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(0.12) (Mar 14:68)

tc Several significant witnesses (א B L W Ψ* 579 892) 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 ƒ1,13 33 [1424] M 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 14:72 (a reading which is much more textually secure). Nevertheless, a decision is difficult.

(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; οἱ δὲ εἶπον (hoi de eipon) is the reading of P45 A D W Θ ƒ1,13 33 M it; and καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ (kai legousin autō) is supported by B C L (Δ 579 892). 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 (P45 א A D W Θ ƒ1,13 33 M 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. NA28 puts αὐτῷ in brackets, indicating some doubt as to its authenticity.

(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 [ēdeisan auton Christon einai] in B L W Θ ƒ1 28 33vid 565 al bo; ᾔδεισαν τὸν Χριστὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι [ēdeisan ton Christon auton einai] in [א2] C [ƒ13 700] 892 1241 [1424]); 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 M lat. This support, though hardly overwhelming in itself, in combination with strong internal evidence, renders the shorter reading fairly certain.

(0.12) (Jer 13:21)

tn Or “to be rulers.” The translation of these two lines is somewhat uncertain. Their sentence structure raises problems in translation. The Hebrew text reads, “What will you do when he appoints over you (see BDB 823 s.v. פָּקַד Qal.B.2), 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) (Jer 9:24)

tn Or “fairness and justice, because these things give me pleasure.” Verse 24 reads in Hebrew, “But let the one who brags brag in this: understanding and knowing me, that I, the Lord, do faithfulness, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for/that I delight in these.” It is uncertain whether the Hebrew particle כִּי (ki) before the clause “I delight in these things” is parallel to the כִּי introducing the clause “that I, the Lord, act…,” or whether it is causal, giving the grounds for the Lord acting the way he does. In light of the contrasts in the passage and the emphasis that Jeremiah has placed on obedience to the covenant and ethical conduct in conjunction with real allegiance to the Lord, not mere lip service, it is probable that the clauses are parallel. For the use of כִּי to introduce clauses of further definition after a direct object, as here, see GKC 365 §117.h and see BDB 393 s.v. יָדַע Qal.1.a. For parallels to the idea of Yahweh requiring these characteristics in people, see Hos 6:6, Mic 6:8.

(0.12) (Jer 6:2)

tn Heb “The beautiful and delicate one I will destroy, the daughter of Zion.” The English versions and commentaries are divided over the rendering of this verse because (1) there are two verbs with these same consonants, one meaning “to be like” and the other meaning “to be destroyed” (intransitive) or “to destroy” (transitive), and (2) the word rendered “beautiful” (נָוָה, navah) can be understood as a noun meaning “pasture” or as a defective writing of an adjective meaning “beautiful, comely” (נָאוָה, naʾvah). Hence some render, “Fair Zion, you are like a lovely pasture,” reading the verb form as an example of the old second feminine singular perfect. Although this may fit the imagery of the next verse, that rendering ignores the absence of a preposition (לְ or אֶל, le or ʾel, both of which can be translated “to”) that normally goes with the verb “be like,” and it drops the conjunction in front of the adjective “delicate.” The parallel usage of the verb in Hos 4:5 argues for the meaning “destroy.”

(0.12) (Isa 1:27)

tc The Hebrew text has, “her repentant ones/returnees with righteousness.” The form שָׁבֶיהָ (shaveha, “her repentant ones”), as pointed in MT, is a masculine plural Qal participle from שׁוּב (shuv, “return”). Used substantivally, it refers to the “returning (i.e., repentant) ones.” It is possible that the parallel line (with its allusion to being freed by a ransom payment) suggests that the form be repointed to שִׁבְיָהּ (shivyah, “her captivity”), a reading that has support from the LXX. Some slightly emend the form to read וְשָׁבָה (veshavah, “and will return”). According to this view, the verb from the first line applies to the second line as well with the following translation as a result: “she will be released when fairness is restored.” Regardless, it makes best sense in the context to regard this as a reference to repentant Israelites returning to the land of promise. This understanding provides a better contrast with the rebels and sinners in 1:28.

(0.12) (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” (NASB), “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”).

(0.12) (Gen 26:10)

tn Heb “almost lied down with.” The verb שָׁכַב (shakhav) “to lie down” can imply going to bed to sleep or be a euphemism for sexual relations. Here the verb is modified by the prepositional phrase with כ (kaf; “like, as”) and מְעַט (meʿat; “little, brief”). When כִּמְעַט (kimʿat) modifies a perfect verb it means that someone almost did something (Ps 73:2; 119:87; Prov 5:14); with an imperfect verb it means to do something soon. This verse uses a perfect verb. Most translations employ a modal translation: “one of the people might easily (or “might soon”) have laid with your wife.” But the perfect verb is not typically modal, unless marked by other factors. The vav plus perfect consecutive (or veqatal) may be modal; or the perfect may be modal if signaled by another word such as אִם (ʾim; “if”) or לוּ or לוּלֵא (lu or luleʾ; “would that,” “unless”). If כִּמְעַט (kimʿat), which is not commonly used, can mark the perfect verb as modal, then “one of the people might have gone to bed with her” would be an appropriate translation. The options “it might have happened” and “it nearly happened” are fairly close in meaning.

(0.11) (2Pe 2:4)

tc The reading σειραῖς (seirais, “chains”) is found in P72 P Ψ 33 1739 M vg sy, while σιροῖς (sirois [or σειροῖς, seirois], “pits”) is found in א A B C 81. 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 (zophou) 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 autographic, 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.

(0.11) (1Th 2:7)

tc The variant ἤπιοι (ēpioi, “gentle”) has fair support (אc A C2 D2 Ψc 0278 33 1241 1739 1881 M), but νήπιοι (nēpioi, “little children”) has significantly stronger backing (P65 א* B C* D* F G I Ψ* 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 autographic. 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) (Jer 46:16)

tc The words “in their hurry to flee” are not in the text but appear to be necessary to clarify that the stumbling and falling here are not the same as in vv. 6, 12, where they occur in the context of defeat and destruction. The referent here appears to be 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 take 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 (ʾish ʾel reʿehu) to go with וַיֹּאמְרוּ (vayyoʾmeru) because it is idiomatic in this expression (cf., e.g., Gen 11:3; Judg 6:29). However, אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ (ʾish ʾel-reʿehu) 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.

(0.11) (Rut 2:20)

tn Heb “Blessed be he to the Lord, who has not abandoned his loyalty.” The formula has (1) the passive participle “blessed,” followed by (2) a person (in this case “he”), followed by (3) the preposition and noun “to the Lord,” followed by (4) the relative pronoun אֲשֶׁר (ʾasher, “who”). The issue is whether the relative pronoun refers back to the Lord or to Boaz (“he”). Many English versions translate: “May he [Boaz] be blessed by the Lord, who has not abandoned his loyalty to the living and dead.” In this rendering the pronoun אֲשֶׁר (ʾasher) appears to refer to “the Lord” not abandoning his loyalty. But it actually refers to Boaz as is clarified by the similar construction in 2 Sam 2:5. The formula there says, “May you [plural] be blessed to the Lord, who you [plural] have extended such kindness to your master Saul.” The plural verb after “who” clarifies that the clause does not refer to the Lord. As a formula, the אֲשֶׁר (ʾasher) clause, “who…,” modifies the person(s) to be blessed by the Lord, noting something the person(s) did to warrant the blessing. (Since the content of the clause provides a reason, it is fair to translate אֲשֶׁר [ʾasher, “who”] as “because.”) Some translations make the subordinate clause into a separate sentence, but this does not fully clarify the issue, e.g. “The Lord bless him…He has not stopped showing his kindness” (NIV). See B. A. Rebera, “Yahweh or Boaz? Ruth 2.20 Reconsidered,” BT 36 (1985): 317-27, and F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 134-36. By caring for the impoverished widows’ physical needs, Boaz had demonstrated loyalty to both the living (the impoverished widows) and the dead (their late husbands). See R. B. Chisholm, From Exegesis to Exposition, 72.

(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) (Gen 12:3)

tn Or “find blessing.” The Niphal of בָּרַךְ (barakh) occurs only three times, all in formulations of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 12:2; 18:18; 28:14). The Niphal stem is medio-passive and it has traditionally been rendered as passive here. While this captures an assumption in the passage, it does not fully capture the nuance of the verb. The verb is denominative (based on the noun “blessing”) with its active voice in the Piel and its normal passive expression in the Pual (or the Qal passive participle). Some have argued that the Niphal has the same reciprocal notion as its Hitpael (which appears in two other formulations of the Abrahamic covenant: Gen 22:18; 26:4) and means “bless one another by you[r name].” As an example of being blessed, Abram would be mentioned in their pronouncements of blessing. This could be possible, but it is more likely that the Niphal is used instead of the Hitpael to indicate a different middle voice meaning than the Hitpael, just as it would not be expected to have the same passive meaning as the Pual. In the immediate context, the first lines of this verse explain how others may be blessed by God, specifically by blessing Abram. The middle voice nuance may be expressed as “they may consider themselves blessed through you,” or that “they may find/receive blessing through you.” The logical outcome is that those who bless Abraham receive blessing and thus will “be blessed” (passive), and that anyone on the earth may be part of that category. So a passive translation can be a fair rendering of this implication. This translation attempts to reflect the middle voice of the Niphal as well as a modal sense “may receive blessing,” since the blessing only comes to those who bless Abram. Additional iterations of the Abrahamic covenant extend this principle to his descendants.

(0.09) (Joh 15:8)

tc Most mss (א A Ψ ƒ13 33 M) read the future indicative γενήσεσθε (genēsesthe; perhaps best rendered as “[and show that] you will become”), while some early and good witnesses (P66vid B D L Θ 0250 1 565 al) have the aorist subjunctive γένησθε (genēsthe; “[and show that] you are”). The reading of the Ausgangstext 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 (pherēte) in the ἵνα (hina) 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.

(0.09) (Joh 14:2)

tn If the ὅτι (hoti) 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) (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.

(0.08) (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 to the ruler for what he once ruled (cf. E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 583). The last two lines must describe 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, the phrase about foreheads and skulls 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 (shaʾon), and is adopted also by TEV, CEV, and C. von Orelli, Jeremiah, 341. REB’s “braggarts” and NIV’s “noisy boasters” seem to base the nuance on the usage of שָׁאוֹן (shaʾon) in Jer 46:17, where Pharaoh is referred to as an empty noise, and on 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, בַּמִּדְבָּר [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 שֹׁטְרִים (shoterim). 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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