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(0.06) (Eze 14:9)

tn The translation is uncertain due to difficulty both in determining the meaning of the verb’s stem and its conjugation in this context. In the Qal stem the basic meaning of the verbal root פָּתַה (patah) is “to be gullible, foolish.” The doubling stems (the Pual and Piel used in this verse) typically give such stative verbs a factitive sense, hence either “make gullible” (i.e., “entice”) or “make into a fool” (i.e., “to show to be a fool”). The latter represents the probable meaning of the term in Jer 20:7, 10 and is followed here (see L. C. Allen, Ezekiel [WBC], 1:193; R. Mosis “Ez 14, 1-11 - ein Ruf zur Umkehr,” BZ 19 [1975]: 166-69 and ThWAT 4:829-31). In this view, if a prophet speaks when not prompted by God, he will be shown to be a fool, but this does not reflect negatively on the Lord because it is God who shows him to be a fool. Secondly, the verb is in the perfect conjugation and may be translated “I have made a fool of him” or “I have enticed him,” or to show determination (see IBHS 439-41 §27.2f and g), or in certain syntactical constructions as future. Any of these may be plausible if the doubling stems used are understood in the sense of “making a fool of.” But if understood as “to make gullible,” more factors come into play. As the Hebrew verbal form is a perfect, it is often translated as present perfect: “I have enticed.” In this case the Lord states that he himself enticed the prophet to cooperate with the idolaters. Such enticement to sin would seem to be a violation of God’s moral character, but sometimes he does use such deception and enticement to sin as a form of punishment against those who have blatantly violated his moral will (see, e.g., 2 Sam 24). If one follows this line of interpretation in Ezek 14:9, one would have to assume that the prophet had already turned from God in his heart. However, the context gives no indication of this. Therefore, it is better to take the perfect as indicating certitude and to translate it with the future tense: “I will entice.” In this case the Lord announces that he will judge the prophet appropriately. If a prophet allows himself to be influenced by idolaters, then the Lord will use deception as a form of punishment against that deceived prophet. A comparison with the preceding oracles also favors this view. In 14:4 the perfect of certitude is used for emphasis (see “I will answer”), though in v. 7 a participle is employed. For a fuller discussion of this text, see R. B. Chisholm, Jr., “Does God Deceive?” BSac 155 (1998): 23-25.

(0.06) (Mar 16:9)

tc The Gospel of Mark ends at this point in some witnesses (א B 304 sys sams armmss Eus Eusmss Hiermss), including two of the most respected mss (א B). The following shorter ending is found in some mss: “They reported briefly to those around Peter all that they had been commanded. After these things Jesus himself sent out through them, from the east to the west, the holy and imperishable preaching of eternal salvation. Amen.” This shorter ending is usually included with the longer ending (L Ψ 083 099 0112 579 al); k, however, ends at this point. Most mss include the longer ending (vv. 9-20) immediately after v. 8 (A C D W [which has a different shorter ending between vv. 14 and 15] Θ Ë13 33 2427 Ï lat syc,p,h bo); however, Jerome and Eusebius knew of almost no Greek mss that had this ending. Several mss have marginal comments noting that earlier Greek mss lacked the verses, while others mark the text with asterisks or obeli (symbols that scribes used to indicate that the portion of text being copied was spurious). Internal evidence strongly suggests the secondary nature of both the short and the long endings. Their vocabulary and style are decidedly non-Markan (for further details, see TCGNT 102-6). All of this evidence strongly suggests that as time went on scribes added the longer ending, either for the richness of its material or because of the abruptness of the ending at v. 8. (Indeed, the strange variety of dissimilar endings attests to the probability that early copyists had a copy of Mark that ended at v. 8, and they filled out the text with what seemed to be an appropriate conclusion. All of the witnesses for alternative endings to vv. 9-20 thus indirectly confirm the Gospel as ending at v. 8.) Because of such problems regarding the authenticity of these alternative endings, 16:8 is usually regarded as the last verse of the Gospel of Mark. There are three possible explanations for Mark ending at 16:8: (1) The author intentionally ended the Gospel here in an open-ended fashion; (2) the Gospel was never finished; or (3) the last leaf of the ms was lost prior to copying. This first explanation is the most likely due to several factors, including (a) the probability that the Gospel was originally written on a scroll rather than a codex (only on a codex would the last leaf get lost prior to copying); (b) the unlikelihood of the ms not being completed; and (c) the literary power of ending the Gospel so abruptly that the readers are now drawn into the story itself. E. Best aptly states, “It is in keeping with other parts of his Gospel that Mark should not give an explicit account of a conclusion where this is already well known to his readers” (Mark, 73; note also his discussion of the ending of this Gospel on 132 and elsewhere). The readers must now ask themselves, “What will I do with Jesus? If I do not accept him in his suffering, I will not see him in his glory.”

(0.06) (Joh 19:12)

sn Is the author using the phrase Friend of Caesar in a technical sense, as a title bestowed on people for loyal service to the Emperor, or in a more general sense merely describing a person as loyal to the Emperor? L. Morris (John [NICNT], 798) thinks it is “unlikely” that the title is used in the technical sense, and J. H. Bernard (St. John [ICC], 2:621) argues that the technical sense of the phrase as an official title was not used before the time of Vespasian (a.d. 69-79). But there appears to be significant evidence for much earlier usage. Some of this is given in BDAG 498-99 s.v. Καῖσαρ. E. Bammel (“φίλος τοῦ καίσαρος (John 19:12),” TLZ 77 [1952]: 205-10) listed significant and convincing arguments that the official title was indeed in use at the time. Granting that the title was in use during this period, what is the likelihood that it had been bestowed on Pilate? Pilate was of the equestrian order, that is, of lower nobility as opposed to senatorial rank. As such he would have been eligible to receive such an honor. It also appears that the powerful Sejanus was his patron in Rome, and Sejanus held considerable influence with Tiberius. Tacitus (Annals 6.8) quotes Marcus Terentius in his defense before the Senate as saying that close friendship with Sejanus “was in every case a powerful recommendation to the Emperor’s friendship.” Thus it is possible that Pilate held this honor. Therefore it appears that the Jewish authorities were putting a good deal of psychological pressure on Pilate to convict Jesus. They had, in effect, finally specified the charge against Jesus as treason: “Everyone who makes himself to be king opposes Caesar.” If Pilate now failed to convict Jesus the Jewish authorities could complain to Rome that Pilate had released a traitor. This possibility carried more weight with Pilate than might at first be evident: (1) Pilate’s record as governor was not entirely above reproach; (2) Tiberius, who lived away from Rome as a virtual recluse on the island of Capri, was known for his suspicious nature, especially toward rivals or those who posed a political threat; and (3) worst of all, Pilate’s patron in Rome, Sejanus, had recently come under suspicion of plotting to seize the imperial succession for himself. Sejanus was deposed in October of a.d. 31. It may have been to Sejanus that Pilate owed his appointment in Judea. Pilate was now in a very delicate position. The Jewish authorities may have known something of this and deliberately used it as leverage against him. Whether or not they knew just how potent their veiled threat was, it had the desired effect. Pilate went directly to the judgment seat to pronounce his judgment.

(0.06) (Joh 20:22)

sn He breathed on them and said,Receive the Holy Spirit.” The use of the Greek verb breathed on (ἐμφυσάω, emfusaw) to describe the action of Jesus here recalls Gen 2:7 in the LXX, where “the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” This time, however, it is Jesus who is breathing the breath-Spirit of eternal life, life from above, into his disciples (cf. 3:3-10). Furthermore there is the imagery of Ezek 37:1-14, the prophecy concerning the resurrection of the dry bones: In 37:9 the Son of Man is told to prophesy to the “wind-breath-Spirit” to come and breathe on the corpses, so that they will live again. In 37:14 the Lord promised, “I will put my Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you in your own land.” In terms of ultimate fulfillment the passage in Ezek 37 looks at the regeneration of Israel immediately prior to the establishment of the messianic kingdom. The author saw in what Jesus did for the disciples at this point a partial and symbolic fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy, much as Peter made use of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 in his sermon on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2:17-21. What then did Jesus do for the disciples in John 20:22? It appears that in light of the symbolism of the new creation present here, as well as the regeneration symbolism from the Ezek 37 passage, that Jesus at this point breathed into the disciples the breath of eternal life. This was in the form of the Holy Spirit, who was to indwell them. It is instructive to look again at 7:38-39, which states, “Just as the scripture says, ‘Out from within him will flow rivers of living water.’ (Now he said this about the Spirit whom those who believed in him were going to receive; for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”) But now in 20:22 Jesus was glorified, so the Spirit could be given. Had the disciples not believed in Jesus before? It seems clear that they had, since their belief is repeatedly affirmed, beginning with 2:11. But it also seems clear that even on the eve of the crucifixion, they did not understand the necessity of the cross (16:31-33). And even after the crucifixion, the disciples had not realized that there was going to be a resurrection (20:9). Ultimate recognition of who Jesus was appears to have come to them only after the postresurrection appearances (note the response of Thomas, who was not present at this incident, in v. 28). Finally, what is the relation of this incident in 20:22 to the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2? It appears best to view these as two separate events which have two somewhat different purposes. This was the giving of life itself, which flowed out from within (cf. 7:38-39). The giving of power would occur later, on the day of Pentecost – power to witness and carry out the mission the disciples had been given. (It is important to remember that in the historical unfolding of God’s program for the church, these events occurred in a chronological sequence which, after the church has been established, is not repeatable today.)

(0.06) (Rom 5:1)

tc A number of important witnesses have the subjunctive ἔχωμεν (ecwmen, “let us have”) instead of ἔχομεν (ecomen, “we have”) in v. 1. Included in the subjunctive’s support are א* A B* C D K L 33 81 630 1175 1739* pm lat bo. But the indicative is not without its supporters: א1 B2 F G P Ψ 0220vid 104 365 1241 1505 1506 1739c 1881 2464 pm. If the problem were to be solved on an external basis only, the subjunctive would be preferred. Because of this, the “A” rating on behalf of the indicative in the UBS4 appears overly confident. Nevertheless, the indicative is probably correct. First, the earliest witness to Rom 5:1 has the indicative (0220vid, third century). Second, the first set of correctors is sometimes, if not often, of equal importance with the original hand. Hence, א1 might be given equal value with א*. Third, there is a good cross-section of witnesses for the indicative: Alexandrian (in 0220vid, probably א1 1241 1506 1881 al), Western (in F G), and Byzantine (noted in NA27 as pm). Thus, although the external evidence is strongly in favor of the subjunctive, the indicative is represented well enough that its ancestry could easily go back to the original. Turning to the internal evidence, the indicative gains much ground. (1) The variant may have been produced via an error of hearing (since omicron and omega were pronounced alike in ancient Greek). This, of course, does not indicate which reading was original – just that an error of hearing may have produced one of them. In light of the indecisiveness of the transcriptional evidence, intrinsic evidence could play a much larger role. This is indeed the case here. (2) The indicative fits well with the overall argument of the book to this point. Up until now, Paul has been establishing the “indicatives of the faith.” There is only one imperative (used rhetorically) and only one hortatory subjunctive (and this in a quotation within a diatribe) up till this point, while from ch. 6 on there are sixty-one imperatives and seven hortatory subjunctives. Clearly, an exhortation would be out of place in ch. 5. (3) Paul presupposes that the audience has peace with God (via reconciliation) in 5:10. This seems to assume the indicative in v. 1. (4) As C. E. B. Cranfield notes, “it would surely be strange for Paul, in such a carefully argued writing as this, to exhort his readers to enjoy or to guard a peace which he has not yet explicitly shown to be possessed by them” (Romans [ICC], 1:257). (5) The notion that εἰρήνην ἔχωμεν (eirhnhn ecwmen) can even naturally mean “enjoy peace” is problematic (ExSyn 464), yet those who embrace the subjunctive have to give the verb some such force. Thus, although the external evidence is stronger in support of the subjunctive, the internal evidence points to the indicative. Although a decision is difficult, ἔχομεν appears to be the authentic reading.

(0.06) (Rom 16:25)

tc There is a considerable degree of difference among the mss regarding the presence and position of the doxology of 16:25-27. Five situations present themselves from the ms tradition. The doxology is found in the ancient witnesses in three separate locations: (1) here after 16:23 (Ì61 א B C D 81 365 630 1739 2464 al co), (2) after 14:23 (Ψ 0209vid Ï), or (3) after 15:33 (Ì46). The situation is further complicated in that some of the mss have these verses in two places: (4) after 14:23 and after 16:23 (A P 33 104 2805 pc); or (5) after 14:23 and after 15:33 (1506). The uncertain position of the doxology might suggest that it was added by later scribes. But since the mss containing the doxology are so early and widespread, it almost certainly belongs in Romans; it is only a question of where. Further, the witnesses that omit the doxology are few: F G 629 Hiermss. (And of these, G has a blank space of several lines large enough for the doxology to belong there.) Only two positions (after chapter 14 only and at the end of the letter only) deserve particular notice because the situation of the mss showing the doxology in two places dates back to the 5th century. Later copyists, faced with the doxology in two different places in the mss they knew, may have decided to copy the doxology in both places, since they were unwilling to consciously omit any text. Because the textual disruption of the doxology is so early, TCGNT 472 suggests two possibilities: either (1) that Paul may have sent two different copies of Romans – a copy lacking chapter 16 and a copy with the full text of the epistle as we now have it, or (2) Marcion or some of his followers circulated a shortened form of the epistle that lacked chapters 15 and 16. Those mss that lacked chapters 15-16 would naturally conclude with some kind of doxology after chapter 14. On the other hand, H. Gamble (The Textual History of the Letter to the Romans [SD], 123-32) argues for the position of the doxology at 14:23, since to put the doxology at 16:25 would violate Paul’s normal pattern of a grace-benediction at the close of the letter. Gamble further argues for the inclusion of 16:24, since the mss that put the doxology after chapter 14 almost always present 16:24 as the letter’s closing, whereas most of the mss that put the doxology at its traditional position drop 16:24, perhaps because it would be redundant before 16:25-27. A decision is difficult, but the weight of external evidence, since it is both early and geographically widespread, suggests that the doxology belongs here after 16:23. For a full discussion, see TCGNT 470-73.

(0.06) (1Co 10:9)

tc Χριστόν (Criston, “Christ”) is attested in the majority of mss, including many important witnesses of the Alexandrian (Ì46 1739 1881) and Western (D F G) texttypes, and other mss and versions (Ψ latt sy co). On the other hand, some of the important Alexandrian witnesses have κύριον (kurion, “Lord”; א B C P 33 104 1175 al). A few mss (A 81 pc) have θεόν (qeon, “God”). The nomina sacra for these readings are quite similar (cMn, kMn, and qMn respectively), so one might be able to account for the different readings by way of confusion. On closer examination, the variants appear to be intentional changes. Alexandrian scribes replaced the highly specific term “Christ” with the less specific terms “Lord” and “God” because in the context it seems to be anachronistic to speak of the exodus generation putting Christ to the test. If the original had been “Lord,” it seems unlikely that a scribe would have willingly created a difficulty by substituting the more specific “Christ.” Moreover, even if not motivated by a tendency to overcorrect, a scribe might be likely to assimilate the word “Christ” to “Lord” in conformity with Deut 6:16 or other passages. The evidence from the early church regarding the reading of this verse is rather compelling in favor of “Christ.” Marcion, a second-century, anti-Jewish heretic, would naturally have opposed any reference to Christ in historical involvement with Israel, because he thought of the Creator God of the OT as inherently evil. In spite of this strong prejudice, though, {Marcion} read a text with “Christ.” Other early church writers attest to the presence of the word “Christ,” including {Clement of Alexandria} and Origen. What is more, the synod of Antioch in a.d. 268 used the reading “Christ” as evidence of the preexistence of Christ when it condemned Paul of Samosata. (See G. Zuntz, The Text of the Epistles, 126-27; TCGNT 494; C. D. Osburn, “The Text of 1 Corinthians 10:9,” New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis, 201-11; contra A. Robertson and A. Plummer, First Corinthians [ICC], 205-6.) Since “Christ” is the more difficult reading on all accounts, it is almost certainly original. In addition, “Christ” is consistent with Paul’s style in this passage (cf. 10:4, a text in which {Marcion} also reads “Christ”). This text is also christologically significant, since the reading “Christ” makes an explicit claim to the preexistence of Christ. (The textual critic faces a similar dilemma in Jude 5. In a similar exodus context, some of the more important Alexandrian mss [A B 33 81 pc] and the Vulgate read “Jesus” in place of “Lord.” Two of those mss [A 81] are the same mss that have “Christ” instead of “God” in 1 Cor 10:9. See the tc notes on Jude 5 for more information.) In sum, “Christ” has all the earmarks of authenticity here and should be considered the original reading.

(0.06) (Exo 6:3)

sn There are a number of important issues that need clarification in the interpretation of this section. First, it is important to note that “I am Yahweh” is not a new revelation of a previously unknown name. It would be introduced differently if it were. This is the identification of the covenant God as the one calling Moses – that would be proof for the people that their God had called him. Second, the title “El Shadday” is not a name, but a title. It is true that in the patriarchal accounts “El Shadday” is used six times; in Job it is used thirty times. Many conclude that it does reflect the idea of might or power. In some of those passages that reveal God as “El Shadday,” the name “Yahweh” was also used. But Wellhausen and other proponents of the earlier source critical analysis used Exod 6:3 to say that P, the so-called priestly source, was aware that the name “Yahweh” was not known by them, even though J, the supposed Yahwistic source, wrote using the name as part of his theology. Third, the texts of Genesis show that Yahweh had appeared to the patriarchs (Gen 12:1, 17:1, 18:1, 26:2, 26:24, 26:12, 35:1, 48:3), and that he spoke to each one of them (Gen 12:7, 15:1, 26:2, 28:13, 31:3). The name “Yahweh” occurs 162 times in Genesis, 34 of those times on the lips of speakers in Genesis (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:340-41). They also made proclamation of Yahweh by name (4:26, 12:8), and they named places with the name (22:14). These passages should not be ignored or passed off as later interpretation. Fourth, “Yahweh” is revealed as the God of power, the sovereign God, who was true to his word and could be believed. He would do as he said (Num 23:19; 14:35; Exod 12:25; 22:24; 24:14; 36:36; 37:14). Fifth, there is a difference between promise and fulfillment in the way revelation is apprehended. The patriarchs were individuals who received the promises but without the fulfillment. The fulfillment could only come after the Israelites became a nation. Now, in Egypt, they are ready to become that promised nation. The two periods were not distinguished by not having and by having the name, but by two ways God revealed the significance of his name. “I am Yahweh” to the patriarchs indicated that he was the absolute, almighty, eternal God. The patriarchs were individuals sojourning in the land. God appeared to them in the significance of El Shadday. That was not his name. So Gen 17:1 says that “Yahweh appeared…and said, ‘I am El Shadday.’” See also Gen 35:11, 48:2, 28:3. Sixth, the verb “to know” is never used to introduce a name which had never been known or experienced. The Niphal and Hiphil of the verb are used only to describe the recognition of the overtones or significance of the name (see Jer 16:21, Isa 52:6; Ps 83:17ff; 1 Kgs 8:41ff. [people will know his name when prayers are answered]). For someone to say that he knew Yahweh meant that Yahweh had been experienced or recognized (see Exod 33:6; 1 Kgs 18:36; Jer 28:9; and Ps 76:2). Seventh, “Yahweh” is not one of God’s names – it is his only name. Other titles, like “El Shadday,” are not strictly names but means of revealing Yahweh. All the revelations to the patriarchs could not compare to this one, because God was now dealing with the nation. He would make his name known to them through his deeds (see Ezek 20:5). So now they will “know” the “name.” The verb יָדַע (yada’) means more than “aware of, be knowledgeable about”; it means “to experience” the reality of the revelation by that name. This harmonizes with the usage of שֵׁם (shem), “name,” which encompasses all the attributes and actions of God. It is not simply a reference to a title, but to the way that God revealed himself – God gave meaning to his name through his acts. God is not saying that he had not revealed a name to the patriarchs (that would have used the Hiphil of the verb). Rather, he is saying that the patriarchs did not experience what the name Yahweh actually meant, and they could not without seeing it fulfilled. When Moses came to the elders, he identified his call as from Yahweh, the God of the fathers – and they accepted him. They knew the name. But, when they were delivered from bondage, then they fully knew by experience what that name meant, for his promises were fulfilled. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 79) paraphrases it this way: “I revealed Myself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in My aspect that finds expression in the name Shaddai…I was not known to them, that is, it was not given to them to recognize Me as One that fulfils his promises.” This generation was about to “know” the name that their ancestors knew and used, but never experienced with the fulfillment of the promises. This section of Exodus confirms this interpretation, because in it God promised to bring them out of Egypt and give them the promised land – then they would know that he is Yahweh (6:7). This meaning should have been evident from its repetition to the Egyptians throughout the plagues – that they might know Yahweh (e.g., 7:5). See further R. D. Wilson, “Yahweh [Jehovah] and Exodus 6:3,” Classical Evangelical Essays in Old Testament Interpretation, 29-40; L. A. Herrboth, “Exodus 6:3b: Was God Known to the Patriarchs as Jehovah?” CTM 4 (1931): 345-49; F. C. Smith, “Observation on the Use of the Names and Titles of God in Genesis,” EvQ 40 (1968): 103-9.

(0.05) (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.

(0.05) (Sos 4:4)

tn Scholars debate whether this refers to (1) the interior walls of a tower upon which warriors would hang their shields when not in use or (2) the external upper wall of a military fortress upon which warriors would hang their shields to add to their protection during battle. A few scholars suggest that what is pictured here are the internal walls of the tower and, on the basis of Ezek 27:10-11, posit that in the ancient world there was a practice in which mercenaries, who had joined themselves to a king, would hang their shields upon his fortress wall as a sign of their allegiance. Following Crim, Deere suggests, “the custom of hanging shields on the tower was symbolic of the warriors’ allegiance to and valor for a particular king.” Crim suggests that the point of comparison of his praise would be something similar to what follows: “Just as the fame of Tyre in Ezek. 27:11 attracted mercenaries, the fame of the tower of David has attracted soldiers to come and enter its service. The shields hanging there show that they have given their allegiance to the tower. Your neck is like that tower. It is so beautiful that it could win the allegiance of a thousand heroic soldiers.” We would then translate something like this: “Your neck attracts men as the tower of David attracts warriors. A thousand heroic soldiers would swear allegiance to your beauty.” J. S. Deere suggests that the point of the comparison is that the bride’s neck was so beautiful and majestic that mighty warriors from near and far would have given their allegiance to her…It is as if he were saying that these soldiers would be willing to surrender their shields to her beauty. On the other hand, most scholars suggest that it refers to the common practice in the ancient Near East of lining the top wall of a military fortress tower with shields, behind which the soldiers could stand for protection leaving both hands free for bow and arrows (Note: It is possible to view Ezek 27:10-11 and 2 Chr 32:5 in this manner). This is supported by ancient Near Eastern art which pictures such a practice, especially by the relief of Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish which shows the top wall of Lachish lined with shields. The Illustrated Family Encyclopedia of the Living Bible, 10:56, notes: “The art of the ancient East often shows us the shields that were, in time of war, set in position on the towers of the city walls, so that defenders could safely fire arrows and hurl stones while standing upright behind them.” Those who see this as the imagery all agree that the point of comparison is to jeweled necklaces with pendants which could be compared to shields, as in 1:10-11 (A. Robert, T. J. Meek, G. Gerlemann, A. M. Honeyman, B. S. J. Isserlin, J. McKenzie). McKenzie expresses this view when he posits that she was wearing jewelry around her neck and that this was being compared to the shields hung around this military tower: “One of the many physical charms that the Beloved finds in his mistress (Song of Sol. 4:1-4) is her long neck which, with its stately poise, reminds him of the lofty tower of David. Just as this tower is hung all round with shields placed there by mighty men of valor, so is his mistress’ neck adorned with chains and strings of jewels. This is supported by the fact that 4:9 explicitly mentions a necklace with a multitude of jewels in it which she was wearing at this time. And Isserlin suggests that the complete image in view fits the evidence of both ancient Near Eastern military towers and jewelry which has been recovered archaeologically: “It seems to the present writer that a reading of the verse…can be taken to refer to the presence not of one, but two elements on the tower: there is the coursed masonry, and on top of it there are the shields. If we keep the idea that a multiple necklace is alluded to, then this should be made up of two kinds of elements: on top there should be a series of beads resembling round shields; below we should find something resembling either the short or the long side of building stones (according to whether the masonry is laid in headers or stretchers). Can necklaces of this type be found in the ancient Near East? It seems to the writer that the well-known sculpture from Arsos in Cyprus (Pl. VI) represents just this type of necklace. The upper beads do look like a row of round shields, as shown on the tower in the relief slab representing Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish, while the lower elements do evoke roughly bossed headers, as found in ancient Palestinian defence works” (B. S. J. Isserlin, The Israelites, 59, and plate VI). Composite necklaces such as this one might be referred to in Prov 1:9. In any case, it is quite unlikely that the point of comparison was that she had a large, muscular neck, as some have suggested (M. Jastrow, L. Waterman, and R. Gordis). See A. M. Honeyman, “Two Contributions to Canaanite Toponymy,” JTS 50 (1949): 51; B. S. J. Isserlin, “Song of Songs IV, 4: An Archaeological Note,” PEQ 90 (1958): 59-61; The Illustrated Family Encyclopedia of the Living Bible, 10:56; K. R. Crim, “Your Neck is Like the Tower of David (The Meaning of a Simile in the Song of Solomon 4:4),” BT 22:2 (April 1977): 70-74.

(0.05) (Sos 6:13)

tn Heb “O Perfect One.” Alternately, “O Shunammite” or “O Shulammite.” The term הַשּׁוּלַמִית (hashshulammit) has been variously translated: “Shulammite maiden” (NEB); “maiden of Shulam” (JB); “O maid of Shulem” (NJPS); “the Shulammite” (KJV; NASB; NIV). The meaning of the name הַשּׁוּלַמִית is enigmatic and debated. LXX renders it ἡ Σουλαμιτἰ ({h Soulamiti, “O Shulamite”) and Vulgate renders it Sulamitis (“O Shulamite”). A few Hebrew mss read the plural הַשּׁוּלַמוֹת (hashshulamot) but the Masoretic tradition reads הַשּׁוּלַמִית as the versions confirm. Eight major views have emerged in the history of interpretation of the Song. They are arranged, as follows, in order from most likely (views 1-2), plausible (views 3-5), unlikely (view 6), to bizarre (views 7-8): (1) שׁוּלַמִית is a substantival use of the adjectival form qutal שׁוּלָם (shulam, “perfection”) with the gentilic suffix ית- from the root שָׁלֵם (shalem, “to be complete, perfect”): “the perfect, unblemished one” (Fox). This approach is reflected in rabbinic exegesis of the 12th century: “The meaning of the Shulammite is ‘perfect, without spot’” (Midrash Rabbah). (2) שׁוּלַמִית is Qal passive participle with the feminine adjectival suffix ית- from the root שָׁלֵם (“peace”): “the peaceful one” or “the pacified one” (Andre, Robert, Joüon). This is reflected in Vulgate pacificus (“the pacified one”), and Aquila and Quinta ἡ ἐηρυνεούσα ({h ehruneousa) “the peaceful one” (Andre Robert, Joüon). (3) שׁוּלַמִית is an alternate form of the gentilic name “Shunammite” (שׁוּנַמִית) used to refer to inhabitants of Shunem (1 Kgs 1:15; 2 Kgs 4:12). This is reflected in LXX ἡ Σουλαμιτἰ ({h Soulamiti, “O Shulamite”). This is supported by several factors: (a) Gentilic names are formed by the suffix ית- and the prefixed article to a place-name, e.g., הַיְּרוּשָׁלַמִית (hayyÿrushalamit, “the Jerusalemite”) is from יְרוּשָׁלַם (yÿrushalam, “Jerusalem”); (b) the interchange between lateral dental ל (l) and nasal dental נ (n) is common in the Semitic languages (S. Moscati, Comparative Grammar, 32, §8.26); (c) the town of Shunem was also known as Shulem, due to the common interchange between נ (n) and ל (l) in Hebrew (Aharoni, 123), as seen in Eusebius’ Onomasticon in which Shunem = Shulem; and (d) later revisions of the LXX read ἡ Σουναμωτἰ (“the Shunamite”) instead of the Old Greek ἡ Σουλαμωτἰ (“the Shulamite”). Shunem was a town in the Jezreel Valley at the foot of Mount Moreh near Mount Tabor and situated about nine miles east of Megiddo, fifteen miles northwest of Beth-shean, and five miles north of Jezreel (Josh 19:18; 1 Sam 28:4; 2 Kgs 4:8). During the Roman period, the town was called Shulem. See Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible, 24, 152, 172, 442, 308. Some scholars suggest that “Shul/nammite” refers to Abishag, the beautiful virgin from the village of Shunem who warmed elderly King David and was sought by Adonijah (1 Kgs 2:13- 25). Other scholars argue that Abishag has been imported in the Song on too slender grounds. (4) שׁוּלַמִית is the feminine form of the masculine name שְׁלֹמֹה (shÿlomoh, “Solomon”), just as Judith is the feminine of Judah: “Shulamith” or “Solomonette” or “Solomoness” (Lowth, Goodspeed, Rowley). The feminine ending ־ית may be suffixed to masculine personal names to transform them into feminine names. A similar form occurs in the Ugaritic designation of Daniel’s wife as Lady Daniel (e.g., mtt dnty). An anonymous Jewish commentator of the 12th century wrote: “The Shulammite was beloved of Solomon, for she was called after the name of her beloved.” The 16th century commentator Joseph Ibn Yahya wrote: “And the calling of her ‘Shulammite’ was determined by reason of her devotion to the Holy One (Blessed be He) who is called Shelomoh.” (5) As a combination of views 1-2, שׁוּלַמִית is a wordplay formed by the combination of the feminine name שְׁלֹמִית (shÿlomit, “Shelomite”) from שְׁלֹמֹה (“Solomon”) and the gentilic name הַשּׁוּנַמִית (“the Shunammite”) denoting a woman from Shunem: “Solomoness/Shunammite.” (6) שׁוּלַמִית is related to the Arabic root salama “consummation gift” (given to a bride the morning after the wedding): “O Consummated One” or “O Bride” (Hirschberg). (7) Those espousing a cultic interpretation of Canticles take שׁוּלַמִית as the name or epithet of the Canaanite moon goddess Ishtar, designated by the feminine form of the name Shelem, the name of her lover Tammuz, called Dod or Shelem (T. J. Meek). (8) An alternate cultic interpretation takes שׁוּלַמִית as a conflation of the name of the Assyrian war-goddess “Shulmanith” (Ishtar) and the gentilic name “the Shunammite” for a woman from Shunem (Albright). See M. V. Fox, The Song of Songs and the Egyptian Love Songs, 157-58; T. J. Meek, “Canticles and the Tammuz Cult,” AJSL 39 (1922-23): 1-14; E. J. Goodspeed, “The Shulammite,” AJSL 50 (1933): 102-104; H. H. Rowley, “The Meaning of ‘The Shulammite’,” AJSL 56 (1938): 84-91; W. F. Albright, “The Syro-Mesopotamian God Sulman-Esmun and Related Figures,” AfO 7 (1931-32): 164-69; W. F. Albright, “Archaic Survivals in the Text of Canticles,” Hebrew and Semitic Studies, 5; H. H. Hirschberg, “Some Additional Arabic Etymologies in Old Testament Lexicography,” VT 11 (1961): 373-85; M. H. Pope, Song of Songs (AB), 596-600.

(0.05) (Jer 33:5)

tn The translation and meaning of vv. 4-5 are somewhat uncertain. The translation and precise meaning of vv. 4-5 are uncertain at a number of points due to some difficult syntactical constructions and some debate about the text and meaning of several words. The text reads more literally, “33:4 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah which have been torn down on account the siege ramps and the sword 33:5 going to fight the Chaldeans and to fill them with the dead bodies of the men whom I have killed in my anger and in my wrath and on account of all whose wickedness I have hidden my face from this city.” There are two difficult syntactical forms (1) the participle at the beginning of v. 5 “going [or those going] to fight” (בָּאִים, baim) and (2) the infinitive plus suffix that introduces the next clause “and to fill them” (וּלְמַלְאָם, ulÿmalam). The translation has interpreted the former as a verbal use of the participle with an indefinite subject “they” (= the defenders of Jerusalem who have torn down the buildings; cf. GKC 460-61 §144.i for this point of grammar). The conjunction plus preposition plus infinitive construct has been interpreted as equivalent to a finite verb (cf. IBHS 611 §36.3.2a, i.e., “and they will fill them [the houses and buildings of v. 4]”). Adopting the Greek text of these two verses would produce a smoother reading. It reads “For thus says the Lord concerning the houses of this city and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah which have been pulled down for mounds and fortifications to fight against the Chaldeans and to fill it [should be “them”] with the corpses of men whom I smote in my anger and my wrath and I turned away my face from them [rather than from “this city” of the Hebrew text] for all their wickedness: Behold I will…” The Greek does not have the problem with the participle because it has seen it as part of a word meaning fortification. This also eliminates the problem with the infinitive because it is interpreted as parallel with “to fight.” I.e., the defenders used these torn-down buildings for defensive fortifications and for burial places. It would be tempting to follow this reading. However, there is no graphically close form for “fortification” that would explain how the more difficult בָּאִים הֶחָרֶב (hekharev baim) of the Hebrew text arose and there is doubt whether סֹלְלוֹת (solÿlot) can refer to a defense mound. W. L. Holladay (Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:221, 225) has suggested reading הַחֲרַכִּים (hakharakim) in place of הֶחָרֶב (hekharev) in the technical sense of “crenels,” the gaps between the raised portion on top of the wall (which raised portion he calls “merlons” and equates with סֹלְלוֹת, solÿlot). He does not, however, further suggest seeing בָּאִים (baim) as part of this corrupted form, choosing to see it rather as a gloss. His emendation and interpretation, however, have been justly criticized as violating the usage of both סֹלְלוֹת which is elsewhere “siege mound” and חֲרַכִּים (kharakim) which elsewhere refers only to the latticed opening of a window (Song 2:9). Until a more acceptable explanation of how the difficult Hebrew text could have arisen from the Greek, the Hebrew should be retained, though it is admittedly awkward. G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, and T. G. Smothers (Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 166, 172) have perhaps the best discussion of the issues and the options involved here.

(0.05) (Joh 15:2)

sn The Greek verb αἴρω (airw) can mean “lift up” as well as “take away,” and it is sometimes argued that here it is a reference to the gardener “lifting up” (i.e., propping up) a weak branch so that it bears fruit again. In Johannine usage the word occurs in the sense of “lift up” in 8:59 and 5:8-12, but in the sense of “remove” it is found in 11:39, 11:48, 16:22, and 17:15. In context (theological presuppositions aside for the moment) the meaning “remove” does seem more natural and less forced (particularly in light of v. 6, where worthless branches are described as being “thrown out” – an image that seems incompatible with restoration). One option, therefore, would be to understand the branches which are taken away (v. 2) and thrown out (v. 6) as believers who forfeit their salvation because of unfruitfulness. However, many see this interpretation as encountering problems with the Johannine teaching on the security of the believer, especially John 10:28-29. This leaves two basic ways of understanding Jesus’ statements about removal of branches in 15:2 and 15:6: (1) These statements may refer to an unfaithful (disobedient) Christian, who is judged at the judgment seat of Christ “through fire” (cf. 1 Cor 3:11-15). In this case the “removal” of 15:2 may refer (in an extreme case) to the physical death of a disobedient Christian. (2) These statements may refer to someone who was never a genuine believer in the first place (e.g., Judas and the Jews who withdrew after Jesus’ difficult teaching in 6:66), in which case 15:6 refers to eternal judgment. In either instance it is clear that 15:6 refers to the fires of judgment (cf. OT imagery in Ps 80:16 and Ezek 15:1-8). But view (1) requires us to understand this in terms of the judgment of believers at the judgment seat of Christ. This concept does not appear in the Fourth Gospel because from the perspective of the author the believer does not come under judgment; note especially 3:18, 5:24, 5:29. The first reference (3:18) is especially important because it occurs in the context of 3:16-21, the section which is key to the framework of the entire Fourth Gospel and which is repeatedly alluded to throughout. A similar image to this one is used by John the Baptist in Matt 3:10, “And the ax is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Since this is addressed to the Pharisees and Sadducees who were coming to John for baptism, it almost certainly represents a call to initial repentance. More importantly, however, the imagery of being cast into the fire constitutes a reference to eternal judgment, a use of imagery which is much nearer to the Johannine imagery in 15:6 than the Pauline concept of the judgment seat of Christ (a judgment for believers) mentioned above. The use of the Greek verb μένω (menw) in 15:6 also supports view (2). When used of the relationship between Jesus and the disciple and/or Jesus and the Father, it emphasizes the permanence of the relationship (John 6:56, 8:31, 8:35, 14:10). The prototypical branch who has not remained is Judas, who departed in 13:30. He did not bear fruit, and is now in the realm of darkness, a mere tool of Satan. His eternal destiny, being cast into the fire of eternal judgment, is still to come. It seems most likely, therefore, that the branches who do not bear fruit and are taken away and burned are false believers, those who profess to belong to Jesus but who in reality do not belong to him. In the Gospel of John, the primary example of this category is Judas. In 1 John 2:18-19 the “antichrists” fall into the same category; they too may be thought of as branches that did not bear fruit. They departed from the ranks of the Christians because they never did really belong, and their departure shows that they did not belong.

(0.05) (1Co 14:35)

tc Some scholars have argued that vv. 34-35 should be excised from the text (principally G. D. Fee, First Corinthians [NICNT], 697-710; P. B. Payne, “Fuldensis, Sigla for Variants in Vaticanus, and 1 Cor 14.34-5,” NTS 41 [1995]: 240-262). This is because the Western witnesses (D F G ar b vgms Ambst) have these verses after v. 40, while the rest of the tradition retains them here. There are no mss that omit the verses. Why, then, would some scholars wish to excise the verses? Because they believe that this best explains how they could end up in two different locations, that is to say, that the verses got into the text by way of a very early gloss added in the margin. Most scribes put the gloss after v. 33; others, not knowing where they should go, put them at the end of the chapter. Fee points out that “Those who wish to maintain the authenticity of these verses must at least offer an adequate answer as to how this arrangement came into existence if Paul wrote them originally as our vv. 34-35” (First Corinthians [NICNT], 700). In a footnote he adds, “The point is that if it were already in the text after v. 33, there is no reason for a copyist to make such a radical transposition.” Although it is not our intention to interact with proponents of the shorter text in any detail here, a couple of points ought to be made. (1) Since these verses occur in all witnesses to 1 Corinthians, to argue that they are not original means that they must have crept into the text at the earliest stage of transmission. How early? Earlier than when the pericope adulterae (John 7:53-8:11) made its way into the text (late 2nd, early 3rd century?), earlier than the longer ending of Mark (16:9-20) was produced (early 2nd century?), and earlier than even “in Ephesus” was added to Eph 1:1 (upon reception of the letter by the first church to which it came, the church at Ephesus) – because in these other, similar places, the earliest witnesses do not add the words. This text thus stands as remarkable, unique. Indeed, since all the witnesses have the words, the evidence points to them as having been inserted into the original document. Who would have done such a thing? And, further, why would scribes have regarded it as original since it was obviously added in the margin? This leads to our second point. (2) Following a suggestion made by E. E. Ellis (“The Silenced Wives of Corinth (I Cor. 14:34-5),” New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis, 213-20 [the suggestion comes at the end of the article, almost as an afterthought]), it is likely that Paul himself added the words in the margin. Since it was so much material to add, Paul could have squelched any suspicions by indicating that the words were his (e.g., by adding his name or some other means [cf. 2 Thess 3:17]). This way no scribe would think that the material was inauthentic. (Incidentally, this is unlike the textual problem at Rom 5:1, for there only one letter was at stake; hence, scribes would easily have thought that the “text” reading was original. And Paul would hardly be expected to add his signature for one letter.) (3) What then is to account for the uniform Western tradition of having the verses at the end of the chapter? Our conjecture (and that is all it is) is that the scribe of the Western Vorlage could no longer read where the verses were to be added (any marginal arrows or other directional device could have been smudged), but, recognizing that this was part of the original text, felt compelled to put it somewhere. The least offensive place would have been at the end of the material on church conduct (end of chapter 14), before the instructions about the resurrection began. Although there were no chapter divisions in the earliest period of copying, scribes could still detect thought breaks (note the usage in the earliest papyri). (4) The very location of the verses in the Western tradition argues strongly that Paul both authored vv. 34-35 and that they were originally part of the margin of the text. Otherwise, one has a difficulty explaining why no scribe seemed to have hinted that these verses might be inauthentic (the scribal sigla of codex B, as noticed by Payne, can be interpreted otherwise than as an indication of inauthenticity [cf. J. E. Miller, “Some Observations on the Text-Critical Function of the Umlauts in Vaticanus, with Special Attention to 1 Corinthians 14.34-35,” JSNT 26 [2003]: 217-36.). There are apparently no mss that have an asterisk or obelisk in the margin. Yet in other places in the NT where scribes doubted the authenticity of the clauses before them, they often noted their protest with an asterisk or obelisk. We are thus compelled to regard the words as original, and as belonging where they are in the text above.

(0.05) (1Ti 2:15)

tn Or “But she will be preserved through childbearing,” or “But she will be saved in spite of childbearing.” This verse is notoriously difficult to interpret, though there is general agreement about one point: Verse 15 is intended to lessen the impact of vv. 13-14. There are several interpretive possibilities here, though the first three can be readily dismissed (cf. D. Moo, “1 Timothy 2:11-15: Meaning and Significance,” TJ 1 [1980]: 70-73). (1) Christian women will be saved, but only if they bear children. This view is entirely unlikely for it lays a condition on Christian women that goes beyond grace, is unsupported elsewhere in scripture, and is explicitly against Paul’s and Jesus’ teaching on both marriage and salvation (cf. Matt 19:12; 1 Cor 7:8-9, 26-27, 34-35; 1 Tim 5:3-10). (2) Despite the curse, Christian women will be kept safe when bearing children. This view also is unlikely, both because it has little to do with the context and because it is not true to life (especially life in the ancient world with its high infant mortality rate). (3) Despite the sin of Eve and the results to her progeny, she would be saved through the childbirth – that is, through the birth of the Messiah, as promised in the protevangelium (Gen 3:15). This view sees the singular “she” as referring first to Eve and then to all women (note the change from singular to plural in this verse). Further, it works well in the context. However, there are several problems with it: [a] The future tense (σωθήσηται, swqhshtai) is unnatural if referring to the protevangelium or even to the historical fact of the Messiah’s birth; [b] that only women are singled out as recipients of salvation seems odd since the birth of the Messiah was necessary for the salvation of both women and men; [c] as ingenious as this view is, its very ingenuity is its downfall, for it is overly subtle; and [d] the term τεκνογονία (teknogonia) refers to the process of childbirth rather than the product. And since it is the person of the Messiah (the product of the birth) that saves us, the term is unlikely to be used in the sense given it by those who hold this view. There are three other views that have greater plausibility: (4) This may be a somewhat veiled reference to the curse of Gen 3:16 in order to clarify that though the woman led the man into transgression (v. 14b), she will be saved spiritually despite this physical reminder of her sin. The phrase is literally “through childbearing,” but this does not necessarily denote means or instrument here. Instead it may show attendant circumstance (probably with a concessive force): “with, though accompanied by” (cf. BDAG 224 s.v. δία A.3.c; Rom 2:27; 2 Cor 2:4; 1 Tim 4:14). (5) “It is not through active teaching and ruling activities that Christian women will be saved, but through faithfulness to their proper role, exemplified in motherhood” (Moo, 71). In this view τεκνογονία is seen as a synecdoche in which child-rearing and other activities of motherhood are involved. Thus, one evidence (though clearly not an essential evidence) of a woman’s salvation may be seen in her decision to function in this role. (6) The verse may point to some sort of proverbial expression now lost, in which “saved” means “delivered” and in which this deliverance was from some of the devastating effects of the role reversal that took place in Eden. The idea of childbearing, then, is a metonymy of part for the whole that encompasses the woman’s submission again to the leadership of the man, though it has no specific soteriological import (but it certainly would have to do with the outworking of redemption).

(0.04) (Num 1:21)

sn There has been much discussion about the numbers in the Israelite wilderness experience. The immediate difficulty for even the casual reader is the enormous number of the population. If indeed there were 603,550 men twenty years of age and older who could fight, the total population of the exodus community counting women and children would have been well over a million, or even two million as calculated by some. This is not a figure that the Bible ever gives, but given the sizes of families the estimate would not be far off. This is a staggering number to have cross the Sea, drink from the oases, or assemble in the plain by Sinai. It is not a question of whether or not God could provide for such a number; it is rather a problem of logistics for a population of that size in that period of time. The problem is not with the text itself, but with the interpretation of the word אֶלֶף (’elef), traditionally translated “thousand.” The word certainly can be taken as “thousand,” and most often is. But in view of the problem of the large number here, some scholars have chosen one of the other meanings attested in literature for this word, perhaps “troop,” or “family,” or “tent group,” even though a word for “family” has already been used (see A. H. McNeile, Numbers, 7; J. Garstang, Joshua-Judges, 120; J. Bright, History of Israel, 144). Another suggestion is to take the word as a “chief” or “captain” based on Ugaritic usage (see R. E. D. Clarke, “The Large Numbers of the Old Testament,” JTVI 87 [1955]: 82-92; and J. W. Wenham, “Large Numbers in the Old Testament,” TynBul 18 [1967]: 19-53). This interpretation would reduce the size of the Israelite army to about 18,000 men from a population of about 72,000 people. That is a radical change from the traditional reading and may be too arbitrary an estimate. A more unlikely calculation following the idea of a new meaning would attempt to divide the numbers and use the first part to refer to the units and the second the measurement (e.g., 65 thousand and four hundred would become 65 units of four hundred). Another approach has been to study the numbers rhetorically, analyzing the numerical values of letters and words. But this method, known as gematria, came in much later than the biblical period (see for it G. Fohrer, Introduction to the Old Testament, 184; and A. Noordtzij, Numbers [BSC], 24). On this system the numbers for “the sons of Israel” would be 603. But the number of the people in the MT is 603,550. Another rhetorical approach is that which says the text used exaggerations in the numbers on an epic scale to make the point of God’s blessing. R. B. Allen’s view that the numbers have been magnified by a factor of ten (“Numbers,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 2:688-91), which would mean the army was only 60,000 men, seems every bit as arbitrary as Wenham’s view to get down to 18,000. Moreover, such views cannot be harmonized with the instructions in the chapter for them to count every individual skull – that seems very clear. This is not the same kind of general expression one finds in “Saul has killed his thousands, David his ten thousands” (1 Sam 18:7). There one expects the bragging and the exaggerations. But in a text of numbering each male, to argue that the numbers have been inflated ten-fold to form the rhetoric of praise for the way God has blessed the nation demands a much more convincing argument than has typically been given. On the surface it seems satisfactory, but it raises a lot of questions. Everything in Exodus and Numbers attests to the fact that the Israelites were in a population explosion, that their numbers were greater than their Egyptian overlords. Pharaoh had attempted to counter their growth by killing males from the ranks. That only two midwives are named must be taken to mean that they were heads of the guilds, for two could not service a population – even of the smaller estimate given above. But even though the size had to have been great and seen as a threat, we are at a loss to know exactly how to determine it. There is clearly a problem with the word “thousand” here and in many places in the OT, as the literature will show, but the problem cannot really be solved without additional information. The suggestions proposed so far seem to be rather arbitrary attempts to reduce the number to a less-embarrassing total, one that would seem more workable in the light of contemporary populations and armies, as well as space and time for the people’s movement in the wilderness. An army of 10,000 or 20,000 men in those days would have been a large army; an army of 600,000 (albeit a people’s army, which may mean that only a portion of the males would actually fight at any time – as was true at Ai) is large even by today’s standards. But the count appears to have been literal, and the totals calculated accordingly, totals which match other passages in the text. If some formula is used to reduce the thousands in this army, then there is the problem of knowing what to do when a battle has only five thousand, or three thousand men. One can only conclude that on the basis of what we know the word should be left with the translation “thousand,” no matter what difficulties this might suggest to the reader. One should be cautious, though, in speaking of a population of two million, knowing that there are serious problems with the calculation of that number, if not with the word “thousand” itself. It is very doubtful that the population of the wilderness community was in the neighborhood of two million. Nevertheless, until a more convincing explanation of the word “thousand” or the calculation of the numbers is provided, one should retain the reading of the MT but note the difficulty with the large numbers.

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