the corner or border of a land in Neh 9:22. The word “crown” or “skull” might be a picturesque metaphor for the mountain heights of a land, but the word is never used elsewhere in such a figurative way. TEV (and CEV) which follows it might be correct here but there is no way to validate it. The meaning “war-loving people” for the phrase “sons of noise” is based on the suggestion of BDB 981 s.v. שָׁאוֹן 1 which relates the phrase to the dominant use for שָׁאוֹן (shaon) and is adopted also by TEV, CEV, and C. von Orelli, Jeremiah, 341. REB “braggarts” and NIV “noisy boasters” seem to base the nuance on the usage of שָׁאוֹן (shaon) in Jer 46:17 where Pharaoh is referred to as an empty noise and the reference to Moab’s arrogance and boasting in 48:29.

(0.06) (Num 1:1)

sn The book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Pentateuch, traditionally called the Law of Moses. It provides a record of the experience of the Israelites during the wilderness wanderings, and records the laws for the camp as they traveled from place to place. The book focuses on the difficulties of the Israelites due to their lack of faith, rebellion, and apostasy. It also records God’s protection of his people from opposition from without. The book makes a fitting contribution to the collection of holy writings as it shows the spiritual and physical progression of the company of the redeemed toward the promised land. The book has to be studied in conjunction with the other books of the Pentateuch. It builds on the promises made to Abraham in Genesis and the redemption from bondage in Exodus; it completes the cultic instructions for Israel that were laid down in Leviticus, and it concerns the worship in and the movement of the tabernacle that was built in Exodus. But the information here, both legal and historical, was not the major concern in those books. The book gets its title in English (following the Greek tradition) from the two censuses taken of the people, one at the beginning of the wanderings and the other at the end (although the Hebrew title is taken from the beginning of the book, בַּמִּדְבַּר [bammidbar], “in the wilderness”). In these lists particular emphasis is given to the leaders of the clans, a theme that will continue in the book as the focus is on how the leaders function in all the trials and temptations of the journey. The material in this book is essentially a theological interpretation of historical events, and as such it stands as an integral part of the revelation of God. In the study of the book of Numbers, when these issues of the nature of the text are significant to the interpretation and acceptance of the text, the notes will comment on them briefly. The indication at the outset of the book is that Moses had a good number of people who were able to help him compile the statistics and the facts of the wandering community. In Num 11:16-18 there is a group of leaders known as שֹׁטְּרִים(shottÿrim). This term was used in Exod 5:16-19 to describe the officers or foremen of the Israelites. They were appointed supervisors of the clans by Moses, and by the time of Joshua (Josh 1:10) they were a literary guild. The Hebrew word, cognate with Akkadian sataru, means “to write.” These people were to Israel what the scribes and chroniclers were to the pagan nations. They assisted Moses and the priests in their keeping of records. So no matter what they were called from time to time, there was a group of literate people who could keep the records and preserve the information from the very beginning. Their work matches the activities of scribes in the ancient world who used all the literary devices to preserve the material. There is no reason to doubt that the events recorded were attested to and preserved by such eyewitnesses. But their work would have been essentially to serve the leader, Moses. The book essentially follows the order of the events chronologically, more or less. Where it departs from that order it does so for literary or theological reasons. At the center of the theological concern is the tabernacle, its significance to the faith, and therefore the care in using it and in moving it. Its importance explains the presence and the arrangement of the ritual laws. With the records and statistics provided for him, Moses could then introduce into the record the great events in the wilderness experience of Israel, which were to become warnings and encouragements for all time. Most of this material comes from the two years at the beginning of the experience and the two years at the end. But this itself may be a literary device (merism) to show the nature of the wanderings throughout. The Hebrew text of the book of Numbers has been preserved fairly well. It has not been preserved as well as Leviticus, which was most important to the ministry of the priests and Levites. But in comparison with some of the prophetic writings, Numbers represents a well-preserved text. The problems will be discussed in the relevant passages. So Numbers is essentially a part of the unfolding revelation of the Torah, the Law. It shows God’s faithfulness to his covenant plan and to his covenant people, but it also shows the problems incurred by the people’s lack of faith and obedience. The book focuses frequently on the nature of the holy Lord God, for at the center of all this material is the person and the works of the Lord. This provided the standard for the faith and practice of the people. For more information on chapter one, see W. F. Albright, “The Administrative Divisions of Israel and Judah,” JPOS 5 (1925): 17-54; A. Cody, A History of Old Testament Priesthood; A. Lucas, “The Number of the Israelites at the Time of the Exodus,” PEQ 76 (1944): 351-64; G. E. Mendenhall, “The Census Lists of Numbers 1 and 26,” JBL 77 (1958): 52-66; E. Nielsen, “The Levites in the Old Testament,” ASTI 3 (1964): 16-27; L. A. Snijders, “The Meaning of זר in the Old Testament: An Exegetical Study,” OTS 10 (1954): 1-154; and J. W. Wenham, “Large Numbers in the Old Testament,” TynBul 18 (1967): 19-53.



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