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KntcritHtbital Critical CtnwmcntarD 

on tbc jfloln Scriptures of % (01b antr 
41cto (ustanwnts. 



Regius Professor 0/ Hebrew, Oxford; 


Master of University College, Durham; 



Edward Robinson Professor of Biblical Theology, 
Union Theological Seminary, New York. 



The International Critical Commentary 













MAY 16 1964 

First Imprfsston . . . 1903 

Second Impression . . . 1912 

Third Impression . . . 1956 

The Rights of Translation and of Reproduction are Reserved 


It is five-and -thirty years since the English translation of 
Keil's Commentary on Numbers, which had been published 
in Germany five years before, appeared. Neither the 
Speaker's Commentary, nor any other English Commentary 
on the book published since, possesses any independent 
value. Keil's interpretation started from a standpoint 
which was at the time professedly, and recognised to be, 
conservative, and which the advance of scholarship in the 
interval has increasingly shown to be untenable. It is 
unnecessary to say more to indicate the need for a new 
English Commentary. 

In Germany a second edition of Keil's work appeared 
in 1870, Dillmann's Commentary in 1886, and Strack's in 
1 894. To Dillmann the present writer is greatly indebted. 
But even since 1886 standpoints have changed, and know- 
ledge on many special points has increased. It is the aim 
of the present Commentary to enable the reader to look 
at and interpret the Book of Numbers from these new 
standpoints in the light of the new, as well as of the old, 

Two new German Commentaries are announced as 
likely to appear shortly : * these, of course, have not been 
available for use in the preparation of the present volume. 

* One in Nowack's Handkommentar zum AT, by Baentsch ; the other 
in Marti's Kurzer Hand-Commentar zum AT, by Holzinger. 


A few monographs on certain sections of the book have 
recently appeared, and Paterson's critical edition of the text 
was published in 1900; but in the main the new material 
for the interpretation of the book has had to be sought in 
more general works on Lexicography, Textual and Literary 
Criticism, Archaeology, and Anthropology. Inscriptions 
and Monumental Evidence have cast less direct light on 
Numbers than on many of the books of the Old Testament. 
On the other hand, several sections of the book, when 
viewed from the standpoint of modern anthropological 
study, especially as represented in the works of Tylor 
and Frazer, gain greatly in intelligibility. 

Many of the works to which the writer has been mainly 
indebted will be found in the List of Abbreviations (p. xvi) ; 
others, in the literature given at the beginning of several 
sections of the Commentary and in the footnotes. Special 
reference may be made here to the volume on Deuteronomy 
in the present series. In some parts the Books of Numbers 
and Deuteronomy are parallel ; where this is the case, it has 
frequently seemed best to explain matters, which had been 
already fully discussed in the Commentary on Deuteronomy, 
briefly and with a reference to that work. Numbers is also 
closely related to Exodus and Leviticus ; but the commen- 
taries on these books have not yet appeared ; certain matters 
not alluded to in Numbers should obviously find their full 
explanation in those works : in other cases it has been more 
difficult to decide where the fuller discussion should most 
naturally be given or sought ; but I hope that I have been 
able to avoid both leaving too much to my fellow-contributors 
to this series, and unduly anticipating them in what it is for 
them to interpret. 

In the transliteration of Proper Names I have followed 
in the main the practice of the editor of the series in his 
Commentary on Deuteronomy. But in the last eight years 


those who are likely to use this work have been becoming 
increasingly accustomed to the form Yalvweh : I have there- 
fore adopted it in preference to the non-form Jehovah, for it 
cannot come far short of representing the original pronun- 
ciation. The V I have transliterated by s, since z, when 
comparison has to be made with the Arabic, is misleading ; 
this necessitates substituting Selophehad, Soan, etc., for the 
familiar Zelophehad, Zoan, etc. Cross references under Z 
in the Index (in the case of words beginning with this letter) 
will, I hope, diminish any difficulty which this may occasion 
to some readers. The quantities of vowels I have in many 
cases not marked at every occurrence of the word, but only 
on the first occurrence, or where, for the sake of comparison, 
it was important. 

The map, it is hoped, will prove a convenience in a 
volume which necessarily contains a number of geograph- 
ical notes and discussions, and refers to places which cannot 
be found in any single existing and easily accessible map. 
To avoid the unfortunate confusion produced by the 
common practice of attaching Old Testament names to 
sites even when the identifications are at best very un- 
certain,* the ancient names have only been inserted when 
the identifications are free from all reasonable doubt; in 
other cases modern names, distinguished from the ancient 
by difference of type, have been used. Without over- 
crowding it would have been impossible to include all the 
sites (especially those East of Jordan) to which reference 
is made in the Commentary, but none that are essential 
to the understanding of the more important notes have 
been intentionally omitted. 

I need not repeat or epitomise here what I have said in 
the Introduction on the religious value of Numbers. But 

* This fault is very conspicuous in the otherwise convenient map of 
Palestine in Murray's Handv Classical Mai>s. edited bv G. B. Grundy. 


one thing I may add : Numbers is but part of a whole ; and 
the value of the part can only be adequately judged when 
its connection with the whole is borne in mind. Still more 
true is this of individual sections of the book ; in some of 
these we come across crude, or primitive, or very imperfect, 
religious ideas and sentiments ; I have felt it my duty, no 
less in the interests of religion than of scholarship (and in 
so far as the goal of both is truth, their interests are the 
same), to indicate as fully and as faithfully as I could the 
crudeness and imperfections of these ideas as well as the 
finer and higher ideas that find their expression in other 
parts of the book. For the highest that the religion of 
Israel attained to can only be fully appreciated in the light 
of the lowest which it touched, sometimes wholly, sometimes 
partially, to transform and ennoble. 

My last word must be one of the warmest gratitude for 
the unwearying attention with which Dr. Driver has read 
my book as it has been passing through the press, and for 
the numerous suggestions with which he has favoured me. 
It has not been always possible to utilise these suggestions 
as fully as I could have wished ; to have done so would have 
involved overmuch rearrangement of the printed sheets ; but 
even as it is, the work has been enriched in many places as 
a result of this help, which can only be duly appreciated by 
those who have received or given similar service. I must 
also thank the editors of the Encyclopedia Biblica for the 
favour of allowing me to see advance sheets of many articles 
in that work, including some in the forthcoming and con- 
cluding fourth volume. 


Oxford, January 1903. 


Addenda and Corrigenda 
Principal Abbreviations employed 

§ i. Title . 

§ 2. Scene and Period 

§ 3, 4. Connection with preceding' and following' 

§ 5. Table of Contents 

§6-13. Sources . 

§ 14. Text . 

§ 15, 16. The historical Value of Numbers , 

§ 17. Numbers and the Religion of Israel 

Commentary ..... 

Some longer or detached Notes — 

The Antiquity of P's Lists of Names 

The Numbers of the Israelites 

The Camp in the Wilderness 

The Levites . 

Ordeals . . 

Nazirites . 

Abstinence . 

Treatment of Hair 

Holiness . 

Budding Sticks . 
Firstfruits : n'jyto and onm 
Priestly Dues . 





. XV 

, xxi 

xx i 
, xxii 


. xxvi 



. xlii 



7- r 35- '3 6 



21-25, 26 

62, 63 

65, 69 
122, 123 


Some longer or detached Notes — continued. pages 

Defilement by the Dead ..... 241-248 

The Personification of Nations . . 265, 266, 268 

Early monumental References to Edom . . . 268 

The Cult of Serpents ...... 275,276 

Hebrew popular Poetry .. . . 288, 289, 299, 300 

Use of the Divine Names in c. 22-24 .... 310-312 

Origin and Motive of the Story of Balaam . . . 314-322 

Power of a Curse ...... 327,328 

Differences between the Festivals of earlier and later 

Times ....... 404-407 

Index — 

I. English ....... 479-486 

II. Hebrew . .... 487-489 

MAP . - . . . . Facing Title-page 


Pp. 45, 55. More interesting- than any of the parallels to the ordeal of 
Jealousy which are cited in the Commentary, is the parallel afforded by 
the recently discovered laws of Hammurabbi (c. 2000 B.C.). In the law of 
Nu. s, the ordeal and the oath of purgation are combined ; in the law of 
Manu (cited on p. 45), they are alternative means of reaching the truth, 
but no rule is given as to the circumstances under which a particular 
alternative is to be adopted ; in the Babylonian law the oath is provided 
for one case, the ordeal for another. Apparently, as the Rev. H. W. 
Robinson, of Pitlochry, in a written communication, expresses it, "the 
suspicion confined to the husband (and therefore self-originated) is dealt 
with by the more lenient test of a tribunal-oath ; whilst outside suspicion 
requires the more severe treatment of the water ordeal." The relevant 
sections of the laws of Hammurabbi run as follows in Mr. Johns' trans- 
lation (The Oldest Code of Laws in the World, Edin. 1903) : "§ 131. If the 
wife of a man her husband has accused her, and she has not been caught 
in lying with another male, she shall swear by God and return to her 
house. § 132. If a wife of a man on account of another male has had the 
finger pointed at her, and has not been caught in lying with another male, 
for her husband she shall plunge into the holy river." The nature of the 
ordeal, which is here provided for, is clearly indicated in § 2 : "If a man 
has put a spell upon a man, and has not justified himself, he upon whom 
the spell is laid shall go to the holy river, he shall plunge into the holy 
river, and if the holy river overcome him, he who wove the spell upon him 
shall take to himself his house. If the holy river makes that man to be 
innocent, and has saved him, he who laid the spell upon him shall be put 
to death. He who plunged into the holy river shall take to himself the 
house of him who wove the spell upon him." 

P. 121, top. The second meaning of Cush (Cassites) would have been 
better described as highly probable than as "certain." 

Pp. 299, 300. It is very difficult to find a rendering of D'^pn that does 
not imply either more or less than the actual evidence, which is scanty, 
warrants. " Ballad-singers," the rendering proposed long ago by J. J. S. 
Perowne (Smith's DB. ii. 584a), comes nearest to what is required, 
especially, perhaps, if we understand "ballad " chiefly of popular songs, 
treating (like the " border minstrelsy ") in most cases of the defeat of 
foes, the deeds of famous warriors, and the like. We can only be guided 
by the nature of the one and only specimen (Nu. 2I 27 " 30 ) that happens to 


be preserved of the poems actually sung or recited by these men, and 
by the use of Sco. SfD is a word of very wide meaning (p. 344 f. ) ; but 
some of its meanings are clearly inapplicable in determining the meaning 
of Q'^eh ; the m'shaltm which these men recited were neither short 
pregnant sayings of the type found in 1 S. 24 14 , nor artistic apothegms 
such as constitute the bulk of the Book of Proverbs (c. 10 ff.). Still, if Sira 
became so widely applicable, it is necessary to allow for the probability 
that the poems whence the "ballad-singers" derived their name were not 
strictly limited to a single type. The usages of *?z>D most directly service- 
able in considering the type of poems recited by the " ballad-singers " are 
to be found in Is. 14 4 , Mic. 2*, Hab. 2 6 . The mashal of Is. 14 4 is a 
triumphal song over the fall of the king of Babylon, Israel's great enemy ; 
this mashal may well have been modelled on the ancient m^shalim or 
"ballads," which used to be actually recited; many of these popular and 
often-repeated poems, it is only probable, still existed in and after the 
Exile, and were known to the author of Is. 14. Possibly, however, the 
■mashal in Is. 14 excels the ancient m e shalim in length, elaboration, and 
artistic skill as greatly as the dirges of Lamentations excel the earlier 
dirges cited in 2 S. 3 33f, ) Am. 5 1 , and, so far as length and elaboration 
are concerned, the more famous dirge of David (2 S. i 17ff -). The use in 
Hab. 2 8 is similar. The mashal of Mic. 2 41 - is called a " lamentation " 
('ru); it is not a triumphal poem ; in spite of an obviously corrupt text (see 
Nowack's Comm.), it somewhat clearly bewails the calamities of Israel. 
Possibly, therefore, the " ballad-singers " may at times have worked on 
the emotions of their audience by other than triumphal and heroic songs. 
If a " lamentation " (\t:) might be termed umashal, might not also a kinah 
or dirge, such as that in Ezek. 19 2 * 9 , with its covert allusions, be similarly 
classed? In any case it is hazardous to assume that the term mashal 
could not have been applied to many poetical compositions which do not 
happen to be so termed in the OT. ; but, if this be so, it is impossible to 
determine, with the scanty evidence available, the precise range of subjects 
which the " ballad-singers " treated, or the emotions to which they ap- 
pealed. So far as the character of the poem is concerned, we should 
perhaps be justified in concluding (from a comparison with Nu. 21 27 " 30 ) 
that a mashal was a poem dealing pre-eminently with war or defeat, but 
at the same time written in a less elevated strain than the triumphal odes 
of Ex. 15 and Jud. 5, and also probably treating the theme from a more 
secular point of view. 


i. Texts and Versions. 

AV. . . . Authorised Version. 

EV. . . . English Version. 

MT. . . . The Massoretic Text (i.e. the vocalised text of the 

Hebrew Bible). Variants in the Hebrew codices 
have been cited from De Rossi, Varies Lectiones 
Vet. Test., vol. ii. 

OT. . . . Old Testament. 

RV. . . . Revised Version. 

5 . . The Samaritan recension of the Hebrew (unvocal- 

ised) text (ed. Blayney, Oxford, 1790). 

6 . . . The Greek (LXX) Version of the Old Testament 

(ed. Swete, Cambridge, 1887-1-894). The readings 
of the codices are, when necessary, distinguished 
thus : — ffi A (Sr B (Alexandrian, Vatican, etc.) ; but 
ffi L = Lucian's recension as edited by Lagarde 
(Libr. Vet. Test. Grace, Gottingen, 1883). The 
cursives have been (occasionally) cited from Vet. 
Test. Greece, cum variis lectionibus, ed. Holmes, 
Oxon. 1798. 

1& . . . Jewish recension of the Hebrew (unvocalised) text, 

i.e. the consonants of the ordinary Hebrew MSS. 
and printed Bibles. 

5 . . . The Syriac Version (Peshitto). 

{£ . . . . The Aramaic Versions or Targums. C commonly 

stands in particular for the Targum of Onkelos 
which, when necessary, is distinguished as 3^ ; 
2TJe r = the (so-called) Jerusalem Targum; (TJ' on = 
the Targum of Jonathan. These are cited from 
Walton's " Polyglott," vols. i. and iv. 

F . . • Vulgate. 

2. Sources (see pp. xxix-xxxix). 

D . , . . The Deuteronomist. 

E . . . The Elohistic narrative, or the Elohist. 

11 . . . . The Law of Holiness. 






The Yahwistic narrative, or the Yahwist. 

The editor (or work of the editor) who combined 

J and E ; also the narrative of J and E when these 

cannot be analysed. 
The work of the priestly school, or the (or a) 

priestly writer. 
The author of the History of Sacred Institutions, or 

his work (s = groundwork ; see p. xxxiiif.). 
Work of the priestly school later than Ps ( s = 

Work of the priestly school of uncertain ( = *) date, 

but in some cases probably earlier than Pe. 

3. Authors' Names and Books. 

[See also the literature cited at the beginning of several 
sections of the Commentary ; the works thus given are, 
within the section, often cited by the author's name only.] 

Addis . . . W. E. Addis, The Documents of the Hexateuch, 

vol. i. 1892 ; vol. ii. 1898. Vol. i. contains in 
consecutive form the work of JE ; vol. ii. that of 
D and P ; both volumes include introductions and 
critical notes. 

Bacon . . B. W. Bacon, The Triple Tradition of the Exodus 

(Hartford (U.S.A.), 1894). 

A translation of Exodus and Numbers and the 
last chapters of Deuteronomy (exclusive of the 
detached laws) in which the work of J, E, 
and P, and editorial additions, etc., are distin- 
guished by variations of type. In an appendix 
the main documents are given separately and 
consecutively. This work gives the results of 
the literary analysis in a most convenient form, 
and the critical discussions are often marked by 
much acuteness. 

Barth (or Barth NB) J. Barth, Die Nominalbildung in den Semitischen 

Sprachen, Leipzig, 1894. 

BDB. . . . A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 

based on the Lexicon and Thesaurus of Gesenius, 
by F. Brown, C. A. Briggs, and S. R. Driver, 
Oxford, 1891 ff. (parts 1-10, reaching as far as pp, 
now (Jan. 1903) published). 

BN. . . . See Lagarde. 

BR. . . . Edward Robinson, Biblicai Researches in Palestine 

(references are to ed. 1, the pages of which 
are marked at the foot of the pages of ed. 2), 
London, 1841 ; Later Bibl. Researches, 1852. Ed. 
2, 1856. 


CH. . . . The Hexateuch according to the Revised Version 

arranged in its constituent documents by Members 
of the Society of Historical Theology, Oxford, and 
edited, -with introduction, notes, marginal references, 
and synoptical tables, by J. E. Carpenter and G. 
Harford-Battersby (now G. Harford), London, 1900. 
The introductory matter (with additions), the 
tables, and many of the notes have been repub- 
lished under the title, The Composition of the 
Hexateuch, by J. E. Carpenter and G. Harford, 
London, 1902. 

CH. followed by a numeral and symbol, such as 
2 7 JE > I 5 D > 35 > refers to the tables of words and 
phrases characteristic of JE, D, and P respectively 
given in this work on pp. 185-221 of vol. i. of the 
first edition, and pp. 384-425 of the second edition. 
The number without the symbol is often given 
when the context renders the citation of the letters 

Che[yne] . . T. K. Cheyne. 

CIS. . . . Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum, Paris, 1881 ff. 

Corn. . . . C. H. Cornill, Einleiiung in das alte Testament, 

eds. 3 and 4, 1896. 

COT. . . . The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the OT.; a transla- 
tion (London, 1885), by O. C. Whitehouse. The 
second edition of Die Keilinschriften und das alte 
Testament (abbreviated KAT.), by Eb. Schrader. 
References are given to the pages of the 2nd 
German edition which are marked in the margin 
of the translation. 

A third edition of the German work edited (and 
indeed entirely rewritten) by H. Zimmern and H. 
Winckler is now (Feb. 1903) complete. 

Dav. . . . A. B. Davidson, Hebrew Syntax (Edin. 1894). 

DB. . . . Dictionary of the Bible, and in particular A Diction- 
ary of the Bible, edited by James Hastings (Edin. 
1 898-1902). 

Del. . . . Franz Delitzsch, or (before references to the Assyrian 

dictionary) Friedrich Delitzsch. 

Di. . . . August Dillmann, Numeri, Deuteronomium und Josua, 

1886 (rewritten on the basis of Knobel's Commen- 
tary [Kn.] on the same books, 1861). 

Dr(iver). . . S. R. Driver. 

(1) A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew 
(ed. 3, Oxford, 1892). 

(2) An Introduction to the Literature of the OT. 
(abbreviated L.O.T.), cited according to the 
pagination of ed. 6 (Edin. 1897), which is re- 
tained in subsequent editions. 


EBi . . . Encyclopedia Biblica, a Critical Dictionary of the 

Bible, edited by T. K. Cheyne and J. Sutherland 
Black (Lond. 1899 ff.). 

Vols, i.-iii. at present published. 

Ew. . . . Heinrich Ewald. 

GB. . . . The Golden Bough, a study in Magic and Religion, 

by J. G. Frazer (ed. 2, London, 1900). 

Ges. . . . Wilhelm Gesenius, Thesaurus ling. hebr. et chald. 

Vet. Test. (Leipzig-, 1829-1853) ; the last part 
(v-n) was completed after Gesenius' death (1842) 
by Roediger. 

G.-K. . . . Wilhelm Gesenius' Hebrdische Grammatik, vollig 

umgearbeitet von E. Kautzsch, ed. 26, 1896. 

English translation by G. W. Collins and A. E. 
Cowley (Oxford, 1898). 

GVI. . , . Geschichte des Volkes Israel, by Bernhard Stade 

(Berlin, 1889). 

Hengst. . . . E. W. Hengstenberg ; see p. 307. 

HP.V. . . . Studies in Hebrew Proper A r ames, by G. Buchanan 

Gray (Lond. 1896). 

JBLit. . . . Journal of Biblical Literature (Mass. U.S.A.). 

JPh. . . . Journal of Philology (Cambridge and London). 

JPTh. . . . Jahrbucherfur Protcslantische Theologie. 

JQR. • • . The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

KAT. . . . See COT. 

Kays, or Kayser . August Kayser, Das vorexilische Buch der Urge- 

schichte Israels und seine Erweiterungen (Strass- 
burg, 1874). 

KB. . » . Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek, ed. Eb. Schrader 

(Berlin, 1889 ff.). 

A collection of Assyrian and Babylonian texts 
transliterated and translated into German by 
various scholars. Vol. v., containing the Tel el- 
Amarna correspondence, is edited by H. Winckler; 
of this there is an English edition with an English 
instead of the German translation (London, 

Ke. or Keil . . C. F. Keil, Comm. on Numbers in Keiland Delitzsch's 

Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament. Refer- 
ences are to vol. iii. of the translation (by J. Martin) 
of the Pentateuch (Edin. 1867). 

Kit. or Kittel . R. Kittel, Geschichte d. Hebrder (Gotha, 1888). 

English translation by J. Taylor, H. W. Hogg, 
and E. B. Spiers (London, 1895, 1896). 

Kon. . . . F. E. Konig, Historisch-kritisches Lehrgebdude der 

hebr. Sprache, vol. i. 1881 ; vol. ii. 1895. The con- 
cluding part of the work appeared in 1897 with 
an independent title (Historisch-comparative Syn- 
tax der hebr. Sprache) : this is cited as Kon. iii. 






LO.T. . 

Moore . 

NUB. . 

Nold. . 

Now. or Nowack 
Onom. or OS. 

otjc. . 
pa os. . 


PEF. (Qu St) 
PRE***'' 1 ) ; 



SEE. . 
SB OT. . 

A. Kuencn, The Hexateuch (translation by P. H. 
Wicksteed : Lond. 1886). References are given 
either to the section and subsection, or to the 
pages of the original work (see Deut. p. xxii), 
which are given in the margin of the translation. 

Paul de Lagarde, Uebersicht iiber die im Aramdi- 
schen, Arabischen u. Uebraischen iibliche Bildung 
der Nomina (Gottingen, 1889) ; abbreviated BN. 

J. Levy, u. Chalddisches WiJrterbuch 
iiber die Tahnudim u. Midraschim (Leipzig, 1876- 

See under " Driver " (2). 

G. F. Moore, " Numbers " in EBi. 

See " Levy." 

Th. Ndldeke, Un/ersuchungen zur Kritik des AT 
(Kiel, 1869). 

The first essay (pp. 1-144) is entitled Die s.g. 
Grundschrift des Pentateuchs, and deals with the 
extent and characteristics of P. 

W. Nowack, Lehrbuch d. hebr. Archaologie (Freiburg 
and Leipzig, 1894). 

Onomastica Sacra, ed. Lagarde (Gottingen, 1887). 
This contains several ancient Onomastica, in- 
cluding those of Jerome and Eusebius. 

The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, by W. 
Robertson Smith, ed. 2, 1892. 

Proceedings of the American Oriental Society. 

J. A. Paterson, The Book of Numbers, critical edition 
of the Hebrew Text, printed in colours exhibiting 
the composite structure of the work, with notes 
(Leipzig, Baltimore, and London, 1900). 

Palestine Exploration Fund (Quarterly Statement). 

Herzog's Real - Encyklopddie fiir protestantische 
Theologie u. Kirche, ed. 2, 1877-1888. Of the 
third edition by A. Hauck (vol. i. 1896), 12 
volumes have at present appeared. 

Rabbenu Shelomoh Yishaki (1040-1105), one of the 
most learned and typical of the mediaeval Jewish 
commentators. His Commentary on the Penta- 
teuch as edited by A. Berliner (Berlin, 1866) has 
been used. 

E. F. C. Rosenmuller, Scholia in Vet. Test, (pars 
sec. ; Lipsise, 1798). 

The Sacred Books of the East, translated by various 
scholars, and edited by F. Max Miiller, 18790°. 

The Sacred Books of the Old Testament, ed. Paul 

The volume on Numbers is by J. A. Paterson 
(see under Paterson). 




Siphri , 

St. or Sta. 

1i. Tt\jd). 
TSK. . 

h>« • 



E. Schiirer, Geschichte d. jiid. Volkes im Zeitaltet 

Jesu Christi, ed. 3, 1898-1902). 

English translation of ed. 2 (Edin. 1885-1891). 
Sifre' debe" Rab, der dlteste halachische u. hagadische 

Midrasch zu Numeri u. Deuteronomium, ed. M. 

Friedmann (Vienna, 1864). 
Bernhard Stade, (see GVI). 
Strack, Die Bucher Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, u. 

Numeri (in Strack and Zockler's " Kurzgefasster 

Kommentar"), 1894. 
Theologisch Tijdschrift (Leiden). 
Theologische Studien u. Kritiken. 
J. Wellhausen, Die Composition des Hexateuchs u. 

der historischen Bucher des AT, ed. 2, 1889. Cited 

as Comp. 

The references to the Prolegomena and the 

Israelitische u. jiidische Gesch. are, unless other- 
wise indicated, to the fourth and second editions 

Zeitschrift fur die Alttesta?nentliche Wissenschaft. 
Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenldndischen Gesell- 

Zeitschrift des Deutschen Paldstina- Vereins. 

Biblical passages are cited according to the Hebrew enumeration of 

chapters and verses : where this differs in the English, the reference 

to the latter has usually (except in the philological notes) been 

appended in a parenthesis. 
The sign f following a series of references, indicates that all examples 

of the phrase, word, or form in question, occurring in the OT., have 

been quoted. 
In the translations of the poems (pp. 345, 351, 360, 368) the single inverted 

commas (e.g. ' glory ') indicates that the translation is from an 

emended text. 
Cp. = compare. 
Ct. = contrast. 


§ i. Title. 

Numbers, as the title of the fourth book of the Pentateuch, 
is derived through the Latin from the Greek usage. 'AptdfAol 
is the title of the book in the earliest codices of ffi (n and B) ; 
but it is much older than these : it was certainly known to 
Melito * (c. 175 a.d.), and was in all probability of Alexandrian 
and pre-Christian origin.! At first, as in the case of the other 
books of the Pentateuch, the Latins adopted the Greek word 
as the title ; and Tertullian cites the book as Arithmi.% But 
whereas the Greek titles, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and 
Deuteronomy persisted, the Greek title of the fourth book 
was subsequently translated : hence the title in the Vulgate 
is Numeri, to which the English " Numbers" corresponds. 

A similar title used by the Palestinian Jews, and already 
found in the Mishnah (c. 200 a.d.), is D'HIpSH K>on="The 
fifth (part of the Pentateuch treating) of the mustered " 
(D^pan).§ Still more similar to the Greek title would be "ISD 
D"nBD» (" Book of Numbers"), but it appears doubtful whether 
this title was in actual use among the Jews of the Mishnic 

* Eusebius, HE. iv. 26. 

t Swete, Introd. to the Old Testament in Greek, 215. The titles of the 
other four books of the Pentateuch are cited by Philo (see Di. Genesis, p. 
vii ; Ryle, Philo and Holy Scripture, p. xx) ; 'ApiO/iol does not happen to 
be so cited, but may be assumed to belong to the same age as the rest of 
the Greek titles of the Pentateuch. 

t " Balaam prophetes in Arithmis arcessitus a rege Balack," etc. (Adv. 
Marc. iv. 28). 

§ See, e.g., Yoma vii. 1 ; Menahoth iv. 3. In the Bab. Talm. see, 
e.g., Sola 366 (top), and cp. Origen in Eusebius, HE. vi. 25 ('Apidfiol, 


period. It is cited by some writers* as " Mishnic," but 
without any evidence given for the statement. 

Other Hebrew titles of Numbers are "QT1, the first word, 
and "Qioa, the fourth word, of the Hebrew text of the book. 
The second of these is used in modern Hebrew Bibles : from 
it also was derived the name of the great Haggadic commen- 
tary on the book, the Bemidbar Rabbah. The title "Q"W was 
already known to Jerome and Epiphanius.f 

As indicative of the contents of the book the title Numbers 
is not aptly chosen ; for it is only a small part of the book 
(c. 1-4. 26) that is concerned with the numbers of the 
Israelites. Though not chosen for the purpose, the Hebrew 
title "In the wilderness" would be far more suitable, since 
the wilderness is the scene of the greater part of the book 

§ 2. Scene and Period. 

The contents of Numbers are very miscellaneous in char- 
acter (see § 5). The connection between subjects successively 
treated of frequently consists in nothing more than the fact 
that they are associated with the same, or successive scenes 
or periods ; and the whole book may be said, in a measure, 
to be held together by this geographical or chronological 
skeleton. It will therefore be convenient to indicate at once 
the scenes and dates that are given. 

The scene of ii-io 11 - 29-32 is the wilderness of Sinai, of 
i2 16b -2o 21 the wilderness of Paran, of 22 1 ~36 13 the steppes of 
Moab at the N.E. end of the Dead Sea. The first and 
second of these sections is connected by an account (io 12 ~ 28 
io 33 -i2 16a ) of the march northwards from Sinai to Paran 

* H. E. Ryle, Canon of the Old Testament, 294; Swete, op. cit. p. 215. 
Hottinger (Thes. Phil. (1649) P- 463) writes: "Dnaoon ">so, Liber Numer- 
orum. Sic appellatur apud Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. 6, c. 19, ex Origine." 
This statement appears to rest on the reading of Stephanus (1544), which 
has not been admitted by later editors, in Euseb. HE. vi. 25 (cited in 
last note), afi/j.t<nrapl/j. ij wexovdlfji. ; see Heinichen's ed. i. 293, xviii, xix. 

t See Jerome, Pre/, in libr. Sam. et Mai, ed. Migne, xxviii. 552 (Quar- 
tus, vajedabber quern Numeros vocamus) ; Epiphanius in Lagarde, Sym- 
micta, ii. 178 (ovada^-qp § ianv 'Api$fiwv), 


(or Kadesh), the second and third by an account (20 22 -2i 32(35) ) 
of the march from Kadesh on the west, to the steppes of 
Moab on the east, of the 'Arabah (Jordan -valley). Thus 
geographically the book falls into three sections : i^io 11 
(also v. 29-32 ) Sinai; io 12 -2i 9 North of Sinai and West of 
the 'Arabah ; 2i 10 -36 13 East of the 'Arabah (Jordan-valley). 

The chronological is in some respects less clear than the 
geographical articulation of the book ; for in a crucial passage 
(20 1 ) the number of the year is now missing. But whether 
or not that missing number was 40 (see 20 1 n.), the main 
periods of the book are clear : ^-io 11 covers 19 days; io 12 -2i 9 
just under 38 years (20 28 = 33 s8 ) ; and 2i 10 -36 13 not more than 
5 months (cp. 33 s8 = 20 28 , 20 29 , Dt. i 3 : also Ex. J 7 , Dt. 34 7 ). 

Several dates are given either directly or inferentially. 
Those given inferentially are enclosed in square brackets 
in the subjoined table. The era is that of the Exodus. 





1 1 (cp. v. 





[7 1 (cp. 9 15 Ex 

. 4c- 2 - 





9 1 




9 8 








20 1 




(20*2.29 = ) 

33 s8 




Dt. i 8 




In addition to the foregoing references, there is in 33 s 
a purely retrospective reference to the 15th day of the 1st 
month of the year i. 

On the value of these chronological statements, see § 15^. 

§3,4. Connection ivith preceding and following books : Scope. 

§ 3. The first section of Numbers (^-io 10 ) may be re- 
garded as an appendix to the Books of Exodus and Leviticus. 
The arrival of the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai is 
recorded in Ex. 19 1 , their departure therefrom in Nu. io llf - (33) ; 
and thus the scene of all that lies between these two passages 
is the same. Not only so : the main subjects of Ex. ig^Nu. 
10 11 are closely related, and, indeed, parts of a single con« 


ception — the due organisation of the people with a view tc 
securing- the sanctifying - presence of Yahweh in their midst. 
The closing chapters of Exodus are primarily connected with 
the building of the tabernacle for the divine presence ; Lev- 
iticus, with the institution of the sacrificial system, by means 
of which the people was to approach Yahweh, and of the 
priesthood, the members of which were to be the immediate 
ministers of Yahweh ; the opening chapters of Numbers, with 
the institution of the Levites, who were to be the ministers 
of the priests, and with the arrangement of the camp in 
such a manner as to symbolise the holiness and unapproach- 
ableness of Yahweh. At present all three sections of Ex. 
ic^-Nu. io 10 contain also miscellaneous laws and regulations 
not closely related to the main conception (see, chiefly, Ex. 
20-23, Lev. 17-26, Nu. 5 f.) ; but this ought not to obscure 
the essential unity of the whole. Clearly, then, Exodus, 
Leviticus, and Numbers might have been much more suitably, 
though very unequally, divided as follows: (1) Ex. 1-18: The 
Exodus from Egypt to Sinai; (2) Ex. 19-Nu. io 10 : Sinai; 
(3) Nu. io n -36 13 : From Sinai to the Jordan. 

As the first section of the book is closely related to 
Exodus and Leviticus, so the latter part of the last section 
is, though far less closely, related to Deuteronomy. The 
laws and instructions recorded in 33 50 -36 13 , like those of 
Deuteronomy (see 4 1 6 1 7 lf - 9 1 12 1 and passim), are given in 
prospect of the passage of the Jordan, and with the intention 
that they shall be carried out only after the settlement in 
Canaan (33 50f - 342-17.29 35 2. iof.^ At the same time these 
chapters cannot be regarded as a detached part of Dt., for 
(apart from considerations referred to below) they deal to a 
considerable extent with the same subjects ; with 33 50 " 56 , cp. 
Dt. 7 X ~« i2 2f - ; and with 35 s - 34 , cp. Dt. ig 1 " 13 (Cities of Refuge). 

§ 4. The preceding remarks may suffice to show that the 
Book of Numbers is a section somewhat mechanically cut out 
of the whole of which it forms a part ; the result is that it 
possesses no unity of subject. 

Unity of subject is only to be found when i^io 10 is dis- 
regarded. The subject of the remainder of the book is the 

SCOPE xxv 

fortunes of the Israelites after leaving - Sinai, where they had 
been duly organised as the people of Yahweh, up to the 
point at which they are ready to enter and conquer the 
Land of Promise. The Conquest itself forms the subject 
of the Book of Joshua. The subject of Numbers would have 
been fitly rounded off by the record of the Death of Moses 
(Dt. 34), but with the Book of Deuteronomy to follow this 
was impossible. 

In brief, the fortunes of the Israelites, as here described, 
Are as follow: — From Sinai they proceed northwards to the 
southern confines of the Land of Promise, with a view to 
entering it from this direction. Spies are despatched to 
reconnoitre the land ; they return with a report that dis- 
heartens the people, who refuse to advance. For their 
unbelief Yahweh condemns the people to exclusion from the 
Land of Promise for 40 years. Repenting, the people 
attempt, in disregard of Moses' entreaty, to advance north- 
wards on Canaan, and are defeated. Forty years later they 
march across to the East of the 'Arabah (Jordan-valley), defeat 
the Amorites, occupy their country (which at that time ex- 
tended from the Arnon to the Jabbok), and settle, more 
particularly, on the East of the Jordan in the immediate 
vicinity of the Dead Sea. Here they yield to the temptation 
to worship the god of the country and to have intercourse 
with foreign women, they are numbered a second time, ex- 
terminate the Midianites, and receive various laws ; the 
Gadites and Reubenites are given possession of the country 
E. of Jordan; Moses is warned by Yahweh of his approaching 
death, and Joshua is appointed his successor. This narrative 
is enriched by episodes : four of these are connected with 
the northward march from Sinai, viz. the murmuring at 
Tab'erah, the gift of Quails, the imparting of the spirit to 
seventy elders, and the vindication of Moses' uniqueness 
against Miriam and Aaron ; another, to judge by its present 
position, was referred to some time during the forty years' 
exclusion from Canaan ; this is the Revolt of Korah, Dathan, 
and Abiram, another (the Bronze Serpent) to the advance on 
the East of Canaan. The longest and most famous episode 


is the story of Moab's machinations against Israel, and ot 
Balak's unsuccessful attempt to use Balaam for his purposes : 
this is naturally connected with Israel's residence E. of Jordan. 

Since at most nothing but the revolt of Korah, Dathan, 
and Abiram is referred to the Forty Years' Wandering, the 
main subject of the book is practically limited to the fortunes 
of the Israelites during their advance towards the south of 
Canaan before the Forty Years' Wandering, and again during 
their advance towards the East of Canaan at its close. The 
story of the " Forty Years " is scarcely more than a blank. 

The greater part of the legal matter of the book is very 
loosely connected with the narrative, and deals with a great 
variety of matters. It cannot be conveniently classified 
under general heads ; but the subjects of the laws and the 
points at which they are inserted in the narrative will be 
most easily gathered from the subjoined table of contents 
of the whole book. 

§ 5. Contents. 

[Topics derived from JE (§ 7f.) are italicised.] 

I. ii_io 10 ( 29 - 32) . 

Scene: The Wilderness of Sinai. Period: 19 days (i 1 io 11 ). 

1-4. The census ; the arrangement of the camp ; the functions 
of the Levites. 

1. The numbers of the secular Israelites. Position 

of the Levites in the camp. 

2. The arrangement of the camp ; the numbers of 

the secular Israelites. 
3 1 " 10 . Aaron's sons ; the relation of Levi to the other 

3 11 " 39 . The numbers of the male Levites upwards of a 

month old ; the duties of the several Levitical 

families, and their place in the camp. 
3 40-51 . The numbers of firstborn male Israelites. 
4. The numbers of the male Levites between 30 and 

50 years of age ; the duties of the several 

Levitical families. 


5, 6. Various laws and regulations. 

5 1-4 . Exclusion of certain unclean classes frotr 
the camp. 

5 6-10 . Some priestly dues. 

5 11 " 31 . The ordeal of jealousy. 

6 1-21 . The law of the Nazirite. 

g22-27 # The priests' blessing. 
7. The offerings of the tribal princes. 

8 1-4 . The golden candlestick. 
8 5-2 " 2 . Solemn dedication of the Levites. 
g23-26 i Age f Levitical service. 
g 1 " 14 . The supplementary Passover. 
gi5-23 # y^g c l ou d over the tabernacle. 
io 1-10 . The two silver trumpets. 

II. io n -2i 9 . 

Scene'. North of Sinai, West of the 'Arabah. 
Period: 38 (or, in round numbers, 40) years. 

io ii-28 From Sinai to the wilderness of Paran. 

io 29 " 34 . Departure from the Mount of Yahweh : Moses invites 

Hobab to act as guide. 
io 35f \ Verses addressed to the ark. 
11 1 " 3 . Tab'erah. 
11 4 " 35 . Kibroth-hattdavah: the seventy elders; Eldad and 

Medad ; the lust for flesh satisfied and punished by 

the gift of quails. Haseroth. 

12. Moses vindicated ; Miriam 's leprosy. 

13, 14. Spies, despatched from the wilderness of Paran to spy 

out Canaan, bring back the report that the land is 
worthless ; the people are disheartened and rebel. 
Men despatched from Kadesh bring back the report 
that the land is fruitful, but the inhabitants invin- 
cible ; the people are disJieartened and rebel. Moses' 
intercession with Yahweh; the present generation 
condemned to exclusion from Canaan ; the people 
condemned to forty years' wandering ; futile attempt 
to invade Canaan from the south ; Hormah. 


15. Various Laws. 

v. 1-16 . The proper quantities of meal-offerings and 

v. 17-21 . The cake of firstlings. 
v. 22-31 . Propitiation for sins of ignorance. 
v. 32-36 . Punishment of the Sabbath-breaker. 
v. 37 - 41 . Tassels. 
16-18. The rebellion of Korab, Dathan, and Abiram; the 
blossoming of Aaron's rod, and vindication of the 
superiority of the tribe of Levi ; dues payable to this 
tribe by the Israelites. 
19. Law of defilement by the dead, and of its removal by 

means of the ashes of a red cow. 
20 1-18 . Arrival at the wilderness of Sin. Death of Miriam at 
Kadesh. Want of water. The waters of Meribah ; 
sin of Moses and Aaron. 
20 14-21 . Permission to pass through Edom sought and refused. 
20 22-29. Death of Aaron at Mt. Hor ; Ele'azar succeeds him. 
2 1 1-3 . Hormah. 

2i 4-9 . Departure from Mt. Hor. Edom avoided. The bronze 

III. 2I 10 - 3 6 13 . 

Scene'. East of the 'Arabah (Jordan-valley). 
Period: Not more than 5 months. 

2 1 10-20 . Places passed on the march: Obhoth, f Iyye- f Abarim, 
•wilderness E. of Moab, Zered, Arnon, Beer, Mat- 
tanah, Nahaltel, Bamoth, Pisgah. Citation from 
the '■'■Book of Yahwetis Battles" Song of the 

2 1 21 " 32 . Permission to pass through the land of the Amorites 
sought and refused. Israel defeats the Amorites, and 
occupies the country between Arnon and Jabbok. Poem 
on the destruction of Moab. 

2I 33-35 D e f ea t of f Og, king of Bashan [insertion from Dt. ; 
see § 14a]. 

22 1 . Arrival at the steppes of Moab. 


2 2 2 -24 25 . Moab and Israel ; Balak and Balaam. 

25 16 . The Israelites seduced by Moabite women ; the Baal 

of Peor. 
25 8 " 18 . The Israelite and the Midianitess; the zeal of 

Phinehas ; perpetuity of the priesthood in the 

line of Phinehas. 
26. The second census. 

27 1-11 . The daughters of Selophehad ; law of succession to 

landed property. 
27 12-22 . Moses bidden to prepare for death ; Joshua appointed 

to succeed him. 
28 f. A scale of public offering's. 

30. Conditions of the validity of a vow. 

31. The extermination of Midian. 

32. The settlement of Gad, Reuben, and (v. 33 - 39 - 42 ) 

Manasseh on the East of Jordan. 
33 60 -36. Various laws relating to the conquest and settlement 
of Canaan. 

33 50-56 . The idolatrous objects ofthe Canaanites ; 

the distribution of the land by lot. 
34 1 " 15 . The boundaries of Canaan. 
34 16 " 29 . Names of persons appointed to super- 
intend the allotment of Canaan. 
35 1-8 . Levitical cities. 
35 9-34 . Cities of refuge. 

36. Marriage of heiresses (Selophehad's 

§ 6-13. Sources. 

§ 6. The question of the origin of Numbers could only be 
adequately discussed in connection with the wider question of 
the origin of the Pentateuch ; and much of what follows must 
be read in the light of, or supplemented by reference to, such 
works as are cited below. 

Judged even by itself, Numbers supplies abundant evidence 
that it is not the work of Moses, or even of a contemporary 
of the events described. Not only is Moses referred to 


throughout in the 3rd person, and, in one passage* in pai- 
ticular, in terms that have always occasioned difficulties to 
those who assumed the Mosaic authorship, but the repetitions, 
the divergent and contradictory accounts of the same matter, 
the marked differences of style in different parts, the impos- 
sible numbers, and many other features of the book, prove 
clearly that Numbers is not the work of one who was con- 
temporary with the events described, or familiar with the 
conditions presupposed.! 

In one passage only (332 ; see n. there) does the book lay 
any claim to the authority of Moses for its statements ; that 
passage is closely related to others (P) which are clearly of 
far later origin than the age of Moses, and consequently the 
Mosaic authorship even of this particular passage cannot be 
seriously considered. J 

§ 7. Numbers (and more especially that part of it which is 
contained in io u -25) is, like Genesis and Exodus, mainly derived 
from two earlier works. These works were (1) a compilation 
(JE) which was made at the end of the 7th century B.C., and 
consisted for the most part of extracts from a Judaean collec- 
tion of stories (J) of the 9th century B.C., and a similar 

* 12 s " Now the man Moses was very humble (before God), above all 
the men which were upon the face of the earth." 

t Cp. § 15 on " The Historical Value of Numbers " ; and in illustration 
of the features of the book mentioned above, see pp. 10-15 (on impossible 
numbers), and, amongst many other discussions, pp. 92 f., 128-134, 186-193 
on repetitions, divergences, and differences of style. 

% The particular evidence for the literary analysis will be found in the 
discussions prefixed to the several sections of the Commentary. The 
fundamental arguments, alike for the analysis and especially for the 
dates and origins of the several sources, cannot be reproduced here, for 
some of them find only a subsidiary support in Numbers. This is par- 
ticularly the case in regard to the analysis of JE into its constituent 
elements, J and E. It would indeed be evident, even if Numbers had to 
be judged apart from the remainder of the Hexateuch, that JE was itself 
a composite work ; but the actual analysis, so far as it can be carried 
through, rests largely on criteria established from the clearer evidence of 
Genesis and Exodus. Some of the matters here presupposed will natur- 
ally be dealt with in due course in the Commentaries on Genesis and 
Exodus; meantime the reader should refer to Driver, L.O.T. 116-159; 
CH. i. 1-179 ; see also the present writer's article in EBi. on " Law 
Literature " (especially § 10-23). 


collection (E) made in the Northern kingdom in the 8th 
century B.C. ; and (2) of a priestly history of sacred institu- 
tions (P"), which was written about 500 b.c. The combined 
works (JEP e ), or in some cases, perhaps, P E before it was 
united with JE, appears to have been gradually but consider- 
ably enlarged by accretions (P x and P 5 ), chiefly of a legal, but 
in some cases also of a quasi-historical, character. In the 
following paragraphs the extent of these various literary 
elements in Numbers will be briefly considered. 

§ 8. The earliest literary elements in Numbers. — There is 
little difficulty in eliminating those parts of Numbers which 
were derived from JE. To a great extent these extracts stand 
by themselves, side by side, but not interwoven with, the 
extracts from P; see io 29 -i2 16 20 u ~ 21 2i 12-32 22 2 -25 6 , and note 
the distribution of italic type in the table of contents given 
above (§ 5). Even where (as in c. 13 f. 16. 20 1-13 2i 1-11 ) the 
accounts of JE and P have been interwoven, they can, for the 
most part, be separated with ease ; the chief difficulties are 
presented by i4 1-10 - 26_38 20 1 "" 13 ; see pp. 132, 258 f. 

Far more difficulty attends the attempt to analyse JE into 
its constituents, J and E. Even where doublets and incon- 
gruities are present, which admit of little doubt that the 
narrative containing them is composite, it is often impossible 
to carry through an analysis in detail. Thus, for example, 
in the case of JE's closely interwoven stories of the spies 
(c. 13 f.), and of Dathan and Abiram (c. 16), no analysis that 
has been offered can be regarded as anything more than partial 
and tentative.* 

There remains a number of passages that can with some 
confidence be referred to their ultimate source. The following 
appear to be derived, at least in the main, from J : — 1 29-32 (the 
departure from Sinai), 1 1 4 " 15 - 18b ~ 24a - 31 " 35 (quails), 22 22 " 35 and other 
parts of the Balaam narrative. Among the passages which 
most clearly appear to be derived from E are 1 1 16 - 17a - 24b - 30 (the 
seventy elders), i2 1-16 (the vindication of Moses), 2o 14-21 2i 21 ~ 24a 

* See pp. 133 f., 190. Other passages presenting- difficulties of which 
various solutions have been offered are, 20 1 " 13 (see p. 258 f.), 21 1 " 9 (pp. 272, 
274), 21 11 - 32 (p. 280 f.), c. 22-24 (P- 3 I2f -)> and 25 1 " 6 (P- 380 f.). 


(the embassies to Edom and the Amorites), and the larger part 
of the story of Baalam (c. 22-24). Some, indeed, assign the 
stories of the seventy elders and of the vindication of Moses to 
later (7th cent.) amplifications of E, but on grounds which 
appear to the present writer insufficient and, in part, mistaken 
(see pp. 99, 116). 

The most important passage of JE that is of later origin 
than the main sources, J and E, is 14 11 " 24 ; this may have 
been a 7th century amplification of J or E, or it may be the 
work of the 7th century editor who combined J and E (see 

P- 155)- 

It is not certain that the order in which the incidents were 

related in JE was in all cases the same as at present. There 
are some reasons for thinking that the stories of the elders and 
of the vindication of Moses, which now appear as episodes in 
the narrative of the march from Sinai to Kadesh, once formed 
part of the narrative of the stay at Sinai (see p. 98). Clearly 
misplaced passages in JE are 2i 1-3 and 32 s9-42 ; see also p. 258 f. 

§ 9. The poems. — Literary elements even more ancient 
than the stories of J and E are to be found among the poems 
and poetical fragments (io 35f - 2 i 14f - 17f - 27 - 30 2 3 7 - 10 - 18 ~ 24 24 s - 9 - 
15-17 (iM. 20. 211. sea.)). On 6 24 - 26 , see pp. xxxvi, xxxviii. 

The poems attributed to Balaam (apart from 24 18-24 ) may 
be of the same origin as the prose narratives which now include 
them. But this is certainly not the case with the rest of the 
poems. One fragment (2i 14f -) is definitely cited from a literary 
source, the " Book of Yahweh's Battles," another as a poem 
that was commonly recited by a professional class of reciters 
or "ballad-singers"; and it is clear that the "Folk-song" 
addressed to the well (2i 17f -) and the snatches connected with 
the setting out and return of the ark (io 35 *-) are older than the 
writer who has introduced them into the narrative. 

It is probable that the verses contained in 24 18-24 were 
inserted after the completion of JE (p. 373). But there can be 
little doubt that the rest of the poems formed an original part 
of JE. Whether the editor of that work derived them from J 
or E is less certain : he may have derived some of them from 
other sources. But, be that as it may, the poems them- 


selves (except 24 18-24 ) are scarcely of later origin than the 
8th cent. B.C., and some of them may be considerably earlier. 
Exact and certain determination of date in any single case is 
out of the question ; to what extent approximate and probable 
decisions may be reached is discussed in the Commentary. 

§ 10. The later literary elements of Numbers. — Less than a 
quarter of Numbers is derived from JE. The remaining and 
larger parts of the book are sufficiently similar and related to 
one another to be grouped under the common symbol P. 
They are all the work of a priestly school employing a large 
common vocabulary and governed by important and funda- 
mental common ideas. But the activity of this school extended 
over centuries, and differences as well as similarities appear in 
what must be regarded as the work of many hands and many 

P, the work of this school, consists in part of narrative, in 
part of legal matter ; and different generations contributed 
both to the narrative and to the legal parts. Thus, to refer to 
two clear instances, the priestly narrative of Korah has clearly 
been amplified by later additions intended to give the story a 
different turn (p. 192 f.) ; and the law of Levitical service in 
323-26 j s different from that presupposed in c. 4 (p. 32 f.). The 
existence of differences is clear; the extent of them is less 
clear, and the distribution of the material of the book among 
the different hands, whose work may be detected, is attended 
with much difficulty and uncertainty. It will be convenient, 
therefore, to indicate here the general nature and value of the 
available evidence, and to gather together the more probable 
results which may be obtained from it. Three symbols have 
been used to distinguish the different elements of P. P g de- 
notes the fundamental work, the priestly history of sacred 
institutions ; P s is used for whatever is clearly later in origin 
than P g , and therefore secondary in regard to it ; P x is used 
for that large amount of matter which can neither be shown to 
be later in origin than P B , nor yet to have formed an original 
part of that work. P e is the work of a single writer ; but P s 
and P* cover the work of an indefinite number of hands ; P s is 
in part narrative, in part legal ; P* is entirely legal. P g was 


written about 500 B.C. ; P s , including' some glosses later than 
(Sr (cp. § 14), is the work of various writers and editors be- 
tween the date of P e and about 300-250 B.C. ; P x includes 
laws, some of which may, so far as the substance even of 
their literary expression is concerned, extend back into the 
6th, or even the 7th cent. b.c. The symbol H is retained for 
that code,* commonly known as the Law of Holiness, which 
was incorporated by P s with P e (or JED P), but was itself 
earlier than P s (early 6th cent.). One or two laws in Numbers 
appear to be derived from H (15 s7-41 33 52f> 55f- , possibly also io 9f -). 

A complete solution of the literary problem presented by 
P would show (1) the exact extent of P e ; (2) the matter (if any) 
contained in P 2 which had previously received a fixed written 
or oral setting ; (3) the matter (P x ) which had received a fixed 
setting at a time prior to P s , but was only incorporated in 
P ? (or JE D P) subsequently to the completion of that work; 
(4) the matter (P 5 ) later in origin than P g ; (5) the dates at 
which the various matters defined in (2), (3), and (4) originated, 
and, in the case of (3) and (4), the dates at which they were 
incorporated. As a matter of fact the solution is and will 
remain very far from complete. So far as (5) is concerned, 
the available evidence is given in the Commentary ; but there 
are certain general considerations which have been frequently 
alluded to in the Commentary that must be explained here. 

§ 11. Positive criteria for the elimination of P 3 . — Good 
reasons have been assigned for regarding references to any 
of the following as distinct signs of P s : f (1) "the altar of 
incense" or "the golden altar." This is described in a 
supplemental section (Ex. 30 1-10 ), and is frequently mentioned 
from the time of the Chronicler downwards, J but appears to 
have been unknown to the author of Ex. 25-29, which forms 
an integral part of P s . After the establishment of a second 
altar, it became necessary to distinguish the main and original 

* Driver, L.O.T. 47-49, 145-152; CH. i. c. 13, § 8. 

t See We. Comp. 139 ft'. 5 Driver, L.O.T. 37 f. (with references there); 
CH. c. xiii. § 10. 

X E.g. 1 Ch. 6 s4 ( 49 >, 1 Mac. 1 21 4 49 ; Philo, De Vita Mosis, iii. 9 ; Yoma 
v. 5, 7 ; Zebahim v. 2. 


altar as "the altar of burnt-offering " ; this term also and 
the reference to "altars" (in the pi.) are, therefore:, further 
indications of P 5 . The "altar of incense" may have been a 
very late addition ; it is not clear that it was even known to 
the Pseudo-Hecatasus (3rd cent. B.C.) ; see Schurer, 3 ii. 287 
(the note is more detailed than in ed. 2, Eng. tr. 11. i. 281). 
(2) The unction of the priests. In P g unction is a peculiar 
distinction of the high priest (Ex. 29) ; subsequently it was 
extended to the ordinary priests (Ex. 40). (3) The "cords" 
of the tabernacle, mentioned in Ex. 35 18 39 40 (P s ), appear to have 
been unknown to Ex. 25-29 (P g ). (4) The sweet incense 
required in Ex. ^o 7 - 3iS -, and frequently alluded to in Ex. 35-39, 
appears to have been unknown to the original text of Ex. 
25-29 : see CH.'s notes on Ex. 25 s 30 22 ; also 85*". 

Directly these tests of P s are not widely applicable in 
Numbers (yet see 3 3, 26 - 31f - 37 4 11 ) ; indirectly they are more im- 
portant, for they point to the secondary character of Ex. 35-40, 
and these chapters afford in turn a standard of style whereby 
to judge others. Thus the recurrence in a marked degree of 
the diffuseness and circumstantiality of detail (cp. Holzinger, 
Einleihuig, 419^) which characterise Ex. 35-40, in c. 1-4. 7. 
26. 31, points to the editorial and amplifying activity, if not to 
the actual authorship, of P s 

The retrospective dates in 7 1 g 1 - 6 - 16 are most satisfactorily 
explained by attributing the sections thus introduced to P s ; 
they cannot be earlier than P s , for they presuppose it. 

On the ground of vocabulary only, it is seldom possible to 
refer passages with any certainty to P\ Mere peculiarity of 
expression points at most to heterogeneity, not to posteriority ; 
it may render the ascription of a passage to P g improbable ; 
but it is no criterion between P s and P\ And, further, even if 
it can be shown that the formula introducing, or concluding, a 
law is characteristic of P s , this only proves the date of the 
incorporation of the law in P g (or JE D P) ; it proves nothing 
with regard to the literary origin of the law itself. These 
points need to be borne in mind in consulting the collections 
of the stylistic peculiarities of P s given by CH. (i. 155) and 
Holzinger {Einleitung, 418). 


§ 12. Difficulty of delimiting P 9 . — Whatever can be defined 
as P s formed no part of P B ; but this is not the case with P x . 
It is impossible to determine with any confidence how much, 
if any, of the matter defined as P 1 formed an original part of 
P g . The provisional answer to the question raised depends 
on the view taken of the manner in which P g adhered to his 
leading - motive. 

The leading - purpose of P e was briefly to recapitulate the 
history of the origin and subsequent fortunes of the chosen 
people, and especially to describe the origin of their institu- 
tions. How strictly did he confine himself to that purpose ? 
Did he only suffer his narrative to expand into fulness at 
points at which the origin of institutions naturally fell to be 
described, or did he himself at times snap the thread of his 
history in order to insert laws, or masses of laws, that had no 
connection with it ? The former hypothesis seems to the 
present writer the more probable. If it be correct, then many 
sections of Numbers — such as 5^ 5 -6 21 (27) 15. 19. 28 f. 30 — must 
be considered to have formed no original part of P g , simply on 
the ground that they have no organic connection with the 
priestly narrative, no such connection as exists, for example, 
between P g 's story of Korah (c. 16 f.) and the laws regulating 
dues payable to the priests (c. 18). At the same time, many of 
these laws, which are unrelated to the narrative, are in them- 
selves by no means clearly later in origin than P g ; it is likely 
that some of them are earlier, and in that case, even if they 
were inserted by P g in his work, they were inserted probably 
with little modification, and without any attempt to connect 
them closely with his narrative. 

That many of the laws defined as P are in substance earlier than Ps, 
and may in some cases represent actual pre-exilic practice, has been very 
generally recognised: see Stade, GVI. ii. 66; Driver, L.O.T. 142 f. ; the 
introductory notes to Driver and White's " Leviticus " (English) in SBOT. 
pp. 56-59 ; CH. c. xiii. § 9. Numbers contains one clear instance of older 
matter not legal in P, viz. the Priests' Blessing (6 24 " 26 ). 

For legal matter which, though it formed no part of Ps, may, in sub- 
stance, be earlier than that work, CH. adopt the symbol P l , i.e. Priestly 
Teaching. But the symbol is not altogether suitable ; it suggests a unity, 
though it cannot be shown (as, indeed, is admitted) that the various 
matters included under P £ ever existed, like H, as a separate code. 


Further, a series of symbols like that adopted by CH. (P h , P f , Pe, P s ) 
necessitates, in the case of every passage, a judgment as to relative date 
which there is frequently no sufficient evidence to justify. 

Finally, the question connected with the closing - chapters 
of the book (c. 28-36) must be considered. In 27 12 " 23 (P s ) 
Yahweh bids Moses prepare for death ; and in Dt. 34 (P g ) the 
death of Moses is narrated. In the case of Aaron (2o 22 ~ 29 (P s )), 
the warning - of death and the death itself are related in im- 
mediate sequence. Did the writer follow his own model 
exactly, and was Nu. 27 12 ~ 23 immediately followed by Dt. 34 
in P s ? The assumption that this was the case can hardly be 
made with confidence ; for it would not have been unnatural to 
P s or, so far as we can judge, inconsistent with his method, to 
have traced back the regulations regarding the conquest and 
distribution of Canaan, of which c. 28-36 in part consists, to 
Moses, and to have represented him as making these after he 
had been warned of death, and Joshua had been appointed to 
succeed him. At the same time, little or nothing in these 
chapters can be conclusively shown to have formed part of P s , 
while much in them, partly on grounds indicated above, partly 
on more specific grounds given in the Commentary, clearly 
appears to be the work of P s : such is the case with c. 28-30 
(p. 4036°.), c. 31 (p. 419), c. 32 (apart from the misplaced frag- 
ments of JE in it ; see p. 426), 33 1 - 49 (p. 443 f.), 35 1 - 8 (p. 466 f.), 
c. 36 (p. 477). Three sections (33 50-56 34 1-15 35 9 " 34 ) are con- 
nected by a similar introductory formula which may point to 
incorporation by the same hand ; the first of these sections is 
related to P, and may, with the other two, have been embodied 
in P s ; but even this is far from certain. 

§ 13. Starting from the conclusions stated in the preceding 
sections, the probable contents of P g (so far as it is preserved 
in Numbers) may be outlined as follows: — In continuation of 
the record of the erection of the tabernacle, and the institution 
of the priests as given in Exodus and Leviticus, the author re- 
lated the institution of the Levites, the census of the tribes, 
and the establishment of a camp order (c. 1-4), and possibly, 
in connection therewith, inserted the laws for securing the 
cleanness of the camp and for the delivery of the Priests' 


Blessing- (5 1 " 4 6' 2127 ). In prospect of departure from Sinai two 
silver trumpets are made (io 1_s ). The people leave Sinai and 
encamp in the wilderness of Paran (io llf> ). From thence the 
spies, including - Caleb and Joshua, are despatched ; and the 
revolt of the people on their return is punished by the condem- 
nation to forty years' wandering in this wilderness (c. 13 f.). 
At a time and place undefined the whole people, led by Korah, 
call in question the exclusive rights of the Levites ; but the 
rank of the Levites is vindicated by the destruction of Korah, 
and by the blossoming of Aaron's rod ; and the dues payable 
to them are fixed by divine revelation (c. 16-18). In the 
(fortieth) year the people come to Kadesh, and murmur at the 
lack of water ; Moses and Aaron sin, and are condemned to die 
outside Canaan (20 1-13 ). On the way from Kadesh to the East 
of the 'Arabah, Aaron dies on Mt. Hor, and the people mourn 
for him thirty days ; Ele'azar succeeds him (20- 2 " 29 ). The 
people reach and encamp in the steppes of Moab (22 1 ). Here 
Phinehas, son of Ele'azar, displays zeal, and is promised the 
perpetuation of the priesthood in his family, and here (possibly 
after a second census) Moses is bidden to get up into a moun- 
tain of the 'Abarim and die. At his request for the appoint- 
ment of a successor, Joshua is solemnly set apart for the 
purpose, but with the provision that he is to be subordinate 
to Ele'azar the priest (27 12-23 ). Possibly before P s recorded the 
death of Moses (Dt. 34) he inserted certain instructions 
communicated through Moses relative to the conquest and 
distribution of Canaan. 

H and P\ — The clearest example of matter preserved in 
P, but in substance earlier than P s , is the Priests' Blessing 
(6 21 ~ 27 ). Probably earlier are passages from H, or a kindred 
source (io 9f - 15 s7-41 33 52f- 55f- ) ; and possibly earlier are many of 
the laws (including 5 5 -6 20 , iej 17 - 21 - 22 ~ 31 19) assigned to P\ 

P\ — The chief expansions of the narrative of P s , and the 
chief narrative matter added at various times to P* (or JED P), 
are c. 7. 8 5 ~ 22 9 15 - 23 io 12 " 28 i6 8 - n - 16f - 17 1 - 5 (i6 36 ^ ) 26. (mostly 
if not entirely) 31 and 36 (if not also 27 1-11 ). Among the 
laws or legal sections that can with most reason be regarded 
as later than P g are 8 1 " 4 9 1 " 14 28 f. 30. 35 1 - 8 . 


Besides these additions, the recasting- and amplification of 
c. 1-4 and the insertion of at least most of c. 28-36 are to 
be attributed to P s . Minor results of the activity of these 
later writers, or annotators, may be seen, for example, in the 
addition of the name of Aaron to that of Moses (i 2 n.) ; such 
annotations or modifications of the text continued as late as 
the 3rd cent. B.C., as is shown by a comparison of $?, S, and 

«& (§ H). 

§ 14. Text. 

Like the remaining books of the Pentateuch, and unlike 
such books as Samuel and the Minor Prophets, the text ot 
Numbers appears to have suffered comparatively little from 
simple errors of transcription. The most corrupt passages 
are to be found in some of the poems, and in these the most 
serious corruptions are more ancient than ffi, and, conse- 
quently, only to be emended, if emended at all, by conjecture. 
Some of the proper names, alike of persons and places, several 
of which are mentioned only in Numbers, have suffered mutila- 
tion, or are otherwise corrupt. But for the assumption of 
far-reaching corruption of the text and mutilation of (perhaps) 
the great majority of the names in the book, which has recently 
led Professor Cheyne to propose a large number of purely 
conjectural emendations, there is no manifest justification ; 
and, as he still considers the disclosure of his principles of 
textual criticism "premature" (Critica Biblica, p. 5), it is 
impossible at present to form a final estimate of the probability 
of any of the several conjectures.* 

* The proposed emendations will be found, for the. most part, in the 
Encyclopedia Biblica, especially in the articles on the various names 
occurring in Numbers. Subsequently they are, it appears, to be collected 
in Critica Biblica, of which Part I. (on Isaiah and Jeremiah) has just 
appeared (J"7.. 1903). Only a small proportion of the emendations have 
been cited in the Commentary, for so many of them, judged by any 
hitherto recognised principles of textual criticism, are altogether void of 
probability. The reader who is interested is once for all referred to the 
relevant articles in EBi. In criticism of Prof. Cheyne's methods (so far 
as they can be inferred from the emendations offered), see G. B. Gray, 
"The Encyclopaedia Biblica (vols. i. and ii.) and the Textual Tradition of 
Hebrew Proper Names" \r\JQR. xiii. 375-391. 


The variations in the codices of "% are comparatively few 
and uninteresting - . A comparison of f^, S, and ffi, the earliest 
and most important witnesses to the text, brings more varia- 
tions to light. In large part these are due to amplification, or 
curtailment, of the original text. It is probable that in the 
great majority of cases the shorter is the earlier reading ; 
whether it is also the better reading depends on the view 
taken as to the date at which the Pentateuch should be re- 
garded as complete. It is difficult to draw a sharp line 
between the latest editors (P s ; see § 13), whose remarks 
might be regarded as part of the original work in its final 
form, and the early scribes who transmitted the text of the 
completed work. The amplifications due to these two classes 
are similar, and the variants of S and ffi have been cited freely 
in the Commentary that the student may the better appreciate 
to what extent these (for the most part) minor changes were 
being made as late as the 3rd cent. B.C., in ^ as well, though 
not so frequently, as in (3r and S. 

(a) S contains the longest additions. Many of these are 
of one character : they are derived from parallel, or supple- 
mentary, narratives in Dt., and generally with little other 
modification than was involved in adapting the narrative of 
Dt., which is in the first, to the narrative of Nu., which is in 
the third person. These additions * occur as follows : — 

Dt. i 6 " 8 is inserted after Nu. io 10 . 






I2 16 . 


j 27-33 




if 3 - 






I4 40 . 


1 44a/3 




, 4 45„ 



26*-28 2 2-6 



20 13 . 


2 9 






2 17-19 




2 I 13 . 


2 24f. 




2 I 20 . 

» I 

2 28. 29a 




2I 23 . 

> » 

2 81 





» 1 

3 2». 




2 7 1S . 

* Similar additions occur, though with less frequency, in other books : 
thus Dt. i 9 " 17 is inserted after Ex. 18 24 . See Colenso, Pentateuch, vi. 

531-533- . 


This series of additions is of special interest, inasmuch as 
it points to 21 33-35 ( = Dt. 3 lf - ; cp. p. 306), which is found 
alike in ^, S, and (He, being the earliest result of a tendency 
to interpolate passages from Dt. in Nu. The text of Nu. 
in both S and (5c is also affected by that of Dt. in 2 f j m -, and in 
(5r only in 32 11 (see notes there). Another instance of editorial 
activity that has left a slight trace on f^, but is much more 
marked in S (and in this case in (5r also), may be detected in 
c. 32 (see 32 1 n.). 

Among other passages in which S has a longer text than 
both f^ and (St are 3 31 31 20 (Moses represented as the source 
of Ele'azar's communication in v. 22 ). 

S is sometimes shorter than (Sr (see under (£)), very seldom 
shorter than f^ (but see under (c)). 

Apart from omissions and additions, S has some readings 
certainly more primitive than ^ {e.g. in c. 22-24 > see P* 3 I0 f')> 
some that are certainly secondary {e.g. 25* n.). 

{b) (5r * frequently has a text longer than f^, and sometimes 
than both ^ and S. For example, it is longer than both ^ 
and S in 2 1 (see phil. n. on 2 5 ) 3 10 7 s8 io 6 14 23 23 s - 6 24 23 32 30 
33 s6 36 1 , and than ^ only in 4 14 1329(30), Frequently ffi 
assimilates repeated formulae by adding words omitted in 
^ or otherwise ; t see the notes on 1 20 - 47 (p. 10), 4 3 i5 5 - 6 19 3 
2 1 8 26. (p. 388 f.), 28 f. (p. 412 f.). 

Less frequently (St has a shorter text than f^ ; see especi- 
ally, 9 20 - 23 13 33 1 5 s5 26*° b 28 5f - and under {c). 

In c. i. 26 the arrangement of the text in (3r is less primitive 
than in ^ (p. 10) ; see also 32 1 n. On the other hand, in 
placing io 34 after io 35 '- (3r may be more primitive than $f.J 

(c) In its greater brevity | as a whole represents an 
earlier stage of the text than either S or (3r. But it, too, 
suffered some amplification at a time later than that of the 
archetype of f^, S, and (Sir ; a probable instance of such ampli- 

* On the characteristics of this version of Nu., see Z. Frankel, Uebet 
den Einfluss der palastinischen Exegese auf die alexandrinische Her- 
meneutik (Leipzig, 1851), 167-200. 

t Cp. Frankel, Vorstudien zu der Sept. 78 f. 

% See Ginsburg, Introd. to the Hebrew Bible, 341-343. 


fication may be found in the word JYTD, which is read by fij 
in 28 s , but is absent from both S and ffi ; another instance 
may be the gloss (omitted in ffi) in 13 33 , and the true text of 
9,20-23 ma y ij e between the fulness of %} and the brevity of (5r. 
An amplification of the text earlier than S or ffit is 21 33-35 (see 
under (a)). 

Among the more interesting instances of late modifications 
of another kind are the substitution in 22 22 (and possibly else- 
where in c. 22-24) °f DwK f° r HW (p. 310 f.), and the prob- 
able replacement of an original D^ri WD (cp. ffi) in 5 16 by D'O 

§ 15, 16. The historical Value of Numbers. 

The Book of Numbers presents itself as a record of the 
nomadic period in the history of Israel. But the various 
sources (§§ 6-13) from which the book was compiled were all 
written centuries later than that period. The historical value 
of Numbers consists largely in the evidence indirectly given by 
these sources regarding the periods to which they severally 
belong. This is considered below (§ 16, 17). We turn first 
to consider the value of Numbers as a record of the age which 
it describes. 

Much that is here related of the age of Moses can be 
demonstrated to be unhistorical ; much more is of such a 
nature that it can, with far greater probability, be explained 
as unhistorical than as historical ; there remain, particularly 
in JE, a certain number of statements and descriptions which 
are not incompatible with any known historical facts and con- 
ditions, and in or underlying some of these it is not difficult 
to discern what is, historically, entirely possible, not to say 
probable. Nor is the possibility that reminiscences of actual 
historical events and conditions are here preserved by any 
means small. In written form, even the stories of J and E 
may be no older than the gth or 8th cent. B.C. ; but the 
traditiotis themselves must be much older. Again, the " Book 
of Yahweh's Battles," from which a solitary fragment is cited 
in 2i 14f -, may well have contained some old poems recording 
conflicts of the wandering Israelites with the peoples settled 


on the border of Canaan ; if so, these poems would have 
formed a stream on which some knowledge of the far-off age 
may have drifted down. Unfortunately, be this as it may, 
such facts had only too many opportunities of being- distorted, 
or placed in a wrong- light, as the stories were told and retold 
during the five or six centuries that must have separated JE 
from Moses. The uncertainty thus created, and the number 
of alternative interpretations of the frequently conflicting 
traditions, can only be diminished by the discovery of fresh 

But when every allowance has been made for all this 
uncertainty and ambiguity, the value of this residuum of what 
cannot, at all events at present, be shown to be unhistorical 
lies in this : it contains the earliest theory or tradition of the 
Hebrews as to the nomadic period in their history ; through it 
(and other biblical data) the life and fortunes of the Hebrews 
under Moses before they settled in Canaan must be read, if 
any attempt is made to read them at all. For contemporary 
evidence, f which casts much welcome light oh the conditions 

* Some sentences from Mr. Haverfield's Essay in Authority and 
Archeology (p. 307) are worth consideration in connection with what is 
said above. After citing some instances in which Roman archaeology 
has confirmed the traditions preserved in Latin authors, he continues : 
"There comes into view a new method of testing legends, a new touch- 
stone to try them. The old method of probing the legend itself is useless. 
It is easy to shew of most legends that they are either impossible, or 
highly improbable, or self-contradictory, or absurd, or otherwise seriously 
defective. But that after all is implied when the legend is called a 
legend. Some external touchstone is wanted which will, in each case, 
help to sift false from true. We must not, however, exaggerate the 
significance of such confirmations. If one or two or three stories rest 
on a basis of fact, it does not follow that all do; and though it is 
interesting to know that such and such legends are based on fact, we 
have to learn the fact first before we can say anything about the legend." 
Unfortunately, at present, archaeology does not furnish us with touch- 
stones for the legends in Numbers. 

t Most important is the Tel el-Amarna correspondence (ed. Winckler, 
KB. v.; also published with English translation of the text, London, 1896). 
No mention is made in this correspondence of the Israelites ; whether they 
formed part of the Habiri, who figure in some of the letters, is disputed ; 
but even if they did, only biblical data justify any statement about the 
Israelite Habiri in particular. An inscription of Menephthah (c. 1270 B.C.), 
discovered at Karnak in 1896, in recording the establishment of oeace 


of life (especially in Canaan) in this age, says absolutely 
nothing- of the Israelites in the wilderness. 

The greater part of Numbers (P) is of no earlier origin 
than the 6th or 5th cent. B.C. ; much of it is still later. A 
smaller part (JE) contains the earlier traditions. It is pos- 
sible that some historical facts not found in JE may underlie 
P, but the general impression given by that work of the 
Mosaic age is altogether unhistorical, and much of the 
detail, which consists in large part of statistics and laws, 
can, with varying degrees of cogency in different cases, be 
demonstrated to be entirely unreal, or at least untrue of the 
age in question. 

(a) The numbers of the Israelites are unreal ; cp. pp. 10-15. 

(b) The lists of individuals, though they contain some 
ancient names, cannot be accepted as genuine records of the 
Mosaic age ; see pp. 6 f., 135 f. 

(c) The organisation, position, and duties of the Levites, 
and the fiscal system for the support of priests and Levites, 
as described and presupposed in various parts of the book, 
cannot be harmonised with earlier Hebrew evidence ; they 

says: "Vanquished are the Tehennu (Libyans); the Khita (Hittites) are 
pacified ; Pa-Kan'ana (Canaan) is prisoner in every evil ; Askalni 
(Ashkelon) is carried away ; Gezer is taken ; Yenoam is annihilated ; 
Ysiraal is desolated, its seed is not ; Charu has become as widows for 
Egypt; all lands together are in peace." The determinative shows that 
the Ysiraal mentioned in this inscription was the name of a tribe or 
people, not of a country ; and some have seen in the statement an allusion 
to Israel in the wilderness south of Canaan. If this be so, this inscription 
forms an exception to the statement in the text. On the other hand, it is 
at least as probable that the allusion is to " Israel," already settled some- 
where in Canaan. Then the chief importance of the inscription would lie 
in giving a date before which " Israel " was in Canaan. See, further, 
Driver in Archceology and Authority, 62-65 (with the literature there 
cited). This allusion of Menephthah's is the only contemporary mention 
of Israel in what may be termed widely the age of Moses. This fact, and 
our consequent dependence on the biblical data for any knowledge of the 
fortunes of the Israelites in the wilderness, is greatly obscured in works 
like Sayce's Early History of the Hebrews, and Hommel's Ancient Hebrew 
Tradition ; see, further, the present writer's criticisms of these works in 
Expositor, 6 vii. (May, 1898) 337-355, vi. (Sept. 1897) 173-190, and (more 
generally) Driver's article in Archeology and Authority (especially pp. 


correspond to an ecclesiastical organisation that first became 
established many centuries after Moses; see pp. 21-25,236-241. 

(d) Many of the laws are expressly stated to be for the 
regulation of life in Canaan ; few of the rest have any relation 
to nomadic life. In the abstract this may not be incompatible 
with the promulgation of them by Moses ; but such an origin 
is highly improbable, and not to be accepted on the evidence 
of so late a work ; many of the particular laws contain much 
that is definitely inconsistent with Mosaic origin, and point to 
a relatively late age ; for this see the Commentary. 

(e) The chronological statements of the book cannot be fully 
judged apart from a consideration of the chronological system 
of the entire Pentateuch.* They are perhaps not incompatible 
with what is related in P e , though nineteen days is short for 
all that is placed even in that work between i 1 and io 11 . With 
the account given by the book in its present form the chrono- 
logical statements cannot be treated as real ; this is clearest in 
the closing section. Between the departure from Mt. Hor and 
the delivery of Moses' final address to the people there elapsed 
not more than five months (cp. 21 4 33 s8 20 29 , Dt. i 3 ). Into 
these few months there is now compressed the journey south 
to the Gulf of f Akabah, thence north to the Arnon, the despatch 
of messengers to the Amorites, war with the Amorites and 
occupation of the country between Arnon and Jabbok, the 
attempt of Balak to get Balaam to curse Israel (this alone, if 
Balaam came from Pethor, extending over at the least three 
months), the intercourse of the Israelites with the Moabite 
women, the taking of the second census, the appointment of 
Joshua, the war with Midian, and the subsequent seven days 
of purification for the warriors ; and in addition to the fore- 
going, the communication of many laws. 

(/) It is perfectly possible, not to say probable, that the 
Israelites, before their settlement in Canaan, were brought 
into relation with the Midianites, and that at times they were 
at strife with them ; but the account of the war with Midian 
given in c. 31 is entirely unreal ; p. 418 f. 

* In criticism of this see, in particular, Noldeke, Untersuchungen, 
107 ff. 


If we now turn from P to JE, we find less that is so 
demonstrably unhistorical, especially if we understand the 
narratives to refer to a relatively small number of people. 
Even in some cases where there may be reasons for doubting 
whether the narrative is true of all Israel, it may preserve 
in a generalised form a reminiscence of the actual fortunes 
of individual tribes, or sections of Israel. But there is much 
that is far more probably due to the activity of the popular 
imagination or religious feeling than to any actual occurrences 
in the time of Moses ; this is the case with the various stories 
explanatory of the names of places,* with the reference to a 
gigantic race resident in Hebron (i3 32f- ), and with the story of 
the bronze serpent (2i 4-10 ). It is the view of prophecy and 
of the character of Moses prevalent, not in the age of Moses, 
but at the time when the story finally became fixed, that 
gives substance and significance to the stories of the vindica- 
tion of Moses and of the seventy elders (u f.). 

Underlying the narrative of the spies is the fact of 
the connection of the Calebites with Hebron, and also a 
possibly correct reminiscence that they came thither from 
the south ; some struggle of the Reubenites for supremacy 
may lie at the basis of the story of Dathan and Abiram ; 
the traditional names Balaam and Balak, Eldad and Medad, 
may have attached to historical individuals ; but whether 
these events and persons belonged to the age of Moses we 
are in no position to affirm. The story of Balaam as told in 
Numbers is largely poetic rather than historical (314 ff., 340 f.). 

The nucleus of history underlying JE is to be sought with 
most probability in the association of the Israelites during 
the nomadic period of their history with Kadesh, and the 
temporary settlement, though possibly only of a part of 
them, East of Jordan immediately before attempting the in- 
vasion of Canaan. How much that is related of the actual 
marches West and East of the 'Arabah (Jordan-valley) and of 
the relations of the Israelites with the Edomites, Moabites, 
and Amorites, also corresponds to facts of the Mosaic age it 

* Tab'erah (n 1 " 3 ), Kibroth-hatta'avah (named from the lust for flesh 
, ,4-io. is. 18.2^.31-34^ Eshcol (i3 23t -), Hormah (i 4 « 21 1 - 3 ), Beer (21 16 '-). 


is more difficult to determine ; the questions are briefly dis- 
cussed in the Commentary (see pp. 268, 272, 284, 300 f., 303). 
§ 16. The indirect evidence of Numbers as to periods 
later than the Mosaic bears mainly on beliefs and religious 
practices. These will be considered in the next section. But 
Numbers is also comparatively rich in the amount and variety 
of early Hebrew poetry which it contains ; in particular, the 
value of the obscure fragment cited from the "Book of 
Yahweh's Battles " and of the " Song of the Well," consists 
even more in the light shed on the modes and (in the refer- 
ence of the former to its source) on the extent of poetic 
expression in early Israel than in the fragments themselves, 
though the Song of the Well, a perfect specimen of its 
kind, vividly depicts the customs and feelings of the people. 
So again the passing reference to the "reciters of meshalim" 
or "ballad-singers" in 21 27 is the only extant reference to a 
class of men who must have formed a conspicuous and, at 
times, an important element in society and the national life 
under the early monarchy (p. 299). The historical value of 
the poem cited in 21 27 " 30 would be greater if it were free 
from ambiguity (p. 300 f.). 

§ 17. Numbers and the Religion of Israel. 

The various parts of Numbers are products of many 
generations widely separated from one another in time, and 
in some respects sharply distinguished from one another in 
the matter of religious belief and practice. The consequence 
is that Numbers is as lacking in unity of religious expression 
as in literary unity. It is therefore impossible to sum- 
marise the fundamental ideas, or to point out in general 
terms the religious value of the book ; for these are different 
in the different parts. This being the case, much that might 
have been said on these matters in an introduction to another 
book, is in the present work more naturally distributed over 
various sections of the Commentary. But the value of the 
contribution made by the book to our knowledge and under- 
standing of the religion of Israel may be better appreciated, 


if the extent to which the main features of religious life in 
various periods find expression in it is here briefly indicated. 

(i) Many of the early popular beliefs appear in the 
poems and the narratives of J and E. Israel is Yahweh's 
son (this thought lies behind n 12 ), and as such the object of 
His perpetual care and discipline. This may be said to be 
the overruling religious motive of the whole story of the 
Exodus, the journey towards Canaan, and the wanderings 
as told in the 9th and 8th cent. b.c. Yahweh's care for 
Israel is conspicuously illustrated by the episode in c. 22-24 
(pp. 315-317); and underlies the frequent references to the 
goodly land which He has promised to His people, and to 
which He is leading them (io 29 n 12 13 27 14^ 24 5( -). It is 
also prominent in the story of the provision of flesh (c. 11), 
though here the disciplinary manifestation of Yahweh's 
interest in Israel, which was also shown at Tab'erah (n 1-3 ), 
is most emphasised. Yahweh marches before His people 
(io 33 ), fights for them so that their battles are His battles 
(io 35 21 14 , cp. 14 9 ), and gives them victory (21 1 " 3 ). 

The warmth and intensity of the early popular feeling for 
Yahweh has its reverse in the limitations of the early con- 
ceptions of Him. Yahweh is peculiarly the God of Israel : 
He is not the only God that exists. The existence and power 
of Kemosh seemed as real to the men of that age as the 
existence and power of Yahweh; Israel is "the people of 
Yahweh," Moab "the people of Kemosh"; and as Yahweh 
disciplines Israel, Kemosh disciplines Moab. The Ba'al of 
Pe'or, the gods of the Canaanites, too, are regarded as real 
gods, though inferior in power to Yahweh, and not to be 
worshipped in Israel (21 29 25 1 " 6 14 9 ). A particularly antique 
conception, which a later writer (Ps. 132 8 ) found it necessary 
to modify, as another (Jer. 48 46 ) modified the terms of 21 29 , 
appears in io 35 , where the ark, as the visible embodiment of 
Yahweh, moves of its own accord, and is addressed as 
Yahweh (io 33-36 ). Elsewhere the manifestation of Yahweh 
in human form under the name of the "angel of Yahweh " 
(22 22-35 ; cp. 20 16 ) and in or as the theophanic cloud (n 25 
I2 5 - 10 ) is referred to, and direct vision of Yahweh is ascribed 


to Moses (12 8 ). The comparative simplicity of worship in 
the age to which the stories belong- is reflected in E's view 
of the tent when contrasted with the elaborate ideal of P ; 
it is situated outside the camp, as in some cases the shrines 
of ancient Israel were above and somewhat away from the 
city (i S. 9 11 " 27 ), and thither men resort to it; it requires the 
constant presence of but few attendants or guardians. 

A vivid light is cast on some of the religious customs 
of the days of the early monarchy. Many must have been 
those who made pilgrimage to the bronze serpent (21 4 - 9 ) 
down to the time of its destruction by Hezekiah. Like 
famous relics of other ages and other faiths which have 
been treasured and credited with similar virtues, the bronze 
serpent must have raised, and sometimes seemed to satisfy, the 
hopes of many generations of suffering Israelites. We shall 
be safe in detecting another feature of early life in the law 
of 5 11-31 , though in its present form this law may be no older 
than the 6th century : women suspected of unchastity, men, as 
we may reasonably infer, resting under suspicion of various 
offences, were made to drink specially prepared potions, or 
undergo, perhaps, various other forms of ordeals ; for this 
purpose in early times they probably made their way to any 
one of the places specially sacred to Yahweh. The combina- 
tion of customs in the law of the Nazirite (6 1-21 ) is late ; but 
many of the individual customs, such as the practices of 
making offerings of hair, and submitting to certain forms of 
abstinence during the period of a vow, are early. What 
amount of early Israelite custom underlies the law of defile- 
ment from the dead (c. 19) is less clear; but the wearing of 
tassels at the corners of the garments out of religious or 
superstitious feeling (15 37 " 41 ) is ancient. See also p. 40. 

Not the least important of the features of early Israelite 
religious life preserved in Numbers is the character of Moses 
as presented in the stories of J and E. The influence of such 
an ideal is not to be overlooked or underestimated. Thoroughly 
human, subject to despondency (n 10-15 ), and at times pro- 
voked by the people (JE in 20 1-13 ), Moses is yet pre-eminently 
distinguished by his submission to Yahweh (12 3 ) ; by his trust 


in (io 29-82 ), his intimacy with, and his faithfulness to Him 
(12 6-8 ) ; by his affection for his people, which leads him again 
and again, even when the people provoke him by their 
rebelliousness, to intercede with Yahweh on their behalf 
(i i 2 - 10 ~ 15 21 7 ) ; by his generosity and public spirit (c. 12. 1 i 27-29 ). 

In nie. 17a. 24b-30 an( j I2 Moses appears as the ideal and, 
indeed, the exceptional and unique prophet, or man of 
Yahweh's counsel. These passages, together with c. 22-24, 
form a not unimportant contribution to our knowledge of the 
early Hebrew theory of prophecy. The first is a parallel to 
the stories in Samuel of the prophetic frenzy that followed the 
possession of a man by the spirit of Yahweh ; but in the 
second Moses is distinguished as the man who receives the 
communication of Yahweh's will directly, and not like other 
prophets in dream or vision. Obviously no member of the 
prophetic school could distinguish Moses from prophets like 
Amos or Isaiah in this way : either, therefore, Moses is here 
the representative of the type of the great prophets of the 
8th century B.C., or the passage was written before the time 
of Amos, and would in this case be proof that the ideal 
existed, though no living prophets satisfied it. C. 22-24 ' s 
important as evidence of the belief that even prophets of 
other nations might receive communications from Yahweh. 
Incidentally 16 28 illustrates the early existence of a mode of 
distinction between the true and the false prophet which 
frequently appears later (Jer. 23 16 - 21 , Ezek. 13 2 ): the true 
prophet comes because he is sent by Yahweh, and says and 
does what Yahweh directs (cp. also 22 18 - 30 ); the false prophet 
comes unsent, and delivers a message of his own making. 

Seventh century. — In the long editorial passage 14 12 - 24 , 
which is referred to this period, the Exodus is regarded par- 
ticularly as a manifestation of Yahweh's might, and the 
problem presented, especially to Ezekiel, by the certain 
approach, or the actual endurance, of exile and the consequent 
destruction of national life, here appears in Moses' argument 
with Yahweh : how can Yahweh, if He must, in order to 
satisfy His moral nature, actually destroy Israel, maintain 
among the nations of the world a reputation for power? 


Possibly another product of the religious feeling of this period 
may be found in the Priests' Blessing (pp. 71-74). 

Post-exilic period. — The writings of the priestly school, 
from which the greater part of Numbers is derived, are in part 
the expression, in part also the cause, of the religious life of 
the post-exilic community. The hierocratic organisation of 
that society is reflected in the description of the arrangement 
of the camp (c. 1-4. 17 f.), in the story of Korah (c. 16), in the 
subordination of the secular leader Joshua to the high priest 
Ele'azar (27 1822 ), and in much else that relates to the priests 
and Levites. For the support of the sacred classes (c. 18, 
pp. 236-241) novel or heavier claims are made on the people, 
and much that formerly went in relief of needy classes is 
wholly reserved for the now highly organised and dominant 
hierocracy. Somewhat obscurely it is possible to trace modifi- 
cations of practice and sentiment which must have occurred, 
though at what exact times it is impossible to say, within 
the sacred classes during the period extending from the 6th 
to the 4th centuries B.C. Such changes maybe observed in the 
age of Levitical service (p. 32), and in the esteem in which 
the lower sacred class, the Levites, were held (pp. 21 ff., 192 f.). 

The thought of Yahweh which is most prominent is His 
holiness or unapproachableness : the place of His presence is 
ringed off from the secular Hebrews by the sacred cordon of 
priests and Levites: men approach Him at their peril (i 49 - 60 
3 10 j^28f. (121.) e tc), and only by means of special classes of 
intermediaries and in a specially defined manner. The spon- 
taneity of religious life which so strongly coloured the earlier 
time is lost ; another illustration which the book affords of 
this is the precise regulation of quantities which men must 
bring when they make an offering to Yahweh (c. 28 f. i5 1-16 
(p. 407)). Antique notions of holiness (p. 209-211) are un- 
consciously retained, probably because they tended to preserve 
and increase the awe of Yahweh, and in some passages such 
notions are developed with much elaboration of detail (4 6ff ). 
Incidentally * the question of Yahweh's relation to sin emerges 

* Directly P concerns himself little with such questions ; Driver. 
L.O.T. 129. 


as it presented itself to the Jews from the time of Ezekiel 
onwards (16 22 ). 

Ancient customs, which retained too great a hold on the 
mass of the people to be entirely suppressed, were gradually 
modified and supplied by the priests with new and more suit- 
able interpretations, and in this way acquired an even pro- 
longed lease of life (see p. 47 f.) 


I. i.-X. 10 (P). The l\ 7 i!rfemess of Sinai. 

The first section of the book covers the last nineteen days 
spent by the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai (i 1 io 11 ). 
Exactly a month before the date given in i 1 , the tabernacle 
had been completed and set up (Ex. 40*- 17 ). The intervening 
month had been occupied with the consecration of the priests 
— Aaron and his sons — to the service of the altar (Lev. 8), and 
with the revelation or communication of various laws, most 
of which, more or less directly, concerned the priests (Lev. 
passim) : to the same interval two retrospective passages in 
the present section (Nu. 7. 9 1 "" 14 ) refer the offerings of the 
princes to the tabernacle and the communication of the law of 
the supplementary Passover. 

The tabernacle once erected was to form the centre of the 
camp, and the priesthood once instituted demanded servants ; 
hence the erection of the tabernacle (Ex. 25-31. 35-40) and the 
organisation of the priesthood (Lev.) is now followed by the 
establishment of a fixed camp order and the definition of 
the functions of the priests' servants, the Levites, with whom, 
in spite of its title, the Book of Leviticus is, except in 2$ s2t 
(P s ), wholly unconcerned. With these two subjects — the 
functions of the Levites and the arrangement of the camp— 
1-4. 8 5-26 is concerned. But 5 f . 8 1_4 consists of various laws 
which, apart from 5 1 " 4 , have no connection whatsoever with 
either of the subjects just mentioned ; while 7 and 9 1 " 14 are 
referred to a date anterior to that of i 1 . Then 9 15 -io 10 , de- 
scribing the customary movement of the cloud and the trumpets 


to be used in connection with the march, forms a suitable 
transition to the next section of the book, which opens with 
the departure from Sinai (io llfl> ). 

For the history of the Mosaic age the whole section is 
valueless : see Introduction. 

It is agreed* that the whole section is derived from P. 
Language, style, subject, and connections with other parts of 
this work place so much beyond doubt. But the distribution 
of the material among the various strata of P is attended with 
difficulty. For details, see the analytical notes prefixed to the 
several subsections. 

I. -IV. The Census. The Arrangement of the Camp . The 

Functions of Levi. 

These subjects, as indicated above, are very naturally intro- 
duced at the point now reached in P, and, it may be reasonably 
assumed, were dealt with in P g . But it is unlikely that these four 
chapters in their present form are the work of a single hand. 
They contain much repetition ; the order in some places is sus- 
picious ; and there are other indications that an original narra- 
tive has been recast, amplified, and modified by later writers. 

(i) Repetitions. i 45f - may contain two statements of the total (obscured 
in RV.). The entire substance of i 17-43 (recurring - formula and numbers 
of the tribes) is repeated in 2 4 - 6 - «• "■ »■ 15 - 19 - »■ 23 - 26 - 2S - so , and that of i 5 ' 15 

; n 2 S. 5b. 7b. 10b. 12b. 14b. 18b. 20b. 22b. 25b. 27b. 29b . cp a J so j44-47 w Jth 2 32f \ The 

subscription in 2 34 disregards the matter common to c. i and 2. C. 3f. is 
in part briefly anticipated by i 48 " 53 : further, 3 31, 25£- 36f * is repeated in 4 s " 15 - 
(greatly amplified) 24 -- 6 - 31 '- > i.e. 4 1 - 33 contains nothing new in substance 
beyond the command to number the Levites between thirty and fifty 
years of age, and the instruction that the priests are to cover up the 
objects intrusted to the care of the Kohathites before the latter touch them. 
The mere presence of repetitions might be explained as due to P's diffuse- 
ness. But (2) the order in which the material is arranged is very curious. 
Thus the command not to number the Levites (i 49 ) among the other tribes 
comes oddly after the other tribes have been numbered, and details of the 
census have been given. In c. 3 we have (apparently) a series of state- 
ments (v. 21f - 27£ - 33f> ) interrupted by a series of commands (v. 23 " 26 - 29 ~ 32, 35 " 38 ) ; 
for v. 38b can only be taken as a command, and naturally determines the 
imperfects in the preceding verses. The difficulty in this case could be 
overcome, of course, by omitting v. 38b . But inversely the same thing 
happens in c. 2, e.g. v. Sa command, v. 3b - 4 statement, and so throughout 

* Nold., Kays., Di., We., Kue., Corn., Dr., Str. 

i. i 3 

the chapter. (3) Definite indications of P s are to be found in 3»-m-«-3? 
4 ii. 16. 26. 33 . see Introduction, §11. In c. 4 CH. draw attention to a 
number of "small divergences from the phraseology of other parts of 
P " : see also below, the notes on 4 8 " 7, 12, 15, 19 . 

Of the substance as apart from the form of this section, it is hardly 
necessary to assign much to P s ; one of the two Levitical censuses may 
be his ; he may have supplied 4 s4 " 49 to fill up the lack of statistics as to 
adult Levites ; or, if the view that the Levites were substitutes for the 
firstborn be rightly derived from H (3 11 " 13 n.), we may suppose that 
P s supplied the census in c. 3 in illustration of the view of H incorporated 
by R p . But attempts at a detailed distribution of the chapters among two 
or more hands are for the most part inconclusive. 

If we are right in concluding that P s recast Ps's matter, he may have 
been led to the present arrangement, especially of i 1 ^ 39 , by the desire to 
act in the spirit of i 49 2 33 , and, so far as possible, to keep the accounts of 
the Levites and the secular tribes separate. Thus, at present, c. 1 f. deals 
with the secular tribes, 3 1 ' 39 with the Levites. But the more natural 
arrangement in dealing with the camp order would have been to bring 
together the statements as to the positions of the several tribes, Levites 
and secular, the Levitical positions being defined first. The order of treat- 
ment in Ps may rather have been something as follows : — 1. The separa- 
tion and functions of Levi: this in immediate sequence to the separation 
and functions of the priesthood (Ex. Lev.). 2. The census,: a. the appoint- 
ment of princes ; b. the numbers of the secular tribes ; c. the numbers of 
the Levites. 3. The camp order : a. general statement— the central 
position of the tabernacle ; b. the positions ot the Levites — immediately 
round the tabernacle ; c. the positions of the tribes — outside the Levites. 

Anticipatory references to the census are found in Ex. 30 12 

38" (P s ). 

I. 1-20. The appointment of twelve eminent men, each 
representing his tribe, to assist Moses and Aaron in taking 
the census. — 1. The wilderness of Sinai ("^D "Q1ID v. 19 3 4 - u g 1 - 5 
io 12 26 64 33 15f -, Ex. io, 1 '-, Lev. 7 38 f — all in P) is, according to the 
last editor of the Pentateuch, the scene of everything recorded 
between Ex. 19 1 and Nu. io 11 ; also of io 29-82 (cp. 33 ). — In the 
tent of meeting] the tent of meeting ("lyiD ^ns) is the term most 
frequently (131 times) used in P to denote the sacred dwelling ; 
it is also used in (J)E (n 16 , Ex. 33 7 , Dt. 31 14 ), and may well 
have been current for an indefinitely long period before its 
earliest occurrence in Hebrew literature. It has been con- 
jectured by Zimmern* that its original meaning was the tent 

* Beitrage zur Kenntniss d. bab. Relig. 88 n. 2 ; so Haupt in JBLit. 
xix. pp. 58, 70 (Assyr. addnu— proper time ; and it was one of the functions 
of the Babylonian diviners to ascertain this). 


where the proper time for an undertaking- was determined. 
Hut the sense attached to the phrase by the biblical writers 
is clearly different ; according to P, it is the place where 
Yahweh meets Moses to communicate to him His will (7 s ', Ex. 
25 22 ); and it meant much the same to E (Ex. 33 7 " 11 ). "Tent 
of meeting" or "tent of revelation" is therefore a suitable 
English equivalent. — Generally speaking, after as well as 
before the erection of the tent of meeting, a divine command 
is introduced by a simple formula, such as "And Yahweh 
spoke unto Moses, saying" — ; sometimes a clause defining the 
geographical situation is added, as here and in Ex. 12 1 , Lev. 
2 -i ^546 27 s4 ), Nu. 3 14 9 1 35 1 (3 1 ) ; but it is altogether excep- 
tional also to add, as here, "in the tent of meeting," though 
the fact, in the light of Ex. 25 22 , must be tacitly understood. 
The nearest parallel to the present case is Lev. i 1 ; but that 
passage embodies a different conception. According to the 
present passage, Ex. 25— and Nu. 7 s9 , Moses was inside the 
tent when he received revelations ; according to Lev. i 1 , Ex. 
29 42 (cp. Ex. 40 34f -, Ezek. 43 5f- )> outside. The latter passages 
may be referred to P s . Yet another conception occurs in E : 
see 12 6 n. — 2. Take ye] i.e. Moses and Aaron: cp. v. 3 and 
the plural pronouns in v. 4 *-. CS L and 5 read — "Take thou"; 
cp. the address in v. 1 (to Moses only) and the sing, in v. 19 , 
Ex. 30 nf -. The introduction of Aaron's name and the plural 
pronouns may be the work of an editor: cp. notes on 3 5 - 39 
9 6 . — All the congregation of the children of Is?-ael] here (cp. 
v. 47ff -), as in 8 9 - 20 , exclusive of the Levites : generally, of 
course, the phrase includes them, e.g. 14 7 25 s 27 20 . — By their 
families, etc.] the census is to be taken clan by clan (nnStt'O-) 
and family by family (DTDK JT3^), but is to have as its ultimate 
aim the number of all male individuals ; similarly, the indi- 
vidual is reached through the family in casting lots (Jos. 7 16f - 
(J)). The numbering by families and by "hosts" (v. 3 ) is 
compatible : for the hosts were constituted according to 
tribes (c. 2). — The precise sense with which the two terms 
nns"'0 and 3X IT 3 (in the reverse order, 3 15 n.) are employed 
varies. In strict usage they are related to one another thus : 
All Israel consists of a number of tribes (13385': in P nuo), a 

I. 2-4 5 

tribe of several clans (nnDB'D), a clan of several "houses" 
(n"2, or UN DU, pi. JTOX IT3), a " house" of a number of indi- 
viduals — Jos. 7 14 (JE), i S. io 21 , Jud. 6 15 . It is quite excep- 
tional for the widest term " tribe " to be used in a more 
restricted sense (cp. 4 18 n.) ; on the other hand, "the 
(father's) house" is used at times of the tribes {e.g. 17 17 ®) 
or the clan [e.g. 1 Ch. 24 6 ), and the "clan" of a people or 
nation (Am. 3 1 ). In the Mishna 3X rV2 is used specifically of 
a subdivision of the priests.* The term may be of Canaanite 
origin ; for bitti a-bi-ia occurs in the Tel-el-Amarna tablets 
(127 19 ), though whether in the sense of family or not seems 
doubtful (cp. Winckler's translation). Unless the two terms 
here and in similar cases are employed merely for fulness of 
expression without any precise distinction being - intended, 
the nnE&'D will be the larger, the 3X JV3 the smaller unit. — 
The names] i.e. the individuals; so in 26 53 - 66 , 1 Ch. 23 24 : 
cp. the use of ovouara in Acts i 15 , Rev. 3* n 13 . According 
to a widespread mode of thought (cf. Frazer, GB. i. 403 f.), 
the name is an integral part of the person, and might therefore 
as suitably denote the individual as, e.g. , the soul, which is 
elsewhere commonly used in P for this purpose. — By their 
polls\ poll, or rather skull (n?3?j), in the sense of person or 
individual, is confined to P and Ch. (cf. v. 18 - 20 - 22 3 47 , Ex. 
16 16 38 26 , 1 Ch. 2 3 3 - 24 f: ct. Jud. 5 30 ).— 3. Ye shall number 
them by their hosts, thou and Aaron] such is the Heb. order; 
S 5 have the verb in the sing, and so the original text may 
have run, "thou and Aaron" being an editorial addition (cp. 
first note on v. 2 ). — 4. The tribal representative must in each 
case be the chief man (t?X"i) in the families which he repre- 
sents (cp. v. 44 ). 

2. vtr\ nx inb"] the same phrase ( = " calculate the total ") also v. 49 4 2 - 22 
2 g2 2j28. 49 1 ( mos t or all P s ) ; cnt — " total," appears to be a late usage : see 
5 7 , Lev. s 24 , Ps. 1 r9 160 139 17 , Pr. 8- 6 (?).— V •« my S>d] the regular term for the 
whole body of the Israelites in P is iTij/n or n-yn S3 (some 70 or 80 times) ; 
it never occurs in JE or D, and only, indeed, where the influence of P may 
be probably traced — Dr. L.O.T. i33(No. 32). Of the fuller phrases used, 
the present is the most frequent (21 times): others are 'b" 'J3 my I s3 19 s 

* Cf. on the whole subject, \V. R. Smith, Rel. Sem.- 276 ; Nowack. 
i. 300; Benzing-er, 292-294 ; Levy's NHB. i. 115a, iii. 2846. 


31 12 , Lev. 16 8 (and S here) ; 'tr my hnp Sd 14 s , Ex. 12 8 ; V my Sd Ex. i2 3 - 4T , 
Lev. 4", Jos. 22 18 -- , 1 K. 8 5 =2 Ch. 5 « ; 'tr my 16 9 3 2 4 , Ex. 12 19 ; 
'"' my "?d Jos. 22 16 ; '"' my 27 17 31 16 , Jos. 22 17 . — 3. xas «x*] the antithetical 
phrase occurs in 31 14 non^on xnso Q'X3n ; the pi. of the present phrase 
's 'nit in 1 Ch. 5 18 7 11 , whence it is clear that xas is an explicative gen. 
(Dav. 240?; G.-K. i28.r). Variant forms of the phrase are Nam nx' 31 s6 , 
Dt. 24 s ; '^7 '" 31 27 : cp. N3s 'uiSn and 's 1 ? phm in 1 Ch. i2 24 - 25 . — $. hbd occurs 
162 times in P ; aio, the regular word in JE D, very seldom (cp. 4 18 n.), 
and even then, perhaps, as a result of editorial activity (cp. 18 2 n.) ; Dr. 
L.O.T. 134 (No. 45); CH. 165?, 112°. 

5-15. The twenty-four persons here named are mentioned 
also in 2 3ff - 7 12ff - io uff - ; but, with the probable exception of 
Nahshon and f Amminadab (cp. Ru. 4 20 ), never again. Several 
of the names are unquestionably ancient, but the list is 
certainly unhistorical. 

Much has been said in defence of the antiquity of this list which is not 
to the point. It would be insufficient proof even if it could be shown (and 
it certainly cannot) that every individual name in it was ancient ; for a late 
compiler might select only ancient names in composing a fictitious list. 
This is obvious : but it has been frequently overlooked. The actual facts 
relative to the list are these. (1) Several (7) of the individual names are 
known to have been in early use (i.e. in or before the time of David), or 
belong to types which were frequent in early, but had become obsolete by 
post-exilic, times : these names are mroy, -amy (on HB"DJ> see below), 
pox, -iiynx, yvnx, 3»r^K, yDE'^x ; further, rpnt* is of a formation less 
frequently used in later times. (2) Five of the names are of types 
unknown to any OT. author except P, and three are without any well- 
established analogy among Semitic names. These are the names com- 
pounded with no (niNHtr, ne""iix, HtrDj/) and ms (ntr-nx, ■nx^tt, and msms). 
The only other name of either type in OT. is (xtnis in 3 s5 (P). Among 
other Semitic peoples we find the Sabsean Silri-'addana in an inscription 
said to be of the 8th cent. B.C. or somewhat earlier (Hommel, Ancient 
Heb. Trad. p. 320), and "mro in a Zinjirli inscription of the 8th cent. B.C. 
(Panammu Inscr. 1. 1) : possibly we should add the OT. place name nii'n'3. 
Compounds with no have not yet been proved to exist apart from the 
names in this section. Hommel's attempt to find a parallel in the name 
of a Babylonian king (c. 2000 B.C.) rests on an uncertain transliteration, 
and other hazardous philological hypotheses. The most that can at 
present be safely said in favour of the antiquity of these names is that one 
of them is compounded with 'Dy. (3) humi and W?oj are unknown to 
the pre-exilic writings of OT., but the former is frequent in the later 
OT., and both are frequent in the post-biblical literature. (4) The 
proportion of compounds with bit to the whole number of names is 
large (9 out of 24). Nothing like this can be found in early lists or 
documents; contrast these proportions, 1 out of 28 in Jud. 2 6 -i6; 2 out 
of 45 in 2 S. 9-20; 9 out of 87 in Jeremiah ; compare, on the other hand, 

I. 5-7 7 

5 out of 17 in Ezr. io 18-22 , and (in a list of angels) 13 out of 20 in Enoch 

6 (Greek text, ed. Charles, p. 64). (5) The proportion of compounded 
to uncompounded names (18 out of 24) is also very large : this again can 
only be paralleled in later times. (6) The number of names in which hit is 
postfixed (5) is greater than those in which it is prefixed (4). This is very 
characteristic of post-exilic names, but the reverse is the case with the ear- 
liest Hebrew names. Moreover, the tendency to postfix rather than prefix 
a divine element in compound proper names appears to be a mark of the 
later periods of other Semitic languages (cp. Hommel, op. cit. pp. 74, 83 f., 
85 f. ). (7) The prefixing of the pf. tense to the divine element in Tisms, ^wm 
(as against one instance of the reverse — rp'hu.) is noticeable. This also is 
rare in early, usual in later names. The last five characteristics of the 
list thus lead to the conclusion that it does not rest directly and entirely on 
an ancient document ; with this conclusion neither the first nor the second 
characteristics in any way conflict. It is quite possible that some of the 
names are drawn from a lost source, as two of them appear to have been 
drawn from a source of which, even if it does not actually exist, we yet 
have other indirect evidence (Ru. 4 20 ). Among such names the com- 
pounds with "lis and n» possibly ought to be reckoned. But to a very 
considerable extent the list must have been compiled at a relatively late 
period by a studied selection from ancient and modern names. For 
further details see HPN. pp. 191-211, and The Character of the Proper 
Names hi the Priestly Code : a reply to Prof. Hommel {Exp., Sept. 1897, 
pp. 173-190). Hommel's Ancient Hebrew Tradition (esp. c. iii.) contains 
much that is of interest on the individual names, but for reasons just 
indicated breaks down as a defence of the antiquity of this and similar 

5. Elisur] "God is a rock," or, " My God . .," and so in 
similar cases : HPN. 84-86, 75 n. 2 — Shedeur\ " Shaddai is a 
light " ; the meaning - and punctuation of " Shaddai " are alike 
obscure, but it is obviously reasonable to punctuate and inter- 
pret it in the same way in all the compounds. — 6. Sfielumi'el] 
Both the punctuation and interpretation are uncertain. MT 
punctuates the first element as a passive part., which gives a 
name of rare and late formation (HPN. 200 f.), with some such 
meaning as "at peace with God " ; Hommel (AHT. 200), " my 
friend is God." ffir (also in 34 20 ) suggests the far commoner, but 
also predominantly late, formation with a pf. prefixed to the 
divine element ; the meaning would then be " God is friendly or 
conciliated," but cp. the abbreviated Shelomi 34 27 t (P). The 
genealogy of Judith (8 1 ) is carried back to this Shelumiel or 
Shelamiel. — Surishaddai\ "a rock is Shaddai." — 7. Nahshon the 
son of ' Amminadab] cp. Ru. 4 10 . Nahshon is probably con- 
nected with Nahash (also found as a proper name), meaning 


"serpent." 'Amminadab = "the (divine) kinsman is generous."' 
— 8. Ne/han'el] "God hath given"; the name also of nine 
different persons mentioned in Ch., Ezr., Neh. ; and one in 
NT., Jn. i 45 .— 9. Eli'ab] "God is Father"; for other persons 
of the same name, see i6 lb (J), i S. i6°. — 10. Of the children 
of Joseph\ by selecting a man from each of the subdivisions 
of this tribe, Ephraim and Manasseh, the number twelve is 
maintained in spite of the fact that Levi is not included in 
this census, and, therefore, furnishes no assessor. — Elishamd\ 
" God has heard " ; for other Elishama's, see 2 S. 5 16 , Jer. 36 12 , 
2 Ch. 17 8 . — AnimiJiud\ "the kinsman is glorious"; for others 
of this name, see 2 S. 13 37 , Nu. 34 20 - 2S , 1 Ch. g i . The reading 
in 2 S. 13 37 is uncertain (al. 'Ammihur) ; but in view of the 
general history of compounds with 'Ammi (HPN. pp. 47 ff. , 
245) the name in any case is probably ancient. — Gamaliel] 
"God is a (my) reward"; the name also of many Rabbis of 
the first and following centuries a.d. ; see, e.g., Acts 5 s4 , Pirke 
'Abhot/i i 16 2 2 . — Pedahsur] "the rock has redeemed"; prob- 
ably a name of comparatively late origin, to which the forma- 
tion and the use of the root ms in names point (HPN. 196, 
199). — 11. Abida?i] "the (divine) father has judged." — 12. 
Ahieser] "the (divine) brother is a help" ; another Abi'ezer is 
mentioned in 1 Ch. 12 3 ; cp. the parallel and early name 
Elfezer. — ' Ammi-shaddai] if this be a genuine early name it 
will mean " a kinsman is Shaddai " ; but if it be a late and 
artificial creation, it was probably intended to mean "people 
of the Almighty." — 13. Pag iel\ the first element of the word is 
uncertain ; possibly the name means the " lot or fate of (i.e. 
given by) God " (cp. WS in Eccl. 9 11 ), or " the mark (or target) 
of God" (cp. WBO in Job 7 20 ).— 14. Eliasaph\ "God has added"; 
another person of the same name in 3 24 (P). — Deuel] form and 
meaning of the first element is uncertain. 

7. pew] the philologically younger ending- [V occurs here and in v.'(MT.), 
the older form |— in v. 13- 1B ; the latter is common in Arabic, and also occurs 
in several Hebrew names ; cp. Barth, NB. § 193-195. — 14. Snijh] (5 <S> here 
and elsewhere Stnjn ; so some MS. of 1& in 2 14 ; Sxijn is given as an Edom- 
ite and Midianite name (Gn. 36"*, Ex. 2 18 ) ; in later Heb. cp. Tob. 3 7 , 

Enoch 20V Reuel, perhaps="God is a friend," though ffi's7=y= C does 

I. 8-19 9 

not favour this. With hmyi cp. ny-ihx and l.cJ=to call.— irvnx] "thy 
brother is evil"— BDB. : obvious, but most improbable : some detect in jn 
the Egyptian deity Ra, as Horus in Tincx, -isnn, iin : cp. RBi. i. 101, 333, 
1966, 2134 : others Jn=" friend " : cp. Vnijti and preceding n. 

16. These are the elect of the congregation, princes of their 
a?iccstral tribes, heads of the thousands of Israel] the twelve 
assessors are men of already established rank. If the term F|bx, 
rendered " thousands," be taken literally, the assessors are 
heads of the largest divisions into which the people were 
ordinarily divided for judicial (Ex. i8 21 ~ 25 E) or military 
(2 S. 18 1 ) purposes. But the term also means a "division of 
a tribe " ; if it has that sense here, it corresponds to " fathers' 
house " in v. 4 , just as it corresponds to clan (nriEK>E) in 1 S. 
io 19 " 21 . Like other similar terms in Hebrew and Arabic, it is 
used sometimes of larger, sometimes of smaller divisions of 
the tribe : cp. n. on v. 2 above ; and for Arabic usages, Noldeke 
in ZDMG. 18S6, p. 175 f. — 17. Expressed by name] 13p3 
niDK>3 Ezr. 8 20 , 1 Ch. 12 32 16 41 , 2 Ch. 28 15 3L 19 t.— 18. They 
declared their pedigrees] i.e. registered themselves. The form 
of the verb ("iTTin) occurs only here. Like BTVnn, so frequent 
in Ch., Neh., Ezr., it is a denominative. — 19. As Yahweh 
commanded Moses] to be closely connected with the preceding 
v. and separated from clause b. For the formula, cp. Ex. 
2^1. 5. 7 e tc, Lev. 8 (several times), Nu. 2 33 etc. CH. regard 
the formula as characteristic of P s , to whom they assign v. 17_19a , 
and whose hand they trace in the expressions commented on 
in the two preceding notes. Paterson refers the peculiarities 
to glossing and textual accident. — And he numbered them] the 
sentence is introductory to the following details of the census. 

16. •■nyn 'K-np] 26 s K're; K're here = K'tib in 26 s myn »smp. The form 
N""ip as the more unusual is more probably correct ; it is the only form 
in the similar phrase ijnn 'Kip 16 2 . — 17 f. lS'npn . . . np'i] Dav. 1146; for 
another possible explanation, cf. 1 2 first n. — 18. i"i ( ? - n , i] the retention of the 
secondary ' indicates the denominative character of the form ; ct. jmnn, 
and cp. Stade, § 31a. — 19. cips'i] For the cstr. as assumed by the verse 
division, cp. Driver, 127 7. G U read npS'l. 

20 47. Tlie numbers of the twelve tribes.— The section 
consists of (1) a recurring formula based on v. 2f - ; (2) the 


numbers of the several tribes. The numbers are repeated in 
c. 2. The form and present position of the section may be 
due to P s ; see above, p. 3, and below on v. 47-54 . 

The position of Gad in this list (and in c. 26) is extraordinary, 
and appears due to the influence of c. 2, where Gad is con- 
nected with Reuben and Simeon for sufficient reasons (see 
introductory note to c. 2). £r, by placing v. 24f - after 36f -, restores 
Gad to a more normal position. 

In the twelve repetitions of the formula there are but three variations. 
(a) 121 *?3 dh'jj^j 1 ? v. j0 - — is omitted in pj and S in the remaining ten cases, 
ffi repeats the phrases every time : § retains them only in v . 20 - 22,24 ; 5 
in all cases and S in v. 20 reverse the order of the two phrases in agreement 
with v. 2 . (b) mps v. 22 (S DiTTipB) is a manifest intrusion in 1$ ; (S S and some 
Heb. MSS. omit it. (c) J§ (though not in all MSS.) in v. 42 omits ) before 
D3 '33 : ct. S <& U. 

The style of the formula is redundant and clumsy ; Dm?in appears to 
be in apposition to ... *J3 ; but in turn gives place to ~Q1 bz, ns' bz, and 
DTinpS, the suffix in the last bringing us back to the first term, but 
being itself explained by the added genitival clause . . . n»D7. Cp. 
Konig, iii. 284c. 

ii. vmaK rrD 1 ? -inx cn] the omission of "inx, or the addition of another 
irm e"N, would assimilate this cstr. to what we find elsewhere ; for the 
former cp. Gn. o. 5 io 5 ; for the latter 13 2 34 18 , Jos. 3 12 . Read "inn B"N inx P'K 
rrnstt naa 1 ? ; for naa cp. (£ S, though the text of the latter as a whole is not 
preferable to $. The accents (cf. RV.) connect B"K -\vy wvs with the first 
half of the v. ; but translate rather, "twelve men were they, each repre- 
senting his ancestral tribe." — 45 f. 1W1 in v. 45 is without complement ; it is 
repeated in v. 46 with a shortened subject. Lev. 13 3 , 1 K. 8 30 may be 
cited as somewhat analogous ; but it is not improbable that two 
originally distinct statements of the total have been here combined. 
See above, p. 2. — ¥1. np3,>7] if the punctuation be correct, this verb 
furnishes an isolated instance in Hebrew of a reflexive of the Kal (cf. 
Arabic Conj. viii., Aram. Ithpe'el, Moabitic cnn 1 ?,-!, Mesha, 1. 11). This 
passive form recurs 2 s3 26 s2 , 1 K. 20 27 t ; corresponding active forms Jud. 
2Q \f>bis.n 2i 9 f, cp. Stade, § 162. Others explain the form as Hithpael, with 
abandonment of the reduplication of the 2nd radical, and compensative 
lengthening of the preceding vowel (for the first point, cp. Piel forms like 
typn) — Konig, i. p. 198 f. 

It will be convenient to gather together here and to con- 
sider once for all the numbers yielded by the two censuses 
recorded in Numbers (c. 1-4. 26). The details given are 
the numbers (1) of male Israelites over twenty years be- 
longing to each of the twelve secular tribes : (a) in the 
second year of the Exodus, c. if.; (b) in the fortieth year, 

I. 20—47 

1 1 

c. 26; (2) of firstborn male Israelites above a month old, 
3 43 ; (3) of males above a month old belonging to the three 
Levitical families : (a) in the second year, c. 3 ; (b) in the 
fortieth, c. 26; (4) of male Levites between thirty and fifty 
years of age, c. 4. 

1. The tribes in the table below are arranged according 
to their size at the first census ; the order in the text of c. 1 
(in c. 26 it is the same, except that Manasseh precedes 
Ephraim) is indicated by the bracketed number to the left ; 
the sign + or — to the right indicates that the tribe is repre- 
sented as having increased or diminished in the interval 
between the two censuses, and the bracketed figure to the 
right indicates the order of size in c. 26. 

C. 1, year 2. 


45. 6 50 


(4) Judah 

(10) Dan . 

(2) Simeon 

(6) Zebulun 

(5) Issachar 
(12) Naphtali 

(1) Reuben 

(3) Gad . 

(11) Asher 

(7) Ephraim 
(9) Benjamin 

(8) Manasseh 

C 26, 

year 40. 





































Totals . 603,550 601,730 

2. The firstborn male Israelites above a month old 
number 22,273. 

3. The numbers of male Levites are — 

Above 1 month old. 

Kohath . . . 8600 

Gershom . . 7500 

Merari . . . 6200 

Between 30 and 50 years. 


22,000 (in text) 
22,300 (actual) 
At the second census (26 s2 ) 23,000 


These numbers must on every ground be regarded as 
entirely unhistorical and unreal; for (i) they are impossible; 
(2) treated as real, and compared with one another, they yield 


absurd results ; and (3) they are inconsistent with numbers 
given in earlier Hebrew literature. 

1. The total represented is impossible. Males over twenty 
form but very little more than a quarter of a whole population, 
thus (neglecting- the 51,000 odd Levites) the total in c. 1 f. 
(603,550) represents a total of men, women, and children 
well exceeding 2,000,000.* And yet this multitude is repre- 
sented as spending forty years in the wilderness ! The 
impossibility cannot be avoided by the assumption that the 
two millions wandered far and wide; for (1) this is not the 
representation of the text, according to which, for example, 
they camped in a fixed order (c. 2), and marched together at 
a signal given by two trumpets (c. 10) ; and (2) the numbers 
are impossible even if we think of them as dispersed over the 
whole peninsula of Sinai, the present population of which is 
estimated at from 4000 to 6000. f 

"As we saw the peninsula," writes Robinson (Bibl. Re- 
searches, i. 106), "a body of two millions of men could not 
subsist there a week without drawing their supplies of 
water, as well as of provisions, from a great distance." % By 
a miracle, no doubt, this multitude might have been sustained; 
but it ought to be observed that the miracles actually recorded 
are not on an adequate scale ; for let any one read the story 
in 20 1-13 , and ask himself whether this suggests a water 
supply sufficient for a multitude equal to the combined popula- 
tions of Glasgow, Liverpool, and Birmingham. It must suffice 
to bring this number once more to the touchstone of reality. 
The number at the end of the wilderness period is virtually the 
same as at the beginning, i.e. we are to think of two million 
people ready to fall on and settle in Canaan, already long 
inhabited. Now, what data exist point to about one million 
as the outside population of Israel and Judah when settled in 
the country ; § even this population representing a density of 

* For the vital statistics assumed throughout the discussion, see Ency, 
Brit. 9 xix. 514. 

t Ency. Brit. xxii. 89. 

X See also Doughty, Arabia Deserta, i. 61, ii. 605. 

§ Buhl, Die socialen Verhaltnisse der Israeliten, 51-55; Meyer, Entsie 
hung des Judenthums, 108-1 14. 

I. 20-47 13 

about 150 to the square mile, i.e. a density nearly twice thai 

of Spain, and about the same as that of Denmark or Scotland. 

The numbers of the several tribes must stand or fall with 

the total. 

It is the great merit of Colenso to have demonstrated the absolute 
impossibility of the numbers ; and to his discussion {Pentateuch, pt. i. 
c. iv.-xiii.) reference must be made for further detail. Colenso, being con- 
cerned with the credibility of the Pentateuch as a whole, very properly tests 
the compatibility of the numbers with statements in any part of the whole. 
In what is here said they are compared only with the statements in P. 

2. The unreality of the numbers is independently proved 
by comparing them one with another. Thus : the number 
of male firstborn is 22,273; allowing- the number of female 
firstborn to be equal, the total number of firstborn is 
44,546, and, therefore, the total number of Israelites being 
between 2,000,000 and 2,500,000, the average number of 
children to a family is about 50 ! Again, if, as is probable, the 
firstborn of the mother is intended (cp. 3 12 ), then, since the 
number of firstborn and of mothers must have 'been identical, 
there were 44,546 mothers: but the number of women being 
approximately the same as of men, the women over twenty 
numbered something over 600,000, and therefore only about 
1 in 14 or 15 women over twenty were mothers! The 
comparison of the two sets of Levitical figures bring less 
absurd, but still unreal, results to light. The average 
European percentage of persons (male and females) between 
thirty and fifty years of age to the whole population is barely 
25, and in the U.S.A. the percentage is 22 ; but the per- 
centage (males only considered) among the Kohathites is 
22, the Gershonites 35, the Merarites 52. For the sake of 
simplicity the numbers are here taken as they stand; some 
slight difference would be made by allowing for children 
under a month, or again by adopting the view that first- 
born means the firstborn to the father, and then allowing 
for the influence of polygamy; but no legitimate allowance or 
device can get rid of the essential impossibility of the figures. 
For a full discussion and an account of the attempts to 
surmount the difficulties, see Colenso, Pentateuch, pt. i. c. 
xiv. ; pt. vi. p. 500 ff. 


3. The 40,000 (? fighting men) of Jud. 5 s stands in strik- 
ing contrast with the 301,000 (first census 273,300) of men 
above twenty assigned in Nu. 26 to the six tribes (Benjamin, 
Ephraim, Manasseh, Naphtali, Zebulun, Issachar) celebrated 
in Deborah's song as participating in the war. Again, the 
male Danites above twenty, according to the census, just before 
settling in Canaan numbered 64,000; in Jud. 18 we have a 
narrative recording a migration of at least a considerable part 
of the tribe of Dan : yet the migrating party includes only 
600 armed men. 

But if the numbers are unhistorical, how did they arise, 
and how much do they mean ? The total, 600,000, was derived 
by P from the earlier work JE (Ex. 12 37 , Nu. n 21 ), unless we 
assume that the original number in these two earlier passages 
has been removed by a later harmonising scribe in favour of 
P's 600,000. How the number was obtained we are just as little 
able to determine as in the parallel cases of high numbers else- 
where {e.g. Jud. 2o 2 - 17 , 2 S. 24°) ; it must suffice to have shown 
that they are impossible even under the conditions prevailing 
after the settlement in Canaan. The exacter totals (603,550 
and 601,730) appear to have been given to gain an air of 
reality ; in the same way the numbers of the individual tribes 
are not precisely "l^, i.e. 50,000 for each tribe; but the 
numbers are so manipulated that in each census precisely six 
tribes have over and precisely six under 50,000 ; somewhat 
similarly the number of the Levitical cities (48) is represented 
not as 12 x 4, but as 13 + 10+ 13 + 12 (Jos. 21 4 - 7 ).* Under 
the circumstances it seems likely that all the tribal numbers 
are purely artificial ; though the number assigned to Judah 
presupposes a population not greatly in excess of a quarter of 
a million (which may be taken as a rough approximation to 
the actual population of the Southern Kingdom), and might, 
if it stood alone, be treated as an anachronism rather than an 
artifice. The fact that in both censuses Judah shows the 
largest numbers may be intentional, and due to the writer's 
desire to illustrate the pre-eminence of Judah (cp. p. 18) ; 
but for the most part no significance can be detected in, and 
* Noldekc, Untersuchnngen, 1 16-120. 

I. 48-50 15 

was probably not intended to attach to, either the numbers of 
the several tribes themselves or the variations between the 
first and second census. 

The numbers of the male firstborn (22,273) an< ^ the male 
Levites (22,000) are intimately connected. Since the impossi- 
bility of the proportion noted above forbids us to believe that 
the number of the male firstborn was inferred from the total 
number of male adults, we must consider it based on the 
number of Levites, a slight excess (273) being attributed to 
the firstborn in order to admit of an illustration of the law of 
18 16 . But this consideration leads us further. The number 
of the Levites was reached independently and without refer- 
ence to the 600,000. Whence or how we cannot say : it is 
more moderate than the Chronicler's impossible figure (38,000 
over thirty years old = about 94,000 over a month old), but 
scarcely corresponds to reality at any period. 

47-54. The Levites not numbered with the other tribes : 
their functions and position in the camp. — In v.t 7 it is stated 
as a matter of fact that the Levites were not numbered with 
the other tribes : in v. 48f - the command is given that they are 
not to be so numbered. Further, v.* 9 , strictly interpreted, 
implies that neither Levi nor the other tribes have yet been 
numbered. The facts seem best explained by the assumption 
that v. 17-17 did not originally stand in their present position 
(We. Comp. 178 f.). Kue., however {Hex. § 6, n. 35), stands by 
the present order on the ground that "we cannot be surprised 
that in a fictitious narrative the succession of details should be 
open to criticism." It is, of course, altogether illegitimate to 
surmount the difficulty by rendering with RV. in 48, for the 
Lord spake unto Moses, for the Waw Conv. cannot state a reason 
(Driver, Tenses, 76, Obs.) ; "QT1 must be rendered here as else- 
where, and Yahweh spake. — 50-53. Brief instructions, all of 
which are elaborately developed in c. 2-4. The Levites are 
to carry the tabernacle on the march, to set it up on encamp- 
ing, and to take it down at starting : they are to encamp 
immediately round it so as to prevent any but themselves 
coming near it. — 49. Thou shalt not number] note the singular, 
and cp. notes on v. 2, 3 . — 50. But appoint thou] the pronoun is 


expressed in Heb. and is therefore emphatic (Dav. § 107 ; Dr. 
Tenses, p. 201). Di. explains the emphatic pronoun as 
implying- "Thou by thyself and not in company with Aaron 
and the princes " (v. 3f ). But it is the emphasis of antithesis — 
Thou shalt not number it . . . but appoint. — The tabernacle of 
the testimony] Ex. 38 21 . — 51. The stranger that cometh nigh 
shall be put to death] it is a capital offence for any one not a 
Levite to concern himself with the holy tent and its furniture. 
The word translated " stranger" ("if) is used of one who does 
not belong to the circle which the writer has directly in view, 
whether he explicitly mentions it or not. Thus in Dt. 25'' the 
" stranger " is a person of another family ; "strange children " 
from the standpoint of the husband are the offspring of his 
wife's adulterous connection (Hos. 5 7 ). The word is frequently 
used of the " layman " in contrast to the priest (3 10 , Ex. 29 s3 ). — 
52, 53. The whole people are to encamp in an orderly manner 
(which is fully described in c. 2) around the tabernacle, but 
kept from immediate proximity to it by the Levites. This inner 
position of the Levites is to prevent any even accidental con- 
tact of the non-Levites with the tabernacle, and, consequently, 
any such sudden and destructive outburst of Yahweh's anger 
as we read of in 2 S. 6 6ff> and in several passages of P (17 17 
(16 46 ) 18 5 etc. ; cp. 8 19 ).— -53. {And the Levites) shall keep the 
charge of] used as here with a gen. of the obj. to be guarded 
the phrase (mot^O "!£>£>) is characteristic of P and subsequent 
writings, as also of Ezekiel (cp. e.g. Ezek. 4o 45f - 44 s - 14f -, 1 Ch. 
23 s2 ) ; closely connected with this is the limitation in P of the 
phrase " Yahweh's charge " (Lev. 8 35 , Nu. 9 19 ) to a particular 
duty, whereas in earlier writings it was used with a more 
general reference, e.g. Gn. 26 5 (JE), Dt. n 1 . — 54. A charac- 
teristic priestly formula ; cp. e.g. Gn. 6 22 , and for a full list 
see Dr. L.O.T. p. 132, n. 11. 

II. The position of the tribes in camp and on the march, 
and their numbers. — The present form and position of this 
chapter are probably not original : see above, p. 3. 

The writer seems to have conceived the Israelite camp in 
the wilderness as a quadrilateral ; round the tent of meeting 
as a centre was an inner quadrilateral formed by the priests on 



the E., and the three divisions of Levi on the remaining three 
sides (v. 17 , cp. i 4S " 54 323.29.85.38^ An ou ter quadrilateral was 
formed by the camps of the twelve tribes, three on each side. 
Of each set of three, one tribe is distinguished above the rest, 
and gives its name to the entire camp on its side ; the mean- 
ing of ILj certainly seems to be that this more distinguished 
tribe occupied the central position on its side ; (5 implies 
that its position was at the end of the side, a view adopted 
by few modern commentators. The arrangement described 
in lij may be shown by diagram thus — 
















• . 






Tent of 







C y 

















We need not suppose that the writer bases his description 
on any lingering tradition of what actually occurred in the 
wilderness, or on knowledge, at first or second hand, of the 
form of the Bedawin camps in his own time. As a matter of 
fact the description is at variance with earlier tradition, which 
placed the sacred tent outside the camp (Ex. 33™; E). 

What the usual form of the Hebrew military camp actually was we 
cannot confidently say. From the terms nTD(3i 10 n.), which is not actually 
used of a Hebrew camp, and *?JJ.'D many have inferred that it was commonly 
round (EBi. s.v. "Camp," § 1). Modern Bedawi camps are sometimes 
round, especially when small: Burckhardt, Bedouin and W'ahdbys, i. 33 ; 
Doughty, Ar. Des. i. 46 (" His people with him were some thirty tents set 
out in an oval, which is their manner in these parts " — i.e. between Ayla 
and Maon), ii. 309 (" A menzil of B. Aly, sixteen booths pitched ring-wise, 
which hitherto I had not seen any nomads use in Arabia" — near Hayil). 
For Bedawi camps not round (though also not quadrilateral), see Doughty, 
i. 414, 221, and the picture facing p. 385 ; also Seetzen, Reisen, ii. 298. 



The description rather expresses an idea — that of the 
sanctifying- presence of God in Israel's midst (cp. 5 3 , Lev. 15 s1 ). 
The sacred presence needs to be guarded against undue 
approach, hence the sacred caste of Levi separate the taber- 
nacle from the secular tribes. The most sacred caste, the 
priests, guard the entrance to the tent on the E. 

The writer, who thus embodies his ideas in a picture of 
the past, owes something in all probability to Ezekiel, who, 
picturing the ideal future, makes Caanan an exact parallelo- 
gram enclosing the temple, which is to be immediately sur- 
rounded by the priests, the Levites, and the holy city (Ezek. 
48). In its turn the present description may have influenced 
the author of the NT. Apocalypse, who, however, gives yet 
freer expression to the idea in his depiction of the city which 
lies four square, and, instead of being sanctified by a fixed 
centre of the divine presence, is wholly illumined by the glory 
of God (Rev. 21). 

The details of the description are not filled in at haphazard. Though 
generally overlooked, it is not difficult to detect the reasons for the manner 
in which the tribes are distributed. Judah, in F the pre-eminent tribe (see 
above, p. 14), occupies the centre of the most honourable side — the eastern, 
parallel to the priests on the inner cordon. With him are associated the 
two youngest "sons " of Leah, who are generally and most naturally con- 
nected with him. The southern seems to be the next side in importance ; 
on it the Kohathites encamp, who, though descended from Levi's second 
son, are the Levitical family from which the priests sprang, and who are 
intrusted with the care of the most sacred objects. Those who encamp on 
the south, moreover, immediately follow the eastern tribes on the march. 
The south is occupied by the remaining sons of Leah, Reuben and Simeon, 
the firstborn naturally occupying the centre. But a tribe is needed to com- 
plete the trio ; this is naturally found in the eldest " son " of Leah's hand- 
maid — Gad. The next side — third in rank, and occupied within by the 
Gershonites, the descendants of Levi's eldest son — is filled by the three 
Rachel tribes, Ephraim (by nature the second-born, but promoted, accord- 
ing to early tradition (Gn. 48 1Jff -), to a higher position by Jacob) occupy- 
ing the centre. Finally, the north is held by the three remaining " sons " 
of the handmaids, the eldest being in the centre. See, further, Gray, 
"The Lists of the Twelve Tribes" in Expositor, March 1902, pp. 225-240. 

1. To Moses and Aaron] Moses only is mentioned in v. 34 ; 
cp. i 2 n. — 2. With his own company] so in v. 3 - 10 - 18 - 25 substitute 
"company" for "standard" of RV. : see phil. n. — By the 
ensigns] The term (nix) is of wide meaning ( = "sign," 

II. i— 17 19 

"mark"), and occurs nowhere else with its present signifi- 
cation, except, perhaps, in Ps. 74*. The use of ensigns or 
standards for the several families forming an encampment is 
true to modern Bedawi custom, and may have been suggested 
to the writer by such custom in his day. "The Beduin coming 
near a stead where they will encamp, Zeyd returned to us ; and 
where he thought good, there struck down the heel of his tall 
horseman's lance, shelfa or romhh, stepping it in some sandy 
desert bush ; this is the standard of Zeyd's fellowship, — they 
that encamp with him and are called his people." * Modern 
scholars f have generally concluded that the use of two 
different flags is here implied — the family ensign (JYlN), and a 
standard (?il) for each group of those tribes. But see last n. 
The meaning of the verse is rather this : the individual Israel- 
ites are to keep to their proper quarters; and within these 
are to encamp by families. The modern Bedawin also encamp 
"by kindreds" (Doughty, Arabia Deserta, i. 414). — 3-10. If 
the suggestions made above (p. 2 f.) are sound, in their original 
form these now overloaded verses ran : And those who encamp 
eastwards towards the sun-rising shall be the company of the 
camp of fudah, and those that encamp beside him shall be the 
tribe of Issachar and the tribe of Zebulun ; these shall start 
out (on the march) first. So, similarly, in the corresponding 
sections, v. 10-16 - 18 ~ 24, 25 ~ 31 . — 3. Eastwards towards the sun- 
rising] 3 38 34 15 , Ex. 27 13 38 13 , Jos. i 9 13 f (P) ; cp. Jos. 19 12 (P), 
and, for a similar redundancy, see Ex. 26 18 (P). 

17. And the tent of meeting, the camp of the Levites, shall 
set forth in the midst of the [other) camps'] the appositional 
subject is awkward; the difficulty is concealed in EV., which 
is simply not a translation of %. A different view of the 
order in which the Levites marched is taken in io 17-21 : see 
notes there. — As they encamp, so shall they start] The subject 
is, of course, the Levites, not as Ibn Ezra, in order to avoid 
the conflict with io 17 " 21 , will have it, the secular tribes. Di. 
limits the force of the words to a confirmation of clause a : 

* Doughty, Arabia Deserta, i. 221 ; see also Burckhardt, Bedouin and 
Wahdbys, i. 34. 

+ Di., Now. (Arch. p. 362), Buhl, BDB. 


as the Levites pitched in the middle of the tribes (i 52 ' - ), so 
are they to march in the middle of them. But the following 
clause, "everyone in his place, according to their companies," 
seems to require a wider meaning - , and to imply that the 
Levites, like the twelve tribes, were divided into (four) 
companies, each having - a set place alike in camp and on 
the march. These positions in camp are given subsequently 
in the present (3 s3 - 29 - 35 - ^J, but may have been given earlier 
in the original, form of the narrative (above, p. 3). On this 
view of the words the writer means that the order on the 
march was: (1) Priests, (2) Kohathites, (3) Gershonites, (4) 
Merarites ; cp. the diagram above. — 32. The subscription 
to the statements in v. 4 - 6 - 8 etc. ; cp. 1 44 - 46 . — 33 corresponds 
to i 49 , but to nothing in the present chapter. — 34. The proper 
subscription to the divine instructions in v. 2f - etc. 

2. hn] some such meaning - as company is demanded in v. 3 and is 
suitable elsewhere (v. 10 - 17- 1S - 25> 31-84 i 62 io 14 - ]8 - 22 - - 5 ). There is, it is true, 

little etymological support for it, aSUs-J "a crowd of men," not counting 
for much. But there is scarcely more for the usually accepted rendering 
"standard." Ancient tradition consistently supports such a meaning as 
that now suggested : ffi rdy/ia, J3 |q\o [>, 3C opa ( = Td£is) ; see, further, 
the discussions by Gray and Cheyne in JQR. xi. 92-101, 232-236. — 
i. ompai lNnsi] so 9 times in f§ ; but in v. 6, 8 - n and in S throughout 
npfll iN3!a Paterson in SBOT. argues forcibly in favour of DmpBl 
throughout, and of regarding lN3!si as an interpolation by R p under the 
influence of io 12ff- , or of seeing in the two terms traces of two recensions 
of P here fused together. — 5. vhy D'anrn] the full predicate is law nao + 
jVui nan v. 7 (read rather nam as in v . 14,r2-29 ), i.e. each of the two tribes 
encamps beside (^v) Judah. Cr, on the other hand, by inserting at the 
beginning of v. 7 ko\ ol 5rape/x/3d\\ovres ix^t J - €VOt ( + at}roD, v. 12 ), implies that 
Issachar only pitched by the side of Judah, and that Zebulun pitched by 
the side of Issachar; so in the corresponding vv. — 7. nao] S <S and some 
Heb. MSS. nam ; cp. last n. — 16. D'Wi] ffi 5 F S omit the 1 : so also 
(except E) in v. 24 ; cp. $ in v. 9 - 31 .— 18. nm] in v. 10 - 26 the term of 
position precedes DDKa* 1 ? : so here in ffi. — 20. vVyi] read with j? vhy D^nni. — 
31. Dii'Sn^] not found in v. !l - 16 - 24 . On the other hand, amos 1 ?, which we 
should expect here after niND, is missing. 

III. 1-4. The generations of Aaron. — In substance a mere 
repetition of Ex. 6 23 , Lev. io lf -. It appears to be inserted 
here as a preface to v. 5ff - with a view to explaining "Aaron 
and his sons," v. 9f - "The anointed priests" in v. 3 betrays 

II. 32— III- i-4 21 

the hand of P s : cp. Introd. § n. — 1. Now these are the 
generations of . . .] L.O.T. 6ff. The usage is not quite the 
same as in P's narrative in Genesis, since the subject of what 
follows (v. 5ff -) is the descendants of Levi (not Aaron). The 
insertion of Moses' name aftet Aaron is unusual. — In mount 
Sinai] cp. Ex. 24 16 3 i ls , Lev. 7 38 25 1 26 40 2 7 34 , Nu. 2 8 6 : ct. 
"in the wilderness of Sinai," i 1 3 14 9 1 . — 3. Who were in- 
stalled] lit. "whose hand was filled." The phrase mille' 
yad is ancient (Jud. 17 s - 12 ), and has a parallel in the Assyrian 
ttmalli kdti.* It is said, for instance, of Ramman-nirari in. 
that the god Ashur "filled his hand with an incomparable 
kingdom" (KB. i. p. 190). The precise original sense is 
uncertain; according to some, it meant "to fill the hand" 
with money (cp. Jud. 17 s - 12 with 1S 4 ) ; according to others, 
with the office to which one is appointed (cp. the Assyrian 
usage) ; and according to others, with the sacrifice (cp. 
2 Ch. 13 9 ). Later, the original sense must have been 
commonly lost sight of, for it is used of the altar. (Ezek. 43 26 ; 
cp. 7 s8 phil. n.) ; hence in P the phrase may be rendered "in- 
stalled "or " instituted." f — 4. And they had no children] not 
stated in Lev. 10, but repeated in 1 Ch. 24 2 . 

1. -m ova] cstr. as, e.g., Ps. 138 3 ; Dav. 25. im with seg-hol instead of 
sere (cp. c?3, 123) is 3rd pf., not inf. (Str.) ; G.-K. 52 /. o.—2. ni,V3n] here 
as everywhere (except A in Ex. 6 s3 Afiiaovp), in Ch. as well as in the 
Pent., ffi reads Apiov5 = Tin s 2i< ; with N1.T3N cp. Kl.T^x, Rin\— i. *' ^e 1 ?] bis 
as in Lev. io u - ; ct. 26 61 . In 1 Ch. 24 s D.T3K ':2b is substituted for the first. 
With •"' '3B 1 ? niD, cp. 2 S. 21 9 .— i-13'i] pi. (1 Ch. 24 s ) unnecessary ; Dav. 1 136. 

5-13. The institution of the Levites as a caste of priests' 
servants. — V. 6 " 9 general description of the functions of the 
Levites and their subordination to the priests; v. 12f - their 
relation to Israel : they are the representatives of the first- 
born — a point elaborated in v. 40 51 ; v. 25 - 31 - 3Gf - the specific 
duties of the three Levitical families. 

In the preceding books of the Pentateuch Levi has been 
frequently referred to as the eponymous ancestor of the tribe, 

* See Fried. Delitzsch, Assyr. Handwiirterbuch, 4396 ; cp. Winckler 
in KB. v. p. 21*. 

t In addition to the Lexicons, see Nowack, Arch. ii. i2of. (with refer- 
ences); Baudissin, AT Priesferthum, 183 f . ; Weinel in ZA TW. 1898, pp. 
60 f., 42 f. 


and as a tribe not possessing the character of a religious 
caste: Gn. 2 9 u 34. 35 s3 46 11 49 s , Ex. i 2 2 1 6 16 25 . Further, 
there are two passages in JE which may recognise, or con- 
template, the sacred character of the tribe: Ex. 4 14 32 26-28 ; 
and two passages belonging to P s which certainly regard 
Levi as a sacred caste, Ex. 38 21 , Lev. 25 3 - f -, the one pre- 
supposing Nu. 3, the other Nu. 35 1-8 . These exhaust the 
references of all kinds to Levi in Gn. Ex. Lev. 

Prior to Nu. 1-3 there is, then, no reference in P g to sacred 
Levites — a term which may be conveniently used for Levi 
regarded as a sacred caste, when in the interests of clearness 
the distinction needs to be made. Yet though the institu- 
tion of the caste is first described in c. 3, it is quite excep- 
tionally presupposed in i*7-53 2 i7. 33 # This may be an 
additional reason for thinking that the institution of Levi 
originally preceded the establishment of the camp order 
(above, p. 3). But be this as it may, the institution of 
sacred Levites in P g stands entirely apart from and follows 
the institution of the priesthood. A correct appreciation 
of this is essential to an understanding of the author's view 
of the hierocratic constitution. Genealogically, priests and 
sacred Levites are connected : they are sprung from a common 
ancestor : as religious castes they are from the first and 
for ever entirely and completely distinct, called into being 
by two perfectly distinct and independent fiats of Yahweh, 
the priests first (Ex. 28) to a perpetual and exclusive office 
(Ex. 29°, Nu. 3 10 ), then the Levites. Levitical descent is 
alike in fact and theory essential to the sacred Levite ; what 
is of the essence of the priesthood is descent from Aaron — 
Levitical descent is, as a matter of fact, implicit in this and 
necessary, but it is theoretically negligible. 

The priests, then, are not exalted Levites ; and just as 
little are the sacred Levites degraded priests. On the other 
hand, the priests are selected from and stand over against all 
Israel, not merely Levi (Ex. 28 1 , Lev. g 1 - 2 : so in Psalms 
dependent on P — ii5 9f - n8 2f - i35 19t ) ; and it is all Israel that 
in P g 's story of Korah claims the priesthood, c. 16. 

Priests could and did exist before and without sacred 

III. 5-13 23 

Levites, but sacred Levites are unthinkable without priests. 
They are essentially "servants of the priests" (3°), a sub- 
ordinate caste "joined" (ni/wah) on to the previously existing 
priestly caste (18 2 ). Thus the order in which the institutions 
established by Moses at Yahweh's command originated was — 
the altar or place of sacrifice (Ex. 27) ; the priests (Ex. 28) ; 
the Levites (Nu. 3). 

Such is P g 's theory; post-exilic, i.e. post-Ezran, practice 
is governed by it ; and the Chronicler reconstructs the past 
in accordance with it.* But how does it compare with 
earlier practice and other laws ? 

In earlier practice, Levites not of the seed of Aaron were 
priests (Jud. 18 30 ), and the priestly office was at first not 
even limited to Levites, though they were held to have a 
superior fitness for it (Jud. 17$. 10-13^ T 5. y 1 , 2 S. 8 18 20 2G ). 
All this is entirely at variance with P g 's theory ; yet the 
writers never, except perhaps in Jud. 17 6 , take exception to 
it. That in practice there was no distinction between priestly 
and non-priestly Levites down to the Captivity is clearly 
implied by Ezekiel, 44 11-13 . 

So with the theory or law : the compiler of the Book of 
Kings (1 K. 12 31 cp. 13 33 ) condemns Jeroboam because he had 
made priests of people who were not Levites ; the implication 
is clear — any Levite might be a priest ; the Levites are not yet 
divided into two classes, one of which consisted of priests, the 
other of priests' servants. 

The same theory underlies Dt. 33 s-11 and the main body 
of the Book of Deuteronomy ; all Levites have a right to dis- 
charge priestly functions (io 8f - 18 1 " 8 ). Here the Levites are, 
it is true, classified (i8 6f ): but both classes are priests; they 
are priests of the capital or priests of the provincial towns. 

Finally, we approximate to P g 's theory in Ezekiel. The 
prophet writing in exile in the year 572, and sketching the 
future constitution of Israel, recognises that, down to the 
Exile, the Levites had formed in respect of the priestly function 

* The Book of Jubilees throws back the origin of the priesthood to the 
patriarchal period, when, of necessity, Levi (not Aaron) is the first priest, 
c. 32. 


a single caste, but provides that in the future they shall be 
divided into two distinct castes — a priestly caste, consisting- of 
the sons of Zadok, i.e. the priests of Jerusalem, and a caste of 
priests' servants, consisting of (the descendants of) priests who, 
before the Exile, had officiated in idolatrous worship, i.e. at the 
high places, and are henceforth, for this offence, to forfeit their 
priesthood and become subordinates (Ezek. 44 9-31 , esp. 10 " 16 ). 

Thus the division of the Levites into two castes, which 
elsewhere first appears even as a theory in Ezekiel, and is 
then consciously and deliberately proposed as a novelty for 
the future, is accepted in P g as coeval with the institution 
of worship in Israel. 

Since P g 's theory was first placed in relation to parallel 
theories and practice, the really inevitable inference has gained 
increasing recognition : P g is later than Ezekiel : the existence 
of a Levitical caste, separate and distinct from the priestly, 
was unknown to the Mosaic age, unknown even to the age 
of Josiah : it belongs alike in theory and practice to the post- 
exilic age. 

So, e.g., We. Pro/eg. c. iv. ; Kue. Hex. § 3 n. 16, § 11 n. 13 f., § 15 n. 15, 
and esp. Abhandlungen, ^6^-^oo = {7'h. Ti. 1890, pp. 1-42) ; Konig, Offen- 
barungsbegn ; ff (1882), ii. 322ff; Driver, L.O.T. 1396°.; CH. i. 1 27 f. So 
far as the inference as to practice is concerned, others (e.g. Di., Baudissin) 
agree ; but they argue for a pre-Deuteronomic existence in a then un- 
published writing (P) of the theory of distinct priestly and Levitical 
castes. This view as elaborated by Baudissin in his Gesch. des AT Priester- 
(hums was criticised by Kue. in the article cited above. Baudissin has 
lately reiterated his arguments for the pre-Deuteronomic origin of P in an 
extremely lucid and less encumbered form in his Einleitung, pp. 96-102, 
139-170, but he has in no way parried Kue.'s criticism. For defences of 
the traditional view on this matter it must suffice to refer to S. I. Curtiss, 
The Levitical Priests (Edinburgh, 1877), and A. van Hoonacker, Le Sacer- 
doce Le'vilique datis la Loi et dans V Histoire des He"breux (Louvain, 1899). 

Not only does P g differ from Ezekiel in making the sacred 
non-priestly Levites an ancient institution, but also in regard- 
ing the position of the Levites as the very reverse of a degra- 
dation : it is an honour (1 50 - 53 ) ; they are chosen freely by 
God, not, indeed, to the highest position, but to the next 
highest. They are superior to all except the priests, and 
hence encamp immediately round the tabernacle between it 
and the other tribes ; cd. also on c. 16. 18. 

III. 5-10 25 

As in the case of the priesthood, and, indeed, of the nation 
itself, so of the Levites, no reason is given for the choice ; 
the divine choice is made freely ; the distinction is not con- 
ferred for any merit. In this respect P s perhaps differs from 
earlier writers : cp. Ex. 32 2(i ~ 28 , Dt. io 8 (with Dr.'s note) 33 9 . 

According- to 3 11-13 , it is true, Levi is chosen as a substitute 
for the firstborn, to which Yahweh had a claim ; but while 
these verses assign a reason why a tribe had to be set apart, 
they assign none why that tribe was Levi. 

5-10. The Levites in relation to Israel and the priests. — 
5. Unto Moses] Throughout this c. the command is given 
to Moses alone; see v. u - u - 40 - 44 , cp. v. 16 - 42 - 51 , ct. 39 ; in c. 4 
several times to Moses and Aaron (v. 1 - 17 , cp. v. 37 - 41 - 45 ) ; 
yet also to Moses only (v. 21 , cp. 37 - 45 - 49 ). — 6. Bring near] have 
brought to thee, Ex. 28 1 . The technical sense (16 5 n.) is not 
intended here.— They shall serve him] Aaron, i.e. the priests. 
The verb mc is always, when used of the Levites, limited by 
an object, which is either, as here and 18 2 , the ^priests, or the 
assembly (16 9 ), or the tabernacle (i 50 ); on the other hand, of 
the priest, the verb is used absolutely, 3 31 , Ex. 28 s5 etc. ; cp. 
Baudissin, Priesterlhum, 29. — 9. Aaron and his sons] i.e. the 
priests: the fuller phrase for "Aaron," v. 6 . The gift of 
the Levites to the priests by the Israelites is indirect: they 
are immediately given to Yahweh, v. 40ff> , and by Him to the 
priests: this is elaborately explained in 8 16 " 19 . — To him] i.e. 
Aaron; cp. v. 6 n. (5 S read "to me," i.e. Yahweh; cp. 8 1C 
18 6 . — 10. Aaron and his sons thou shall appoint] ffi -f- over 
the tent of meeting. — And they shall guard their priesthood] ffi 
+ and everything about the altar and within the veil; cp. 18 7 
$!• The addition probably goes back to a Hebrew original, 
since (5 differs in 18 7 . — The stranger] here = any one not a 
priest ; in the present context the term includes and, indeed, 
specially refers to Levites ; cp. i 51 n. 

6. '33 1 ? lmoyni] 'jdS vdjh Gn. 47? and 12 other times in the Hexateuch 
of a formal or ceremonial setting-. This particular phrase is in the 
Hexateuch peculiar to P: but see n 24 , Ex. 9 16 (JE) ; cp. CH. i4i p .— 
9. nan i 1 ? non] S and some Heb. MSS. -[inn -h an ■ cp. 8 16 . — dwij o'jwj] for 
the repetition, here, perhaps =" wholly given, " see G.-K. 123c. — jind] — 
" on the part of," frequently (though not exclusively) in P : BDB. 86b. 


11-13. The Levites taken by Yahweh in satisfaction of His 
claim to the firstborn. — This point of view is hardly identical 
with that of v. 5 " 10 ; moreover, the substance of the present 
section would more naturally have been incorporated in the 
preceding- if both sections were from the same hand. Paterson 
may therefore be right in attributing v. 11-13 , together with the 
allied passages v. 40f - 45 , to another hand, though whether there 
is sufficient reason for deriving the verses (at least in their 
present form; cp. v. 12 n.) from H is more doubtful; yet note 
" I am Yahweh," v . 13 - 41 - 46 ; see n. on v. 13 . 

The sanctity of the firstborn and their need for redemption 
therefrom are recognised alike by the early and the later 
Hebrew laws, Ex. 2 2 28 < 29) 34 19f - (JE) 13 2 (P). It is 'subse- 
quently provided in P that henceforward every male at a month 
old is redeemable at 5 shekels, 18 16 ; cp. 3 40ff - The Levites 
are substitutes only for those above a month old at the time. 

In representing the firstborn as subject to redemption in 
the wilderness, P differs from J, who dates the claim from 
the entrance into Canaan, Ex. I3 m 

According- to Rabbinic theor)' before the time when the tabernacle was 
erected, priestly functions were discharged by the firstborn ; Z'bahim 14 4 , 
2TJ° n on Ex 24 s (cp. 2T° ib.); cp. Rashi on the present passage. Some 
modern scholars have considered that a similar theory underlies this 
passage ; and some even infer that the theory (cp. Ex. 22 28 ( 9 ') corresponds 
to fact, that the firstborn in early Israel was, as a matter of fact, devoted 
to priestly duties. So, recently, Baudissin, Priesterthum, 55-57 ; Smend, 
ATReligionsgeschichte, 1 276, 2 282. But (1) the fact that Samuel, a first- 
born, is dedicated to the temple-service by a special vow ; (2) that Jud. 
17 5 (? cp. 1 S. 7 1 ) appears to regard any son indifferently as available 
for priestly functions ; and (3) the indications that in early times the 
priesthood vested rather in the father (cp. the ritual of Passover, Ex. 12. 
j^8ff. . anc j father = priest, Jud. 17 10 ) do not favour the fact of a priest- 
hood of the firstborn ; cp. EBi. " Family," § 2 ; " Firstborn." Further, it 
seems improbable that P s , who does not recognise the existence of sacrifice 
among the Hebrews before the erection of the tabernacle, considered that 
the firstborn had ever been devoted to sacred service. H may conceiv- 
ably have held the theory. 

12b. Cp. Ex. 13 2 (P). So in v. 13 the first clause and 
1 hallowed unto me every firstborn in Israel both of man 
and beast, much more closely resemble the phraseology of 
Ex. 13 2 than Ex. I3 12f - (JE). On the other hand, P in Ex 

III. 11-23 27 

knows nothing - of the assertion here made in clause a, that 
Yahweh's claim to the Hebrew firstborn is based on His 
sparing of the Hebrew firstborn when He slew the firstborn 
of Egypt. For this view, see Ex. i3 14f- , — a passage not earlier 
in origin, perhaps, than the Deuteronomic school. 

13. / hallowed unto Me] i.e. declared them to be my posses- 
sion ; anything belonging to or standing in a special relation 
to Yahweh is holy, anything claimed by Him thereby becomes 
holy or "is hallowed"; see Baudissin, Studien, ii. 63. — I am 
Yahweh] a formula specially characteristic of H ; occasionally 
also in P, e.g. Ex. 6 8 12 12 ; cp. L.O.T. 49, CH. 179, 203 P . 

12. ran »3K] i8 6 - 8 , Gn. 6 17 g 9 17 4 , Ex. 14 17 3i 16 (all P). — 's» '33D] S 
and some Heb. MSS. 'e>' '333; so 41 - 45 8 18 , Ex. 13 2 %— D'l'jn '"? ivn] S <& 
prefix rrp D.Tnsi : cp. v. 46 - a . 

14-39. The census of male Levites above a month old com- 
manded and carried out. — V. 14f - the command ; v. 16 summary 
statement of its execution ; v. 17-20 enumeration of the Levitical 

14. In the wilderness of Sinai] i x n. — 15. By their fathers' 
houses, by their families] i 2 n.; the phrases occur in this order 
4 22 ; more frequently, as here also in ,£, in the reverse order, 
as i 2 - 20 and throughout 1 . 4 2- 29, 34- 38, 42 4 46 . — Every male from 
a month old and upzvard] corresponding to firstborn children 
liable to redemption ; a firstborn child under a month old or of 
the female sex was not subject to redemption. — 16. Moses] 
ffir+"and Aaron," cp. v. 39 , and see i 2 first n.— 17-20. = Ex. 
6 16 " 19 , cp. Gn. 46 11 . The three main divisions of the Levites 
are the same in Nu. 26 57 , but the subdivisions v. 58 differ. 

21-26. The Gershonites number 7500, and encamp W. of the 
tabernacle. Their prince is Eliasaph the son of La'el, and their 
charge the tabernacle, the tent, its covering, the curtain before 
the entrance of the tent, the hangings of the court, the curtain 
of the entrance to the court, the altar and its cords. — 22. On 
the constant change from narrative {e.g. v. 22 ) to command (v. 23 ) 
in v. 22-39 , see above, p. 2 f. — Even those that were numbered of 
them] this second DiTHIpQl should be omitted with Jo : perhaps it 
has been accidentally transposed from v. 28 , from which it is now 
missing in H. — 23. Westwards] on this and the other positions, 


see above, p. 18. — 24. Eliasaph son of La' el] the list of .six names 
contained in v. 21 - 30 3) does not appear to be ancient : for all are 
compounds, and five are compounded with El; see p. 6f., and 
the phil. notes below. — 25. The tabernacle] since the framework 
of the tabernacle (the boards, bars, etc.) fall to the charge of the 
Merarites, v. 36 , all that can be here intended are the curtains re- 
ferred to in Ex. 26 1-6 ; this is clearly indicated in 4 25 . — The tent] 
made of curtains raised over the tabernacle, Ex. 26 7ff \ — The 
covering thereof] the covering of the tent made of rams' skins, 
Ex. 26 14 . — The screen for the door of the tent] Ex. 26 s6 . — 26. The 
hanging for the court and the screen for the door of the court] Ex. 
2 y9-i6_ — Which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about] 
i.e. which (viz. the court) encloses the tabernacle and the altar 
(of burnt-offering). — And the cords of it] the pronoun probably 
refers to the tent. These cords can scarcely be distinguished 
from those assigned to Merari, v. 37 , and the double assignment 
may be due to an oversight of the writer. The cords are the 
tent ropes fastened to pins and so supporting the goats' hair 
curtain, or tent-material: cp. Ex. 35 18 39 40 ; see Introd. § n. — 
As regards all the service thereof] the Gershonites are to do 
whatever these things require to have done to them. 

27-32. The Kohathites number 8600, and encamp S. of the 
tabernacle. Their prince is Eiisaphan b. 'Uzzi'el, and their 
charge the ark, the table, the lamp-stand, the altars, the sacred 
utensils, and the veil. 

28. Hebrew idiom requires the restoration with % at the 
beginning of the verse of "and those that were numbered of 
them " ; cp. v. 22 - 34 , also the n. on v. 22 . — Keeping the charge of 
the sanctuary] appears to be out of place here, and accidentally 
repeated from v. 32 . — Six hundred] a textual error {pw for vhv?) 
for three hundred: see on v. 39 . — 29. Along the side of the taber- 
nacle southwards] cp. v. 35 , ct. v. 233s . The term "side" is 
introduced in connection with the longer dimensions of the 
tabernacle which were N. and S. (Ex. 26 18ff ) ; so Ex. 40 s2 - 24 . — 
31. The altars] & E° the altar. The pi. in ^ includes (1) the 
altar described in Ex. 2j lB -, and subsequently called, for sake of 
distinction, the altar of burnt-offering (e.g. Ex. 38 1 ), and (2) the 
golden altar of burnt incense (Ex. 3O W0 ) ; cp. Introd. § 11. — 

III. 25-39 29 

Wherewith they minister] the subject is "those who minister" 
(i.e. the priests; cp. n. on v. 6 ); cp. Dav. 108. 1. — The screen] 
the curtain which separated the holy place from the holy of holies 
(Ex. 26 31-33 ), and is elsewhere called either " the veil" (ro~ia) 
simply (Ex. 26 31 - 33 - 35 27 21 30" 36 s5 3s 27 40 s - 22 - 2U , Lev. 4 17 i6 2 - 12 - 15 
2 1 23 ), or " the veil of the sanctuary" (Lev.4 ), or "the veil of the 
testimony" (Lev. 24 s ), or "the veil of the screen" ("(Don nn~iD 
Ex. 35 12 39 3i 40 21 , Nu. 4 5 18 7 ), the particular sense of the last 
phrase being explained by Ex. 40 s - 21 . Probably we should 
read here with ,S " the veil of the screen " as in 4 s . The present 
ambiguity with the screens mentioned in v. 25f - then disappears. 
The tendency to amplification in these chapters is illustrated 
here by S, which adds after "the screen" the words "the 
laver and its base " (cf. Ex. 30 18 ). The same addition is made 
in 4 14 by both S and (5. — 32. The statement that Ele'azar 
was chief prince of Levi presumably finds its place here 
because Ele'azar belonged to the family of Kohath, Ex. 6 18-26 . 
Di. considers the verse a later addition ; see phil. n. below. 

33-37. The Merarites number 6200, and encamp to the N. ot 
the tabernacle. Their prince is Suri'el b. Abihail, their charge 
the framework of the tabernacle, viz. its boards, bars, pillars, 
sockets ; and the pillars, sockets, pins, and cords of the court. 

In this section, unlike the two preceding, the mention of 
the prince precedes that of the position in the camp. 

34. Six thousand two hundred] ffit 6050. — 35. On the side of] 
v. 29 n. — 36 f. On the various objects forming the charge of the 
Merarites, see Ex. 2 6 15ff - 20ff - 32 - 37 2 6 19ff - 27 10ff - The tenons, 
rings, and hooks in Ex. 26 17 - 19 - 32 are probably here included in 
the general term accessories (l v2). Cp. 4 s2 . — Their cords] v. 26 n. 

38. The priests encamp on the E. of the tabernacle, thus 
guarding its entrance (Ex. 26 15 ~ 30 ). — Before the tabernacle 
eastwards] (£ omits ; but cp. 2 3 n. — Aaron and his sons, i.e. the 
priests, are described as those who paid attention to what 
required to be attended to in the sanctuary, including every- 
thing that had to be attended to for the children of Israel: the 
last clause is naturally limited to the sacrificial requirements 
of the Israelites. — The stranger] v. 10 n. 

39. The sum total of male Levites above a month old is 


22,000. The separate numbers given in v. 22 - 25 - 34 give a total 
of 22,300. That the actual total intended by the writer was 
22,000 (not 22,300) is clear from v. 40-51 . The error is in 
v. 28 (see note there). The error is an early one : for £t agrees 
with %} in v. 28 . Many Jewish and some modern commen- 
tators {e.g. Speakers Co?)i?n.) assume that the three hundred 
not included in the total were firstborn, and, therefore, not 
available for redeeming the firstborn of the secular tribes ; but 
the text says nothing of this, and three hundred would be a 
ridiculously small proportion of firstborn to the whole number. 
— And Aaron] S j$ and some Heb. MSS. omit. The points in 
MT., already referred to in Sip/ire on 9 10 , mark the words as 
suspicious, and a comparison with v. 14-18 tells against their 
originality : cp. i 2 n. 

16. ntTD (S + p.-sa — njx] S lms (cp. 20 9 |§) ; (S (cp. V) avvira^ev airoh 
Ktpios : cp. 36 s n.— 20. iVd] so also in v. 32 18 23 26 s7 , Dt. io 8 Jos. i3 14 - 33 ; in all 
these passages the whole tribe is referred to. The use of the art. with a 
tribal name is rare (Dr. on Dt. 3 13 ; Konig, iii. 295a? e) ; it is facilitated in 
the case of Levi by the gentilic form ; the word is, indeed, often used with 
unambiguously gentilic force {e.g. Dt. 12 12 , Jud. 17 7 ). VV. render by a 
pi. both here and in v. 32 : in the latter verse S reads whn. — 2$. wi: 1 ?] ffi 
'jrmn nnssi'D 1 ?, cp. v. 30 - ** Q}. — ip % bn] i 14 n. — bub] if rightly read, probably a late 
name; HPN. 206 f. ; <£ ABF AotjX, ffi L Aaoi^X, S 3K'Vk.— 26. imaj? bo 1 ?] this 
use of ^> is specially characteristic of P and Ch.; see BDB. 514^; in 
v 31. 36 'y t, 3 i._ — 27. nnpSi] the 1 is dittographic : cf. v. 21 - 33 : also i 22 - 24 etc. — 
30. |Bs^k] for the name ( = "(my) God has sheltered"), cp. 34 25 (P); it is 
probably an ancient name, cp. HPN. i76f., 192. — ^'15;]= "a (my) strength 
is God." This and other names containing MP, ny, etc., are common in the 
later OT. writings ; see the appendices to HPN. under Wry, btwy, my, 
miy, .TJjr, and nvn, also ib. pp. 210, 230. For earlier usage the only evi- 
dence is the name of king Uzziah who was also, and perhaps originally, 
known as 'Azariah, in the 8th cent., and viy on an ancient Hebrew seal ; 
Levy, Siegel u. Gemmen, 39-42. — 31. irmj'] S & EurDJf: cp. v. 36 &.— 
32. 'K'OT K'W] Dav. 34, R. 4. — mps] the cstr. would be easiest, if we might 
assume here the late Heb. use of the form to denote the holder of an 
office; cp. rhnp and Dr. L.O.T. 466; Strack and Siegfried, Neuhebr. 
Gramm. 68c. But mps nowhere else has this sense. If we retain the 
text and the sense which the word has elsewhere in these chapters (^ 
4 16 ), we must assume a loose cstr. of the ace: render "with the charge 
of." Paterson's conjecture, *?y ~ips, is not really supported by G. — 35. JKTix] 
(= "a (my) rock is God ") ; on the type of name, see above, p. 6. — Sttdn] 
ancient type of name (cp. HPN. 22-34) > tne actual instance only in P Ch. 
Esth. — 36. 'd '33 mows mpsi] variations in v. 25,31 . 

40-51. The number of the firstborn Israelites of the male 

in. 40-47 3 1 

sex above a month old is 22,273 5 °f these 22,000 are redeemed 
by the 22,000 Levites, the remainder at 5 shekels apiece. 
This money is given to the priests. The firstborn cattle of 
the Israelites is redeemed by the cattle of the Levites. 

For the unreality of the relation between the firstborn and 
the adults, see above, pp. 10-15. 

40. Their names] i 2 n. — 41. I am Yahwch] v. 13 n. — The cattle 
of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the cattle of the 
children of Israel] this is difficult, for the firstborn of cattle that 
could be offered were not redeemable (iS 15 - 17 ). It is question- 
able (with Di.) to limit "cattle" here to unclean cattle (Lev. 
27 s7 , Nu. 18 15 ). Baudissin [Priesterthum, 42 f.) thinks this 
passage later than the law requiring the sacrifice of all clean 
firstborn and of a period when that demand was no longer satis- 
fied in practice. Possibly we should assimilate this sentence to 
v. 45 by transposing riDm (omitting the prep. 3) before 1133 bl ; 
then render "the cattle of the Levites instead of the cattle of 
all the firstborn among the children of Israel " 1 the firstborn 
and all their belongings are regarded as properly forfeit to 
Yahweh ; the Levites and their belongings are substituted for 
them. — 45. Their cattle] if the text of v. 41 be correct we should 
expect here "the firstborn of their cattle," the pronoun refer- 
ring to the children of Israel. If the suggestion in the last n. 
be adopted, the pronoun refers to the firstborn Israelites. — 
47. The fine payable for redeeming a firstborn of men is 5 
shekels, i.e. about 12 shillings (a shekel = 2s. 5d.: Kennedy 
in Hastings' DB., s.v. "Money," iii. 422 f.). — By the poll] 
i 2 n. With clause b of the v. cp. Ex. 30 12 . 

42. twd] (£ L + prtNi; mx ffi L cnk. — 46. 'ui »ns tini] For this absolute or 
pendent ace. cp. Kon. iii. 3410 ; and for nnphi, Dr. Tenses, § 123. — wn? 
— also v. 48 '- 51 18 16 ; both the ground form (katfil) and the plural point to 
an abstract meaning (Barth, NB. 82^ ; Kon. iii. 261 ; cp. ii. 137 f.) ; but in 
this particular instance the word must have acquired a secondary concrete 
sense (otherwise Kon. iii. 260^/) : it does not mean either the act of 
ransoming or the state of being ransomed, but the ransom-price (Dietrich, 
Abh. z. hebr. Gram. 41 ; Ges.-Buhl, " Lose-geld "). — D'enyn] The root, which 
appears only in Kal (Ex. i6 23 26 ,2f -, Lev. 25", Nu. 3 46 - 48f -) and Hiph.(Ex. 16 18 ), 
is in OT. confined to P ; it reappears in the Mishnah. — 47. neon neon] For 
the suspended cstr., see Dav. 28, R. 6 ; for the repetition, Da v. 29, R. 8 (2). 
—48. ,v nc] resumes and defines «]D3n. — 49. o'visn] if the text be right, 


a parallel form in to pn? (Ex. 21 30 , Ps. 40 9 ) : La garde, Bildung d. 
Nomina, 1S6, 204. But probably the same form was originally read here 
as in v. 46 - 118 ; so S DTiBfl. — d-iStt "ns] "ns is here the pass, part., which is, 
however, used with a different meaning from mrr ,v ns Is. 35"'. — 51. D"ien] 
The K'tib may be pointed 0Vj9B, on which see v. 49 n.; K're and S both 
read plene rnsn, cp. v. 46 n. 

IV. — V. 1-33 Levites between thirty and fifty years of age 
to be numbered ; the transport duties of the Levites defined ; 
v> 34-49 results of the census. 

1. And Aaron] 3 s n. ; some Heb. MSS. and C Jer omit : but 
see de Rossi's note. 

2-20. The Kohathites. — In c. 3 the Gershonites, here the 
Kohathites, are first dealt with. With the priority given to 
the Kohathites here, cp. their superior position in the camp ; 
see above, p. 17 f. — 2b. 3 15 n. — 3. The census here required is 
of Levites qualified for service about the tabernacle. It thus 
corresponds to the census of the rest of Israel (c. 1). The 
same word (X3V) is used in both chapters, though RV. here 
renders by "service," there by ''war." Originally the word 
had reference to war (see phil. n.): its use of menial service 
about the tabernacle or temple is late ; for the verb so used, 
see 4 23 8 21 , Ex. 38 s , and the late gloss omitted in (G B in 1 S. 2 22 ; 
and for the noun, besides the present c, 8' 2iL — Two other 
and different regulations as to the period of Levitical service 
are found in OT. (1) Instead of being as here defined from 
thirty to fifty years of age, it was, according to 8 23-26 , from 
twenty-five to fifty, after which latter age a Levite might 
still render certain auxiliary services. (2) According to the 
Chronicler (1 Ch. 23 24 - 27 , 2 Ch. 31 17 , Ezr. 3 s ), from the time 
of David onwards the age of entrance on service was twenty, 
and there was no upward limit of disability. 

The simplest way of accounting for the differences would be to assume 
that they correspond to actual differences in the age ot service at the 
different periods to which the several references belong, i.e. that in the 
time of the Chronicler (c. 300 B.C.) the minimum age for Levitical service 
was twenty, and that at different times between about 500 and 300 B.C. it 
had been twenty-five and thirty respectively : so, e.g. , Kuenen, Hex. pp. 
93, 299; cp. Str. on 8 24 . Another view (Baudissin, Priesterthiim, 167 f.) 
is that the minimum of twenty years was actual, but that P's fixing of the 
minimum at thirty is part of his historical fiction, and due to his making 
allowance for the heavy work of transport (cp. 1 Ch. 23" 4ff ) ; then pos 

iv. i-4 33 

sibly the twenty-five of S 23 ' 26 is simply a mean struck by a later writer 
between the minimum of actual practice and that required by the law. Of 
barmonistic explanations it must suffice to mention one: the regulation 
of the present passage, it is said, is merely intended to be temporary, and 
has regard to the heavy work of transport ; on the other hand, g 23 " 26 
contains the permanent law regulating the years of service in and about 
the tabernacle, but not in the transport of it (so Keil). But this is to 
disregard the similarity in the definition of service in the two passages, 
and to limit unwarrantably the meaning of the expressions used in the 
present chapter — " all who enter into the service to do work (rottta nipy 1 ?) in 
the tent of meeting" v. 3 : " to perform work (map "I3J; 1 ?) in the tent of meet- 
ing," v. 23 ; " to perform the work of (maims* -\i'ih) the tent of meeting," v. 30 ; 
" all who worked in the tent of meeting," v. 37 . (Gr throughout this chapter 
substitutes "twenty-five" for "thirty," thus assimilating the present pas- 
sage to 8 " n " 26 . The reason for doing this, rather than correcting 8 23 " 26 to 
agree with the present chapter, would be clear if we could assume that 
"twenty-five" was the actual age of service at the time of the Greek 
Version. Is 8 23 " 26 later than Chronicles ? and was the age which had been 
lowered from thirty to twenty between the times of Ezra and the Chronicler 
on account of the scarcity of Levites (cp. Kue. toe. cit.), once again raised 
subsequently to twenty-five when the number of Levites had been increased 
by the assimilation of the singers and others (cp. We. Proleg.* p. 145)? 
The data are insufficient for a decisive answer. 

4. The most holy things] the phrase D"KHpn CHp, which is 
variously applied (frequently, e.g., to the inner part of the 
tabernacle, Ex. 26 s3 ) refers here, as the following vv. ex- 
plain, to the furniture and instruments of the tabernacle : 
cp. Ex. 30 29 . See, further, Baudissin, Sttidien, ii. 52-54. — 
5 ff. The most holy thing's which the Kohathites had to carry 
fall into six groups : all alike, before the camp moved, had to 
be covered up by the priests that the Kohathites might not see 
them, and were then so carried by the Kohathites that they 
did not actually touch the sacred objects themselves. The six 
groups of most holy things are as follows: — (1) the ark, v. 6 ; 
(2) the table of the presence, its utensils (Ex. 25 29 ), and the 
perpetual bread, v. 7 ; (3) the candlestick and the utensils 
connected with it, v. 9 ; (4) the golden altar, v. 11 ; (5) the 
utensils of ministration ... in the sanctuary, v. 12 ; (6) the 
altar (of burnt-offering), and the vessels and instruments 
attached to it, v. 13f -. These various things, or groups of 
things, were all alike packed in a wrapping of " tahash" 
skin (v. 6 - 8 - 10 - nt 14f -) ; and, in every case except that of the ark, 
this wrapping formed the outer covering. On the other hand, 



the ark was first covered with the veil (see on 3 31 ), then with the 
" tahash skin" wrapping - , and, finally, with a cloth of blue 
(v. 6 ). Thus, on the march, the blue outer covering at once 
distinguished the ark from all the other sacred objects. All 
the rest of the (main) objects except the altar of burnt-offering, 
whose inner covering was a purple cloth, v. 13 , were first 
wrapped in blue cloth, v. 7, 9 - 11 - 12 . The table of presence, like 
the ark, had, in all, three wrappings. It was covered with 
the blue cloth, then the vessels attached to it were packed on 
it and the whole wrapped in a scarlet cloth, and, finally, in the 
"tahash skin" wrapping. The motive for these differences, 
except in the case of the bright external covering of the ark, is 
not obvious. The candlestick and the objects connected with 
it and the vessels of ministration were carried on frames speci- 
ally provided for them, v. 10 - 12 . The remaining objects were 
carried by means of the staves with which they had been 
provided at the time of making. — 6. Tahash-skin\ the precise 
meaning of the Heb. phrase, skin of tahash , is uncertain. The 
ancient versions incorrectly took tahash to be a colour. From 
the time of the scholars of the Talmud downwards it has been 
customary to see in tahash the name of an animal ; if this be 
right, some marine animal of the dolphin kind seems most 
probable ; in Arabic tuhas = " a dolphin." Recently it has been 
suggested that the word is a loan from the Egyptian ths = 
" Egyptian leather." * Since the OT. writers who refer to this 
skin are Ezekiel and P, it may be an article with the use of 
which the Jews first became familiar in exile. — And shall put 
in the staves thereof "] so RV. ; if this means that the staves 
were removed during packing and then again placed through 
the rings (Ex. 25 14 ), for which holes could be made in the 
wrappings, it conflicts with Ex. 25 15 , which forbids the removal 
of the staves : such a conflict is perfectly possible, for the 
two passages are doubtless from different hands. But the 
vb. QW is of a general significance, and certainly might be 

* For various suggestions, see Fried. Delitzsch in Baer's Ezek. p. 
xvif., and Proleg. 77 ff. ; Nold. in ZDMG. xl. 732; Levvysohn, Zoologie 
des Talm. 95-98, 152; Toy's note in Ezekiel (SBOT. Eng.), 123-126; and 
for an excellent summary, art. " Badger" in EBi. 

iv. 6-i6 35 

rendered " adjust " ; but could any "adjustment " of poles under 
three wrappings make them convenient for holding? — 7. The 
table of the presence] RV. in rendering "... of shewbread" 
assumes that the unique phrase D H 3QH |n?B> is an abbreviation 
of D'jan Drip 'B\ This is unnecessary ; it may well mean the 
table of the face or presence of Yahweh. On the table, see Ex. 
2 -23ff. # — ^he dishes and the cups and the cans and the bowls] see 
Ex. 25 29 , where the last two articles are mentioned in reverse 
order. For the present order, Ex. 37 16 . — The continual bread] 
i.e. the shewbread (Ex. 25 30 , Lev. 24 5 ~ 9 ). The phrase 0i"6 
T»nn is used here only, but is readily explained by Ex. 25 30 . 
—8. Its staves] Ex. 25 28 .— 9. Ex. 25 31 - 38 . The full phrase, the 
candlestick of the light (TlNOn mjo), is only found here and in 
Ex. 35 14 (P s ).— 10. The frame] see phil. note.— 11. The golden 
altar] Ex. 39 s8 4o 5 - 26 , i.e. the altar of burnt incense (Ex. 30 lff -) ; 
see Introd. § 11. — Its staves] Ex. 30 4f -. — 12. The utensils of ser- 
vice] i.e. the utensils used by the priests in their sacred service, 
3 31 n. — 13. The altar] of burnt-offering, Ex. 27^. — Its staves] 
Ex. 27 6f - At the end of the verse S G add — "And they shall 
take a purple cloth and cover the laver and its base [Ex. 30 17 ], 
and they shall put them within a covering of tahash skin, 
and they shall put them on the frame." The addition, with 
which cp. 3 31 n., was naturally suggested by such catalogues 
as Ex. 3 o26-29 3I 7-9 35 iiff. ^i-u Lev< 8 10f -.— 15. Afterwards the 
sons of Kohath shall come to carry them ; without, however, 
touching the holy things, and so suffering death] the negative 
clause is not, as the translations usually make it, adversative, 
but circumstantial (Dr. Tenses, § 159); it defines the manner 
in which the Levites are to carry the holy things, viz. by 
the staves or frames, without touching the sacred objects 
themselves ; cp. 18 3 . For the mortal effect of touching a 
sacred object, cp. 2 S. 6 6f -. — The holy things] Vipn is used 
collectively of sacred objects, the more precise denotation of 
the term being suggested by the context (cp. Lev. 5 1(i ) : so 
several times in this and following chapters, v. 16 - 20 7 9 8 19 . 
— 16. Corresponds to the briefer statements of v . 28b - 33b that 
the Gershonites and Merarites were under the general super- 
vision of Ithamar. Ele'azar's duties consist of the general 


oversight of the tabernacle and all its sacred objects, and the 
special and immediate care of certain things that are specified, 
viz. — (i) the oil for the light (Ex. 27 20 ) ; (2) the incense of sweet 
perfume (Ex. 25" 30 3iff -) ; (3) the continual meal-offcri?ig (Neh. 
io 34 ), which is not mentioned elsewhere in the Pentateuch 
by this term, but is identical either with the meal-offering 
that accompanied the burnt-offering which was offered twice 
daily (Ex. 2o, 3S - 40 ), and is often {e.g. Nu. 28 10 , Neh. io 33(34) ) 
called the continual burnt-offering (TDnn n?>'), or, more prob- 
ably, with the meal-offering offered daily by ''the anointed 
priest" on behalf of himself and the other priests (Lev. 6 13 " 15 
(20-22)) . ( 4 ) tke ano i ni i ng u (Ex. so 2 -*-).— 17-20. An ampli- 
fication in the form of a direct command of what is referred 
to parenthetically in v. 15 . The section is possibly an inter- 
polation : it is marked by certain stylistic peculiarities (see 
phil. notes). — 20. They shall not see the sacred things . . . and 
so die] for the mortal effect of looking at a sacred object, cp. 
1 S. 6 19 . 

2. Nb'i] Inf. abs. with imperative force (Dav. 8SA, R. 2); so also v. 21 ; 
but the imperative is used in 1- 3 40 . — 3. n?> -1 ? N3 bz] in v. : " M 39 ^ Nin *?2 
M3¥?, in v.- 3 (also v. 30 5) N3S tizifb «2n ^3; (£ assimilates the phrase in 
all six passages — iras 6 eiairopevbixevos \eirovpyeiv. The ideas of fighting 1 , 
army, military service are connected with the root X3a over so wide an 
area of the Semitic field that they must have become attached to it at an 
early period. The Assyr. sdbu means "a warrior," also "an army'' 

(Del.); Arabic U«i = "to lie in wait for," and in 'Urwa, 3 s (cited by 

Mold. ZDMG. xl. 726) = ^ li = " to make a raid " ; South- Arabian K2S= 
" to fight " (Hommel, Siid-Arab. Chrest. p. 125); Eth. f)| \f\ = "towage 
war." From this alone we might surmise that in Heb. the sense of 
"military service" was earl)', and, since the use of the root for service 
in general, or liturgical service in particular, is not common in the cog- 
nate languages, that the use of the word for the service of the tabernacle 
was a later extension of the meaning. As a matter of fact, N3i> is con- 
stantly used in connection with warfare in early Hebrew (cp. e.g. 2 S. 
2 8 io 7 , Is. 31 4 ) ; it retained this connotation in the later periods of the 
language (see, e.g., Zech. 14 12 , Nu. 1, and Ch. passim). But in P it is 
also frequently used, as in the present chapter, of service about the taber- 
nacle (references above). It is one of several interesting instances in 
which terms originating in the early and more warlike periods of Hebrew 
history, and retaining their military reference down to the close of the 
monarchy, took on after the Exile a fresh meaning, in consequence of the 
change from a national society under a monarchy to a religious com- 

iv. i 7 -2o $7 

munity under a hierarchy. Cp. fljmjl in early Hebrew="the alarum of 
war"; but after the Exile =" the sound of the temple trumpets": cp. 
Nowack, Arch. ii. no. — 5. N3i] Dr. § ngj3. — 6. *1D3] also v. 14 f, in S also in 
v. 8 before "U3 ; cp. Mand. tnD3 (cited by Barth, 124a'). Synonyms are nQ3p 
Gn. 8 13 (J) and 15 times in P (many of the instances in secondary strata) ; 
.-I;-": Ezek. jj 7 , Is. 14 11 23 18 , and, in a special sense (cp. Ex. 29™), Lev. o. 19 t ; 
and ni33, which appears to have been the form in common use in earlier 
Heb. (Gn. 20 1(i E ; Ex. 21 10 22 26 , Dt. 22 12 ), though it continued in use in and 
after the Exile (Is. 50 3 , Job 24' 26 s 31 19 t).— lsinsi] ffi S Hand one or two Heb. 
MSS. +vhv; cf. v. 8 P?.— nbn ^?3] = " wholly blue" (Dav. 24a?).— 10. ainn] 
v. '-(and in the addition to S in v. 14 ), 13 23 and (in the sense of "yoke") 
Nah. i 13 f. noiD is more frequent, and is used specifically, in the pi., of 
the three bars (nam) of which a yoke consisted, and, in the sing., with 
primary reference to the most important part of the yoke, the cross-bar 
(hdid). Whatever may have been the original meaning of bid (and on this 
cp. KSnig, iii. 2436), here and in v. 12 the context requires, and in 13 23 is 
best satisfied by, a word meaning something with a considerable flat 
surface on which a variety of objects could be placed and carried, <2r j& 
render "staff" or " pole," using the same word by which they render D'i3 
in v. 6 etc. — 12. rns : n -h^\ thus here only ; cp. 2 Ch. 24 14 niSyni ivw '^3. On 
the art. with the infin., see Konig, iii. 241^. — 15. wdi] Dr. Tenses, § 115, 
p. 133. — 16. mps] has two different senses in the same v., (1) things com- 
mitted to one's oversight; (2) oversight. — 16. vhjy\ BHp3]..the 3 specifies 
the parts, viz. the holy things and the vessels thereof (i.e. of the taber- 
nacle), of which the whole ("bpn ^31 or ptPDn ^3) consists : cp. Gn. 7 21 , Ex. 
12 19 , Nu. 31 26 , and BDB. p. 886. The usage is characteristic of P. — 18. 
im3n "?*<] though corresponding phrases with the Niph. are frequent in P 
{e.g. Gn. 17 14 , Ex. 12 15 ) and specially characteristic of H, the Hiph. of m3 
does not occur in P proper ; and in H, where we find it four times in 
a similar sense (Lev. 17 10 20 3 - 8 - 6 ), the subj. is always Yahweh. The 
following v. shows that we must understand the word of annihilation, not 
simply of loss of Levitical status, as the D"i?n "pnD might seem to imply ; 
cp. 9 13 n. — Tinpn nhsira B3C nx] appositional genitive, Konig, iii. 337c; cp. 
G.-K. 128,2. The use of B3C is remarkable. Regularly the word denotes 
one of the main tribes of Israel (e.g. Gn. 49 16 , Ex. 24 4 , 1 S. io 20 ) ; cp. n. 
on i 2 . Here it is used for a subdivision. The only other passages that 
imply such an usage are Jud. 20 12 , 1 S. 9 21 , which speak of the tribes 
('B3K') of Benjamin. But in both passages the pi. is probably due to cor- 
ruption: cp. Moore on Jud. 20 12 (p. 430). The only other instances of 
B3K- in P (who regularly uses .ibd ; cp. i 4 n.) are Ex. 28 21 39 14 , Nu. 18 2 32 s3 
36 :i , Jos. 4 81 ', i3 29 - 3:i and 21 16 ; for Bennett is no doubt right in assigning 
the six instances of £33^ in Jos. 22 to R ; and some of the above instances 
may, probably enough, be traced to the same origin : cp. 18 2 n. — nnscD 
•nnpn] also 3 27 - w 4 s7 , Jos. 2i 4,10 f: cp. 'pn nnsB'D 26 s7 ; a variant phrase is 
nnp '33 nnsB'D 3 2u , Jos. 2i 20,2tt , 1 Ch. 6 51 f. — 19. vrn] Driver, Tenses, § 112. 
— nN cnim] 1 S. 9 18 (but not 1 S. 30 21 where nx = with) also has n.x for ?n. 
But in both passages the Versions (and here S and many Heb. MSS. 
also) are probably right in reading b« ; cp. Dr. on 1 S. 9 18 . — im3j; Sy] 
ffi om. — 20. yVj?] lit. "for the likeness of a swallowing" (viz. of one's 


spittle, cp. Job 7 19 ) — a vivid phrase for a moment. For 3 as an ace. of 
time, cp. BDB. 45306. Somewhat differently K6nig, iii. 402^. 

21-28. The G-ershonites. — 23. Thou shall number them\ the 
phrase does not occur in the preceding- section, v. 3 , and is in 
a different position in the next, v. 29 . On some other varia- 
tions, cp. the notes in the preceding - section ; and on some 
minor details, see phil. notes below. — 25 f. Cp. 3 25 n. — 
25. The covering of tahash shin] Ex. 26 ub : this is not 
mentioned in 3 25 . — 26b. All that may have to be done with 
regard to them {i.e. the objects just mentioned) they (the 
Levites) shall perform. — 27b. And you shall appoint to them 
by name the things committed to their charge to carry] you shall 
specify in detail the various things they have to carry. So 
after (& and v. 32 $?. The subj. is either " Aaron and his sons" 
mentioned in clause a ; or, more probably, Moses and Aaron, 
this passage, like the rest of the chapter, having been origin- 
ally addressed to Aaron as well as Moses, who alone is men- 
tioned in v. 21 ; then the v. means that in the first instance 
Moses and Aaron are to specify the objects committed to 
the Gershonites, and that subsequently the priests are to give 
all further directions. 

23. 'a rruj; -nj/ 1 ?] cp. '3 njxba mvyh v. 3 ; msj? ns -ay 1 ? v. 30 . — 2i. nhEsra 
wun] so 'nnpn n v . 18 - 37 (see note on former v.), but ma '33 'd v. 33 . — 
kvdVi] used exactly like the inf. iiyh : cp. y?a io 2 , and see G.-K. 45?, 
115c?; Ryssel, De Elohista Sermone, 50, 68; Strack on this passage, 
and especially Konig, iii. 233^. —26. TJW] 3 25 omits. — vuyi] On the general 
principle of Waw conv. with pf. after various introductory phrases, see 
Driver, Tenses, 123 ; but instances of the direct obj. thus standing before 
the Waw are not common ; Ex. 4 21 with repetition of the obj. is rather 
different. — 28. '3BH3n '33] 1 Ch. 26 21 + ; similarly 'nnpn '33 only v. 34 and 
2 Ch. 29 12 . But the same writer sometimes curiously varies the different 
possible idioms in the same verse, cp. 2 Ch. 29 12 : see also phil. note on 
v. 18 ; and cp. below, v. 37 * 41 . 

29-33. — The Merarites. — 29. The section begins more 
abruptly than the two preceding, v. 1 - 21 . — Thou shall number] 
fflr "ye shall number," and so in v. 30 : cp. on v. 27 . — 31 f. 
Cp. 3 36f -. — 32b. Cp. v. 27 n. — Including all their accessories] 

32. »^3 nx] S <& "hi bj nx. Note also the expansions of v. 31f - in (5. 
34-49. The census. — On the numbers, see above, pp. 10-15. 

iv. 2i-v. 39 

—34. The princes of the congregation] the same phrase, of 
a different set of men, in 16 2 , Ex. 16 22 . ffi here has "the 
princes of Israel": cp. 46 i 44 7 2 n. %. — 41. At the end of 
the v. G adds—" by the hand of Moses " : cp. v. 37 - 45 .— 49. The 
v. is manifestly more or less corrupt, and cannot be intel- 
ligibly rendered : RV. is not a translation, especially in 
clause b. Possibly n^'D TO has fallen out of place, l'HpBl is a 
misplaced fragment, and ~lt?N an error for ")B>6tt (S ffi S) ; 
then render — According to the commandment of Yahweh, 
by the hand of Moses, they were appointed every one to his 
proper service and bjirden, as Yahweh commatided Moses. 
For the indef. subj. of ipD see Dav. io8a, and for bv 1pQ 27 16 . 

34. mbi] v. 88 - 46 ; <& S> rra<?: cp. v. 2 - 42 $.— 37. nws ra <"' 'a by] <"< 'a by 
frequent in P, uncommon elsewhere (L.O.T. 134, No. 41). Combined with 
WDTva, it is entirely peculiar to P — 4 s7 - ( 41 (5) 45 g 23 io 13 , Jos. 22 9 f, and, 
perhaps, originally in v. 4a ; see above. Instead of ntrD Ta, 3 16 has fijst WK3 
and 3 51 nee nx , "' ms ntfNa. — 46. D'l^n hn] For the noun rather than the 
pronoun completing- "ipn, cp. 33 4 , Ex. 25 s ; Konig, iii. 414^. — 47. Nan bi] 
£? + mxb : cp. v. 3 n. 

V. VI. Miscellaneous Laws and Regulations. 

(1) Seclusion of unclean persons from the camp, 5 1 " 4 ; (2) 
some priestly dues, v. 5-9 ; (3) the ordeal of jealousy, v. 11-31 ; 
(4) the Nazirite, 6 1-21 ; (5) the priestly blessing-, v. 22-27 . 

The first of these sections, all of which are introduced 
by P's characteristic formula (CH. 185a), would have formed 
a suitable conclusion to the description of the camp order, 
and the last might have rounded off the same subject. It 
is not impossible, therefore, that both formed the conclusion 
in P g of the description of the camp now found in c. 1-4 ; 
though some, considering it merely supplemental, have 
referred the first to P s .* It is quite improbable that any of 
the remaining sections, which have as little relation to the 
preceding and following chapters (7. 8. 9 or 10) as they 
have to one another, formed part of P g (Introd. § 12); s 5 "" 8 
as supplemental to Lev. 5 20 -' 26 (6 1-7 ) is P s ; the rest, by no 
means clearly secondary in substance, P x . 

* Kue. Hex. 91-93 ; CH. 


1-4. Every one that is leprous, or suffers from a discharge, 
or is unclean through contact with the dead, is to be secluded 
from the camp in order to preserve the sanctity conferred on it 
by Tahweh's presence undefiled (cp. Lev. 15 31 ). — For details 
as to uncleanness from leprosy, see Lev. 13; from discharges, 
Lev. 15 ; from contact with the dead, Nu. 19. All three 
forms of uncleanness are contagious (Lev. i3 45f - i5 4ff -, Nu. 19 22 ) ; 
but the laws (P x ) just referred to do not require exclusion 
from the camp except in the case of leprosy ; and the clauses 
demanding or implying exclusion even in that case may be 
editorial additions (so Baentsch). Some (e.g. Di.) attempt 
to account for the greater stringency of the present law by 
assuming that the laws of uncleanness have general validity, 
but that this law applies only to the military camp. There 
is, however, no justification in the text for this limitation, 
nor does the reference to women (v. 3 ) favour it : ct., moreover, 
the terms of Dt. 23 10(9) , "when thou goest forth (i.e. to war) 
as a camp." But it is true that the Hebrews, like many other 
peoples,* were subject in war to special taboos, including regu- 
lations as to uncleanness (Dt. 2o 1-9 23 10_15 ^ 9_14) , 1 S. 2i 6ff -, 2 S. 
li 11 " 13 ). Reminiscences of such actual though special taboos 
may have furnished the writer with the regulations which he 
here represents as of general validity in the wilderness in order 
to heighten his picture of the holiness of the camp. Leprosy 
in general involved seclusion (i2 10ff - (E) 2 K. y' 3 15 ) ; seclusion 
from the military camp on account of natural discharges is 
referred to in the references above ; and some local or special 
custom in ancient Israel may well have required the seclusion 
of women at menstruation, who fall under the second class 
of unclean persons here enumerated (Lev. 15 19 " 24 ); for the 
seclusion of such is widely practised, and in particular 
" Maimonides tells us that down to his time it was a common 
custom in the East to keep women at their periods in a 
separate house," f just as the leprous Uzziah was kept. 

* For a large collection of parallels, see Schvvally, Semitische Kriegs- 
altert hunter, 59-99- 

t Frazer, Go/den Bough, iii. 224; for similar practices, cp. ib. 222 ff . ; 
also Halevy in Revue Se'mitique, vii. 274. The reference to Maimonides 
is Moreh Nebuchim, iii. 47. 

V. 1-6 4 1 

2. inSen V 'J3 nx is] a rare formula : cp. Ex. 27 20 , Lev. 24 s , Jos. 4 16 . 
Commoner is *?K "im followed by the persons addressed and Waw with 
the voluntative — Ex. 6 11 14."- 15 2s 2 , Lev. 16' 2 22 2 , Nu. 19 2 (all P) : cp. 
Ex. 11 2 (E). — ersib ndb] cp. u ; ;j no? Lev. 22 4 (H), Hag-. 2 ,s . In 9 6f - the 
present cstr. is repeated, but VB1 is defined by DiK. CE3 in these phrases 
means either (1) the soul of the dead person, or, as we should say, the 
ghost — in particular, perhaps, the soul tarrying in or near the body that 
has ceased to breathe, but is yet unputrefied (Schwally, Das Leben nach 
dem Tode, 7 f.), or (2) the corpse; this does more justice to the language 
of 19 13 (cp. n. on 19 11 ). For vti of a material representative of the 
deceased, cp. the widespread use of the word for a monument on a grave, 
one NX'2: being erected for each person buried in the grave : cp. Duval in 
Revue Se'mitique, ii. 259-263, and, as illustrations, 1 Mac. i3 27f- (Syr. and 
Gr.); CIS. ii. 162, 196.— 3. rnmh pro Sn] CH. i2o p .— -pro] sing. : G.-K. 
93> § 5- — 3b. For the formula, see CH. i89 H . 

5-10. Some priestly dues. — 5b-8. A law supplemental to 
Lev. 5 20 - 26 (6 1 " 7 ). It is there provided that any man voluntarily 
confessing - to the wrongful possession of property must return 
'he property + a fifth of its value to the rightful owner, 
ind, in addition to this, offer to Yahweh, as an 'dsham or 
guilt-offering, an unblemished ram. Provision is now made 
that if the rightful owner be dead, and there also be no next- 
of-kin {goel) to whom the property can be restored, it is to 
become the priest's. — Any sin that men commit\ lit. " any sins 
of men." (Er RV. rightly interpret if the gen. be subjective; 
others, "any of the sins committed against men"; but see 
phil. n. — In breaking faith "with Vahweh] Sins against man, 
shown by the context at least to be intended here, and faith- 
lessness to Yahweh are similiarly connected in Lev. 5 21 . It is 
possible to sin against God without sinning against man 
(Ps. 5i 6 ^), but all sins against man are also sins against 
God. Hence, after the offender lias made restitution to the 
wronged man or his representative, he offers God a guilt- 
offering, v. 8 , Lev. 5 25 Both implications — that God is 
offended with wrong done to man, and that restitution must 
be made before the rite of atonement — are of importance in 
estimating the value and character of the later Jewish law : 
cp. Mt. 5 23f- . — And that person incur guilt] e.g. by any of the 
wrongs referred to in Lev. 5 21f -, such as the denial of the 
receipt of a deposit, or of the finding of lost goods. For 
similar uses of the phrase "to incur guilt," cp. Lev. 4 13 - 22 5*; 


for "soul" (S5>33) with the meaning- of "person, any one," 
9 13 15 30 , Gn. 17 14 ; the usage is frequent in P: CH. i46 p , 
BDB. 660a. — 7. T/ieti they shall con/ess] the other instances 
in which confession is definitely commanded will be found in 
Lev. 5 5 16 21 : cp. Jacob, ZATW. 1897, pp. 60-62. — That which 
he has wrongfully in his possession] such must be the meaning 
of the Heb. DL'-'X here and in v. 8 , though it is found nowhere 
else. — In full] lit. "with its head." For some parallel 
idiomatic uses, see phil. n. to i 2 . For the principle of re- 
paying f , cp. Lev. 5 24 (6 5 ) ; and for the same fraction in other 
connections {e.g. in certain cases of redemption), see Lev. 22 14 
27 13 - 27 - 31 . — 8. But if the man (be dead and) have no next-of- 
kin to whom the property wro?igfully held may be restored, the 
property wrongfully held which is to be restored (becomes) 
YahweJis, the priest's, over and above the ram of propitiation 
with which he (the priest) makes propitiation for him {i.e. the 
man who has confessed his error). The property becomes 
the priest's as Yahweh's proxy, Lev. 2^. — The ram of 
propitiation] the ram which formed the guilt-offering. The 
phrase (□'mSDn ^s) occurs here only. The ram becomes the 
property of the priest according to the general law, Lev. y 7 . — 
9f. Every sacred gift which falls to the priest becomes the 
property of the particular priest to whom it is offered, not 
of the whole priestly community : cp. Lev. 7 7 ~ 9 - M , and ct. 
Lev. 7 6 - 10 6 11 ; for differences of usage in this matter are found 
within the Levitical legislation ; see Baentsch on the passages 
just cited, and Baudissin, Priesterthum, 40. The present 
passage appears to be a fragment ; its very general terms 
may have been better defined by the original context, just as 
1 8 s is defined by i8 9ff \ — And every contribution, even all the 
holy things] the two terms are best taken as coextensive, 
as in 18 8 . The sacred gifts are represented under two 
aspects — as removed from the mass of a man's property, and 
as rendered holy by being dedicated to Yahweh. EV. ren- 
ders frumah by the misleading equivalent "heave-offering": 
see i5 19 n., and Dr. Deut. 142. Some such word as "contribu- 
tion " or "portion " serves best, whether friimah is used in the 
wide sense of any contribution made for sacred purposes {e.g. 

v. 7-io 43 

I5 19 "* 1 . Ex. 25 2f ), or in the special sense of the portion 
removed from the whole sacrifice as the priest's due (Lev. 
7 U - 32 - 34 ). Equally comprehensive is the term " holy things " 
(D^KHp) : cp. Ex. 28 s8 ; and for details, see Baudissin, Studien, 
ii. 44. — 10. And as for every man's holy things, they shall be 
his (the priest's) : whatsoever any man gives to the priest, his 
[i.e. that particular priest's) shall it be. 

6. '»' '33 h« "ia"i] add. ton 1 ? (S) or mDNi (cp. v. u ) with ffi. lj is unique, 
for the formula . . . Vx 13T is, except in the peculiar case of 17 17 , always 
followed either (1) by TDK 1 ? (Ex. 16 12 , Lev. 4 2 6 18 7 23 - = 9 12- 21 17 2 4 M - M , 
Nu. 9'° 6 23 , Jos. 20 2 f), cp. in commands to Moses and Aaron {i.e. after 
•?Ki-m), Ex. 12 3 , Lev. n 2 t; or (2) by F!»$] (Lev. i 2 17 2 18 2 19 2 22 18 23- 10 
25 2 27 2 , Nu. 5 12 6 2 8-' is 2 - 18 - i8 33 51 35'° t), cp. ornDxi . . . rm Lev. 15 2 ; or (3) 
by Waw and the voiuntative ; see note on v. 2 .— ncx in B"n] is prefixed (cp. 
Dav. 130, R. 5), as here, to the subordinate sentence, Lev. 13 29 , Nu. 6- 
(followed by sing, verb or pron.), Lev. 13 38 20 27 (followed, as here, by pi.). 
The prefixing of the subj. to the conditional particle is critically signifi- 
cant ; ct. Ex. 2 1 7 and other passages in Book of the Covenant; and see 
i9 14 n., Konig, iii. 341 n. — icy] The pi. is justified by the instances just cited : 
(K translates by a singular (cp. Lev. 1 3 s8 and ct. 20 27 ), and turns all the 
remaining plurals in v. 6f - by singulars. The changes of number in %} are 
remarkable, but scarcely unparalleled ; cp. Ew. 319a. — nNBn bio] "any one 
of the sins " ; cp. Lev. 5 s4 . See Konig, iii. 81-83 5 and C P- the use of 

,y (Wright, ii. 48 f., R. b ; BDB. 581a).— din nxvn] the gen. after rmen is 
so generally subjective (cp. e.g. Gn. 31 36 50 17 , 1 S. 20 1 — all instances, as the 
context shows, of sins against men) that it probably is so intended here. 
If objective (Dav. 23), cp. 'Don (Gn. i6 5 )="the violence done to me." — 

9. 'p hib norm Vai] the explicative h = even, namely, to -wit : cp. Ex. 28 s8 , 
Lev. 5 3 ; BDB. 5146.- n?n' ih . . . nonn h^i] one of the numerous instances in 
which b n'n does not agree with its (apparent) subject : cp. 9 14 is 2 *, Ex. 12 49 
28 7 , Dt. 18 2 ; the grammatical subject is rather the real object of the 
verbal idea: cp. Ew. 295^; G.-K. 145M. Otherwise Konig, iii. 345^.— 

10. vcnp nx cn] Dav. 11, R. id; 72, R. 4. 

11-31. The ordeal of jealousy. 

Literature. — The Mishnah tractate -SofrrA (ed. Surenhusius, iii. 178-321, 
containing Wagenseil's Commentary) ; Philo, De special 'ibus Legions, c. 10 
(Mangey, 308-310) ; Josephus, Ant. iii. ii 6 ; Spencer, De Legibns, bk. iii. 
c. ii. § 3 adji?i. ; Bahr, Symbolik, ii. 441-447 ; Stade, Die Eiferopferthora 
in ZATW. xv. (1895) 166-178. 

A woman suspected of adultery, which cannot be legally 
proved, may be subjected to an ordeal. For this purpose her 
husband, who must bring with him an offering of barley meal, 
which is termed " a meal-offering of jealousy, a meal-offering 


of memorial bringing' guilt to remembrance," must bring- her 
to the priest. The priest brings her before Yahweh, makes 
her take an oath of purgation, and then gives her to drink a 
potion described as "the water of bitterness that causeth the 
curse," and consisting of " holy water" with which dust from 
the floor of the tabernacle has been mingled, and into which 
the written words of the oath have been washed. If the 
woman be guilty the potion proves harmful ; if innocent, 
harmless ; in the latter case, moreover, the woman becomes 

The custom here regulated has innumerable analogies in 
practices generally prevalent in antiquity, and still prevalent 
over large parts of the world. The essential element in the 
custom is that the accused in test of his innocence subjects 
himself to a hazard, whether that consists, as here, in drinking 
a potion, being flung into deep water, walking over hot 
ploughshares, holding heated metal in the hand, or the like. 
Such customs figure prominently in the ancient Indian law 
books, are not infrequently alluded to by the classical writers 
of Greece and Rome, formed a regular feature in European 
life down through the Middle Ages, and still have a wide 
prevalence, especially in Africa. 

One or two illustrations are cited below. For others, reference can be 
made to The Laws of Manu, viii. 1 14-1 16 (SB E. xxv. 274), and the Institutes 
of Vishnu, ix-xiv (SBE. vii. 52-61), for Indian custom ; to Frazer's 
Pausanias, Description of Greece, iv. 175 f. (n. on vii. 25. 13) and iv. 253-255 
(n. on viii. 17), and Funkhanel's article in Philologus, ii. (1847) 385-402 
(which also contains some good remarks on the connection between oaths 
and ordeals), for instances in Greek and Roman authors ; to Living-stone, 
Missionary Travels in South Africa (1857), 434, 631, and A. M. Post, 
Afrikanische furisprudenz, ii. 1 10-120, for African custom ; and generally 
to Tylor's article "Ordeal" in EB., and Bastian, Der Mensch in der 
Geschichte, ii. 210 f. A peculiarly interesting- parallel is cited by the 
last named (from Japan) : the accused drinks water in which paper 
inscribed with bird-characters ( Vogelcharakteren) has been dipped ; this 
causes him pain in his body till he confesses. 

The Priestly Code alone among the Hebrew law books, 
and that only in the present section (P x ), contains a law of the 
ordeal ; and the allusions to the custom in the OT. are at 
most but few. The presentation of incense by Korah and his 

v. ii— 31 45 

company (c. 16) is a story best accounted for by assuming 
that the ordeal was a familiar custom not confined to cases of 
suspected unchastity. It is possible that familiarity with the 
custom also accounts for Ps. ioo, 18b , Pr. 6 27-29 . More direct 
and unambiguous allusions are not found. 

And yet there are reasons for concluding that the ordeal 
was more frequent, at least in early Israel, than this unique 
law would at first lead us to expect, and that the practice of 
it with the Hebrews, as with other peoples among whom it 
prevailed, was not limited to cases of unchastity. 

For (i) the Hebrews also used other modes of obtaining 
the direct decision of the deity in cases of doubt, and one in 
particular which is among other peoples found closely con- 
nected with the ordeal, viz. the oath of purgation (Ex. 
22 9f. (iof.) } j k. g3i) t j n w hat mode the decision of the deity is 
given in the case of Ex. 22 7f - (8f - ) is not distinctly stated, 
whether by the oath, as in the next case (Di.), or by the 
priestly oracle (Baentsch), or by ordeal. 

The connection of oath and ordeal is well illustrated by Manu's Law 
(viii. 109-116): "If two (parties) dispute about matters for which no 
witnesses are available, and the (judge) is unable to really ascertain the 
truth, he may cause it to be discerned even by an oath. . . . Let the 
(judge) cause the Brahmana to swear by his veracity, a Kshatriya by his 
chariot," and so of the other castes ; then, in immediate sequence, " or the 
(judge) may cause the (party) to carry fire or to dive unuer water, or 
severally to touch the heads of his wives and children. He whom the 
blazing fire burns not, whom the water forces not to come (quickly) up, 
who meets with no speedy misfortune, must be held innocent on (the 
strength of) his oath." The methods of Yahweh's decision in the early 
law book is left entirely undetermined or is barely alluded to, just as the 
detailed ritual of sacrifice is omitted even from Dt., though both methods 
and details of necessity existed in reality. The later law book (P) records 
the details of sacrificial ritual and of the particular ordeal which perhaps 
alone maintained its existence after the Exile. Buhler's remarks on the 
parallel silence or brevity of the earlier and the fulness of the later Indian 
codes in the matter of ordeals are instructive (SBE. xxv. p. cif. ). 

(2) The double term for the accompanying offering is 
noticeable. It is " the offering of jealousy " ; it is also " the 
offering of memorial, bringing guilt to remembrance." Neither 
term occurs elsewhere ; yet the latter looks like the species, 
the former like the sub-species ; this is so in any case, and 


especially if Stade's analysis, noticed below, be adopted. But 
the term for the species seems to indicate that the offering's 
covered by it were made when a decision was required of 
the deity in cases of doubt, of which the doubt of jealousy is 
but one. Stade observes further, "The difference drawn in 
Lev. 7 10 [see below on v. 15 ] would be much more easily 
explained if the meal-offering - without oil and frankincense 
were used in more than the special cases of Lev. 5 11 , Nu. 
5 11-31 . But this would be the case if we assume that the 
jroin nmo was employed in other cases as well as that of 
suspected adultery." 

(3) W. R. Smith (Rel. Sem. 2 181) interprets the names En- 
Mishpat and Me Merfbah (i.e. well of judgment and waters of 
controversy) with reference to the use of the springs at Kadesh 
in decisions by ordeal. The names outlived the practice, and 
are possibly not of Hebrew origin (EBi. s.v. " Names," 
§ 89-91); yet their significance, taken in connection with the 
foregoing considerations, is not to be overlooked. 

If the force of the preceding argument be admitted, it will 
not be denied that the custom of ordeal among the Hebrews 
goes back to the remotest period of their history. It survived, 
at least in a particular instance, as the incorporation of the 
present law in P shows, into the post-exilic period. It was 
an illegitimate conclusion of Ewald's (Alterthumer? 275), 
even on his theory of the pre-exilic origin of P, that the custom 
fell into early disuse ; for the Nazirite's vow, like the ordeal 
of jealousy, finds a place in P alone of the Codes, and yet we 
have proof positive that it was practised long after the 
Exile (below, p. 57 f.). There is no evidence as to when the 
ordeal of jealousy fell into disuse, except the statement of the 
Mishnah [Sotah g 9 ), which may be taken for what it is worth, 
that Johanan b. Zaccai, who flourished in the last third of 
the 1st century a.d., abolished it. Some of the additional 
details given in Sotah, though not always consistent with the 
apparent intention of the biblical text, may rest on the actual 
practice of the 1st century a.d., though much is somewhat 
clearly mere theoretical discussion. It is doubtful, however, 
whether the Protevangelium (c. 16) in making Joseph as well 

v. ii— 3i 47 

as Mary drink tV waters, rests on actual custom : cp. v. 31 
below and note. 

The ordeal rests in principle on modes of thought and 
belief far more ancient than the religion of Israel. Modern 
anthropological study has abundantly justified the judgment 
of the great Cambridge divine of the 17th century: "Cum 
itaque gentes plerseque, mediis hujusmodi prodigiosis, inno- 
centiaa in dubium vocatEe experimentum caperent ; probabiliter 
arbitremur, hunc morem, diu ante Mosis aetatem, inter gentes 
invaluisse ; et Deum aquam zelotypiae Judseis concecisse, ne 
privilegium aut miraculum aliquod inter gentes familiare 
populo suo deesse videretur" (Spencer, De Legibus, p. 657, 
Cambridge edition, 1727). 

The origin of the law must constantly be borne in mind 
in attempting to interpret its religious significance, and to 
estimate its place in the religion of Israel. A rite incor- 
porated, as in the present case, from ineradicable popular 
custom into an essentially alien religious system passes, in 
respect to its meaning, through three stages : in the first 
stage it possesses a definite meaning; in the second it is 
deprived of this and, perhaps, of all meaning ; in the third it 
has read into it a variety of new meanings consonant with 
the religious belief of the times, and, generally, completely 
at variance with the original significance. So in the present 
instance : the potion was originally believed to be the actual 
cause of harm to the guilty woman ; when the rite was 
assimilated to Yahwistic belief, the potion becomes a meaning- 
less survival ; for it is Yahweh who causes the harm (v. 21 ) ; 
finally, various symbolical meanings are read into this as into 
other parts of the ritual ; as, for example, by Philo, who 
explains that the water used is pure and living ((5's equi- 
valent for the holy water of ^ being vScop icaBapov %6)v), " since 
a blameless woman is pure as to her life, and deserves to live," 
and that the dust mingled with it is taken from the temple 
as being on that account "most excellent, just as a modest 
woman is." All three stages may very well be represented in 
different classes of the same age; at the very time that Philo and 
the Palestinian doctors were finding meanings for the several 


details of the ritual, to many of the people they either retained 
some shadow of their original meaning, or had ceased to have 
any at all ; just as the practice of turning to the East, filled by 
the reflective with a Christian meaning, to the mass of the un- 
reflecting laity means nothing, and among some Christian sects 
has retained, at least till recent times, something of the sig- 
nificance given to it by the sun-worship from which it sprang.* 
Just as myths, not of Hebrew origin, like those of Creation 
and the Flood, as they gained currency among the Hebrews, 
gradually exchanged their originally polytheistic for a mono- 
theistic setting, and thus became a fit vehicle for the truths 
of the Hebrew religion ; so rites such as the present, or that 
of the red cow (c. 19), or of the "scape-goat" (Lev. 16), 
or of the purification of the leper (Lev. 14 4-7 ), not deriving 
their origin from the belief in Yahweh, were accommodated 
to it at the cost of some modifications, and with some incon- 
gruous results. The first essential in the present case was 
that those who used the ordeal should feel that the decision 
was Yahweh's decision (cp. Dt. iS" Jff -, Is. 8 19 ), the judgment 
due to Yahweh's activity. This involved obtaining the 
decision at Yahweh's (one) sanctuary, and this in turn the 
bringing of an offering. Again, the place whence the dust 
(and probably also whence the water) was taken is a modifica- 
tion of the original requirements. The present law may 
embody other modifications of the original, which can no 
longer be detected with certainty. 

In this connection a suggestion made to me by the Rev. H. W. 
Robinson seems worthy of consideration. In the original rite administered 
in cases of suspicion aroused by pregnancy the water may have been 
credited with positive virtue in the case of guilt ; being supposed to descend 
into the womb (cy? v.- 2 , as in Gn. 25 s3 , Ps. 71 6 , Ru. i 11 ), it may have 
been regarded as affecting the offspring of a guilty intercourse, so that, 
though the woman grows great with child (" the swelling belly "), the birth 
is abortive (expressed by the euphemistic or modified expression ~Y h:i : ? 
compare 7BJ = abortion). In the other case the potion may have been 
regarded as innocuous to the growth of the fcetus, which is duly brought 
to the birth. The latter point has then been characteristically modified : 
the innocent woman is promised that she shall subsequently conceive, as a 
reward directly granted by Yahweh (cp. Gn. 17 15 - 19 25 21 ). 

Tylor, Primitive Culture? ii. 426. 

v. ii— 13 49 

The interpretation of the section must also take account of 
certain literary or textual phenomena. In the present text 
the woman is twice brought before Yahweh, twice made 
to swear (v. 19 - 21 ), and twice, if not thrice, to drink the potion 
(v. 23f - 26f -). That this duplication occurred in the actual ritual 
is highly improbable. The text has either been interpolated 
and otherwise modified, or it rests on a compilation from two 
parallel but distinct toroth. 

Stade also lays stress on the lack of complete harmony between super- 
scription and subscription ; on the assumption that the wife is guilty in 
v. ] - f -, and, in contrast, on the openness of the question in v. 14 and on sundry 
alternative expressions. He argues that the present law has sprung 
from a literary fusion of two laws of ordeal — (a) a p3tn nmD consisting of 
v. 11-13 (except 3rd clause), 15 (except sin roupn nmD '3), 1G - 19 (except the 1st 
clause and Nin ntup nmD and DTiKDn in 18 and hndb, OTiKDfl in 19 ), zo (except 
nNDc: '3i), 22a (except D'nxan), w - 25 (last clause), 26a - 31 ; and (6) a ntupn nmD 
consisting of v. 29 - 13 (3rd clause), 30a - 14 (hndb: vh irm), 30b - 18 (to mir), »■ 2 - b - 25 - 27f - 
(with some slight variations). CH. have attempted another analysis into 
(a) an ordeal ; (b) a solemn condemnation : for a brief criticism of this, see 
EBi. s.v. "Jealousy," § 5. Any such analysis can in detail only reach a 
very moderate degree of probability. 

11,12a. "The superscription is the formula well known 
from the Book of Leviticus [e.g. i lf ] by means of which the 
codifications of older customs are there introduced ; it indicates 
that we have before us here a section of the same character " 
(Stade). For v. 11 , cp. phil. n. on v. 6 . — 13. And it be hid from 
the eyes of her husband, and she be undetected-, though she has as 
a matter of fact defiled herself (Lev. i8 20 )] RV. is wrong : the 
subj. of the first vb. (masc.) is the fact, of the second (fern.), 
the woman. — And there be no witness against her, since she 
was not taken] viz. in the act. A woman convicted, on the 
evidence of two witnesses at least (35 30 (P), Dt. 17 6 19 16 ), ot 
adultery was put to death (Lev. 20 10 (H), Dt. 22 2 -~ 27 ). The 
ordeal is to be resorted to when, as in cases of adultery it 
must frequently have happened, legal proof was not forth- 
coming. The husband is not here required in any way to 
justify his doubt ; indeed, the next v. seems to contemplate 
the possibility of the merest and most baseless suspicion. 
The Mishnah required the husband first to prohibit the woman, 
in the presence of witnesses, to hold any further communica- 


tion with the man suspected ; and then only in case of the 
wife's disobedience could the husband subject her to the ordeal 
(Sotah i. if.). Philo also says the husband must state the 
evidence for his suspicions. — 14. And the spirit of jealousy 
come upo?i him\ i.e. the man becomes jealous or suspicious : 
cp. "the spirit of whoredom" (Hos. 4 12 ). Spirit in such 
cases denotes an uncontrollable or unaccountable impulse. — 
15. Her offering for her] The Versions rightly understood that 
the offering-, however described, is the man's ; see phil. n. 
He brings it as one who requires the services of the priest, 
i.e. the help of God, in which case no one must appear 
empty, without a gift. Though described at length the 
offering is a mere subsidiary ; the raison d'etre of the law 
is the ordeal. — One-tenth of an ephah] a little under 4 litres 
or 7 pints; see BDB. s.v. rO, p. 144^. — Barley meal] Every- 
where else P requires "fine meal" (n?D) to be used for 
offerings : cp. Ezek. 46 14 . But the requirement is scarcely 
ancient; Gideon and Hannah offer ordinary meal (rop), which 
is clearly distinguished in 1 K 5 2 (4 22 ) from ]"6d, Jud. 6 13 , 
1 S i 24 . Barley meal (D'Hiyc) was far less valuable than "fine 
meal" or "wheat" (2 K. 7 1 , Rev. 6 6 ), but in early Israel it 
may have been the staple farinaceous food, and throughout 
it appears to have been not only the food of cattle (1 K. 5 s 
(4 2s ), but also the ordinary food of the poorer classes (Ru. 2 17 , 
Jud. 7 13 , Jn. 6 9, 13 ; cp. EBi. 483 f.) ; as such it is only probable 
that at one time it played a considerable part in sacred 
offerings, and was generally accepted by the priests of the 
sanctuaries for services such as the present. As an isolated 
survival, it subsequently called for explanation ; a typical 
attempt is R. Gamaliel's : "As her acts had been bestial, so 
her offering consisted of the food of beasts" [Sotah ii. 1) ; 
Philo's is similar. Such interpretations fail to do justice even 
to the law in its present form, much less to the original 
custom ; for the offering is not the woman's, and her action 
is still subject of doubt. — He shall pour no oil over it] Meal- 
offerings (nn;c), for which see Lev. 2, were divided into two 
classes: (1) those that were mingled with oil; (2) those that 
were dry, Lev. 7 10 . The only other instance mentioned of 

V. 14—18 5 J 

"dry" meal-offerings is the poor man's sin-offering (Lev. 5 11 ), 
which, like the present offering, must also be offered without 
frankincense. Philo, who has been much followed, may very 
well be correct here in explaining that the absence of the 
accompaniments is due to the fact that the occasion was no 
happy one, but one that was very grievous. — A meal-offering 
of memorial] The defining term p~oj is elsewhere used in a 
good sense ; hence the interpretation is added — by the original 
writer or a glossator — bringing iniquity to remembrance. 
When Yahweh forgets, guilt goes unpunished ; when He 
remembers, He visits the sinner, 1 K. 17 18 , Ezek. 2 i 28f - (23L) 29 16 , 
Hos. 8 13 , Jer. 44 21f -, Ps. 2^ 137 7 . — 16. Before Va/iweh] i.e. 
before the tabernacle, and, in particular, before the altar. In 
later times, according to Sotah i. 5, the accused were brought 
to the Nicanor or eastern gate of the temple. — 17. Holy 
water] "The expression ... is unique in the language of 
Hebrew ritual, and must be taken as an isolated survival of 
an obsolete expression. Unique though the expression be, it 
is not difficult to assign it its meaning ; the analogies already 
before us indicate that we must think of water from a holy 
spring" (W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 2 181). The intention of 
"$% is rather water from the laver (Sotah ii. 2, 3T, Sip/ire). 
It is, however, highly probable that the phrase D^EHp D^O is 
a late substitute in ^ for an original D^n CD (cp.ffif) = " running 
water," which we may assume in any case was used in the 
original rite ; running water is used in the somewhat kindred 
rites of 19 17 , Lev. i4 5f -. — An earthen vessel] Lev. I4 5 - 50 . 
Infected by the holiness of the potion it would after use be 
destroyed (Lev. 6 21 (28) ). — Dust . . . on the floor of the tabernacle] 
also holy in virtue of the place whence it is taken, and calcu- 
lated, therefore, to increase the intensity of the holiness of 
the draught. The dust of the original rite may perchance 
have been taken from graves in virtue of necromantic beliefs ; 
such beliefs must be the ultimate cause of the custom of eating 
dust from the grave of Mohammed as "a cure for every 
disease" (Lane, Modern Egyptians, c. xi., " Minerva" edition, 
p. 235). — 18. And the priest shall set the woman before Yahweh] 
Repetition of v. 16b , and perhaps originally a gloss explaining 


that the object in v. 16b is the woman and not the meal-offer- 
ing. If the words were original in their present position, " her 
hair" would be more natural than "the hair of the woman" 
in the next clause. — A?id he shall unbind the woman s //air] 
for the phrase (B>fcO J?"iD) cp. Lev. io 6 13 45 21 10 ; Nowack, Arch. 
ii. 114. According - to So/ah i. 6, the woman was also clothed 
in black. It would appear from Josephus [Ant. xiv. o, 4 ) 
that any person accused before the Sanhedrin appeared with 
unbound hair and dressed in black ; for the latter point we 
may then compare Zech. 3 s . It has been customary from Philo 
downwards to explain the unbinding of the hair as pointing 
to the woman's shame, which must be the meaning of the 
further action of the priest in laying bare her bosom (Sotah 
i. 5). W. R. Smith (Rel. Sem. 2 1S1) cites an instance of an 
Arabian woman subjected to shame in connection with an oath 
of purgation [Kitab el 'Again, i. 156. 3). — He shall place . . . 
the offering in her hands] cp. 6 19 , Ex. 20, 24 , Lev. 8 27f \ — Waters 
of bitterness] i.e. waters having an injurious effect, Jer. 2 19 , 
4 18 ; so clearly in v. 24 - 27 . By itself D"no '•D might mean water 
rendered bitter by ingredients : cp. B>&T) ""D Jer. 8 14 23 15 ; and 
for "10 = "bitter to the taste," Ex. 15 23 , Pr. 27 7 . This may 
have been the original meaning of the phrase : for, as Tylor 
points out (EB. xvii. 819), bitter potions are much used in 
various ordeals. 

12. '3 trx trx] so 9 10 , Lev. 15 2 24 ,B ; see, further, CH. to.o p . — rravn] also 
l9 '- 29 , Pr. 4 15 7'- 5 t; cp. Bi» Ps. 40 s and? Hos. 5 2 , Ps. 101 3 . In Aram. 
it is frequent; and in C often renders Heb. "iid (e.g. Ex. 32 s , Dt. n le ). 
Treated by Giesebrecht (ZATW. i. 196) and Ryssel (I)e Elohistce Pen/. 
Serin. 70) as an Aramaism ; disputed by Dr. {J Ph. xi. 205). — byn . . . n^j/cil 
use of both vb. and noun confined to Ezek. Pr. (i6 lu ) P, Ch.-Ezr.- 
Neh. Dan. Ecclus. (e.g. 48 16 ) : cp. CH. i64 P .— 13. nnx . . . aren] MT. 
in this phrase makes 33U take a direct ace. nnx ; but point nnx : cp. 
Lev. 18", where the indef. obj. precludes nx being the sign of the ace, 
and the parallel phrases oy 32c, ^sx 23& ; Geiger, Urschrift, 407 f. : other- 
wise Konig:, iii. 329 f. — jni r\22v\ Lev. i5 16 - 18 . — of?yji] Lev. (4 13 ) 5'- 1 - 4 . The 
vb. is masc. here as in Gn. 17 11 ; the fern, is commoner, G.-K. 1446. — 
mnwi] subj. rmvcn ; but in Stade and CH. mnD3i is the parallel in another 
source to the preceding- oSj'Ji. — X'n] this and the instance in v. 14 are two of 
the eleven instances in which, in the Pent., this fern. pr. is written plene in 
f^; see BDB. 2i4f. — "iy] emphatically placed before px ; BDB. 34*16. — 
14. -ayi] Dav. 1136; in v. 30 fern. — 15. n'Sy .imp nx] (S F omit suffix (j? is 

v. i 9 -2i 53 

ambiguous). This is not right; but possibly rump (G. - K. Qie) was 
originally intended, and was glossed by iT?y. — iifl'Nfl n'Tcy] For ^ ephah 
P uses the technical term pnej; 24 times, the present expression only 4 
times elsewhere, Ex. i6 8s , Lev. 5 a 6 13 , Nu. 28 s ; in the last case it is 
parallel to jnc'i' in Ex. 29 40 . — romp nrao] Dav. 23 and 17, R. 2. — 17. peton] 
tTi ijno 7.1K. — D'enp d'd] Di. and Str. further argue in favour of ffi (see 
above) on the ground of the uniqueness of this adjectival use of ernp : 
cp. Baudissin, Studien, ii. 130 n., and BDB. s.v. ; G.-K. 128^. — 18. 
D'TDn <d] waters resulting in, leading to, bitterness : cp. v. 24 * Z7 , also Dav. 
23, 1 6b. 

19-22. The oath of purgation is administered to the 
woman, who accepts it by replying - , Amen, amen. — For the 
connection between oath and ordeal, see above, p. 45. At 
present the terms of the oath, v . 19f - 22a , are interrupted by a 
fresh introduction (v. 21 =»= v. 19a ) and a parallel to the con- 
cluding" part of the oath (v. 2]b = v. 22a ). This cannot be right. 
But if we assume, with Stade and CH., that it has resulted 
from the deliberate fusion of two laws by the compiler, we 
must credit him with almost incredible stupidity for not 
having placed v. 21 after v. 22 , where it would have been merely 
superfluous. It seems preferable to suppose that v. 21 con- 
sists of glosses that worked their way into the text, v. 21b 
being an explanation of v. 22 , insisting that Yahweh, not the 
water, is the cause of injury to the woman (above, p. 48). 
Omitting v. 21 the oath runs naturally : — If you have not com- 
mitted adultery, let the water be harmless ; if you have, 
harmful. — 19. Be thou free from this water] be unpunished 
by it: cp. r\p: in Ex. 21 19 , 1 S. 26°, Pr. 6 29 .— 21. Yahweh 
make thee a curse] make thy fate so evil, that people wishing 
to curse any one will say, Yahweh make so-and-so like 
this woman : cp. Jer. 2g 22 , also Gn. 48 20 , Zech. 8 13 , Is. 65 13ff - 
— When Yahweh maketh thy thigh fall away and thy belly 
swell] the phrases are in the reverse order in v. 22, 27 . It is 
doubtful whether any, and, if so, what particular disease is 
thought of; many, from Josephus downwards, have thought 
of dropsy. For another suggestion, see above, p. 48. The 
precise meaning, especially of the first term, is not certain ; 
"thigh" is probably euphemistic: see phil. n. The Jewish 
interpretation is based on the general principle, "with what 
measure a man metes, it is measured to him " (DIXC HTD3 


17> DHTB ni T11D), and so the Mishnah says, "With the thigh 
she commenced her transgression, and afterwards with the 
belly : therefore the thigh shall be first smitten and then the 
belly " (Sotah i. 7 ff.) ; for a lengthy illustration of the principle, 
see the Pesikta of Rab Kahana (ed. Buber), 128^, 139a. — 22. 
The original continuation of v. 20 (see above) : render 131 1X31 then 
shall this water . . . enter, etc. — Thy dowels] Hebrew physiology 
was very primitive : the term D^D covers "the womb" (Gn. 
25 23 ) as well as other internal organs; see BDB. s.v. — Amen, 
Amen] a single "Amen" is the response to a curse in Dt. 
2 yi5ff. . C p # Neh. 5 13 . The double, uncopulated amen occurs 
elsewhere only in Neh. 8 6 ; copulated in Ps. 41 14 72 19 , 8g 53 (^, 
not (&). See, further, H. W. Hogg \nJQR. ix. 1-24. 

19. -]vn nnn] = " being- under (the authority of) thy husband " : cp. Ezek. 
23 5 . The fuller phrase is T nnn {e.g. Jud. 3 30 ). — 21. idt] not, literally, 
"thigh"; the sense can be gathered from the parallel (}»a) and the use 
of TV in the phrase (of the male) IT 'NS'. — nbsi] apparently = " waste away " ; 

but the sense is not found elsewhere. — rax] The roots n2x = \xa = s*?s and 

Ji3x= s a1? = K3B are known in Heb. , but give no suitable meaning; nor 

do the usages of \j*a, which also corresponds. The sense "to swell," 
used in this section only in OT. , thus rests on the use in New Hebrew (see 
Levy) and on the VV. — 22. S?; 1 ? . . . nir*?] Hiphils with syncope of n ; but 
point rather ^7 . . . n'i3$? : cp. v. 27 , and see Konig, ii. 278 f. 

23. The words of the curse are now written down and 
then washed off into the water. Evidently the original 
purpose was to impart an actual efficacy to the potion. 
Potions into which written words have been washed off are 
widely credited with particular virtues. In Tibet "the 
eating of a paper on which a charm has been written is an 
ordinary way of curing disease"; in Egypt "the most 
approved mode of charming away sickness or disease is to 
write certain passages of the Koran on the inner surface 
of an earthenware cup or bowl ; then to pour in some 
water, and stir it until the writing is quite washed off: 
when the water, with the sacred words thus infused in it, 
is to be drunk by the patient." * The potion thus has 

* L. A. Waddell, The Buddhism of Tibet (Lond. 1896), 401 ; Lane, 
op. cit. 233 ; cp. Koberle, Natur u. Geist, 165 f. 

V. 22-29 55 

two distinct ingredients — the dust, v. 17 , and the words of 
the curse, while the term " water of bitterness " may preserve 
a reminiscence of a third. It is not improbable that we have 
here a fusion of originally distinct modes of preparing such 
potions: cp. below, pp. 60, 62 f. — A book] "iSD simply means 
anything fit to receive writing ; cp. BDB. s.v. 3. The Mishnah 
{So/ah ii. 4) specifies the character of the material on which 
and with which the words are written. — 24. The woman drinks 
the potion. Since the tenses are consecutive, the present text 
can only mean that, after she has drunk, the priest performs 
the ritual of the meal-offering, v . 25 - 26a , and after that gives the 
woman a second draught, v. 2cb . Two draughts are unlikely ; 
and, if intended, would probably have been more clearly ex- 
pressed by the addition of "again" or "a second time" in 
v. 26b . The alternatives for meeting the difficulty are much 
as in v. 19-23 , only there is less to be said against the theory 
of intentional fusion of sources here ; if a compiler could kill 
Korah and his company twice over (i6 31-35 ), he would not 
have hesitated to give the woman two draughts instead of 
one. Still unintentional disarrangement and glossing may 
suffice to account for the text. Possibly v. 24a stood originally 
after v. 26a ; but, except for a fragment (if original) at the be- 
ginning of v. 27 , became accidentally disarranged, and was 
then completed by the addition of v. 24b from v. 27 ; v. 26b may 
(as Stade also suggests) originally have been an explicative 
gloss ; that such was necessary is seen from the dispute in 
Sotah iii. 2 as to the order of drinking and offering. — Wave 
. . . before Yahweh] the rite of waving (6 20 8 10 n.) is, in the 
case of the meal-offering, exceptional (18 11 n.). — 26a. See 
Lev. 2 2 . — 27. And he shall make her drink the water] strictly 
a third draught ; (St S omit the words. Otherwise, see on 
v. 24 . — 28. And she shall conceive seed] the phrase jnt njntil is 
the precise legal equivalent of the popular word mn used 
in ii 12 , and 28 times besides in JE, but never by P. Though 
rendered by RV. in the same way, the present phrase is 
not quite the same as is used in Lev. 12 2 , which rather 
means "to be delivered, bring forth seed" (cp. Gn. i llf -). — 
29-31. A subscription summarising the occasion of the law 


and the manner of putting it into force. — This is the law of . . .] 
cp. Lev. 15 s2 *- 12 71 ', both at the conclusion of laws beginning 
in a manner closely resembling the present law; with v. llf - 
cp. Lev. i5 lf - i2 lf \ The phrase (min riXT) is used in all once 
in Ezek. (43 12 ) and 8 times in P (Lev. n 46 12 7 13 59 14 s2 - 57 15 32 ) 
at the end, and 6 times (6 21 , Lev. 6 2 - 7 - 18 7 1 - 11 , Nu. 6 13 ) at the 
beginning of a law ; in the form min iron HXT it occurs at 
the beginning in Lev. 14 2 , and in the form 'b mvin riST at the 
end in Lev. 7 37 14 54 . Usage, therefore, does not call for the 
hypothesis (Stade, CH.) that it is here the introduction to a 
misplaced superscription. — 30. Then shall he set the woman] 
subject "the man"; in v. 16 the priest. — 31. The man is, in 
any event, even if the ordeal prove his suspicion unfounded, 
free of guilt ; the woman alone can be proved guilty. The 
law does not directly state the time within which the potion 
must work to convict ; but from the nature of the case a 
comparatively speedy result must have been expected : if 
the accused is to be regarded as pregnant, the term of 
pregnancy would be an outside limit. In any case, the 
theory of Sotah iii. 4 (cp. 5), that merit might defer the 
effect as long as three years, is obviously not original. 
Josephus, an earlier witness, makes it ten months at longest; 
for, if innocent, she bears a boy within that period — a view 
that probably enough already underlies v. 28 . 

23. cna 'D] <& F + o , TWDn (cp.1l) in v. 18f - 24 ) ; j? DTWDn O'Dn (cp. $ in v. 22 ). 
—26. rnpi] S substitutes ann for the rare verb yep (Lev. 2 2 5 12 t). — wpdir] 
Lev. 2 2 . — 27. with . . . npurn] not to be explained with Str. as a hypothetical, 
as a glance at Dr. Tenses, 147 f, will show. The text therefore implies a 
third draught ; but see above. For WT.11 read nvn with S ; pj is unique ; 
Dr. Tenses, 121, Obs. 2.-28. jn»] ace; Dav. 80.— 30. cn is the virtual 
subject of the following sentence ; and is placed before the repeated con- 
junction (iw'N) as a new subject, replacing rWK of v. 29 . Exact parallels 
hardly occur ; but for the general principles involved, see Dr. Tenses, 
160 Obs., 196 f., and Dav. 146. 

VI. 1-21. The Nazirite. 

Literature. —Tractate Nazir in Mishnah and Talmud ; Philo, De 
1 'ictimis, c. xii. (Mangey, 249 f.) ; J. Spencer, De Leg. Hebr., lib. iii. diss. 1, 
cap. 6; Biihr, Symbolik, ii. pp. 430-440; Yilmar in TSK. 1864, pp. 438-484; 
Grill mJPTh. 1880, pp. 645-680; Wurster in ZATW. 1884, pp. 129-133; 
Weilhausen, Resle des Arab. Heid. 1 pp. 117-119; W. R. Smith, Semites*- 

v. 30-VI. 57 

pp. 323-335 (especially 332 f.: cp. addit. note K) ; Smend, ATReligiojis- 
geschichte, 1 pp. 152-154; Buckle, "Judges "(in Kurzcr Hand-Commentar), 
p. 94 f. ; Frazer, Golden Bough, 2 i. 362-389 (on primitive sanctity of head 
and hair); G. B. Gray, "The Nazirite" in Journal of Theol. Studies, i. 

Here alone in the Pentateuch is any reference made to the 
Nazirite. The law divides naturally into three sections, dealing 
with (1) the general conditions to be observed by a Nazirite 
during the period of his vow — he is to abstain from all in- 
toxicating liquors and all products of the vine, from cutting 
his hair, and from defiling himself with the dead, v. 2-8 ; (2) 
the case of accidental defilement by the dead, v. 9 " 12 ; (3) the 
offerings required and the ritual to be followed at the close of 
the period of the vow, v. 13-21 . 

The Law has been referred above (p. 39) to P x . CH. consider it to 
be in substance earlier than Ps, the first section perhaps earlier still. In- 
dications of Ps, such as " door of the tent of meeting-," v. 10 - 1S - ls , and " the 
basket of unleavened bread," etc., v. 15 (only in Ex. 29, Lev. 8), must then 
be " not original." The phraseology they consider closely approximates 
to H. Incidental indications, in the present form of the law, of a com- 
paratively late date may be found in the demand for a " he-lamb " in v. 14 
(see n.), in the sin-offerings, and generally in the precise regulations of 
quantities (see p. 170 f.). 

Nazirites figure in some of the earliest Hebrew stories, the 
stories about Samson (Jud. 13-16). In the 8th cent. B.C. 
Nazirites were numerous (Am. 2 nf -).* In the 2nd cent. B.C. 
they were also numerous (1 Mac. 3 49f ), and continued so down 
to the final destruction of the temple (Jos. Ant. xix. 6 1 ; Nasir, 
passim). But it would be unsafe, and as a matter of fact 
wrong, to assume that the same conditions were either fulfilled 
by, or required of, all Nazirites during the thousand years or 
more covered by these references. 

The law of the Nazirite is a law to regulate an already 
existing institution, and that more especially as it is brought 
into connection with the priesthood through the offerings 
demanded of a Nazirite on the interruption or completion of 

* Indirect evidence of the prominence of Nazirites in pre-exilic Israel is 
furnished by the metaphorical use of TH in Lev. 25 s - u of the undipped 
vine. There seems no sufficient reason for substituting TX3 for TTJ in these 
passages with Gratz and Che. (EBi. 3364). 


his vow. The law thus presupposes that persons become 
Nazirites for a specified time only; it makes no provision for 
the case of a lifelong - Nazirite such as Samson. This fact 
would be explained if lifelong" Nazirites were unknown at the 
time of the law. A more usual, and perhaps a sufficient, 
explanation accounts for the absence of any reference to the 
lifelong Nazirites by the fact that these, since they took 
no terminable vow and offered no special offerings, were 
never brought into any special relation with the priests. 

Nazirites answering to the description contained in the 
law, in so far at least as their vows are for a definite period, 
appear somewhat frequently in later Jewish history. Perhaps 
the best proof of this is Nazir; the tract throughout implies 
that Nazirites who took the vow for a definite period were very 
numerous; see also 1 Mac. 3 49t - ; Jos. Ant. xix. 6 1 ; and cp., 
further, as probable references to Nazirites, Jos. Bf. ii. 15 1 ; 
Acts 2i 23f -. On the other hand, of the existence of Nazirites 
of this type before the Exile, we have absolutely no evidence, 
apart from any inference which the law may seem to justify. 

As to lifelong Nazirites, the case is precisely reversed : 
they certainly existed before the Exile (Samson ; cp. Am. 2 llf - 
and, perhaps, 1 S. i 11 ), but whether there were any lifelong 
Nazirites in later times is quite uncertain. John the Baptist 
has been regarded as such on quite inadequate grounds. He 
is never called a Nazirite, nor is it recorded that he left his 
hair unshorn. His abstinence from intoxicants is but an 
element in his ascetic character (cp. Mk. i 6 , Mt. n 18 ); but 
the Nazirite was not an ascetic. The case of James, "the 
brother of the Lord," is more to the point: for though he, 
too, is never called a Nazirite, yet the traditional description 
of him includes the chief characteristics of the Nazirites 
(Euseb. HE. ii. 23*). 

Whether lifelong devotees and persons who had taken a 
particular form of temporary vow were in one and the same 
period alike termed Nazirite, or whether it was only after life- 
long Nazirites had died out that the name was passed on to 
persons under a vow and distinguished by certain features that 
had marked the lifelong Nazirites, the evidence does not 

vi. i-2i 59 

allow us to determine for certain. But in any case there is 
a marked difference between the two classes. 

What, then, are the permanent and universal elements in 
Naziriteship ? The most certain and, as Grill (p. 666) seems 
to have been the first to suggest, possibly the only one, was 
the abstinence from cutting the hair. The almost invariable 
reference to this when Nazirites are mentioned, the part that 
Samson's hair plays in the stories about him, the transference 
of the term Nazirite to the undipped vine, all indicate that 
this was, in early times, the most marked and, as it proved, 
the essential and most abiding mark of a Nazirite. 

Whether abstinence from intoxicants was also a permanent 
element in Naziriteship is far more doubtful. Samson, like 
the young men of his day, gave feasts ; but we are not told, 
and it is precarious to infer from Jud. I3 4 - u , that, unlike 
the young men of his day, he abstained either at these or at 
other times from intoxicants. Perhaps it is most reasonable 
to infer from Am. 2 llf - that the custom of Nazirites to abstain 
from wine was as ancient as the 8th cent. B.C., but the passage 
may be parallel in thought to Is. 28 7 and simply mean : You 
stopped the activity of the Nazirites by making them intoxicated, 
and the messages of the prophets by forbidding them to speak. 

Clearly Nazirites like Samson (Jud. 14 19 15 8 ) were not 
bound by the prohibition in the law of coming into contact 
with the dead. Further, while the Nazirites of the law took a 
vow, Samson did not, nor, as it would seem, the Nazirites of 
the time of Amos ; they rather are Nazirites, as others were 
prophets, by divine appointment (cp. Jud. 13 6 , Jer. 1 5 ). 

There is reason for believing that every custom in the law 
is in itself ancient : the question is, did the particular com- 
bination of customs recognised in the law exist in early times ? 
did persons practise this particular combination of customs, 
or, so doing, did they then go by the name of Nazirites? 
Hebrews, in early times, certainly took vows ; they believed 
that contact with the dead produced uncleanness, and that 
this uncleanness must be more rigorously guarded against by 
some persons than others ; there is reason for concluding that 
some persons at an early time may have abstained not only 


from all intoxicants, but from all products of the vine. But 
all this does not prove that Nazirites, such as those indicated 
in the law, were known in early Israel. They may have been. 
But if they were, Nazirites of this type had but little public 
significance ; they are quite unlike Samson or the Nazirites 
who are coupled by Amos with prophets. Into the significance 
of these lifelong Nazirites we cannot further inquire here. 

It appears most probable to the present writer that the 
combination of observances in the law is not ancient, that in 
the regulations for the Nazirites of later times we see a fusion 
of several originally distinct customs which, like many others 
(see above, p. 47), had lost much and, in some cases, all of 
their original meaning ; and that it would be altogether wrong 
to attribute to the Nazirites regulated by the law anything of 
the public or religious significance of the earlier Nazirites or 
even of the Rechabites. 

On the other hand, the living significance of the Nazirite- 
vow appears to have lain in the expense of the sacrifices in- 
volved ; perhaps, also, in the inconvenience involved by the 
conditions of life during the term of the vow. Men undertook 
to become Nazirites in return for some special manifestation 
of the divine favour shown, for instance, in restoration to 
health, or the birth of a child (Jos. BJ. ii. 15 1 ; Nazir ii. 7) ; at 
times also for purely trivial reasons ; indeed, if we may trust 
Nazir (v. 5ft .), the Nazirite vow degenerated into a bet; 
e.g. of two men walking together and seeing some one at a 
distance, one says to the other, " I'll be a Nazirite if that man 
is not so-and-so." The purely private nature of the later 
Nazirite appears in these illustrations. 

The Nazirite vow has considerable resemblances (though 
not without differences) to the Arabic Ihram thus described by 
Wellhausen {Arab. Heid. 116): "When anyone intends to 
undertake the Hagg he submits himself as a matter of course 
to the condition of those bound by a vow. This condition is 
termed Ihram. The Ihram is not the actual content or purport 
of the vow ; it is only a restraint laid upon a person making 
the vow that he may exercise all zeal in his holy duty. This 
restraint consists especially of certain troublesome abstinences 

VI. 1-3 6 1 

which cease when the vow is discharged. . . . The purpose 
of the Ihram is the offering. The offering brings the Ihram to 
an end. It is the accomplishment, consequently also the real 
purport, of the vow. After the offering has been made, the 
hair is cut off." 

1, 2a. Cp. 5 6 n. — 2. When any man or woman] It was prob- 
ably not unusual for a woman to take the vow, subject to the 
conditions of 3o :5flF - (cp. Nazir iv. i f.). Nazir significantly 
employs the fern, form (mTj) for women, and mentions in 
particular Queen Helena's vow (iii. 6). Bernice's vow may 
also have been that of a Nazirite (Jos. BJ. ii. 15 1 ). — Shall 
discharge a vow] precise meaning uncertain ; see phil. n. — A 
Nazirite] etymologically the term means one separated, or 
who separates himself, or, even more definitely, one devoted ; 
in usage it is, perhaps, an abbreviation of the full phrase T»H 
DwK which occurs in Judges, just as rWO is often used briefly 
in the sense of miT VPWD, and means one who separates or 
devotes himself to God, a religious devotee : cp. the verbal 
phrase "'"'' 7 Trrp v. 2 - 5f - 12 . The vb. followed by J. (and in 
Zech. 7 3 used absolutely) has, like the Arabic < > , &•, the mean- 
ing "to separate oneself, or abstain, from certain things": 
cp. v. 3, 12 . But this scarcely justifies giving Nazirite the sense 
of " abstainer."* In Gn. 49 26 = Dt. 33 16 , the word may retain 
a religious sense, or it may have been transferred from the sense 
of religious separation to that of simple distinction. Such a 
transference from the religious sense certainly takes place in the 
case of "IW, which means (1) the state of consecration or devotion, 
v. 4 - 8 , cp. v. 6 ; (2) the symbol of such a state, especially the 
Nazirite's hair, v. 19 ; (3) the hair of an unconsecrated person, 
Jer. 7 29 .f — 3. First regulation : the Nazirite is to abstain from 
all intoxicating liquors and all products of the vine during 
the term of his vow. — Strong drink] T3B> is a general term for 
intoxicating beverages without reference to the material from 
which they are made. It may therefore include wine, as it 
appears to do in 2S 1 , but more commonly the two terms are 

* Cp. Hoffmann in ZATW. iii. ioo. 

t See, further, Grill, p. 660; We. Reste des Arab. Heidentums? 1 1 7 f . , 
167 ; BDB. 634, and further references there. 


used together as an exhaustive expression for intoxicants 
(Lev. io 9 , Is. 5 11 24°, Fr. 20 1 31 6 ). — Vinegar of wine and 
vinegar of strong drink] the Hebrews appear to have prepared 
their vinegar, or whatever other acid drink may be covered 
by the term ]'cn (Ru. 2 14 , Ps. 6g 22 ), from intoxicants gone 
sour ; a poor form of English vinegar is still largely obtained 
from sour beer, and much of the continental vinegar from sour 
wine. — Dried grapes] compressed into cakes, constituted an 
article of ordinary consumption (2 S. 6 19 , Cant. 2 5 ), and were 
also eaten at sacrificial feasts (Hos. 3 1 ). — 4. All the days of his 
Naziriteship he shall eat nothing that is borne by the grape-vine, 
not even unripe grapes (?) or tendrils (?). The general idea is 
conveyed more briefly and by a different, idiom in Jud. 13 14 — 
" nothing that comes forth from (W) the grape-vine." The 
verb n^J? here used of what a tree bears or produces is, of 
course, common in that sense (cp. e.g. Gn. i 11 , Job 14 9 ). 
But would it be natural to speak of the vine producing " pips " 
and " skins " (RV. " kernels " and " husk ") ? If not, the tradi- 
tional interpretation of the obscure aira^ \e n /6/u,eva D^Sin and 
:T falls through. The translations of the two words here given 
(after Di.) are uncertain, and merely to be regarded as ap- 
proximating to the exact meaning. See phil. n. 

In v. 3, 4 we have two quite distinct rules — (1) abstinence from intoxi- 
cants; (2) avoidance of anything connected with the vine. For both we 
have analogies both among the Hebrews and elsewhere. With (1) cp. the 
restriction laid on the Jewish priest during service (Lev. io 9 ), and on Brah- 
manas, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas in the Laws 0/ Man it (xi. 91-98): see, 
further, Frazer, GB. i. 359 f. ; with (2) cp. the restrictions laid on the 
Rechabites (Jer. 35 lif -), and on the Roman Flamen Dialis, who was not 
allowed even to touch the vine ( Plut. Oucest. Rom. 112; cp. Vilmar, p. 470 ft". ; 
Frazer, GB. 241 f.). The Nabatasans were forbidden to sow or plant any 
fruit-bearing plant, or to build houses, or to use wine (Diod. Sic. xix. 94. 3). 
The original reason for the latter rule has been sought in the attempt of 
certain classes to maintain a more primitive mode of life ; the cultivation 
of the vine, though not the use of intoxicants as such, is one of the most 
marked differences between the nomadic life, which was that of the 
Hebrews before their settlement in Canaan, and the settled agricultural 
life (W. R. Smith, Prophets? 84 f.). But in later times avoidance of the 
vine and its products in all forms must have lost much or all of its original 
meaning ; and it is doubtful whether we ought to seek any living mean- 
ing for the rule in the law. The prohibition of all intoxicants might, if 
ancient, in the case of the Nazirite, be explained by the belief that 

VI. 4-6 63 

intoxication is caused by the entrance of a spirit into man (for illustrations, 
see Frazer, CB. i. 359 f.) combined with the fundamental Hebrew belief 
that intercourse with other spirits than Yahweh is unlawful; but it is, 
perhaps, in the case of the Nazirite an extension of the prohibition of 
wine when the real meaning of that had been lost. The most we can 
infer about the Nazirites of the time of Amos is that they were forbidden 
wine ; for all we know, both they and the Rechabites may have drunk 
other intoxicants. The general Mohammedan prohibition of wine, which 
was only gradually made stringent by the prophet, may have found a 
starting-point in the opposition to the vine among some of the Arabs, such 
as the Nabataeans referred to above ; but abstention on moral grounds 
from all intoxicants was practised by some Arabs before Mohammed ; and 
the commentators, in accordance with the prevailing theory in Islam, 
have interpreted the passages in the Koran as a prohibition of all intoxi- 
cants — Koran 2 116 4 46 5 92f - 16 69 (with Beidawi on the passages) ; Muir, 
Mahomet, iii. 300 f., 3 300 ; Sprenger, Mohammad, i. 387 f. 

5. Second regulation : the Nazirite is not to cut his hair. — 
The treatment of the hair, originally the most prominent 
feature of the Nazirite, takes the second place in the law 
(cp. 1 S. i 11 (G), possibly because it had ceased to be most 
prominent when Naziriteship came to be merely a vow for 
a short period. — No razor shall pass over his head] cp. 8 7 ; 
another phrase with the same meaning in Jud. 13 5 16 17 , 
1 S. i 11 . For shaving the head bald (n?J), and for trimming or 
shortening the hair (DD3), Hebrew had different words. The 
meaning here is that the hair is to be in no way trimmed or 
shortened; cp. clause b\ and for the origin of the custom, 
see p. 68 f. The rule cannot, of course, be a mere taboo on 
the use of iron, such as forbade iron and required bronze 
razors to be used in shaving the Roman and Sabine priests 
(Frazer, GB. i. 371, 344ff-5 cp. Vilmar, 455 ff.). The present 
regulation sharply distinguishes the Nazirite from the priests 
(Lev. io 6 2 1 10 , Ezek. 44 20 ), with whom he is associated by the 
preceding and following. — 6 f. Third regulation : the Nazirite 
is to avoid uncleanness through contact with a dead body, 
even though it be that of his nearest relative. In this respect 
the Nazirite is more stringently bound than any one, except 
the high priest (Lev. 21 11 ) ; ct. the case of the ordinary priests, 
Lev. 2i lff \ This regulation was clearly not observed by 
Samson (cp. Jud. 14 19 15 8 ). In the Mishnah the difficulty is 
solved by the assumption that there were two types of life- 


long Nazirites — (1) The Samson type (&DW "> S T3), who was 

forbidden to trim his hair but allowed to contract unclean- 
ness from the dead without being subject to the necessity of 
making the offerings required by v. 9-12 . (2) The (ordinary) 
Nazirite for life (E^lJJ Ttt), who might clip his hair on condition 
that he made the offerings required in v. 13-20 , but was obliged 
to make the offerings of v. 9-12 every time he was defiled by 
the dead (Nasir i. 2). No doubt the real explanation is that 
avoidance of uncleanness by the dead formed no part of a 
Nazirite's duty in early times. When or how it became such 
we cannot say; but, as in the case of the high priest, it was 
due to the extreme degree of sanctity attaching to the 
Nazirite ; cp. v. 8 . 

2. '3 rwm in c\x] 5 6 n. — xbr_] MT. distinguishes the verb here and in 
Lev. 27 s as Hiphil from 15 s - 8 , Lev. 22 21 Piel. In I£j Piel may have been 
intended in all cases. The Hiphil elsewhere is used differently. " To 
make a special vow" (RV.) is unsuitable in the other passages, and is 
not required here; "to discharge or accomplish a vow" is a sense that 
satisfies all passages, though how it was acquired is not clear : otherwise 
Grill, 656 ff. vu 1 ? after xht' may be dittograpliic from Ttt ; cp. the parallels 
cited above. — 3. D'3:j; me'B] probably grape juice or liquor made from 
grapes; so Di. Paterson, taking Tnera from 'Tic' = «_»5Z. ( a derivative 

from which is here used in 5)= „ J = " to be moist" ; Assyr. mesril — 

"moisture" (so Haupt in SBOT.). — J^in] the meaning of this word and of 
31 was already lost to the earliest extant tradition. Hebrew interpreters 
explained the words of the grape-stone and the skin of the grape, but 
differed as to which meant which (A T azlr vi. 2 ; see also Levy, i. 5176, 
ii. 1 16). In & ])i-\n = <TTe/j.<pv\\ov (a mass of pressed grapes) and 11 = ylyaprov 
(grape-stone) ; similarly 5. The etymology is indecisive ; it has been 
suggested that grape-stones were called |sin from their acrid taste (pn= 
"to cut"); but the Hebrews thought of the effect of such a taste as 
blunting (Ezek. n 2 ). JJ, too, has been explained as the. pellucid skin (from 
3JT="tobe clear"; cp. a§] in New Hebrew="a glazier"). With pnn= 

" unripe grapes," cp. /*■ -T- in the same sense. On traditional interpreta- 
tions, see more fully Ges. Thes. — 5. r«n 1JW J7TB hti] the antithesis is kS jnn 
mhw Ezek. 44 20 . jna (5 18 n.) is omitted by £. On Wi (Inf. abs.),seeG.-K. 113/^. 

9-12. Accidental defilement and its consequences. — A Nazirite 
who comes accidentally into contact with the dead is defiled ; 
on the seventh day after the accident he regains his cleanness. 
He must then be shorn, and on the following day offer a 
sin-offering and a burnt-offering, each consisting of a turtle 

vi. 2-io 65 

dove or young- pig-eon. He then regains his sanctity, and 
must thereafter keep the whole original period of his vow. 
Finally, he offers a young sheep as a guilt-offering. 

The conditions under which defilement from the dead is 
contracted are given in c. 19, and more minutely in their 
application to the Nazirite in Nazir vii. 2f. 

9. And he defile the head] the act of defilement is attributed 
to the Nazirite, though his contact with the dead is uninten- 
tional. But unintentional sin plays a large part in the priestly 
law, as indeed elsewhere, Ps. 19 13 (12) 90 8 . — He shall shave his 
head] cp. v. 5 n. — The law does not state what is to be done 
with the hair in this case (ct. v. 18 ); but the Mishnah records 
what, we need not question, was the ancient practice. This 
hair was buried [Temurah vii. 4) — buried, as analogy suggests, 
because unclean, and therefore dangerous (W. R. Smith, Rel. 
Sem. x 350 ff., 2 369ff.). 

The following- instances, taken from Frazer's GB. i. ^87-389, will 
throw lig-ht on the probable origin and original significance of the rite : 
"At Hierapolis no man might enter the great temple of Astarte on the 
same day on which he had seen a corpse ; next day he might enter, pro- 
vided he had first purified himself. But the kinsmen of the deceased were 
not allowed to set foot in the sanctuary for thirty days after the death, 
and before doing so they had to shave their heads " (Lucian, Dea Syria, 53). 
In ancient India mourners at the "end of the period of mourning cut their 
hair and nails, and use new vessels." "At Agweh (W. Africa) widows and 
widowers at the end of their period of mourning wash themselves, shave 
their heads, pare their nails, and put on new cloths ; and the old cloths, 
the shorn hair, and the nail-parings are all burnt." A practice is observed 
by some Australians "of burning off part of a woman's hair after child- 
birth, as well as burning every vessel which has been used by her during 
her seclusion. Here the burning of the woman's hair seems plainly 
intended to serve the same purpose as the burning of the vessels used by 
her ; and as the vessels are burned because they are believed to be 
tainted with a dangerous infection, so, we must suppose, is also the hair." 

On the day of his (recovered) cleanness] no special act of 
cleansing (cp. RV.) takes place on this day, but the effects 
of defilement have by this time become exhausted: cp. 19 12 
"On the seventh day he shall be clean." The more active 
process of propitiation follows on the next day ; so also 
Lev. 15 13 - 15 . — 10 f. The Nazirite, in spite of his superior 
sanctity, does not suffer longer than an ordinary Israelite 


from the effects of defilement ; but the rites are more elaborate. 
The ordinary man simply had to be sprinkled with the " water 
of uncleanness" (see on 19 9 ), and was not required to present 
offerings. The offerings exacted of the Nazirite after defile- 
ment (two turtle doves or young pigeons) appear also in 
other connections, Lev. 5 7 12 8 i4 30f - igi**- 29f. # It was the 
least burdensome form of animal sacrifice (cp. Lev. 5 7 12 8 ). 
The main part of the expense to which a Nazirite was put in 
the case of an interrupted vow was due to the guilt-offering, 
which was also required, and consisted of a yearling he- 
lamb, v. 12 . — 11. And he shall hallow his head] the subject is 
the Nazirite ; he rehallows, after defiling (v. 9 ), his head. — 
12. And he shall separate unto Yahweh the days of his 
separatio?i\ he shall, after recovering his cleanness, observe 
his vow for the full length of time originally devoted, since 
the days before his defilement are not allowed to count. 
According to the Mishnah [Nasir iii. 6), Queen Helena (fl. 
50 a.d.), just at the close of the seven years for which she 
had taken the vow, was accidentally defiled by a corpse, and 
consequently had to keep the vow for a further term of seven 
years. — A he-lamb . . . for a guilt-offering\ the reason for the 
guilt-offering ('ashdm), is not stated, nor is it clear. Possibly, 
as in the case of the guilt-offering demanded of a cleansed 
leper (Lev. I4 12 - 21 ), it is for some unknown sin which was 
certainly, as the argument of Job's friends shows us, according 
to the thought of the time (cp. even later, Jn. g 2 ), the cause 
of such misfortunes as leprosy, and may perhaps have been 
considered the cause of such misadventures as a Nazirite's 
defilement by the dead (Di.). Others explain the guilt-offering 
here as a recompense to Yahweh for the delay in the discharge 
of the vow (Sta. GVI. ii. 257; Now.). 

9. DNns iTisn] lit. "in an instant, instantly," and so "very suddenly," 
G.-K. 133/ end. The two words appear to be pure synonyms (cp. 
Pr. 6 16 ) and in origin identical, DNns being a softened form of Dims. Cp. 
Assyr. ina pitti and ina pittimma, both =" instantly " (Del. Assyr. Hand- 
■worterbuch, p. 553a). 

13-20. — The rites at the conclusion of the vow. — At the 
conclusion of the vow the Nazirite is to offer a burnt-offering, 

VI. ii— is 67 

a sin-offering-, and a peace-offering - , together with the custom- 
ary meal-offerings and libations, v. 13-15 . After these have 
been presented by the priest, v. 16f -, the Nazirite is to shave off 
his hair at the door of the tent and to burn it on the sacred 
fire, v. 18 . After this the priest is to make a wave-offering of 
a portion of the peace-offering and the cereal-offering ; this 
becomes holy, and, as such, the perquisite of the priest. The 
Nazirite may now drink wine. 

13a. Cp. 5 29 n. — He shall be brought] why the Nazirite 
should need to be brought instead of coming by himself it is 
not easy to see. Perhaps, as Di. suggests (see phil. n.), the 
strangeness of the passage is due to an interpolation, and the 
law originally ran — " In the day when the days of his Nazirite- 
ship are completed, he shall bring to the door of the tent of 
meeting a yearling he-lamb without blemish for a burnt- 
offering. . . ." — 14. The burnt-offering is here mentioned before 
the sin-offering (cp. Lev. i2 6 - 8 ; ct. v. 11 - 16 ), though the latter 
was presumably offered first. — One he-lamb] according to the 
Levitical law (at variance in this respect with earlier custom, 
cp. i S. 6 14 ), which required that animals for burnt-offerings 
should be of the male sex (Lev. i 3, 10 22 18f ). — Without blemish] 
Lev. 22 18-25 . — One ewe-lamb] the female sheep for a sin-offering, 
according to Lev. 4 32 5 6 . — One ram] the animal for a peace- 
offering might be either male or female, Lev. 3 1 - 6 . — 15a. The 
phraseology here closely resembles Lev. 7 12 . — Cakes] see 15 20 n. 
Their meal-offering and their drink-offerings] i.e. the meal- 
offering and libations required as the accompaniment of the 
burnt- and peace-offerings just mentioned; according to i5 4-6 
these would together consist of T %- of a hin of fine meal ( = 
about 3 1 pints), ^ of a hin of wine, and the same quantity 
of oil. Apparently, therefore, the meaning of the whole verse 
is that the ordinary accompaniments of the sacrifices in the 
way of meal, oil, and wine are to be presented, and also 
a cereal-offering, the character of which is stated in clause 
a, but not the quantities. But the awkward way in which 
this is expressed, and especially the loose attachment of 
clause b, may well raise a question as to the originality 
of the final clause of this v. and consequently of v. 17b . The 


pronominal suffixes (in DIT3D3 and nnmft) should refer to 
all the fore-named offering's, though, as a matter of fact, 
they cannot refer to the sin-offering, which was never accom- 
panied by these cereal-offerings and libations. For it is too 
hazardous to argue from Lev. i4 10 ~ 20 that the sin-offering 
under exceptional circumstances was accompanied by a meal- 
offering ; cp. Siphre on the present passage. — 16. And the 
priest shall present (them) before Yahweh] 3*lpn refers to the 
bringing of the sacrifice to the altar : cp. the alternative 
idiom 5 25 . — And shall offer his sin - offering] the verb here 
used (n x C']}) is " meant as a summary description of the process 
of sacrifice " (Driver in Hastings' DB. iii. 5386) ; cp. Ex. 29 s8 , 
Lev. g 7 . — 17. With the basket of mileavened bread] v. 15a . — Its 
meal-offering and its dritik-offering] v. 15b ; here the suffix refers 
to the ram of the peace-offering; in v. 16 the author has not 
thought it necessary to refer in particular to the offerings 
accompanying the burnt-offering. — 18. At the door of the lent 
of meeting] the Nazirite shaves himself beside the slain 
peace-offering (cp. Lev. 3 2 ), and then throws the hair into 
the fire which is tinder the sacrifice of peace - offerings, i.e. 
into the fire of the altar which also stood at the door of the 
tent (Ex. 40 6 ). This is more probable than the opinion * that 
the fire referred to is that on which the flesh for consump- 
tion by the priest and the Nazirite is being boiled. — " Deus 
itaque comam dedicandi et offerendi morem inter Israelitas 
(populum Gentilismi pervicacem) toleravit : earn autem non 
nisi ad ostium Tabernaculi vel Templi deponi voluit, ne aliter 
populus ille crines suos in arbore sacra suspenderet, aut (ad 
morem seculi) fluviis aut idolis consecraret," Spencer, De 
Legibtis, p. 696. The treatment of the hair of a Nazirite who 
has duly completed his vow is clearly a survival of hair- 
offerings — a species of offerings widely spread in antiquity, 
and still existent in more or less primitive forms among many 
peoples. Samson's hair, which was never cut, cannot have 
been intended for an offering. Thu^, though the growth of the 
hair is common to the Nazirites of the early stories and ot the 
law, the purpose in the two ca«es is markedly different. 

* 0t o , Rashi. 

VI. i6-i8 69 

A common belief, that the hair is part of the man's vital being, seems 
to account for both treatments. If the one main object is to keep the 
man's power and vitality at the full, the hair is never shorn ; if the object 
is to present the deity with part of the man's life, the hair is a suitable 
means of achieving this. Hence its frequency in offerings. The same 
object is obtained in other cases by chopping off and offering a finger. 
Numerous instances of hair-offering may be found in the works of W. R. 
Smith, Spencer, and Frazer, as cited above; Tylor, Prim. Culture? ii. 401 ; 
Goldziher, M uhammedanische Sticdien, i. 247-251. Here it may suffice 
to refer to one or two : Lucian relates that in Syria the hair of children 
was cut off and dedicated to the deity (de Dea Syria, 60) ; in an ancient 
Arabic poem there occurs the oath — " By him in whose honour the hair is 
shaved off" (Goldziher, 249) ; it was customary with the ancient Arabs 
(Goldziher), as it is with the modern Bedawin (Merrill, East of the Jordan, 
511) and New Zealanders (Tylor), to deposit the shorn hair at the tomb — 
a sacrificial act, and different from the mere shaving of the hair in mourn- 
ing, which is to be otherwise explained (see above, p. 65). The sacri- 
ficial nature of the treatment of the hair was still obvious to the later Jews ; 
and though Philo's explanation is highly refined, it so happens that the 
significance he attributes to the hair is not far removed from the primitive 
view ; the Nazirite's vow, so he argues, is the greatest of all vows, for it 
is the dedication of the man's self ; but since the altar may not be polluted 
with human blood, the man cannot be offered himself: hence the hair 
as a portion and representative of the man's self is combined with the 
sacrifice. The hair-offering even gained a place in Christian history, as 
the case of Justinian and Heraclius proves (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, 
ed. Bury, v. 169). The practice of offering the hair is therefore in no 
way peculiar to the Hebrews, nor is the origin to be sought in peculiar 
Hebrew beliefs. All that is peculiar to the religion of the Hebrews is 
that the offering must be made to Yahweh and not to others, such as 
the spirits of dead. 

19, 20. After the fat parts and the viscera of the ram of the 
peace-offering have been burned on the altar (v. 17 ), according 
to Lev. 3 6 " 11 7 30f -, the priest takes the shoulder, which has 
meantime been boiled, together with one of the cakes and 
wafers, v. 14 , and waves these before the altar. After the 
rite of waving, these become the property of the priest, to- 
gether with the breast and the thigh, which fell to him by 
the general law of the peace-offering (Lev. 7 28 - 34 , especially 
34 I0 i2-i5^ The priest thus waves and receives a larger part 
of the Nazirite's peace-offerings than in ordinary cases. The 
peace-offering was one in which, even by the priestly law (Lev. 
7 11 " 21 ), the offerer partook ; we may therefore conclude that 
at the close of the specified ritual the discharged Nazirite, 
together, as we may assume, with his friends, partook of the 


sacrificial meal. It may have been customary to drink wine 
at this meal ; and to this the final clause of the verse may 
refer, though, of course, the clause — And afterwards the 
Nazirite may drink wine — may be purely and simply permis- 
sive. — 19. The shoulder] in Dt. (18 3 ) this forms one of the 
regular portions due to the priest. — 20. The wave-breast] so 
RV. here and Lev. y 34 io uf -, Nu. i8 is , but in Ex. 2 9 27 "the 
breast of the wave -offering." The phrase simply means 
the breast which was waved (cp. Ex. 2g 26f -, Lev. 7 30 ), i.e. 
moved to and fro (very probably, as tradition reports, in 
the direction of the altar) as a symbol that it was given to 
Yahweh. — The thigh of the contribution] the thigh of the 
frumah (cp. 5° n., 15 19 n.) was the right (Lev. 7 s2 ) thigh, 
which was removed (huraw, Ex. 2Q, 27 ) from the whole offering 
to be the priest's portion: cp. 18 11 n. 

13. n.\ L c] G.-K. 74A ; Sta. 201b, 619/& — wx K'2'] lit. "One shall bring 
him," i.e. the Nazirite shall be brought by some person unnamed (Dav. 
108a). This is on material grounds (see above) unlikely here ; other 
explanations of the text are, however, even more open to objection. Rashi 
explains it, " he shall bring himself" ; but the parallels for the pronominal 
ace. as a reflexive (unless, as in Jer. 7 19 , it is emphatic) are unreal ; 
Dt. 34 6 WN "np'1 "and he (Moses) buried himself," is an interpretation 
embodying a ridiculous Rabbinic opinion, and in Lev. 22 16 the subj. and 
obj. of wbti can and should be regarded as referring to different persons. 
Konig (iii. 324^/) treats iriN as resuming the preceding nu (" Naziriteship "), 
but in a different sense — " he shall bring it, viz. his hair." Di. suspects that 
the words '"' h . . . anprn of v. 14 are an insertion, and that, subsequently, inn 
(pointing forward to 'ui BQ3 of v. 14 ) was placed as an obj. to N'3', which, 
by the former insertion, had been deprived of its original obj. ('m C3d). — 
14. uwp] so, in defining the age of a sacrificial victim, 7 15 15 27 , Lev. 12 6 ; 
with this alternates nitr\2- Ex. 12 5 , Lev. 9 s . K6nig, iii. p. 293 n., discusses 
the syntax of the present phrase. — ~nx can . . . en] a rare position for the 
numeral inx, but cp. 1 S. 6 7 ; in j$ and in the remaining two instances 
of its use in this verse, it occupies its usual position immediately after 
the substantive ; Konig, iii. 334c. — 19. nhvi jnin] either nhv2 is ace. of 
condition =" the shoulder being boiled" (Dav. 32, R. 2), or, as very 
exceptionally in OT., the indef. adj. qualifies a def. noun (Konig, iii. 

21. The subscription to the law. — This is the law of the 
Nazirite who takes a vow — to wit, his offering to Yahweh in 
accordance with his Naziriteship apart from what (or, any- 
thing further which) his means enable him (to offer). The 

VI. 19-21 7 1 

construction is awkward ; but the view of it underlying this 
translation is preferable to ffi U — "this is the law of the 
Nazirite who vows his offering-." In either case the subscrip- 
tion confirms the conclusion that the sacrifices formed the 
main element in Naziriteship as understood by the law and 
illustrated by later practice. — The point of the subscription 
appears to be this : the sacrifices provided in the law are a 
minimum', if a man's means admit, he may offer more, but 
under no conditions less. And if at the commencement of 
his vow he vows larger offerings than the law demands, 
then he must discharge them. If, for instance, a Nazirite 
in taking a vow says, " Lo, I am a Nazirite on condition of 
offering a hundred burnt-offerings and a hundred peace- 
offerings when I shave," then he must offer accordingly 
(Siphre). For the phrase IT yjWl, cp. Ezek. 46?, Lev. 14 21 . 

21-27. The priestly blessing gives terse and beautiful 
expression to the thought that Israel owes all to Yahweh, 
who shields His people from all harm, and grants them all 
things necessary for their welfare. 

Each of the three unequal lines of the blessing consists 
of a longer, followed by a shorter hemistich. 

It would have been more in accordance with P's general 
method if the blessing had been introduced in connection 
with the first occasion on which Aaron solemnly blessed 
the people (Lev. g 22f> ) ; possibly it once stood there, for we 
cannot be sure that its present is its original position ; see 
above, p. 39. 

The blessing is introduced by a formula characteristic of 
p ( v 2l.22a cp# ^ n .). But while it formed part of P, there 
neither has been nor can be much doubt felt that it was not 
composed by P, and that it is, consequently, of earlier origin 
than the date of its incorporation in P. The linguistic affini- 
ties (and, indeed, the general tenor and feeling) of the 
blessing, while they decisively distinguish it from P, relate 
it to the Psalms. It appears to have influenced Ps. 67 
directly, possibly also Ps. 4 7 , though this is far more doubt- 
ful. It is probable, then, that the blessing is pre-exilic in 
origin — a citation from an early Psalm, as Addis suggests, or, 


more probably, a blessing- actually used in the temple at 
Jerusalem before the Exile. 

A liturgical poem, such as the blessing- is, in which the whole people is 
addressed in the 2nd pers. sing-., would have been a natural product of the 
period of the Josianic Reformation. The centralisation of worship must 
have strengthened the sense of the religious unity of the people as well 
as that of the unity of Yahweh. The blessing may, of course, be con- 
siderably earlier ; but the positive reasons adduced for holding it to be 
such are not cogent. Ewald {History, Eng. tr. ii. 21) referred it to the 
Mosaic period on account of its antique simplicity ; Del. {Zeitschr. fiir 
kirchliche Wissenschaft it. Hrchliches Leben, 1882, pp. 1 13-136) to the pre- 
Davidic period on account of its influence on the Psalms. See also Konig, 
Einleitung, p. 186. 

Of the later use of the blessing- (cp. Ecclus. 5o 20ff ), the 
Mishnah gives a good deal of information : it was used in the 
temple at Jerusalem every morning in connection with the 
daily sacrifices ; the sacred name was pronounced, and not 
replaced by Adonai. It was also regularly used in the syna- 
gogues ; in these it was not limited to the morning service, 
but a substitute for the sacred name was used. For these 
and a number of other details, see Tamid vii. 2 ( = Sotah vii. 6), 
Wagenseil in Surenhusius' Mishnah, iii. 264 ; Hamburger, 
Realencycloplidie, ii. Abth. (art. " Priestersegen ") ; Herzfeld, 
Gesch. des Volkes Israel, ii. 108 f., 162 f . ; Schurer, GJV 3 . 
ii. 457 f. (Eng. tr. 11. ii. 82 f.). 

23. In limiting the prerogative of blessing to the "sons of 
Aaron" (i.e. the priests), the present law, which governed 
post-exilic practice, differs from Dt. io 8 21 5 , which made it 
the prerogative of the whole tribe of Levi. Still earlier we 
hear of the king blessing the people in the name of Yahweh, 
2 S. 6 18 . — 24-&6. The blessing may be rendered — 

Yahweh bless thee and guard thee : 
Yahweh cause His face to 

shine upon thee, and show thee favour : 
Yahweh lift up His face 

towards thee, and appoint thee welfare. 

24. Yahweh bless thee] by granting fruitful harvests, in- 
crease of cattle, and success in all undertakings : cp. Dt. 
28 2 " 14 .— And guard thee\ the same wish expressed negatively. 

VI. 23-26 7$ 

Yahweh guard thee from everything - , such as drought or 
hostile invasion, which would prevent the blessing. 

Some of the Rabbinic interpretations collected in Siphrc are interesting 
— " Yahweh bless thee with possessions and preserve thee in possessions. 
R. Nathan said : Yahweh bless thee with possessions and guard thee in 
body (bodily health). R. Isaac said : Yahweh guard thee from the evil 
nature (jnn "is') : cp. Pr. 3 s8 . Another interpretation : Yahweh guard 
thee, so that others may not rule over thee : cp. Ps. i2i 6-4, 5-7a - 8 V 

25. Yahvdeh cause His face to shine upon thee] Ps. 3i 1 7d6) ) 
Dan. 9 17 (by) ; Ps. 8o 4 - 8 - 20(3 - 7 - 19) (abs.) ; 1 19 135 (3) ; 67 s (1) (nm) ; 
cp. Ps. 4 7(6) 44 4(3) 89 16(15) , and, if the text be correct, ct. Ps. 90 8 
The light or brightness of the face is the sign of inward pleasure, 
and, when turned towards or upon any one, of a favourable 
disposition to him ; two men reporting to R. Johanan that R. 
Abbahu had found treasure, and asked why they said so, re- 
plied, " Because his face shines." * In Pr. i6 15a " the light of 
the king's countenance" is parallel to " his favour," v. 15b , and 
antithetical to "wrath," v. 14a . Cp. also Pr. 15 30 , Job 29 24 
(Duhm, "the light of my countenance comforted "the mourn- 
ers"), Ecclus. 7 24 , and the use of }?2 ( = ^,X:). Perhaps this 

metaphor for human favour was only used of Yahweh after 
men had ceased to believe in the possibility, dangerous and 
generally fatal as it was, of man's seeing the actual face of 
God (Ex. 33 20 etc.). With Ex. 34 29f - (P)— the effect of the fiery 
glory of Yahweh on Moses' face — the expression has no con- 
nection. — And favour thee] pn, frequent in the Psalms, never 
occurs in P. — 26. Lift up His face towards thee] the exact 
phrase does not occur again with a divine subject, and with 
a human subject it is used in somewhat different senses 
(2 S. 2 22 , Job 22 26 ; 2 K. g 32 ). The nearest parallels are Ps. 
4 7(6) 33 18 34 16(15) : in Assyrian the phrase "to lift up the eye 
upon " is used of God's favourable regard (Del. Assyr. 
Handworterbuch, 484a). When Yahweh hid His face His 
creatures were troubled (Ps. 3o 8(7) 104 29 44 25 ^ 24) ) ; when He 
turned it towards them their welfare was secure. — Welfare] 
such rather than peace is the meaning of Dl7B> here : it is free- 
dom from all disaster; cp. Job 21 9 , Lev. 26 6 . Some Jewish 
* Pesikta of Rab Kahana, 38a (cited by Del.). 


interpreters took the clause to be a prayer for the establishment 
of the Messianic kingdom (Is. 9 6(7) ), and the light of Yahweh's 
face (v. 25 ) to refer to the Shechinah ; so <£° Siphre. — 27. The 
solemn thrice-repeated pronunciation of the divine name in 
the blessing - secures the presence and favour of Yahweh ; on 
the sense that lingers here of the power of the duly pronounced 
name, see Fr. Giesebrecht, Die alttestamentliche Schdtzung 
des Goltes-namens (1901). 

23. "ilDJe] The infin. abs. has an adverbial (G.-K., or imperative 
(ib. HT,bb) force. Some emend; Haupt proposes 5i?N, others TDK?; but 
"EN 1 ? followed by ? and a pronominal suffix or noun would be quite unusual. 

On the accentuation of the blessing-, see Del. (op. cit. p. 72), p. 133. 

VII. The offerings of the princes. — On the day of the 
completion of the tabernacle and the anointing of the altar 
(v. 1 - 10 - 84 - 88 ), i.e. on the first day of the first month of the 
second year of the Exodus (Ex. 40 2- 17- 10 , cp. Lev. 8 l0L ), the 
princes (i 5-15 ), mentioned in the same order as in c. 2, make 
each a sacred offering (pip) of precisely the same amount, and 
consisting of (1) wagons and oxen, v. 3 , which are given to 
the Gershonites and Merarites for use in connection with the 
tabernacle, v. 4 " 9 ; and (2) a quantity of sacrificial material 
in gold or silver vessels, and a number of sacrificial 
animals. It is directed that the sacrificial gifts shall be 
formally presented by the several princes on successive days, 
v. 11 . This is done, v. 12 ^ 83 , and the total amount offered 
recorded, v. 84-88 . 

Thus the date is a month previous to i 1 , but the narrative of 1-4 (i.e. 
of the month following - the erection of the temple) is presupposed. This 
is best explained by referring the chapter to P s ; so We. Kue. It is, of 
course, not impossible that Ps had some account of an offering made by 
the princes ; only then, as Di. points out, the editor has not only removed 
the narrative from its proper position after Ex. 40 or Lev. 8-10, but has 
also recast the original by adapting it to c. 1-4. For the wearisome 
repetitions in v. 12-83 , cp. i 20 " 43 . Linguistically note 'V 'N'c: v. 2 , min v. 10 . 

The writer desires "to introduce the heads of the tribes 
... as models of liberality towards the sanctuary, which his 
own contemporaries would do well to copy" (Kue. Hex. 94). 

1. The day that Moses completed the setting-up (D'pn?) of 

VI. 27-VII. 8 75 

the tabernacle] cp. Ex. 40 17f - — "And in the first month in the 
second year on the first day of the month the tabernacle 
was set up (Dpin), and Moses set up (c~ ""i) the tabernacle," etc. 
The identity of the terms used here and in Ex. is obscured in 
RV. Occasionally DV in the sing-. (BDB. s.v. 6) is used in 
the more indefinite sense of " time," as, e.g., in " the day of 
harvest" (Pr. 25 13 ). But in view of Ex. 40 1 - 17 this meaning 
cannot satisfactorily be given to it here in spite of v. 84 . — And 
anointed it and sanctified it] Ex. 30 26 - 29 40 9 - 11 , Lev. 8 10ff -. On the 
anointing of lifeless objects with a view to their consecration as 
a mark of P s , cp. We. Comp. p. 145. — 2. The princes of Israel] 
(^NTJ" 1 "^m), "Prince" (K'tPa) is P's equivalent for "elder" or 
"prince" or "captain" (it?) of JE D: cp. CH. i3i p . The 
particular phrase "princes of Israel," used in a vaguer sense 
by Ezekiel (21 17 22 6 45°), is in the Pentateuch used only 
of the twelve persons named in i 5-15 . The four passages 
(i 44 4 46 7 2 - 84 ) where it is found all seem to belong to P s . P g 
prefers another phrase, viz. "princes of the congregation" 
(my(n) WOT), Ex. 16 22 (cp. 34 31 ), Nu. 4 34 16 2 31 13 3 2 2 , Jos. 
Q i5. is 22 30. cp> Driver, L.O.T. 132 f. (Nos. 32, 38).— The 
heads of their fathers' houses] Ex. 6 U (P), 1 Ch. 5 24 f, 

2 . 


cp. Nu. i 2 - 4 n. — 3. This v. completes the sense of v 
v. 2 the verb (limp*) "offered" was left without an object; in 
v. 3 the object, cognate to the verb of v. 2 , is introduced after a 
new verb — " And they brought their offering (DJmp) " ; the last 
clause of v. 3 repeats the verb of v. 2 and the sense of v. 3a . — 
Before Yahweh] cp. 5 16 n. — Wagons] the precise sense of 
the word rendered in RV. "covered" is uncertain: see phil. 

4-9. Moses assigns two of the six wagons and four of 
the twelve oxen, presented by the princes, to the Gershonites, 
the rest to the Merarites, for use in the transport of the 
things intrusted to them (4 21 ~ 33 ). The Kohathites receive 
none, for they must carry the "holy things" given into their 
care on their shoulders. C. 4 does not contemplate this dis- 
tinction ; cp. We. Comp. 181. Earlier writers saw nothing 
amiss in the ark being placed on a cart (2 S. 6 3 ). — 8. By the 
hatid of Ithamar] as the chief overseer of the Gershonites and 


Merarites (4 28 33 ). — 9. Holy things] Wlp is wrongly rendered in 
RV. " sanctuary " ; see 3 31 and cp. 4 15 io 21 n. 

2. wn] ffir prefixes the numeral 12. — 3. 3* rtay] but v. sb - 6 - 8 nS:y and nSjyn 
undefined by 3S. If 3* be the same word as D'as (Is. 66 20 ), the sing-, after 
pi. nSay is peculiar. The word is probably a gloss. The meaning is un- 
certain ; neither here nor in Is. does the context require "covered," nor 
does the etymology support such a meaning, nor the use of fumbu in 
Assyr. : gumbu is the draught wagon as distinguished from the narkabbi 
or war chariot (Del. Assyr. Wurterbuch, 558). Cr (Xaixir-qviKa.'s), Aq. 
(Kara<TKeTratTT&s), "S (tecta) and 2T° (|'sna) give to 3S the sense of covered ; 
cp. fflr, Aq., Theod. in Isaiah. %> (^.oASO) and S>' r (puo) render by 
made ready ; 2IJ on ([DpBDi jsno) gives both meanings. Symm. (uirovpyi&s) 
may have read N3X and understood the phrase to mean a wagon for 
(military) service. Symm. and H in Is. render by litter. — 5. nnND] BDI3. 
863. — b"n] Dav. 11, R. d. 

10 f. — The offering of sacrificial material. — This is pre- 
sented by all the princes on the same day as the wag'ons 
and oxen, v. 10 (cp. v. 84 ); after the presentation, v. u , Yahweh 
commands that each prince shall offer on a separate day, 
i.e. that the present of each prince shall be offered afresh 
and formally received on a separate day. This appears to 
be the meaning of the verses, but it is badly expressed, for 
the terms of the two verses are the same. Is the view that 
the offerings were made on separate days (v. 11-83 ) an in- 
trusion ? 

The paragraph division of RV. would be improved if v. 10 
began a new paragraph : the account of the first gift closes 
at v. 9 , the account of the second begins with v. 10 . 

The Dedication-gift] '"I33n has the same sense in v. 84, 8a 
and, perhaps, in v. 11 , though there it may mean "dedication." 
Though the root is ancient, the noun in Heb. is confined 
to late writers, the Chronicler, and an editor of the Psalms 
(30 1 ). For sacrifices at dedications, cp. 1 K. 8 62f - (cp. 2 Ch. 
7°), Neh. i2 27-43 , 1 Mac. 4 53f \ The gift consists of materials 
for each of the main types of sacrificial offerings — the meal- 
offering, the burnt-offering, the sin-offering, and the peace- 
offering. — In the day that it was anoi?ited] Ex. 40 10 (cp. v. 1 ) ; 
see above on v. 1 . — 13. Dish] (myp) RV. "charger"; see Ex. 
25™.— Bowl] (p-lTD), Ex. 27 s .— 14. Saucer] sp ; RV. "spoon," 
Ex. 25 2y — The shekel of the sanctuary] Ex. 30 13 . 

VII. 9— VIII. i-4 77 

10. mion ri33n nx] d5 eh rbu iyKaivL(Jixbv,—a paraphrase rather than a 
variant (='Dn'jrr?): ct. v. 84 - 88 .— in.x n»Dn ova] Dav. 79, 81, R. 3.— 12-83. 
The only variations from the otherwise constant formula of the following 
twelve sections are — (1) In the initial vv. of the first two sections : ct. 
v 12. is vv ; t jj Vi 24. so e t c> ( 2 ) i n the second v. of the first two sections we have 
uaipi v. 13 , U3ip n» 3npn v. 19 ; in all the remaining sections i:3np v. 25 - 31 etc. 
S reads imp simply in v. 13 - 19 also, ffi assimilates v. 18 - 19 . (3) The lack of 
special forms for the ordinals above ten necessitated a slight change in 
the reference to the nth and 12th days, v. 72 - 78 .— 13. rmDl D't^ts-] Dav. 37, 
R. 4. — 2£. iSni '»!? N't?:] the reason for using Jasa periphrasis of the 
gen. here and in subsequent and corresponding vv. is not clear : ct. v. 18 . 
See Konig, iii. 280^.— 72. ov "icy wj> DV3] Dav. 38 (2).— 86. wipn . . . rrwy] 
(5 BL omit.— 87. cnn;oi] ffi + DH'SPfl: cp. 6 15 ; but here the addition is clearly 
wrong. — 88. rnian] ffi + VT k!?0 nnx (juerd rb lrX-npCJacti rds x«/> a s airrov) : cp. 
Ezek. 43 26 . The translators must have had the Heb. phrase before them. 

89. An isolated fragment of a narrative which recorded 
the fulfilment of the promise made in Ex. 2^.— With Him] 
presupposes an immediately preceding mention of Yahweh. 
—And He spake to him] The subject is Yahweh. In its original 
context the words doubtless introduced a divine speech. On 
the subject-matter of the v., cp. i 1 (2nd n.). 

nine] Hithp. part.; G.-K. 54c. The same form occurs in 2 S. 14 13 , Ezek. 
f 43 6 : otherwise the Hithp. of 131 is not found. Perhaps we should 
punctuate T3TD, the present punctuation merely representing some false 
exegesis such as that of Rashi, who explains vhtt n3na as meaning naiD 
BXJJ p 1 ? H'3, i.e. speaking with himself. 

The versions make different efforts to get over the difficulty presented 
by this v. when its fragmentary character is not recognised. TB goes 
furthest — Cumque ingrederetur Moyses tabernaculum foederis, ut consu- 
leret oraculum, audiebat vocem loquentis ad se de propitiatorio quod erat 
super arcam testimonii inter duos Cherubim : unde et loquebatur ei. The 
attempt to make the last clause express the constantly recurring practice, 
which would, of course, require in the Hebrew the simple imperfect, is 
perhaps also the cause of the renderings of ffi (/cat i\d\ei) and ST (!?!?DnDl). 
jo inserts l before hya and substitutes 13T for Tail, and so reads, "And 
from the mercy-seat ... He spake to him." 

VIII. 1-4. The golden candlestick. — The verses contain 
nothing new in substance. Thus v. 1,2 * is a formula (cp. 
_6 n \ j 2b _ j7 Xt 25 s7 ; v. 3 the execution of the command of v. 2b 
(not recorded in Ex. 37 17 - 24 ) ; 4a = Ex. 25 31 ; 4b , cp. Ex. 2 5 9 - *>. 

The person to whose care the lamps are intrusted is un- 
defined in Ex. 25 s7 ($), is Moses in Ex. 25 s7 (S (5), but, as 
here, Aaron in Ex. 27 21 , Lev. 24 1 - 4 . 

In view of the character of the section it seems preferable 


with Kue. and CH. to refer it entirely, rather than with Di. 
(cp. Paterson, SBOT.) only in part (v. 4 ), to P s . 

When thou settest up the lamps] so RV. marg. rightly ; 
n?yn means to fix on, not to light (RV.) a lamp. 

2. n-TODii «JB V]D f?n] the sense is probably the same as that of the 
parallel expression (ma naj? Vy) in Ex. 25 s7 — "on the space in front of the 
candlestick " ; in other words, on the N. side of the outer chamber along 
which the table of shevvbread was placed (Ex. 26 s5 ). The phrase 'JS ^1D bt< 
occurs elsewhere in s , Ex. 2S 25 - 37 , 39 18 , Lev. 8 9 (all P), 2 S. ii 15 f.— 3. ba 
rnuKi 'jfl ^id] ? dittographic from v. 2 ; as an interpretation of the text RV. 
is doubtful.— i. nn-is] rather .Trns : so ffi S : cp. Ex. 25 31 . 

VIII. 5-22. The purification and presentation of the Levites 
to Yah wen. — A parallel narrative to 3 6-13 . All that is new in 
substance is contained in v. 6b_13 , and consists of a command 
to purify the Levites, and of directions for their purification 
and solemn presentation to Yahweh. The rest (v. 5 - 6a - u ~ 22 ) 
consists of variants on parts of v. 6b ~ 13 , a resetting- of 3 5-13 , 
and stereotyped formulae (see notes below for details). 

The section contains curious repetitions ; e.g. the command 
to purify the Levites is given twice, v. 6 - 15 , and Aaron is once, 
v. 11 , Moses twice, v. 13 - 15 , commanded to " wave" the Levites. 

It appears probable that an original narrative by P s of the 
solemn institution of the Levites, designed as a parallel to the 
consecration of the priests (Lev. 8), has been subsequently 
expanded, partly by attempts to emphasise the activity of 
Aaron and partly by assimilation to 3 5 ~ 13 . 

So, substantially, We. (comp. 180 f.), Kue., Baudissin (Priesterthum, 
44 f.), CH. Others (Di., Str.), though admitting that the passage has been 
expanded, consider the cleansing and formal presentation of the Levites 
to belong to Ps. The case is well stated by Kue. " Nu. viii. 5-22 . . . 
is an insipid repetition and exaggeration of the account of the separation 
of the Levites for the service of the sanctuary in Nu. iii. and iv. If the 
author of these last-named chapters had supposed that the Levites, before 
entering on their duties, had to be purified, and presented to Yahwe by 
nsun, like a sacrifice, he would not have passed it over in silence ; for he 
represents them in iii. and iv. as already intrusted with the task which in 
that case they would only have become qualified to undertake in viii. 5-22. 
This pericope, then, must be a later addition, as we might have supposed 
from its setting, viii. 1-4, 23-26. Its author observed that a formal con- 
secration of the Levites, analogous to that of the priests (Lev. viii.), was 
not recorded, though it seemed to be neither unsuitable nor superfluous. 
This defect he supplied " (Hexateuch, § 6 n. 33). 

VIII. 5-7 79 

6a. Cp. 3 18 *- 48 . — And cleanse ///<'/«] make them ceremonial!} 
clean. The priests are sanctified (Ex. 28 11 , Lev. 8 10 " 12 ), the 
Levites merely cleansed. — 7. And thus shalt thou do unto them 
in cleansing them] (h"\7\vb) cp. Ex. 29 1 (of the priests), "And 
this is the thing which thou shalt do unto them in sanctifying 
them " (DDK V~\\h). Corresponding to this general difference, 
that the dedication of the Levites involved only the negative 
process of purification from ceremonial uncleanness, the dedi- 
cation of the priests, in addition, the positive process of 
receiving the qualities of holiness, is the absence from the 
present ceremonial of the sprinkling with blood and the anoint- 
ing with oil, which play so significant a part in the dedication 
of the priests, Lev. 8 12 - 23f - : cp. Weinel in ZATW. 1898, pp. 
35 f., 62 f. — Water of sin] (riXLDn ""D) i.e. water for the removal 
of sin ; so mj(n) ^ = " water of impurity," 19 9 ; for analogous 
uses of the construct and genitive (Dav. 23). The term is used 
nowhere else, and there is, therefore, no means of determining 
with certainty whether it denotes water specially treated, as 
the analogy of "the water of impurity" or the "waters of 
bitterness " (5 17f- ) or the water used in the cleansing of lepers 
(Lev. 14 4-7 ) would suggest, or simply clean water, which might 
also be used as a means of cleansing from sin (Ezek. 36 25 , cp. 
Zech. 13 1 ). The priests are entirely washed, not merely 
sprinked, with (simple) water (Lev. 8 6 ). — And let them (the 
Levites) cause a razor to pass over their whole flesh] i.e. all the 
hair, not only of the head but of the whole body, is to be cut. 
Close shaving, which the English expression suggests, is 
scarcely intended : cp. 6 5 note. Close shaving (Y1J?S5> 73 DN TOl) 
entered into the purification of lepers (Lev. i4 8f- ), and of 
Nazirites who had contracted uncleanness from the dead (6 9 ) : 
cp. also Dt. 2 1 12 . Compare the practice of the Egyptians. 
"The priests shave themselves all over their body every other 
day, so that no lice or any other foul thing may come to be upon 
them when they minister to the gods " (Herod, ii. 37) ; and 
see, further, on 6 9 . — And let them wash their clothes] another 
point of inferiority as compared with the priests, who are clad 
with entirely new and different clothes (Lev. 8 13 ) : cp. with the 
present, once again t^e rite of the purification of lepers (Lev. 


i4 8 '-). — 8. The offerings to be made by the Levites are a burnt- 
offering (cp. v. 12 ), consisting of a young bullock (Lev. 4 J ), with 
the appropriate meal-offering (15 9 ), and a sin-offering consist- 
ing of a second young bullock. — They shall take . . . thou 
shall take] the reason for the change of subject, possibly the 
result of textual accident, is not clear: cp. v. 12b for the 2nd 
p. — 10. Before Yahweh] cp. 5 16 n. — 10b. The people lay their 
hands on the Levites to indicate that it is they who offer them 
to Yahweh : for the rite of laying on hands, see Lev. i 4 . — 
Children of Israel] To explain this as meaning the representa- 
tives of the people (i 16 ) or the heads of their tribes* is quite 
gratuitous. Had the writer clearly thought out the ceremony, 
and intended the one or the other, he would no doubt have ex- 
pressed it intelligibly. The same remark may hold good with 
regard to the next rite — the waving of the Levites. Either the 
practical difficulty that a large body of over 20,000 men could 
not, like loaves of bread (Lev. 23 17 ) or a sheaf of corn (Lev. 
23 15 ) or a piece of a sacrificial animal (Lev. 7 32-34 , Nu. 6 20 ), 
be moved or waved to and fro before the altar, never occurred 
to the writer, and he has introduced the act of waving (nsun), 
without thinking how it could have been actually performed, 
because it suitably symbolises a gift to Yahweh (6 20 n.) ; 
or else the words epjn, nsun have lost their original meaning 
and signify nothing more than "to make a sacred gift," 
"a sacred gift"; cp. Now. ii. 239 f. — 11. Probably an 
interpolation to explain that the "waving" referred to Moses 
in v. 13 - 15 was actually performed by Aaron. Di. further 
suggests that v. 13b - u originally occupied the place of v. 11 . 
For the introduction of Aaron, cp. i 2 n. — 12. The Levites 
before entering on their duties must not only cleanse them- 
selves, but also offer atoning sacrifices ; the imposition of 
hands is part of the regular ritual, Lev. i 4 . — 14. And thou shah 
separate the Levites] as Israel is separated from other peoples 
(Lev. 20 26 ), so the Levites are separated from the rest of Israel. 
14b. Cp. 3 12b . — 15a. After the ritual described in the preceding 
vv., the Levites are to enter on their duties — this is the natural 
close to the narrative. Another "cleansing" and another 

* Di., Keil. 

VIII. 8-22 8 I 

"waving," v. 15b , cannot have been intentionally introduced by 
the original writer at this point, but is due to expansion of the 
original narrative.— 16a. Cp. 3°.— 16b. Cp. 3 12b .— 17. Cp. 3 13 . 
— 18. Cp. 3 12 . — 19a. Cp. 3 »a. 12. s, — 19 The serv i ce f the 
children of Israel] the services which, but for the exchange, 
the firstborn Israelites must have rendered. By discharg- 
ing these services the Levites make propitiation for the people, 
— secure or cover (IB?) them against such a plague (*p3) as 
would be the natural result of withholding from Yahweh His 
due (cp. Ex. 30 12 ), and so provoking His anger. By a kind 
of afterthought, as it would seem, the writer adds the words 
when the children of Israel approach the sanctuary (cp. 18 22 ), 
thus indicating that the Levites screen the people not only 
from the anger which would be evoked if the services of the 
firstborn or their substitutes were withheld, but also, by 
forming a ring round the tabernacle, from the wrath which fell 
on those who, without due qualification, drew near the sacred 
edifice (i 53 ). The word used for plague (*]))), which is confined 
to P, commonly implies some calamity inflicted on people who 
have roused the anger of God (cp. i7 nf> , Ex. i2 13 30 12 , Jos. 
22 17 f ) ; and the verb often has a similar implication (cp. e.g. 
Ex. 7 27 , 2 S. 12 15 ). — 20-22. The various directions carried out. 
The allusion to Aaron, at least in v. 21a , is due to modification 
of the original : cp. v. 11 n. — 21. And the Levites tinsinned them- 
selves] The Hebrews included in the idea of " sin " ceremonial 
uncleanness, and it is to the removal of sin of this kind that 
the vb. XDnnn refers, alike here and in ic/ 2 - 13 - 20 3i 19f - 23 . So 
the Piel NOn is used in Lev. 8 15 of the removal of the "sin," 
or ceremonial uncleanness of the altar. 

7. i-rani] G.-K. 27?, 54c— 14. ci^n (2)] ffi om.— 15. 'n hntt nx -nyb] ffi S 
-ij;id bna may m nay 1 ?, as, e.g., 4 30 in |^ ; cp. v. 11 - 19 - 22 . — nBi:n] ffi £ add nw 'ish ; 
cp. v. 13 - 21 in |t"J. — 16. mes] occurs nowhere else ; even in 3 12 , on which the 
present passage is based, we find nos. S reads here also IBB. The clause 
seems to have suffered from some corruption ; in addition to mas, the hi 
between "iiaa and ':aa is suspicious. The whole clause haic" . . . nnn is 
read by S thus : 'px-isr una cm nos nisa bj nnn.— 17. 'flan] S wan. — 19. furwi] 
Dr. Tenses, 690 ; Konig, iii. 200a. 

23-26. The age of Levitical service. — Levites between 
twenty-five and fifty years of age are to undertake the respon- 


sibility of the service of the tabernacle. When they have 
reached the age of fifty, their responsibility ceases, though 
they may still render voluntary assistance to their fellow- 
Levites (vnx v. 26 ). 

According to c. 4 the age of service was from thirty to 
fifty. On the difference, see 4 3 n. 

There are also certain stylistic peculiarities which distinguish the 
present section from c. 4. In c. 4 the age of service is indicated by means 
of the phrase mv DX'Dn p iyi nSyDi ma d*e6b> po. Here we have the two 
direct statements : At twenty-five the Levite enters (no*) on service ; at 
fifty he retires (aic -1 ). The particular combination majwi nds v. 25 , lit. " the 
warfare of the service " (cp. 4 s n.), occurs nowhere else. — In 24 C"M i^n hnt 
is unique ; Paterson supplies rrnnfi after nxi ; but even this fails to give 
any of the usual formulas ; see 5 29 n. US are paraphrases rather than 
variants. The awkwardness of f§ may betray a late hand, or we might 
supply WJffi after iwx ; cp. Ex. 29 1 and below v. 26b (cp. Ex. 29 s3 ). 

IX. 1-14. The supplementary passover. — The passover 
having been duly observed on the 14th day of the first month 
of the second year, according to the directions given at the 
institution of the festival in the previous year, v. 1-5 , certain 
men complain that they had been prevented, through defile- 
ment by the dead, from discharging their passover duties, 
v. 6f \ On inquiry Moses receives this instruction from Yahweh, 
v. 8f - : all who are prevented, either by defilement from the 
dead or by absence on a distant journey, from observing 
the passover on the right day, are to observe it on the 14th 
day of the next month, v. 10-12 ; all who fail to observe the 
festival, except for these reasons, are to be " cut off from their 
kinsmen," v. 13 . The ger or resident foreigner (15 13 n.), as 
well as the Israelite by birth, is to keep the passover, v. 14 . 

The supplemental character of the section, the date (v. 1 , cp. 7 1 , ct. I 1 ), 
and the lack of organic connection with the context, are most simply ex- 
plained as being due to the secondary character of the passage (cf. Introd. 
§ 12). The insertion of the passage here is explicable, for through its 
chief motive it is connected with the middle of the second month, and 
should therefore stand between i 1 and io 11 . Had it, however, formed 
part of the original narrative, the main motive would, it is reasonable to 
suppose, have been stated first, and dated in the second month, and the 
historical cause, v. 1 " 8 , would have been introduced by means of a plu- 
perfect paragraph. 

Di.'s view is that the original narrative of P contained, at this point, a 

IX. i-6 8 


short account of the supplementary passover (see below on v. 2 ), and that 
this was expanded in the final redaction into the section as now read. 
The variations in ffi (v. 8 " 5 ) and the faulty text of v. 2 he considers to be at 
once the result and the indications of such a process. See also We. Conip. 
177 ; Kue. Hex. § 6 n. 32. 

la. i 1 n. — The day of the month is omitted, for it is illegiti- 
mate to interpret in the first month (flCftOn l"im) as meaning 
"at the first new moon," i.e. on the first day of the month. 
Hebrew writers, when they wish to define the first day, use 
the numeral ins ; so i 1 - 18 29 1 33 s8 , Dt. i 3 , Ezek. 31 1 , Hag. i 1 , 
Ezr. 3 6 7 9 and often. Cp. Di. on Ex. 19 1 . — 2. The rendering 
of R.V., Moreover, let the children of Israel keep, is not a trans- 
lation of^JCI, which presupposes some such phrase as "com- 
mand the children of Israel (that they keep) " ; see phil. n. on 
5 2 . Either such a phrase has dropped out (ffi prefixes elirov), 
or the tense was originally historical (^22), the present pro- 
nunciation being the result of a redaction of the passage (see 
above). Di. surmises that all that is original in v. 1-5 ran 
as follows: "And the children of Israel kept the passover 
at its appointed time, on the 14th day of the first (so (£) 
month at evening, in the wilderness of Sinai : according to 
all that Yahweh commanded Moses, so the children of Israel 
did." — 3. Between the two evenings] the same peculiar phrase 
is used elsewhere in connection with the passover (first in Ex. 
12 6 ) and in some other connections (Ex. 16 12 29 s9 - 41 30 8 , Nu. 
28 4 ). It is peculiar to P ; with Ex. 12 6 ct. Dt. 16 6 . The exact 
sense of the phrase is obscure ; according to the practice of 
the 1st cent. a.d. it was interpreted to mean the time between 
about three and five o'clock in the afternoon: cp. Jos. BJ. vi. g 3 
with Ex. 12 6 , and, further, Jos. Ant. xiv. 4 s and Pesahim 5 1 
with Ex. 29 s9 . See, further, especially for various Jewish inter- 
pretations, Gesenius, Thesaurus, p. 1065. — 3b. The passover 
is to be kept in the manner already established by decree and 
usage: cp. Ex. 12. But the author of the present section 
shows no very vivid realisation of a passover in the wilderness. 
The regulation of Ex. 12 7 could not have been carried out by 
people dwelling in tents. — 5. And they kept the passover] fflr % 
omit. — At even] ffir omits. — 6. Partaking of the sacrificial flesh 


while in a state of uncleanness is the subject of an express and 
general prohibition, Lev. 7 20f - ; cp. also i S. 2i 4 ~ 6 , Lev. 22 1 " 6 . 
On uncleanness by the dead, see c. 19 ; on the phrase here 
used to express it, 5 2 phil. n. — And before Aaron] probably an 
insertion. Aaron is not mentioned elsewhere in the section ; 
and the pronoun (" to him ") in the next verse disregards him : 
cp. i 2 n. — 7. Why are we withdrawn from offering] the Hebrew 
word (1H33) is used of withdrawal, especially of a part from the 
whole: cp. in Kal Ex. 5 s , Dt. 4 2 ; in Hiph. 36 s 27*, Lev. 27 18 . 
The question seems, therefore, to mean this : Why are we, 
owing to accidental and temporary defilement, to be excluded 
from the rest of Israel and, in the matter of the great annual 
festival, to be in the position of foreigners who would have no 
part in it ? The men did not need to ask why they were pre- 
vented; they knew that the reason lay in their uncleanness. 
Their question is virtually a petition for a modification of the 
law, which, on the present occasion, had prevented them. — 
8. Stand still] cp. the use of 712]} in Jos. 3 16 , Ex. o, 28 ; but the 
parallels are not exact, and the present phrase is a little abrupt. 
Possibly ro or HB = " here " has dropped out; cp. ffiS. — 
9 ff. The law now given provides not only for the case of un- 
cleanness raised by the incident just recorded, but also for the 
case of those on distant journeys. According to the Mishnah 
(Pes. g 1 ), all who were prevented by accident or compulsion from 
observing the first were bound to observe the second passover. 
On the second passover, cp. Pes. 9 passim, and 2 Ch. 30 
(Hezekiah's passover celebrated in the second month, 30 15 ). — 
10. Of you or of your generations] i.e. belonging to this or 
future generations. — 11. Three of the chief regulations govern- 
ing the observance of the normal passover are specified as 
governing also this supplementary passover; with v. llb cp. 
Ex. 1 2 s ; v. 12aa , Ex. 12 10 ; and v. 12a ^, Ex. 12 46 . Then in v. 12b it is 
summarily enjoined that the law of the first passover holds in 
every respect also for the second. — 13. That soul shall be cut 
off from his kinstnen] Gn. 17 14 and often in P (CH. 50). The 
threat is not made in Ex. 12. On the much debated question 
whether this is a threat of death or excommunication, Gunkel 
(Genesis, p. 246) seems to hit the mark : " Doubtless men like 

ix. 7-15 85 

P desired the death of such a sinner . . . and when the 
heathen government permitted it, certainly also inflicted it ; in 
Lev. i7 9f - 2o 3 - 6 we can read between the lines that such capital 
punishment of the religious transgressor was not permitted 
by the government, and that it was necessary to rest content 
with the belief in the destruction of such a sinner by God.'" 
Note 4 18 and the context; see also Kuenen, Rel. of Israel, ii. 
276 f. — That man shall bear his sin\ (KB^ INttn) i.e. shall suffer 
the consequences of his sin, undergo the punishment of it : 
cp. 18 22 , Lev. 20 20 .— 14. Ex. i2 48f -; cp. i 5 13 n. 

hyto?]S, here, and throughout the section, and in 28 2 v-iyia3 : cp. ffi Kara 
Kaipous, v. 3 ; but otherwise in v. 2, 7- 13 . — 6. Wi] Dav. 1136; S vm ; (& ml 
irapeyivovTo ; the latter does not necessarily imply a reading inti, cp. 
1 K. (S.) 20 24 . — 10, '3 t^N wtt] 5 12 n. — fipm tto] On the epicene character of 
■pi, see Kon. iii. 249^. The point over the n of npm has reference to the 
Rabbinic exegesis which refers the adjective to the subj. of the sentence 
instead of to "pi. Cp. (2r here, Siphrg on this passage, and Geiger, 
Urschrift, 185-187. — 12. "ipa ij>] The art. is omitted in the familiar ex- 
pression ; Dav. 22, R. 3 ; Kon. iii. 294^. — 14. tastPDai] S (cp. j&) vb3b>d:ji. 
The pi. is probably right : cp. v. 3 . — nw] 5 9 phil. n. — mtltVl ij^t] Dav. 136; 
Kon. iii. 376a. 

15-23. The fiery cloud. — The movements of the Israelites 
from Sinai onwards were regulated partly by the action of a 
cloud, partly, as before reaching Sinai, by the express com- 
mand of Yahweh. This cloud, which at night assumed a fiery 
appearance, settled on the tabernacle on the day of its erection ; 
subsequently as often and as long as the cloud rested on the 
tabernacle the Israelites encamped ; and as often as the cloud 
rose from off the tabernacle they broke up the camp and 
continued their journey. 

The section, which is unconnected with either the preceding or the 
following, is parallel to Ex. 4o 34a< 36 " 38 and connected with Ex. 4o 2 - 17 by 
the date in v. 15 . It would have stood most naturally at the conclusion of 
the narrative of the erection of the tabernacle. In its present form it may 
best be referred to P s ; note the numerous omissions in (Sr and certain 
expressions not found elsewhere in Ps, viz. "\VK V v. 20 n., '"' rnDfc'D not? (cp. 
i 53 !).), b"k nxnDD v. 15 (cf. Ezek. 8 2 ). As relating the section to P, note the 
conception of the cloud (n. on v. 18 ), the connection of v. 15 with Ex. 40, 
also niiT '3 ba (CH. 19a), pwon (CH. 54), irnyn (CH. 161), nwa T3 (CH. 180). 
See, further, CH. 

15a. Cp. 7 1 n. — The cloud covered] the tense is historical, 


recording- the one definite past event that the cloud settled on 
the tabernacle when it was first set up. On the other hand, 
all the verbs in v. 15b ~ 23a are frequentatives, and state what 
repeatedly happened subsequently (Dr. Tenses, 30). — The 
tabernacle, even the tent of the testimony] the tabernacle (}3COn) 
was contained within the tent (-TIN), cp. 3 25f - n., Ex. 26 7 ; the 
cloud, therefore, is more accurately described as covering 
(HD3) the tent, cp. Ex. 40 34 , Nu. 17 7 (16 42 ); but it is spoken 
of indifferently as resting or being on (?V) either the tent 
(Ex. 40 35 ) or the tabernacle (Ex. 40 s6 - 3S , Nu. io 11 ). "Tent 
of the testimony" (nnyn "bns) only occurs again in i7 22f - 18 2 , 
2 Ch. 24 6 ; "tabernacle of the testimony" (niiyn pfc>o) is 
found in Ex. 38 21 , Nu. i60.6S5i» io u. on « t j ie testimony," 
see i7 18 n. No satisfactory reason can be discovered for the 
addition of the second phrase here, and it may be, as 
Paterson argues, a gloss. — 15b. Cp. Ex. 40 38 . The fiery 
appearance may have been supposed to result from the pre- 
sence in the tabernacle of the glory of Yahweh (Ex. 4o 31f ), 
the appearance of which was like devouring fire (Ex. 24 17 : 
cp. 34 2935 and also Lev. o, 23f -). — 16. The cloud used to cover 
it] (5 5> iJadd " by day." 18. At the commandment of Yahweh] 
the cloud, according to P, first appeared at Sinai (Ex. 24 15-18 ; 
Ex. i6 6 ~ 10 is a misplaced narrative), and first became a per- 
manent phenomenon after the erection of the tabernacle. 
Before reaching Sinai, the Israelites marched according to the 
commandment of Yahweh, Ex. 17 1 ; such definite direction they 
still required; for the cloud in P does not, as in J (Ex. 13 22 ), 
move at the head of the whole host to show the way. In P the 
cloud is always closely associated with the tabernacle ; and the 
tabernacle formed the centre of the host (2 17 ). It is clear, too, 
from v. 23b that v. 18 is more than another way of stating v. 17 ; 
the commandment of Yahweh, according to which the Israelites 
marched, was not merely the action of the cloud, for it was 
communicated through Moses. For *Z>~?]) of directions orally 
communicated, cp. e.g. 13 3 . — 20. (3r L omits this v. and also 
v. 22 . — 21 f. Sometimes the cloud only remained over the taber- 
nacle from the evening of one day to the morning of the next : 
i.e. the Israelites sometimes iourneyed day after day, some- 

IX. 15-22 87 

times they remained encamped a whole day (v. 21b ), sometimes 
a couple of days, or a month, or more indefinite periods, v. 22a . 
The last clause of v. 21 is omitted in ffir, and is very probably 
dittographic. Omitting - this clause (but not D^D' 1 IX, which is 
also omitted by ffii B ), we may translate v. 21,22a thus — "Some- 
times the cloud would remain from evening to morning, and 
the cloud would rise up in the morning and (the people) would 
journey ; or (it would remain) a day and a night, or two days, 
or a month, or for some time." The rendering of D^Ef by year 
(RV.) is quite unjustifiable, and is not to be defended by a 
reference to Lev. 25 s9 ; it means simply an indefinite period 
(cp. e.g. Gn. 40 4 , Neh. i 4 ), which, from the context, may 
sometimes be inferred to be short (less than ten days, if the 
text of Gn. 24 55 be correct) or long — here, for instance, pre- 
sumably more than a month. — 22b. £5r om. — 23a. (S F om. 
This may be according to the original text, but is more 
probably a further stage in the shortening of the text than 
that represented by (G ABL , which omit the first clause only. 
Manifestly either Pf or (Ec F is right. 

15. o'pn] subj. D'pon ; cp. Dav. 108, R. 1. S opin (3rd s. pf. Hophal) ; 
cp. (5 QL°. — nnyn bnxb] Kon. iii. 289^. Paterson in SBOT. regards the 
words as a gloss ; see his note there.- — 20. hto tr] = " There were (times) 
when": so only here and in the next v. But cp. i&tt V—" there were 
some who" . . . Neh. 5 2,3-4 , and Syriac phrases, such as ;.SO|) A-M 

(e.g. 1 Cor. i 18 in Pesh.), »5!>0 f 5 Z\_»|: cp. Payne Smith, Thesaurus 

Syriacus, p. 172. — "icon D'D'] rather 'a 'D' ; |£j has arisen from dittography 
of D. TBDD in this type of idiom (= " few ") is always elsewhere in the gen. 
—22. |3»Dn by] ffi om. Probably the phrase was a gloss on vby ; in ^ it 
has replaced vby, in ||J it has gained a place in the text by the side of vby. 

X. 1-10. The silver trumpets. — Their workmanship and 
purpose, v. 2 ; the occasions of their use (a) in the wilderness, 
v. 3_s ; (b) in Canaan, v. 9f -. 

In v. 9 '-, also in v. 5, 6a - 7 , the verbs are in the 2nd pers. pi. (ct. 3rd pi. in 
v. 3f - 6b * 8 ) ; Di. for this reason, and because v. 9f> deals with a different use 
of the trumpets, and because of the incompleteness of v. s * 6a (see below), 
regards v. 8f - as derived by a redactor (or less probably by P) from a 
different source, viz. S, i.e. H, and v. 6 - 64,7 as redactional expansions. 
In favour of this conclusion he also notes in v. 9 '* " I am Yahweh your 
God," non^D Kin, ns=" enemy" (elsewhere almost confined to the elevated 
style, yet cp. 25 18 ), and DsyiNn (cp. Lev. io. 9 - M 22 24 23 s3 25 s - * b 26 1 ). On v. 91 ' 


cp. also Kayser, Das vorexil. Buck d. Urgesch. Isr. p. 80 (v. 8 contains the 
customary conclusion); CH. ; Baentsch, Heiligkcitsgesetz, 8f. (v. 9f - an 
earlier source, but whether H doubtful). 

The manufacture of these trumpets, which are hence- 
forward to be used for sounding- the march, is the last act 
recorded by P prior to the departure from Sinai, v. 11 . To the 
trumpet (mi'i'n) there is no reference in any preceding- part of 
the narrative of the Exodus ; but E mentions the horn (blT 
in Ex. 19 13 , nam? in Ex. i 9 i3.i6.i9 20 i8^ and H contains a law 
(Lev. 25 s ) relative to the use of the horn in Canaan. 

1, 2. The trumpets are to be of silver, with chased work, 
and are to be used to summon the people and to give the 
signal for breaking up camp.— 2. Trumpets} (nini'Xn) were 
apparently much less used for secular purposes than the horn 
("IBIS?), which is so frequently mentioned in early literature. Of 
their secular use we read only in Hos. 5 s , 2 K. u u . Of their 
sacred use there is mention in 2 K. 12 14 , P (here and 31 6 ), 
Ps. 98 6 , and especially in Ch., Ezr., and Neh. The instrument 
is described by Josephus {Ant. iii. 12 6 daaxrpd) as rather 
less than a cubit long, and is no doubt the long straight 
instrument depicted on the Arch of Titus ; see, further, Well- 
hausen, Psalms (SBOT.), 220 f., where illustrations may be 
found. — Of turned work] nvpv (Ex. 25 18 - 31 37* etc.). — 3f. A 
blast on both trumpets is to be the signal for the whole people, 
on one alone for the princes (i 16 ) to assemble. Kn. Di. com- 
pare the practice of summoning the Roman " curia cen- 
turiata" by means of a trumpet (Gell. 15. 27. 2; Propert. 
4. 1. 13). — 5 f. A series of alarms (nynn) on the trumpets are 
to give the signal for the several divisions of the camp success- 
ively to break up.— 5b. Cp. 2 3 " 9 .— 6a. Cp. 2 10 " 16 . After v. 6a 
ffit inserts — "And ye shall blow a third alarm, and the camp 
which encamped westwards shall break up (cp. 2 18-24 ) ; and ye 
shall blow a fourth alarm, and the camp which encamped 
northwards shall break up " (cp. 2 25 - 31 ). U has a much briefer 
addition — " Et iuxta hunc modum reliqui facient." — 6b. They 
shall blow an alarm whenever they (the Israelites) are to make 
a start] J?BE is here used in its strict sense of " the start," and 
not, as it is used in some cases, of the journey started upon ; 

X. i-io 89 

so (5 exceptionally, but rightly, egapais. The plural (Dri^DC^) 
may have reference either to the several starts of the different 
divisions on a single occasion, v. 5 - Ca , or to the successive 
future starts of the whole company. — 7. And when bringing 
together the assembly] ?np is frequent in P, but much less char- 
acteristic of his style than "congregation" (my), which is 
used in v. 2 ; on the latter, cp. phil. n. on i 2 . — Ye shall 
blow, but not sound an alarm] The difference intended is 
uncertain ; in Hos. 5 s the two terms ]}pn and jmn seem to be 
synonymous. The noun derived from the latter (nynn = 
"alarm," v. 6 ) is, especially in early literature, used more par- 
ticularly of the battle-cry (e.g. Am. i 14 , Jer. 4 19 ) ; hence, 
perhaps, the phrase in 31 6 (njmnn rVPS^n). Thus, although 
in P the word is also used in a very different way (e.g. 29 1 ), 
the present command may mean : blow the trumpet, but not 
with martial notes. Whether the first verb (ypn) means to 
produce a series of short staccato notes (Di.) or a single long 
blast (BDB. p. 348$), there is no sufficient evidence to decide. 
— A statute for ever] The phrase in the Hexateuch is confined 
to P, who uses it frequently (CH. 62); it occurs in the pi. in 
Ezek. 46 14 . — Throughout your generations] Dr. L.O. T. 332, No. 
20; CH. 765. — 9. When the Israelites are settled in Canaan 
the trumpets are to be blown in time of battle to keep God 
in remembrance of Israel, and so to secure Israel's delivery 
(Ps. 44 1-8 ). For if God "forgets," Israel suffers defeat (Ps. 
44 22 " 24 ). For this use of the trumpets, cp. 2 Ch. i3 12-16 , 
Mac. 4 40 5 33 16 8 . — 10. On (extraordinary) public festivals, 
on fixed feasts (Lev. 23) and new moons (28 11 ), a blast of 
trumpets is to accompany the burnt-offerings and peace- 
offerings to secure God's attention : cp. 2 Ch. 2o, 27 , Ps. 
g8 6 , Sir. 50 16 ; also Ps. 47. — A memorial before your God] 
Ex. 28 20 ; and see Herzfeld, Gesch. des Volkes /Israel, ii. 

2. onx] Dav. 1, R. 3.— m jjdoVi] cp. 4 24 n.— 3. njrui . . . iypni] Dr. 
Tenses, 149 ; so v. 5 '-. — ij'pm] ffi Kal <Ta\iri<reis ; so "S. — 6. fWD'n] S mistakenly 
.■max.— 9. 'ho ixnn] the usual phrase is "to go into battle" ('oh nx') ; in 
31 21 32 s we have 'ch K13. The present phrase is quite peculiar. — ddvi'jn] 
G om. — 10. D3?nn] S and many Heb. MSS. plene DTtnn ; G.-K. 91/J. 


X. ii-XXI. 9 (JE P). The northzvard march 
from Sinai ; the wanderings a?id marches west 
of the 'Arabah. 

The period covered by this second main section of the 
book is about forty years (14 33 io 11 20 23f> , cp. 33 3S ) ; but the 
bulk of it is concerned with the opening- (io 11 -^ 45 ) and closing 
( 20 (i)i-2_ 2I 9) months. A single incident, — the revolt of Korah, 
Dathan, and Abiram and its consequences (c. 16-18), — or at 
most two, if we include here 2o 1-13 , and some miscellaneous 
laws (c. 15. 19) are alone referred to the intervening years. 

Here as elsewhere the editor adopts P as his main thread. To P's 
brief account of the removal from Sinai to the scene of the wandering's 
(io 11 " 12 * 28 '), he adds the parallel from JE (io 29 ' 33 ) and much other matter 
from that source (io 35 -i2 16 ). In the story of the spies he opens with a 
long- extract from P (13 1 * 17 ) and then fuses the stories of P and JE. With 
P's account of Korah's revolt he combines JE's story of the revolt of 
Dathan and Abiram ; and he again fuses matter from the two main sources 
in 20 1 " 13 ; but P's account of the death of Aaron (20 22 " 29 ) is kept quite distinct 
from the extracts from JE (20 14 " 21 21 1 " 9 ), among which it is appropriately 
placed. To this editor or yet later hands we may attribute the incorpora- 
tion of the laws in c. 15. 19 (cp. Introd. § 10 ff.) and the matter of io 13 " 28 ; 
also the additions to the story of Korah (see on c. 16), and the suppression 
of the full details of date in 20 1 . 

X. 11-28. The departure from Sinai (P).— Guided by the 
cloud, the Israelites on the 20th day of the second month 
of the second year leave Sinai and (subsequently) encamp 
in the wilderness of Paran, v. nf - The tribal princes (i 5-15 ) are 
mentioned, and the order of the march, agreeing in the main 
with that in c. 2, is described v. 13-28 . 

Indications of P are (1) in v. 11 '- the date, the conception of the cloud 
(cp. 9 17ff -, Ex. 40 33 " 38 ), psra, 1 ?; (2) in v. 13 " 28 the names of the princes, 
the relation to c. 2, *"' '3 Sy, naD. But the disagreement of v. 17 " 21 with 2 17 
points to another hand — P s ; so Di., Bacon, CH. A further expansion of 
the text here is found in S, where Dt. i 6b " 8 is cited almost verbatim and 
prefixed to v. 10 . 

11. The Israelites leave Sinai between ten and twelve 
months after reaching it (Ex. 19 1 ), possibly in P g exactly 
twelve months after (cp. Ex. 16 1 ; Nold. Untersuchungen, 73 

x. ii- 2i 9 1 

n. r). — The tabernacle of testimony] g 15 n. — 12. By their 
journeys] or stages. The journey from Sinai to Paran occu- 
pied several days. On DiTyDoi?, see v. 6 n. ; and for the phrase 
in its present sense, 33 s , Ex. 17 1 : cp. Gn. 13 3 (JE), Ex. 40 s6 - 38 . 
— The wilderness of Paran] The precise boundaries of the 
district are somewhat uncertain. According to P, the W. 
of Paran is reached by an indefinite number of stages from 
Sinai in the direction of Canaan ; hence the spies are de- 
spatched (i2 16b - 13 3 ) and hither return (13 26 ), and here the 
forty years of wandering are spent (14 29 - 34 in the light of 
13 26 ). In the fortieth year the people apparently march out 
of the W. of Paran to Kadesh (see on 20 1 ). From this we 
may infer that it lay N. of Sinai and S. of Kadesh. The 
other data do not conflict with this, if in 1 S. 25 1 the Ma'on 
of (Er be substituted for the Paran of MT. (so We. Dr.). 
The wilderness of Paran is Ishmael's dwelling-place (Gn. 
21 21 E) ; Paran itself lay between Midian and Egypt (1 K 
ii 18 ): cp.. further, Gn. 14 6 (El-paran) and Hab. 3 3 (Paran 
|l Teman). Mt. Paran is associated with Seir and Sinai in 
Dt. 33 2 . Its E. border was, apparently, the 'Arabah. The 
W. of Paran thus corresponds approximately to the desert 
of Et-tih (on which see Palmer, Desert of the Wilderness, p. 
284 ff.). Cheyne [EBi. 3583) suggests that the term may have 
had a wider and a narrower usage, in the former including 
the W. of Sin, and so stretching right up to the Negeb. — 13. 
And they first departed] "this was their first departure which 
followed on the command of God communicated by means of 
the lifting of the cloud " (Di.) — the least unnatural interpreta- 
tion of the text. Possibly "first" (fWSTO) has been acci- 
dentally repeated from the next v. — 14-16. See 2 3-9 . — 14. The 
company] 2 2 n. — The children of Judah marched first] i.e. in 
front : ct. v. 25 . — 17. And the tabernacle used to be taken down] 
From this v. down to v. 27 all the verbs are frequentatives, indi- 
cating the general practice on a series of marches. — Carrying 
the tabernacle] and its appurtenances, 4 25f - 81f \ — 18-20. See 2 10-16 . 
— 20. De'iiel] al. ReVel : i 14 n. — 21. And the Kohathites who 
carried the holy things] enumerated in 3 31 4 5ff -. EHpD cannot 
here mean " sanctuary " (R.V.), though that is its usual 


meaning ; for the building when taken to pieces is carried 
by the Merarites and Gershonites, v. 17 3 25f - 3(if . The use of 
BHpIO here is quite exceptional and indeed improper ; the 
nearest parallel is 18 29 ; in both cases the text may be at 
fault (cp. BDB. 574«). — And they (the Gershonites and 
Merarites) used to set up the tabernacle against they (the 
Kohathites) ca?ne] Such must be the meaning; but it is 
clumsily expressed. For the use of ~\V ( = against) see Gen. 
43 25 , Ex. 22 25 . Contrary to the implication of 2 17 , the Mer- 
arites and Gershonites are here made to march off after the 
first division of the Israelites, apparently in order that the 
holy things might not be left unsheltered while the tent was 
being erected in the new camp. If so, the writer did not 
reflect that this arrangement left them unsheltered before the 
march.— 22-27. See 2 18 - 31 . 


12. pxs] S here and everywhere (except Gn. 21 21 ) jn^s. ^S _i and \^yj^ 

are names of Arab tribes ; Ges.-Buhl, 616a. — 13, 14. urira] Far the most 
frequent meaning- of the phrase is " formerly," e.g. 2 S. 7 1U 20 18 , 1 K 13 6 , 
Jer. 7 12 , sometimes specifically "on the previous occasion" (1 K 20 9 ) ; it 
also commonly means "first" (adverbially) — e.g. Dt. 17 7 , 1 K. 17 13 ; very 
rarely also " at the beginning- " (Pr. 20 21 ) or " in front " (Is. 60 9 : cp., per- 
haps, 1 K 20 17 ). The last sense, which the antithesis of v. 25 requires in 
v. 14 , is expressed by rupm in 2 9 , Gn. 33 s . — 17. TH?n] cp. opin Ex. 40" ; <& ,§? 
read here Tjini, assimilating to I 51 4*. — 18. pim] read J31JO '33 with S (S r - V 
and also some MSS. of pj. In the eleven remaining cases in this section 
pj followed by C prefixes '33 to the tribal name, except in v. 22 where 
some MSS. of $ and ffi omit '33 ; U omits '33 in v. 16 - 2U - « ; & in v. 18 - 2? - 23 - 
24. 26. 27._21. D'nnpn] S (5 Ennp '33.— 25. iexp] Jos. 6 9 - 13 , Is. 52 12 .— 28. WD'!] 
Dr. Tenses, 76. ffi places the word before Dn.xas 1 ? ; but |tJ is no doubt 

29-36. The departure from the Mount of Yahweh (JE). — 
In contemplation of immediate departure Moses begs his 
kinsman Hobab to accompany the Israelites as guide, and 
give them the benefit of his great knowledge of the camping 
places in the wilderness, v. 29 32 . When they actually start, 
they are led by the ark, v. 33 ; in v. 34 a reference is made to 
the cloud, and in v. 35 - 36 poetical addresses to the ark are 

The narrative of JE, last cited in Ex. 34 28 , is here resumed. ' Proofs of 
the derivation of v. 29 * 33 from JE — (1) the vv. are parallel and not con- 

X. 22-29 93 

secutive to v."" 12 ' 28 '; in v. 12 the Israelites are in Paran, several days' 
journey from Sinai ; in v. 29 * 82 they arc still at Sinai, and only leave it in 
v. 33 ; (2) in v.- 1 (cp. 3 21 P) the ark is carried in the midst of the people, 
in v. 88 it precedes them ; (3) linguistic evidence — NJ (CH. 186), 3JJ? (160), 
|3 by '3 (35), 3'BVi (38) ; see also notes below. As between J and E the 
evidence favours J (Di., Kue., Corn., Kit., Bacon); note Re'u'el (cp. Ex. 
2 18 J), not Jethro (Ex. 3 1 4 1S i8' ff - E), 290/3 corresponding more closely to 
Ex. 33 1 (J) than to Ex. 32 s4 (E) and the phrase 'mViD Sni 'sin ba (cp. On. 12 3 
24 4 31 3 (J) ; ct. -|m!?iD pN Vn Gn. 3i !3 (E) ; see CH. 60).— The ultimate 
source of v. 33 , which did not originally form the immediate sequence to 
v. 32 , is less certain. Many detect traces of the hand of E (Kue., Kit., Corn., 
Di., Moore). In v. 34 we have a conception of the cloud which is that of 
neither J nor E, but is similar to P's (9 17tr- ) : the v. appears to be a note of P s 
which has gained its present position in fy, another in ffi, where it stands 
after v. 36 . Whether the ancient poetical snatches in v. 35f - were derived by 
the editor from JE or from some other source must remain uncertain, 
though the idiom 2 \ti in v. 33 is quite favourable to the former alternative 
(CH. 127^). 

29. Hobab, the son of Rett el, the Midianile, the father-in- 
law of Moses] Hobab has not been previously mentioned. In 
Jud. 4 11 he is called the father-in-law (jnn) of Moses, as also 
perhaps in the original text of Jud. i 16 (see Moore, ad loc). 
Re'u'el is a clan name, and the meaning- of the writer both 
here and in Judges may be that Hobab was a member of the 
clan ("son") of Re'u'el. In that case we may suppose that 
the name Hobab has been suppressed before or in favour of 
Re'u'el in Ex. 2 18 , and consequently that in J's narrative he 
had been mentioned previously to the present section. Even 
so the present section opens abruptly. Probably in the 
source whence it was drawn, it was prefaced by an account 
of Hobab coming from his country (cp. v. 30 ) to visit the 
Israelites at Sinai ; fragments of this introduction are perhaps 
preserved in Ex. 18, which consists in the main of a parallel 
narrative in E of Jethro's visit. Cheyne {EBi.) identifies 
Hobab with Jehonadab, the founder of the Rechabites. 
Though the early Hebrew traditions differ as to the name 
of Moses' father-in-law — E calls him Jethro — and as to the 
name of his tribe, which in some cases is said to be Midianite 
(Ex. 3 1 4 18f -), in others Kenite (Jud. i 16 4 11 ), they agree in 
connecting him by marriage with an Arab or nomadic tribe, 
for such were both Midianites and Kenites ; see also 12 1 n. — 


The place of which Yahweh said, I will give it you] Ex. 33 1 
(J); see n. on 13 2 . — The present story seems earlier in 
origin than the promise of the accompaniment of the angel 
(Ex. 33 2 ). The impress of nomadic life is here fresh and 
clear. What Moses, as leader of the people from Sinai 
to Canaan, needed was one who knew the various camping 
places. — And let us do thee good] give thee a share in the 
prosperity which Yahweh has promised us: cp. v. 32 , Gn. I2 ia 
2 2 !0. 13(9. i2) ? j os 24 30 . — For it is Yahweh who has promised 
Israel prosperity'] and having promised will fulfil : the subj. 
is emphatic. For bv "Ql virtually = "to promise," see Gn. 
18 19 , Jos. 2 3 U . 

30. Hobab declines Moses' invitation : he prefers to go 
home. This implies that the route to Canaan was different 
from that to Midian. Most justice is done to this if we suppose 
that Sinai lay somewhere in the neighbourhood of the top of 
'Akabah ; for then the route of the Hebrews to Kadesh would 
lie to the N.W., that of Hobab to the E. Apart from the 
passages connecting Midian with the mount of God, all refer- 
ences imply that the Midianites had their homes on the E. of 
the 'Arabah and the Gulf of'Akabah (Jud. 6-8, Gn. 25 s 36 s5 , 
Nu. 22 4 25 5ff - 31). There is no reason for locating them in the 
southern part of the Sinaitic peninsula, except the assumption 
that Sinai-Horeb lay there ; then cp. Ex. 3 1 . If, however, in 
deference to the traditional view of the site of Sinai, we are to 
conclude that Hobab's particular division of Midianites occu- 
pied the south of the Sinaitic peninsula (cp. Di. on Ex. 2 15 ), 
then we must probably think of them as cut off from the 
Midianites of the E.; otherwise the route of the Hebrews, if, 
as is usually assumed, it went by the top of the Gulf of 'Akabah, 
would have lain for some distance through Midianite country. 
Cp., further, Sayce, Early Hist. 0/ Hebrews, 186-189, 213, who 
cites Baker Greene, Hebrew Afigratioti from Egypt ; and on 
the survival of the name E. of the Gulf of 'Akabah in the 
Mo&iava of Ptolemy (6 7 ) and the Madyan of Arabic geographers, 
see EBi. col. 3081. — 31 f. Moses further presses Hobab to 
accompany him, reiterating, v. 32 , the promise made before, v. 29b . 
At this point the story breaks off and Hobab's final decision is 

X. 3o-33 95 

not given. We may infer from Jud. i 16 that it was favour- 
able.* — 31. Thou knowest our encamping} i.e. where we can 
and ought to encamp. The inf. (i:ron) refers to the future ; 
the paraphrastic renderings of (Et and (K. interpret it of the 
past, and also change the sense of the next clause, so as to 
avoid the incongruity of Moses seeking a natural guide when 
(according to the composite narrative, v. 11-13, 33f - 9 l7ff -) he was 
so fully assisted by supernatural signs and agents. The ren- 
dering of v. 31b in 9T is as follows: "Thou knowest how we 
were encamping in the wilderness, and the mighty deeds 
which were done unto us hast thou seen with thine eyes " ; 
and in (fr : "Thou wast with us in the wilderness, and 
shalt be an elder among us." — 31. But become unto us 
eyes] Job 29 15 . — 33. The mount of Yahweh] i.e. Horeb- 
Sinai ; so only here: but cp. "the mount of God" (in 
OWNn = Horeb), Ex. 3 1 4 27 18 5 24 13 (all E), 1 K. i 9 8 f; in a 
different sense, Ezek. 28 16 . Perhaps "the mount of God " 
originally stood here, and " Yahweh " is due to. an editor. 
Elsewhere "the mount of Yahweh" is Zion — e.g. Is. 2 3 = 
Mic. 4 2 , Is. 30 29 , Ps. 24 s , Gn. 22 14 (? originally " God ").— 
Three dayf journey'] Gn. 30 36 , Ex. 3 18 , Nu. 33 s : cp. Ex. 15 22 . 
The repetition of these words in clause b may be due to 
dittography. The only meaning of the whole verse as it 
stands is that during a three days' march from Sinai the ark 
was always three days' journey in front of the people — a 
useless position for a guide: cp. We. Comp. 100 f. As here, 
so in Jos. 3 3f - (D), the ark precedes the Israelites and acts as 
their guide along an unknown route ; but there it is borne by 
"the priests, the Levites." Here, if we may judge from so 
fragmentary a record, it is conceived of as moving by itself: 
cp. 1 S. 5f., especially 5 11 6 9ff -, 2 S. 6 5 . The pillar of cloud is 
certainly thought to move of itself {e.g. Ex. I3 21f- ). Like the 
cloud, the ark moves because it is the form in which Yahweh 
accompanies the people. With the conception of Yahweh's 
going before the people, cp. Asur-nasir-abal's account of the 
god Nergal — "With the exalted help of Nergal, who went before 

* Di., Kit. {Gesch. 181 n. 5), Sayce (Early Hist, of the Hebrews, p. 
213 f.). 


me (Nlrgal a-lik pa-ni-d), I fought against them."* — The 
ark of the covenant of Vahweh] ( , "'' TV"Q piN) P's phrase is 
different (JTfiyn pix). The present phrase is most character- 
istic of Deuteronomic writers {e.g. Dt. io 8 31 s - 25f -, 1 K. 6 19 ), 
and in passages like this, derived from J or E, the word JV'Q 
may be redactorial.f — To seek out for them a resting-place\ 
cp. Dt. i 33 , Ex. 33 14 . On Tin = "to seek out," see 13 2 , phil. n. 
— 34. The v. coheres very loosely with the preceding. After 
v. 33 we expect a statement of the place reached after the three 
days' journey: cp. Ex. i5 22f -. This is not given, though in 
n 1 - 4 previous arrival at a definite place is assumed. — The 
cloud of Yahwe/i] only here, 14 14 (R), and Ex. 40 3S . — Was upon 
them] The idea is not that of J (nor of E), whose cloud pre- 
cedes the people (Ex. i3 21f -); nor quite the same as that of 
P g , with whom the cloud rests over the tabernacle (io 11 ). — 
35. Wlien the ark started, Moses said] Here, as in v. 33 , the 
ark starts of itself, and the words which follow may be taken 
as addressed to it. The ark is the visible form in or by which 
Yahweh manifests His presence, and may therefore, like the 
angel of Yahweh, be addressed as Yahweh. It would be 
futile to attempt to date the two sayings ; they have the 
savour of antiquity about them, and may have originated at 
any time subsequent to the growth of the national conscious- 
ness of union through Yahweh, except that the second seems 
to imply an already existing settled life in Canaan. 

Arise, Yahweh ! that Thine enemies may be scattered, 
That they that hate Thee may flee before Thee. 

The cry reflects the old Hebrew thought of Yahweh as a 
God of battles (cp. 21 14 n.) ; Yahweh " arose" when He gave 
His people victory : cp. Is. 28 21 in its reference to 2 S. 5 20 - 25 . 
For the ark in battle, cp. 1 S. 4 3ff - ; with the second clause, 
Jud. 5 31a . The cry is repeated in Ps. 68 2 ^, and is referred to 
in Ps. 1 32 s , which so modifies the form of the vocative as 
clearly to distinguish the ark from Yahweh. — 36. And when 

* Annal. Inscription, col. ii. 1. 27 f . ; cp. 11. 26, 50; iii. $2 = KB.\. pp. 74, 
78, 104; see, further, Del. Assyr. Handwurterbuch, 531a. 

t Cp. Cheyne in EBL 300 f. ; Seyring in ZATW. 1891, 114-125. 

X. 34-36 97 

it came to rest] v. 33 n. — He used to say] The verb is frequenta- 
tive. — Return Yahweh to the ten thousand families oj Israel] an 
address to the ark returning- from victory, and a prayer that 
Yahweh may dwell again undisturbed with His people. Such 
words could be suitably addressed to the ark returning from 
battle to its fixed sanctuary, whether Shiloh, Nob, or some 
other place, after the people were settled in Canaan. It is 
less clearly suitable to the circumstances of the march through 
the wilderness ; the people overtake the ark, the ark does not 
return to them; Yahweh is regarded as being with them on 
the march as well as in the camp. — Families] lit. " thousands " 
(*zbn) ; here used of a division of a tribe (cp. n. on i 16 ) rather 
than numerically. 

Del. (Zeitschr. f. kirchliche Wissenschaft, 1882, p. 234) cites the 
Return of Ps. 90 13 ("the prayer of Moses") as a parallel to the 
present " Mosaic " verse, and compares also the same cry in the 
Davidic Psalms, 6 s 7 s , and, further, the arise of v. ss with Ps. 3 8 "f ; but 
though the words are the same, the conceptions they express in the 
Psalms are very different. — 29. |nn] regularly means "father-in-law." 

In Ar. ,.t-vrs- is used not only of the father-in-law, but also of other 
relatives of the wife. So some here render " brother-in-law " or " relative," 
making- the phrase qualify nnn ; so also in Jud. i 16 4 11 ; cp. Moore, Judges, 
p. 33. On the etymology of jnn="circumciser," see BDB. s.v. jnn and the 
literature there cited.— 31. p by -2] Gn. 18 5 19 8 33 10 3s 26 (J) ; also Nu. 14 43 , 
Jud. 6 22 , 2 S. 18 20 (K're), Jer. 2c, 28 38'; see BDB. p. 4756; Kon. iii. 373*. 
— 35. (E inserts bj before tnwd and omits T^D. — 36. nmxi] G.-K. 91*. — 
raw] is followed by an ace. of direction (G.-K. 1 i8df). Others consider raw 
trans, (ffi ; Kon. iii. 210 f.). But the use of 3icas a trans, vb. is almost con- 
fined to the phrase rv3B> 3i»; and, as Del. (p. 233) points out, " Bring back 
the ten thousand families of Israel," would give a saying more suited to 
the march out than to the return home. — For various views of the inverted 
nuns within which v. 351, (like Ps. 1 07 23 " 48, 40 ) are enclosed, see Del. p. 2301". 

XI. XII. Incidents between Sinai and Kadesh (JE). 

The four incidents related in these chapters are referred 
by the editor who has given them their present position to 
the march from Sinai (io 12,33 ) to Paran or Kadesh (io 12 12 16 
13 s - 26 ). These incidents are (1) the destruction of murmurers 
at Tab'erah, 1 1 1 - 3 ; (2) the lust for flesh, 1 1 4 " 10 - 13 - 18 ~ 24a - 31 " 34 ; (3) 
the resting of the spirit of prophecy on seventy elders and 
also on Eldad and Medad, n 16 - 17a - 24b-3o. ^ tne vindication 



of Moses' uniqueness against the criticism of Aaron and 
Miriam, 12 1 " 15 . In 1 i iu> 14t 17b we probably have matter not 
originally connected with any of the incidents. 

Except for a clause or two of his own (n 17b 12 16 ), the 
entire matter of these chapters was drawn by the editor from 
JE, but with some difference of arrangement and setting. 

The entire absence of all traces of P's style (on wiiWD^ in n 10 see n. 
below), together with abundant evidence of the style, motives, and ideas 
of JE (see margin in CH. and below), and the fact that P's story of manna 
and quails is preserved elsewhere (Ex. 16), have led to the practically 
unanimous assignment of these chapters in their entirety to JE. Kittel 
(Gesch. i. 198), exceptionally, finds possible traces of P in 1 1 18 " 22, 24a_35 . 
The reference to the wilderness of Paran in 12 16 is rather an editorial 
link between io 12 and 13 3 than a direct citation from P. 

The present fusion of the second and third incidents may 
have been effected by the compiler of JE or later, but that 
they once existed apart will hardly be doubted once they have 
been read separately (see p. 101 ff.). But if so the original 
connection of the third incident with Kibroth-hatta'avah 
becomes uncertain. Like the fourth incident, it is not, taken 
by itself, connected with any place, and we cannot be sure 
that the present position of either incident in the narrative 
goes back further than the editor who united P and JE. 
Bacon refers both incidents to E's account of the stay at Sinai 
{Triple Tradition, 141 ff., 336-338), in which they formed an 
immediate sequence to Ex. 33 7 " 11 . It is probable, too, that 
v nf. uf. a i so f or med part of JE's account of the stay at Sinai 
(see below). On the other hand, the editor follows tradition 
in placing the gift of (manna and) quails after leaving Sinai; 
for though the parallel story in Ex. 16 is placed before the 
arrival at Sinai, it still in itself clearly presupposes the events 
at Sinai (see, e.g., CH. on Ex. 16). There being no reason for 
suspecting the contrary, we may suppose that the incident at 
Tab'erah is here in its right position. 

The analysis of c. uf. as between J and E, though much discussed, 
still remains to some extent uncertain and tentative. The third and 
fourth of the above mentioned incidents (n 16 - 17a- - 4b " 30 and 12 1 " 15 ) are 
connected with Ex. 33 7 " 11 (E) by the view taken of the theophanic cloud 
and the position of the tent (see below on u 25, 26 - 30 i2 4f> ); in c. 12 further 
indications of E are the conception of revelation (see on 12 6 ) and the 

xi. i, % 99 

prominence of Miriam (cp. Ex. 15-°'- 2'" 10 E). In n 16, "•■ m -*> the part 
played by Joshua (see on 1 1" 8 ) and the stress laid on prophecy (cp. c. 12) 
point to E. In the main, therefore, these two incidents may well be before 
us not only as they lay in JE, but even earlier in E (so Bacon and, so far 
as c. 12 is concerned, Kit. Dr.). Some (Kue. CH.) refer them to E s on 
the ground of the "advanced reflexion on the phases of prophetic activity " 
contained in them (but see below on n 29 ) ; We., too, does not derive them 
from the main stratum of either J or E. Di. finds traces of J in c. 12, and 
analyses n 11-35 peculiarly. As to the rest of these chapters, such slight 
evidence as there is favours referring- ii 1_3 to E (Kue. Di. Kit. Bacon, CH.), 
while in the main at least the story of the manna and quails tog-ether 
with ii nf - 141 - seems derived from J (Bacon, CH. : earlier critics, e.g. Kue. 
We. Di., less definitely or with modifications). The purely linguistic data 
are indecisive ; much turns on interpretation and relation to other passages, 
the origin of which is also often doubtful. See We. Comp. 101 f., 323-327 ; 
Kuen. in Th. Tijd. 1880, 281-302 ( = Ges. Abh., ed. Budde, 276-294); and 
Hex. 139, 155, 241, 244, 247; Kit. Gesch. i. 182, 191 ; Bacon, Triple Tra- 
dition, 80-87, 168 f.; Moore in EBi. 3440 ; Di. and CH. 

XI. 1-3. TaVerah. — The story, probably derived from E 
(see on v. 2 ), records a divine judgment. The people murmur 
on account, no doubt, of some hardship described in the 
introduction to the story which has not been reproduced 
here. The fire of Yahweh breaks out among- them, and, not- 
withstanding- Moses' supplication, burns (tir) enough of the 
people to justify naming the place TaVerah (= "Burning"). 
— 1. The people were as those complaining of misfortune] JJ"i = 
"misfortune" is the antithesis of 21L3 = "good fortune, pro- 
sperity"; cp. v. 29 n. ; see 1 K. 22 s , Job 2 10 . The complaints of 
the people were loud, and reached the ears of Yahweh, and 
roused His anger. — The fire of Yahweh] the ultimate physical 
cause of the conception of the fire that indicated Yahweh's 
presence or executed His judgments may have been the 
lightning (cp. Ex. o, 23f -) or other electrical phenomena (cp. 
"Bush," § 2 in EBi.). In Job i 16 , 2 K. impossibly nothing 
more than lightning is in the writer's mind; but here and 
often something much more terrific and destructive is thought 
of — a fire that, unlike lightning, does not always burst 
out from the sky : cp. 16 35 , Lev. io 2 (P), Ex. io, 18ff - (JE).— 
2. Through Moses' intercession the judgment is arrested now 
as at other times (21 7 , Dt. 9 20 - 26 ; cp. also below I2 13f -). The 
effectiveness of prophetic intercession plays a conspicuous 


part in E's story of Abraham and Abimelech (Gn. 2o 7 - 17 ). 
The term Z>Bnn is confined in the Hexateuch to the parallels 
just cited. — 3. The name Tab'erah is probably enough in 
reality older than the story and its cause. The place is men- 
tioned only once elsewhere (Dt. o/ 22 ), and then in connection 
with Massah and Kibroth-hatta'avah. The site is unknown, 
and the story is too loosely connected with the rest of the 
narrative to afford much clue for identifying- it. 

1. D'33xnD3 . . . wi] Kon. iii. 3385; BDB. 226a, 454a. pxnn also Lam. 
3 29 t.— '"so] some MSS. »ry3 : cp. & 5 C° J° n .— 12X im] v. 10 - 33 12 9 22'" and 
often ; characteristic of JE : CH. 233 ; ct. qsp, fjsp ,rn (P), e.g. i 53 18 5 16 22 ; 
CH. 178.— nspa ^xnijthe 3 is partitive ; BDB. s.v. 3, i. 26. — ])pvm] ype here 
only in Hex. 

4-6. The lust for flesh. — After eliminating from n 4 - 35 lhe 
story of the seventy elders ( v . 16f - 24b_30 ) and also v. llf - 14f - we 
have left a story, almost intact, of the lust of the people for 
flesh, and its punishment. Sick of the long diet of manna, 
v. 6b , they recall the succulent fare of Egypt, v. 5 , and, led on 
by the mixed multitude among them, petulantly demand flesh, 
v. 4 . Moses incredulously asks Yahweh how he is to procure 
the people flesh, v. 13 . Yahweh bids Moses tell the people 
they shall have flesh for a whole month, till, in fact, they get 
to loathe it, v. 18-20 . Moses remains incredulous, but, rebuked 
by Yahweh, communicates the message to the people, v. 21_24a . 
Yahweh by means of a wind brings up immense quantities 
of quails from the sea; the people fall greedily on them, but 
before the supply is exhausted, they are plagued by Yahweh : 
the burying of the people who fell in the plague gave the 
scene of the divine judgment the name of Kibroth-hatta'avah 
= "the graves of lust," v. 31-35 . 

The reference to the manna in v. 6 is followed by a paren- 
thetic description of the manna and the modes of preparing it, 
v. 7-9 . Such a parenthesis may be due to the author of the 
main story, or inserted by an editor. It does not seriously 
affect the unity of the story itself. The main reason adduced 
by those who question this is the difference between the actual 
plague, v. 33 , and the warning, v 20 . 

As compared with Ex. 16, to which, in so far as it refers 

XI. 3 IOI 

to both manna and quails, the present story is parallel, there 
are these marked differences: in Ex. 16 the manna, here the 
quails, are most prominent; in Ex. 16 manna and quails are 
represented as both given at the same time, here quails are 
first given after the people have been so long familiar with the 
manna as to have grown weary of it; in Ex. 16 the story 
issues in no judgment, here the judgment, which gives its 
name to the scene, may be regarded as the ultimate motive of 
the story (cp. v. 1-3 ). 

It is generally admitted that Ex. 16 is most largely derived from P, 
and the present story entirely from JE. But Kue.'s able discussion 
(Manna en Kwakkelen in Th. Tijd. xiv. 281-302 = Abhandlungen (Budde), 
276-294) fails, in its main thesis, to sustain the criticism of Wellhausen 
(Comp. 323-327), who argued that there must have been a reference to 
manna in JE before our present passage, and that there are other elements 
than P in Ex. 16. At the same time there is much in Kue.'s argument 
that the full description of v. 7 " 9 belongs to a first reference ; we might add 
— or, as an alternative, to a glossator. Its presence here may therefore 
be due to an editor who composed it freely on the basis^of tradition, or 
transferred it from the account in JE of the first giving of the manna. 
Between such alternatives style hardly suffices to decide. So, too, even 
if the difference between v. 20 and v. 33 seem to indicate the presence of two 
sources (J and E) in the story, it is impossible to carry the analysis through 
in detail. In the main the evidence points to J. So Bacon, CH. ; Di. Kit. 
refer v. 7 " 3 - 31 " 35 to E. See further references cited on p. 99. 

The story of the lust for flesh, disentangled from the foreign 
matter with which it has been encumbered, runs as follows : — 

4 And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting : and 
the children of Israel also wept again, and said, O that we had flesh to 
eat ! B We remember the fish, which we were wont to eat in Egypt for 
nought ; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, 
and the garlick : 6 but now our soul is dried away : there is nothing at 
all: we have nought save this manna to look to.* 10 And Moses heard 
the people weeping throughout their families, every man at the door of 
his tent: u [and he cried unto Yahweh, saying,] Whence should I have 
flesh to give unto all this people ? for they trouble me with their weeping, 
saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat. M And the anger of Yahweh 
was kindled greatly : 18 and [He said unto Moses], Say thou unto the 
people, Sanctify yourselves against to-morrow, and ye shall eat flesh : for 
ye have wept in the ears of Yahweh, saying, O ! that we had flesh to 
eat ! for it was well with us in Egypt : therefore Yahweh will give you 

* Here v. 7 ' 9 may have been inserted parenthetically by the original 
writer. See above. 


flesh, and ye shall eat. 19 Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor 
five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days ; ^ but a whole month, until 
it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you : because that 
ye have rejected Yahweh who is among you, and have wept before Him, 
saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt ? 21 And Moses said, The people, 
among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen ; and yet Thou 
hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month. 22 Can 
flocks and herds be slain for them, to suffice them ? or can all the fish of 
the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them ? ^ And Yahweh 
said unto Moses, Is Yahweh's hand waxed short? now shalt thou see 
whether My word fall in with thee or not. w And Moses went out, and 
told the people the words of Yahweh. 81 And there set forth a wind 
from Yahweh, and brought across quails from the sea, and let them fall by 
the camp, about a day's journey on this side, and a day's journey on the 
other side, round about the camp, and about two cubits above the face 
of the earth. 32 And the people rose up all that day, and all the night, 
and all the next day, and gathered the quails ; he that gathered least 
gathered ten homers ; and they spread them all abroad for themselves 
round about the camp. M While the flesh was yet between their teeth, 
ere it ran short, the anger of Yahweh grew hot against the people, and 
Yahweh smote the people with a very great slaughter. M And the name 
of that place was called Kibroth-hatta'avah (= " graves of lust "), for there 
they buried the people that lusted. 

4. Neither the departure from Tab'erah (v. 1-3 ), nor the 
arrival at Kibroth-hatta'avah is mentioned. Hence some,* 
failing to recognise the fragmentary nature of the stories, 
and the lack of connection between them, have inferred that 
both names attached to a single place. Cheyne (EBi. 2660), 
on other grounds, comes to much the same conclusion, 
assuming Kibroth-hatta'avah to be a corruption of Kibroth- 
tab'erah. — The mixed multitude} or rabble (5]D2DNi"il), who, 
according to Ex. 12 38 (J), where they are called by another 
name (3"ij?), accompanied the Israelites out of Egypt. — They 
fell a I iisting\ Ps io6 u 78 29f -. The vb. and noun (m«n YlNnn), 
though mainly used of the appetites, commonly refer to 
perfectly legitimate excitement of the appetite; see, e.g., 
Dt. 12 20 14 26 . — And the children of Israel again wept] No 
previous weeping (cp. 14 1 ) has been mentioned ; but the word 
need not be pressed. Previous stories of complaints are Ex. 
ji-23-25 q^ r ^2-7 ( ma i n iy E). "Again" may refer to one of 
these, or to v. 1-3 ; the word is possibly, but not necessarily, 
editorial. — O that we had flesh to eat] Rashi already perceived 

* Keil. 

XL 4, S I03 

a difficulty here which critical analysis has not yet completely 
explained. Why should a people rich in flocks (Ex. 12 38 17 3 
19 13 34 3 , Nu 14 33 32 1 ) cry out for flesh? Why should Moses, 
in the midst of a people provided with flocks and herds, feel 
the difficulty which he expresses in v. 22 ? Clearly the present 
story goes back to a cycle which did not credit the Israelites 
with flocks in the wilderness ; but whether this point of view 
was maintained throughout either E or J is doubtful; the 
above references are not clearly confined to one of these two 
main sources of JE. — 5. It is curious that though the people 
cry out for flesh, their happy memories of Egyptian fare are 
chiefly of the vegetables. — The fish which we were wont to eat 
for nought} "The quantity offish in Egypt was a very great 
boon to the poor classes. . . . The canals, ponds, and pools 
on the low lands continued to abound in fish even after the inun- 
dation ceased."* Another OT. writer shows himself familiar 
with the conspicuous part played by fish and fishermen in 
Egyptian life (Is. 19 8 " 10 ). In later times fish 'was exported 
from Egypt to Palestine (Schurer, 3 ii. 57 ; Eng. tr. 11. i. 42 f.). 
— The cucumbers} (D^i?) the philologically cognate Arabic 

(Ali) » s tne n ame of the long and slender Cucumis chate, L., 

a variety of the melon which is native to Egypt, and widely 
cultivated there. — The melons} (D^noax) water-melons (still 

called u.\Azj), Cucumis citrullus, L., are represented on ancient 
Egyptian monuments, and much cultivated and consumed by 
the modern Egyptians. They are frequently mentioned in 
the Mishna (Levy, s.v. Ifttntf), but here only in OT. — The 
leeks} TWI ("grass") here, but here only in OT., means, as it 
sometimes does in Aram., "leeks," and specifically, perhaps, 
Allium porrum, L. Pliny (UN. 19 33 ) refers to the fame of 
Egyptian leeks. — The onions} Herod, (ii. 125), speaking of 
the pyramid, says that on it was declared "how much was 
spent on radishes and onions and leeks for the workmen." 

* Wilkinson, Pop. Account of the Ancient Egyptians, ii. 193 (see also 
181, 186-194). Cp. Seetzen, Keisen, iii. 274-276, 497 f. ; and amoni; tin- 
classical writers, Herod, ii. 92 f. 


Hasselquist (p. 562), as cited by Di., says "the Egyptian 
onions are very mild and agreeable, better than in all other 
countries : therefore they are much grown in Egypt, and form 
a favourite dish with all classes, and a common diet especially 
of the poorer classes."— The garlic] (D^lt?) Low identifies the 
Aram. DIP with Allium sativum, L., which is still cultivated 
in Egypt. 

For further details and references, see Ges. Thes., Ges.-Buhl, and 
BDB. under the several words ; the relevant articles in EBi. and NDB.\ 
also EBi. col. 1541 f. Low, Aram. Pflanzennamen, Nos. 278, 169, 336; 
Seetzen, Reisen, iii. pp. 233 (cucumbers), 158, 209, and especially 350 
(melons), 158 (onions) ; and Di. on the present passage. 

It will thus be seen that we have here a very vivid and true 
picture of Egyptian life ; and, in particular, of the life of the 
lower orders. 

Speaking of these in his Modern Egyptians (c. vii.), Lane describes 
their food as consisting chiefly of "bread (made of millet or of maize), 
milk, new cheese, eggs, small salted fish, cucumbers and melons, and 
gourds of a great variety of kinds, onions and leeks, beans, chick-peas, 
lupins, the fruit of the black egg-plant, lentils, etc., dates (both fresh 
and dried), and pickles," and remarks, " It is surprising to observe how 
simple and poor is the diet of the Egyptian peasantry, and yet how 
robust and healthy most of them are, and how severe is the labour which 
they can undergo." 

Of the sources of the Hexateuch it is elsewhere E that is 
particularly characterised by acquaintance with Egyptian life : 
cp. Dr. L.O.I. 118.— 6. For lack of the succulent foods of 
Egypt, the people's soul or appetite is dried up ; nor have 
they any prospect of other food than the manna, of the very 
sight of which they have grown sick. — Our soul is dried 
up] cp. "his soul is empty," i.e. he is hungry (Is. 29 s ); "to 
satisfy (lit. to fill) his soul," i.e. to stay his hunger (Pr. 
6 30 ); "a man given to appetite," lit. "a possessor of soul" 
(Pr. 2 3 2 ). 

4, f]c-;pNrn] for ppBDgPri : G.-K. 35a? ; on the rare noun-form, see Barth, 
1477.— lanpa] singular suffixes or verbs are found also in v. 10 - 12, 21 ; pi. 
suffixes or verbs (following the subj.) in v.™ »• »*■ 21b - "• M ' ». The 
sing, here after the D2 of v. 3 , without an intervening use of the noun, may 
indtcate that v. 4 is not the original sequence of v. 3 . Perhaps v. 4 was 
originally preceded by a sentence such as this mapa jm . . . D Djin yo'i 

XI. 6, 7 105 

irmnn. — 5. OJn] = " for nothing- " ; Gn. 29 15 (E), Ex. 21 s - n , and nowhere else 
in Hex. — D'NB-pn nx] <& £> 'pn nxi. — 6. T^n] as conj. Gn. 43 s - B (J), Is. io 4 + 
(BDB. 1 166) ; "save that our eyes are unto this manna." — U'J'J? JDfl hn] for 
the idiom, cp. Ps. 33 18 34 16 1 23 s and the n. pr. 'J'JTI.tVk. 

7-9. A parenthetic account of the manna and the modes of 
preparing it, inserted between the complaint of the people, 
v. 6 , and the statement that Moses overheard it, v. 10 . Taken 
by itself the present account does not suggest that the manna 
was miraculously provided — the prevalent view elsewhere 
(Ex. 16, Dt. 8 3 - 16 , Neh. 9 15 - 20 , Ps. 7S 23 25 105 40 ). The writer 
speaks of it as a natural product of the desert ; and it is 
probable that he had in mind some of the " mannas " described 
by modern travellers in Sinai and Arabia, such as the sweet- 
tasting, dirty-yellowish exudation of the Tamarix gallica, L., 
which, exuded by night during the season (June and July), 
falls to the ground and is melted by the heat of the sun during 
the day; or the edible lichen {Lccanora escule?ita, Everson), 
greyish-,yellow without, white within, which, in parts of S.W. 
Asia, is used instead of corn in years of famine.* Certainly 
no natural mannas are produced in sufficient quantities to 
support the multitudes contemplated in the narrative. But 
if the manna in this story is rightly interpreted as a natural, 
in Ex. 16 as a supernatural, food, we have parallels for the 
difference in the story of the passage of the Red Sea which, in 
one account, was rendered possible by the natural action of 
wind (Ex. i4 21b J), in others by the miraculous influence of 
Moses' rod (Ex. i 4 16a - 31 E) or hand (Ex. i 4 16b - 18 - 19 - 22b - 23 P) ; 
and in the staying of the people's thirst by natural wells to 
which they were led according to one account (Ex. 15 27 J), 
by water brought miraculously from a rock according to 
others (Ex. iyib. 2. 4-7 g. Nu 20 7f> P). — 7. Like coriander seed] 
Ex. 16 31 . — Bdellium\ it is probable that the Hebrew n?~G 
(Gn. 2 12 f) is rightly rendered thus. Bdellium is a resinous 
substance, transparent, gelatinous, and commonly yellowish 
in colour. In Ex. 16 31 manna is said to be white; and 
Josephus, though he also retains the comparison with bdel- 

* The above details are taken from EBi. " Manna." See, further, the 
Commentaries on Ex. 16, especially Di. (176 f.). 


Hum, exaggerates this, saying the people would have mis- 
taken the manna for snow had not Moses warned them it 
was food (Ant. iii. i 6 ). Both the biblical descriptions of the 
colour are justified by one or other of the modern " mannas " 
referred to above, — 8. And they used to grind it between the 
mill-stones or pound it in a mortar] the exuded juice of the 
tamarisk is never hard enough for such treatment. Seetzen 
(Reisen, iii. 78) suggests that the Hebrew description is drawn 
partly from this, partly from the very nutritious gum of the 
Mimosa nilotica, L., which is exuded at the same time of year 
and is found in the same places. — And boil it] Ex. 16 23 . — And 
make it into cakes] the process is differently expressed in Ex. 
16 23 (bake) ; cakes (nuy) are mentioned elsewhere in the Hexa- 
teuch only in Gn. 18 6 , Ex. 12 39 (J). — Its taste was like that of 
a dainty prepared with oil] the precise meaning of the phrase 
is not quite certain : see phil. n. Seetzen (Reisen, iii. 76) 
records that at St. Catherine's convent the "manna" was 
used as "a dainty instead of honey." In Ex 16 31 the taste is 
compared to wafers made with honey. — 9. The coming of the 
manna by night is similarly described, though in very different 
words, in Ex. i6 13f \ — 10. Resumes v. 4-6 . The whole v. in 
its present connection must mean that Yahweh was angry 
(cp. v. 1,33 ) with the people, and that His anger displeased 
Moses, who expresses his displeasure in v. llf -. But YahweJis 
anger, v. 10b , is not the natural sequel to Moses' overhearing 
the people's weeping, v. 10a ; v. llf# appears to have found its 
way into the present story from a very different context (see 
below). Possibly the clause, "and Yahweh was angry," 
has moved to its present position from after v. 6 (Di.) or v. 1:J 
(Bacon), and so caused some change in the last clause. 

7. JHi] G.-K. 93A. — py] = " appearance " ; cp. Lev. 13 55 . — nS-n] the 
rendering bdellium rested till recently on Josephus and the later Greek 
VV. (cp. Field's Hexapla on Gn. 2 12 and Nu. n 5 ), but Peiser has now 
adduced evidence from Babylonian contract tablets in favour of such an 
interpretation : a word meaning " spicery " is probably to be trans- 
literated bid-li-i- nVu; ZATW., 1897, p. 347^—8. lap 1 ?! . . . ibb>] Dr. 
Te?ises, 114a. — i&b] cp. *ygh apparently = " my sap or life-juice," Ps 32*. 

>A~J, which appears to be but rarely used, is "to suck." The word, 
therefore, remains of somewhat uncertain and obscure meaning:. VV. 

xi. 8-n ioy 

give the whole phrase a meaning similar to that suggested above, e.g. 
fflt tvvKph £% e\alov, U pants oleatus. On Aq. and Symm., see Field, 
Hexapla, i. 237. — 10. vnnsro 1 ?] the frequent use of this phrase (yet not 
with the sing, suffix) is characteristic of P. Either this is an isolated use 
in an earlier writer (cp. Dr. L.O.T. 132), or redactorial (cp. Kue. Hex. 

11-15. Moses expostulates with Yahweh. — In v. 13 Moses is 
asking- how he is to satisfy the people's cry for bread, and the 
answer is given in v. 18ff \ But the connection of v. llf - uf - with 
the context is very imperfect. In these vv. Moses complains 
to Yahweh that he cannot unaided lead the people to Canaan, 
that he would rather die than make the attempt, and that, 
since Israel owes its existence to Yahweh, it is on Him and 
not on His servant that the burden should rest. All this has 
nothing to do with the story of the quails, nor probably with 
the temporary effect of the spirit on the seventy elders, though 
at present these elders are represented in v. 17b as appointed to 
share the burden with Moses. On the other hand, the verses 
in question (v. llf - 14f ) fall excellently into place after Ex. 33 1 " 3 
where Yahweh bids Moses lead the people to Canaan, but 
refuses Himself to go with them. They appear to have been 
transferred here by the editor who united the stories of the 
quails and the elders.* 

11. Moses expostulates with Yahweh for placing on him the 
whole trouble and burden of the people (Ex. 33 1 " 3 ). — Wherefore 
hast Thotc evil entreated '?] why hast Thou injured me, or made my 
lot so hard? (cp. Gn. I9 9 43 6 ). The verb (yin) is the antithesis 
(cp. Jos. 24 20 ) of ZTOTi = "to be a source of good fortune to" 
(io 29 n.); for another instance with Yahweh as subj., see 
Ex. 5 22 . — Thy servant] this periphrasis for the personal 
pronoun is specially characteristic of J ; see, e.g., Gn. i8 3 - 5 
cp. CH. 73. — Why have I not found favour in Thy sight] v. 15 
this phrase (TJ72 jn XVO) is also characteristic of J (CH. 31) 
see, e.g., Gn. 6 8 18 3 and, in what appears to have been the 
original context of the present passage, Ex. 33 12 - 13 - 16 . — The 

* So Bacon, to whose discussions {JBLit. xii. 38-40, 45 f. ; Triple 
Tradition, 139-150, 168) reference must be made for further arguments, 
and in whose translation (p. 299) the vv. will be found in what is pre- 
sumably their original context. 


burden of all this people] the task of leading the people unaided 
to Canaan (v. 12b ) had been imposed by Yahweh on Moses 
(Ex. 33 1-3 ), but after this expostulation Yahweh promises that 
His " Face" shall accompany Moses (Ex. 33 12 " 16 ). — 12. Have I 
conceived, etc.] the pronoun is emphatic; Yahweh, not Moses, 
brought Israel into being. Israel is, therefore, Yahw r eh's 
people (Ex. 33 13 ). Here, as in Ex. 4 22f, » Dt. 32 18 , Hos. n 1 , 
and, very probably, in Ps. 2 7 , the whole nation is regarded as 
Yahweh's son. — Carry it in thy bosom] cp. Is. 40 11 and, with 
a different word, 49 22 . — A ntirsing-father] the nursing- or 
foster-parent played an important part in the wealthier Hebrew 
families (2 K, io 1 - 5 where RV. renders D^BKn by "they that 
brought up"). They are mentioned in another figurative 
passage, Is. 49 23 . If, as some* think, the nurse rather than 
the foster-father should be mentioned in connection with 
the "suckling," it is easy to read here rOBkn (cp. Ru. 4 16 , 
2 S. 4 4 ). — Unto the land which Thou swearest, etc.] Moses 
takes up Yahweh's words in Ex. 33 1 ; the words for "land" 
in the two passages are, however, different (here HD*1K, there 
px). — 13. Whence is Moses to obtain flesh to satisfy the 
people's cry ? The verse continues, though not quite immedi- 
ately, v. 10 . An introductory clause at least has been sup- 
pressed in favour of v. 12f - ; and the immediate continuation of 
v. 13 has given place to v. u ~ 17 . The answer of Yahweh to the 
question of Moses in v. 13 stands in v. 18 ; it was, perhaps, 
originally preceded by a statement of Yahweh's anger at 
Moses' report about the people which has now been shifted 
further back to v. 10b . — For they trouble me with their weeping] 
?]} PI33, as Jud. i4 lcf -. — Give us flesh, that we way eat] \*h run 
rtaswi nc'3; cp. Ex. 17 2 (E) nn-j'ji dvs \h (ffi run) un.— 14. 

The v. is the immediate sequel, not to v. 13 which it disregards, 
but to v. 12 . — / cannot by myself carry] (nKBf? . . . 731X to) 
Moses' reply to Yahweh's command (Ex. 33 1 " 3 ), which has 
been paraphrased by Moses in the words (v. 12 ), "Carry it 
(insc) in thy bosom." The people are too heavy for Moses. 
The different renderings in RV. of the same verb (X^'3) in v. 12 
and v. 14 obscure the original connection, though they may do 
* Nowack, Arch. i. 171 f. ; Kon. iii. 299A. 

XI. I2-i6 109 

justice to the editor's meaning: cp. v. 17b n. — 15. Rather let 
Yah weh, it' He has any regard for Moses, kill him and have 
done with it (inn *jnn, Dav. 67c), than insist on his carrying 
the people alone; for similar requests for death, see Ex 32 s2 , 
1 K 19 4 , Jon. 4 3 , Job 3. — Let me not look upon my wretchedness} 
let me not continue to experience the unendurable toil and 
trouble of what in such a case must be my hard lot (njTi : 
cp. inn v. 11 n.). 1 nX"l, which expresses far more than the 
simple "see" of RV. (cp. I2 2 n.), is used somewhat similarly 
in Gn. 21 16 44 s4 . — The terms of Yahweh's reply can be gathered 
from Ex. 33 12b , where Yahweh assures Moses that he has 
found favour, and shall not carry the people alone ; the con- 
tinuation of the argument is to be found in Ex. 33 12-16 . 

11. 'nso] = tnsd ; G.-K. 74/J. — ayn ha ttvo] & and some MSS. of |$ om. 
Sa ; S Dyn Ntra ^3. — 12. tilh] Peculiar to JE in the Hex. and specially 
characteristic of J ; CH. 21 (J 22 times ; E 4 times). — Wirr?;] For the 
punctuation, see G.-K. 69s. — 14. (Sr omits 'jj and paraphrases the last 
clause wrongly under the influence of Ex. 18 18 . — IS. ?n] so Dt 5 24 < 27 >, 
Ezek. 28 14 . Masc. forms have also survived from the earlier consonantal 
text elsewhere (e.g. 1 S. 24 19 ), but have then been correctly pointed m. 
Cp. BDB. 616 ; Kon. iii. 8. 

16, 17a. Yahweh promises a portion of the Spirit to seventy 
elders (E). — These vv. are separated from their immediate 
sequel, v. 24b ~ 30 ; in E they may have followed immediately 
on Ex. 33 7_u , and the whole story may have immediately 
preceded that now found below in c. 12; cp. p. 98, above. 
In any case, the connection with v. 11-15 is very loose in spite 
of v. 17b . On the relation of the story to certain kindred 
narratives in Ex. 18 and 24, and on its general significance 
and motive, see small print n. following v. 30 . 

16. Moses is to assemble seventy men selected from the 
whole number of the elders of Israel at the tent of meeting. 
As in a parallel story (Ex. 24 1(2) - M-U- 1 )), the manner and ground 
of selection are not stated. — The elders of Israel] the elders 
are the leading men of the various families (cp. Ex. i2 21f ). 
They are very frequently referred to in early narratives {e.g. 
1 S. 4 3 8 4 , 2 S. 17 15 ), including the prophetic narratives of the 
Hexateuch (CH. i5i JE , 42 13 ). 

In P they are rarely mentioned (Lev. 4 15 9 1 , Jos. 20 4 f) ; in that source 


the phrase is generally replaced by another — "the princes of the congre- 
gation of Israel" (or the like — CH. 131'). Benzinger's statement (PRE.* 
i. 224), that in the narrative of the march through the wilderness they are 
mentioned only in E and D, and never in J, is not justified by assured 
analytical results. On the general subject of the " elders," see Nowack, 
Arch. i. pp. 300 ff., 320 ff.; Benzinger, Arch. § 41-43, or Aelteste in PRE?. 
For " collecting " ( r |Dx) or " summoning " (^ Mip) the elders, see Ex. 3 16 ^ 
12 21 19 7 , Jos. 24 1 . 

Whom thou knowest to be . . . officers] To judge from the 
analogy of the sheikhs of the modern Bedfiwin, the elders of 
the nomadic Hebrews were, as occasion required, leaders in 
war, ready with counsel, or arbitrators in disputes. The 
division of labour whereby some elders became judges, others 
military leaders, and others "officers," apparently belongs to 
the more complex conditions of settled life ; and it may be 
only by an anachronism that it is here referred to the nomadic 
period of Hebrew history : cp. Nowack or Benzinger as just 
cited. What precisely is covered by the term " officers " (□'nirj') 
is uncertain; etymologically it seems to mean "arranger" or 
"organiser" (Dr. Deut. p. 17); in Ex. 5 (JE) the persons so 
called are overseers, persons who have to see that the full 
task of work is performed ; in some later passages they carry 
orders to the people (Jos. i 10 3 2 , Dt. 2o 5 - 8£ -). In several 
Deuteronomic passages the term is used with several others 
("elders," "heads," "judges"), the whole combination being 
apparently intended to exhaust the idea of leaders of the 
people. But whatever its precise significance, its presence 
here implies some already existing organisation of assistants 
to Moses in the government of the people. The institution of 
such assistants had been previously mentioned in the same 
source, if we are right in attributing the present story to E 
(see Ex. 18). — 17a. And I will come down and speak with thee] 
i.e. will communicate with you in the manner described as 
customary in Ex. 33 s - n (E). — And I will withdraw some of the 
spirit that is now upon thee, and put it upon them] the spirit 
(rrnn) is conceived materially* and, as in 2 K. 2 9f -, quantita- 
tively. As in 2 4 2 , Jud. 3 10 11 29 , 1 S. io 6 19 20 , Is. n 2 6i\ 
Ezek. 11 5 , it is thought of as coming or resting upon (?]}) a 
* Cp. Koberle, Natur u. Geist nach der Auffassung des AT, 184-186. 

XI. 17 III 

person. Moses possesses the spirit in large measure, so that 
he can spare enough to enable seventy others to prophesy for 
the nonce, v. Z5f -. One purpose of the narrative, common also 
to Ex. 33 7_u and c. 12 below, appears to be to enhance the 
superiority of Moses in virtue of his close relation to Yahweh. 
— 17b. And they shall assist thee in bearing the burden of the 
people, that thou bear it not alone] It is difficult to believe that 
this clause does not presuppose and refer to v. 11-16 , and yet 
the answer is only verbal and superficial. The point of Moses' 
argument in those vv. is that Yahweh Himself ought to bear 
at least part of the burden ; this comes out most clearly when 
v iif. i4f. are placed between Ex. 33 1-3 and 12 ~ 16 , but is sufficiently 
clear from v. 12 alone. So when Moses in v. 14 says I cannot 
bear this people alone, he means he cannot bear it without 
Yahweh's help. To this v. 17b , with its promise that Moses 
shall receive human assistance, is no genuine reply. The 
case is, of course, entirely different in Dt. i?~ 18 (cp. Ex. 18), 
where Moses calls on the people to give him assistance, since, 
on account of their increasing numbers, he is no longer able to 
bear the burden of them alone. Further, though v. 24b - 25a 
mentions point by point how the commands and promises of 
v. 16 - 17a were carried out and fulfilled, no further notice is taken 
of any assistance rendered to Moses ; quite the reverse ; v. 26b 
gives the actual result of the spirit resting on the elders : 
and this result was that the elders received not the power 
of assisting Moses, but of prophesying. On both these 
grounds certainly, possibly also on the ground of the clause 
"whom . . . thou knowest to be officers" (v. 16 n.), we 
may judge v. 17b to be an editorial clause designed to connect 
the three originally distinct elements brought together in 
this chapter. To the editor the "burden" in v. 17b meant 
the same as in v. 11-15 , the task more especially of providing 
the people with flesh. The connection with Ex. 18 22 is 
merely verbal, and if v. 17b be admitted to be editorial, 
it accounts for the difficulty which commentators have felt 
(without surmounting) in attempting to decide the difference 
between the functions of these elders and those appointed 
in Ex. 18. 


16. hbdnI G.-K. 48*. — 'Jp»D c>x D'jn»] so v. 24 (cp. v. 28 n.) ; ct. 'jpto D'jnr 
Ex. 24'- 9 . — us'nro] 3^"nn 17 times in Hex.; 13JE, 4 D ; see CH. 214^. — 17. 
'nSsNi] the vb. is rare (v. 25 , Gn. 27 s6 , Ezek. 42", Eccl. 2 l0 t), and in each case 
the context requires a slightly different sense : the nearest parallel to the 
present meaning is Ezek. 42 s ; cp. BDB. S reads San and in v. 25 ^x'l ; G 
perhaps supports S here (d(f>e\Q> ; cp. 6.<paipeiv = V'nn Gn. 31 s - 1B , Hos. 2 11 ) ; 
but the variant is scarcely right ; the sense of 7'xn is too violent. — 2 1x^:1] 
"they shall bear in, i.e. take part in bearing" : so Ezek. 18 20 ; see BDB. 
886 ; Kon. iii. 84. 

18. Cp. v. 4b - 5 . The story of the lust for flesh is resumed. 
In answer to Moses' incredulous question, v. 13 , Yahweh 
promises that He will Himself provide the people with flesh. 
The opening - words of this verse may have been modified 
from some such introductory formula as is found in Ex. 7 16 
8 1 9 1 and a connecting link between v. 13 and v. 18 has probably 
been suppressed by the editor in favour of v. 14-17 . — Sanctify 
yourselves] make yourselves ceremonially clean by ablutions 
and abstention from women (Ex. io/ 10, 15 ), that ye may be fit 
to witness the special manifestation of Yahweh's power in the 
coming miraculous provision of flesh : cp. especially Jos. 3 5 ; 
also Ex. 1 9 10f - 14fl - 22 , Jos. 7 13 (allJE). Rashi explains: prepare 
yourselves for destruction; cp. Jer. 12 3 . — Against to-morrow] 
a term frequently set (especially in J) for the fulfilment of a 
divine promise or command — Ex. 8 6, 19 - 25 (1 °- 23, 29 ^ 9 s - 18 io 4 , 
Nu. 14 25 , Jos. 3 5 7 13 (all JE); Jud. 20 28 , 1 S. 9 16 ; somewhat 
differently i6 7 - 16 , Ex. 16 23 (P). The fulfilment on the morrow 
(mriEO) is sometimes recorded — 1723(8) (p^ j? x# g 6 (J). Ct. 
" the third day," Ex. 19 11 (E). — // was well with tis in Egypt] 
(13^3 Zim) : cp. 14 3 , Ex. 14 12 . — 19 f. But though Yahweh promises 
to satisfy the people with flesh, He also warns them that as a 
punishment for their impious discontent they will be kept to 
the flesh diet till it becomes nauseous to them. — 20. Until it 
come out from your nostril] this may refer to violent vomiting, 
or to the rejection of the smell of the flesh as repugnant, or to 
the repeated taste of food that has disagreed. — 21 f. Moses 
doubts even Yahweh's power to provide sufficient food for 
such a multitude. — 21. Six hundred thousand] Ex. 12 37 : cp. 
p. 14, above. — And yet Thou hast said] the use and position of 
the pr. (nnx) gives the sentence an adversative force not brought 

XI. 18-25 I I 3 

out in RV. — 23. Ynhweh challenges Moses' incredulity : cp. 
Gn. 18 14 (J). — The paragraph division of RV. is wrong- ; v. 23 - 24a 
closely connect with v. 22 ; the new paragraph should begin 
with v. 24b ("and he gathered"). — Is Yahweh's hand short ?] is 
His power small ? cp. Is. 50 2 59 1 and similar phrases with refer- 
ence to men in 6 21 (n.), Is. 37 27 . The opposite idea of might 
is expressed by the "outstretched arm"; e.g. Dt. 4 34 . — Now 
shall thou see whether My word fall in with thee or not] a divine 
word was thought to possess a certain real and independent 
existence ; once uttered, it pursued its own course (Is. 55 11 ) : 
cp. the power attributed to spoken words of men (30 3 n.). 

18. iDsn cyn btv\] & = oyn bt< nvo "on. — 20. d'd 1 win] Gn. 29"! (J) : cp. rrr 
D'D' Dt. 21 13 , and see BDB. s.v. ov 6b. — *oi] a copyist's error for mi (S), 
or a gloss of a scribe familiar with Aramaic (cp. G.-K. 80/2). The word 
is found in Sir. 39 s7 mrg., but nowhere else in OT. It seems to come 

from *J~m = s \ l ^=fastidivlt, though Aq. els aXKoTpiucriv assumes T1T = 


S • . Most of the VV. translate by a word denoting sickness or the like. — 

22. npm |Ks] ace. with the pass.; see next clause; Dav. 79, 81, R. 3; 
G.-K. i2iab.—onh nxdi] Jud. 21 14 and (in Niphal) Jos. i7 lfi , Zech. io 10 . 

24b, 25. Yahweh places the Spirit on the seventy elders, and 
they prophesy. — V. 16 - 17a is here continued; the directions and 
promises there given are carried out and fulfilled. — And 
Yahweh came down in the cloud} to the tent where Moses and 
the elders were standing, v. 24b : cp. 12 5 , Ex. 33 s-11 (E). In E 
the appearance of this theophanic cloud (pj?n, so also 12 10 ; 
pj?(n) Tiny 12 5 , Ex. 33 9 '-, Dt. 31 15 ) is intermittent; in P con- 
tinuous after the completion of the tabernacle. In both E 
and P, as distinguished from J, it is regularly associated with 
the tabernacle; see Pillar of Cloud in EBi. — They prophesied, 
but they did so no more] the effect of the spirit resting on the 
elders was that they fell into prophetic frenzy, just as the 
messengers of Saul, and ultimately Saul himself, were over- 
powered by the spirit and made, even against their will, to 
prophesy, 1 S. 19 20 - 24 io 10-13 ; but the elders are only affected 
by this form of religious excitement on the present occasion, 
nor does the narrative (ct. v. 17b ) relate that their reception of 
the spirit had any permanent effect on them ; it simply relates 
that they returned with Moses to the camp, v. 30 . 


26-29. Eldad and Medad. — The spirit also rests on Eldad 
and Medad, who had been left in the camp when Moses and 
the elders went out to the tent, and they fall into the same 
prophetic frenzy. Nothing further is known of Eldad and 
Medad (or, as ffi S perhaps rightly have it, Modad), nor does 
the latter name recur, though it seems identical with Mtidadi, 
which appears on ancient Babylonian contract tablets.* Eldad, 
a name of early type (HPN. 61, 192 n. 1), reappears under 
the form Elidad in 34 21 . The assonance of the names may be 
paralleled by Jabal and Jubal (Gn. 4 20f ), Gog and Magog 
(which in Arabic (Koran, 21 96 ) become Yajiij and Majuj), Harut 
and Marut (Koran, 2 96 ). A pseudo-epigraphon, purporting to 
be a prophecy of Eldad and Medad, is cited in the Shepherd of 
Hennas, Vis. ii. — Now they were among them that were regis- 
tered this is generally understood to mean that Eldad and 
Medad were two of the seventy elders. But if the interpreta- 
tion be correct, the clause seems in several respects at variance 
with the rest of the passage. Not only is nothing said of any 
registering of the seventy elders in v. 16f - 24f> , but v. 24b asserts 
that the seventy actually went out to the tent, and v. 25 (present 
text) directly states that seventy there received the spirit. 
Further, Moses' rebuke of Joshua, v. 29 , implies that Eldad 
and Medad did not belong to the number who had been 
promised the spirit. If the clause be original and not rather 
the note of a glossator [EBi. 1256), it would be better to 
understand by "the registered" the whole body of elders from 
whom the seventy were chosen, v. 16 . The references to the 
registration or enrolment of persons are chiefly late — Neh. 
12 22 , 1 Ch. 4 41 24 s ; cp. Jer. 22 30 and, figuratively, Ex. 32 s2 
Is. 4 3 , Mai. 3 16 , Ps. 6 9 29(2S) , Dn. 12 1 , Enoch 47 s (see Charles' 
note for later allusions) ; but it would be unreasonable to 
deny that the practice of registration may have extended 
back to the 8th or 9th century, and that the original story 
here may have alluded to it. The mere linguistic evidence 
therefore does not prove the clause to be a late gloss. — And 
they had not gone out to the tent] Even more clearly than the 
opening clause of the v., this implies that the tent was outside 

* Hommel, Altisraelitische Ueberlieferung, 75, 112 (Eng. tr. 76, 113). 

XI. 26-29 I I 5 

the camp; such, too, is the implication of v. 27 and v. 80 (cp. 
i2 14f ). The whole passage is thus connected with Ex. 33 7 " 11 
(E) ; ct. the entirely different point of view of P, who, possibly 
following J (14 44 n.), makes the tent the centre of the camp 
(p. 16 ff.). — 27. A young man brings Moses the news of the 
sudden outbreak of prophetic frenzy in Eldad and Medad ; 
the bystanders were also astonished when Saul was similarly 
affected, 1 S. io llf -. — 28. Joshua begs Moses to stop them 
prophesying. He is jealous (v. 29 ) lest Moses should lose his 
pre-eminence if not only the seventy but others also manifest 
the spirit, and that, too, without appearing, like the seventy, 
to receive only the overplus of the spirit which had rested on 
Moses, v. 25 . — Joshua the servant of Moses] Ex. 24 13 33 11 , 
Jos. i 1 , cp. Ex. 32 17 — probably all E. The presence of Joshua 
at the tent, though he was not one of the elders, needed no ex- 
planation if, as is probable (see above, p. 98), in the original 
source Ex. 33 11 immediately preceded the present story. — 
From his youth up\ or since he was a young man) cp. Tiro in 
1 S. g 2 . Others render the phrase "one of his young men," 
see phil. n. — 29. Moses replies, Are you so deeply concerned 
to maintain my rights and honour (K3P : cp. 25 11 - 13 , 2 S. 21 2 , 
1 K. ig 10 - u ) that you would have the number of the recipients 
of Yahweh's spirit limited? Nay, rather would that all 
Yahweh's people, elders or not, without the camp or within, 
might receive and manifest it. Moses has more at heart the 
good of the community as a whole than his own personal 
honour or continued pre-eminence ; whatever obscurity rests 
on the interpretation of certain details of the story, this fine 
trait in Moses' character as conceived in early Israel stands 
out clearly. — The whole episode is an important illustration of 
the belief that Yahweh did not confine His gifts to particular 
persons or classes. In itself, it is true, the value set on the 
prophetic frenzy does not reveal a very advanced religious 
perception (ct. 1 Cor. 12-14). But the belief in the free range 
of the spirit, in the possibility of all men, irrespective of class 
or place, coming under its influence and so into close relation 
with God, is one of abiding value, and what it was capable of 
becoming may be seen in Jeremiah's great prophecy (3i 33f -: 


cp. Ezek. n 19f ). At the same time the present passage and 
Jeremiah's prophecy, so far from showing entirely the same 
standpoint, and needing on that ground to be regarded as of 
the same, or nearly the same, age,* are strikingly different. 
In thought, at least, Jeremiah is far in advance. For there is 
here no idea of that deep spiritual communion of man with 
God of which Jeremiah is thinking when he speaks of " the 
law in the inward parts" and of "the knowledge of God"; 
nor even of that direct speech of Yahweh which was granted 
to Moses (Ex. 33 11 ), but simply of that prophetic frenzy 
described in the narratives of Samuel, and represented there 
also as descending on men without regard to class or family ; 
cp. especially the proverbial question with regard to persons 
who fell under the prophetic impulse — "And who is their 
father" (1 S. io 12 ). — 30. Moses and the elders return from 
the tent into the camp : cp. v. 26 n. 

The relation of the foregoing- story of the seventy elders to Ex. 18 and 
24 1 " 11 has been much discussed. If it be admitted that, as argued above, 
v. 17b is editorial and not an original part of the story, then Ex. 18 and 
Nu. ijis. 17a. 2-jt-so are n0 (- p ara n e l accounts of the same incident; their 
motives are entirely different, and they may well have been successive 
incidents in the same source. Thus the fact that Ex. 18 is E is no 
reason for denying that the present story is from the same source. On 
the other hand, Nu. ii 16- 17a * 24b - 30 and Ex. 24 1 " 11 do so far resemble one 
another that both are stories of seventy elders specially privileged ; they 
may therefore represent variations from a common story whence come the 
rare vb. hxtt of Nu. and the unique ysK ( = " nobles ") in Ex. 24 11 . At the 
same time they are sufficiently unlike to have been included in the same 
(literary) source from the first, and it is best to consider their literary 
origin independently. The reference of the story of the elders in Ex. 24 
to E would not invalidate, nor the reference of it to J greatly support the 
conclusion here accepted, that the present story of the elders is from E. 
For earlier analyses of Ex. 24 1 " 11 see Holzinger ; for later, Bacon, CH,, 
who assign Ex. 24"- 9 " n (the story of the elders) to J, and v. 3 " 8 to E; 
Steuernagel (TSK. 1899, p. 322), who exactly reverses this analysis, 
and Baentsch, who refers Ex. 24 1 ( 2 >" 9 " u to a very ancient north-Israelitish 

2$. Sskji] cp. v. 17 n. The form is apparently intended to be Hiphil ( = 
*?s*p) — Kon. 1 390. Otherwise Bottcher (ii. p. 426) and Barth {ZDMG. 
1889, p. 179: cp. G.-K. 68/), who regard the form as Kal, the & not 

* S" Kik> (Hex. 241) and many after him. 

XL 30, 31 117 

having been dulled to 6 as in "ip^'i. — 25. D'Jptn wx o^jnty] the pi. def. 'in 
after the indef. sing, trx is strange in spite of such partial parallels as 
Gn. 2 1 29 41 26 (cp. Dr. Tenses, 209 (1)). Possibly b°n cpai? is an inter- 
polation. — >2d; nVi] cp. Dt. 5 22 . ffi rightly ical oik<?Tt irpoatdevTo : so S. S 
ISDN' vb\ (cp. v. 30 H). U (cp. ijoandjon) w ^ c w#/-a cessaverunt as if from »)1D. 
—27. TS»n] Dav. 21* ; G.-K. 126, 4.— 28. vrao] In Eccl. (n 9 12 1 ) the fern, 
pi. is used ; but the usage may well have changed in the interval. For 
the masc. pi. abstractly of an age, cp. D'TW, o-i^i. S reads wmD= " one of 
his chosen (servants) " : cp. <& U. But the clause by itself in its present 
position hardly bears such a sense. It could be well spared altogether ; 
however interpreted, it would be more in place where Joshua is first men- 
tioned ; Di. indeed makes its presence here a ground for denying the v. 
to E. 

31-33. Quails.— Continuation ot v . 18 - 24a . Yahweh fulfils 
His promise of flesh by bringing to the camp huge flights of 
quails, which the people kill in immense quantities, and eat. 
The description is drawn from life, corresponding accurately 
to modern observations in its various details — the great mul- 
titude cf the birds, their use of wind in their migration, the 
lowness of their flight, the ease with which when weary they 
are netted. 

31. A wind set forth from Yahweh] The vb. (JJD3), which is 
repeated (in Hiphil) in Ps. 78' 26 , is the same as, e.g., in io 33 n. ; 
cp. Jon. i 4 , Ps. 135 7 . Elsewhere also Yahweh is represented 
as working out His purposes by means of winds — Ex. io 13 - 19 
14 21 (J), Gn. 8 1 (P), Ex. 15 10 , Ps. 104 4 148 8 .— And brought 
across quails] the identification of salwim with the common 
quail [Coturnix communis or C. dactylisonans) is well secured 
by the fact that this bird is still called salwa in Egypt and 
Syria,* that its habits justify the description here given, and 
that it was certainly so understood by Josephus (A71L iii. i 5 13 1 , 
oprv%) if not also by ffi (6pTvyo/.u')Tpa). 

Quails belong to the partridge family. " In March and April they cross 
the Mediterranean from the south ... in large bands," and return south- 
wards from Europe in even more enormous flights towards the end of 
September. On both migrations they are netted for the market ; the flesh 
of the birds caught in the spring is commonly dry and indifferent, but that 
of those taken in autumn is excellent. Though they rise rapidly on the 
wing, they seldom fly far except on their migrations, and then they are 

* Seetzen, Reisen, iii. So: cp. Robinson, Biblical Researches, ii. 620. 


often overtaxed and drop exhausted into the sea or on passing ships. 
(The foregoing' details are condensed from EB. 9 art. " Quails.") 

Speaking of Palestine, Tristram {Fauna and Flora of Palestine, 124) 
says: "A few pairs of quail may be found here and there all through 
the winter ; but in March they return by myriads in a single night, and 
remain to breed in all the open plains, marshes, and corn-fields, both in 
the Ghor and the upper country." 

It cannot be established that in the original source this story was 
referred to the spring season, though it is not unnatural to suppose that 
the editor, if he reflected on the matter at all, had this season in view : 
cp. IO U . 

The sea] presumably the Gulf of 'Akabah ; a S.E. wind, of 
which a later poet (Ps. 78 s6 ) thinks, would, as a matter of 
fact, bring- up the birds from the Gulf to people on the march 
from Sinai to Kadesh or resident in Palestine. — 32. The 
people spend the whole of two days and the intervening 
night in capturing the birds, so that he who caught least 
brought home ten homers, i.e. about 100 bushels. — They 
spread them out] to cure them by drying : U, paraphrastically, 
but rightly, siccaverunt ; cp. (5 AFL . S (cp. (5 B ), transposing the 
two last letters of the root, reads they slaughtered. With 
the preferable reading of pj, cp. the ancient Egyptian treat- 
ment of fish and quails: "of their fish, some they used to 
dry in the sun and eat without cooking, others they eat 
cured in brine. Of birds, they eat quails and ducks and 
small birds without cooking, after curing them" (Her. ii. 
77). — 33. Before the stock of dried quails was exhausted, 
Yahweh manifests His anger with the people by destroying 
many of them. — Ere it ran short] For this meaning * of n~G3, 
see Jos. 3 16 , 2 S. 3 s9 , 1 K. 2 4 , Joel i 5 - 16 ; for "ere it was 
chewed,"! there is no parallel. The latter translation would 
also bring the v. into conflict with the rest of the story ; for 
the remark would be pointless unless it means that before the 
people had had time to masticate, on their first attempt to eat 
the quails, the plague broke out ; but v. 32a naturally implies 
that they had already eaten, and v. 18_2i certainly contemplates 
the flesh being eaten for a whole month. — And Yahweh smote 
the people with a great slaughter] lit. smiting (rm H3D • • . "p)- 

* <& V £°; Di., Reuss, Str., Socin (in Kautzsch, US.), Bacon, 
f Arabic V., Ros., Ke., RV. BDB. 

XI. 32-3S U9 

n3E> is frequently used both of an act of God (Lev. 26 21 , Dt. 
28 61 , 1 S. 4 s 6 10 ) and of an act of man (Dt. 2 5 3 , Jos. io 1 "-", 
1 S. 14 14 ). The rationalistic explanation, that the mortality 
among the people was due to the poisonous stuffs on which 
quails are said sometimes to feed, if intended as an interpreta- 
tion of the meaning of the story, merely betrays a lack of 
literary sense on the part of those who offer it. This mor- 
tality is not the punishment with which Yahweh threatens 
the people in v. 18_2i , and it is possible that the whole episode 
of the lust for flesh as here related is borrowed partly from one, 
partly from another form in which the story was wont to be 
told. — 34. The people who die by the hand of Yahweh as a 
punishment for their lusting are buried, and their graves 
give the place its name, "the Graves of the Lusting"; 
cp. v. 3 n. 

31. mi] here, exceptionally, masc : cp. Job 4 15 8 2 , 1 K 19 11 . — tri] 
standing- between I'D: and can should have the same, subj., viz. mi: then 
ciVb' is ace. and HI transitive, and therefore rather to be pointed Hiph. 
than, with MT., Kal. The root occurs only once again (Ps. 90 10 ) in 
OT., and then with the Syriac sense to pass away; but with the present 
use, cf. Ar. jaza, iii. to cross (Kor. 7 134 ) and iv. to make to pass over, or 
through, and the Targumic tu to pass over, or through (see Levy). — DlTtf] 
S iW, perhaps rightly ; for note the following D, and that the word is else- 
where always sing, in $ (i(')Vb' v. 32 , Ex. 16 13 , Ps. 105 40 ). On ' = <?, cp. 

12 3 n. ; but the true form is rather 'ibv ; cp. [ <y Mi > «~»Q_\£D. The word 
seems a loan in Heb. and Syr. from Ar. ; Lagarde, BN. 190. On the 
renderings of the VV. see Di.'s note on Ex. 16. — 33. With the vivid 
construction of the v., cp. Gn. 19 23 27 30 38 25 44 3f -, Jud. i8 3 , and especially 
Gn. 29 s (all early passages) ; see Dr. Tenses, 169. 

35. The people journey from Kibroth-hatta'avah to Haseroth 
and remain (vn-|, cp. Ex. 24 12 ) there. Haseroth has been 
identified by many with 'Ain el Hadra, of which Palmer 
[Desert of the Exodus, pp. 260-262, cp. 313 f.) gives a full 
description. It is two days' journey N.E. from Sinai [i.e. in 
the direction of the top of the Gulf of 'Akabah). But this 
identification rests on altogether inadequate grounds. 

The identification seems to have been first suggested by Burckhardt 
(Syrien, p. 808) ; it is favourably entertained by Robinson (Bib/, /de- 
searches in Palestine, 1841, I, p. 223), and defended by Palmer (op. 
cit. : also p. 508) ; but questioned by Di. (on the present passage), Clay 


Trumbull, Kadesh Barnea, p. 314 f. The main ground of identification 
is the similarity of the name, the roots (j-^=>~ =isn) and the general sig- 
nification of the words being the same. But names derived from this root 
and of similar form simply mean "an enclosure" (cp. Palmer, pp. 289, 
321 f.), and are so frequent that mere similarity of name affords in this case 
a very insufficient reason for identity of place. In OT. there are several 
similar place-names of this class. See EBi. s.v. Place-names, § 105. The 
presence of water at 'Ain el-Hadra is manifestly a still more insufficient 
ground of identification. How far the position supports the identification 
depends on the validity of particular theories of the route from Sinai to 
Kadesh. See further on c. 33. 

XII. 1-15. The uniqueness of Moses. — The motive of this 
story, which tells how Miriam and Aaron challenge Moses' 
peculiar right to speak for Yahweh, how Yahweh vindicates 
Moses, and how Miriam is smitten with leprosy for her sin, 
and only healed in virtue of Moses' intercession, is the unique- 
ness of Moses' position and of his intimacy with Yahweh. 
This appears in (1) the terms of the challenge, v. 2 , for 
they imply that, as a matter of fact, Moses' position and 
authority were supreme; (2) in the direct statement of the 
divine utterance, v. 6-8 — to other prophets Yahweh spoke by 
dream and vision ; to Moses, mouth to mouth as one man to 
another ; (3) in the vindication of Moses' position by the 
divine judgment on Miriam, v. 9f - ; (4) in the efficacy of 
Moses' intercession to remove Miriam's leprosy, v. 13f - 

The same motive is prominent in the stories of the seventy 
elders (n 16f - 2ih ~ S0 ), and of the mutiny as related by JE in c. 16. 

The scene of the incident, as defined by the editor, is 
Haseroth (11 35 i2 16 ), but in the source (E) whence the story 
was drawn it may rather have been Horeb : cp. p. 98. 

1. Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses] Miriam is here 
mentioned before Aaron (cp. (£ BA in v. 4 ), and the vb. is in the 
3rd sing. fern. ; subsequently the verbs are pi., and Aaron is 
mentioned first. The order and cstr. of the present clause 
(subsequently abandoned) indicate either that Miriam took 
the lead, or that a story in which Miriam alone offended — she 
is still alone in being punished — has been modified by intro- 
ducing Aaron as a second offender. For 3 "On of hostile 
speech, cp. v. 8 2i 5 - 7 (E), Job 19 18 , Ps. 50 20 78 19 .— On account 

XII. I 121 

of the Cushite woman] The Hebrew Cush (trn) is certainly 
used of two, possibly of three distinct districts or peoples : 
i. Ethiopia (so usually); 2. the Cassites (E. of Babylonia); 
cp. Gn. io 8 ; * 3. it has been argued by Wincklerf that the 
Kusi mentioned in certain inscriptions of Esarhaddon were a 
N. Arabian people, and that it is to these that 2 Ch. i4 9ff - 
16 8 2 1 16 and some other OT. passages refer when they speak 
of Cush. If this be admitted, then the statement that 
Moses had married a Cushite, i.e. a N. Arabian wife, is 
best regarded as a variant form of the tradition that Moses' 
wife was a Midianite (io 29 , Ex. 2 15 ~ 21 3 1 ) or a Kenite (Jud. i 16 
4 11 , and see n. on io 29 ). On the other hand, if Cushite be 
here taken to mean Ethiopian,! the allusion must be to an 
otherwise unknown wife of Moses, for Sipporah could not be 
called an Ethiopian. In its present position, it is true, the 
clause itself, apart from any particular interpretation of 
Cushite, reasonably implies that the marriage was recent, 
and consequently that the wife mentioned is not Sipporah. 
But without pronouncing the substance of the clause, the 
invention of a later age,§ or denying that it embodies an 
ancient tradition, — a decisive choice between these alternatives 
is scarcely justified, — we may suspect that its insertion here is 
due to an editor, rather than to the author of the main story ; 
for at most the marriage is the occasion, whereas the real 
cause of the complaint against Moses is the wounded pride 
of Miriam and Aaron (v. 2 ) ; and further, the mere assignment 

* Schrader, COT. 86-88 ; Delitzsch, Wo lag. d. Parodies, 51-57, 72, 

t Musri, Meluhha u. Main, ii. ; cp. Musri, etc. i. 48 on 2 Ch. 14 14 ; also 
EBi. s.v. "Cush " ; Hommel in Exp. Times, viii. 378, and Vier nene arab. 
Landschaften, 298-303. Augustine on exegetical grounds alone really 
anticipated this view — " Madianitis . . . qui reperiuntur in Paralipomenon 
^Ethiopes dicti, quando contra eos pugnavit Josaphat. Nam in his locis 
dicitur eos persecutus populus Israel, ubi Madianitse habitant (II Paral. 
xiv. 9-14), qui nunc Saraceni appellantur. Sed nunc eos ^Ethiopes nemo 
fere appellat, sicut solent locorum et gentium nomina plerumque vetustati 
mutari " (Qu&st. in Num.). The identification is criticised by Konig (Fiinf 
neue arab. Landschaften, 51 ff. ). 

+ ffi %> UAr. AV. ; Jos. {Ant. ii. 10) ; Sayce, Early Hist, of the Hebrews, 
214 f. 

§ Cp. We. Com p. 101. 


of marriage with a foreigner as a ground of offence savours 
of an age — the age of Ezra— much later than that to which 
the main narrative of c. 12 belongs. 

Di. considers that the Cushite offended Miriam not because she was 
a foreigner, but because she was black ! A rabbinical interpretation 01 
Cushite is "beautiful" (C° Sam. V., Rashi), the meaning being based on 
the proverbial beauty of the Ethiopians or on Gematria (rwiD being 
numerically = nmD riD') : for other fancies of this type see SiphrL 2[° 
further recasts the story by basing Miriam's complaint on Moses' 
distnissal of his beautiful wife; and R. Nathan (as cited by Rashi) tells in 
greater detail how Miriam, happening to be with Sipporah when Eldad 
and Medad prophesied, heard her pity their wives because their husbands 
would now separate from them as Moses had already separated from her. 

2. If the latter part of v. 1 be an editorial insertion, the 
original text ran, And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses, 
and said, Is it only with Moses, etc. Then, for the sequence, 
cp. 2 1 5 . — Is it only with Moses that Yahweh has spoken ? Has he 
not also spoken "with us?] Miriam and Aaron do not call in 
question Moses' prophetic position or his right to lead, but 
only the uniqueness of his prophetic position and his right to 
sole leadership ; nor is there any suggestion in their question 
that he had done anything to forfeit a position originally held ; 
in other words, the question has no relation to the occasion 
mentioned in v. lb . "To speak with or by" (2 I2n) is used 
several times (v. 6 - 8 , 2 S. 23 2 , 1 K. 22 28 , Hos. i 2 , Hab. 2 1 , cp. 
>3 iaVl Zech. i 9 - 13 2 2 - 7 4 1 - 4 - 5 5 5 - 10 6 4 ) of a divine communica- 
tion to or through a prophet or other inspired person, though 
it is much less common than the phrase "to speak to" 
(f>K -an). 

The precise meaning of a nan used of a divine communication is not 
quite certain. We may notice three suggestions that have been offered. 
(1) Here and in some other passages (e.g. 1 K 22 28 ) it might be and has 
been explained (e.g. Ges. Thes. 314a) as meaning "to use as a spokes- 
man " ; 2 certainly has, with some other verbs, a similar force : thus 
a nay means "to use as a slave" ; cp. BDB. 896. Further, this meaning 
would be consistent with the Hebrew view of a prophet's function ; see 
Ex. 4 ,sff \ But the mediation of the prophet in divine communications is 
otherwise expressed, viz. by Ta nan (17 s 27 s3 , Is. 20 2 , Jer. 37 s ); and the 
proposed meaning of a nan is not in harmony with the parallel (nNioa 
1'iinN vSk) in v. K , and it is impossible in the context both in v. 6 and v. 8 . (2) 
Another suggestion is that the phrase means "to spt^k in," and refers to 

XII. 2, 3 123 

the internal voice of revelation ; but this is inconsistent with the representa- 
tion of " the angel who speaks with " (a nann i^Scn) Zechariah (Zech. i 9 
and often) ; for this angel is conceived not to dwell in, but to accompany 
and sometimes to leave the prophet (Zech. 2 7 ( 3 * 4 1 5 s ). (3) It is best there- 
fore to explain a nan on the analogy of a nun, a can, a ynw, as meaning 
"to speak to," but as expressing a closer and more intimate conversation 
than hx nan. This explanation has the advantage of closely connecting 
the sense of the phrase as used here and in similar cases with that of the 
phrase as used in v. 1 ; here the 3 emphasises the friendly intimacy, there 
the hostile intent that accompanies the speech ; cp. the relation between 
a nxi as used in Ps. 54 s (of the intense gaze of pleasure) and Gn. 21 16 (of 
the intense gaze of sorrow and distress) ; so Konig, Ojjfenbarungsbegriff, 
B. 178-180. 

And Yahweh heard] u 1 ; Di. conjectures that the words 
may, as in n 1 , have been immediately followed by "and 
Yahweh was angry" (v. 9 ). Yahweh, unsought by Moses, 
takes heed of the injustice done to His servant, v. 3 ; for of all 
mankind Moses is the humblest (13J?), the most submissive 
before God. The word 13J/, here only used 'in the singular, 
is generally rendered "meek," and interpreted to mean 
"patient," "given to bear wrongs without resistance"; but 
this is a sense which it bears nowhere else in OT.; the mean- 
ing "humble before God" is illustrated particularly by 
Zeph. 2 3 , and by the use of i:y with such parallel and 
synonymous terms as " those that seek Yahweh " (Ps. 22 27(26) ). 
Rahlfs (as cited below, phil. n.) has pointed out that the 
" 'Anawim " or " meek ones " of the Psalms are anything but 
men who bear patiently wrongs inflicted on them by their 
fellow-men. See, further, phil. note. — The man Moses] (E^Kn 
PKPD) so Ex. ii 3 (E) ; the phrase in Ex. 32 1 - 23 (J) is different. 
-The obliqueness of the reference to Moses and the self- 
commendatory nature of the statement occasioned difficulties 
to older commentators, who were bound by the theory of the 
Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch. 

1. mix h'j] scarcely to be used, with Di., as a decisive mark of E, and 
consequently as an argument in favour of v. lb forming an integral part of 
E's narrative. The phrase occurs in Gn. 2i 11,25 , Ex. 18 8 , Nu. 13 s4 (all E), 
and, with a slightly different sense, in Gn. 26 32 (J), Jos. 14" (not JE); 
but with the same meaning as here it occurs outside the Hexateuch in 
Jud. 6 7 , and mix Vo "?y is used similarly in Jer. 3 s . — 2. -|N pn] The two 
synonyms thus combined here only ; cp. 6 9 n. — 3. Mil] The meaning of this 


word (mainly as used in the Psalms), its relation to 'J$/, and its interpreta- 
tion in the early Versions, have been fully investigated by Rahlfs in 
':y u, lay in den Psahnen (Gottingen, 1892); see also "Poor" in DB. 
(Driver) and EBL (A. C. Paterson). On the form ny of the K're see 
Rahlfs, pp. 95-100 (' is a mater lectionis to indicate that the last syllable 
is to be pronounced as in i'"3?l)- — 3b. The language, as Di. points out, 
resembles that of J (Gn. 2 6 4" 6 1 - 7 f- » 8 8 - 13 , Ex. 32 12 33 16 ), but not de- 
cisively, as between J and E (cp. CH.). 

4-8. Tahweh's vindication of Moses. — 4. Suddenly, that is, 
immediately after the utterance of the complaint, v. 2 , Yahweh 
summons Moses, Aaron, and Miriam out of the camp to the 
tent (cp. ii 26 n.), and they go out. — 5. Yahweh descends 
in the pillar of cloud (cp. n 25 n.), and stands at the door 
of the tent (Ex. 33 9f - (E), see also Nu. n 16f - 25 ). He then 
summons Miriam and Aaron, and they both step forward, viz. 
from the position which they had taken up together with 
Moses. Certainly this gives the verb (lNi" , l) a sense different 
from that in which it is used in v. 4 , and in itself unusual 
(yet cp. Zech. 5 5 ). Di. explains the verb in both cases of 
going out from the camp, regarding v. 4 (J) and v. 5 (E) as 
doublets. But (i) it is not in accordance with E's representa- 
tion elsewhere that the theophanic cloud should appear, and 
wait for people to come out from the camp ; the persons 
summoned to or seeking God await His appearance, not He 
theirs ; see Ex. 33 7-11 , Nu n 16f - 24f -. (2) V. 4 by its reference to 
the tent, no less than v. 5 by its reference to the cloud, seems 
to belong to E. — 6-8. Yahweh addresses Aaron and Miriam, 
admitting that He may indeed communicate His will by means 
of others, but that no other enjoys such direct and intimate 
intercourse with Him as Moses. The address is poetical in 
character, rhythmical and parallelistic in form. Adopting one 
or two necessary emendations, it may be rendered — 

6 Hearken now to My words ! 

If there be a prophet among you, 

In visions do I make Myself known to him, 

In dreams do I speak with him. 

7 Not so with My servant Moses : 

In all My house he showeth himself trustworthy. 

XII. 4-8 125 

8 Mouth to mouth do I speak with htm, 
Plainly and not in riddles, 
And the form of Yahweh doth he behold. 
Why then did ye not fear, 
To speak against My servant Moses ? 

6. The terms prophet \ vision, dream (X^J, i1&OB, Ovfl) are 
singulars with a collective sense ; the tenses, imperfects 
denoting customary and repeated action (Dr. Tenses, 32 f.). 
The v. therefore states Yahweh's customary mode of revela- 
tion to ordinary prophets — it is by means of dreams and 
visions, cp. Joel 3 1 (2 2s ) ; it is this mode of revelation to which 
constant reference is made in E (but not in J) — Gen. 15 1 20 3 

2 gllf. 3I 11.24 3y 5ff. 40 5fl. 4I lff. 46 2. cp- Nu> 22 S.20 (« by n jght ") 

and, perhaps, Gn. 21 12 (cp. v. 14 ) and 22 1 (cp. v. 3 ). Elsewhere 
revelation by dream is sometimes distinguished from revelation 
through prophets (1 S. 28 s - 15 , Dt. 13 1 , Jer. 27°) ; and with some 
of the higher prophets, such as Jeremiah, dreams as a source of 
revelation fell into complete disrepute (Jer. 23 25ff -). — A prophet 
among you] this, though the rendering of EV., is not a transla- 
tion of the present text of pj, which can only be rendered, If 
your prophet be Yahweh ; see phil. n. — I speak with him] v. 2 n. — 
7. The case is different with Moses, Yahweh's trusted servant. — 
My servant] Dt. 34 s (JE), Ex. 14 31 (R) : otherwise this descrip- 
tion of Moses is, in the Hexateuch, confined to the Book of 
Joshua {e.g. i 1,2 - 7 ), and, at least mainly, to its Deuteronomic 
sections. Abraham is similarly described (Gn. 26 24 J) and 
also Caleb (14 24 J). The term is very naturally introduced 
here, leading on as it does to the next clause : in all Yahweh's 
house, i.e. in the administration of all that belongs to Yahweh 
(viz. Israel), Moses has proved himself worthy of Yahweh's 
confidence (pK3, cp. 1 S. 2 s5 3 20 22 14 : cp. the use of the verb 
W?K. in Gn. 42 20 ). He worthily sustains the part of a 
servant intrusted with all his master's affairs, such as Elfezer 
(Gn. 24 s ) or Joseph (41 10 ; note the usage of TTO). — 8. With 
His servant, who has thus proved his fidelity in the conduct 
of all Yahweh's affairs, Yahweh holds more intimate inter- 
course than with ordinary prophets : with Moses He converses 


not through the medium of dream or vision, but as one man 
with another ; and not in dark riddles, but clearly ; more- 
over, unlike other men, Moses sees the form of Yahweh. — 
Mouth to mouth] cp. "face to face," Ex. 33 11 (E), Dt. 34 10 
(JE). — Plainly and not in riddles] The meaning - of the first 
word must be gathered from that of the second phrase in the 
line ; the two phrases are clearly antithetical ; the meaning of 
the second is plain — God does not express Himself to Moses 
in dark enigmatical sayings (nwn Jud. 14 12 , 1 K. io 1 , Ps. 49 5 ), 
but clearly and intelligibly ; whether ^ or the different 
reading of S ((2r <£>) can be made to mean this is doubtful ; if 
not, the text must be corrupt; see phil. n. — And the form of 
Yahweh he beholds] the elders as well as Moses "saw God" 
on Sinai (Ex. 24 10 JE), but that was a special occasion. 
No other, like Moses, is allowed in customary and familiar 
intercourse with God to see His form (nilDri), though others 
might see it in dream (Job 4 16 ) or ecstatic vision (Ps. 17 15 ). 
D distinctly states that the people at Horeb heard a voice, 
but saw no form (Dt. 4 12 - 16 ). The form or £munah is some- 
thing less distinct than the appearance or niar'eh (Job 4 16 ) ; * 
the present statement does not, therefore, necessarily conflict 
with Ex. 33 20 (J). At the same time it would be a mistake to 
attempt to harmonise all the OT. statements on the visibility 
of God ; they represent different stages of thought and belief 
on the subject; see EBi. s.v. "Theophany." 

6. mn- cdn^j n\T on] the only possible translation (see above) is 
nonsense. The Versions afford no help ; |§ seems older than (S. The 
conjectural emendation DD3 N'aj n\V dn is simple, and has been commonly 
adopted (e.g. Di., Str., Kautzsch, Paterson). The superfluous rtliT may 
be misplaced, having stood originally after nDN , i, or may be a gloss 
explaining that the prophet must be a true and not a false one. The 
position makes it impossible to construe it as in apposition to the subject 
of jninN. — 8. ffl "?n ns] For the ace. and some Arabic as well as Hebrew 
parallels, see Kon. iii. 402/. — nNXfi] S and some MSS. of f$ fiNTDa, fflr £v 
eidei, & |01_k>JD. fflr quite properly distinguishes this from the nunoa (iv 
6p&/j.aTi), cp. v. 6 ; is and 3t° identify them. If the text be sound here, 
there is a play on similar words differently pronounced (n:oD and nxno). 
But it may be questioned whether this is likely. Paterson (after Ew.) 

* Dr. Deut. n. on 4 1 '. 

XII. 9-12 127 

reads nuioa n"? ; but this is tautologous after v. 6h • 7 . The rendering' "as an 
appearance" or the like (e.g. ■vcrmittelst Anblichs, Di.; sichtbarlich, Reuss) 
agrees better with the usual sense of nn-\D ; on the other hand, it not only 
destroys the antithesis, but unduly anticipates the next line (ui roiDm). — 
nvD2 najp] Dav. 29a. 

9 f. Miriam's punishment. — Yahweh departs in wrath (see 
on v. 2 ). No sooner has the cloud removed from the tent than 
Miriam is seen to be smitten with leprosy, Miriam alone is 
punished (cp. Dt. 24°), apparently because she took the lead 
in the complaint (v^n.). — 9. And He departed. And the cloud 
removed] the tenses are not consecutive, as this rendering" of 
RV. might suggest ; Yahweh and the cloud departed, as well 
as arrived, v. 6 , simultaneously. Render: And He departed. 
And when (or, as soon as) the clovd had removed . . . behold 
Miriam was leprous. With the Heb. cstr. of v. 10a , cp. Gn. 
15 17 24 45 and the somewhat similar instances in Dr. Tenses, 
169. — From beside the tent] RV. "from over." This, it is 
true, is the commoner sense of the prep. (?S?B), but it is un- 
suitable here in view of v. 5 . For byte = "from beside," see 
i6 26 - 27 , Gn. 17 22 18 3 , 1 K i 53 . — Leprous as (white as) snow] 
so Ex. 4 6 (J) ; the story has in view the white or milder 
form of the disease ; cp. Driver and White, Leviticus (SBOT.), 
p. 76. 

11-15. Moses' intercession. — Aaron, perceiving his sister 
leprous, begs Moses to forgive their folly and sin, and that 
Miriam may be healed, v. nf \ Moses intercedes with Yahweh, 
v. 13 (cp. 11 2 n.), who insists that Miriam shall be excluded 
from the camp for seven days. During this time the people 
do not journey, v. 14f \ — 11. O my lord] TIN "a addressed to 
men, Gn. 43 20 44 18 (both J), 1 S. i 26 , 1 K. 3 17 - 26 ; to God, 
Ex. 4 10 - 13 (J), Jos. 7 8 (JE), Jud. 6' 315 i 3 8 f. —Do not lay 
sin upon us] i.e. do not compel us to bear the consequences of 
our sin ; the phrase (?j/ DBTI ?s) is the negatively expressed 
equivalent of the more frequent "take away sin" (riNDn K{J>3, 
e.g. Ex. 10 17 32 s2 (JE)). — 12. Let not Miriam remain leprous, 
so that by the ordinary process of the disease she becomes like 
an untimely birth born with its skin already half consumed. — 
Like the friends of Job (Job 42"-), Aaron and Miriam are com- 
pelled to seek the mediation of him whose intimacy with God 


they had wrongly called in question. — 13. IVav now, heal her, 
/ pn/y] MT. runs — O God, I pray, heal her, I pray: against 
this, see phil. n. — 14. In answer to Moses' prayer, so Yahweh's 
words imply, Miriam is immediately healed ; but Yahweh 
insists on her exclusion for seven days from the camp. Had 
her father put her to shame by spitting - in her face, she would 
keep to herself for seven days to hide her shame ; not less 
must she do so after being put to shame by the divine infliction 
of leprosy. — For spitting in the face, cp. Dt. 25° (same phrase 
as here), Job 30 10 , Is. 50 6 . — Let her be shut itp\ cp. Lev. i3 4f - — 
And afterwards she shall betake herself \ viz. back into the 
camp; cp. n 30 . 

10. "?J?D no pi'.-i] ct. ^i'D Jjyn rhsi 9 17 io 11 (P). — 11. icn] as in 1 S. i5 ls 20 42 ; 
cp. BDB. s.z>. ics 8c. — 12. 'nn] Js vu: for the meaning- of this reading- and 
the kindred Tikkun Sopherim, see Geiger, Urschrift, p. 384. — Vdn'i] Dr. 
Tenses, 127/3. — 13. M"^n] MT. is very improbable, for (1) n: elsewhere 
always follows a particle or a verb ; (2) ^N though common in compound 
expressions and in poetry (especially Job, Psalms, and Balaam songs), 
is very rare elsewhere: cp. BDB. p. 42. For xrVx, cp. Gn. 19 18 . — 14. 
pr pT rr3Kl] For the omission of the conditional particle, see Dr. Tenses, 
155; and on the inf. abs. in a conditional clause, Dr. 's notes on 1 S. i 11 
20 6 . 

16a. Departure from Haseroth (n 35 n.); 16b. the people 
encamp in the wilderness of Paran. V. 16b carries us back to 
the point reached in io 12 , and seems to be merely an editorial 
link : cp. We. Comp. p. 104. 

XIII. XIV. The Spies. 

Literature. — Noldeke, Untersuchungen, 75-78 ; Kayser, Das vor- 
exilische Buck, 81-85 ; Kuenen in Th. Ti. xi. 545-566 ; Wellhausen, Comp. 
103-105, 336-338 ; Meyer's article in ZATW. i., Kritik der Berichte iiber 
die Eroberung Palaestinas, especially pp. 139-141 ; Steinthal in Zeitschr. 
fiir Vulkerpsychologie, xii. 276 ff . ; Bacon, Triple Tradition, 177-183, and 
Hebraica, xi. 234 ff.; Steuernagel, Die Einivanderung der israelitischen 
Stammen, 70-83, io6f. ; G. F. Moore in EBi. 3441. 

From the southern confines of Canaan, spies are despatched 
to reconnoitre the country. The majority bring back a dis- 
couraging report ; the people in consequence refuse to go 
forward ; Yahweh is provoked by their unbelief. 

XII. I3-XIII. 129 

Nothing' but the baldest analysis of the story as it now lies 
before us is possible without recognising the numerous incon- 
gruities in detail by which it is marked ; some of these might 
be harmonised, others are hopelessly irreconcilable. The 
point of departure of the spies is now the wilderness of Paran, 
v 3. 2Ga ( now Kadesh, v. 26b ; the country reconnoitred is now 
the whole land of Canaan, v. 2 - 17a , from the extreme south to 
the extreme north, v. 21 , now only the southern district round 
Hebron, v. 22 " 24 ; the majority of the spies now report that the 
land is unfertile, v. 32 , now that it is very fertile, but invincible, 
v# 27-3i. 33 . now Caleb alone dissents from the majority, v. 30 , 
and is alone exempted from punishment, 14 24 ; now both 
Joshua and Caleb dissent, i4 6f- , and are exempted, 14 s8 . Even 
when the details of the narrative are not incongruous, they 
are frequently duplicated, or the style is markedly redundant 
{e.g. i3 i7 " 20 , and note the extent to which 14 11-24 and v. 26 "" 35 
are parallel in substance). * 

The reason for these incongruities and redundancies lies 
in the fact that the editor has fused, without wholly assimilat- 
ing to one another, various versions of the incident. 

The literary origin of the present form of the story appears to have 
been much as follows : — The story as it ran in the prophetic history of the 
7th cent. (JE) was already marked by redundance, but not by striking 
incongruities, for the stories of J and E, which were then combined, down 
as far at least as the reception of the reports, resembled one another closely 
in their leading features. The long argument of Moses with Yahweh 
(14 11 " 24 ) formed no original part of J or E, but stood in JE ; whether it was 
written by the editor himself, or had been incorporated in J by a some- 
what earlier writer, may be left an open question. The story of P was 
very different ; but the editor who combined JE and P has made little 
attempt to smooth away the differences. This editor has incorporated P 
almost intact, JE more fragmentarily, and perhaps with some dislocation 
{e.g. 13 30 may be out of place) ; it is probable also that he has recast 
some part of Yahweh's speech to Moses (14' 29 " 33 ). It is uncertain whether 
a few unimportant annotations are due to this editor or a later scribe (e.g. 
in 13 26 ). 

To facilitate the study of the narrative the two main 
sources (down to the reception of the reports) are here given 
in parallel columns ; the detailed analysis of JE into J and E 
cannot be carried through with any approach to certainty; 
for attempts the reader may refer to CH. and Bacon. For 




brevity's sake the list of names in i3*~ 16 


[Arrived at Kadesh (13 26 , cp. 32 s , 
Dt. i 19 - 45 , Jos. 14 7 ), Moses, at the 

is omitted from P 

request of the people (Dt. i 22f ), 
despatched Caleb and other men 
(i3 m -^), twelve in all (Dt. i 23 )] 
17b «' anc l he said unto them, Get 
you up then into the Negeb and get 
you up into the mountains, 18 and 
see the land what it is, and the 
people that dwell therein, whether 
they be strong or weak, whether 
they be few or many ; 19 and what 
the land is that they dwell in, 
whether it be good or evil, and 
what the cities are wherein they 
dwell, whether in camps, or in 
strongholds ; * and what the land 
is, whether it be fat or lean, whether 
there be wood in it or not ; and 
exert yourselves to bring some of 
the fruit of the land Now the 
time was the time of first ripe figs, 
21 and they went up, 22 and they 
went up by the Negeb and came 
unto Hebron; and Ahiman, Sheshai, 
and Talmai, the children of 'Anak, 
were there. Now Hebron was built 
seven years before Zoan in Egypt. 
23 And they came unto the valley 
of Eshcol, and cut down from 
thence a branch with one cluster of 
grapes, and they carried it away on 
a frame borne by two, and also 
some of the pomegranates, and of 
the figs. That place was called 
the valley of the cluster (Eshcol) on 
account of the cluster which the 
children of Israel cut down from 

26 "And they went to Kadesh 
and brought back word unto them, 
and showed them the fruit of the 
land. 27 And they told him and 
said, We came unto the land whither 
thou sentest us, and surely it flow- 
eth with milk and honey, and this 


1 " And Yahweh spake unto 
Moses, saying, 2 Send the men 
that they may spy out the land ot 
Canaan which I give unto the 
children of Israel ; of every tribe of 
their fathers shalt thou send a man, 
every one a prince among them. 
8 And Moses sent them from the 
wilderness of Paran according to 
the commandment of Yahweh ; all 
of them were men, heads of the 
children of Israel. 4 And these 
were their names " — the names, 
including Hoshea the son of Nun, 
follow, v. 4 " 15 . 16 "These are the 
names of the men whom Moses 
sent to spy out the land. And 
Moses called Hoshea' the son of 
Nun, Joshua. 17 And Moses sent 
them to spy out the land of Canaan ; 
21 and they spied out the land from 
the wilderness of Sin unto Rehob, 
to the entering in of Hamath. 

25 "And they returned from 
spying out the land at the end of 
forty days. 26 And they came to 
Moses, and to Aaron, and to all 
the congregation of the children of 
Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran. 
82 And they spread abroad among 



ts the fruit of it. ** Howbeit the 
people that dwell in the land is 
strong, and the cities are fortified, 
very great ; and we also saw the 
children of 'Anak there. ,J9 ('Amalek 
was dwelling in the land of the 
Negeb, and the Hittite, the Jebusite, 
and the Amorite were dwelling 
in the mountain, and the Canaan- 
ite was dwelling beside the sea 
and along the side of Jordan.) 
30 And Caleb stilled the people be- 
fore Moses, and said, We ought to 
go up and possess it, for we are 
quite able to overcome it. S1 But 
the men that went with him said, 
We cannot go up against the people, 
for it is stronger than we are; 32 and 
all the people whom we saw there- 
in are men of stature ; and there 
we saw the Nephilim (the sons of 
'Anak are some of the Nephilim), 
and we were in our own sight as 
grasshoppers, and so we were in 
their sight. 

14 1 ". . . and they gave forth 
their voice, and the people wept 
that night . . . 3 and wherefore 
doth Yahweh bring us unto this 
land, to fall by the sword? Our 
wives and our little ones shall be a 
prey : were it not better for us to 
return to Egypt? 4 And they said 
one to another, Let us make us 
a head and return to Egypt . . . 

8 It Yahweh delight in us, then He 
will bring us into this land and 
give it unto us ; a land which flow- 
eth with milk and honey. 9 Only 
rebel not against Yahweh. But as 
for you, fear ye not the people of the 
land ; for they are our bread : their 
shadow has departed from them, 
whereas Yahweh is with us : fear 
them not." 

the children of Israel an evil report 
of the land which they had spied, 
saying, The land through which we 
passed to spy it out is a land that 
eateth up its inhabitants. 

14 1 " And all the congregation 
lifted up (their voice), 2 and all the 
children of Israel murmured against 
Moses and against Aaron ; and the 
whole congregation said unto them, 
Would that we had died in the land 
of Egypt ! or Would that in this 
wilderness we had died ! 6 Then 
Moses and Aaron fell on their faces 
before all the assembly of the con- 
gregation of the children of Israel. 
* And Joshua the son of Nun and 
Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who 
were among them that spied out the 
land, rent their garments, 7 and said 
unto all the congregation of the 
children of Israel, saying, The land 
through which we passed to spy it 
out is an exceeding good land. 
10 And all the congregation bade 
stone them with stones. And the 
glory of Yahweh appeared in the 
tent of meeting unto all the children 
of Israel." 


Then follows Moses' argument Then follows in i^ 28-39 (mainly P) 

with Yahweh, His reply, and the the condemnation to forty years' 

exemption of Caleb from the sen- wandering for all the people, and 

tence passed on the rest, 14 11 " 24 , the death to all over twenty years of 

command to take the Red Sea route, age except Joshua and Caleb. 
v. 25 , and the futile attack on the 
Canaanites and 'Amalekites, v. 39 " 45 . 

Data for the preceding analysis. — (1) P. ^s. 26a connects with io 12 ; 
the glory of Yahweh (i4 lu n.) ; Aaron (13 26 14 s - 5 - 26 ) ; the list of names 
('3 4 ~ ls )> the change of Joshua's name (13 16 ; cp. Gn. 17 s - 15 35 10 P), the 
precise determination of age and time (i4 29 - 34 ). Linguistically, note v. 1 
(cp. CH. 185a), .ibd i 3 2 -4-i5 (cp. i 4 4" nn.), irrj 13 2 (cp. f n.), my 13 26 

, 4 1. 2. 6. 7. 10. 27. 35f. (l 2 n ) ; pV, Qr pfc, , 4 ». 87. 8». W -, ND - ND ^7 ( CH . 6 3 ), DJ1 

14 10 , ""lyij 14 35 (CH. in) ; aiso, as linking parts of this particular narrative, 

n1n j 3 2. 16f. 21.J5.32 I4 6f.36.38 > anc J f urt her 3 T3J7 I3 32 14 7 , Ml K'SflrJ 13 32 I 4 s « f -.— 

(2) JE. Note generally the vividness and picturesqueness of this story 
as compared with P, e.g. i3 20b - s» 149 and 13"- 20 (as contrasted with the 
simple "spy out" of P). In detail note the absence of P's peculiarities 
and the presence of certain words or phrases characteristic of JE — nm 
. . . mio v. 19 (CH. 165), mx Sj; v. 24 (12 1 n.), isd v. 27 (CH. 219): see, 
further, CH. margins. 

The extent of P. — In c. 13 only one or two differences as to the literary 
analysis call for mention. In v. 21 CH. (followed above) not unreasonably 
see in VTJV1 the immediate continuation of v. 17a (P), and regard i^jn as the 
doublet in JE to "6jh v. 22 : cp. i^j; and err 'nn in v. 17b . But most assign all of 
v. 21 to P. More doubtful is the assignment * of all v. 32b to P : it contains 
no mark of P's style, and the fact that the height of the inhabitants is 
twice referred to is insufficient proof that one of these references must 
fall to P ; 14 7 ignores the point. In 14 1 " 10 not less than is assigned above 
is derived from P ; CH. assign also mnn hn -\n in v. 9a , Kue. (p. 
562 f.) v. 3 , Corn. {Einleitung, 19) v. 3 and possibly v. 4 to P; but there is 
nothing sufficiently characteristic in the style to justify this, and v. 3 ' - 8U 
seem to correspond to the nature of the report of the spies in JE. Within 
14 26 - 38 many detect a fragment of JE, though they differ as to its extent ; 
thus Dr. assigns v. 31 ' 33 to JE, Bacon to J ; Di. v. 30 " 33 and ? v. 28 to J. 
Bacon urges that the narrative of J in v. 11 " 24 , incomplete in itself, is com- 
pleted by v. 31 " 33 , which latter w. duplicate P's narrative (cp. v. 29 with 
v. 32 ). On the other hand, v. 31 is not easily divorced from v. 30 , and v. 32f - is 
connected with v. 29 by D3'*U9. The citation of v. 31a in Dt. i 39a proves 
nothing, for there the clause is a late gloss unknown to (5r. The theory 
that seems to do most justice to the facts is that v. 2B " 38 is a passage from 
P, expanded in v. 30 " 34 by an editor using, but recasting, older material 
derived from or allied to JE ; hence the connection of v. 31a with v. 3 ; cp. 
We. Kue. Corn. In 14 39 clause a may well be assigned (with CH.) to P 
(cp. v. 28 ) ; but clause b to JE ; the change of subject from "children of 
Israel" to " the people" (cp. 14 1 n.) favours the division. 

* Reuss, Gruppe (ZATW. ix. 141-143), Str., CH. 

xin. 133 

Tn P's story, then, Moses, at the direct command of Yahweh, 
despatches twelve spies, one taken from each tribe, to traverse 
Canaan, and report on the country. In forty days the spies 
pass through from what was subsequently the southernmost 
to the northernmost point of Canaan (with v. 21 cp. 34 3-8 ) and 
return. The majority report the land unproductive — as in- 
deed the contemporaries of Haggai and Nehemiah in the 
sixth and fifth centuries found it to be (Hag. i 6 2 19 , Neh. 5); 
but Joshua and Caleb report it good — as it appeared, for 
example, to the contemporaries of Hosea (c. 2). The people 
murmur, and Yahweh, in His provocation, condemns the 
people to forty years' wandering, and all over twenty years 
of age, except Caleb and Joshua, to death in the wilderness. 

The traversing of the whole country, apparently without 
difficulty or precaution taken, shows the same generalisation 
of early traditions and the same indifference to historical 
realities which are found elsewhere in P. / 

In JE all is different, the men go up from Kadesh into 
the Negeb ; they go as far as Hebron or Eshcol : they bring 
home grapes to confirm their report of the great fertility of 
the country. But they bring back also tales of giants and 
strong cities ; the land, they say, is certainly good, but 
invincible. Caleb alone dissents from this view and en- 
deavours (or supports Moses' endeavours) to convince the 
people that, strong in Yahweh's presence, they are more than 
equal to the people of Canaan. But the people are afraid, 
and refuse to go forward. Yahweh orders them back into 
the wilderness. Then the people repent, attack the 'Amale- 
kites and Canaanites, but are forsaken by Yahweh and de- 

The separate stories of J and E. — Without attempting a complete 
analysis in detail, for which the data are insufficient, it must suffice to 
point out here what may have been the main features of the two similar 
stories that appear to be fused in JE. That two stories are there com- 
bined is rendered probable, not only by the numerous repetitions and the 
differences of names or terms, but also by the fact that Dt. i 20-48 follows 
one set of terms to the exclusion of the other. In one of these stories (E's, 
followed by Dt.), then, the spies are bidden to go up into the mountains 
(i3 17 last clause), and to bring samples of the fruit of the land (v.-" a ) : they 


go as far as Eschol and bring- fruit thence (v. 23 '*). To this story there 
may further belong- v. 26b (in part : at least the last clause), w (last clause), 
82b. 3S_ j n thg other story (J) the spies are sent into the Negeb (13" last 
clause but one) and go as far as Hebron (v. 22 ). To this there may further 
belong i3 18 '- (in the main), v. 2 -- 2 * 8 . On I4 11 " 2 * (neither J nor E) i 4 2 6-3u-« 
see the separate discussions below. 

l-17a. The selection and despatch of the twelve spies (P). 
— Having reached the wilderness of Paran (io 12 ), Moses is 
commanded by Yahweh to select twelve men, one from each 
tribe, and to send them hence, v. 3 , to spy out the land of 
Canaan, v. 2 - 17a ; v. 4 " 15 names of the spies; v. 16 Hoshea' re- 
named Joshua. 

1. And Yahweh said unto Moses] According- to Dt. i 22f - 
it was the suggestion of the people which led Moses to send 
men to reconnoitre the land. Nothing is said here of the 
people's suggestion ; nothing there of the divine command. 
S here combines the two accounts by prefixing to the present 
chapter the substance of Dt. i 2 °- 23a , changing the persons so 
as to make the passage read as a narrative in the 3rd 
person: for similar insertions in S see Introduction. — 2. The 
land of Canaan] (}J7J3 pN) The regular term in P for the 
land of promise ; it certainly has this connotation in 34 2 , 
Gn. 17 8 48 3f -, Ex. 6 4 , Lev. 18 3 25 s8 , Dt. 32 49 ; probably, 
also, in many of the remaining passages, about thirty in 
number, in which P employs the term (CH. 4). In JE, on 
the other hand, it never appears to possess this connota- 
tion ; and is much less frequently used than in P, occurring 
several times in Gn. c. 42. 44. 45. 47, and otherwise only in 
Gn. 35 6 50 5 , Jos. 24 s . For the land of promise JE employs 
a variety of terms, e.g. "the land of the Canaanite" (px 
s y;:on), Ex. 13 11 ; "the land that I will show thee," Gn. 12 1 ; 
"this land" (Gn. 12 7 is 7 - 18 24 7 — ct. 17 s P) : cp., further, Gn. 
28 13 , Nu. io 29 14 40 . These terms are sometimes defined by 
the context ; e.g. it is the land in which the Canaanite then 
dwelt, Gn. 12 6 ; or the land "from the river of Egypt to the 
Great River," Gn. 15 18 . In the JE narratives of the sojourn 
in Egypt, of the Exodus and of the Wanderings, it is "the 
land flowing with milk and honey" (Ex. 3 s and often), the 
land sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or to the fathers 

xni. i-4 135 

(Ex. 13 11 33 1 , Nu. 14 23 , Dt. 31 23 34 4 ), "the place which 1 
have prepared " (Ex. 23 20 ) : ct. Ex. 6 4 , Dt. 32 49 (P). D agrees 
in this usage with JE against P. Outside the Hexateuch 
"the land of Canaan" occurs only as follows: — Jud. 21 12 , 
Ezek. 16 29 (17 4 ), Ps. io5 n =i Ch. 16 18 .— For the extent of 
territory covered by the term (as used by P), see v. 21 and 
notes there; also 34 2ff- . — Shall ye send] the subject is Moses 
and Aaron and also (?) the whole congregation, cp. v. 26a ; 
but in view of v. 1 - 2a - 3a it is better to read with ffi S S ' shalt 
thou (the subject being Moses) send. — Every one a prince 
among them] Each tribe had more than one " prince " 
(X v J'j) ; for the spies (v. 4-13 ) are not the same people as the 
representatives of the tribes at the census (i 6 ~ 15 ); yet these 
latter also were "princes of their fathers' tribes " (i 16 ). Note, 
too, that Ele'azar is archprince [WW! fcOBfl) of the Levites, 3 s2 . 
See also 4 s4 n. and 16 2 . The term originally meant "an 
eminent person" (from Ktyj = " to lift up "), or, according to 
a less probable view of the etymology, a "spokesman" (from 
KPJ = b)p Xw'J = "to lift up the voice," cp. Hoffmann, Phbn. 
Inschr. 55; and, for the form, Barth, NB. i2$e). — 3. The 
wilderness of Paran] 10 12 n. — At the commandtuent of Yahweh] 
one of P's favourite and characteristic phrases: Dr. L.O.T. 134, 
no. 41. — Heads of the children of Israel] the representatives in 
i 16 are called "heads (^Xi) of the thousands of Israel." — 
4. These were their names] . . . mD£> fPN is the common 
formula for introducing a list of names ; it is very frequent in 
P (e.g. Gn. 25 13 , Ex. i 1 , Nu. i 5 34 17 - 19 , Jos. 17 3 ), but is also 
employed by other writers — 2 S. 5 14 23 s , Ezek. 48 1 , 1 K. 4 8 , 
Ezr. 8 13 , 1 Ch. 8 38 , cp. CH. i88 P . — None of the twelve spies 
with the exception of Caleb and Joshua are ever mentioned 
elsewhere. Although there is no such convergence of evidence 
as in the case i 5 " 16 that the present is an artificial list com- 
posed at a late date, there is little ground for confidence 
that the list itself, or that the whole of the names which 
compose it, is of ancient origin. 

The relevant facts are these : The four names, Caleb, Jephunneh 
(yet compare Heb. Prop. Names, p. 204), Joshua, and Nun belong' to the 
early traditions. Of the remaining' twenty, eleven are otherwise quite un- 


known — these are Raphu, Gaddiel, Sodi, Gaddi ("13: yet compare 13 '!} 
r<i5di(s), i Mac. 2 2 ), Susi, Gemalli, Sethur, Nahbi, Vophsi, Geu'el, Machi. 
The text and interpretation of several of these is very uncertain. As to 
the remaining; nine names : Hori ('"iin) is also the name of a Horite clan, 
Gn. 36 s3 , 1 Ch. 1 s9 : Palti of a contemporary of David, 1 S. 25 41 (called 
elsewhere Palti'el) ; of a late currency of these two names we have no 
evidence. 'Ammi'el is the name of a contemporary of David (2 S. g 4 ), but 
occurs also in 1 Ch. 26 s ; on this name cp. HPN. 47, 245. We have 
evidence that the names Shammua', Ig'al ("7NJ'), and Shaphat were in use 
both comparatively early (in or before 9th century B.C.) and also late 
(see, on the one hand, 2 S. 5 14 23 s5 , 1 K. 19 16 ; on the other, e.g. Neh. n 17 , 

1 Ch. 3 22 5 12 ) ; though the evidence for the early use of Shammua* and 
Ig'al rest on uncertain reading-s (with 2 S. 5 14 cp. 1 Ch. 3 s , and with 

2 S. 23 35 , 1 Ch. u 38 ). The same is true of Joseph (but see below on v. 7 ). 
We have no authentic evidence of the early currency of either Zaccur or 
Micha'el among- the early Hebrew, though both names are common in 
post-exilic literature; see HPN. 157, 181, 210, 221; 236. The compara- 
tively small number of compounds, and especially of compounds with a 
divine name, would be well explained by assuming- an early origin for the 
list ; the fact that in all four of the compounds with -el the divine name 
stands at the end, on the other hand, points to a late date, though not very 
conclusively, for in no instance is the first element a 3rd pf. Cp. on these 
and other matters the small print note on i 5 . A noticeable feature of 
the list is the large number (nine) of forms ending in '— . In favour of 
the authenticity of the list, see Hommel, Alttest. Ueberlieferung, pp. 

6. Of the tribe of fudah, Caleb] cp. 34 19 (P). According 
to another and earlier tradition, Caleb was a Kenizzite, 32 12 , 
Jos. i4 6 - u . — 7-11. The vv. do not appear to be in their original 
order: probably v. 10 - 11 once stood before v. 8 - 9 ; the unusual 
separation in the present text of Issachar from Zebulon, of 
Ephraim from Manasseh, and the occurrence of the clause " of 
the tribe of Joseph" after one half of Joseph has been dismissed, 
all point to this conclusion : see Expositor, 1902 (March), pp. 
225-240. Probably, too, the text is not only dislocated, but 
corrupt: the names Gaddi'el, Sodi, Gaddi, Susi in v. 10f - are 
suspiciously alike, and the name of Ig'al's father may have 
been accidently lost by a repetition of Joseph from the phrase 
"of the sons of Joseph." — 16. And Moses called Hoshea . . . 
Joshua], This is the first occasion on which Joshua is men- 
tioned in P. Since, according to P, the name of Yahweh was 
not revealed until after Joshua's birth (Ex. 6 3 ), a name con- 
taining Yeho = Yahweh could not have been given him at 

XIII. 6-i 7 137 

birth. P therefore attributes the name to Moses. The pre- 
vious references to Joshua in the Pentateuch occur in JE (Ex. 
17M8 24 13 32 17 33 11 , Nu. ii 28 ). 

2. nm] iin occurs 11 times in this and the next c. (references above, 
p. 132); and also (in a different sense) in 15 39 (P) io 33 (JE), Dt. i 33 , 
1 K. io 18 =2 Ch. 9 14 (text doubtful), Ezek. 20 6 , Eccl. i 13 2 3 7 25 f. All three 
instances of the Hiph. (Jud. i 23 , Pr. 12 26 , 2 S. 22 s3 , ct. Ps. 18 33 ) are 
textually doubtful. Entirely different words are used to express the idea 
of spying- out m Dt. i 22 - 24 , which is probably based on the now lost intro- 
duction to the JE story, viz. Tan and bit (the latter also in Jos. 14 7 ). 
Ct., further, with Tin, consistently used by P here, O'Vrc in Gn. 42 s , 
Jos. 2 1 (JE).— htrxr] ffi + mrm 1 ?; cp. Lev. 14 s4 , Dt. 32 49 in JiJ; the same 
addition in G in 27 1 - and in (£r AF in 20 24 . For the omission of .iinx 1 ? in both 
|t? and (Er, see 15 2 , Lev. 23 10 25 s . — vmx nan 1 ?] (Tx Kara (pvX^v Kara Srjfxovi 
warpiuiv olvtuv, i.e. DJ13N (n'3) nnsPD 1 ? nan 1 ? ; cp. e.g. i 20 . For the com- 
bination in pj, cp. i 16 - 47 . — om h-bo "73] *?3 absolutely and without the 
article in this sense is rare ; BDB. p. 4826. The collective subj. (hi) 
is distributed by the singular predicate — "all (severally) a prince." — 
i. jn»»] so <& F Za/xpiov : but ffi B Sa/xotnjX, AL Zafm\ir}\ ; cp. WdW i 6 . — 
niaj] If an ancient traditional name, the name per-haps means "ventri- 
loquist" (!=;, not j) : Lag. NB. 112 n. — 5. 'Tin] (Hr "Lovpei, 2cw5pi. — 12 
Wt'Dy] £> tor!?M.— 1«. 'osi] ffi IojSm.— 15. touu] ffi Toi/S^X ( = in v. 10 !?K'-u).— 

'3D] £ TOO. 

17b-20 (JE). The men are charged to proceed into the Negeb 
and the mountains, and to investigate the nature of the country, 
its inhabitants, cities, and produce. — The redundance in these 
verses is the result of the fusion of sources (J and E) : see 
above, p. 133 f. The redundance is reduced in J5 by the 
omission of all of v. 19 (after "wherein they dwell ") and some 
clauses in v. 20 . & thus proves that the redundance was felt at 
an early period. But it does not represent the original text, 
for note the references back to v. 19b in v. 28 , and cp. Dt. i 28 , 
Jos. 14 12 . Though any detailed analysis can only be very 
tentative, it appears likely that in both sources the charge 
directed the men to consider both the natural and the defen- 
sive character ot the land, but perhaps in J the former, in E 
the latter point was emphasised ; see Bacon's analysis. 

17. Go up then] RV., wrongly, "this way " ; see phil. n. — 
Into the Negeb] AV., most confusingly, "southward"; as a 
matter of fact, the journey of the spies was northward, for 
Hebron (v. 22 ) lies some 70 or 80 miles N.N.W. of Kadesh 


(v. 26 ). RV. renders " into the South," the capital letter being 
intended to warn the reader that " south " is a technical term. 
But the Hebrew term did not originally mean " south," but (cp. 
Aram. TJ3) "dry," "parched." "South" is a secondary sense 
acquired by the word {e.g. 35 s , Jos. n 2 ) after settlement in 
Canaan, to the south of which the Negeb lay ; just as " west " 
is a secondary sense acquired by " the sea" {i.e. the Mediter- 
ranean), which lay W. of Canaan.* The dry and comparatively 
verdureless country known as the Negeb stretched some 60 
miles northwards from Kadesh ; the country changes for the 
better at Dhaheriyah, which lies about half-way between 
Hebron and Beersheba, and may be taken as a point on the 
northern boundary of the Negeb. The whole district is a 
"savage high land," the steep ridges mostly running from 
east to west. Yet it is not lacking in more fertile valleys, 
where even the grape has been cultivated (see below on v. 23 ). 
In David's time the Negeb belonged to nomads, and supported 
large flocks (1 S. 27 7 "" 12 ) ; the ruins discovered there are partly 
prehistoric, but mainly Byzantine. "South of Beersheba, 
for 30 miles, the country, though mostly barren, is sprinkled 
with ruins of old villages gathered round wells. They date 
mostly from Christian times, and are eloquent in their testi- 
mony to the security which the Roman government imposed on 
even the most lawless deserts." f A list of places in the Negeb 
is given in Jos. 15 21 - 32 (P). — The mountains] or "the hill 
country " (inn) ; so 29 I4 40, 44 . This is best taken as a second 
reference to the country immediately north of Kadesh, called 
in the preceding clause Negeb, and described in the last n. 
In Dt. i 20 the country round Kadesh is called " the hill country 
of the Amorites " (nDNn in), and it is said of the spies on 
leaving Kadesh that "they went up into the hill country" 
(mnn liri). It is true that N. of the Negeb the hill country 
of Judah begins, but the absence of any distinctive term, and 
the use of the same verb in this clause as in the last, render it 

* W. R. Smith, OTJC. 326. 

t On the Negeb, see G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 278-286 ; Buhl, Geog. 
15 f., 87-89 ; Cheyne, art. " Negeb " in EBi.; Palmer, Desert of the Exodus, 
pt. ii. c. v.-vii. ; Rowlands in Williams' Holy City (1849), ii. 464-468. 

xin. 19 2i 139 

unlikely that we have here the work of a writer who wished to 
express that the spies were to pass through one district and 
into another. — 19. Cities] The word (D ,- iyn) is used here, as in 
i S. 6 18 , 2 K. 17 9 , of any inhabited place. The spies are to see 
whether the inhabitants of the country dwell in camps or 
fortified places. A camp (rono) was sometimes sufficiently 
permanent to give its name to a place ; we know of a Dan's 
camp (Jud. 13 15 ) and of Mahanaim ( = " the two camps "). The 
fortified place (1V3?^) was, in the first instance, the actual fortress 
or defensive work with which a walled city was provided ; 
hence the full phrase for a city so provided, "city of fortifica- 
tion or fortress" (DtJQ TV, pi. "»S3C(n) '-)]}; 32 17 - 36 , Jer. 4 s ); 
cp. Nowack, Arch. i. 368. — 20. And exert yourselves to obtain 
some of the fruit of the country'] an exhortation to courage 
implied by R V. is out of place just at this point ; for the fore- 
going translation, cp. the use of pinnn in Gn. 48' 2 (J). — Now the 
season was the season of ' fir stripe grapes] Early grapes are ripe by 
or soon after the middle of July : Seetzen found them on sale at 
Acre on July 18th [Reisen, ii. 92 ; cp. Robinson, BR. ii. 100). 

17. '"" i^v] The enclitic use of ill is common only after interrogatives ; 
but cp. with the present the instances of its use after run 1 K. 19 5 , Is. 21 9 , 
Cant. 2 8 - 9 . — 18. rrVy mm] so with h]i of the land inhabited, Lev. 25 18t - 26 s5 , 
Dt. 30 20 (cp. 1 K. 8 27 ) ; in v. 19-28 we have the far commoner cstr. with 3. — 
iijnn Kin pinn] The double fl in an indirect disjunctive interrogation is quite 
exceptional ; the other clauses in these verses show the common cstr. 
with ok . . . n ; cp. BDB. 210a ; K6n. iii. 37967. — 19. mm] so Lev. s 22 , 
Jer. 5 17 ; both here and in Lev. S has the more usual ]nn : see BDB. 2416 ; 
K6n. iii. 20. — O'jnaan] The pi. of runn without suffixes is elsewhere always 
niro. On this and some other grounds Paterson judges 3D3 on D':nDan to 
be a gloss. 

21. The spies' journey (P). — The spies spy out the whole 
land of Canaan (cp. v. 17a ) from the Wilderness of Sin in the 
S. to Rehob in the N. — Just as the whole congregation later on 
(20 1 P), so now the spies reach the Wilderness of Sin after 
leaving the Wilderness of Paran (v. 3 ). The former is not part 
of the latter ; but, according to P, Kadesh lay in the Wilder- 
ness of Sin (see 20 lft 27 14 33 s6 , Dt. 32 51 ). Thus the district 
from which, according to JE, the spies started is, according 
to P, part of the country which they had to reconnoitre. The 


Wilderness of Sin is referred to elsewhere as the most southern 
district of Israelitish territory — 34 3f- , Jos. I5 1 - 3 (P). The Rehob 
here referred to is most probably identical with the city which 
is mentioned by this name in 2 S. 10 8 (and under the fuller form 
Beth-Rebob in 2 S. io 6 , Jud. 18 28 ; also in 1 S. 14 47 & L ), and 
which lay in the far north of the country near to Laish-Dan. 
Another Rehob is mentioned in Jos. io, 28 - 30 , Jud. i 31 in the 
territory of Asher. — In the direction of the entrance to Hamath\ 
or, if we may infer that the whole phrase has become virtually 
a proper name and in the present instance stands in apposition 
to Rehob, it may be rendered simply the entrance to Hamath. 
The phrase (non #2?) occurs frequently in definitions of the 
N. boundary of Canaan or of the territory of Israel (as dis- 
tinguished from Judah), 34 s , Jos. 13 5 , Jud. 3 s , 1 K. 8 65 , 
2 K. 14 25 , Ezek. 48 1 (cf. 47 20 ), Am. 6 U , 1 Ch. 13 5 . The city of 
Hamath itself lay on the Orontes, about 150 miles N. of Dan ; 
but its territory extended at least as far S. as Riblah (2 K. 23 s3 
25 21 ), which is 50 miles distant from the city of Hamath ; 
"the entrance to Hamath" is understood by some* to be the 
depression between Lebanon and Hermon, which stretches 
northwards from the neighbourhood of Dan, and is described 
by Robinson [Later Bib. Researches, p. 499) as " a vast and 
lofty mountain cleft 8 or 9 miles wide " ; by others f to be the 
plain of Horns, about 30 miles south of the city of Hamath 
(modern Hama), but within the ancient Hamathite territory. 
If, as is probable^ the Ha-ma-ti of Pap. Anastasi 1. [temp. 
Ramses 11.) be the city so frequently mentioned in the Bible, 
we have direct evidence \ of its existence before the entrance 
of Israel into Canaan. 

am] = 3m n'3. For such equivalences, see HPN. p. 126 fF. ; and for 
suggested sites of Rehob, Buhl, Geog. 237, 240. — nan iiyr] the use of |0 
{e.g. 1 K. 8 65 , Am. 6 14 ), or ny (Jos. 13 6 ), or ns: ny (Ezek. 47 20 ), before the 
whole phrase, shows that the phrase as a whole had become virtually 
equal to a term for a place or district. Originally 7 may have had a 
local sense at, or towards. 

* E.g. G. A. Smith, Twelve Prophets, i. 177 ; Buhl, Geog. pp. 66, no ; 
cp. Driver on Amos 6 2 , and in Hastings' DB. iv. 269 f 
t E.g. Moore, Judges, p. 80. 
% W. M. Miiller, Asien u. Europa, 174, 256, 

XIII. 22 141 

22-24. The spies' journey (JE). — The spies go up into the 
Negeb and reach Hebron, a city built seven years before So'an, 
where they find 'Anakites dwelling [so far, probably J]; they 
come to the nahal Eshcol and take away a great bunch 
{'eshcol— hence the name of the place, v. 24 ) of grapes and 
other fruit [probably E]. 

22. And they went tip into the Ncgeb\ the sequel to v. 17b . 
In contrast to v. l7a - 21 the land represented as traversed is only 
the south of Canaan ; Hebron lies about 19 miles S. of Jeru- 
salem. — Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talma?', the children of 'Anak] 
These were three clans or individuals, possibly of Aramaean 
origin, and popularly reputed to be of a gigantic height. The 
gentilic Sheshai may perhaps represent the Shasu or Bedawin 
of Southern Canaan so frequently mentioned on the Egyptian 
monuments (Sayce, Higher Crit. and the Monuments^ 189). 
On Talmai, see phil. n. 

The children of 'Anak (p:yn tV*, also v. 28 , Jos. 15 14 JE), called also 
"the sons of 'Anak" (p:y '33 v. 33 , Dt. of ; pwn '33 Jos. is 14a , Jud. i 20 , or, 
with another form of the pi. of a compound expression (cp. Dav. § 15) 
D'pay '33 Dt. i 28 g 2 ), or "'Anakites " (o'pjy Dt. 2 10f - 21 ,Jos. n 21 - 22 i4 ,2 - 1B ),were 
a class of very tall men, whose height lingered long in the memory of the 
Hebrews. 'Anak — always, except in v. 33 , Dt. o, 2 with the art. piyn — is (even 
in Jos. 15 13 21 11 pwvn) not a proper name ; the phrases piyn »v^*, piyn ua 
n"p:j/ '33 are of the same type as 'rnn '33 = " mighty men," n3:n '33 = 
" foreigners," and if p3j? has in the phrase the same sense which it bears 
elsewhere in Hebrew will mean "(long-) necked people." Another term, 
similar in form to that here used, for the giants of popular tradition was 
nana , T l r 2 S. 2i 16,18 , or ««s-in 'T^' 1 Ch. 20 4 ; cp. Dt. a 11 . The 'Anakites 
are generally associated with Hebron; but in a late passage (Jos. n 21 '- 
D 2 ) they are represented as scattered over the mountain country of Israel 
and Judah, whence they were exterminated by Joshua, except for a few 
who survived in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. It is not easy to separate the 
historical and mythological elements connected with this and other notices 
in OT. of the giants that lived in the country before the entry of Israel. 
Certainly some of the terms for giants seem to be of a mythological char- 
acter ; see Schwally, Ueber einige palastinische Volkernamen'xa. ZATW. 
xviii. 126-148; and on the origin of tales of giants, Tylor, Primitive Cul- 
ture, i. 385 ff. Stories of other peoples about the gigantic size of the former 
inhabitants of their countries will be found collected in Lenormant, Les 
Origines de VHistoire, i. pp. 349-355. There is, of course, nothing intrinsic- 
ally improbable in the existence in Hebron of three individuals famous 
for their height; but v. 82b - ffl attribute a gigantic size to the inhabitants of 
the country in general in terms which plainly cannot be accepted in a 
literal sense as corresponding to fact. 


22b. The date of the building of So'an — the Tanis of the 
Greeks and Romans, a city situated in the E. part of the 
Delta, near to the coast of Lake Menzaleh — is unknown ; but 
it was a city of great antiquity, at least as old as the 1 2th and 
perhaps as old as the 6th dynasty, i.e. it was in any case built 
before 2000 B.C. It was rebuilt at the beginning of the 19th 
dynasty, and some have thought that this rebuilding is alluded 
to here. Failing knowledge of the origin and value of the 
present statement and early monumental allusions to Hebron, 
we cannot exactly determine its antiquity ; but it certainly 
seems of pre-Israelitish origin. It is quite unnecessary to 
derive the name from the Habiri of the Tel el-Amarna tablets, 
and so make it later in origin or refoundation (Sayce) than the 
presence of these people in Canaan. On the other hand, the 
identification of Hebron with the Khibur (Sayce) of Ramses 
m.'s list is hazardous.* So'an is frequently mentioned else- 
where in OT. (Is. i 9 n - 13 30 4 , Ezek. 30 14 , Ps. 78 12 - 43 ). From 
the fact that it is here coupled with Hebron, Flinders Petrie 
infers that "the building must refer to a settlement by 
Shemites and not by Egyptians" (Tanis, p. 4). — 23. The 
Wady Eshcol has not been identified, though various incon- 
clusive hypotheses have been put forward. There is a Wady 
Bit Iskahil N.W. of Hebron (Buhl, Geog. 89). But even the 
generally accepted conclusion that the Wady Eshcol must be 
one of the valleys near Hebron is uncertain ; for in the only 
other passages where the Wady Eshcol is referred to (32 s , Dt. 
i 24 ) it is not associated with Hebron; and in the present 
passage the proximity of the references to the two places may 
be merely due to a compiler : see above, p. 133 f. The late 
Midrashic story in Gn. 14 13 in its association of Mamre (i.e. 
Hebron) and Eshcol may very well be dependent on the pre- 
sent compilation (JE). The valleys and hillsides round Hebron 
are, it is true, all rich in excellent vines. "The vineyards 
belonging to the city are very extensive . . . covering the 
sides of nearly all the hills. . . . The produce of these vine- 

* See Bible Dictionaries, s.v. Hebron, Zoan ; G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 
318 n. 1 ; Sayce, Higher Crit. and the Monuments, 187-192, 333 f., 341 ; 
Flinders Petrie, Tanis (Memoir of Egypt. Exploration Fund, 1885). 

XIII. 22, 24 143 

yards is celebrated throughout Palestine" (Robinson, BR. ii. 
pp. 442, 445). " Pomegranates and figs as well as apricots, 
quinces, and the like still grow there [i.e. in the valley near 
Hebron, identified by Robinson with Eshcol] in abundance" 
(ib. i. 316). But grapes might also have been found in wadies 
among the hill country that lay between Kadesh and Hebron ; 
for traces of grape culture were found in many places far south 
of Hebron by Palmer; * and 'Anab, a place some 14 miles 
S.S.W. of Hebron, may have derived its name from grapes 
grown there.! — A branch with a single cluster of grapes] stories 
of heavy clusters of grapes found in Palestine are told by 
Reland, Palasthia, i. p. 351, and Rosenmuller in his Scholia 
on this passage. — And they carried it away on a frame {borne) 
by two] "frame" rather than "staff" (RV.) is the meaning 
of Bio; see phil. n. on 4 10 . — And some of the pomegranates and 
some of the figs] Pomegranates and figs grow round Hebron 
(see above), but this can scarcely be the southern limit of their 
culture. Palmer {op. cit.) sees no difficulty on this ground in 
identifying Wady Eshcol with the Wady Hanein, not so far 
N. of Kadesh. Some of the places called Rimmon, or by a 
name containing Rimmon, may recall pomegranate culture in 
this southern region, though they may, it is true, contain 
the name of the god Rimmon {EBi. s.v. "Names," §§ 103, 
95). — 24. The great cluster, according to the story, gave 
its name to the valley ; perhaps rather the name of the 
valley gave rise to the story (cp. u 3 n.). 

22. t«3;)] rather with SffiSU, pi. $2%. The exegesis which either 
occasioned or resulted from MT. is represented by Rashi— " Caleb alone 
went thither {i.e. to Hebron) and threw himself down on the graves of the 
fathers, that he might not be seduced by his companions to be of their 
counsel." That only Caleb went to Hebron was suggested by Dt. i 86 , 
Jud. 1 20 . — -oVn] the name also appears as that of a king of Geshur, 2 S. 3 s ; 
cp. the Nabatsean n. pr. lo^n CIS. ii. 321, 344, 348. — onso \ys] For the 
proper name in the cstr., see Dav. 24, R. 6.-23. im D'a:j; ^obw] ffi + .rSj/ ; 
if $% be the true text the 1 in Sdb-ni is the "waw of association" (BDB. 
253a). — d'im . . . inmw] "they carried it as two, two at a time" : Kon 
iii. 332W. 

* Desert of the Exodus, 351-353, 367, 373 f., 411, 512. 
t EBi. s.v. " Names," § 103. 


25, 26. The return of the spies (JE P). — V. 25 and 2fia 
(except Wip and, perhaps, 13^1) P— forty days after starting 
the spies return to the wilderness of Paran ; v. 26b JE — they 
bring- back a report to Kadesh, and display the fruit brought 
home as a sample of the products of the land. 

Nold. (p. 76) suggests the following restoration : for P bat nro Sn ind'1 
jin5 -mD bn Ww '33 mj> bj bat p™ ; for JE wk U'«?'i nurip twd Sk nVl 
y-Mn na m vrwn xn. The changes of wx to djin and utikti to man are thus 
redactional. The last clause of v. 26 (cp. v. 23 ) and the phrase onx wen 
■n-i (cp. Gn. 37 14 , Nu. 22 8 , Jos. 14 7 (E), and, hence, Dt. i 22 - 25 , Jos. 22 32 — so 
Di.) may be ultimately referred to E. nerip is secured to JE, even though 
indirectly, by the references in 32 s , Dt. i 19 , Jos. 1^: P places Kadesh 
north of the wilderness of Paran (see on io 12 and c. 20). Bacon in Heb- 
raica, xi. 234 ff., ultimately refers nerip to J, thus correcting the analysis in 
his Triple Tradition, 

26. Kadesh] 'Ain Kadis, 50 miles S. of Beersheba. The 
identification suggested more than half a century ago by John 
Rowlands * was finally established by Clay Trumbull, whose 
work, Kadesh-Barnea (1884), contains an account and criticism 
of earlier identifications ; see, further, Guthe in ZDPV. viii. 
182 ff., and the new Bible Dictionaries. 

The following extracts are from Clay Trumbull's description of the place 
(pp. 272-274) : " The long-sought wells of Qadees [Kadis] were before our 
eyes . . . : out from the barren and desolate stretch of the burning desert- 
waste we had come with magical suddenness into an oasis of verdure 
and beauty, unlooked for and hardly conceivable in such a region. A 
carpet of grass covered the ground. Fig trees, laden with fruit nearly 
ripe enough for eating, were along the shelter of the southern hillside. 
Shrubs and flowers showed themselves in variety and profusion. Running 
water gurgled under the waving grass. . . . Standing out from the earth- 
covered limestone hills at the north-eastern sweep of this picturesque 
recess was to be seen the 'large single mass, or a small hill, of solid rock,' 
which Rowlands looked at as the cliff (Sel'a) smitten by Moses. . . . From 
underneath this ragged spur of the north-easterly mountain range, issued 
the now abundant stream. A circular well, stoned up from the bottom 
with time-worn limestone blocks, was the first receptacle of the water. 
. . . The mouth of this well was only about three feet across it, and the 
water came to within three or four feet of the top. A little distance 
westerly from this well, and down the slope, was a second well, stoned-up 
much like the first, but of greater diameter. . . . A basin or pool of water 
larger than either of the wells, but not stoned-up like them, was seemingly 

* See his letter in Williams' Holy City (1849), ii 466-40S. 

xiii. 25-27 145 

the principal watering-place. It was a short distance south-westerly from 
the second well, and it looked as if it and the two wells might be supplied 
from the same subterranean source — the springs under the rock. . . . 
Another and yet larger pool, lower down the slope, was supplied with 
water by a stream which rippled and cascaded along its narrow bed from 
the upper pool. . . . The water itself was remarkably pure and sweet. 
. . . There was a New England look to this oasis, especially to the flowers 
and grass and weeds. . . . Bees were humming there, and birds were 
flitting from tree to tree. Enormous ant-hills made of green grass seed, 
instead of sand, were numerous. As we came into the wady we had 
started up a rabbit, and had seen larks and quails." G. L. Robinson 
(Bibl. World, May 190 r, 326-338) gives a plan, several photographs, and 
a description of Kadesh as seen in 1900. 

And they brought back word unto the?n\ i.e. to Moses and 
Aaron. But in the original source either the pronoun both 
here and in the next clause was sing - ., referring- to Moses (cp. 
v. 27 , Jos. 14 7 ), or the pi. referred to the whole people (cp. 
Dt. i 22 - 25 ). — And all the congregation] a gloss, or an editorial 
addition; on "congregation" (my)> see phil. n. on i 2 . 

27-31. The report of the spies (JE). 

This report is interrupted, if not by v. 29 and v. 30f - (possibly a note of 
the narrator's and a misplaced fragment of JE respectively), at least by 
v. 32a — P's account of the report. It is continued in v. 3 - b - 33 . 

The spies report to Moses that the land is good and fruit- 
ful, but invincible owing to the strength of the inhabitants and 
their cities. 

27. And they told him] i.e. Moses: see v. 2C n. V. 27 is 
hardly the original sequel to v. 26b in its present form. — The 
land whither thou sentest tts] the Negeb (v. 17b ), and in particular 
the neighbourhood of Hebron, on the fertility of which see 
v. 22f - nn. — A land flowing with milk and honey]' 14 s 16 13 (ex- 
ceptionally of Egypt) 14 , Ex. 3 8 - 17 13 5 33 3 (all, according to 
CH. 34, passages from J), 7 times in D, once in H (Lev. 
20 24 ), and also in Jer. n 6 32 s2 , Ezek. 20 6il5 f. Cheyne (in 
EBi. 2104) suggests that the phrase, already conventional in 
the time of JE, was derived from ancient poetry, and had a 
mythological origin. * — Here is the fruit thereof] cp. v. 20 - 23 - 26b . — 

* Cp. Stade in ZATW. xxii. (1902) 321-324. With the Greeks (H. 
Usener in Rhein. Museum f. Phil., 1902, 177-195) " milk and honey " is ;i 
phrase for the food of the gods- 


28. And the cities are fortified, very large\ cp. Dt. i 28 , Jos. 14 12 , 
and the terms of the charge in v. 19 . — The children of 'Anak\ 
v. 22 , Dt. i 28 , Jos. 14 12 .— 29. The distribution of the different 
peoples in the land. The v. coheres somewhat loosely with 
the context, and, naturally interpreted, refers to a much greater 
extent of country than is contemplated in the charge of v. 17b , 
or is reported to have been investigated in either v. 22 (J) or 
v. 23t - (E) : cp. v. 27f \ It may well be an editorial remark. 
Even if an original part of either of the prophetic sources 
(J or E), it seems best taken as a remark of the narrator 
rather than as a part of the report. The meaning of the v. as 
it stands appears to be — the Negeb was inhabited by 'Amale- 
kites ; the mountainous country, that forms the centre of 
Palestine, by Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites ; the coast of 
the Mediterranean and the Jordan valley lying respectively on 
either side of the mountains, by Canaanites : cp. Jos. 1 1 3 . 

Although the extent of " mountain " is not defined, and might, there- 
fore, be limited to the mountains of Judah, so that this detail would 
harmonise with the view of JE that the journey of the spies was limited to 
the Negeb and the mountains round about and S. of Hebron, yet the dis- 
tribution of the mountain country among three different peoples, and the 
threefold division of the whole land into negeb, mountain, and lowland, 
point to a greater extent of country, and indeed to the whole territory 
subsequently occupied by the Hebrews. If this be the actual intention of 
the v. it must be attributed to a late editor influenced by a view of the 
incident of the spies identical with or approximating to that of P (see on 
v. 21 ). It has been very generally* recognised that the catalogues of pre- 
Israelitish inhabitants of Canaan which recur so frequently (in the Hexa- 
teuch— Gn. io 18 " 17 15 19 - 21 , Ex. 3 8 - 17 13 5 23 23 - 28 33 2 34 11 , Dt. f 20 17 , Jos. 3 10 
9 1 11 3 12 8 24 11 ; outside the Hexateuch — Jud. 3°, 1 K. 9 20 , Ezr. 9 1 , Neh. 9 s ) 
formed no part of the earlier sources, but are the work of D or writers 
influenced by that school. The multiplication of names in these catalogues 
was intended to magnify the greatness ot Israel's conquest ; neither the 
choice of the particular names nor the order, which varies greatly, in 
which the names are placed have any geographical or ethnographical 
reason. Is this v. of similar origin? If so, the probable discrepancy be- 
tween it and v. 17b - 22 " 24 and the difficulties which arise when we attempt to 
harmonise its statements with what is said elsewhere of the various peoples 
mentioned, are accounted for ; so, too, is the conflict of opinion as to the 
source of this v. Di., Bacon, CH., for example, assign it to E, but on 
inadequate grounds: for m:n pn is used by J (Gn. 24 62 , cp. Jos. 15 19 , 

* See, especially, Budde, Urgeschichte, p. 3446°.; cp. Driver on 
Dt. f. 

xin. 28, 29 147 

Jud. i 1B ) as certainly as by E (Gn. 20 1 ); there is nothing peculiarly charac- 
teristic of E in describing some particular part of the inhabitants of Canaan 
as Amorite ; and, though it be granted that 14 43 be J, and 13 28 not from 
the same hand, this does not prove the latter to be E. The remaining 
point cited by CH. — the use of V by, cp. Ex. 2 5 — by itself is too slight a 
proof. Meyer and Budde assign the v., with the exception of its middle 
clause, which on account of its mixture of ethnographical terms they con- 
sider redactorial, to J, on the ground that "iyz2 is used in J's sense as a 
collective term for all the inhabitants of Palestine. But this conclusion 
rests on the highly questionable assumption that the last clause of the v. 
is a definition of the whole country by its two boundaries — the Mediter- 
ranean and Jordan. Had this been intended the text would more natur- 
ally have run prn iyi d\t|D asr »jy»m. 

'Amalek was dwelling in the land of the Negeh\ If treated 
as part of the report the words must be rendered 'Amalek 
dwelleth . . . The 'Amalekites were a race of nomads who 
were particularly associated with the deserts to the S. of 
Palestine (cp. 1 S. 15. 30). See, further, on 24 20 . — The 
Hittites] a. powerful, non - Semitic people ealled H-ta, who 
appear to have come from Cappadocia, are frequently men- 
tioned in Egyptian inscriptions of the 18th, 19th, and 20th 
dynasties. When they are first mentioned [temp. Thothmes 
in., c. 1500 B.C.), the southern limit of their empire seems to 
have lain in the district of Kommagene, i.e. well to the N. of 
Carchemish. Later, they pressed somewhat farther south- 
ward, but never apparently beyond the upper Orontes valley 
in this direction.* The Tel el-Amarna tablets (c. 1400) and 
the Assyrian inscriptions! (from Tig-lath Pileser I., c. 1100, to 
Sargon, 721-704 B.C.) agree in confining the Hittites (Hatti = 
Egyp. H-ta = Heb. Vin) to N. Syria. This northern home of 
the Hittites is familiar to some, and especially the earlier, OT. 
writers: see Jud. i 26 3 3 (read "Hittites" for "Hivites"), 
2 S. 24° (read instead of "to the land of Tahtim- hodshi," 
"to the land of the Hittites, to Kadesh," i.e. Kadesh on the 
Orontes), 1 K. io 29 , 2 K. 7°. On the other hand, later writers, 
particularly P (Gn. 23 10 25° 26 s4 49 29f - 50 13 ) and perhaps Ezekiel 
(16 3 ), locate a Hittite population in South Palestine (Hebron); 
early writers speak of individual Hittites resident in the South 

* Max Muller, Asien u. Europa, pp. 319-324. 
t Cp. Schrader, COT." 107 ff. 


(1 S. 26°, 2 S. 11 3 ) ; and these individuals have Semitic names 
(Uriah, Ahimelech). The present passage, like P, ascribes a 
southern or central Palestinian home to a Hittite population. 
The explanations possible are: (1) there was a more or less 
unimportant Semitic tribe, called in Hebrew Hittite, which had 
no connection with the non-Semitic Hittites of the inscriptions, 
and of which we have at present no information from other 
than biblical sources ; or (2) the Hittites located by the biblical 
writers in S. Palestine are isolated settlements of the great 
Hittite race ; or (3) the term Hittite was used loosely and 
inaccurately by later Hebrew writers in reference to the pre- 
Israelitish inhabitants of Canaan in general. The reference to 
individual Hittites with Semitic names in early Hebrew sources 
may be thought to favour the first alternative, which, at any 
rate, seems preferable to the second ; the third (cp. Jos. i 4 ) is 
that more generally adopted by modern scholars.* If the third 
be correct, we should have a parallel to the late Hebrew usage 
in the Assyrian inscriptions of the 8th cent. B.C., where "land 
of Hatti" is used of Palestine in general (Schrader, COT. 2 
p. 108). — The Jebusite\ the Jebusites were a local tribe in 
possession of Jerusalem at the time of the conquest (Jos. 15 63 , 
Jud. i 21 ), and in the time of David till expelled by that king 
(2 S. 5 6 ~ 9 ). No reference to them on inscriptions has yet been 
found ; but, so far as the scanty data afforded by the biblical 
sources admit of a conclusion, they appear to have been 
Semites.! — The A??write] the name ("HON) is identical with 
the 'A-ma-ra of the Egyptian inscriptions and the 'Amurru 
of the Tel el-Amarna tablets. In the 15th and 14th centuries 
B.C. these Amorites of the inscriptions are a people living in 
the north of Palestine and still further north, Kadesh on the 

* Budde, Urgeschichte, p. 347 ; Max Miiller, Asien u. Enropa, p. 319 
n. 1 ; Stade, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, i. 143 n. 1 (cp. Schrader, COT.' 2 
no; Meyer in ZATW. i. p. 125). The second of the above-mentioned 
alternatives is adopted in some measure by Di. {Genesis, 5 p. 191), who, how- 
ever, admits that " Hittite" was used by P and Ezekiel for all Canaanite 
peoples, and Sayce {Early Hist, of the Hebrews, pp. 54-56 ; yet see p. 56, 
bottom, and art. "Hittite" in DB.). Cp. Kittel, Gesch. der Hebr. i. 21, 
and Jastrow's art. in EBi. (argues in favour of (1) above). 

+ Dr. in DB. s.v. " Jebusite " ; G. A. Smith in EBi. s.v. "Jerusalem," 


xiii. 29 149 

Orontes being- a principal town ot theirs in the time of the 
19th dynasty. In the Bible the term is used specifically of the 
kingdoms of f Og and Sihon on the E. of Jordan (Nu. 2i 13 - 21 ) ; 
but also and generally of the pre-Israelitish inhabitants of 
Canaan W. of Jordan. This latter usage is characteristic of 
E and D (as against J, who regularly uses " Canaanite " in- 
stead) : see also Am. 2 9f -, Is. 17 9 (ffi). Apparently we have 
the same usage here, and certainly no data at present known 
suffice to determine any special district of the highlands of 
W. Canaan marked off as " Amorite " from other districts 
occupied by " Hittites " and "Jebusites." If, however, 
"Hittites" is also used in this general sense (see above), 
the combination of terms (cp. Jos. n 3 ) in the present clause 
is curious ; we have two general terms for all pre-Israelitish 
inhabitants of the country and one purely local name (Jebu- 
site) ; and thus to some extent this verse shares the rhetorical 
character of the catalogues of Canaanite nations referred to 
above. The Amorites are elsewhere connected with the hill- 
country, e.g. Dt. i 1 ^* 4 ; but see Jud. i 34 . 

On the Amorites in the Egyptian Inscriptions, see Max Miiller, Asien 
u. Europa, p. 177 and c. xvii.; in the Tel el-Amarna tablets, KB. v. 
Index, s.v. " Amurru " ; Jastrow in EBi. s.v. " Canaan," § 10; on the 
biblical usage, Meyer in ZATW. i. I22ff. ; Budde, Urgeschichte, p. 345 f. ; 
Driver, Deut. p. 1 1 f . ; cp. Max Miiller, op. cit. pp. 229-233; and see the 
Bible Dictionaries, s.v. "Amorites." 

And the Canaanite was dwelling beside the sea {i.e. the 
Mediterranean) and along the Jordan] Here, in direct contra- 
diction to 14 45 (cp. notes on i4 25 - 45 ) but in agreement with 
Dt. i 7 11 30 , Jos. 5 1 i3 3f - (all D 2 ), Zeph. 2 5 , the Canaanites are 
described as lowlanders, and more especially as inhabitants 
of the western lowlands. The name has, indeed, very gener- 
ally been interpreted to mean " lowlander," though for reasons 
not beyond criticism.* With the present usage we may 
compare the use of Ki-na-ah-hi ( = JttD) and Ki-na-ah-ni 
( = |y:3) in the Tel el-Amarna tablets, if Jastrow is right in 
limiting these to "the northern 'lowland' or seacoast " (EBi. 
641). W. M. Muller (Asien u. Europa, p. 206) infers thai 
* Moore in PAOS. 1890, pp. lxvii-lxx. 


in certain Egyptian inscriptions the geographical term refers 
especially to the coast -land, whereas ethnographically 
"Canaanite" was used, as among OT writers by J, of all 
inhabitants of the country W. of Jordan. But whether the 
present notice preserves a reminiscence of the ancient seats 
of the Canaanites, or is based on the actual condition of 
things when centuries of Hebrew occupation of the country 
had forced the Canaanites back to the lowlands, must be left 
an open question.* 

30. The counter-report of Caleb (JE). — Caleb stills the 
people, and encourages them to go up and conquer the land. 
The v. seems out of place ; for the commotion of the people 
to which it refers is not mentioned till 14 1 . — And Caleb 
silenced the murmurings of the people against (?N) Moses, and 
said to the people (or to him, i.e. Moses — so distinctly S (i^>), 
ffir) we ought to go up (cp. v. 17b ) and take it, viz. the land, in 
possession, for we certai?ily can prove too much for it. — 31. But 
the men who went up with Caleb reiterate that the people are 
too strong (pTn, cp. v. 18 ; ct. v. 28 W) to be overcome. Both 
this and the preceding v., as also 14 24 , are inconsistent with 
P's story that Joshua was one of the spies, and that he 
supported Caleb against the others (v. 816 14 s - 3S ). Instead of 
fusing the two accounts of the minority report, i3 30f - i4 5f -, the 
editor has preferred to separate them from one another at 
the cost of a logical sequence in the narrative ; the result in 
the composite narrative is a longer altercation than either of 
the main sources presented. The position of i3 30f - in JE 
may rather have been after 14 4 . 

28. pN3 3srn oyn ty] with 3 3::" cp. v. 19 , and ct. *?y 3B" in v. 18 . With >y 
ct. pin in v. 18 . — 29. 'nnni] S ffi + 'inni — another term that frequently appears 
in the rhetorical catalogues of the peoples of Canaan. — V ?y] cp. Ex. 
2 5 (E) ; for t of the side or bank of a stream, see especially Dt. 2 37 , and, 
in the pi., Jud. n 26 pnx T Sy "it^K onyn. — 30. Dm] an apocopated Hiphil 
form from the prep, on ; cp. the inflection as an imperative in Neh. 8 11 . 

* For the data and the theories to which they have given rise, see 
Meyer, ZATW. i. pp. 122-127 (but cp. iii. p. 306-9) ; Budde, Urgeschichte, 
346 ft 7 .; W. Max Miiller, Asten it. Europa, pp. 205-208; the Tel el-Amarna 
tablets as quoted above; Buhl, Geographie, p. 64 f. ; G. A. Smith, Hist. 
Geog. p. 4f. ; Meore, Judges, pp. 79, 81 ; Driver, Deut. p. 11. 

XIII. 3o-33 I 5 l 

32a. The report of the spies (P). — The spies, with the 
exception of Joshua and Caleb (14 s - 7 ), spread abroad among 
the people the unfavourable report that the land was barren. — 
And they uttered] fcWnn as in Job 8 10 , Eccl. 5 1 of the bringing 
forth of speech : cp. also Dt. 22 14 . — An evil report] the word 
rm always has a sinister sense, whether, as here and in the 
same phrase in 14 s6 - 37 t, it is used of a false report, or, as in 
Gn. 37 2 (P)and probably also in Ezek. 36 s , Pr. 25 10 , of the true 
report of evil doings. — The land] i.e. the whole land of Canaan : 
cp. v. 21 . — Through which we have passed] the same Hebrew 
phrase (rQ 13~Q]J) is differently rendered by RV. in 14 7 . — A land 
that eateth up its inhabitants] i.e. does not produce enough to 
support them ; see Ezek. 36 13fi , the point of which passage 
is — Judaea, devastated by its conquerors, and rendered in 
consequence infertile during the Exile, ate up its inhabitants ; 
but Yahweh is about to restore the fertility of the land (cp. 
v. 8 - 11 - 30 ), and then it will no more eat up its inhabitants. 
The context in Ezek. renders the meaning of the phrase 
clear; and so, in the present case, does the antithesis in 14 7 
— the land is very good, i.e. a very fertile land. The same 
metaphor is used in Lev. 26 s8 . 

32b, 33. The report of the spies (JE), in continuation of 
v# 28(29) - — ah the inhabitants of the land are very tall (cp. 
Am. 2 9f -), but in particular the Nephilim, compared with whom 
the spies had seemed to themselves mere grasshoppers. In 
v. 28 the c Anakites, here the Nephilim, are singled out for 
special mention. — The sons of 'Anak are some of the Nephilim] 
The clause is certainly parenthetic, and probably a gloss ; it is 
omitted in £r ; the "sons of 'Anak " (p:y >:2) is a different 
phrase from that used in v. 22,28 (ptyn "Hv'), and only occurs 
again in Dt. g 2 . The etymology of D S 7Q3 is far too uncertain 
to add anything to what can be gathered from this and the 
only other passage (Gn. 6 2 ) in the OT. where the word occurs, 
as to the Hebrew legends about the class of giants called 
Nephilim. Several etymological speculations are cited and 
criticised by Di. on Gn. 6 2 ; see also Schwally, Das Leben 
nach dem Tode, p. 65 ; and for a theory based on extensive 
conjectural emendations, Cheyne in EBi. s.v. " Nephilim." 


mi] is claimed by Giesebrecht (ZATW. i. pp. 189, 228) as a possible 
Aramaism ; but see Driver in J Ph. xi. 208. — 32. nno 'cjn] the sing, is 
niD trx 1 Cli. 20 6 (and hence to be restored in 2 S. 21 20 ); on the double plural 
see Dav. 15 (3) ; G.-K. \2i t p-s\ in Is. 45" the pi. is mo UMK. — 33. p] Ch. 
on Is. si 6 (crit. note) suggests D':3. 

XIV. 1-10. The people murmur at the report of the spies 
(JE P).— To P belong at least v. 2 - 5 - 7 - 10 and part of v. 1 , the 
rest probably to JE ; see above, p. 132. 

1 f. Disheartened by the report of the spies (i3 27-33 ) the 
people lament and complain, and wish themselves already 
dead in Egypt or the wilderness. As Di. has pointed out, the 
subject is stated three times in these two verses ; note the 
three terms for the murmurers — All the congregation (i 2 phil. 
n.), the people, all the children of Israel (cp. 20 1 ) ; the four 
verbs — they lifted up their voice (D^lp ns urPi . . . Nt'Tn), wept, 
murmured — might be progressive statements ; but they are 
more probably due in part to the fact that three sources are 
here combined. — And tittered their voice] D^lp JIN i:m Gn. 45 s 
(JE).— And the people wept] 1 1 10 - 13 - 18 - 20 (J) ; cp. 25 s (P), 1 1 4 (J). 
—2. That night] CH. I42 JE . — And . . . murmtircd] (13^1) the 
same verb (Niphal or Hiphil) in Ex. 15 24 17 3 (JE) ; otherwise, 
like the noun (m^n), it is confined to P or R P (CH. ii4 P ). — 
Would that we had died i?i Egypt] cp. Ex. i4 llf - (J), 16 3 (P), also 
Nu. 20 4 (P). — In this wilderness] v. 29 . — 3, 4 (JE). The people 
would rather return to Egypt than perish by the sword in the 
attempt to conquer Canaan ; they therefore propose to replace 
Moses by another leader, who shall lead them back to Egypt. 
It is not improbable that it was at this point in the narrative 
of JE that Caleb came forward, stilled the people, and gave 
an encouraging account of the land, 13 30 . — Why doth Yahweh 
bring us into this land] cp. v. 8 - 16> 24 . — To fall by the sword] 
v. 43 . The people fear the military power of the Canaanites 
(1328. 32b. 33j . C p # g x _ 11V (E). The complaint against Yahweh 
is even more explicitly stated in Dt. i 27 . With the question 
cp. Joshua's in Jos. 7 7 (JE). 

Between 13 33 and 14 1 S inserts, with the necessary change of persons, 
Dt. i 57-33 ; see also Field's Hcxapla ; cp. the similar insertion before 13 1 , and 
see Introduction. — 1. iini . . . netii] The first verb agrees with the fcm. subj. : 

xiv. i-9 153 

the second is pi. owing to the collective character of the subj. ; Kon. iii. 
346c. nc: here stands for Sp hci, as in Is. 3 7 42 s - u . — uWi] The root is 

possibly \ib (cp. the parallel root ^j, p"i). S always has defective forms, 
never, as fi>, e.g., in v. 29 , such forms as Dni'?n. Note also the subst. n^n ; 
and see Nold. in ZDMG. xxxvii. 535 n. — 2. unD 1 1 ?] Dav. 134 ; Dr. Te?ises, 
140. After unn 5 inserts •*• V3, cp. Ex. 16 s $?. — 3. aia] the simple adj. 
with comparative force: Kon. iii. 308a. — T3 1 ? v,v] iaS» n'n in Hex. only here, 
v. sl , Dt. i 3y ; is also Nu. 31 32 .— i. naiwi . . . mm] S aicji . . . \m. 

5-7. The counter-report of Joshua and Caleb (P). — The 
land is not unfertile as the other spies had said (i3 32a ), but 
very good. — 5. Alarmed by the blasphemous murmurings of 
the people (v. 2 ), Moses and Aaron fall on their faces before 
all the congregation, — an act expressive of awe, or entreaty, 
or contrition before Yahweh ; cp. i6 4 - 22 17 10 (16 45 ) 20 6 , Gn. 
17 317 (see Gunkel), Lev. 9 2 * (all P), Jos. 5 1 * f (J ; a fuller 
phrase). — 6, 7. Joshua and Caleb, separating" themselves from 
their fellow-spies, rend their garments in grief at the conduct 
of the people, and assert, in contradiction of the report 
previously circulated (i3 32a ), that the land is good, i.e. fertile. 

8f. (JE) The people's fear is groundless ; for if only they do 
not alienate Yahweh's favour by resisting Him, He will bring 
them into this fruitful country, the inhabitants of which, 
forsaken by their god(s), will be unable to offer any opposition 
to Israel advancing accompanied by Yahweh. At present 
this argument forms part of the speech of Joshua and Caleb, 
v. 6f \ In JE, whence it is drawn, it was either addressed by 
Moses to the people (cp. Dt. i 29ff -), or, perhaps more probably 
in view of its position here, formed the conclusion of Caleb's 
misplaced speech in 13 30 . — He will bring us into this land] v. 3 - 16 . 
— 9. They are our bread] we shall conquer them as easily as 
we eat bread : cp. Ps. 14 4 ( = 53 4 ) and the figurative use of 
"eat" (^3X) in, e.g., 24 s , Jer. io 25 . — Their shadow has departed 
from them] this might be explained as an idiom springing 
out of a widespread belief in the intimate relation between a 
man and his shadow, and the consequent loss of vitality, and 
extreme peril involved in the loss of this shadow.* But it 
is preferable to take the genitive as objective ( = the shadow 
hitherto cast protectingly over them). In that case ^» is used 
* See Frazer, GB. i. 285-292. 


in a figurative sense (R.V., here, "defence"), similar to that 
in which it is used in Ps. gi 1 121 5 , Is. 30 2f - 40, 2 ; the origin of 
the figure may be sought in the more fully expressed 
metaphors in Is. 25* 32 2 . That the phrase "their shadow" 
refers to the god or gods of the Canaanites is favoured by 
the following considerations: (1) the verbal idiom used here 
(bw TlD) is the same as in 1 S. 28 15 , Jud. 16 20 ; (2) in the fol- 
lowing and parallel clause Yahweh would thus form a pointed 
and antithetical subject ; (3) the thought is parallel, and the 
metaphor similar to those in Dt. 32 30t - — " How should one chase 
a thousand . . . except their rock had sold them and Yahweh 
had delivered them up. For their rock is not as our Rock." 
Early Hebrew writers recognised the existence and indeed the 
power of the gods of other peoples, e.g. of Moab (2 K. 3 27 — 
after the king of Moab's offering to his god (Mesha), Israel 
experiences the destructive wrath of Moab's god). — 10. The 
people are about to stone Joshua and Caleb (v. 6 ; also ? Moses 
and Aaron, v. 5 ) ; but they are stayed by the appearance of 
the glory of Yahweh (cp. Ex. 16 10 P). According to P, the 
glory of Yahweh ( , "' t 1)22) was a fiery appearance (Ex. 24 16-18 , 
cp. 34 29 " 35 ), manifesting the divine presence ; it was first 
seen on Mt. Sinai at the time of the giving of the Law 
(Ex. 24 16-18 ) ; subsequently it was a frequent though not 
constant appearance at the tabernacle (Ex. i6 7 - 10 — for 
"wilderness" read "tabernacle" — Lev. o, 6 - 23 , Nu. 16 19 17 7 
(EV. 16 42 ) 20 6 ). Two passages (Ex. 20/ 3 ^o ZiL ) might seem 
to imply that the glory was a constant phenomenon ; but 
these must be interpreted in the light of the less ambiguous 
passages, unless, as is perhaps more probable, this difference 
is to be attributed to the author of the later strata of P. 
P's conception of the glory of Yahweh is markedly different 
from that of other Hexateuchal sources ; see below on v. 21 ; 
and, further, art. "Glory" in DB. 

5. S>B"i] Dav. 113 (b); G.-K. 1450; note ffi Zireaev. — my hnp] Ex. 12 8 , 
and cp. phil. n. on i 2 ; <& here recognises only one of the synonyms. — 
7. y\ttn . . . pun] Driver, Tenses, 197, Obs. (2).— ind ind] Gn. 7 19 (P), 30 43 (J), 
1 K. 7 47 , 2 K. io 4 , Ezek. 37 10 ; cp. INO "IKD3, which is peculiar to P and Ezek.; 
see L.O.T. 132 ; CH. 63. — 9. d.t^'O d^s id] hya mo with a personal subject 
denotes the cessation of protecting accompaniment ; see Driver on 1 S. 

XIV. io, II 155 

28 ,B . — D?s is paraphrased by the Versions : G 6 Katp6s (influenced, perhaps, 
by the idea appearing in Gn. I5 16 ) ; Y omne preesiditim ; j? tOOT. J— » Q..L ; 
Onk. pnsjpw. The last two ( = " strength ") may well be paraphrases of a 
word taken to refer to a god ; cp. (K's rendering of Ps. 19 15 . The use of 
Ss metaphorically of the deity is perhaps to be found in the Midianite 
name jnoSx, Jud. 8 5 (but see Moore on the passage), and the Hebrew 
name ins 1 ?* (to be pointed, perhaps, in^y ; see Skipwith, JQR. xi. 259). 
Skipwith {JQR. x. 669) suggests cd'js for D^s in the present passage, — an 
easy emendation, for note the initial D of the next word. In this case the 
reference to the deity would be still less ambiguous ; see on 33 s2 . Still 
their image is scarcely a natural or probable expression in the present 
connection. — 10. Dn] P's term for " to stone" (see Lev. 2o 2,27 24 M * ibj.j.23^ 
Nu. 1 5 s5 '*) ; the regular equivalent in JE is bpo — L.O.T. 134. en is the 
regular Aramaic translation (both in £5 and <£°) of h~a. The Mishnah 
uses both hps and en. — mm] jg + pya : cp. Ex. i6 10 ii|. 

11-24. Moses' intercession. — Yahweh proposes to destroy 
the rebellious people, and to make of Moses a yet greater 
nation (v. llf> ) ; Moses seeks to deter Yahweh from His 
purpose by an appeal to (1) His regard for His reputation 
among the nations (v. 13 - 17a ) ; (2) His mercy (v. 17b ~ 19 ). Yahweh 
relents (v. 20 ), but insists that none of the present generation, 
except Caleb, shall enter the promised land (v. 21 ~ 24 ). With 
the present intercession cp. Ex. 32 9-14 32 30 " 35 34 9ff -, also Gn. 
1316 33. an( ] c C e note on n 2 . 

It has been very generally felt that in its present form this section is 
not derived from the early prophetic sources. The close affinity in 
thought of v. 13 " 17 with Ezek. is specially noticeable. Kue. assigns the 
passage to the 7th century: "Num. xiv. 11-25, m '*s present form, 
must likewise date from the seventh century. The pericope [though not 
necessarily the whole of it : corresponding to Nu. 14 11 " 24 there is but 
,(33). 34-36 j n r)t.] i s older than Deut. i.-iv., as a comparison of vv. 22-24 
with Deut. i. 35, 36 shows beyond dispute : but, on the other hand, 
vv. 17, 18 proves that it is either dependent upon Ex. xxxiv. 6, 7, or of 
identical origin with it. Compare, further, vv. 11-16 with Ex. xxxii. 
vv. 9-14 and 21 with Is. vi. 3, which the writer has followed " {Hexateuch, 
241). Similarly Wellhausen : "The additions with which here [i.e. in 
c. xiv.] the main narrative (J) is enriched, are mainly composed by the 
Jehovist himself; so, especially, is the long speech (vv. 11-25) a ft* ee 
composition of his on the basis of an originally quite small kernel ; cp. 
Ex. 32 12 34 6ff -, Ezek. 20." {Comp. p. 104.) Similarly Meyer, ZATW. i. 
p. 140; Corn. Ei?ileitiing,* p. 73; Socin in Kawtzsch's Bible; Bacon, 
Triple Tradition, p. 187, footnote ; Di., CH. 

11. How long] For similar indignant questions put into 
the mouth of Yahweh, see Ex. io 3 (J), 16 28 (P), Hos. 8 5 , Jer. 


23 26 . — In spite of all the signs] the plagues of Egypt, and the 
wonders of the Exodus and of the journey through the 
wilderness ; see v. 22 . — In their midst] in %] the suffix referring 
to the people is sing, here and throughout the next v.; so in 
reference to the Egyptians in v. 13 ; then the suffixes are pi. 
from v. u onwards; cp. n 4 phil. n. — 12. Cp. Ex. 32 10 , Dt. 
9 14 . — / will smite them with an epidemic] the Hebrew word 
("Q"!) is used of diseases in general that cause great mortality ; 
cp. 2 S. 24 13 - 15 , Jer. 14 12 , Ex. 9 15 . — And disinherit them] 
or, with abandonment of the specific meaning of the verb 
(C'Hin), destroy them, cp. Ex. 15 9 . — Arid I will make thee] (5t S + 
and thy father's house. — Yahweh proposes to make of Moses 
a nation greater and mightier than the present, which by its 
existence redeemed His earlier and similar promise to Abraham 
(Gn. 12 2 (J), 18 18 (J 2 ); cp. Dt. 26 s , Is. 5 1 2 ).— 13-17. The text of 
v. 13f - is unintelligible, and the Versions furnish no appreciable 
emendations ; see phil. notes. But the point of Moses' 
appeal is quite clear, for it is contained in v. 15-17 , which is 
straightforward. If, he says, you destroy the people, the 
peoples who have heard of your fame will conclude that it is a 
hollow fame, and that you destroyed your people simply 
because you were incapable of bringing them into Canaan. 
The problem, therefore, is : How is Yahweh to inflict that 
punishment on a rebellious people which His moral nature de- 
mands, and yet maintain the reputation of His power among 
the peoples of the world ? The same problem presented itself 
to Ezekiel, who saw in the Exile the punishment of the nation's 
sins and the vindication of Yahweh's moral nature, and believed, 
as a necessary consequence, in a future restoration, which 
should vindicate Yahweh's power, and prove to the nations that 
Yahweh was indeed Yahweh : see especially Ezek. 36 lG_3G ^g 21 ' 2 '-* 
(cp. Driver, L.O.T. p. 295), and cp. the prophet's treatment 
of the problem raised by these rebellions in the wilderness, 
Ezek. 2o 9fl \ The idea occurs also, though with less pro- 
minence, in Is. 48 11 52 5f> . — 13 f. Perhaps, since the following 
verses contain the real point of the speech (see previous note), 
these verses have been gradually built up of glosses, and 
their broken construction and unintelligibility is due to such 

XIV. 12-20 157 

an origin, rather than, as some have suggested, to Moses' 
emotion. Cp. with them, in general, Ex. 32 llf -.— V. 13 as it 
stands must be rendered- — And the Egyptians will hear that 
(or, far less probably, because) Thou broughtest tip by Thy might 
this people from their midst. But the Egyptians do not need to 
hear in the future what they have already experienced in the 
past. The rendering, The Egyptians have both heard . . . v. 14 
and said to the inhabitants, etc., is in itself most questionable, 
and, if admitted, hardly yields better sense. — 14. This land] 
Canaan ; cp. v. 8 , but here the phrase is inaptly used. — Eye to 
eye, Is. 52 s ; cp. the similar locutions in 12 8 , Ex. 33 11 . — 14b. A 
fusion of phrases and ideas to be found in different narratives 
of the cloud ; see Ex. 13 26 33 9f - (icy), Nu. io 34 .— 15. This condi- 
tional sentence would form a very suitable beginning to Moses' 
appeal, and was, perhaps, originally such : see preceding notes. 
— As one man] completely and without exception, Jud. 6 16 . — 
Who have heard Thy fame'] in itself the Hebrew phrase scarcely 
means more than "who have heard about Thee"; cp. Gn. 
29 13 . — 16. Dt. g 28 . — 17. But now let the power of my Lord be 
great] let Yahweh exert His power in some other way than He 
has proposed, that the nations as well as Israel may realise His 
might ; cp. Jos. 7 8ff -. Or, possibly, as v. 19 would suggest, ri3 
rather means (moral) power, or control by the exercise of which 
Yahweh pardons ; cp. Nah. i 3 (also Job 36 5 ). Adonai( = "my 
lord") of and in address to Yahweh is not infrequent in J, 
especially in J 2 ; see, e.g., Gn. i8 27 - 30 , Ex. 4 10 - 13 5 22 34 9 : BDB. 
s.v. jnx, 3 (2). ffi <S here read let Thy power, O Lord. — As 
Thou didst say] at Sinai. — 18. The quotation is from Ex. 34 6f - ; 
the clause "keeping mercy for thousands" (Ex. 34 7 ) is here 
omitted. — 19. According to Thy great kindness] cp. Ps. 5i 3(1 \ — 
19b. Cp. Ex. 32-34. — 20. Yahweh so far promises to forgive, 
that He grants Moses' request not to slay the people one and 
all, v. 15 .— 21-23. Cp. 32 10f -, Dt. i 35 . RV. wrongly makes '3 
in v. 22 causal (see phil. n.) : v. 21-23 should rather be rendered as 
follows : — As surely as L live, and (as surely as) the whole earth 
shall be full of the glory of Yahweh, none of the men who 
have seen My glory and My signs which L wrought in Egypt 
and the wilderness, and yet have put Me to the proof these ten 


times, and have not hearkened to My voice, shall see the land. — 
As I live] men swear, though not exclusively (see Gn. 42 15 '-, 
2 S. 15 21 , 2 K. 2 2 ), by Yahweh (cp. e.g. Jud. 8 19 , 1 S. 14 39 ), 
Yahweh by Himself: cp. Gn. 22 16 . Cp. the oaths of the modern 
Bedawin : " The nomads will confirm every word with an oath, 
as commonly wa hydt, l by the life of; but this is not in the 
Wahaby country, where every oath which is by the life of any 
creature they hold to be ' idolatry.' They swear wa hydt, 
even of thing's inanimate; 'by the life of this fire or of this 
coffee,' hydtak, 'by thy life,' wa hydt rakbaty, 'by the life of 
my neck,' are common affirmations in their talk" (Doughty, 
Ar. Deserta, i. 269). — 21b. Cp. Is. 6 3 , Ps. 72 19 . Here and in 
the next v. (where note the parallel my signs), the glory 
of Yahweh is the revelation of His character and power 
in history; cp. Ps. 96 s (|| " marvellous works"), and ct. v. 10 
(where see note).— 22b. The verb nD3 (cp. Ex. 17 s - 7 , Dt. 6 16 ) 
means "to test or prove a person to see whether he will act 
in a particular way " (Driver, Deut. p. 95) ; the sin of the 
people consisted in losing their faith in Yahweh, and constantly 
putting Him to the proof after He had repeatedly manifested 
His power and goodwill toward them (cp. v. 11 ). — These ten 
times] or, as we might say, a dozen times, i.e. frequently ; cp. 
Job 19 3 . The Talmud ('Arakin 150 b) takes " ten " literally, and 
explains by reference to two temptations at the Red Sea (Ex. 
14 11 , Ps. 106 7 ), two in demanding water (Ex. 15 23 17 2 ), two 
for food (Ex. i6 20 - 27 ), two for flesh (Ex. 16 3 , Nu. n 4 ), the 
golden calf, and the spies. CH. also think that the number 
may belong to a systematised tradition. — 23. After "to their 
fathers " (5r here inserts but as for their children who are here 
with Me, as many as have not known good and evil, every one 
that is young and inexperienced, to them will I give the land; 
cp. Dt. i 39 , and see Bacon, Triple Tradition, p. 188 n. — All 
them that despised Me] v. 11 . — 24. But Caleb, in reward for 
(2py) the fact that his disposition toward Yahweh had been 
different, receives the promise from Yahweh that he shall 
receive, and his seed inherit, the district whither he had gone 
as spy, i.e. Hebron (13 22 ); the sequel is to be found in Jos. 
I4 6 ~ 15 , especially v. 12-14 . See also jud. i 20 (where, as in Jos. 

XIV. 21-25 159 

i4 9 , the promise is referred to Moses), Jos. i5 13 (to Yahweh 
through Joshua). — My servant Caleb] cp. " My servant Moses," 
12 7 . — The land whither he went] more specifically in Dt. i 36 , 
Jos. 14 9 "the land that he (thy foot) hath trodden upon." 

11. run -iy] in the Hexateuch only here, Ex. 16 28 (P) and Jos. 18 3 (D) : 
elsewhere also only from 7th century onwards — Jer. 47 s , Hab. i 2 , Ps. 13'-'- 
62 4 , Job 18 2 i9 2 t- The synonymous 'no -ij; (v. 27 ) is found in all periods, 
e.g. Ex. io 3 - 7 (J), Hos. 8 5 , Is. 6", Zech. i 12 , Neh. 2 6 , Dn. 8 1S .— fea] 3 = " in 
spite of," as, e.g., Is. s 25 ; BDB. s.v. 3 iii. 7.— 14. 3B" bx now] ? ffi S i T 
omit Sn : 5 treats Ul 38" as subj. of nDNi ; ffi has dXXa /cat 7rdcTes instead of 
1TDN1 (? + !»), and then makes «1 3C the subj. of 1JHDB*. — m.T nx"U . . . -kj-n] 
Read nxnj for the anomalous nxnj : forasmuch as thou, Yahweh, art 
seen.—nm (2) <£ B & omit.— 15. nnoni] S nDffl.— "BBsr] ffi S -pp.— 16. n^b'J 
only again Dt. 9 s8 ; G.-K. 6g». — DBnB"l] <2r foolishly diibpi. On tsnty and its 
Assyrian equivalent, see Paterson and Haupt's n. in SBOT. ; to butcher, 
suggested by Paterson for the rare cases where the vb. is used of 
putting men to death {e.g. Jud. 12 6 , 1 K. 18 40 , 2 K. io 7 , Jer. 39 s 41 7 
52 10 ), is over-violent. To slaughter would be a sufficiently expressive 
rendering ; cp. the use of anv with the reference to child sacrifice : Gn. 
22 10 , Is. 57 5 .— 18. nDn 31] ffi S E°+riDNi = Ex. 34 6 Jfy.—yvn] ffi S &° + 
nnBm = Ex. 34 6 $.— n\n !?$?] S + D':3 '33 Sjn = Ex. 34 7 p?.— d-b-Vp 'jy] S Sin 
D'pVp. — 19. bij] In Pent, elsewhere only in Deuteronomy. — b ?W1KP3] = J1J7 nb'J 
v i8._ni,T oy 1 ?] ffi & en 1 ?.— 20. mrr] ffi £ + swd 1 ?.— 21. pxn "?3 nx «"• -nas k^d'i] 
both ace. are here by a very infrequent cstr. retained with the passive : 
Dav. 81, R. 2. — 22. '3] here simply introduces the fact sworn to ; so 
frequently ; see, e.g., Gn. 42 16 , 1 S. 20 s ; BDB. 472^.-23. Dm.s- 1 ?] S + D.T? nrr? : 
for the much longer insertion in ffi see above. — 24. nnx n'jd] is a pregnant 
phrase (for nnK ns 1 ? 1 ? t6a)="to follow completely and uninterruptedly" ; it 
is used of Caleb's conduct here and in 32 llf -, Dt. i 36 , Jos. 14 s - 9 - 14 , Eccl. 
46 s : otherwise but once — 1 K. n 6 . — iwiv] 33 s3 n. 

25. The ' Amalekite and the Canaanite -were dwelling- in the 
vale] the connection of this clause (neglected in Dt. i 40 = 
clause b of this v.) with the context is not obvious, nor can 
we tell to what special "vale" the writer refers. Further 
a comparison with v . 40 - 43 - 45 13 29 , Dt. i 44 , raises difficulties 
that cannot be entirely surmounted. Perhaps the least of 
these is the apparent direct contradiction (avoided by 5?, which 
reads "mountain" here) between this v. and v. 45 . Here, the 
'Amalekite and Canaanite are said to dwell in the vale ; 
there, in the mountain. But the Hebrew word "in means hill- 
country as well as an individual peak or mountain ; and the 
word used for valley, 'Emek, "literally deepening, is a high- 
lander's word for a valley as he looks down into it, and is 


never applied to any extensive plain away from hills, but 
always to wide avenues running up into a mountainous 
country like the vale of Elah, the vale of Hebron, and the 
vale of Ajalon" (G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. p. 384: cp. p. 
654 f. ; also Driver in DB. s.v. " Vale"). Consequently the 
same people might be described as dwelling in an 'Emek 
or vale, and in the har or hill-country.* But whether the 
writer, who speaks consistently of the hill-country in v. 40-45 , 
would have described the inhabitants of the district in the 
present abrupt manner as dwelling in a vale which he does 
not define, is quite another question. Again, although we 
might harmonise the present v. with 13' 29 , so far as the 
Canaanites are concerned, on the ground that the Jordan 
valley, at least a part of it (though certainly not the sea- 
coast also), was an ' Emek (cp. Jos. 13 27 ) ; yet why are the 
Canaanites and 'Amalekites, whose districts are there dis- 
tinguished, here united as dwellers in the vale? Certainly 
the Negeb and the Jordan vale are not interchangeable 
terms ; and, moreover, any reference to the Jordan valley 
would be out of place here. Again, if 13 29 has any meaning 
at all, it contrasts the Canaanites as lowlanders with the 
Amorites and others as highlanders ; yet in 14 45 both 
Canaanites and 'Amalekites appear as highlanders, and we 
find no mention of Amorites ; while in the parallel account to 
v 40-45 j n D t> jfl-44 Amorites take the place of Canaanites 
and 'Amalekites. See below on v. 45 : and also above 
on 1 3 29 . 

25b = Dt.i 40 . To-inorrow\ n 18 n. — Turn\ changing your 
present northern to a southern course. — By the way of Yam 
Suph] the Gulf of 'Akabah (cp. 21 4 , 1 K. 9 26 ). Clay Trumbull 
regards the way of Yam Suph (t)iD D" 1 "pi) as a specific term, 
always (Ex. I3 1S , Nu. 21 4 , Dt. i 40 2 1 ) denoting the same road, 
viz. that connecting the top of the Gulf of Suez with Elah at 
the top of the Gulf of 'Akabah {Kadesh-Bamea, pp. 7f., 352- 
363) ; but this does not suit the present context ; for the 
people would need to make a long march through the wilder- 
ness from Kadesh before they struck this road. The meaning 
* Cp. also Palmer, Desert of the Exodus, p. 427 f. 

XIV. 25-28 l6l 

seems to be, therefore: Turn back into trie wilderness in the 
direction of Yam Suph. 

'pScyrt] v. 43 - 45 , Gn. 14 7 — the only instances in the Hexatcuch of the 
gentilic form. Elsewhere the people are called phoy, see 13 29 24 20 (Gn. 
36 11 - 16 ), Ex. 17 2 , Dt. 25 17,19 . — 3B"] sing, after two subjects, cp. v. 45 ; so 
after three subjects in 13 29 : Dav. 114a. — -mDrr] S rrmDfi: cp. Dt. i 4 " pj. 

26-39a. The condemnation to the forty years' wandering 
(P). — Yahweh swears that as a punishment for their mur- 
muring (v. 27f> ) all the people above twenty years old (v. 29 ), 
except Caleb and Joshua (v. 30 ), shall die in the wilderness 
(v. 29 - 35 ), in which they shall lead a nomadic life (v. 33 ) for 
forty years. At the end of forty years the children of the 
present generation will be brought into Canaan (v. 31-33 ). All 
the spies except Caleb and Joshua are (? immediately) cut off 
by a divine visitation (v. 36-38 ). 

In view of the difficulty of separating - with confidence any elements 
from JE which may be embodied in this passage (above, p. 132), it can- 
not be safely used as evidence that the term of forty years for the 
wanderings in the wilderness was found in that source, still less for its 
presence in either of the two ultimate sources J or E. But it is clear on 
other grounds that "the forty years" formed part of early Hebrew 
tradition : see Am. 2 10 5 25 . In the Hexateuch this period of wandering 
is elsewhere referred to in P (26 64 33 38 ), and frequently in D (Dt. i 3 2 1 
29 4 < 5) ). Otherwise in the Hexateuch the references to it (32 13 , Jos. i4 7, 10 ) 
are confined to passages which appear to be late eclectic compositions 
based on P, JE, and D. In both P and D the Forty Years' Wandering 
is a period of punishment ; on the other hand, passages in the early 
prophets seem to imply that the period was regarded as one of special 
divine favour (Am. 2 9 '- 5 25f -, Hos. 2 16 < 14 '). The two points of view are not 
necessarily irreconcilable : but, under the circumstances, it cannot be 
safely concluded that the punitive character of the wanderings was a 
primitive element in the story. Meyer (p. 140) seeks to show positively 
that J knew nothing of a forty years' wandering, but regarded the 
entrance into Canaan as following immediately on the report of the 
spies ; cp. Steuernagel, 70-77. 

26. The insertion of the long passage, v. 11-25 , from another 
source obscures the immediate sequence of the appearance of 
the divine glory, v. 10 , and the divine speech, v. 26ff -, which was 
expressed in P here as elsewhere (16 20 17 7 " 9 2o 6f -, Ex. i6 llf ). — 
27. How long are the people to murmur (cp. v. 2 note) with 
impunity? On the construction of the v., see phil. n.— 27b. 
Cp. Ex. i6 9 - 12 (P). — 28 f. No longer: the murmurers shall be 
1 1 


punished by having the wish they had expressed in their 
discontent (v. 2 ) fulfilled : all above twenty years of age shall 
die in this wilderness, i.e. the wilderness of Paran (13 3 n.). — 
28. Say unto them] the vb. in Pf is sing., the subj. " Moses " : 
ct. "Moses and Aaron" in v. 26 , and cp. i 2 n.—Saith Yahweh] 
the phrase T\\7C DN3, so common in the prophets from Amos to 
Malachi, occurs elsewhere in the Hexateuch only in Gn. 22 16 , 
where, as here, it introduces the words of a divine oath. On 
the different use of DKJ in the Songs of Balaam, see on 24 s . 
— As I live] v. 21 n. ; though not found elsewhere in P, this 
formula of the oath in the mouth of Yahweh is common in 
Ezekiel (see, e.g., 5 11 i 4 16 - 1S - 20 )._ 29. Your carcases] v. 32 33 ; 
the word IJQ is used of the dead body whether of men (e.g. 
Am. 8 3 ) or animals (e.g. Gn. 15 11 ); as here, it is used con- 
temptuously in Lev. 26 30 , Ezek. 6 3 . — All that were numbered 
of you . . . from twenty years old and upwards] for the 
phraseology, cp. c. 1, passim. — 30 f. You, the men of this 
generation, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, shall 
certainly not enter Canaan ; but your little children, fear for 
whose fate you made the pretext for your complaints, shall 
be brought thither by Yahweh. It may be assumed that the 
family of Aaron is tacitly included in the exception. Ele'azar 
must be thought of as over twenty years of age at this time 
(see 3 3f - 32 4 16 , Ex. 28 1 , cp. f), yet he entered Canaan (Jos. 
14 1 17 4 etc. in P, and 24 33 in E). You (ons), v. 30 , is in 
emphatic antithesis to yotir little children, v. 31 . — / lifted up 
My hand] i.e. swore (cp. Ex. 6 s (P) ; Ezek. 20 s - 6 - 15 - 23 (hence 
Ps. 106 26 ) 28 - 42 36 7 44 12 47 u f ); in all these cases the vb. is aw: ; 
in Gn. 14 32 the synonymous Dnn is used. For the promise here 
referred to, see Gn. 17 8 : cp. 28* 35 12 4 8 4 , Ex. 6 8 .— Caleb . . . 
foshua] for this order cp. 26 65 , 32 12 : ct. v. 6 . — 31a. Cp. v. 3 ; 
the presence of this clause in Dt. i 89 Q] is due to late glossing 
(ct. (£). The extent to which the parallel narratives were 
amplified from one another is further illustrated by &, which 
here inserts from Dt. i 39 and your children who this day 
have no knowledge of good 0? evil, they shall enter the land. 
— And they shall know] iyT1 ; or, perhaps, shall possess (wm) ; 
so (5 ; cp. Dt. i 39 ^f. — The land which ye despised] owing 

XIV. 28-3S 163 

to the report that it was infertile, I3 32a ; this last clause 
shows that we have to do here with a passage from P, or, 
at least, dependent on P's account of the report of the spies. 
According to JE the people did not despise, but feared the 
land. — 32 f. While the present generation gradually dies off, 
the generation which is ultimately to enter Canaan must lead 
a nomadic life in the wilderness. — Your children shall be 
shepherds] RV. text wanderers, strictly presupposes Cyj (cp. 
32 13 ), but is really due to Jewish exegesis as represented in 5E J° n 
and V (vagi). K° also paraphrases, tarrying. — And they 
(your children) shall bear the consequences (cp. 12 11 ), i.e. the 
punishment, of your whoredom (probably singular), i.e. of your 
unfaithfulness to Yahweh. Though the children do not bear 
the full weight of punishment, yet they share it (cp. v. 34 ) : the 
forty years in the wilderness are here regarded as a period of 
punishment for all concerned. The figure of whoredom is 
used in the prophets and other writers, especially and very 
appropriately, for unfaithfulness to Yahweh shown in courting 
foreign alliances (e.g. Ezek. 16 26 22 20ff ), or practising for- 
bidden cults (e.g. Hos. 2 5 (7 ^ 9 1 ) ; here the original force and 
appropriateness of the figure have been lost, and it is used 
simply of the reprehensible unbelief of the people. — 33b. Until 
your carcases be complete in the wilderness} till the last of you 
shall have died. The verb Don means "to be complete," 
cp. Dt. 3i 24 - 30 ; it is often used as here more or less elliptic- 
ally; cp. e.g. Gn. 47 15 , Nu. 32 13 , Dt. 2 15 (but fully expressed 
in v. 16 ). — 34. According to the number of the days (13 25 ) 
wherein ye, i.e. the people as a whole by their representa- 
tives, the spies, spied out the land. — Shall ye bear the con- 
sequences of your iniquities ; the subject is again the people 
as a whole — not the fathers only, for the whole sentence 
would then imply that these died altogether at the end of the 
forty years. — And ye shall know] shall experience, cp. e.g. 
Hos. g 7 . — My opposition] the exact meaning of ilNUn which ffi 
paraphrases (rov dvfiov t?}? opyf]<; fiov) is uncertain : the noun 
occurs elsewhere only in Job 33 10 , and there the text is 
doubtful. Cp. the use of the verb in 30 6 32 7 . — 35. In this 
wilderness shall their number be completed, and there shall 


they die] virtually a hendiadys — one and all shall die there. — 
36-33. The spies, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, 
are cut off at once by a visitation of God. — 36. Cp. i3 17a . — 
36b. Cp. i 3 25a -32a. I4 2a_37 The plague] riBJD is any form of 
death regarded as inflicted directly by Yahweh for an express 
purpose, whether for punishment or for some other reason — 
cp. 17 13 - 15 (16 48 - 50 ), Ex. 9 14 , Zech. 14 12 , Ezek. 24 16 , and see 
CH. i25 ? . — 39a. In accordance with the command (v. 28a ) 
Moses reports Yahweh's words (v. 28 ~ 38 ) to the people. 

27. >{ ?y . . . my 1 ? vid ip] The explanations generally offered of the 
construction are (1) there is an ellipsis (or loss) of a verb such as 
rv?DN (v. 19 ) or new (Cler., Rosenm., Keil, RV.), hence: How long shall I 
forgive this evil congregation ; (2) the sentence ,( ?J? . . . "it?N is the subj. and 
mj/S is construed as DD 1 ? in Mic. 3 1 : How long shall this evil congregation 
murmur against Me: so, after some older commentators, Di., Reuss, 
Kautzsch ; cp. j&. There are no very satisfactory parallels for the use 
of niyx, but see 2 S. 14 15 , Zech. 8 20 . Neither explanation is quite satis- 
factory : the clause 'hy . . . WK might very easily have arisen by 
dittography from the end of the v. — 30. Danx P®h] P& with a personal 
obj. occurs elsewhere only in Jer. 7 3 - 7 . — 31. ViN'arn] Dr. Tenses, 123a. — 
□nx] ffi + pN.i "?x. — 32. criN Danjsi] For the added pronoun emphasising the 
suffix, see Dav. 1; G.-K. 135/;— 33. DD'nUT] the form is probably not 
intended to be pi.; see Kon. iii. 25S/.— 3$. ruvh ov rath or av D^niNJ Ezek. 
4 6 . — 35. isn;] In |^ this was probably intended to be read as a Kal : cp. 
v. 33 ; the form even as punctuated in MT. can be explained, not as a 
Niphal, but as a Kal: G.-K. 6-jg; St. 523^.-36. The whole of v. 36 
qualifies DWNil, which is a casus pendens resumed by P'B'JKn in the follow- 
ing v. ; the predicate is introduced by waw conv. with the impf. (inD'i) in 
v. 37 ; cp. Dr. 127a. 

39b-45 (JE). The presumption of the people, and their defeat 
at Hormah. — At the communication of the divine sentence 
(v. 26 ) the people are much grieved, and now insist on attempt- 
ing to enter the land of promise : Moses vainly endeavours 
to dissuade them, and refuses to go himself or to suffer the 
ark to go with them. The people make the attempt, are 
attacked by the ' Amalekites and Canaanites, and driven back 
to Hormah. 

V. 40 " 46 have been and can be assigned to JE with confidence : the vv. 
contain no marks of P's style, many of that of JE, such as Min and D'affn 
v. 4U , rn no 1 ? v. 41 , mpa v. 42 (P uses -pm), p hi) '3 and D3DJ; mrr v. 43 ; see CH. 
104, 200, 89, 58, 35, 130 m . Some have assigned the whole section to E 

xiv. 36-40 1 65 

in particular; so Kue., Corn., Kit., Baron; and Meyer (p. 133) inclines 
to the same view on the understanding- that the " Canaanite and the 
'Amalekite" is a redactorial substitute for "the Amorite" (cp. Dt. i 44 ) ; 
cp. also We. Comp. 104 f. Others (e.g. Di., CH.) regard the passage as 
composite ; CH. assign v. 40 to E, v. 41 " 48 to J ; Steuernagel, v. 40 " 42 - 44 to E, 
v. 43 - 45 (though not in their present form) to J. Certainly v. 41 is a bad 
sequence to v. 40 , and v. 40 as it now runs was not the original preface to v. 44 
(but see on v. 4u ). In Uin there may possibly be a distinctive mark of E ; in 
m nth, p by »3, and perhaps in rta v. 41 (cp. CH. 66 J E ) and mpa marks of J, 
and in v. 44b a view of the position of the ark that is certainly not E's. Still 
the data seem insufficient for a detailed analysis. In so far as the passage 
refers to Hormah, its origin cannot be adequately considered without 
reference to the other notices of Hormah. See on 21 1 " 3 . 

In substance this passage is reproduced in Dt. i 41 " 44 with these chief 
differences : in Dt. nothing corresponds to the going up into the mountain 
of v. 40 , the rebuke to the people placed in Moses' mouth in Nu. v. 41f - is 
given as (in the first place) a divine communication to Moses in Dt.; 
nothing in Dt. corresponds to v. 43 - 44b , and for "the 'Amalekite and 
Canaanite" of v. 43 - 45 Dt. has "Amorite." In Dt. the incident is immedi- 
ately followed by the record of the stay of the people at Kadesh. 

39. And the people mourned] the vb. ^3Knn occurs else- 
where in the Hex. only in Gn. 37 s4 , Ex. 33* (JE). — 40. In 
Dt. v. 25b and v. 40 are immediately connected ; thus v. 25b = 
Dt. i 40 ; v. 40 = Dt. i 41a . Instead of obeying- Yahweh's com- 
mands and starting- on the morrow (v. 25b ) southward from 
Kadesh, they rise up early (on the next day) and go, or 
propose to go, northward in the direction of Canaan. — And 
they went up into the top of the mou?itai?i] this strangely 
anticipates v. 40b (for why should the people ascend to the 
summit before announcing their intention, and why should 
Moses suffer himself to be dragged by them so far in the 
wrong direction) and still more v. 44 , and appears to be in- 
consistent with v. 45 , which represent the 'Amalekites and 
Canaanites coming down on the Hebrews. These difficulties 
are not wholly obviated by assigning, with CH., v. 40 to 
E, and v. 41-45 to J — an analysis, moreover, which is not 
favoured by the recurrence of the same phrase (c?fcO ?N )bv 
inn) in v. 40 and 44 . It would be preferable to regard and they 
went up into the top of the mountain here as an accidental 
intrusion from v. 44 . With the phrase, cp. and ct. 13 17 . The 
top of the mountain generally means the summit of a particular 
peak {e.g. Gn. 8 5 , Ex. 19 20 ; cp. 17 ), but here, apparently, the 


heights of the hill-country. — To the place of which Yahweh 
spoke] io 29 (J): cp. also Gn. 22 s - 9 (E). — For we have sinned] 
in refusing to go up; cp. v. 3 - 4 , Dt. i*8"-*i; for a similar 
confession of the people, see 21 7 (JE); cp. also Ex. 32 31 (E), 
Nu. 22 34 (J), i2 n (E), Jos. 7 20 (JE). — 41. Seeing it cannot prosper] 
viz. what you purpose. — 42. Ill-success must attend the 
attempt of the people ; since, in consequence of their dis- 
obedience (v. 43 , Dt. i 42 ), Yahweh, whose presence secures 
victory, (cp. v. 9 io 35 ), will not be with them. — Go not up] to 
the land of promise or to the top of the mountain ? See n. on 
v. 43 .— 42b. Cp. Dt. i 42 , Lev. 26 17 (H).— 43. The ' ' Amalekite and 
the Canaanite] so in v. 45 ; but in Dt. i 44 " The Amorite " : cp. 
above, p. 145 f. — There] this will refer either to the land of 
promise (v. 40b ), or to the mountain country (v. 40a ), if the clause 
"and they went up to the top of the mountain" in v. 40a be 
original, and v. 40 the original prelude to v. 43 . If the reference 
be to v. 4 '"', then the inhabitants of the land of promise are 
described by the unusual combination "'Amalekite and 
Canaanite"; "the Amorite" of Dt. is, on the other hand, 
E's usual term for the pre-Israelitish inhabitants of Canaan. 
If the reference be to the mountain of v. 40a , then the Canaanites 
here, as quite clearly in v. 45 , appear as highlanders ; ct. 13 29 
14 24 , and see the notes there. — 44. The meaning of the first 
word of the v. is uncertain (see phil. n.); but in view of the 
next v. and the parallel in Dt. i 41f - it is possible that the 
statement does not imply that the people actually reached 
the summit, but that they attempted the ascent heedlessly 
and lightheartedly.— 44b. Omitted in Deut. — The ark of the 
covenant of Yahweh] io 33 n. — The v. seems to imply that the 
customary place of the ark was within the camp. But if 
this be so, then, since the ark and the tent of revelation can 
hardly be separated, and it is perfectly clear that, according to 
E's point of view the tent was outside the camp (Ex. 33 7-11 : cp. 
pp. 98, ii4f. above), this v. must come from another source, 
presumably J. Then J, in this matter as in several others, 
is the source from which P draws ; for P's elaboration of the 
idea of the central position of the ark, see above, p. 17 ff. 
— 45. And the 'Amalekite and Canaanite who dwelt in that 

XIV. 41-45 l6 7 

hill-country came down] to meet the Hebrews as they were 
attempting the ascent ; see on v. 48 and cp. i3 17b . In Dt. i 44 
the direction is stated more neutrally — " And the Amorite who 
dwelt in that hill-country came out to meet you." Here, as 
in 13 17 , the country immediately ahead of the people is de- 
scribed as hill-country. — Unto Hormah] Hormah, originally, 
according to P, a royal Canaanite city, and subsequently one 
of the cities allotted to Judah or Simeon, is frequently men- 
tioned as situated in the extreme south of the Hebrew 
territory, 21 3 , Jud. i 17 , 1 S. 30 30 , Dt. i 44 , Jos. 12 14 (D), 15 30 
19 4 (P), 1 Ch. 4 30 . The identification of Hormah with Sebaita, 
25 miles N.N.E. of 'Ain-Kadis ( = Kadesh), rests on a philo- 
logically unsound connection of Sebaita with Sephath — the 
former name of Hormah (Jud. i 17 ). The line of pursuit is 
more fully described in Dt. i 44 as "from (so (Sr %> F) Seir 
to Hormah." — G S add at the end of the v., And they 
returned to the camp. 

50. U'Vjn] Dr. Tenses, 123. — 51. 'B nx "ny] here, 22 18 24 13 only in Hex. — 
km] Dav. 1, R. 2 ; G.-K. 135/^.— 53. nm Drtan] v. 3 ; here and there only 
in Hex. — J3 Vy -2] cp. 10 31 n. — 55. niVy 1 ? lbsj/n] Dt. i 41 rvhyh lrnm ; Dt. i 43 mm 
iSym. The sj^t>y in Hebrew is known only by 1. the Pual form n)?i; Hab. 2 4 , 
where the text is probably corrupt ; 2. the Hiphil, found only here ; 3. the 
substantive hsy, meaning-, a. "a hill," b. "a boil or tumour." Some such 
meaning as "to swell" maybe the starting-point of the meanings 1 and 3, 

and also of the Arabic derivatives of AsLc : then, metaphorically, iSbjh 
may mean " they acted proudly or presumptuously " ; cp. Ti in Dt. Or, 
connecting with li_i { = neglexit vel omisit rem), we may perhaps infer 
that it is parallel to the pn of Dt., and means "they acted carelessly, 
thoughtlessly." The VV. appear to guess : ffi Sia^iaa&fievoi, is Q_i}..»0 
( = and they began), ~B contenebrati, Onk. lytsnNi. — WD] the other occurrences 
in the Hex. of trcn mo are Ex. 13 22 (J), 33 11 (E), Jos. i 8 (D).— 45. Din:n] 
Aramaising Hiphil from nns, G.-K. 67/. — nmn.i] here only with the art. ; the 
word means " the sacred place" ; cp. pDin, and see EBi. s.v. " Names," 

§98. The philological resemblance of Sebaita, or Esbata (UjIa-;^), and 

Sephath (nBs) is remote. On Sebaita, see Seetzen, Reisen, iii. 44 ; Palmer, 
Desert of Exodus, pp. 374-380 ; and on the general question, Driver on 
Dt. i 44 and Moore on Jud. i 17 . — crm man] a doublet (CH. tentatively) or 
dittographic? Dt. i 44 has wan only. 


XV. Miscellaneous Laws. 

(i) The proper quantities of meal, oil, and wine to be offered 
in connection with animals presented as burnt-offerings or 
peace-offerings, v. 1-16 ; (2) the cake of "the first of 'Arisoth," 
v> 17-21 . ^) offerings to make propitiation for sins of ignorance 
on the part of the community or an individual, v. 22-31 ; (4) the 
penalty of the man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath day, 
v. 32-36 ; (5) the tassels to be worn at the corners of garments, 
v. 37 " 41 . 

These laws, like those in c. 5. 6, have little or no connec- 
tion with one another ((3) quite incidentally presupposes (1): 
see v. 24 and n. below), and none with the narrative of the spies 
(c. 13. 14) which precedes, or with that of the revolt of Korah 
which follows them. On this ground alone, then, it may be 
questioned whether this miscellaneous collection of laws stood 
between the two narratives just referred to in V s (Introd. 
§ 11), though they clearly belong to P. Note that v. 22 not 
merely fails to connect with v. 1-21 , but almost certainly pre- 
supposes an original introduction of an entirely different 
nature : see n. on v. 22 . 

The language clearly points in all sections to P (though in some it also 
recalls H) : with v. 1 - *»• 17 - 18a - 37 - ^ cp. 5"- 12a n. ; with v. 3ob cp. 9 10 n.; and 
note, e.g., Drni-n 1 ? v. 14 - 21 - B - 38 (Dr. L.O. T. p. 132, no. 20 ; CH. 76), my v. 24 " 26 - 
a 3 " 36 (cp. i 2 phil. n.), nan i|n v. 15f - 26 - 29 (CH. 145), mm v. 13 - 29 (CH. 34). an 
v. 35f - (cp. i4 10 n.), dSij/ npn v. 15 (CH. 62c). See, further, marginal references 

The different manner in which the sections are introduced 
confirms the conclusion suggested by the want of sequence, 
viz. that the compiler of the chapter has derived his material 
from different sources. Note that the 1st, 2nd, and 5th sec- 
tions are introduced by the same formula as that found, e.g., 
in 5 llf - ; the 3rd and 4th sections are distinguished from the 
others by the absence of this formula ; the third also by 
peculiarities of style at its close. The 4th section (v. 32-36 ) so 
closely resembles in character Lev. 24 10-13 - 23 that the two 
passages should be closely connected. The 5th section more 

xv. 169 

especially resembles H : see below. It has been suggested * 
that the several sections were connected and incorporated by 
the same editor who worked H into P ; as an additional point 
in favour of this, cp. v. 2b - 18b with Lev. 19 23 23 10 25 s . 

On the age of the substance of the several laws as 
distinct from their literary setting, see below on the several 

What reasons induced the editor to refer this particular 
group of laws, like those of c. 19, to the period of wandering 
cannot be determined. The only section of the chapter which 
in itself may presuppose this period is the 4th ; cp. v. 32a . On 
the other hand, the 1st and 2nd sections appear like Deutero- 
nomy to contemplate a speedy settlement in Canaan : with 
v. 2b - 18b , cp. Dt. I2 1 - 10 19 1 and constantly. 

1-16. The proper quantities of meal, oil, and wine to be 
offered with animal offerings. — The law requires that meal, 
oil, and wine, according to a fixed scale, shall be presented 
with every animal " of the herd or the flock " offered either as 
a burnt-offering or a peace-offering. The law is not "evidently 
a novella to Lev. 2, intended to regulate what was there left 
to the free will of the sacrificer or to usage " (Kue. Hex. 95) ; 
for the law of Lev. 2 regulates the presentation of inde- 
pendent meal-offerings, whereas the present law is concerned 
only with meal-offerings that are demanded as an accompani- 
ment of an animal offering. It is perfectly conceivable that 
the amount of an independent meal-offering was left optional 
even long after the amount required as the accompaniment 
of various forms of animal offering had been fixed. The 
date of the literary origin and of the custom here regulated 
must be determined, in so far as it can be, independently of 
Lev. 2. 

A comparison of the present law with Ezek. 46 s-7 - n - w points 
the way to a surer conclusion. There also we find a fixed 
scale for meal-offerings offered with animal-offerings ; but 
the scale is different. The two scales may be tabulated 
thus — 

* We. Comp. 177 f. ; cp. Kue. Hex. 96 ; Addis, ii. 405 ; Bertholet, Die 
Stellung der Israeliten zu den Fremden, 152 f. ; Moore in EBi. 3448. 


The quantities to be offered are, according to 

(1) Ezekiel's Scale. (2) The Scale of Nu.15 2 - 16 . 

Meal. Oil. 

Meal. Oil. Wine. 

^ ephah I hin £ hin 

ro i) 9 11 8 >' 

-rV >» ! 11 2 i> 

With every lamb | . . J 1 hin per 

(ordinarily) .|°P tlonal t ep hah 
With every lamb-v 

(of the daily U ephah ^ hin 

burnt -offering-)J 

With every ram 1 ephah 1 „ 
„ „ bullock 1 „ 1 ,, 

Whether Ezek. reproduces the fixed or customary quanti- 
ties offered in Jerusalem in the years immediately before the 
Exile, or establishes his scale independently of previous 
practice, cannot be determined; but, as compared with his, 
the present scale appears to be the younger; for note (1) 
Ezekiel's scale is only to govern public offerings, — the offerings 
of the prince or representative of the people, — whereas the 
present scale applies to private as well as public offerings ; 
(2) an optional element remains in Ezekiel ; (3) the amount of 
meal, oil, and wine is systematically adapted to the size of the 
animal in the present scale. 

On this ground, then, the substance of the law may be 
regarded as at least as late as the middle of the 6th cent. 
The scale is elsewhere recognised only in P: see c. 28 f., 
Ex. 29 s8 - 42 . In Lev. 7 11-14 we appear to have an older law 
which leaves the quantities accompanying a private offering 
entirely undefined ; cp. also Lev. 8 26 . 

Any attempt systematically to fix the amount of material to 
be offered appears to have been first made at a comparatively 
late period ; though Dt. i6 10 - 17 is just as little in direct conflict 
with the present law as Lev. 2 (see above). But taken to- 
gether, 1 S. i 24 (£> (5) io 3 do not favour the conclusion that a 
fixed relation, such as Ezek. and the present law demand, 
between the amount of animals and meal and wine offered 
existed in early Israel. For other illustrations of fixed quanti- 
ties, see c. 28 f.; also Lev. 6 13f - (20,) (P), which fixes ^ ephah 
of fine meal as the quantity of " Aaron's oblation " ; Lev. 23 17 
(H) 24 s (P), which fix & ephah as the amount for each of the 

xv. 171 

two loaves offered at the Feast of Weeks and for each of the 
twelve loaves of shewbread respectively. In the offerings 
mentioned in 5 15 and Lev. 5 llfl - (P) ^u ephah of meal without 
oil is the fixed amount. See also Lev. 23 17 (P 5 ) 

Considerably more ancient than the exact regulation of the 
amounts to be offered was the practice of associating meal, 
wine, and oil with animal offerings. "Among the Hebrews 
vegetable or cereal oblations were sometimes presented by 
themselves [5 15ff -, Lev. 2. 5 llff '], especially in the form of first- 
fruits, but the commonest use of them was as an accom- 
paniment to an animal sacrifice. When the Hebrew ate flesh, 
he ate bread with it and drank wine, and when he offered flesh 
on the table of his God, it was natural that he should add to 
it the same concomitants which were necessary to make up a 
comfortable and generous meal."* Cp. Jud. o, 9 - 13 , 1 S. i 2i io 3 , 
Hos. g 4 , Mic. 6 7 . The amount of salt, which also, having 
probably been from an early period a customary, was made an 
obligatory (Lev. 2 13 ) accompaniment of meal-offerings, is not 
regulated by this law (cp. Ezr. J 22 ) ; nor is the amount of 
frankincense (Lev. 2 1 ). In Ezek. wine is not even mentioned ; 
but it would be, in view of the references to early literature 
just given, a wholly erroneous conclusion to infer that wine 
was first made an accompaniment of offerings after the time 
of Ezekiel. 

But while it was customary in all periods after the settle- 
ment in Canaan to combine meal- and animal-offerings, it is 
highly probable that the rigid insistence that every animal 
offered as a peace- or burnt-offering must be accompanied by 
a gift of meal, oil, and wine was, like the exact regulation of 
quantities, and the insistence on the meal being fine meal 
(5 15 n.), very far from primitive; that it was, indeed, the 
result of the divorce of sacrifice from ordinary everyday life, 
and the increasing priestly organisation which alike resulted 
from the centralisation of worship effected by the Josianic 
Reformation. Gradually other customs connected with these 
offerings passed into fixed regulations, some of which may be 
found in the Mishnah tractate Menahoth. 

* W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites,* 204 f., a 222. 


The law itself (v. 2 ) rightly recognises that offerings of 
meal, oil, and wine were not coeval among the Hebrews 
with offerings of animals. Animals, the natural offerings of 
nomads, were the more ancient form of offering ; meal, oil, 
and wine were later : they are at most occasionally offered 
by nomads ; * on the other hand, they are peculiarly the 
offerings of an agricultural community such as were the 
Hebrews in Canaan, the chief products of which country 
were corn, oil, and wine {e.g. Dt. 7 13 12 17 , Hos. 2 10 - 2i ^ 8 - 22) , 

Jer. 3 1 12 ). 

2. When ye be come into the land\ this and the next law 
(v. isb ) are only to come into force after the settlement in 
Canaan — a land of corn and wine and oil. Similar introduc- 
tions to laws, especially such as refer to agricultural condi- 
tions, are found frequently elsewhere, 34 2 , Lev. 14 34 19 23 23 10 
25 2 (the last three H), Dt. 12 1 18 9 19 1 . — 3. A fire-offering\ 
the term HU'K occurs in three Deuteronomic passages (Dt. 
18 1 , Jos. 13 14 , 1 S. 2 28 ), otherwise only in P, who uses it 62 
times. The original meaning is uncertain. It has commonly 
been connected with K'N = " fire" t ; others, deriving it from 

<v/tWX = iuJ^ consider it to have been originally a perfectly 
general term to denote any offering regarded as a means of 
establishing friendly relations with the deity. J Whatever the 
etymology, in the usage of the period to which the OT. refer- 
ences belong, nt^S was probably connected with 'C'N ; for where 
the context speaks clearly, the term always seems to be used 
of offerings consumed on the altar : so even in Lev. 24 7 - 9 ; on 
v. 10 see note there. For such a term P had need; for sacred 
offering, in the most general sense, he had another term at 
command in i^np. But though the term here used only in- 
cludes offerings consumed in the sacrificial fire, it still needed 
qualification ; hence in v. 3b the obligation to offer meal, oil, 
and wine with the animal-offering is limited to burnt-offerings 

* Cp. W. R. Smith, op. cit. 205 (222) ; Wellhausen, Die Reste arabischen 
Heidentums, 1 ill. 

t Stade, Heb. Gram. 189^, 301a ; Di. on Lev. i 9 ; BDB. s.v. ncx (by 

t So, after Wetzstein, Lagarde, NB. 68, 190 ; cp. Konig-, ii. p. 1 1 7 f . 

xv. 2) 3 173 

and peace-offerings ; and, further, to the cases, by far the 
most frequent, in which the animal offered was of the bovine, 
sheep, or goat kind. — A sacrifice] rQT is here used, as in Lev. 
I7 5 - 7f - 19 6 23 s7 (H), Jos. 22 26 - 29 (P), for the sacrifices of which 
the offerer partook, as distinguished from the sacrifices (includ- 
ing the burnt-offering) which were wholly consumed in the 
fire or made over to the deity. Far more commonly in P a 
more distinctive term is used for the former, viz. CDPC n3T = 
"peace-offering" {e.g. Lev. 3 1 ). In early times "burnt-offering 
and sacrifice" (mn n^iy), or "burnt-offerings and peace-offer- 
ings " (p?u?VA riTiy) was an exhaustive classification of animal 
sacrifices (Ex. 20 24 32 s (JE), Jud. 20 26 , 1 S. io 8 u 15 , 2 S. 6 17 
24 25 ) ; later, special forms of the burnt-offering became dis- 
tinguished as the sin-offering (riNOn) and the guilt-offering 
(Dt^N) : these seem to be deliberately excluded here : cp. the 
prohibition of the use of oil in a meal-offering substituted for 
an animal offered as a sin-offering, Lev. 5 11 . — To accomplish a 
•vow, or as a free-will offering, or at your appointed seasons] these 
clauses illustrate the term sacrifice by referring to various 
circumstances under which peace-offerings were wont to be 
offered. Different clauses serve the same purpose in v. 8 . It 
is scarcely intended to limit the scope of " sacrifice " by ex- 
cluding, for instance, the "thank-offering" (Lev. 7 12 22 29 ). 
Cp. Lev. 22 zl (especially in ffi). — To accomplish a vow] 6 2 phil. 
n. On the vow and the free-will offering, see Lev. 7 16f -. On 
the appointed seasons, see c. 28 f. — An odour of rest] or "satis- 
faction " (nrr 5 : m), Ex. 29 18 , Lev. i 9 and 35 times besides in P 
(CH. 158) ; see also Gn. 8 21 (J). The phrase is clearly enough 
ancient. It originated in the antique notion that the gods 
derived sensuous delight from the fumes of the burning sacri- 
ficial flesh: cp. "the gods smelt the savour, the gods smelt 
the goodly savour, the gods gathered like flies over the sacri- 
fice" (Babylonian Deluge story). Even in P the phrase refers 
to the smell produced by the burning, especially of the fat, of 
the sacrifices. — Of the herd or of the flock] the two terms are 
generic and comprehensive : the first (ip3) covers all animals, 
of whatever age or sex, belonging to the bovine kind ; the 
second (\H'i), all small cattle, i.e. sheep or goats (see, e.g., Lev. 


i 10 ). As among the Carthaginians {CIS. ii. 165, 167) an animal 
of one of these kinds was regularly chosen for sacrifice ; occa- 
sionally, however, a bird was chosen for a burnt-offering, 
though never for a peace-offering (Lev. 5 7 12 8 ). — Fine meal] 
5 15 n. — A tenth] of an ephah ; so rightly & ; note the equiva- 
lence ftWS Ex. 29 40 = ns , Nn tfnwg Nu. 2S 5 . The term here 
used (fncy) is confined to P (including H), who uses it 24 
times (CH. 160). The amount is a little less than 7 pints : 
cp. 5 15 n. — A quarter of a hin\ adopting the calculation that a 
hin = 6*o6 litres (BDB. s.v. ?n), this is about 2% pints. — 
Mingled with oil] "Among the Hebrew offerings drawn from 
the vegetable kingdom, meal, wine, and oil take the chief 
place, and these were also the chief vegetable constituents of 
man's daily food. In the lands of the olive, oil takes the place 
that butter and other animal fats hold among northern nations, 
and accordingly among the Hebrews, and seemingly also 
among the Phoenicians, it was customary to mingle oil with 
the cereal oblation before it was placed upon the altar, in 
conformity with the usage at ordinary meals."* — 5. And wine 
for the libation] the term *ID3, as it happens, is used in only one 
early passage (Gn. 35 14 ) of a libation offered to Yahweh ; but 
other allusions (Hos. o, 4 , 1 S. I 24 io 3 ) prove that it was a 
customary form of offering in the early worship of Yahweh as 
in other cults (Jer. 7 18 , Ps. 16 4 ), though hardly as prominent a 
feature as among the Arabs, with whom the word cXu+i be- 
came a general term for to sacrifice. In early times (inde- 
pendent) libations occasionally consisted of water (1 S. 7 6 , 2 S. 
23 16 ). In P's demand that the libation shall consist of wine 
we may, perhaps, trace the same tendency as in the demand 
for fine meal exclusively in meal-offerings (5 15 n.). It is 
possible that wine in libations arose in part as a surrogate 
for blood (cp. Ps. 16 4 S0 13 ).t — 7. And wine for the libation 
. . . shall thou present as an odour of satisfaction to Yahweh] 
the phrase nn^ m (v. 3 n.) is generally used of animal sacri- 

* W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, 202 f. ; see also EBi. and 
Hastings' DB. s.v. "Oil." 

t Cp. W. R. Smith, op. cit. 213!'., and more fully in ed. 2, 229-231 ; 
Nowack, Arch. ii. 208. 

XV. 4-i 3 175 

fices, or at least of sacrifices that were burnt. Some,* there- 
fore, have inferred that the wine in the ancient ritual was, as 
among" the Greeks and Romans, poured over the animal 
sacrifice, and hence could be spoken of as a "fire-offering-" 
(v. 10 n.). But the inference is hazardous in view of 28 7 . 
Certainly somewhat later (2nd cent. B.C.) the wine was poured 
out at the foot of the altar (Ecclus. 50 15 ; cp. Jos. Ant. iii. 9 4 ), 
and yet Ben - Sira still speaks of the libation as dafirji' 
evwhias ( = nrVJ rtn here in (Sr). — 8. A sacrifice (which is) to 
accomplish a vow, or (to be offered as any other form of) peace- 
offerings] cp. v. 3 n. — 10. A fire-offering] v. 3 n. ; but the word 
is perhaps intrusive here ; ct. v. 7 . If original, it is best taken 
as loosely referring to the whole accompanying offerings 
(v. 9b io a ) ; grammatically, it can scarcely, neglecting v. 10a , refer 
back to v. 9b only (so Rashi), though Rashi is probably correct 
in arguing that the libation is not a " fire-offering" (see 
v. 8 n.); strictly speaking only the meal and oil could be 
covered by this term (Lev. 2 1-3 ). — 12. According to the number, 
viz. of the animals that ye offer, so, i.e. according to the scale 
laid down, shall ye offer for or with each the proportionate 
amount of meal, oil, and wine. — 13-16. The regulations just 
given are to bind the stranger or sojourner (ger) and the native 
Jew alike. There is no satisfactory equivalent in English for 
the Hebrew ger; and even in Hebrew the word underwent 
serious modifications of meaning. The word goes back to 
nomadic life ; and, like the corresponding jar in Arabic, 
denoted "a man of another tribe or district who, coming to 
sojourn in a place where he was not strengthened by the 
presence of his own kin, put himself under the protection of a 
clan or of a powerful chief" (W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 75 f. ). 
The two leading characteristics of the ger of P are that he 
was not of Hebrew descent, but that he was a permanent 
member of the Hebrew community. The present is one of 
the many passages in the later laws that assert the identity 
in respect of civil, moral, and religious rights and duties of the 
J*ws and of the gerim; cp. v. 26 - 30 i 9 ^ n 35 15 , Ex. i2 19 - 48f -, 
Lev. i6 29 " 31 17 s - 10 " 12 - 13 - 15f - 18 26 2o 2ff - 22 18 - 20 24 16 . In the earlier 
• E.g. Knobel (cited by Di.). 


laws, on the other hand, differences in this respect are still 
recognised ; e.g. see Dt. 14 21 (ct. Lev. i7 16f ). For a full 
discussion of the position of the ger according to the Priestly 
legislation, see Bertholet, Die Stellung der israeliten zu den 
Fremden, pp. 152-176 ; cp. Driver, Deut. p. 165. — 14-16. "The 
awkward form of v. 14-16 suggests the hand of a late editor or 
scribe" (Moore). — 14. And if a sojourner sojourn (yagur . . . 
ger) with you, or if any one (without enjoying the fixed status 
and recognised protection and rights of the ger) be in your 
midst throughout your generations, i.e. at any future time 
(b distributive), and offer, etc. Such is Bertholet's (p. 170) 
explanation of the alternative terms ; in view of the general 
use of ger it seems preferable to that commonly adopted,* If 
any sojourner sojourn with you temporarily, or whoever abides 
in your midst as a permanent resident. — 15. All members of the 
assembly, both yourselves, viz. the Israelites, and the sojourner 
that sojourneth with you, shall have one and the same statute, 
that is to be irrevocable and binding on all future generations. 
Both you and the ger shall be alike before Yahweh. 

2. DmaciD pN] here only ; but DniJD pn occurs frequently in P : Driver, 
L.O.T. p. 133. So also does masyiD in other combinations (CH. 55 P ). — 3. 
nai:n] S rati, which is probably intended to be a second direct ace. to n"?b : 
yet cp. Kon. iii. 332^. — ncx] ffi renders by 6\oKavrwp.a, tcdpirufia, or (cdp7ra)<7tj : 
the first always possessed, the last two (which, like 6\oKavTw/j.a, elsewhere 
often render nVij?) had acquired, the sense of something- burnt in sacrifice : 
see Deissmann, Bibelstudien, i34f. , and E. L. Hicks in fourn. of Hellenic 
Studies, ix. 323-337, on a sacrificial inscription from Kos, where (1. 33-5) 
Kapwuna is so used. — i. mpm] The changes of person throughout this section 
"may perhaps indicate imperfect assimilation of material" (CH.) ; the 
Versions frequently differ from |^, the tendency in (Br, and to a less extent 
in S&, being to use the 2nd pers. pi. (see v. 6- 6- 7 * 8- u ; so in a clause peculiar 
to ffi in v. 6 ; but in an additional clause in v. 6 (5r uses the 2nd sing.). — Ma] 
here agrees with \\"WJt (not n^D) ; cp. Ex. 29 40 ; or the cstr. is loose (cp. v. 9 ) ; 
in v. 6 nMa (but S Ma) agrees with n^D. On ^a in Phoenician (CIS. 165 14 ) 
see W. R. Smith, Rel. Sent. 203, 2 220. — 5. iwpn] so, e.g., Ex. 29 s8 , Lev. g 7 : 
cp. Driver in Hastings' DB. s.v. " Offering." (Hi adds at end of v. iroirjcreLS 
Toaovro KapTToifia dcrfirju e&wdlas rcj) Kvply : cp. v. 7,10 |$. — 6. 7'K?] ffi + Sraj' 
Troifjre avrbv ij els oXoKauToopLa rj e/s Overlay : cp. v. 8 |^. — 15. hnpn] 5 "S om.; 
cp. Geiger, Urschrift, p. 358. Bertholet (op. cit. p. 170, n. 2) thinks the 
word a gloss ; so also Paterson and Haupt in SBOT. For the casus 
pendens cstr., see Driver, Tenses, 196 f. 

* Di., Str., Addis, Kautzsch. 

XV. i 4 — 16 177 

17-21. The first of 'arisoth to be offered to Yahweh.— 
This is a special case of the law of " firsts "or " firstlings " ; 
see on c. 18. Beyond what has been said above as to the 
connection of the law with P, little can be added as to the 
date of its literary source and origin: v. 18b contains a 
phraseological link with H. The opening of the law (DDK33 ; 
ct. v. 2 ) and a clause in v. 19 {y\Hn Dnta D^xn) are phraseo- 
logically unique. The custom of regarding "the first of 
'arisoth " sacred goes back as far as Ezekiel, and almost 
certainly farther, for it has no appearance of being a novelty 
introduced by the prophet. The law itself, like the last, re- 
cognises that the practice dates from after the settlement in 
Canaan. The offering is but twice referred to elsewhere: the 
terms of reference may be compared — 

Nu. i5 20f - DDTiDiy nni>tOD . . . nonn lonn rbn oanD-iy n^si 
Ezek. 44 30 "jrva bx nana mrh jnsb unn oaviDnj; nwn. 

Neh. io 38 D^HD^J 6P3J . . . DnTlD'ny rVB>&n DK1. 

The precise meaning of * arisoth is obscure. The reference 
in Ezek. 44 30 and the use of the term " cake " in v. 20 favour the 
view that it is some form of cereal food prepared in the house. 
jVL"N"i need not be taken in the sense of "first-fruits" (see 
below, p. 227), but may rather mean the first part prepared : 
then we have to do not with an annual offering of raw pro- 
duce, but with an offering that might occur often. So ffi 
((pvpajia), We. {Proleg.^ 156, Eng. tr. 158), and Haupt (in 
SBOT.), who suggests that ""i]/ '"i was "originally equivalent 
to C:D Dr6, Assyr. akal pdni, i.e. ' advance bread,' the first 
bread baked of some dough." Kennedy * [EBi. 1539) 
would identify 'arisoth with the Talmudic 'arsdn, "a porridge 
or paste made from the meal of barley or wheat." According 
to the Talmud (as cited by Levy, NHWorterbuch, iii. 702) 
'arsdn was a barley food good for invalids and babies ; in 
Syriac, too, ''arsana is "hulled barley." In the Mishnah the 
present law is taken to cover preparations of wheat, barley, 
spelt, and two other kinds of grain (jlB'B'l ^jnty rhlV) ; and 
the amount to be given is fixed at -£% for private individuals, 

* After Lagarde in Gottingsehe Gelehrte Nachrichten, 1889, p. 301. 


i's for public bakers {Hallah i. 1, ii. 7). Cp. Rom. n 16 

17 f. Cp. v. lf - — 18. The land whither I am about to bring 
vou] Lev. 18 3 20 22 (H). — 19. Ye shall contribute from the 
whole quantity a contribution, cp. 5 9 n. : the noun and vb. 
in Heb. are cognate (nronn Win). The vb. denotes the 
"lifting' off" or removal of a portion, which is to become 
sacred by being' offered to Yahweh, from the whole mass 
which is retained and, after the contribution has been offered, 
is available for common use; so in 31 28 it refers to the selec- 
tion from the whole multitude of captives of one in every 
500 for Yahweh ; in Lev. 4 s - 10 - 19 to the removal from the 
whole animal of the fat parts to be burned on the altar. The 
verb never refers to any rite of elevation such as is suggested 
by the RV. rendering of the noun by "heave-offering"; of 
the renderings of the vb. in RV. that in Lev. 4 ("take off") is 
best. See, further, Driver's art. " Offering" in Hastings' DB. 
— 20. A cake] n?n : the term, if rightly derived from ppn = 
"to perforate," describes the bread as " perforated," whether 
by the rough stones on which it was baked, or intentionally 
that it might better receive the oil poured over it. In OT. it is 
mentioned only in sacrificial connections {e.g. Ex. 29 s , Lev. 2 4 ), 
and but once outside P (2 S. 6 19 ). In the present passage 
Moore considers it a gloss on account of its syntactical isola- 
tion and its absence from v. 21 and Ezek. — The contribution of 
the threshing-floor] cp. 18 27 n., Ex. 22 29 ((S). The exact phrase 
here used does not occur again. 

22-31. Propitiation for sins of ignorance. — (a) On the 
part of the congregation as a whole, v. 22 " 26 ; (b) of an indi- 
vidual, v. 27f -. In the case of (a), the offering with which 
propitiation is to be made is a young bullock for a burnt- 
offering with the requisite accompaniments, and a he-goat 
for sin-offering (v. 24 ) ; of (b), a yearling she-goat for a sin- 
offering (v. 27 ). The law applies equally to ger and native 
Israelite, v. 29f -. 

In Lev. c. 4f. we have other laws, not all of the same age 
and purpose, relative to sins of ignorance. Not only are the 
laws in Leviticus much more elaborate, but they differ materi- 

xv. i7-2i 179 

ally from the present. Here two cases are distinguished — 
sins by the congregation, and sins by an individual : there 
four — sins by the high priest, sins by the congregation, sins 
by a prince or chief (N"C'J), and sins by an ordinary individual. 
It is true the first two cases in Leviticus may be regarded as 
virtually identical, since the high priest is the representative of 
the whole congregation before God, and the offering required 
in either case is the same. But the two sets of laws differ 
materially in the nature of the requisite offerings. Here in 
the case of sin by the congregation a young bullock must be 
offered as a burnt-offering, and a he-goat as a sin-offering (v. 24 ) ; 
in Leviticus no burnt-offering is demanded, but one young 
bullock is required for the sin-offering (Lev. 4 14 : cp. v. 3 for 
the case of the high priest). Here in the case of any indi- 
vidual without distinction of rank, what is required is a 
yearling she-goat as a sin-offering; in Leviticus in the case 
of a prince, a male-goat (4 23f ), of an ordinary individual, a 
she-goat (4 28f- ) or a female lamb (4 s2 ) as a sin-offering. In 
Lev. 5 6, n - 16, 17 goats, lambs, turtle-doves, young pigeons, 
fine meal, or rams are prescribed under certain circumstances. 
In the case of two birds being offered, one is offered as a 
sin-offering, one as a burnt-offering (Lev. 5 7-10 ). 

According to many older and some modern scholars, Lev. 
4 f. refers to sins of commission, whereas the present section 
refers to sins of omission. But this distinction is unreal, in 
spite of the divergent phraseology of Lev. 4 2 - 13 - 22 - 27 5 17 and 
Nu. 15 22 , which at first sight may seem to justify it; for the 
phraseology of v. 24 and 29 and the antithesis in v. 30 show that 
the writer has in mind positive acts that violate the law, and 
not merely the omission to do what the law enjoins. Further, 
the error referred to in Lev. 5 2 is one of omission, viz. "of 
the requisite purifications " (cp. Driver and White on the 
passage; cp. also v. 1 ). 

The differences are, therefore, to be explained as due to 
the fact that the laws date from different periods or circles ; 
and that the practice or theory of the one period was not 
that of the other. For similar differences, see notes on 4* 
and at the end of c. 18. 


The actual and relative antiquity of the present section and Lev. $f. 
cannot be decisively determined. In its present form Nu. 15 2 -- 31 pre- 
supposes I5 1 " 16 , for v. 24b can hardly but be a reference to v. 8 " 10 ; but v. 24b 
may well be a note of the compiler who combined the laws. The peculiar 
language of v. 31 can be and has been differently explained. It is generally 
agreed that Lev. 4 f. is not homogeneous : that at least 5 1 " 6 is of different 
origin from c. 4 : see, e.g., CH., Moore in EBi. 2778 f., Driver and White, 
"Leviticus" (SBOT.), 58 f., 67. Of the three sections (1) Lev. c. 4 ; (2) Lev. 
(.1-6(13). (,j) Nu. 15 2 -" 31 , the first only contains unambiguous signs of P s 
in its references to the two altars (Introd. § 11). On this ground, as 
also on the ground of its greater elaboration, especially in the greater 
graduation of ranks in the offenders (see above), it may be regarded as 
later than the substance of the other two in spite of the fact that the 
total offerings demanded by it from the unwittingly offending community 
are smaller than in Nu. 15 22 " 31 (the sin-offering alone in Lev. 4 14 is more 
important than in Nu. 15 24 ). So Di., CH., Moore against Kue. {Hex. 83, 
299), who regarded Lev. c. 4 as the fundamental law, Lev. 5 1 " 13 an 
appendix to it, and Nu. 15 22 - 31 an expansion and explanation of Lev. 
^13-21. 2?-3i_ a s between the substance of Lev. 5 1 " 6 ( 13 > and Nu. 15 2 '-- 31 it is 
more difficult to decide ; CH. and Moore give the priority to Lev. s 1 " 6 ! 13 ). 

22. The section, though unconnected with the last, lacks 
an introductory formula like those of v. 1 - 2a - l7 - 1Sa , and appears 
to be torn from a very different context : for the clause, and 
when ye err and do not do all these commandments {i.e. leave 
any one of them unfilled), suggests that this section originally 
formed the close of an entire series of laws. The two hetero- 
geneous and unrelated laws that now precede it do not do 
justice to the expression "all these commandments." — 23. 
The present law is to hold good with regard to all existing 
laws of the class contemplated (perhaps, especially, ceremonial) 
and all laws that may be made in the future. — By the hand 
of Moses] cp. 4 37 n. — 24. A young bullock for a burnt-offering] 
in Lev. 4 s - u , which requires no burnt-offering, the bullock is 
offered as a sin-offering, and therefore unaccompanied by the 
meal-offering and libations which are here enjoined according 
to the law (cp. 29 18 - 21 ; also Lev. 5 10 9 16 ) laid down in v. 1-16 , 
and specifically in v. 8-10 ; cp. p. 170 above. The sin-offering 
is here mentioned after the burnt-offering, as in Lev. 12 8 . 
For some conclusions very precariously based on this 
unusual order of mentioning the two offerings, see Di.'s 
discussion. For the combination of the burnt-offering and 
sin-offering in a process of propitiation, see 6 U - 16 , Lev. 5 7-10 

xv. 22—30 1 8 1 

g3ff. I2 8 j-15. 30. C p L ev , 16. Each offering by itself also 
possessed propitiating- efficacy ; see, e.g., Lev. i 4 4 20 , and see 
17 11 n. — 25a. Cp. Lev. 4 20b . — Their oblation] the general term 
here refers specifically to the burnt-offering, v. 24a . — Before 
Yahweh] i.e. to the altar ; cp. the alternative expression 
"before the tent of meeting" in Lev. 4 14 and the combination 
of the two phrases in Lev. 4* : see also 5 16 n. — 26. The v. 
adds nothing to what has been said in v. 25 , and may consist 
of glosses, clause a explaining "that all the congregation" 
(v. 25 ) includes the gerim (v. 14 n.). The last clause is a violent 
ellipsis : for to all the people belongs what was committed in 
error. — 27-29. Any individual, whether Israelite or ger (v. 29 ), 
who has sinned inadvertently, must present a female goat a 
year old as a sin-offering. On the divergence from the law of 
Lev. 4f., see above. — 29. Cp. v. 15 n. — 30 f. On the other 
hand, any one wilfully and defiantly violating the law is to be 
cut off from the midst of his kinsfolk ; read ^ay with S for 
rlQy = his people of H; cp. Ex. 31 14 , and see 9 13 n. — With a 
high hand] The same phrase is differently used in 33 s , Ex. 14 8 
(P). — He reviles Yahweh] and therefore from the very nature 
of the case cannot appease Yahweh. The point is amplified 
in v. 31 . 

Style of v. 30f \ — There are several peculiarities in the phraseology of 
these verses. *p:i=to revile, does not occur again in the Hexateuch, 
and ma only in a passage from E (Gn. 25 s4 ) ; na njiy recalls 12 vdi, which 
only occurs in H (six times in Lev. 20) and twice in Ezek. (CH. i95 P ) : isn 
mxo only occurs again in Ezr. 9 14 , cp. and ct. nnn TBii Gn. 17 14 ; m.v nm 
and rmn rran are strange in P. On the significance of these peculiarities, 
see above, p. i68f. 

22. ucn] only here and in Lev. 4 1S is ^n:af= il to err" recognised in the 
legal literature (Dt. 27 18 is of course entirely different), and in both cases the 
recognition may be merely Massoretic. We should point U'Cn from Jjc, 
which is unmistakably used in v. 28 , Lev. 5 18 , and from which comes the 
standing term msv. — 24. rnjjn 'rjra] " Away from the eyes of," i.e. without 
the knowledge of: cp. but also ct. Lev. 4 13 hnpn <ryD dSjmi. — nncy:] fern, in 
reference to a subj. not definitely expressed, but suggested by the con- 
text ; G.-K. 1446. — rHJBr?] in v. 2li and elsewhere (as here also in some Heb. 
MSS.) fUJBO : for the use of the ), see BDB. 5166 (top) njjtja is charac- 
teristic of P (CH. 168) ; cp. especially the use in 35 1K 15 corresponding to 
njn '^33 Dt. 19 4 . — nm] ffi + o'on. — nan)] cp. vtxo for vinsd: u"n. — 27. 
nn3B-n3] 6 14 n.— 28. nNcna] MT. intends the n to be suffixal, referring to e-SJ 


and the whole to be equal to " when it sins " ; the mappik is omitted and a 
marked raphe before the following aspirate, as in ns ruip in v. 31 . BDB. 
(3066) apparently take nKBfi as an infinitival form without the suffix, and 
Kon. (ii. p. 169) treats it as a noun, ntttsna then being parallel to and 
synonymous with nj;B'a. — nw nriN min] 5 s n. 

32-36. The Sabbath-breaker. — While in the wilderness, 
some Israelites find a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath 
day. He is placed under restraint until his fate is determined ; 
and then, in accordance with Yahweh's instructions, stoned 
without the camp. 

This Midrash was probably inserted here in illustration of 
"sin with a high hand" (v. 30 ). 

The passage clearly resembles in its isolated character and 
general style the incident of the man who "blasphemed the 
name " (Lev. 24 10 ~ 23 ). Either they are the work of the same 
hand or the one is an imitation of the other. The latter alter- 
native is preferable, in view of the presence of differences as 
well as of similarities. 

With Nu. i5 34a cp. Lev. 24 12a (but ct. WN, in-) ; cp. also the general tenor 
of Nu. i5 34b and Lev. 24 12b , and the use in each passage of v\s (="lo 
explain ") — a vb. common in the Mishnah, but in OT. confined to these 
passages and Neh. 8 8 and Ezek. 34 12 . Note also the similarity of the 
punishment — stoning without the camp. On the other hand, the blas- 
phemer is brought to Moses only, the Sabbath-breaker to Moses and 
Aaron and all the congregation ; ct., further, the cstr. of v. 34b and Lev. 
24 1Jb , and the formula of v. 36b and Lev. 24 23b ; and note the omission from 
the present incident of the hand-laying of the witnesses, Lev. 24 1J . 

Both passages are more Midrashic in character than the 
laws or narratives of P in general, and on this ground may be 
regarded as comparatively late — later, that is, than P B or the 
earlier laws incorporated therewith. 

32. And the children of Israel were in the wilderness] the 
remark of a writer who, looking back to the nomadic period 
of Israel's history as belonging to the past, lacks the systematic 
and artificial precision of P g . — Pieces of wood] or "sticks," 
such as might be used to make a fire: cp. 1 K. 17 12 , and for 
the vb. VWp (Poel) also Ex. 5 7 - 12 (JE). For the force of the 
pi. in CVy, see G.-K. 124m. — For it had ?wt been clearly 
explained what ought to be done to him] previously recorded 
law (Ex. 3i uf - 35 2 ) made Sabbath-breaking a capital offence. 

XV. 32-36 183 

What still needed to be explained was how the sentence was 
to be carried out (Rashi). — 36. Cp. Lev. 24 23 . Execution by 
the whole community is an ancient practice ; it was intended, 
apparently, to involve the whole community in whatever 
responsibility might be incurred ; see W. R. Smith, Religion 
of the Semites, 2 285. 

35. Tiyn "?d . . . an] Dav. 89, R. 5 ; G.-K. 1136&. S ffi read (wrongly) 


37-41. Tassels attached by a blue thread to the four corners 
of their quadrangular upper garments are to be worn by the 
Hebrews, and to serve them as a reminder of Yahweh's com- 

After the formula (v. 37, 38a ) already used in v. 1,2a> i7 - 18a , the present law- 
opens peculiarly (see phil. n. below). "The peculiar opening: ' and they 
shall make,' followed by the change to the second person, 'and it shall be 
unto you,' v. 3D , points to the employment of some older material " (CH.). 
The law is either derived from H, or deliberately cast in the manner of 
H : note the characteristic motive — holiness to God (v. 40b ) ; also the twice 
repeated "I am Yahweh your God" in v. 41 , followed the first time by 
"who brought you out from the land of Egypt," as in Lev. 19 36 22 33 26 i;i 
(cp. 25 s8 ), "to go a whoring after" (cp. Lev. 17 7 19 29 20 s '-). Cp. Dr. 
L.O.T. p. 48 f. ; CH. 202, 203 p . The only feature at all pointing away 
from H is the use of mso rather than npn or d'bbcd. Of all the scattered 
laws outside Lev. c. 17-26 which have been claimed for H, this has best 
made good its claim ; cp. Baentsch, Heiligkeitsgesetz, 9 f. ; Moore in 
EBi. 2787 f. 

The custom regulated by this law is certainly older than 
Deuteronomy (22 12 ), and in all probability quite ancient. 

Earlier direct evidence of the wearing of tassels by the Hebrews than 
Dt. 22 12 does not exist ; but representations on the ruins at Fersepolis 
(Niebuhr, Reisen, ii., Table 22) and pictures of Asiatic tributaries on the 
Egyptian monuments (W. M. Miiller, Asien u. Europa, 297-299, with 
pictures reproduced from Lepsius, Denkrndler) prove the existence of a 
similar custom elsewhere. The custom may well have been adopted from 
the Canaanites by the Hebrews soon after their settlement in Canaan. 
The tassels in some of the representations referred to are coloured blue. 

But the motive here assigned is not ancient, probably, 
indeed, more recent than Dt., which gives no motive for this 
custom, though it gives a similar motive for another custom 
of like kind (Dt. 6 6 - s ). The motive is rather a religious after- 
thought, an attempt to make a deeply-rooted custom serve a 


fitting- religious purpose (cp. p. 47 f.). It is possible that the 
tassels once served a very different religious purpose ; that the 
wearing of them was a superstitious custom, just as the 
tephillin, which are worn in fulfilment of the law of Dt. 6 8 (cp. 
Driver, ad loc), may be merely substitutes for what was worn 
for superstitious purposes; cp. W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem 1 . 416 n. 
The practice of the law among the Jews, to which there are 
incidental references in NT. (Mt. 9' 20 i4 a(i , Mk. 6 56 , Lk. 8 4i , where 
the singular of Kpdaireha, (5's rendering of rfiPX here, is used), 
continues to the present day, though for long it has been cus- 
tomary to fulfil it by means of a special garment called tallith 
or 'arba' kanphoth (cp. Dt. 22 12 ), which, like the tephillin, must 
be worn by all males over thirteen years of age. The tallith con- 
sists of an oblong cloth with a tassel at each corner. The head is 
passed through a hole in the middle of the cloth, which hangs 
over the breast and back. See, further, on these points, as also 
on the precise regulations for the manufacture of the tassels 
laid down by the later Jews (cp. 2E Jon on the present passage), 
Kennedy's article " Fringes" in Hastings' DB. ; S. A. Cook's 
on the same subject in EBi. ; Driver on Dt. 22 12 ; and Schiirer, 
G/V. 3 n. 484 (Eng. tr. 11. ii. m f.). The last gives references 
to a large amount of literature devoted to the subject. An 
illustration of a modern 'arba' kanphoth or small tallith, clearly 
showing the nature of the tassel and its attachment, may be 
found in the Jewish Encyclopedia, ii. p. 76. — 38. The law as 
given here and in Dt. 22 12 is differently worded, and the com- 
mand to use a blue cord is peculiar to Nu. 

Dt. m nDDn 155>n iniDD riDJD V2ia by lb nwn d^ij. 

Nu. rtan ^ns epn nro by urm • • • Dmaa *Eaa by nvv nrh row. 

The terms used for garment are general, but apparently 
the ordinary outer garment of the Hebrews is intended. To 
each of the comers or ends of this, or, as Dt. more precisely 
says, to each of the four corners a tassel is to be attached. 
For epa = "corner" or "end" of a garment (not as RV. 
"border"), see 1 S. 15 27 24 s (where note the rendering of 
(&), Hag. 2 12 ; and cp. the use of the same word in speak- 
ing of the "four corners of the earth" (Is. ii 12 ). — Tassels] 
The word JVS% which in S (cp. ffi) is read as a pi. (nVJPtf), 

XV. 3 8, 39 I §5 

occurs elsewhere in OT. only in Ezek. 8 3 , where, like the 
corresponding Aramaic word (NITY^, ]Z_»tO»), it means a 
"lock of hair." Since in the parallel passage in Dt. the 
word used means "twisted cords," and the sisith actually 
used by the later Jews consisted of cords twisted and knotted, 
there is no doubt that what is actually intended here is a 
"tassel" rather than a continuous "fringe" (R.V.). — And 
place upon the tassel of the corner a thread of blue] wherewith 
to attach the tassel to the garment. Later, possibly on 
account of the expense of the blue dye, this provision was so 
far annulled that white threads were permitted {Menahoth 
iv. i ; cp. the Gemara thereon in Talm. B. 38(7). — 39. And it 
shall serve yon as a tassel] possibly there is a play here on two 
senses of the word rttPX (cp. i2 7f -) ; the tassel is to serve as an 
ornament to attract the gaze of the wearer. No longer is it 
to serve any superstitious purpose, but it is to be a reminder 
of Yahweh's commandments. — That you go not about after 
your heart and after your eyes] i.e. that you do not follow 
your own inclinations and desires in preference to the require- 
ments of the law. The writer is perhaps specially thinking of 
the superstitious purposes which the tassels had served. Cp. 
Dt. 29 18 , Job 3i 26f- , and note the connection in which the 
similar phrase " to follow the stubbornness of the heart " is fre- 
quently used by Jeremiah, 3 17 (after v. 16 ) g 13 ^ 14) 16 12 (after v. 11 ). 
With " to go about after the eyes," cp. " my heart followed my 
eyes," Job 31 7 . — The vb. Tin has a somewhat different sense 
from that with which it is used in c. i3f. ; see 13 2 n. With 
the present, cp. D^inn ''tWK =" persons who travel about," 
"merchants" (1 K. io 16 ). — After which ye go whoring] the 
relative in the present text must refer to the "heart" and 
"the eyes" of the last clause. But this makes the clause a 
very pointless addition to the preceding, and gives to the 
verbal phrase ( ,- inx H3T) an altogether exceptional use. The 
object of this phrase regularly refers to some illegitimate cult 
or superstition of those who practise it; cp. e.g. Lev. 17 7 20 5f - 
(H), Ex. 34 15f - (J), Ezek. 6 9 ; and see Driver's note on Dt. 31 16 . 
Possibly the present text is corrupt, and the original referred 
to such superstitions here ; see last n. 


38. wi] an unusual instance of the pf. with Waw Conv. unpreceded 
by a dominant impf. : Dr. Tenses, 119 ; ^j;;] would be more in accordance 
with analogy : cp. 17 2 and see 5 2 n. — 39. inK . . . rrni] the masc. indicates 
that the reference is not to the ns's (fern.) simply, but to the whole 
appendage— tassel and thread together. — DnnnS] H uses the form 22^ 
(e.g. Lev. 26 41 ) ; P, on the other hand, regularly, if not exclusively, jh ; 
see BDB. p. 523a. 

XVI. -XVIII. The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. 
The rank and rights of the Levites. 

Literature. — Kuenen, " Bijdragen tot de criliek van Pentateuch en 
Jozua, iv. De opstand van Korach, Dathan en Abiram, Num. xvi." (Th. 
Ti. xii. (1878), pp. 139-162). This article has dominated all subsequent 
discussions, and at once led We. (Comp. 339-341) to modify his earlier 
conclusions (Jahrb. fitr deutsche Theologie, xxi. 572-576= C<wz/!>. 105-109). 
Among others who follow Kue., see Driver, L.O.T. 63-65; Baudissin, 
Gesch. des ATliche Priesterthums, 34-36. Di. and Bacon (Triple 
Tradition, 190-195), who, while still dependent on Kue., in some important 
respects make a new departure, are followed by CH., but adversely 
criticised by Addis in EBi. 

Yahweh's choice of the tribe of Levi for superior holiness, 
for closer access to Himself, and for serving the priests (16 5 
j ^20 (5) 18 2 " 5 ), is shown (1) by the miraculous death inflicted 
on Korah and his followers, who claimed equal holiness for 
the whole people (c. 16); and (2) by the miracle of the blossom- 
ing stick (1716-26(1-11)^ These incidents are followed by a 
statement of the relation of Levi, on the one hand, to the 
priests and, on the other, to the rest of the people (i8 1-7 ); 
and then by a series of laws, regulating the dues payable (1) 
by the people (a) to the priests, (b) to the Levites ; and (2) 
by the Levites to the priests (18 8 " 32 ). 

Such is the relation of the main subjects of this section to 
one another. Combined with them are (1) an account of a 
revolt led by Dathan and Abiram against the civil authority 
of Moses (i6 12f - 28-30 ), and (2) some passages containing a claim 
on the part of the Levites to priestly rank and privileges (i6 8-10 
17 5 (16 40 )). It would in the abstract be conceivable that 
people, discontented with the leadership of Moses, led by 
Dathan and Abiram, united in a common revolt with others 
under Korah, who were aggrieved by the claims to a superior 

xvl-xviii. 1 87 

holiness on the part of the Levites, to whom Moses and Aaron 
belonged. But apart from the fact that the leaders are men- 
tioned together in i6 1,27a , the two parties always act separ- 
ately, and are finally cut off by entirely different acts of God 
(on i6 32b see n. below). Thus Dathan and Abiram are not 
present when Korah and his company interview Moses and 
Aaron (i6 3 ~ n ), for at the close of the interview they need to be 
summoned to Moses (16 12 ). And when, on their refusal to come, 
Moses seeks them out at their own tents and threatens them, 
he has nothing to say of Korah (i6 25-30 ). Meantime, however, 
Korah, acting quite apart, has assembled his company before 
the tabernacle to submit themselves to the ordeal of the 
censers (16 19 ). Finally, while Dathan and Abiram are 
swallowed up together with their tents in an earthquake, 
Korah's followers ("the two hundred and fifty men that 
offered incense," 16 35 ) perish by the destructive fire that 
issued from Yah wen's presence in the tabernacle (16 35 , cp. 
Lev. 10 2 ). 

It is not only in Nu. 16 that Dathan and Abiram stand 
apart from Korah; for while Dt. n° refers only to Dathan 
and Abiram, Nu. 27 s refers only to Korah. 

It has therefore long been recognised that the story of 
Dathan and Abiram and the story of Korah were originally 
quite distinct, and that they have been pieced together in the 
present narrative very mechanically, and with merely a few 
very unsuccessful attempts to harmonise them (i6 32b : see 
also on i6 24 - 27 ). 

The story of Dathan and Abiram is older than the allusion 
to it in Dt. 11 6 ; and, in view of the close similarity of the 
phraseology, it is probable that the form in which the author 
of Dt. 11 6 read the story contained the passage now repro- 
duced in Nu. i6 (l) - 32a - 33b - 34 . The allusion in Nu. 27 3 to 
Korah may be the reference of a writer back to an earlier 
part of his own narrative, or the reference of a later writer. 
In either case it is probable, though, in view of some later 
allusions to Korah only, not certain, that at the time the 
story of Korah had not yet been united with that of Dathan 
and Abiram. The allusions in Ps. 106 10 " 18 , Nu. 26 !,t - (a paren- 


thesis in a passage of P s ), and Ecclus. 45 18 show familiarity 
with the present combination of the stories. On 26 11 , see 
note there. Some later writers refer to Korah alone (Jude n ), 
some to Dathan and Abiram alone (4 Mace. 2 17 ). If the stories 
of Dathan and Abiram and of Korah were originally distinct, 
then since Korah alone is referred to in Nu. 27 s which comes 
from P, and Dathan and Abiram alone in Dt. u 6 , the story of 
Korah is priestly (P), and the story of Dathan and Abiram 
prophetic (JE). These conclusions are confirmed by the lin- 
guistic and other characteristics of the two stories. 

In 17 6 (i6 41 )-i8 32 , which hangs together and has been generally recog- 
nised as derived from P, it may suffice to notice a few characteristics only, 
such as the view of the "glory of Yahweh " and the theophanic cloud in 
17 7 (16 42 ) (see notes on 9 18 10 34 14 10 ), and the formula in 17- 6 1 11 ) ; in the 
vocabulary, note my (i 2 n.) several times, trwi (7 s n.) in i7 17 - 21 , nnjn ^nx in 
, 7 22. 23 l8 2 } ^p ( CH I?8 p) i„ I? ii i8 b j p-, p jjj l8 9_ on c. 18 see further 

below ; and, as connecting it with Pe, note the sing: "altar" in 18 3 ; see 
lntrod. § 11. 

In i6 1 -i7 5 (16 40 ) as between P and JE analysis gives the following 
result : — 

JE i6 lf - (partly), U - IB - 25 - 26b - 27b " 32a - »■ (except last clause), « 

P i6»- (partly), 3 " 1J - »-*■ 26a - 1>7a (mainly), » 17 1 - 16 (16*- 40 ). 
P is not homogeneous, but the analysis of it into its constituent elements 
does not rest mainly on linguistic differences, though certain peculiarities 
are noticeable in 16 s " 11, lsf - 17 1 " 8 : see phil. notes below. 

In the part just assigned to JE note the following characteristics : — 
"the elders" (I6 23 ), cp. n 16 n. ; "flowing with milk and hone)'" (i6 13f -), 
cp. 13 27 n. ; 01 (16 13 ; CH. 126), h .Tin (16 15 ; CH. 233), DWi, and anh tvit Sd 
(i626. 3u. 33. qjj 2 ^ I) I2 4), rp (16 27 ; CH. 52), with a number of minor 
points noticed in the margins of CH. and in some cases in the commentary 
below. In the parts assigned to P, note "the glory of Yahweh " (16 19 ), 
and my constantly, -pm (16 3 ; CH. 22), W? . . . nan (i6 B - a - 2Sa 17 1 ; CH. 
185), ^TM (i&> ; CH. S3). 

Though neither of the main themes combined in c. 16 is 
preserved quite intact, and the third (see below, p. 192 f.) was 
never more than a parasitic growth on the combination of 
the two original stories, each of the first two can be so 
nearly recovered that it will be well to reproduce them, and 
consider their leading motives and purpose separately before 
proceeding to the detailed commentary, though the pre- 
liminary discussion and the commentary are mutually supple- 
mentary throughout. 

xvi.-xviii. 189 

1 The revolt against the civil authority of Moses under the 
leadership of Da than and Abiram and ? On. 

Nearly the whole of the story as it was told in JE seems 
to be preserved here. The precise original form of the open- 
ing- sentences (v. 1 - 2 ) cannot be recovered; and something be- 
tween the opening and wnat now follows in v. 12 may have 
been lost. 

1 And Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, 
sons of Reuben ... - And rose up before Moses . . . men of fame. 

13 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab : and 
they said, We will not come up : 13 is it a small thing that thou hast 
brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the 
wilderness, but thou must needs make thyself also a prince over us? 

14 Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land flowing with milk and 
honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards : wilt thou bore 
out the eyes of these men ? We will not come up. 15 And Moses was very 
wroth, and said unto Yahweh, Turn not Thou to their offering : I have not 
taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them. M And Moses 
rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram : and the elders of Israel 
followed him. i6 And he said, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of 
these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be swept away 
in all their sins. 27 And Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood at the 
door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little ones. 
28 And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that Yahweh hath sent me to 
do all these works ; that I have not done them of mine own mind. M If 
these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the 
visitation of all men ; then Yahweh hath not sent me. 30 But if Yahweh 
make a new thing, and the ground open her mouth, and swallow them 
up, with all that is theirs, and they go down alive into Sheol ; then ye 
shall understand that these men have despised Yahweh. 31 And it came 
to pass, as he made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground 
clave asunder that was under them: S2 and the earth opened her mouth, 
and swallowed them up, and their households. 33 So they, and all that 
was theirs, went down alive into Sheol : and the earth closed upon them, 
and they perished from among the assembly. M And all Israel that were 
round about them fled at the cry of them : for they said, Lest the earth 
swallow us up also. 

The general drift and purpose of the story is clear. 
Dathan and Abiram are Reubenites, and as such members 
of the tribe which once possessed, but had lost, the primacy 
(cp. Gn. 49 3f ) In some way, not particularly defined in what 
remains of the story, they had disputed the supremacy of 
Moses (v. lf -). They defy Moses' summons to attend before 
him; upbraid him with the old taunt that he had not fulfilled 


his promise to bring them into a fruitful land, but instead 
had brought them out to die in the wilderness ; and charge 
him with playing the prince over the people on the strength 
of the promises he cannot fulfil. There is nothing to indicate 
that the rebellion extends beyond the Reubenites, if indeed 
beyond the immediate circle of Dathan and Abiram. The 
taunting message, if intended to gain further support for the 
rebels, fails of its purpose, for Moses is accompanied by the 
"elders of Israel," the representatives of the whole people, 
when he goes to the quarter of Dathan and Abiram to threaten 
them to their face. The divine judgment, like the judg- 
ment on Achan (Jos. y ut JE), involves the households and 
belongings of the offenders ; but the only households affected 
are those of Dathan and Abiram : "all Israel " escapes. 

Certain features in the story, such as the redundance in 
v 32-34 anc j t h e presence of distinctive marks of both J and E, 
make it probable that it is in itself composite ; but the analysis 
of these two sources can only be carried into detail in the most 
tentative way. Whether J and E differed materially from one 
another depends on the view taken of On in v. 1 and "the 
offering" in v. 16 . 

Di., Bacon, and CH. detect a story, assigned to J, distinguished from 
the story of Dathan and Abiram (assigned to E largely on the ground that 
it is quoted in Dt.), partly by its making one of the leaders of the revolt 
On the son of Peleth, but mainly by its representing the cause of the 
revolt to have been, in part at least, religious, and to have lain in a claim 
on the part of the malcontents to exercise sacrificial functions. This is 
detected in Moses' words, "respect not Thou their offering" (v. 15 ). 
Starting from these points Bacon reconstructs J's story at length, com- 
bining with On, Korah the son of Kenaz. He argues that this story is the 
basis of P's, who obtains from it the name Korah and the religious cause 
of the revolt. Moreover, it was this resemblance of J's story to P's that 
led the editor to combine the story of JE with that of P, which, so it is 
argued, he would hardly have done if that story had consisted merely of 
a civil revolt of Dathan and Abiram. In all important respects Bacon is 
followed by CH. who analyse thus — 

J. V. 1 (" and On the son of Peleth took "), 1S - 14 (to " honey "), 1B " 26b - " 
(from "and their wives "), »■«• 33 (to " into Sheol "). 

E. V. 1 '- (" and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, son of Reuben, 
rose up before Moses"), 12 - 14b - ■■ 27b (andDathan . . . tents), S2ft - 33b - M . 

On the other hand, "On the son of Peleth " may be merely the creation 
of textual corruption; and Moses' reference to the "offering" can be, 

xvi.-xviii. 191 

though perhaps not altogether satisfactorily, explained without the im- 
plication given to it by Di. and Bacon. In that case no reason remains 
for supposing that the story of the revolt was told in any substantially 
different form in the two sources. 

2. The revolt of representatives of the whole people under 
Korah against the Levites {represented by Moses and Aaron) in 
vindication of their equal holiness (P s ). 

This narrative runs as follows : — 

2 Now Korah and some men of the children of Israel, two hundred 
and fifty, princes of the congregation, called to meetings (? men of 
repute) . . . : 3 and they assembled themselves together against Moses 
and against Aaron, and said unto them, Enough [ye sons of Levi,] for 
all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and Yahweh is among 
them: (? wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the assembly of 
Yahweh ?) 4 And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face : 6 and he 
spake unto Korah and unto all . . . saying, In the morning Yahweh 
will make known him that is His ; and him that is holy will He cause to 
come near unto Him : even him whom He shall choose will He cause to 
come near unto Him. 6 This do : take you censers ; 7 and put fire therein, 
and put incense upon them before Yahweh to-morrow : and it shall be 
that the man whom Yahweh doth choose, he shall be holy. 18 And 
they took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense 
thereon, and stood at the door of the tent of meeting with Moses and 
Aaron. 19 And Korah assembled all the congregation against them 
unto the door of the tent of meeting : and the glory of Yahweh 
appeared unto all the congregation. 

20 And Yahweh spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 2: Sepa- 
rate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume 
them in a moment. 22 And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, 
the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt Thou be 
wroth with all the congregation? M And Yahweh spake unto Moses, 
saying, 24 Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get ye up from about 
the tabernacle [of Yahweh]. - 6 And he spake unto the congregation, 
saying ... "So they gat them up from the tabernacle [of Yahweh] 
on every side. 85 And fire came forth from Yahweh, and devoured the 
two hundred and fifty men that offered the incense. 
17 c (16 41 ) But on the morrow all the congregation 01 the children of 
Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have 
killed the people of Yahweh. 7 ('-' And it came to pass, when the con- 
gregation was assembled against Moses and against Aaron, that they 
looked toward the tent of meeting : and, behold, the cloud covered it, 
and the glory of Yahweh appeared. 8 I 43 ' And Moses and Aaron came 
to the front of the tent of meeting. 9 ( 44 > And Yahweh spake unto 
Moses, saying, 10 ( 4D ) Get you up from among this congregation, that I 
may consume them in a moment. And they fell upon their faces. 
11 W Aria* Moses said unto Aaron, Take thy censer, and put fire therein 
hom off the altar, and lay incense thereon, and carry it quickly unto 


the congregation, and make propitiation for them : for the wrath has 
gone out from Yahweh ; the plague is begun. 12 < 47 ) And Aaron took 
as Moses spake, and ran into the midst of the assembly ; and, behold, 
the plague was begun among the people : and he put on the incense, 
and made propitiation for the people. 13 W And he stood between the 
dead and the living ; and the plague was stayed. 14 ( 49 ) Now they that 
died by the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, besides 
them that died about the matter of Korah. 1B ( B °) And Aaron returned 
unto Moses unto the door of the tent of meeting, the plague having 
been stayed. 

Then follow in immediate sequence the story of the blossom- 
ing of Aaron's stick in vindication of the superiority of Levi 
(i7 16 " 2G (1_u) ), and the regulations for the payment of dues to the 
priests and Levites (c. 18). 

The real point of this important story was for long obscured 
owing to the additions made by a later writer, who turned 
Korah and "all his company " into Levites. Korah's company 
in this story are not all Levites ; probably none of them were 
Levites ; the two parties to the struggle throughout are Moses 
and Aaron (as representing the Levites) on the one side, and 
" the. whole of the congregation," i.e. the whole of the rest of 
the people (cp. i 2 n.), on the other. Associated with Korah 
are 250 princes of the " congregation" (16 2 ), i.e. of all Israel. 
Korah champions the cause of the whole congregation (16 3 ), and 
the people identify themselves with the leaders when they perish 
by the divine judgment (17 5 (16 41 )). The writer of 27 s quite 
clearly assumes that Korah's followers were not exclusively 
Levites, for he goes out of his way to explain that Selophehad, 
though a Manassite, was not a follower of Korah. When the 
intrusive passages of P s have been removed, nothing remains 
to indicate that either Korah himself or any of his followers 
ranked in P g as Levites. 

3. The claim of the Levites to priestly privileges (P 5 ). 

In c. 16 f. there are now inserted in P g 's story of Korah 
several passages which by their style betray their origin in 
the priestly school, but which represent an entirely different 
point of view. These passages, which never formed an inde- 
pendent story, are i6 8-11 - 16f - 17 1 - 5 (16 36-40 ), in addition to that 
part of v. 1 which contains the genealogy of Korah. In these 
verses all Israel except Levi drop entirely into the back- 

xvi. i 193 

ground, for they have no concern in this dispute : the struggle 
is confined to the tribe of Levi. The object of these passages 
is to condemn the non-Aaronic Levites for seeking the priest- 
hood. This comes out clearly in i6 9_n : Moses recognises in 
the rebels a class already distinguished from "the congrega- 
tion of Israel," and admitted to a closer access to Yahweh. 
It is no longer here a struggle for equal rights for the whole 
congregation, but a struggle for equal rights within a class 
sharply marked off from the rest. Korah's company are here 
already in undisputed possession of what in the foregoing 
story they rise in revolt to claim. The same point of view is 
represented in 17 1 " 5 (i6 36 ~ 40 ); note, especially, the moral — that 
710 stra?iger which is not of the seed of Aaron come near to burn 
incense before Yahweh (17 5 (16 40 )). And to the same hand we 
may also refer i6 16f - — a parallel to i6 cf - in P ff . 

The inserted passages reflect some struggle, of which we have no 
direct record, between the priests and the Levites. The question has 
been much discussed, especially by Vogelstein, Der Kampf zwischen 
Priestem und Leviten seit den Tagen Ezechiels (1889), whose work is 
reviewed in an important article by Kuenen in Th. Ti. xxiv. 1-42 (—Gesam- 
fnelte Abha?idlnngen, ed. Budde, p. 465 ff.), the closing section of which in 
particular deals with the place of Nu. 16-18 in the history of the priest- 
hood. Vogelstein is inclined to place the struggle of the Levites, reflected 
in P s 's additions to Nu. 16 f., before the close of the 5th cent. B.C.; Kuenen, 
with more reason, inclines to a later date. Centuries later, even when the 
Levites had sunk to the insignificant position which they held in the 1st 
cent. A.D., they yet succeeded in making good a minor pretension to priestly 
privileges, obtaining from Agrippa II. the right to wear the priestly linen 
(Jos. Ant. xx. 9 6 ). 

1, 2. The leaders of the rebellion. — These are, according to 
the present narrative, a Levite, Korah, and three Reubenites — 
Dathan, Abiram, and On ; also two hundred and fifty unnamed 
" princes." — Korah, the son of Ishar, the son of Kohdth, the son 
of Levi] Ex. 6 16 - »•"» 1 Ch. 6 22f - < 37f -> 5 27f - 6 7 (6 lf - 22 ). The clause 
is from P; but the genealogy does not appear to be ancient; 
it is earlier in origin than Ch. (see preceding references), 
but later than P 2 ; for Ex. 6 13 ~ 29 is an insertion of P s between 
the question of Ex. 6 12 and the answer of 7 1 in P g 's narrative. 
A certain Korah, on the other hand, appears in 1 Ch. 2 43 as 
descended from Judah (1 Ch. 2 8 ) and as "son" of Hebron. 



Now the Levitical Korah is a "nephew" of Hebron (Ex. 
6 18 - 21 ). It is therefore highly probable * that the two Korahs 
are in reality one and the same; that Korah of Judah was, by 
later genealogists, converted into Korah the Levite, just as 
the originally Ephraimite Samuel (i S. i 1 - 19f ) is provided in 
later times with a Levitical descent (i Ch. 6 18(33) ). There was 
good reason for the transformation ; for Korah was the eponym 
of an important guild of singers (cp. the titles to Ps. 42-49) 
who became incorporated with the Levites, presumably at 
some time subsequent to Ezra, when the singers were still 
distinguished from Levites (Ezr. 2 40f ).f Since P g 's story does 
not require Korah to be a Levite, but rather excludes such an 
origin for the leader of a revolt of the " whole congregation " 
against the exclusive claims of Levi, and since it is essential to 
the point of view of P s that Korah should be a Levite, the 
insertion of the genealogy of Korah is to be attributed to P\ 
In P g , then, Korah was probably understood, if not directly 
stated, to be a Judahite ; the leader of the revolt is thus a 
member of the leading secular tribe (p. 14,18). It is possible, as 
Bacon suggests, that P obtained the name from J ; in any case it 
is probable that some ancient tradition lies at the base of P's 
story, and that the name of Korah belonged to that tradition. 
— Dathan and Abiram\ These names come from JE. Whether 
the names appeared in both sources of JE is uncertain ; prob- 
ably they appeared at least in E, since they are referred to in 
Dt. 11 6 . Abiram, meaning "the (my) father is exalted," is an 
ancient personal name (HPN. 22-34) ; both origin and mean- 
ing of Dathan are obscure. On the son of Peleth plays no 
further part in the story, nor is he ever referred to in any 
of the allusions to this narrative. Harmonists (e.g. Keil) 
explained this on the ground that "he probably withdrew 
from the conspiracy." Two plausible explanations have been 
offered of this isolated reference: (1) Many J have considered 

* The appreciation of the extent of this probability rests on familiarity 
with the methods of ancient and, especially, Hebrew genealogists. The 
reader may consult on this point with much profit Mr. S. A. Cook's article 
"Genealogies " in EBi. 

t Cp. W. R. Smith, Old Test, in the Jewish Church, 2 203 f. 

t Graf, Kohler, Kue., Di., Nold., Str., Paterson. 

xvi. 2 195 

the present clause to be textually corrupt, J1X1 being a corrupt 
repetition of the last letters of the preceding word DX 11 (bx) and 
nSs"P a corruption of K^B"}3. On this assumption On dis- 
appears, and v. 1 (from "Dathan" to the end) originally ran — 
And Dathan and Abt'ram, sotis of Eliab, son of Pallu, son 
(ffi S here : Dt. n 6 %}) of Reuben. This genealogy is certainly 
known to P (26 6-9 , Gn. 46 s , Ex. 6 14 ), but how much earlier it 
may be cannot be determined, for Dt. 1 1 6 does not mention 
Pallu. (2) Others * see in On the son of Peleth the name of 
one of the ringleaders in J's parallel to E's story of Dathan 
and Abiram. This explains the isolated reference to On less 
well than (1). The name On is closely allied to the Edomite 
and Jerahmeelite clan -name Onam (Gn. 36 23 , 1 Ch. 2 26 ), 
the Judahite clan -name Onan (26 19 ), and the name of an 
ancient southern town, Ono (Neh. 6 2 ; list of Thothmes in., 
cp. W. M. Miiller, Asien u. Europa, 159), and Ben-oni, accord- 
ing to story, the name given by his mother to Benjamin (Gn. 
35 18 ). This affinity of On with a series of names belonging to 
Southern Palestine might be explained either, if On is correctly 
described as Reubenite, by assuming an earlier settlement of 
Reuben W. of Jordan,! or by assuming that On in the source 
was described as Judahite ; the latter is probable enough, if 
On be derived from J. Note also that Peleth is elsewhere a 
Jerameelite name, 1 Ch. 2 33 . For Bacon's identification of 
Peleth with Philistine there seems little ground. — Now Korah 
. . . look] the verb rip^l is left without an object. That there 
is an intentional ellipsis of the object "men " (RV.) is highly 
improbable. Either rip" 1 ") is a corruption, possibly of Dp*! = now 
Korah arose ; % or it is a fragment of a sentence, the object of 
the verb having been omitted by accident or design in the pro- 
cess of compilation from the several sources. Adopting the 
latter view, Bacon and CH. suggest that the original object 
was "the offering" referred to in v. 15 . — 2. The construction 
of the v. is loose in consequence, perhaps, of the insertion in 
P, whence its main substance is drawn, of some clauses from 

* Bacon, CH.; see above, p. 190. 

t Cp. Steuernagel, Einwanderung, 15 ff. ; Cheyne in EBi. s.v. "On." 

X Kue. , Di., Str., Paterson. 


JE. — And they rose up be/ore Moses] JE ; P's parallel, and they 
asse?nbled together against Moses and Aaron (cp. 17 7 (16 41 )), 
follows in v. 3 . The difference is characteristic. Dathan and 
Abiram rebel against Moses (v. 12 - 15> 25 - 28 ), Korah against Moses 
and Aaron (v. 3 - 18 - 20 17 s - 7 - 8 (i6 41 - 42 - 43 )).— And men of the chil- 
dren of Israel, t%w hundred and fifty] The number is certainly 
from P ; see v. 35 . Bacon may be right in assigning the first 
clause to E, but it scarcely formed the immediate sequence in 
the source to the clause that precedes it. — Princes of the con- 
gregation] 4 3i n. 3 1 13 32 s , Ex. 16 22 (all P). The phrase must 
come from P, for both terms are highly characteristic of that 
writer ; for fcOK'J, see 7 2 n., and for my, i 2 phil. n. In JE such 
people would be called " elders," as indeed they are in v. 25 , or 
"captains" (D'nc). The assignment of this clause to P is 
important in determining the point of the story ; the leaders who 
act with Korah are representatives of the non-Levitical tribes : 
cp. 27 s , and see p. 192, above. — Called to meetings] the phrase 
("WO ''Kip) is not the same as that found in i 16 ; but see phil. n. 
there. It occurs nowhere else, and the precise meaning is un- 
certain ; the undefined nyiO may have a collective force, and 
the whole phrase may define these persons as those who were 
summoned to meetings for consultation ; cp. (3r avv/c\r)TOi 
Povkij?. — Men of name] with DC HW« here, cp. DOT "JCK in 
Gn. 6 4 (J), and niDB> 'tMK in 1 Ch. 5 24 12 30 . In its present 
position the phrase scarcely means more than " men of repute, 
of recognised social position " : cp. Job 30 8 where social out- 
casts are termed "nameless" (DP ^3 ^J, and the use of 
"name" in Pr. 22 1 , Ecclus. 41 12 . If the phrase come from 
JE it may in its original position, like the similar phrases in 
Gn. and Ch., have had the slightly fuller sense of "famous 
men" ; for "name" often means " fame" (e.g. 2 S. 7 9 ). 

3-7. Korah maintains the equal holiness of all Israel. — 
Korah and his company assemble before Moses and Aaron, 
assert the equal holiness of the whole people, and condemn 
Moses and Aaron for their assumption of superior holiness. 
Moses invites the rebels to subject themselves and their claim 
to the test of a divine decision by a kind of ordeal (cp. p. 44 f.), 
and for this purpose to attend before Yahweh the next day 

xvi. 3 1 97 

with censers filled with fire and incense. — 3. And they came 
together to Moses and Aaron] In itself the phrase expresses no 
hostile intent: cp. Ex. 32 1 . According to the present com- 
posite narrative, the subject must include all the persons 
mentioned in v. lf - ; but this is inconsistent with the implication 
of v. 12 - 25 that Dathan and Abiram remained in their tents till 
Moses came to them. In P the subject of the verb is Korah 
and the two hundred and fifty princes. See, further, on this 
clause the n. on and they rose up before Moses in v. 2 . — Enough!] 
of your pretensions. The meaning of nth m may be gathered 
from passages like Dt. i 6 2 3 , in which the subject is expressed. 
The phrase is often used, as here, elliptically : see Dt. 3 26 , 
Ezek. 45 9 ; but the instances do not favour the view of the 
ellipsis represented in RV, "Ye take too much upon you." 
The phrase recurs in v. 7 , with the addition of "ye sons of 
Levi," and there forms the conclusion of Moses' words to 
Korah and his company. But the final clause of v. 7 is really 
out of place, for the persons addressed are not (all) Levites, 
nor is enough a suitable sequence to the words that precede. 
On the other hand, Korah may well have addressed Moses 
and Aaron as " sons of Levi." It is probable, therefore, that 
in P g , Korah's speech began with Enough, ye sons of Levi, or, 
possibly, as CH. suggest, that these words originally stood at 
the end of v. 3 . The speech, in that case, began and ended 
with the same abrupt reproof. The words owe their place in 
v. 7 to P s , who turns Korah and his followers into Levites. — 
The whole congregation, yea, all of them are holy] not merely 
as a whole is Israel holy in virtue of Yahweh's presence in 
their midst (cp. 5 3 ), but the individual Israelites are, one and 
all, irrespective of the tribe to which they belong, holy : such 
is the principle for which Korah contends. — And Yahweh is 
among them] The clause is from P ; J, to whom Di. and Bacon 
assign it, would have written not D3im (cp. 5 3 , Ex. 25 s (P)), 
but aanpa (n 20 (J)) : see CH. 22 p 58 J, \— Why do ye lift your- 
selves up above the assembly of Yahweh] this sentence might, 
with better reason than the last, be referred to JE on the 
ground of its style ; but if so, an originally sing. vb. addressed 
to Moses has been turned into a pi. addressed to Moses and 


Aaron. The vb. (NtWDii) occurs, not quite with its present 
signification, in two poetical passages (23 24 24 7 ) : otherwise it 
is not found again in the Hexateuch ; but see 1 K. i 6 , Ezek. 
29 15 ; cp. also 1 Ch. 29 11 where, with Yahweh as subject, the 
signification is necessarily different. The interrogative (lAiD) 
is found but once besides in P (Lev. io 17 (P s )) ; it occurs 9 times 
in JE (e.g. 12 8 ; CH. 230^). — Yahwetis assembly] 20 4 (P), Dt. 
23 s - 4 - (cp. Lam. i 10 , Neh. 13 1 ) »■ d. s. tf Mia 2 5 , 1 Ch. 28 s f. 
On ?r\p, see io 7 n.; and, on the usage of the whole phrase, 
Corn, in ZATW. xi. 23-25. — 4. And Moses . . .fell on his face] 
14 5 n. The same action is twice referred to both Moses and 
Aaron later in the narrative (16 22 17 10 (16 45 )). The restriction 
of it to Moses here may be the result of fusion of sources at 
this point, v. 3b possibly coming from JE. — 5. All his company] 
T\~\y is so regularly used by P g of the whole of Israel (i 2 phil. n.) 
that the present very restricted use is decidedly strange : 
further, in the present story Korah speaks for and represents 
"all the congregation" (v. 19 - 21 - 24 ( l6 «. 42. «. «)). 
Either "all the congregation," or, rather, "the two hundred 
and fifty princes of the congregation " (who, as a matter of 
fact, accept Moses' challenge, v. 35 ), was originally read here in 
P g ; the present phrase has been substituted by P s (cp. v. 11 - 16 
17 5 (16 40 )) in order to maintain his different point of view, 
that not all Israel, as in P g , but only a section, viz. the Levites, 
are calling in question the position of the leaders. — In the 
morning] Ex. 16 7 (P). — Yahweh will make known him that is His ; 
and him that is holy will He suffer to come near Him, even him 
whom He chooses will He suffer to come near Him] the balance of 
the clauses favours the foregoing rather than the rendering of 
R.V., "Yahweh will show who are His, and who is holy, and 
will cause him to come near," etc. In using the sing, here 
and in v. 7 the writer has in mind a whole class (the Levites 
who are represented by Moses and Aaron) rather than an 
individual ; cp. the representative character of the individual 
in 17 20 (5) , the representative use of thou in v. 17 ( = Korah and 
his followers), and see n. on 20 14 . According to the degree in 
which Yahweh appropriates anyone, in other words, according 
to the degree of His holiness (see n. after 17 5 ), can he approach 

xvi. 4-7 T 99 

Yahweh with safety ; such is the general principle embodied 
in the arrangement of the camp (see p. 18). But the term 
" bring near" (to Yahweh) may here include a somewhat more 
specific sense, strictly applicable only to the priests who were 
included among the Levites. In P the regular term for a 
sacrificial offering is the thing "brought near" (p"ip). Not 
unnaturally, then, the same writer uses the vb. "to come 
near" (lip) with the special technical sense of approaching 
Yahweh at the altar. Hence it was used predominantly of the 
priests, 17 5 , Lev. 16 1 21 17 io 3 ; so also by Ezek. (40 46 ). But 
the use of this phrase with reference to the Levites, as distin- 
guished from the priests, in v. 9f - is probably confined to P s . In 
3 6 , probably also in 18 2 , the Levites are said to "be brought 
near " to the priests, which is a different matter ; cp. Baudissin, 
Priesterthum, 29 f., 116. In Ps. 65 s (4) P's technical sense 
of the vb. may be in the writer's mind, but he himself uses 
the vb. metaphorically. — 6. Censers] or, as RV. renders the 
same word in Ex. 27 s , fire-pans. nnriD means something with 
which hot coals could be snatched up (nnn Is. 30 14 ) and taken 
from one place to another. Except in the present narrative 
the nnno is mentioned as a receptacle for incense only in 
Lev. io 1 16 12 . A more distinctive term for censer is mtipD 
(Ezek. 8 11 , 2 Ch. 26 19 ). — Kb rah and all his company] scarcely a 
true vocative clause in spite of the principle explained in Dr. 
Tenses, 198, Obs. 2. It is rather a note by P s ; see 1st note on 
v. 5 . — 7. Put fire in them and set incense on them] Lev. io 1 . — 
Before Yahweh] i.e. as defined in v. 18 (cp. v. 35 ), at the "tent 
of meeting": cp. 5 16 n. — Enough! ye sons of Levi] the clause 
is out of place : see n. on v. 3 . The persons addressed in v. 6 " 7 
are not Levites. 

1. rpi] The versions contain paraphrases rather than variants. The 
present text already existed and its difficulty was felt when they were 
made : ffi koX i\<for)<rcv, & (and similarly <C°) ...N^Zjo : "B ecce autem.—Z. 

D^a mjffl Sd] ahz strengthens the preceding phrase with *?3 as in Is. 14 18 , 
Ezek. n 15 (K6n. iii. 340/&) ; the pi. D'BHp distributes the collective subj.— 
8. yf] i?3] The cstr., which is comparatively rare (Dr. Tenses, 125), is 
found also in Ex. i2 3 (P).— 5 b is, in (!K AFL , less verbally tautologous with 
5 a than in 1^ — Kal oOs ouk 4^e\4^aro iavri^ ov TrpoaqyaytTO irpbs iavrbv. 


8-11 (P s ). The Levites claim an equal right to the priest- 
hood with the priests. — Moses, addressing Korah in particular, 
and the whole body of Levites generally, upbraids them with 
discontent at the position assigned to them by God in virtue 
of which, as distinguished from the other tribes, they " come 
near" to Yahweh, or, in other words, attend to the service of 
the tabernacle. In claiming, as they now do, the priesthood, 
it is not Aaron's, i.e. the priests', self-assumed authority that 
they are calling in question ; they are rebels against Yahweh 
Himself, since the distinction between priests and Levites is 
by divine ordinance. 

These verses by themselves are clear enough : it is the 
priesthood that is in question ; Korah, representing the Levites, 
claims it for the whole tribe ; Moses insists that it is the 
right of Aaron and his seed alone. The contrast is between 
the Levites and the family of Aaron ; Moses is the arbiter : 
cp. v. 16f - i7 1-5 . This is irreconcilable with the preceding verses 
and the passages connected with them, in spite of the attempts 
of the editor in v. 6 - 7 (see notes) to make them consistent. 
Note in particular that the distinction to the existence of, or 
to the attempt to establish, which Korah objects, on behalf of 
the whole congregation in v. 3 , is here a distinction which 
Korah himself already enjoys, but considers insufficient. In 
v. 8-7 Korah claims the right, which is withheld from him, to 
"draw near " to God ; in v. 9 he is distinguished by the posses- 
sion of this rio-ht. — 8. Moses addresses the Levites. Korah is 
here a Levite; see v. 1 (the genealogy). He is addressed, as 
the leader of the tribe, by name ; but the speech is to the whole 
tribe — -ye sons of Levi. — 9. Is it too little for you that the God 
of Israel hath separated you (8 U P s ) from the rest of the con- 
gregation of Israel to bring you near to Him (v. 5 n.), to serve 
the service of the tabernacle of Yahweh (3 7 ), arid to stand, before 
the congregation to serve them (3 s n.)? To "stand before" 
and "to serve" are synonymous expressions; cp. Dt. i 3S 
with Nu. 1 i 2S . — 11. Therefore thou and all thy company (v. 5 n.) 
are those who have gathered together against Yahweh (14 35 )] 
in seeking the priesthood Korah and the priests are rebels 
against Yahweh ; why should they murmur against Aaron, 

XVI. 8— is 20 I 

since the priesthood is not of his but Yahweh's making. A 
similar condensed argument occurs in Ex. i6 8b (P). 

8. WiyDB>] a: also occurs in P s in Jos. 22 26 ; but though used over a 
hundred times in JE, it never occurs in Ps (CH. 1S6). Its occasional use 
in P s is one indication that P s was more influenced than Ps by the earlier 
styles. — 9f. cnsrpai . . . '3 . . . ttj?Dn] virtually the same construction is 
found in Jos. 22 17f - (P s ) (the last clause introduced by the waw ; but, on 
account of the intervening- subj., the verb is impf.). For other instances of 
sentences after cyan, see BDB. p. 590 ; and for the interrogative sentence 
without an interrog. particle, G.-K. 150a ; Dr. Tenses, § 119. 

12-15 (JE). Dathan and Abiram summoned Moses defied, 
and his leadership questioned on the ground of incompetence. — 
12. We will not come up] The message ends with the same 
flat refusal to attend the summons (v. 14 ). The vb. (rbv) is 
sometimes used of going to a superior, or a judge (Gn. 46 31 , 
Dt. 25 7 , Jud. 4 5 ). — 13. A land flowing with milk and honey] 
13 27 n. The phrase occurs 8 times in J, never in E, according 
to CH. (34 JE ). Quite exceptionally it is here used of Egypt — 
effectively from the standpoint of the rebels. — To kill us in the 
wilderness] 20 4 , Ex. 17 3 . — 13b. Cp. Ex. 2 14 . — 14. Is Moses 
bent on throwing dust in the eyes of the Israelites by the 
promise, which he cannot or will not fulfil, to lead the people 
into a land flowing with milk and honey? cp. Ex. 4 30 in the 
light of Ex. 3 7f -. The figure in the Hebrew phrase wilt thou 
bore out the eyes? (used literally in Jud. 16 21 ) is stronger than, 
but seems equivalent to, the English "throw dust in the eyes 
of." — Fields and vineyards] the terms are collective singulars : 
cp. 20 17 21 22 (E), Ex. 22 4 , and also, in the pi., 1 S. 22 7 . — These 
men] scarcely with Rashi to be treated as a periphrasis for 
"us"; but it refers to the Israelites who followed Dathan 
and Abiram, mentioned in part of the story not reproduced 
here, or referred to in the clause " men of the children of 
Israel " in v. 2 . — 15. Turn not to] pay no heed to. Cp. the 
parallel in Ps. 102 18 (17) (?H rUB = HT3 vh) : see also Dt. 9 s7 , Lev. 
26°, Ezek. 36°. The phrase is not the same that is used in 
Gn. 4 5f -. — Their offering] the term (nroo) could not have been 
used by P in reference to the incense of v. 7 ; his general term 
for offering is different (pip), and he uses the present term 
only in the specific sense of meal-offering : cp. Driver in 


Hastings' DB., s.v. "Offering-," iii. 587; also CH. n8 P 
On this ground alone, then, the clause must be referred to 
JE. But no further reference to an offering is made in what 
remains of JE's narrative. Unless there is here an allusion 
to some part of the narrative of JE not retained in the 
compilation (see above, p. 190), the whole clause, "pay no 
heed to their offering - ," is simply a prayer that Yahweh may 
withhold His favour, and, therefore, in effect a curse such 
as "while all Israelites were allowed to sacrifice, might be 
naturally invoked against any enemy" (Addis, EBi. 1018). — 
15b. Cp. 1 S. 12 3 . The connection between v. 15a and v. 15b is 
not very close, and the two clauses may be from different 

12. S mph . . . nStri] 22 5 ; mp with h, hx, or ace, 51 times in JE, 9 in 
P (always, except Ex. 7 11 , with *?n) : so CH. i39 JE . — 13. Throughout this 
v. £ has 2nd pi. — '3 . . . '3 . . . oyn.i] unlike v. 9 ' - above (where see note). 
The Bjro in the present case (as, e.g. , in Gn. 30 1B ) gains comparative force 
simply from the context : Kon. iii. 308^. — vincri] The Hithp. of this vb. 
only here. On the force of the Hithp. ("to play the prince "), see G.-K. 
542. — 14. jnm] The force of the negative in the previous clause continues ; 
cp. 23 19 ; Da v. 128, R. 6; G.-K. 152^. — 15. 1KD . . . h im] cp. Gn. 4 5 
34 7 (J), 1 S. 18 8 , 2 S. 3 8 13 21 , Neh. 4 1 s«; see, further, CH. 233'*. -non] 
(5r iirtOvfi 77/m = non ; see Geiger, Urschrift, 439 ff. — iriN na] the ace. inx 
being defined by did is rightly preceded by nx ; Kon. iii. 288/: 

16 f. (P s ). These verses are a sequel to v. 8-11 , but a parallel 
to v. 6f -. Korah and his company of Levites are to assemble 
at the tabernacle with Aaron, each man bringing his censer. 

17. innno (1)] S + b-x pa UHl ; see v. 7 - ,8 %.— d.i^v] Da v. 1, R. 3 ; S p'Sy. 

18-24 (P g ). The scene before the tabernacle. — The sequel 

to V. 3 " 7 . 

18. Accepting the test proposed by Moses (v. 6f ), Korah 
and the two hundred and fifty princes prepare their censers 
and take up their position at the door of the tent of meeting 
together with Moses and Aaron. Some intervening narrative 
explaining that Korah accepted the test proposed by Moses, 
and that he and his companions went away to prepare for it, 
may well have been included in P g, s original story ; but if so it 
has been rejected by the editor (P s ) to make room for his 

XVI. 16-22 203 

own words (v. 8-11, 16f -). — 19. Korali assembles all Israel, whose 
rights he was championing" (v. 8 ), to watch the trial. The glory 
of Yahweh appears ominously as in 14 10 (see note there). — 
20-22. Yahweh bids Moses and Aaron separate themselves 
from the rest of the people, and so save themselves from the 
destruction He intends to send on them. Moses and Aaron 
beg' that the whole people may not perish for one man's sin. — 
21. The people as a whole must be supposed to have favoured 
Korah (cp. v. 19 ) ; hence the divine intention to destroy them. — 
That I may consume them immediately] 17 10 (16 45 ). Similar 
motives are expressed somewhat differently in Ex. 32 9f - 33 s 
(JE). — 22. And they fell upon their faces] v. 4 n, — And said, 
O God, God of the spirits of all flesh] On the usage of ^N 
("God"), see 12 13 phil. n. ; in 27 16 Yahweh is used instead; 
for !>K, before a defining appositional phrase, cp. Gn. 33 20 (JE). 
The phrase God of the spirits of all flesh, which recurs only in 
27 16 and is therefore peculiar to P, betrays the advanced 
theological standpoint of P. Yahweh is to him far more than 
the God of Israel ; He is the one and only author of all human 
life, and, as its author, capable of destroying it (cp. Gn. 6 12ff - P ; 
but so also Gn. 6 7 7 22f - J s ) : cp. Job 34 14 '-, also Ps. io 4 29f -. The 
term "all flesh" (")^2 ^3), characteristic of the later literature, 
occurs 18 times in P ; see Expos., Sept. 1893 (On Joel), p. 215. 
— Should one man sin and Thou in consequence be indignant 
against, and, therefore, destroy not him only, but the whole con- 
gregation (Lev. io 6 , Jos. 22 18 — P), i.e. the people of Israel; cp 
18 5 . The one man must be the single ringleader, viz. Korah ; 
the question, inconsistent with the point of view in v. lf - which 
gives several leaders, is a valuable clue to the original form 
of P's narrative. Is one man to sin in leading others astray, 
and are all to perish though their only sin consists in having 
been led astray? Again the theological standpoint is ad- 
vanced ; it is far removed from the dominance of the early 
doctrine of solidarity, and is most easily explained if referred 
to a period influenced by Ezekiel's strong individualism (see, 
e.g., Ezek. 18. 33). The writer is indeed in some respects 
beyond Ezekiel's standpoint ; he shows an awakening to the 
difference between the leaders and the led in wrong-doing, 


and inclines to judge the latter very lightly. On the other 
hand, the present writer is less dogmatic than Ezekiel : he 
raises a question ; he does not make an assertion. For the 
divine indignation which is apt to break loose in destructive 
activity, cp. Lev. io 6 , Nu. i 53 18 5 , Dt. 9 19 .— 23 f. Yahweh, 
acceding to the intercession of Moses and Aaron (v. 22 ), directs 
the people through Moses to retire from the tabernacle in 
order to avoid being involved in the destruction (v. 35 ) of those 
who present the incense. The people obey, v. 27a . — The taber- 
nacle (pt?D) of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram] the phrase in the 
present text, both here and in v. 27 , is due to an editor. For, 
note (1) the word pB>0 is constantly used in the Hexateuch of 
the dwelling of Yahweh, but never, in the sing., of the 
dwelling-place of men. The pi. is used in a poetical passage 
(24 s ) of human habitations. (2) The sing, noun (ct. v. 26 ) 
followed by the three names is strange : Korah, Dathan, and 
Abiram did not share one dwelling between them. The 
difficulty is not satisfactorily surmounted by arguing that pw'O 
here means " district," and is therefore suitably followed by the 
names of the three men, since all — the Kohathite Korah, and 
the Reubenites Dathan and Abiram — had their position on the 
S. of the tabernacle (2 10 3 29 ). (3) The phrase is pointless 
in the context. For, since the people are assembled before 
the tabernacle (v. 19 ), the command in its present form directs 
the people to depart from a place in which they are not. 
There can be no reasonable doubt that the command in P g 
ran, Depart from about the tabernacle of Yahweh (cp. i7 2S(13 ^). 
When the story of Korah was united by the editor with that 
of Dathan and Abiram, the fact that Korah and his comrades 
were destroyed in the immediate proximity of the tabernacle 
was obscured (though it is still clear enough from v. 35 ) ; the 
editor wished to suggest that all alike were destroyed in their 
tents. (S B , taking exception perhaps to the sing. pE'O with 
the three names, omits "Dathan and Abiram" both here and 
in v. 27 . 

18. d.tSj?] The pi. suffix refers to the plural implicit in the distributive 
phrase wnro i?'N : Kon. iii. 346/1. — iWDl] fir j? omit the ] — perhaps rightly, 
for we should then have this natural sequence : Korah and the princes 

XVI. 23-27 205 

prepare for the trial (v. 18ft ) ; Moses and Aaron take up their stand at the 
tent (v. 18b ) ; Korah assembles the people there (v. 19 ). — 22. "inN P'«n] There 
are several possible explanations of the cstr. The simplest, and by far 
the most probable, is that the n is interrogative and should be pointed 
cnh (G.-K. ioora) ; then for the subordination of the two sentences to the 
interrog., see G.-K. 150m. Or it might be a case of the omission of the 
art. with the numeral (cp. 28 4 ): so Kon. iii. 3345; then the sentence is 
interrogative without an interrogative particle, as in v. 10 . Or the "inx 
may be an ace. of the state (Dav. 70) — " The man being one and only 
one " ; cp. Is. 51 2 . 

25-34. The scene before the tents of Dathan and Abiram 

These verses, with the exception of v. 2Ca - 27a (P B and P s ) 
and v. 32b (P s ), form the sequel to v. 12-16 . 

25. Dathan and Abiram having - refused to come to Moses 
(v. 12 ), Moses, accompanied by the elders of Israel {cp. n 30 E, 
and n. on u 16 ), goes to them. — 26. Moses bids the people 
remove from the neighbourhood ot the tents of Dathan and 
Abiram. The introductory clause and the speech itself are 
from different sources. The word congregation (i 2 n.) pre- 
vents the former being referred to J (E), to which several words 
in the speech conclusively point. And he spake unto the con- 
gregation sayingis best with CH. referred to P e , though it may 
be, as Di. regards it, the work of the editor. In the former 
case Moses' announcement of the divine warning (v. 24 ) has 
been suppressed in favour of JE's speech. — Depart now from] 
(?JJO X3 YTID) ; P in v. 24, 27 expresses the same idea differently 
(? a^DD li^n, a^aOO . . . byo £lN). With the present vb., 
cp. 12 10 (E) ; the enclitic NJ is highly characteristic of JE ; v. 8 
phil. n. — These wicked men] Dathan and Abiram. JJBH occurs 
8 times in JE, once only in P (35 31 ) ; CH. 231.- — Anything that 
is theirs] the same phrase (Di"6 "it^X ^a), though of necessity 
differently rendered in English, occurs in v. 30 - 33 . The idiom 
is used 26 times in JE, twice only in P; CH. i24 JE . — Lest ye 
be swept away in all their sins] For the sentiment and the vb. 
(nsD), cp. Gn. i8 23f -, also Gn. i 9 15 - 17 (all J).— 27a (P e ). Sequel 
to v . 24(26a) . — 27b (JE). Moses and Aaron having arrived at the 
tents of Dathan and Abiram, the latter with their wives and 
children come out and stand at their tent doors. The 
Hebrew may also mean that they had come out before Moses 


had arrived. V. 27b might well follow v. 25 immediately, and 
very probably did so in E, since the intervening passage of 
JE (v. 26b ) appears to come from J. In the last clause of the v. 
the editor of JE perhaps falls back on J, with whom cjt3 = 
little ones is characteristic (CH. 52). 

28-31 (J). Moses, addressing the assembled people, pro- 
poses a test of his own divine appointment and the blasphemy 
of the rebels. If the rebels die a natural death, Moses is an 
impostor; but if they are swallowed up alive in the earth, 
Yahweh has sent him, and the rebels in calling in question 
his divine appointment have contemned Yahweh. 

The phraseology here appears to be predominantly that of 
J ; and Bacon points out that it is characteristic of that source 
solemnly to propose tests of this kind; so Ex. 7 16f - ; cp., 
somewhat similarly, Gn. 24 14 42 s3 . — Hereby ye shall know] cp. 
Gn. 42 s3 , Ex. 7 17 , also Gn. 24 14 (all J). The people are 
addressed : Dathan and Abiram are referred to in the 3rd 
person, v. 29f -. — Yahweh hath sent me] cp. Ex. 3 10-16 (E) 4 28 , 
Jos. 24 5 (E), Ex. 5 22 7 16 (J).— That I have not done them of my 
own mind] the same contrast between what is done of personal 
will and desire, and what is done under divine constraint is 
drawn in 24 13 (J). Similar is the contrast between the true 
prophet called and sent of Yahweh and the false prophet in Jer. 
23 16 - 21 . — 29. If these men die as all mankind die] i.e. a natural 
death, and be visited with the visitation of all mankind, i.e. 
suffer no extraordinary and significant fate, such as descending 
alive into Sheol or dying " in the midst of their days," which 
was the special fate of sinners ; cp. e.g. Ps. 55 24 - 16(23 - 15) (the 
latter v. alludes to this narrative).—// is not Yahweh that hath 
sent me] The position of the negative before Yahweh rather 
than before the vb. emphasises the former ; cp. Gn. 32 29 38 s . — 
30. But if Yahweh creates a creation] causes something new 
and marvellous to come to pass ; cp. Ex. 34 10 (JE), Jer. 31 22 . — 
And the ground open its mouth] exactly as Gn. 4 11 (J); both 
noun and vb. are different in v. 32 where px (also v. 33b - 34 ) and 
nn2 occur instead of nons (also v. 31 ) and P1SB (also Dt. n 6 ). — 
And they go down . . . to Sheol] Sheol, the place of departed 
spirits, was conceived of as below or within the earth ; people 

XVI. 28-3S 20? 

go doivn to it (cp. e.g. Gn. 37 35 ), and the spirits at times come 
up from it (i S. 28 11S ). See the Lexicons (s.v. blKB>). — They 
have despised Vahweh) J'NJ as in I4 11 - 23 (JE). — 31, 32. As soon 
as Moses had finished speaking-, the ground under Dathan and 
Abiram is cleft asunder, and they and their households are 
swallowed up. — V. 31, 33a records, with a repetition of the same 
phraseology (note especially v. 33a ), the fulfilment of Moses' 
prediction in v. 30 . V. 32a contains a statement of the same or 
a similar event, but in different phraseology. Probably v. 32a 
(cp. Dt. ii 6 ) is derived from E, and with it goes the clause 
and the earth covered them up (v. 33 ). — 32. Their households] 
the wives and children (v. 27 ) and other persons belonging to 
Dathan and Abiram. The same word (Drm:}) is used in the 
reference to this story in Dt. 1 1 6 , also with the same significa- 
tion in Gn. 42 19 - 33 45 18 (all E). It appears to be E's equivalent 
for J's phrase all that was theirs (cp. v. 26 n.) in v. 33a . — 32b. 
And all the men "who belonged to Korah and all their goods] an 
unskilful attempt of the editor to unite in death the two sets 
of rebels who, even in his form of the story, had in life been 
constantly divided. The effect of the insertion is that after 
all the men that belonged to Korah have been swallowed up 
by the earthquake about the tents of Dathan and Abiram, 
they are done to death again by fire at the tabernacle (v. 35 ). 
The hand of the editor is also apparent in the phraseology ; 
the last word of the v. (Pim) is characteristic of P and the 
editor; CH. i55 ? . — 33. Cp. v. 30b .— 33b. And they perished from 
the midst of the assembly] either another editorial addition, or, 
perhaps, E (cp. 22 4 ). — 34. Alarmed by the sound of the cries 
of the perishing people, the Israelites who had been present 
(cp. v. 28 ) flee away to avoid a like fate. This v. scarcely seems 
to presuppose v. 26 . 

35 (P g ). The destruction of the two hundred and fifty 
princes. — The sequel to v. 27a . 

As at the destruction of Nadab and Abihu (Lev. io 2 ), so 
now fire comes out from Yahweh, i.e. from the tabernacle ; it 
consumes the two hundred and fifty (v. 2 ) who offered the 
incense (v. 18f ). The name of the leader, Korah, has been 
suppressed on grounds which will be found stated on 26 10 . 


27. D'3S3] a secondary predicate determining the subject ; Driver, 
Tenses, 161 (2). — nns] ace. of place : Dav. 69. — DSOl . . . cn'ra] is gram- 
matically somewhat loosely connected with the subj. ovani . . . |m (which 
is prefixed to the vb. either because it is the new and contrasted subject 
as compared with v. 25 , or in order to give ins* a plupf. sense) ; for this 
loose connection see Kon. iii. 3756. It might easily result from fusion of 
sources : Bacon assigns this last clause to J. Or, since D.TJ3 between 
DBBi . . . D.TW is unusual and really superfluous, we may in the phrase 
itself have fusion of sources ; so CH. — 30. nxna] here only. — nrw] QSt + Kal 
tovs oti<ovs avTuv ko.1 tcls aKrjvas avrQv, probably under the influence of 
Dt. 11 6 . 

XVII. 1-5 (16 36 - 40 ) (P s ). The censers converted into a 
memorial. — At the command of Yahweh, communicated 
through Moses, Ele'azar collects the censers which had been 
rendered holy {i.e. unfit for future profane use) by having 
been presented to Yahweh, and converts them into a covering 
for the altar, which is to serve as a reminder that no one, who 
was not descended from Aaron, might draw near to offer in- 
cense to Yahweh. 

This last insertion of P s is a kind of Midrash, to explain 
the bronze covering or overlaying of the altar. According to 
Ex. 27 2 (P g ), the altar was overlaid with bronze at the time that 
it was made. (5 attempts (at the expense of an anachronism) 
to harmonise the two versions of the origin of this bronze 
covering by explaining, in the account of the completion of 
the tabernacle and its belongings, that "he [Besal'el] made 
the bronze altar out of the bronze censers which belonged 
to the men who revolted with the congregation of Korah" 
(Ex. 38 22 G = 38 s Hfy). The present divergence from the re- 
presentation of P g is merely another indication of the second- 
ary character of the section, which also appears very clearly 
in v. 5 . Ele'azar, too, though known to P s , is prominent in 
P 5 (see, e.g. c. 19, 31, Jos. 22: also Ex. 6 23 - 25 , Lev. io 6 - 16 ). 

2 (37). Ele'azar is selected for the task of collecting the 
censers rather than Aaron ; for the latter as high priest had 
to avoid contact with the dead even more scrupulously than 
the ordinary priests, Lev. 2 i 10 " 15 - 1- *. — From the midst of that 
which is burnt] here as in ic) (6)l7 MDnK> appears to have the 
concrete sense that which is burnt', either the word is so 
taken here by fflr j$ U 2T° or these versions read D'EDBTI (cp. v. 4 ) 

XVII. 1-5 209 

= those who are burnt. If, with R.V., the usual signification 
of TfETW burning (Lev. io°, Am. 4 11 , cp. Zech. 3 2 ) be adopted, 
the meaning would be that the censers are to be collected 
from among the still burning corpses of those burnt by the 
fire of Yahweh. — Scatter the fire yonder] the fire is the 
burning coals which had been placed in the censers (i6 7 - 18 ); 
these are to be scattered lest, though holy, they should still 
be profanely used. — For the censers . . . have become holy] 
so, rightly, j$ U; see phil. n. The censers had contracted 
holiness in virtue of having been presented before Yahweh, 
and all that they contained, including the fire, would have 
been rendered holy at the same time (v. 3 ) ; holiness in such 
cases is, like uncleanness (cp. e.g. Lev. 15), the result of 
physical contact with or propinquity to holy things : see 
small print n. at the end of this section. — 3 (38). These 
sinners at the cost of their lives] If the text of %} be retained, 
the clause must be rendered thus, not as in RV. (text) 
"these sinners against their own lives"; for (1) "to sin 
against" is b NDn and not 2 XOn ; (2) the men in question 
could not be said to have sinned against themselves : they 
had sinned against God. For the 2 of price with E>23, cp. 
1 K. 2 23 , 2 S. 23 17 . With the reading adopted in the last 
note, at the cost of their lives is connected, as in the passages 
just used, with the vb., and the whole passage becomes more 
pointed, The censers of these men became holy at the cost of 
their lives. The censers became holy because they p?'ese?tted 
them before Yahweh, but at the cost of their lives to those 
who, not being priests, had no right to present them, and 
did not possess the degree of holiness requisite to render 
such propinquity to the Deity safe. — 5 (40). A memorial] an 
object serving to bring something to remembrance ; cp. 
Jos. 4 7 (of the stones in Jordan). — That no stranger] 3 10 n. — 
As Yahweh spoke to him (Ele'azar) through Moses] the clause 
refers to the action of Ele'azar. 

Holiness. — A complete understanding- of the standpoint and argument 
of the preceding section depends on an appreciation of certain ideas 
relative to holiness. Whatever the etymological sense of the root tnp, 
and however deep and spiritual the meaning imparted to its derivatives 
by the prophets, in many connections it retained throughout the period 



of OT. literature, and even later, a signification that can best be repre- 
sented by the term " taboo." In these cases it was not a term of moral 
import. Holiness and uncleanness (the two ideas are in origin closely 
connected) are contagious qualities, and, under certain circumstances and 
to certain people, dangerous, and even fatal, (i) Holiness is contagious: 
thus the altar is " most holy," and whatever touches it becomes holy (Ex. 
29 s7 3o" 9 ). So, again, the flesh of the sin-offering is " most holy," and 
whatever touches it becomes holy ; the vessel in which it is boiled, becomes 
holy, and, if of bronze, must have the holiness scoured out of it, or, if of 
earthenware, must be destroyed, since, so we must suppose it was felt, 
the holiness, having percolated into its pores, has rendered it incurably 
holy (Lev. 6 201, I 27 ')). Ezekiel provides special boiling-houses for the sacri- 
ficial flesh, lest being brought into the outer court it should infect the 
people with its holiness (Ezek. 46 20 ). Aaron washes himself after putting 
off his holy garments before donning his ordinary garments again, the 
object, in the light of the foregoing, clearly being to wash off the 
holiness acquired from the holy garments, lest it should infect the ordinary 
garments and render them useless for ordinary purposes (Lev. u>- :;f -)- 
When the Scriptures came to be regarded as holy, touching them 
"defiled" the hands, i.e. required a hand-washing to remove the acquired 
holiness before the hands were used for profane purposes ( Yadaivt 3 2 - 6 : cp. 
Budde in EBi., " Canon," §§ 3f.). (2) Holiness is dangerous if acquired sud- 
denly, without due precaution, or by unfit persons : in Ex. io, llb - 13 - -°- 24 the 
unconsecrated people are warned against suddenly touching the sacred 
mount, i.e. against suddenly acquiring holiness, and perishing in con- 
sequence. The priests on the same occasion are warned that they may 
only approach Yahweh with safety, if they have been previously made 
holy in proper form : cp. Nu. i 49-63 . So in the present incident the "seed 
of Aaron," being duly possessed of holiness, offer the incense with safety ; 
the Levitical followers of Korah, not being thus equipped, become holy by 
the process of offering, but die in consequence. (3) What is holy must be 
kept from profane use : e.g. the firstborn of cattle is holy, and, therefore, 
may not be used for ordinary purposes (see below, p. 229 f.); holy food, 
such as tithe, may not be used for the ordinary domestic meal (Dt. 26 13 ) ; 
a vessel rendered holy must be destroyed, or purged of its holiness before 
being again used for ordinary purposes (Lev. 6 s8 < 21 >). So here the censers 
or firepans were not originally holy (see n. on v. 6 ), but were rendered so 
by the rite of offering ; they must, therefore, in future be kept from pro- 
fane use. The end in the present case is obtained by permanently keep- 
ing them, in the form of a covering for the altar, within the sacred 
precincts. The fire in the censers being also holy, is cast away and 
thus removed from ordinary use. See, further, on the present subject, 
W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, App. C ; also for parallels, from 
many fields, to the contagion of holiness or uncleanness and the necessity 
for removing things and persons affected by it from ordinary use, Frazer, 
Golden Bough? i. 318-343. From the last a few instances may be cited : 
"The Mikado's food was cooked every day in new pots and served up 
in new dishes ; both pots and dishes were of common clay, in order that 
they might be broken and laid aside after they had been once used. They 

XVII. 6 211 

were generally broken, for it was believed that if anyone else ate his food 
out of these sacred dishes, his mouth and throat would become swollen 
and inflamed. The same ill effect was thought to be experienced by 
anyone who should wear the Mikado's clothes without his leave " (p. 318). 
"In Tonga ... it was believed that if anyone fed himself with his own 
hands after touching the sacred person of a superior chief, or anything 
that belonged to him, he would swell up and die ; the sanctity of the 
chief, like a virulent poison, infected the hands of his inferior, and, being 
communicated through them to the food, proved fatal to the eater . . . 
until the ceremony of expiation or disinfection had been performed, if he 
wished to eat, he had either to get some one to feed him, or else to go down 
on his knees and pick up the food from the ground with his mouth like a 
beast" (p. 319 f.). " In New Zealand the dread of the sanctity of chiefs 
was at least as great as in Tonga. Their ghostly power, derived from 
an ancestral spirit or atua, diffused itself by contagion over everything 
they touched, and could strike dead all who rashly or unwittingly meddled 
with it" (p. 321). "The garments of a high New Zealand chief will kill 
anyone else who wears them" (p. 322). "In general, we may say that 
the prohibition to use the vessels, garments, and so on of certain 
persons, and the effects supposed to follow an infraction of the rule, are 
exactly the same whether the person to whom the things belong are 
sacred or what we might call unclean and polluted " (p. 325). On some 
parallel customs in case of uncleanness, see on c. 19. 

1. wd] In (Br Moses is not bidden to pass on the command to Ele'azar ; 
he and Ele'azar are both commanded to take up the censers. — 2. dti] For 
the cstr. , cp. 5 2 n. — mi t?Nn riNi] (& ko.1 rb irvp rb aWorpiov tovto aireipov ; 
cp. Lev. io 1 pj and <&.— 3. crnx . . . nx] Driver, Tenses, 197 (6). But it 
is far more probable (see notes above) that the nx here is intrusive, and 
that nrinD (v. 3 ) is the subj. of wtp (v. 2 ) ; so J5 (cp. TB). G BL (iiylacrav) 
apparently retain nt< and read wNjj ; but MSS. 29, 54, 75 of <& read ijyida-- 
6-qcrav in agreement with £>. — lBHp'l . . . Danpn] the masc. suffix (similarly 
Dnx above) refers to the fern. nnnD ; similarly the 3rd masc. pi. in wip' ; 
Dav. 1, R. 3; 113. <& irpo(Sf\vix8f\G&v (i.e. lTipn) . . . koX r(yi6.a0t](sa.v. — 'ypT 
this word occurs only here (but cp. Ex. 39 s ), ens (not the same as ns 
a bird trap) only here and Ex. 39 s (P s ), and 'IBs only here and Ex. 38 17 - 19 
(P*), and Is. 30 22 .— 4. -ayhx] <& S + pnx p (cp. v. 1 ).— mypvi] ypn elsewhere in 
Hex. only in Ex. 39 s . 

6-15 (16 41-50 ) (P e ). The people plagued for murmuring at the 
fate of Korah. — The sequel to 16 35 . On the day following the 
destruction of the two hundred and fifty princes, the whole 
body of the Israelites complain that by the death of Korah, 
their representative, they have themselves been attacked 
(v. 6 ). The cloud and glory of Yahweh appear ominously 
(v. 7 ). Moses and Aaron, drawing near at this sign to the 
tent, are warned to stand away from the people, that 


Yahweh may destroy the latter (v. 10 ). They intercede with 
Yahweh, and then Aaron, under Moses' direction, places 
fire from the altar on his censer, and with it passes among 
the people, thus staying the destructive activity of Yahweh's 
anger, though not until after it had caused the death of 
14,700 of the people (v. 11-15 ). It is noticeable that Aaron 
here (P s ) risks that contact with the dead, to avoid which 
Ele'azar was substituted for him in the previous section 

6 (41). Ye have slain] The pronoun is emphatic. Moses 
and Aaron are thus charged with having invoked the destruc- 
tive intervention of God; cp. i6 4f -. — The people of Yahweh] 
cp. 11 29 (E), Jud. 5 11 , 1 S. 2™, 2 S. i 12 6 21 , 2 K. 9 6 , Ezek. 36 20 , 
and also Zeph. 2 10 . The expression is of ancient origin ; cp. 
the parallel "people of Kemosh," 21 29 , Jer. 4s 46 . In causing 
the death of their representatives, "the princes of the con- 
gregation " (16 2 ), Moses and Aaron might be said to have 
slain the people. — 7 (42) a. Cp. i6 3a . — They turned towards the 
tent of meeting] cp. Ex. 16 10 (P s ), where read "tabernacle" 
(pB>D!"i) or "tent of meeting" (as here) for "wilderness" 
("mon). — And, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory oj 
Yahweh appeared] another way of expressing what is said in 
Ex. 16 10 "the glory of Yahweh appeared in the cloud." It is 
the glory of Yahweh which is the really significant and ominous 
sign; cp. 16 19 n. The cloud was a permanent phenomenon 
(9 16 , Ex. 40 38 ) ; the appearance of the glory was inter- 
mittent. Whether, with Di. and others, we ought to draw 
a further distinction between an intermittent "covering" or 
complete envelopment of the tent by the cloud (9 15 , Ex. 
40 34f -) and a constant hovering of the cloud above it (g 18ff - 
io 12 , Ex. 40 38 ), is uncertain. Note that the term "to cover" 
is used in 9 16 of the regularly recurring appearance by day 
when the tabernacle was at rest. — 9 (44). And Yahweh spoke 
unto Moses] (Sr + Aaron. Moses and Aaron in any case con- 
stitute the subject of the following plural imperative in 10 (45). 
Get you up] a different vb. from that used in 16 21 ; otherwise 
this verse is verbally identical with i6 21 - 22 (first clause). — 
11 (46). From the last clause of the previous v. we may infer 

XVII. 6-15 213 

that Moses and Aaron again (cp. 16 22 ) intercede for the people, 
and that Moses received from Yahweh the instruction which 
he here gives to Aaron. For the idioms in clause a, cp. 
i6 6f -. — Put fire therein from off the altar] i.e. some live coals 
from the fire which was always burning on the altar (Lev. 
56 (13) . C p # j s# 56) . j n v i r tue of the place whence they were 
taken, these would be holy; see n. after v. 5 and also 5 17 n. — 
Lay incense thereon] the last word is not expressed in ?£f, but 
should be restored from ffit j$ U. — And make propitiation for 
them] cp. 8 19 . By far the most usual means of making pro- 
pitiation is blood (Lev. 17 11 (H) ; cp. 6 23 < 30) i6 15f -), or offerings 
like the sin-offering and the burnt-offering (Lev. i 4 ), which 
involved the effusion and ceremonial use of blood. But 
propitiation could also be made by other means, such as 
the half-shekel paid at the census (Ex. 30 15 ) : cp. Driver 
in Hastings' DB. iv. 130 f. The method here adopted may 
show the influence of a principle analogous to that noticed 
in 5 21 n., and illustrated in the passage from Pesikta there 
cited. As the people had sinned by means of censers and 
incense, so propitiation was made for them in the same 
way. Cp. also the story of the Bronze Serpent, 21 6 " 9 . 
— For the wrath, whose coming outbreak is indicated in 
Yahweh's words in v. 10 , has gone forth from Yahweh. The 
divine wrath is here very independently conceived ; cp. 2 Ch. 
19 2 and such Targumic idioms as "against me also there was 
anger from before Yahweh" (Dt. i 37 31°). A similar inde- 
pendence is given to the "truth" of God in Ps. 43 s . In the 
references back to this passage in 18 5 the weaker phrase found 
also in i 53 , Jos. 9 20 22 20 is used.— The plague] 8 19 n.— 12 (47). 
Relates the carrying out of the instructions given in v. 11 , but 
rather ineptly; note the order, and Aaron took, etc., and 
ran . . . and put; ct. v. 11 . — 13 (48). The plague] the same 
word as in v. u 14 37 : though derived from the same root it 
is not the same as that used in v. nf -. — Those that died in 
the matter of Korah] the two hundred and fifty princes who 
presented the censers (16 35 ). — 15 (50). After the plague had 
been stayed (v. 13 ), Aaron returns to Moses, who is still (cp. 
v. 8f ) at the tent. RV. obscures the point by its rendering 


of the last clause, which should rather run, the plague having 
been stayed: cp. Driver, Tenses, 16. 

8. UB Vk] The equivalent, after vbs. expressing motion, to ':sS after vbs. 
of rest : cp. 20 10 , Ex. 23 17 , Lev. 6 7 o. 8 16 2 : so Di. on Lev. 6 7 .— 10. vrwi\ 
Niphal also in Ezek. io 18 - 17 - 19 t. On the form, see G.-K. ?2dd.—i.l. 
■fan] Imperative Hiph. ; (5 S <£° translate by transitives, To pergens, 
which may also be the intention of S -}hn, i.e. sfoj, the rarer form of Imper. 
Kal. Cp. the intransitive vb. (p'l) in the next v. 

16-26 (1-11). The superiority of the tribe of Levi vindicated 
by the blossoming of Aaron's stick.— V. 17 - 20 (2 ~ 5) , Moses is to 
take a stick from each of the twelve secular tribes, and to 
inscribe on each stick the name of the tribal prince ; he is also 
to take a stick from the tribe of Levi, inscribing on it the name 
of Aaron. He is then to leave them all before the ark. By a 
miraculous sign Yahweh will still the complaints of the people 
against the exclusive rights of the Levites to approach Yahweh ; 
for the stick of the representative of the tribe whom Yahweh 
chooses to a jproach Him will bloom ; v. 21- '- 4 , the directions 
given in v. 17 " 20 carried out with the promised effect; v . 24b - 26 , 
Aaron's stick blossoms and bears ripe almonds. Subsequently 
the princes receive their sticks back again, but Aaron's is 
put back and kept before the ark as a warning token. The 
meaning is not too clearly expressed in the original ; but the 
foregoing seems to be the correct interpretation, especially 
in regard to two points. (1) The number of sticks is in all 
thirteen. In c. 1-3 the secular tribes regularly appear as 
twelve in number, and Levi stands apart as a thirteenth. 
Similarly, in c. 7 there are twelve secular princes (awtW). 
This interpretation does most justice to v. 21 , the last part of 
which is rendered by V periphrastically, but not unreasonably, 
fueruntque virgce duodecem absque virga Aaron. So Di. and Str. 
Others {e.g. Keil, Reuss) consider that only twelve sticks in 
all are intended, and that the two tribes of Ephraim and 
Manasseh here count as one, as in Dt. 27 12 . (2) The point of 
the story is to illustrate the distinction between the secular 
tribes on the one hand, and the sacred tribe of Levi as a whole 
on the other. Aaron is the tribal representative (cp. v. 23 ), 
corresponding to the representatives of the other tribes; he 

XVII. i6-iq 2 I 5 

is not here the representative of the priestly section of that 
tribe as distinguished from the merely Levitical families. The 
motive of the story is thus in accord with P g 's story of Korah 
in c. 16. See p. 191 f. 

17 (2). And take from them one stick for each family, from 
all their princes of their families twelve sticks] A stick (^'Q) 
seems to have been as regularly carried by the Hebrews (see 
Gn. 38 18 - 26 , 1 S. 14 43 ) as by the Babylonians (Herod, i. 195); 
it was with this stick of ordinary life that Aaron wrought his 
miracles in Egypt (see Ex. J 9 8 1 - 12(6 - 16) (P)), and it is dried sticks 
of this kind that are here intended. It is only quite exception- 
ally (as, perhaps, in Ezek. 7 10 ig 11 - 12 - u ), if at all, that the word 
is used of a fresh rod. By metonymy the word nDO is used 
(in P and Ch.) for "tribe" ; it is probably because the writer 
here uses the word nttE in its original sense that he selects the 
expression father's house or family (ax rva) for "tribe." The 
"family" is generally a subdivision of a tribe (see on i 2 ); 
but the specification of the number both in this v. and in v. 21 ® 
quite clearly shows that it here denotes one of the twelve 
tribes. The princes may be identical with those mentioned by 
name in c. 1. 2. 7. 10 and called in i 16 " princes of the tribes of 
their fathers." — The name of each shall thou write upon his 
stick] The name of the prince is written on behalf of his tribe : 
cp. v. 20 ®. — 18 (3). The Levites also are to present one stick, 
but one only, inscribed with the name of Aaron. The v. would 
be superfluous if Levi's was one of the twelve sticks referred 
to in v. 17 (2) ; for there could be no question that Aaron was 
the prince or representative of this tribe. — For there is one stick 
for the head of their families] the Hebrew does not admit of the 
distributive rendering of RV. Their must refer to the collect, 
sing. Levi (cp. 18 23 phil. n.), and the families must here be the 
main divisions of the tribe of Levi. The whole tribe is to have 
a single representative ; its several divisions are not to be 
separately represented in the ordeal. This appears to be the 
meaning (cp. Rashi), but it is obscurely expressed. — 19. Before 
the testimony] v . 25(l0) ; cp. v. 22(7) before Yahweh in the tent of 
the testimony. "The testimony " or "law " (Ex. 25 16 - 21 40 20 ), 
written on two tablets (Ex. 31 18 34 s9 ), was kept in the ark, 


which was therefore commonly called "the ark of the testi- 
mony" (4 5 7 s9 ; CH. i6i p ); of this phrase "the testimony" 
may in some cases, such as Lev. 16 13 , if not also in Ex. 16 31 
and the present passage, be regarded as an abbreviation. In 
any case the position intended is before the ark. Since Yahweh 
there meets with Israel through its representative, this maybe 
described as "before Yahweh" (cp. v. 22(7) and 20 9 ). — Where 
I am wont to meet yon\ You refers to the children of Israel, 
whom Yahweh met in the person of their representative 
Moses : cp. Ex. 2 g i - { - ($ ; ct. ffi S V). SGU and some Heb. 
MSS. read thee, i.e. Moses; cp. Ex. 2 5 22 3 o 6 - 3G .— 20 (5). The 
ma?i whom as representative of his tribe / choose that he and 
his fellow tribesmen may approach me; cp. i6 5 n. — I will cause 
the murmurings to cease . . . from troubling or annoying me] 
the double preposition ?j'0 is expressive; cp. 21 7 25 s , Am. 5 23 , 
and see BDB. 7586 (bottom).— 22 (7). Before Yahweh] here 
and in v. 21 = "before the ark": cp. v. 19 n., also Ex. i6 33f - ; 
but the phrase generally means "before the tent"; see 5 16 n. 
— The tent of the testimony'] see 9 15 n. — 23 (8). The next day 
Moses returns to the tent and finds that Aaron's stick has 
borne ripe almonds. — And, behold, the stick of Aaron of the 
house of Levi had sprouted, and brought fortli buds, and fully 
flowered, and ripened almonds] the terms of growth are prob- 
ably multiplied in order to emphasise the fact that in a single 
night the complete process of growth, up to the production of 
the mature fruit, had been accomplished in the previously dry 
and dead stick. Whether the second and third terms are to 
be so sharply distinguished as above, or whether they are more 
completely synonymous, and simply used together here for 
rhetorical purposes, is somewhat uncertain. The verb of the 
first clause (ma), which is primarily used of the budding of 
the flower {e.g. Is. 35 1 , Cant. 6 11 7 13 — note the parallels), is 
here perhaps used of shooting forth in general ; such is its 
meaning in Job 14 9 , where it is used of the growth from the 
root of a felled tree, and its use of the shooting forth of 
leaves is implied in Pr. n 28 . The noun (rns) of the second 
is cognate with the verb of the first clause. It, too, some- 
times denotes budding shoots or foliage (Nah, J 4 ); if it had 

XVII. 20-25 2 I 7 

tHIs meaning - here the second clause would be synonymous with 
the first. But it primarily denotes the bud or blossom (Is. i8 5 ), 
and is probably used with this meaning- here. The noun (px) 
in the third clause which forms a cognate object to the verb 
(pPl) occurs elsewhere of flowers growing from the ground 
("the flowers of the field," Is. 40 s-8 , Ps. 103 15 , cp. Job 14 2 ), 
but not of the blossoms of a tree. Derenbourg (ZA TW. v. 
p. 301 f.) is inclined to interpret the word of the fruit in its 
immature state as the blossom falls away; cp. Is. 18 5 . The 
fruit produced by the stick is the almond ("ip'C'), which derives 
its name, meaning "wakeful," from the fact that the tree is 
the first to awake from its winter sleep and produce blossoms. 

There are many somewhat similar stories of the miraculous vegetation 
of dried sticks. An Englishman readily recalls the legend of Joseph of 
Arimathea's stick, which, placed in the ground of Weary-all hill, became 
the miraculous thorn of Glastonbury. The stories of Hercules' club and 
Romulus' spear are further parallels. Of the former, Pausanias relates the 
story : " They say that Hercules leaned his club against this image [a 
Hermes], and the club, which was of wild olive wood, struck root in the 
ground, if you please, and sprouted afresh ; and the tree is still growing " 
{Description of Greece, ii. 31 13 , ed. Frazer). For the story of Romulus, see 
Plutarch, Romulus, 20, and Ovid, Met. xv. 560 ff. — 
Utque Palatinis hserentem collibus olim, 
Quum subito vidit frondescere Romulus hastam 
Qua? radice nova, non ferro stabat adacto, 
Et iam non telum, sed lenti viminis arbor 
Non expectatas dabat admirantibus umbras. 
Reland (Pal. p. 712) recalls the stories of the sacred terebinth at Hebron 
which sprang from the stick of the angel who appeared to Abraham ; the 
terebinth at Smyrna which sprang from Polycarp's stick ; and the ash 
which grew out of St. Ethelred's stick. The connection with the omen 
of rods flourishing or withering claimed by W. R. Smith (Ret. Sem. 
179 n. 5, - 196) seems less close. There is no suggestion in the story that 
anything happened to the remaining eleven sticks. 

25 (10). To be kept] (mecob) Ex. i6 32 " 34 .— Forasign]cp. v. 3 .— 
The sons of rebellion] the precise phrase (no >Z2) occurs nowhere 
else ; but cp. " rebellious people " (no 0V), Is. 30 9 , and Ezekiel's 
frequently recurring term for Israel, " house of rebellion " (jva 

no(n)— Ezek. 2 5 " - 8 3 9-26. 27 I2 2. 3. 9. 25 ^12 ^S), Both J„ the 

present phrase and in Ezekiel's, "rebellion" is a rhetorical 
substitute for the national terms in the idioms "sons of Israel " 
(bjotr »33) and "house of Israel" (ta"»B« JV3) respectively. 


17. 100 nx p'k] For different views of the cstr., see Konig, iii. 76 ; G.-K. 
139c. — 18. At the end of the v. (K adds 5w<rov<nv ; and for cniS it has Kara 
<pv\Jji>. Possibly this difficult clause ^ee above) is corrupt. — 19. Dnmm] 
v. 22 , Ex. 16 33 (P).— nc»] (5 S (unnecessarily) dp.— 20. tavn] lit. " to cause 
to sink " ; the verb is used here only in Hiph. ; the Kal is used in Gn. 8 1 (P) 
of the sinking of the waters ; Est. 2 1 7 ao of the cessation of wrath ; Jer. 5 s6 1 
of the stooping of fowlers.— 23. hvd] <& + Kal 'Aapwv : cp. v. 26 . — 'i 1 ? ivnS prut] 
the h after the proper name is a periphrasis for the gen.: Konig, iii. 280& — 
25. S?™] sj r ntax, according to Driver, Tenses, 60 ff. MT. points as 2nd pers. 
Piel (subject Moses), and implies the meaning " to cause to cease," found 
elsewhere (according to BDB. p. 4786) only in Ps. 78 s3 . ffi translates nal 
irai><T<L<r0(i) = h2n), 3rd fern. Kal — "that the murmurings may cease" ; simi- 
larly S 1 ; for the meaning of the Kal, cp. Is. io 25 ; for the fern. sing, subj., 
Dav. 116. — DnJiSn] S DnuSn ; cp. v. 20 $% and phil. n. on 14 1 . — 26. WD] (K + zcal 
Aapdiv ; at end of v. iirol-qaav — icy. 

27, 28 (12, 13). These verses, containing- the alarmed con- 
fession of the people that access to Yahweh, which they had 
claimed through Korah (16 3-5 ), was fatal, and that they are all 
on the point of perishing for their sins, form really the intro- 
duction to the next c, which regulates the functions and 
privileges of the Levites, who do the service of the tabernacle 
and, by guarding access to it, secure the safety of the rest of 
the people. 

27. Behold we expire ! we perish, we all perish /] The tenses 
in the Hebrew are perfects of certainty: cp. Is. 6 5 , Jer. 4 13 ; 
Driver, Tenses, 13. The first vb. (j?U) is very characteristic of 
P: cp. 20 3 , Gn. 6 17 ; CH. 51.— 28a. Cp. 18 7 ; also i** 310. 38, 

On the connection and origin of these verses, see Wellh. Comp. 182 ; 
Kuenen in Th. Tijd. xii. 147 ; Di. 

28. DKfl] a strengthened interrog. (Kon. iii. 353A ; BDB. 506): "Shall 
we ever finish dying?" ; it is used just thus only here ; Job 6 13 is different. 
— UDO] G.-K. 67s. 

XVIII. The various parts of this chapter have been to a 
large extent anticipated; with v. 1-7 cp. 1 50 - 53 36-10. 38 ? an( j w jth 
v. 8ff - cp. e.g. Lev. 2 3 - 10 6 9 ~ n - 19 - ■ (16 " 18 - 26 - 29) . In spite of this 
it seems clear that the present chapter, with the possible 
exception of v. 25-32 , formed part of the main priestly work (P g ). 

Positive indications of this are (1) the close connection with Ps's 
account of Korah's rebellion : as in the story, so here the main antithesis 
is Levi and the rest of Israel ; whereas in i7 27f -( 12f> ) Israel exclaims that 
they must all perish, Yahweh in i8 lf - B - 21-23 regulates the functions of 
Levi, so that Israel in future may suffer no further destruction such as 

XVII. 27-XVIII. 2 219 

they have just experienced (with 18 8 cp. 17" (16 46 )). Levi as a whole is 
to be occupied with the tabernacle, that the rest of Israel need not come 
into perilous proximity to it (i8 21 '-). Altogether subordinate to this main 
distinction is the distinction between the priests (v. 8-20 ) and the Levites 
(v. 21 " 24 ) in respect of the dues payable to them : for this is merely made 
because the writer wishes not simply to catalogue the dues payable by the 
Israelites, but also to describe the different destinations and different 
treatments (v. 10 - 11 - 13 ) of the several dues. As contrasted with all Israel, 
priests and Levites are alike distinguished by the fact that they have no 
landed possession (v. 20 - 24 ). (2) The reference to "the altar" in the 
sing, (v. 6 - 17 ); cp. Introd. § II. (3) The inconsistency between v. 20 and 

35 1 " 8 (P s )- 

At the same time the c. is marked by certain peculiarities. 
"The laws in v. 1 - 8 - 20 are addressed to Aaron (so only Lev. 
io 8 ; elsewhere instructions for Aaron are imparted through 
Moses, e.g. Lev. 8 2 16 2 21 1 , Nu. 6 23 8 2 ) ; and the customary 
formula 'spake . . . saying' is not employed, v. 1 - 8 - 20 , ct. 25 " 
(CH.). On the general priestly character of the language, 
see above, p. 188. 

1-7. The duties of Levi. — The priests are to have the 
immediate care of the sanctuary and the altar (v. 6 ) ; the rest 
of the tribe are to assist them, but in such a way that they 
do not come into direct contact with the sacred objects or the 
altar (v. 3 ). The object of the whole arrangement is to pre- 
vent the rest of Israel approaching the sanctuary, and so 
perishing (v. 5 : cp. i7 27f - (12f - ) ). 

1. Thou and thy sons] i.e. the priests. — The house of thy 
father] Genealogically this includes the previous phrase; 
but from an ecclesiastical standpoint it is quite naturally 
used to define the whole of the tribe of Levi, exclusive of 
the family of Aaron ; see p. 22. — Shall bear the guilt of the 
sanctuary] shall bear the consequences of any guilt incurred 
in connection with the sanctuary, such as that of coming too 
near it (i 50 ). For the phrase, cp. Ex. 28 s8 (CH. 28 p ) ; and for 
"guilt" (py) in the sense of " the consequences, the punish- 
ment of guilt," see 14 34 . Since the danger of attending to 
the sanctuary is thus confined to Levi, the fear expressed by 
the people (i7 27f- ) is groundless. — 2. The tribe of Levi, the 
tribe of thy father] the term nt3E> in the first clause is 
regularly used by P (see n. on i 4 ), that in the second (oat?) 


very rarely (4 18 n.); the second clause is probably editorial, 
and suggested by "the house of thy father" in v. 1 . — Bring 
near with thee] scarcely in the technical sense (16 5 n.) "bring- 
near to God in company with thyself" ; but rather, in view of 
the clauses that immediately follow, " Have brought unto thee 
(cp. 3 C ), to be with and assist thee " pl^). But &, perhaps 
rightly, assimilates the clause to Ex. 28 1 and reads Tlpn 
TPN = "have brought unto thee." — That they (Levi) may join 
themselves (w'yillavu)] a similar paranomasia may be found in 
Gn. 29 s4 . — And serve thee whilst thou and thy sons with thee 
are before the tent of testimony (9 15 n.)] the Levites are to 
assist the priests when the latter are engaged in ritual 
duties. The last clause is circumstantial (Di., Tenses, 156- 
159), not, as in R.V., antithetical. — 3a. Cp. 3 7 . — 3b. Cp. 4 15 . 
— 4. The Levites, but the Levites only, may thus assist the 
priests, for no layman (nt), i.e., no one not of the tribe of Levi 
(cp. n. on i 51 ), shall draw near to you (lJD^X) the priests, or, 
with ffl (7rpo? ae), to thee, i.e. Aaron ; note the singular pro- 
noun at the beginning of the v. — 5. Ye shall keep the charge 
of the sanctuary] Sanctuary (t^Tpn) is used with a variety of 
implications ; it may refer to the whole sacred enclosure 
(cp. e.g. Lev. io ls ), or to the tent (Lev. io 4 ), or to the 
" holy place " (as distinct from the " holy of holies "), i.e. the 
outer of the two chambers into which the tabernacle was 
divided by the veil (Ex. 26 s3 ), or to the inner chamber — "the 
holy of holies" (Lev. i6 2 - 3 - 16 - 17 etc.). If the present v. be 
intended to distinguish between the objects of priestly and 
Levitical care, the term is best regarded either as an abbre- 
viation for "objects of the sanctuary" (v. 3 ), or as referring to 
"the holy of holies " (v. 7 ). But since the subject of the vb. 
is not separately expressed (ct. v. 7 ), and is therefore not 
emphasised, it is doubtful whether the writer at this point 
makes the transition from the Levites, who have constituted 
the main subject of the previous vv., to the priests exclusively. 
The subject ye may rather include priests and Levites — all 
alike must keep their charge if the Israelites are to be 
prohibited from outbreaks of the divine wrath. Then in 
this case "sanctuary" may be used with its widest signi- 

XVIII. 3-8 22 1 

fication and refer to the sacred enclosure. — 5b. Cp. 17 11 . — 
6. Cp. 3 9 8 10 - 19 .— 7. But thou and thy sons] The priests, as 
distinguished from the Levites, have peculiar priestly duties 
to discharge (cp. i b ), especially in connection with the altar 
and with service within the curtain (Ex. 26 s3 , Lev. i6 12f ). — 
And ye shall serve ; as a service of gift I give your priesthood] 
The priesthood is a favour conferred by Yahweh on the 
priests. But the phraseology is strange, and the rest of the 
first clause abrupt ; very possibly there is some corruption : 
cp. (£r. — And the stranger] here, anyone not a priest. — Who 
draws near] to perform priestly duties : 16 5 n. 

2. n^i . . . 'i 1 ?] such puns have no etymological value. For suggested 
etymologies of I 1 ?, see the literature cited in BDB. p. 532c — 3. hnun 73] 
<& om. ^3. 

8-20. The priests' dues. — A summary statement (v. 8 ) that 
all the "holy things " of the children of Israel are to become 
the property of the priests is followed by a series of specific 
directions, as follows : — Except those parts which are burnt 
on the altar, the whole of all meal-offerings, sin-offerings, 
and guilt-offerings falls to the priests, and may be eaten by 
any male member of a priestly family in a holy place (v. 9f -). 
All the contributed portions of peace-offerings, all the "fat" 
of oil, wine and corn, and all first-ripe fruits, become the 
property of the priests, and may be eaten by any member of 
the priestly households, male or female, who is ceremonially 
clean (v. 11-18 ). Further, the priests are to appropriate all 
"devoted things" (herem), all firstborn of clean cattle and 
the redemption price of all firstborn of men and unclean cattle 
(v. 14-17 ). All these are in the first instance the property of 
Yahweh, and are given by Him to the priests because they 
have no landed possessions in Canaan (v. 19 - 20 ). On the value 
and significance of these dues, see below, p. 236 ff. 

8. / have given unto thee that which is kept of the contribu- 
tions made to Me] i.e. that part of the offerings which is not 
burnt on the altar, but kept over. The translation assumes 
a very rare concrete sense of the Hebrew word mETO ; but 
see 1 S. 22 23 , and cp. the corresponding abstract use in 17 25 
19 9 , Ex. 12 6 i6 23 - 82 . To translate (with RV.), "I have given 


thee the charge of" the offerings is pointless; dues, not 
duties, form the subject of the v. — The contributions — even all 
the holy things] 5 9 n. — To thee I have given them as a share] 
Lev. 7 s5 . RV. text is wrong ; see phil. n. — A perpetual due] 
the word \>T\ is commonly used for any prescribed or estab- 
lished quantity, especially of food, as, e.g., of the food regu- 
larly granted to the Egyptian priests by Pharaoh (Gn. 47 s2 ) ; 
the present phrase recurs frequently in P (Ex. 2c) 28 , Lev. 6 U 7 s4 
io 15 etc.). — 9. This shall be thine of the most holy things in so 
far as they are not burnt, and are, therefore, reserved from 
the altar-fire. This is substantially the meaning, though the 
very terse phrase (^sn p) of the original might be differently 
paraphrased. Cp. Lev. 2 3 , "And that which remains [after 
a handful has been withdrawn to be burnt on the altar 
(v. 2 )] of the meal-offering shall be Aaron's " ; see also Lev. 
2 io 59_ i^e term "most holy" may be used of the offerings 
mentioned in this and the next verse, because they "obtained 
a higher consecration " as compared with those mentioned in 
v. llff - (see Driver and White, Leviticus, p. 63 f. ; or, more 
fully, Baudissin, Studien, ii. 52 ff.); but the terms "holy" 
and "most holy" are used rather indifferently, as is shown 
by a comparison of the last clauses of v. 9 and 10 . The 
portions of these offerings which were burnt on the altar, 
and, therefore, did not fall to the priests were in the case 
of every meal offering a handful (Lev. 2 8 5 12 6 8(15) ), or an 
undefined amount (Lev. 2 9 - 16 ) ; and in the case of animal 
sin-offerings or guilt-offerings, "the fat pieces " as defined 
in Lev. 4 26 (3 s-5 ) 7 3-5 . In the case of all animal offerings, 
moreover, the blood was withheld from human, even 
priestly, consumption. The burnt-offering is not mentioned 
in the present passage, for no part of it was eaten ; yet 
although the whole of the flesh was burnt on the altar (Lev. 
i 9 - 13 ), the skin was previously removed, and became the 
property of the priest, Lev. 7 8 . The peace-offerings are 
treated in v. 11 (cp. v. 18 ). — Their guilt-offering with which 
they make restitution to Me] the relative clause is best thus 
rendered, and so limited to the last term ; cp. 5 7S -. The 
''asham was originally a compensation for wrong done ; see 

XVIII. 9- ii 223 

i S. 6. — 10. In a most holy place skull thou eat it] in Lev. 
6 9 - 19 (16 - 26) 7 6 it is laid down that the meal-offering, the sin- 
offering - , and the guilt-offering shall be eaten "in a holy 
place." In the two former passages "the holy place" is 
defined by a following clause (which may well be a gloss, 
yet, if so, an early and correct one) to be "the court of the 
tent of meeting." The same place must be intended here 
(Siphre: Rashi, Di.), though it is uniquely described by the 
phrase which commonly defines the inner part of the tent 
(Ex. 26 33 ). Ezekiel (42 13 46 20 ) also requires the holy things 
to be eaten in a holy place, viz. in the chambers of the 
inner court. — Every male] Lev. 6 11 - 22 (18 - 29 ^ 7 6 . — 11. The 
contribution from their gift, including all the wave-offerings] 
The peace-offerings are here referred to ; parts of these were 
contributed to the priest, and a part was waved (Lev. 7 28 ~ 34 ). 
For some unknown reason, instead of using the technical 
term Dwt5>, the writer here refers to these offerings by the 
vague word gift (jno), which is used but once again in the 
Hexateuch, and then not of a sacrificial offering (Gn. 34 12 ). 
The word, it is true, is not an unsuitable description of the 
peace-offerings even from the standpoint of P, who classes 
them as korban, "gifts made at the altar" (Lev. 3). Never- 
theless, though presented at the altar, the greater part 
of a peace-offering was not in any further sense a gift to 
Yahweh : it was consumed at a sacrificial meal, in which 
any one ceremonially clean might partake (Lev. 7 19-21 ). 
Ordinarily the portions contributed from the whole offering to 
the priest were the breast and the right thigh (Lev. 7 31 - 34 ) ; 
in exceptional cases, such as that of the Nazirite's peace- 
offering (6 19f ), additional portions were contributed : together 
these parts constituted the frtimah (5° n.), or contribution 
from the peace-offering. Of these pieces one (in exceptional 
cases others, 6 19f ), viz. the breast, was ceremonially waved 
(6 20 n.) ; this part of the frilmah was called specifically 
fnuphah or wave-offering. All the parts, then, of the peace- 
offering given to the priest are referred to in the first of 
the two clauses in the text ; the part waved is particularly 
specified in the second. This is the most probable interpre- 


tation ; for in spite of the universal phrase (all the ■wave- 
offerings), everything- called fnupliah, or subject to the rite of 
waving, cannot be intended here. For, described as fnitphah, 
or as subject to the rite of waving, are the following: — (i) 
the gold and bronze given for the tabernacle (Ex. 35 s22 3s 24 - 29 ) ; 
the Levites (8 U - 13 - 21 ) ; (2) portions of the "ram of consecra- 
tion " and its accompaniments subsequently burnt in the 
altar-fire (Ex. 29 s2 " 25 , Lev. 8 25 " 28 ) ; (3) certain guilt-offerings 
(Lev. i4 12 - 21 - 24 ) ; (4) the sheaf of first-fruits and the bread of 
first-fruits with certain accompanying sacrifices (Lev. 23 10 - 20 ) ; 
(5) the meal-offering- presented in connection with the ordeal 
of jealousy (s 25 ) ; (6) quite exceptionally the thigh as well as 
the breast of the peace-offering is required to be waved, Lev. 
9 21 io 15 . The t'nfiphoth contemplated in the present law, since 
they are to be eaten, cannot include the first and second 
groups ; nor, presumably, do they include the third and 
fifth groups, since these already fall under the law of v. 9f - ; 
nor the fourth group, which falls under the law of v. 12f -. As 
to (6), if the theory of Lev. 9 21 io 15 govern the present law, 
which is improbable, the two terms in the text must be 
treated as coextensive, and rendered the contribution from 
their gift, even all the wave-offerings, the last clause being 
limited by the context to the parts of the peace-offering 
which were waved. — Every one that is clean] Lev. 22 s - 7 . — 
Every one . . . in thy house] Lev. 22 10 - 13 . The necessity 
for being ceremonially "clean" when partaking of sacred 
food was an ancient regulation (1 S. 2i 4ff -).— 12. All the 
fat] fig. for "best": cp. Dt. 32 14 , Ps. 8i 17 < 16 > 147 14 .— Oil . . . 
must . . . com] the terms (in^, tsnvi, pi) denote the new 
produce as contrasted with |DB>, J", and 13B>. On Erpfi 
( = must, or new wine), see Dr., foel, 79 {.—The first of them] 
This repeats by means of the more technical word (n-J'Ni), 
used in the parallel law of Dt. 18 4 (cp. Ex. 23 19 ), the sense of 
" the best of . . ." How the part to be given to the priests 
was computed is not stated. On later practice, see below.— 
13. The first-ripe fruits of all that is in thy land] Some (e.g. 
Di.) have taken this to be a generalising repetition of v. 12 , in- 
tended to correct the inference that the offerings in question 

XVIII. 12, 13 225 

were to be confined to corn, wine, oil. But this is hardly 
probable. A distinction is drawn in Neh. io 30 - 3& ^ 35 - 87) be- 
tween "the first-ripe fruits ( ,_ n33) of our ground and the first- 
ripe fruits of all fruit of all trees " which were brought 
"yearly to the house of Yahweh " on the one hand, and a 
"contribution" (distinct from tithe) of agricultural produce 
made to the priests on the other. This distinction reappears 
in the Mishnah ; and the two offerings, there clearly dis- 
tinguished as bikkurlm and frumah, are discussed at length 
in the tracts bearing those names. Probably the D^TDQ of 
this v., like the Dnm of Neh. io 36(35) and the Mishnah, were 
comparatively small offerings of raw produce, which became 
indeed, like other offerings or portions thereof, the property 
of the priests, but only after being presented "with religious 
ceremony at the temple, whereas the fWiO of v. 12 , like the 
offerings mentioned in Neh. io 37a ^ 36a) and the frumah of the 
Mishnah, was a contribution of meal, fruit, wine, oil, etc., 
given as a tribute simply and immediately, without religious 
ceremony, to the priests. See, further, the small print n. that 
follows. — WJiich they bring to Yahweh] cp. Neh. io 36 ^ "to 
bring the first-ripe fruits ... to the house of Yahweh." 
The first-ripe fruits were offered with a solemn ceremonial 
at the temple, as they must have been earlier at the local 
sanctuaries : cp. Ex. 23 19 34 26 , Dt. 26 2 ~ n , Bikkurim, c. 3 (cited 
below). Philo, De testo cophini (Tischendorf, Philonea, 69-71 ; 
Young's translation, iii. 291-293). 

The dedication to the deity of a portion of the new produce of the year 
is a widely prevalent custom. "Primitive peoples often partake of the 
new corn sacramentally, because they suppose it to be instinct with a 
divine spirit or life. At a later age, when the fruits of the earth are con- 
ceived as created rather than as animated by divinity, the new fruits are 
no longer partaken of sacramentally as the body and blood of a god ; but 
a portion of them is presented as a thank-offering to the divine beings 
who are believed to have produced them. . . . Till the first-fruits have 
been offered to the deity . . . people are not at liberty to eat of the 
new crops " (Frazer, GB. ii. 458). The following are cited from a large 
number of examples collected by Frazer (ib. 318-340, 459-471): "Among 
the Basutos when the corn has been threshed and winnowed, it is left in a 
heap on the threshing-floor. Before it can be touched a religious cere- 
mony must be performed. The persons to whom the corn belongs bring 
a new vessel to the spot, in which they boil some of the grain. When it 



is boiled they throw a few handfuls of it on the heap of corn, saying, 
' Thank you, gods, give us bread to-morrow also ! ' When this is done 
the rest is eaten, and the provision for the year is considered pure and fit to 
eat " (459). "At the close of the rice harvest in the East Indian island of 
Buro, each clan meets at a common sacramental meal, to which every 
member of the clan is bound to contribute a little of the new rice. This 
meal is called 'eating the soul of the rice.' . . . Some of the rice is also 
set apart and offered to the spirits " (321). " The Chams of Binh-Thuan, 
in Indo-China, may not reap the rice harvest until they have offered the 
first-fruits to Po-Nagar, the goddess of agriculture, and have consumed 
them sacramentally " (323). In Fiji the new yams may not be eaten 
before the first-fruits have been dedicated ; but the custom as to disposing 
of the first-fruits differs : in some parts they are presented in the sacred 
enclosure, and there left to rot; in others they "are presented at the 
principal temple of the district, become the property of the priests, and 
form their revenue" (p. 464). "In the Punjaub . . . when the sugar- 
cane is cut the first-fruits are offered on an altar, which is built close to 
the press, and is sacred to the sugar-cane god. Afterwards the first-fruits 
are given to the Brahmans" (461 f.). 

Dedication of a part of the new produce was unquestionably an ancient 
custom with the Hebrews also. The early lawbook forbids delay in 
making the offering, and requires it to be made at the house of Yahweh, 
i.e. at the local sanctuary (Ex. 22 s8 < 29 ' 23 19 34 2S ). In H it is required that 
a particular kind of first-fruit offering must be made before the new crops 
may be eaten (Lev. 23 10 ' 14 ). But unfortunately the early references give 
no information as to the disposal of the offering ; it is consequently 
impossible to decide whether the first-fruits among the Hebrews were in 
early times consumed sacramentally, as the tithes at one time unquestion- 
ably were (see on v. 31 ), and as the first-fruits themselves, according to the 
customs of some countries just described ; or whether from the first among 
the Hebrews they formed a gift outright to Yahweh or His representative 
the priest. The former view is adopted by We. (Proleg. 155 f.) and 
Nowack (Arch. ii. 255-257), the latter by W. R. Smith (Religion of the 
Semites, 222 f., 2 24of.). In the former case the later assignment of the 
contribution to the priests, which had taken place by the time of Dt. 18 4 
(cp. Ezek. 44 s0 ), was merely due to the same tendency which, at a later 
date than Dt., changed the disposal of the firstborn and of the tithe (see 
below, on v. 18 " 18 - 21 " 24 ). 

All the new produce that came to the priests (even in the 7th cent.) 
was scarcely subjected to such elaborate ceremonial as is described in 
Lev. 23 10 * 14, 15 " 20 or Dt. 26 s " 11 . Consequently the distinction which is 
certainly drawn in Neh. io 35, OT , and probably in the present passage, 
may rest on earlier differences — differences in the mode of presentation, 
if not in the ultimate mode of disposal of the produce offered. 

But such a difference, if indicated here, is not indicated by the mere 
use of the two different terms nx'Nn and d'tox For in themselves they 
are, though not indeed in all cases, interchangeable, yet certainly 
not mutually exclusive. They are two among several terms that are 
used to denote (some of) the new produce of the year, or, specifically, that 

XVIII. 13 227 

part of it which was dedicated to the deity ; other terms are nymi nnSo 
(Ex. 22 M , cp. v. 27 below) ; nman with the addition of such a genitive as 
ap', pi (v. so ), oia or ma ; norm (v. 37 ) or D3T nonn (Dt. 12 6 ), or, specifically, 
p: nann (15 20 ). Of these, fTDnn only is necessarily confined, when used in 
reference to the new produce of the year, to that part of it which was 
withdrawn from the whole for sacred purposes. Both D ,_ im and jvcnt are 
primarily wider terms than norm, though less wide than nxian ; and it is, 
strictly speaking, only part of what is so termed that is offered to the 
deity ; hence the partitive |D in Dt. 26% Prov. 3 9 , and the defining clauses 
added here, "the rrcNT which they give unto Yahweh," "the omaa 
which they bring to Yahweh." So in Lev. 23 10 the sheaf that is offered 
is "the sheaf of the first (it^n-i) of thy harvest" (in Ex. 23 19 34 s6 , on the 
other hand, rvcin and Dmaa are coextensive rather than part and whole ; 
the case may be different in Ezek. 44 30 ). 

But commonly the partitive construction is dropped, and then 
reshith and bikktirim are tacitly understood to mean that part of the 
produce so termed that is to be offered or given ; so Dt. 26 10 (ct. v. 2 ), 
Neh. io 36 13 31 , 2 Ch. 31 5 , and Ex. 22 28 23 16 34 s6 are best understood in the 
same way. But observe that "bread of first-fruits" (o'niaa en 1 ?) is eaten 
by ordinary people on an occasion which nothing suggests was in any 
way sacred, 2 K. 4 42 . 

The two terms reshith and bikkflrim are rendered indifferently in EV. 
by "first-fruits," though the latter is here and in Nah. 3 1 '- exceptionally 
rendered " first ripe (fruits) " ; cp. the same rendering of rrnaa in Hos. 9 10 , 
Mic. 7 1 . (3r in the Hexateuch distinguishes the words, rendering jv^ni by 
airapxat (which also renders "icya, a^n, nann, and norm) and O'tiaa by irpwTo- 
yevvqixaTa (in Ezek. 44 30 48 14 = n'Cto) ; in this way (5r also brings out the 
close etymological connection between the first-fruits and the firstborn 
(Tiaa = irpwroTOKOs). But n'ffm though in itself of far more general meaning 
( = "the first part"), and, therefore, almost always defined by a genitive 
such as Tsp, Tfl (in Lev. 2 12 it is exceptionally undefined), is, when applied 
to agricultural produce, virtually synonymous with D'liaa, and thus, for 
example, ")Tsp n'tPtn nay (Lev. 23 10 ) might equally well have been termed 
moan "©y, and similarly the win nma (Lev. 23 1S ) or D'liaan en 1 ? (v. 20 , cp. 
v. 17 ) might have been called jtcnt on 1 ?. As a matter of fact, Dt. does not 
employ the term D*t)33, and uses the word nx'tn alike of the offering made 
vith religious ceremony in Dt. 26 2 " 10 and of the contribution simply 
required for the priesi in 18 4 . So again, though in the present passage 
Dmaa (v. 13 ) probably is an offering of raw produce, this distinction is not 
made clear by the mere use of the term ; for while n^NT certainly is used 
of raw produce in Dt. 26'-' 10 and Lev. 23 10 , Dmaa is not limited to offerings 
made in that form ; for see Lev. 23 17 - 20 (H) 2 14 (P). The two terms, then, 
are sufficiently coextensive to admit of Di.'s interpretation of v. 13 men- 
tioned above. 

But the facts that the two different te.-ms are used in two consecutive 
verses, that the second is strictly the narrower, and still more the differ- 
ence in the two defining clauses render the alternative view more probable ; 
"the n'tJ'NT . . . which they give unto Yahweh" (v. 12 ) is a contribution or 
tribute paid outright, with little or no religious ceremony, to the priests 


(cp. Dt. 18 4 , Neh. io S8 , 2 Ch. 31 5 ) ; "the Dnm . . . which they bring to 
Yahweh " (v. 13 ) are offering's of the raw produce which were brought to 
the sanctuary and offered with ceremony, offerings such as are described 
in Lev. 23 10 ' 14 , Dt. 26 2 - 10 , and in Bikkilrim, c. 3. 

The distinction just drawn was familiar to the Jewish scholars of the 
Mishnah. Though some of the details there given are manifestly far 
more recent than the present law, others may be much earlier than the 
1st or 2nd cent. A.D., and illustrate at least the outcome of the laws given 
in the text. 

According to the Mishnah, the products of the soil were subject to four 
exactions named as follows, and exacted in the following order (T'rilmoth 
iii. 6): (1) bikkilrim, (2) Frftmah, (3) tithe (ma'aser), (4) second tithe 
{maascrshcni). Of these the fourth resulted from an attempt to reconcile 
the two different but not originally coexisting laws of tithe stated in 
Dt. 14 22 " 29 and Nu. 18 21 " 28 respectively, at some time subsequent to the 
union of Dt. and P in the Hexateuch, and earlier than Tob. i 7 , Jos. Ant. 
iv. 8 2 (cp. Driver, Dt. 169-173). The first tithe of the Mishnah corresponds 
to the tithe of this c, discussed below. The Mishnah recognises that 
both the bikkilrim and the Prilmah were included under the OT. term 
Twvn {T e rtlmoth iii. 7). Nevertheless the bikkilrim and t e rilmah of the 
Mishnah differ widely from one another. The bikkilrim are clearly 
offerings of the same nature as the offerings of reshith described in 
Dt. 26 2 " 10 and Lev. 23 10 , and apparently identical with the bikkilrim 
"brought to Yahweh" (Nu. 18 13 ) or "to the house of Yahweh yearly" 
(Neh. io 36 ). According to the Mishnah (Bikkilrim), the bikkiirim were 
only offered of the "seven kinds," i.e. of wheat, barley, .vines, fig-trees, 
pomegranates, oil, and honey (i. 10 ; cp. ii. 3, iii. 9) ; they had to be 
brought to Jerusalem (ii. 2), fresh by those living near, dry by those 
living at a distance (iii. 3), and ceased to be offered with the fall of 
Jerusalem (ii. 3). The bikkilrim were selected as follows : " If any man 
went down into his field and saw a fig, grape-cluster, or pomegranate 
grown ripe he tied it with bast ('Dj) and said, ' Lo these are bikkitrim 
(iii. 1). When they were to be taken to Jerusalem all the inhabitants of a 
district assembled at the chief town. They achieved their journey to 
the music of pipes, with the ox, to be offered as a peace-offering, pre- 
ceding them, his ears tipped with gold and crowned with olive leaves. 
On approaching Jerusalem they were welcomed by the inhabitants, and 
the music was kept up till they reached the temple-mount. Arrived there, 
every man shouldered his basket containing the fruits, and proceeded to 
the fore-court, where they were met by Levites reciting Ps. 30. The 
animal offerings were offered ; the offerers began to recite Dt. 26 3ff -, and, 
in the middle of the recitation, the basket was removed and placed by the 
priest on the altar (c. iii.). Thus to the very last this offering of first-fruits 
retained much of its primitive character; the fruit indeed fell to the priest, 
but was of comparatively small value ; the religious ceremony was still 
the predominant feature in the custom. 

Very different was the terilmah of later times. It did not need to be 
brought to Jerusalem, and could consequently be contributed after the fall 
of the city (Bik. ii. 2 f.). It was exacted on all vegetable produce (mvsn hi : 

XVIII. 14 229 

Bik. ii. 3; cp., perhaps, ttclvtuv tup £k rrjs yrjs <j>vo[itvuv icapiruv, Jos. 
Ant. iv. 4 4 , and Philo, De prcem. sac. 1 (Mangey, ii. 233)); and in T'r&moth 
reference is incidentally made not only to the more important products 
like grain, wine, and oil, but also to cucumbers, melons, onions, and the 
like, as subject to the exaction (T e rilmoth ii. 5, 6, iii. 1, ix. 6). The amount 
oiPrilmah was not fixed, but was expected to be not less than -<fc and 
might be anything up to ^ or, according to Shammai, -fo (iv. 3). When 
the amount of the new produce to be given to the priest became even so 
much fixed as this cannot be determined ; the present law, like Dt. 18 4 , 
says nothing on the subject. 

14. Cp. Ezek. 44 29 . — Every devoted thing\ herem here, as 
in Lev. 27 2S - 29 , appears to mean anything so dedicated to 
Yahweh that it could not be redeemed. Obviously the 
present law cannot contemplate the objects of such acts of 
banning or devotion as are described in, e.g., 2i 2f - (n.), Dt. J 1L , 
Jos. 6 17 - 21 , 1 S. 15 ; for in these cases the objects of the ban are 
primarily human beings, and the effect of the ban is that they 
are put to death. The germ of the present use of the term 
may be found in the custom of placing the silver and gold of 
a " devoted" place in the sacred treasury (Jos. 6 19 ). But the 
phraseology here — everything devoted in Israel — as well as the 
passage cited from Lev. favours the view that herem in this 
law is used of objects directly dedicated by individual Israel- 
ites, rather than objects belonging to an individual or people 
placed under ban by the whole of Israel; see Now. Arch. ii. 
2 68. — 15-18. The rights of the priests in the firstborn consist 
of the redemption price of the firstborn of men, which is fixed 
at five shekels, equivalent to about twelve shillings, a head 
(3 47 n.), the redemption price of unclean animals, and the whole 
of the flesh of the firstborn of clean cattle. The claim of 
Yahweh to the firstborn was unquestionably ancient ; the 
early laws are familiar with it (Ex. 13 13 3 2 28f -( 29f -> 34 20 ). But 
the assignment of the firstborn or of the fine paid for their 
redemption to the priests is probably more recent than Ezekiel, 
who does not include the firstborn among the dues payable to 
the priests (Ezek. 44 28 " 31 ), and almost certainly more recent than 
Deuteronomy, which gives different directions for the disposal 
of the firstborn. 

In Dt. only the case of the firstborn of clean cattle is considered (is* 9 " 28 
12 i7t. , 4 23) on the incompatibility of the law of Dt. and Nu. i8 15 " 13 , and 


also on the probably superior antiquity of the former, see below, p. 2361., 
and Dr. Deut. p. 187. Here it may suffice to record the known differ- 
ences in the disposal of the three classes of firstborn (men, clean animals, 
unclean animals) as described in this law and elsewhere. (1) Unclean 
cattle. These, according to the present law, must be redeemed, and the 
price of redemption paid to the priest ; according- to Ex. 13 13 , in the 
(typical) case of the ass, redemption was optional ; if adopted, it is not 
stated that the price of redemption goes to the priest ; nor is it likely, for 
it was redeemed in kind by a lamb, and this, in all probability, was 
treated like a firstborn of clean animals. In any case, if the option of 
killing the ass was adopted, there being no redemption price, the priest 
received nothing. (2) Clean cattle. These, according to Dt., were eaten, 
not as the present law requires, by the priests alone, but, at a sacred 
meal, by the man and his household to whom the firstborn belonged. 
The Levite is simply commended to the hospitality of the Israelites on 
such occasions (Dt. i2 18f - 14 27 ). (3) Men. Various views have been held 
as to the original effect of Yahweh's claim to the firstborn of men : one 
has been noticed above (p. 26) ; according to another the firstborn were 
sacrified ; see Frazer, GB. ii. 43-52 ; and, briefly, Nold. in ZDMG. xlii. 
(1888) 483 : e contra We. Proleg.* 87 f.; W. R. Smith, Rel. of the Semites? 
445 ; Kamphausen, Die Verhaltnis des Menschenopfer zur israelitischen 
Religion, 63 ff. However this may be, from the time of the earliest codes 
the custom in Israel was to redeem the firstborn. So far the present law 
agrees with at least comparatively ancient custom in Israel. But the 
early law is at least silent as to any assignment of the redemption to the 
priest, nor does it fix the redemption at any definite price. Possibly in 
earlier times the price was variable. W. R. Smith argues at length in 
The Religion of the Semites (note K) against the theory that the firstborn 
originally constituted a source of tribute to the deity (or priest). 

15. Everything that openeth the womb (3 12 ), of all flesh] 
In contrast to the precision of the earlier laws (Ex. i3 12f - 15 
34 19f -, Dt. 15 19 ), this general term is not subsequently limited 
by any direct statement to males either here or in Ex. 13 2 
(P). Some,* therefore, have inferred that P required all first- 
born, whether male or female, to be redeemed. If this be 
correct, the divergence from earlier usage would be another 
instance of the increasing demands of the priests : but the 
inference is open to some doubt ; for in 3 40-61 (P) the male 
firstborn only are considered, and the redemption price here 
fixed (v. 15 ) is the value of a male between a month and five 
years of age, but in excess of the value of a woman of 
the same age (Lev. 27 6 ). — Only for the firstborn of ?nan thou 
shall receive a redemption price] the subj., as throughout 
* Kue. Hex. 30 ; Nowack, Arch. ii. 255. 

XVIII. 15-17 23I 

the section, is Aaron, the representative of the priests ; but 
since the priests receive the price, the vb. ms, if correctly 
pointed, is here used exceptionally of receiving the price 
of redemption; so in v. 16f -. — 15b. Ct. Ex. 13 13 (JE), and see 
small print n. above. — 16. Cp. 3 47 n. — And its redemption price] 
On the meaning of the term DMID, see 3 46 phil. n. The sing-, 
pronominal suffix here refers to the sing-, collective term 
(•Y03 "firstborn") in v. 15 . Grammatically, it should at least 
include a reference to the last clause of v. 15 , whence it would 
follow that every firstborn of unclean animals as well as of 
men, was to be redeemed at five shekels. The redemption 
price for male children is fixed elsewhere also at five shekels 
(3 47 , Lev. 27 s ) ; but that of unclean animals appears to have 
been, as we should naturally suppose it was, variable (Lev. 
2 yiif. 27)_ n i s unlikely, therefore, that the present law was 
actually intended to fix the same price for firstborn of men and 
firstborn of unclean cattle. Possibly v. 15b has been trans- 
ferred by accident to its present position from the end of v. 16 , 
or unreflectingly placed where it now stands by an editor, 
or, with Di., we may suppose v. 16 a later insertion. — From 
a month old] i.e. immediately after attaining the age of a 
month, and so, virtually, at a month old. Any age from a 
month upwards is differently expressed ; see 3 40 . For illus- 
trations of the present use of the JD, see BDB. s.v. p 46. 
The age at which children were redeemed is not stated in the 
earlier codes. The firstborn of oxen and small cattle were, by 
early custom, given to Yahweh on the eighth day (Ex. 22 29 ) 
from birth, the same day on which children were circumcised ; 
at a later period (Dt. 15 20 ), within a year from birth (Dt. 15 20 ). 
— 17. The firstborn of cattle, of sheep, or goats is treated, so 
far as the blood and the fat is concerned, in the same way as 
when one of these animals is presented as a peace-offering 
(Lev. 3 2-5 ), i.e. the fat is burnt on the altar and the blood 
poured or tossed in full volume against the altar. RV., as 
usual, erroneously renders pit by "sprinkle," and so confuses 
the term with the entirely different nfli. But the Jlesh of the 
firstborn is treated differently from that of the peace-offering ; 
for, whereas the greater part of the peace-offering could be 


eaten by any one ceremonially clean (Lev. 7 19 " 21 ), the whole of 
the flesh of the firstborn, like the right thigh and the breast of 
a peace-offering, is to be given over to the priests for consump- 
tion. — Thine (Aaron's) shall their fiesh be as the wave-breast, 
etc.] cp. Lev. 7 29 ~ 34 and v. 11 with n. above. — 19. A summary of 
the preceding vv. ; cp. v. 1 . — A covenant of salt] cp. " Yahweh 
. . . gave the kingdom ... to David . . . for ever ... by 
a covenant of salt " (2 Ch. 13 5 ). The phrase means an inviol- 
able covenant. Its origin is probably to be sought in old 
nomadic custom, whereby a bond was established between 
those who had shared the same food. The principle is, " If 
I have eaten the smallest morsel of food with a man, I have 
nothing further to fear from him ; ' there is salt between us,' 
and he is bound not only to do me no harm, but to help and 
defend me as if I were his brother."* The root malaha in 
Arabic means " to salt," a derivative milhat, "a treaty " ; and 
the sacred character of salt is recognised in a line cited from 
El-A f sha (Kitab el-'Agani, xx. 139, 28), "I swear by the salt 
and the ashes and Ozza and Lat." Salt was mingled with all 
Hebrew sacrifices (Lev. 2 13 , Mk. g i9 : cp. in reference to par- 
ticular species, Lev. 24 7 (£; Ezek. 43 24 ; Jos. Ant. iii.9 1 ; Z'bahim 
vi. 5) and with the holy incense (Ex. 30 35 ), and continued 
perhaps to symbolise the inviolability of Yahweh's covenant 
with Israel. — 20. Thou shall not inherit in their Ian d] Aaron is 
addressed as representative of the priests', Aaron can, it is 
true, be chose?i to represent the whole tribe of Levi (i7 18fl - (3ff>) ) ; 
but here at the close of the section dealing with dues to the 
priests (v. 8-20 ), and before the section dealing with the Levites 
(v. 21-24 ), Aaron must be interpreted in the narrower sense, for 
which "Aaron and his sons" is often, but not exclusively 
(cp. v. 28 3 6, 9 n.), used. In v. 23f - exclusion from inheritance in 
the land of Canaan is extended to the Levites, to whom the 
tithes are assigned in compensation as the sacred offerings 
are here assigned to the priests. Unlike the rest of Israel, 
then, priests and Levites receive no landed inheritance in 
Canaan, but certain sacred dues instead ; a corresponding 

* W. R. Smith, Rel. of the Semites 1 , 252, 2 27o; cp. We. Reste des 
A^-ab. Heid. 124. 

xviii. i9-2i 233 

theory is found in Deuteronomy (Dt. io 9 12 12 i4 27 - 29 18 2 , Jos. 
I3 14 - 33 18 7 ) and Ezekiel (44 28 ). But, strictly speaking, the 
present theory is inconsistent with the alleged assignment of 
forty-eight cities to the priests and Levites in other, presum- 
ably later, passages of P (Jos. 21, Nu. 35 1_s ). Passages in P 
agreeing with the present are 26 s2 , Jos. 14 3 . — I am thy portion 
and thy inheritance in the midst of the children of Israel] i.e. 
the priests are to live by means of the sacred gifts of the 
Israelites, which are handed over by Yahweh to the priests 
(v. 8 ). Cp. " Yahweh is his inheritance " (Dt. io 9 ) ; but observe 
that there and in other passages of D (Dt. 18 2 , Jos. i3 14 - 33 ) 
this statement extends to the whole of the Levites, and is not 
limited, as here, to the priests; see Driver's n. on Dt. io 9 . 

8. nn^?] = "portion" : cp. nijiyp Lev. f i5 and the Targumic riE>n and 
nnys= " a measure " ; Syr. -»■ * » V>— "tr. measure " ; p^K^QlO (note the 
justification for the o in nnsra)="a measure"; Ar. massah=" a geome- 
trician"; Assyr. mi$ifytu= tt measure." It is very questionable whether 
nti'D="to measure" has any connection with iwd= " to anoint," or the 
meaning " consecrated portion," given to nncD in BDB., any justification ; 
cp. Fried. Delitzsch, Proleg. p. 178 n. 1 ; Weinel in ZATW. 1898, p. 13. — 
cnru] The suffix refers to viD-in (Dav. 1, R. 3 ; G.-K. 1350) or -aip ; these, 
as distinct from the maera of them, are only given under conditions which 
are subsequently more closely defined. — "paSi] ffi S> + inx (cp. v. u pj). — 
9. trips] S 'tnpD ; cp. <&. — 10. mx] <Ex + <rv Kal ol viol aov. — 15. iTjep] v. 16 - 17 ; 
we must either assume a sense for the Kal here which it nowhere else 
possesses, or point rnae ; cp. Ex. 21 8 . The use of the inf. abs. Kal in v. 15 
is not conclusive against the latter; see G.-K. 113W. — 17. p"ii and nisi are 
already correctly distinguished in Speaker's Co?nm. ii. 499*. 

21-24. The Levites' dues. — In return for their service about 
the tent, and in lieu of any tribal possession of land, the Levites 
are to receive the tithes offered by the Israelites to Yahweh. 

21. But to the children of Levi] exclusive of the priests : 
cp. the similar usage of " tribe of Levi " in v. 2 . As contrasted 
with the different subject (Aaron and the priests) of the last 
v., the clause is placed first for emphasis. — Every tithe] 
According to Lev. 27 30 " 33 tithe was taken on both cattle 
and crops; but Dt. (14 22-29 26 12 " 15 ) refers only to a tithe on 
crops ; and in the present chapter the tithe seems to be simi- 
larly limited (cp. v. 27 - 30 ). A royal tithe on cattle is alluded to 
in 1 S. 8 17 , but of a tithe on cattle to be paid to the Levites 


we find no trace in OT. except in 2 Ch. 31 6 , Lev. 27 30-33 ; cp. 
Jubilees 32 15 . On the other hand, in the full list of dues given 
in Neh. io 36_38(35_37) , the tithe paid to the Levites is defined 
as "the tithe of our ground " (lanOTK "IB>I7D), i.e. a tithe on 
the crops; cp. Neh. 13 s - 12 . Probably, then, the claim to a 
tithe on cattle was first put forward between the time of the 
P g and that of P s or Ch., at some time between the 5th and 
3rd centuries B.C. Even then the claim appears to have met 
with but very partial response (Driver, Deut. p. 169^). In 
respect, then, of the substances on which tithe was levied the 
present passage agrees with D and disagrees with P s ; it is a 
tithe on agricultural produce. On the other hand, as to the 
disposal of the tithe, P is here at the same serious disagree- 
ment with Dt. (14 22-29 26 12-15 , cp. i2 17-19 ) as in the matter of 
the disposal of the firstborn of clean cattle (above, p. 230). 
In Dt., in two years out of three, the Levite was simply called 
to share with the offerer and his household in the sacred meal 
for which the tithe was used ; in the third year the tithe was 
withdrawn from the enjoyment of the landowner and given to 
the Levites in common with other needy classes, the gerim 
(15 13 n.), the widows and the fatherless. According to this law 
the tithe became the sole property of the Levites, from which 
they were compelled to contribute a tenth to the priests (v. 26 ). 
The completely different character of the tithe of Dt. and P 
was early perceived, and led to the institution of the "second 
tithe" (above, p. 228). But the institution of two tithes — 
one payable in toto to the Levites, the other intended to form 
a sacred meal for laymen and Levites — is not recognised by 
this law, which demands every tithe for the Levites ; for proof 
that two tithes were also not required by (nor indeed known 
to) D, and for a fuller discussion of the subject of tithe gene- 
rally, see Driver, Deut. 168-173. — 22. The service of the 
Levites, in return for which they are to receive the tithes, is 
required in order to prevent the Israelites from again incurring 
such fatal results of the divine anger at their approach to the 
tent of meeting as they had recently experienced, i7 uff - 28 (i6 46ff - 
17 13 ) : cp. i 58 8 19 . — 23. They shall bear their iniquity] be re- 
sponsible for and suffer the consequences of any guilt they may 

XVIII. 22-29 2 35 

incur in the discharge of their duties ; cp. v. 2 n. By Ezekiel 
(44 10 ) the same phrase is used in the very different sense of 
paying" the penalty for guilt actually incurred. The difference 
in the meaning of the phrase illustrates a fundamental differ- 
ence of attitude towards the Levites on the part of Ezekiel and 
P respectively : in Ezekiel the Levites are a class degraded 
from the priesthood in consequence of their guilt (Ezek. 
44 10-16 ) ; in P g they are a class chosen of Yahweh to a position 
of honour and distinction, though of less honour, and, there- 
fore, of less responsibility, than that of the priests ; see above, 
p. 22 ; and, further, Kuenen in Th. Tijd. xii. 150 f.; We. Com p. 
340 f. — 24. The tithe . . . which they contribute as a con- 
tribution] 5 9 n. 

21. f\hn] here and v. 81 only in OT. ; cp. »)Sn and .<^>\ »■», which are the 
regular equivalents in 2T and j$ respectively for nrm in $?. — 23. Nin] the 
addition of the pr. gives emphasis to 17J1 in antithesis to 7Nntr '33 (v. 23 ) : 
cp. 35 33 ; Kon. iii. 340c?. — on] the pi. pr. referring to the collect, gentilic 
noun n^n, Kon. iii. 346/. — The variations '17 '33 (v. 21 ), '17H (v. 23 ), 0'17 (v. 24 ) in 
this short section are worthy of observation ; cp. 4 18- M n. 

25-32. A tithe of the tithe is payable by the Levites to the 
priests. — The section is supplemental to v. 8-20 , but necessarily 
follows v. 21-24 . The tithe of the tithes is referred to in Neh. 
io 39(38) > — And Yahweh spake to Moses, saying] ct. v. 1 - 8 - 20 . 
This change, together with "the curious opening [v. 26 ] 'and 
to the Levites thou shalt speak and say,' etc., implying some 
previous utterance," has suggested to CH. that we have here 
an incorporation of fresh material. — 27 f. The Levites, as well 
as the rest of Israel (note Dns DJ v. 28 ), are to make a " contribu- 
tion " to Yahweh. As the Israelites set aside a part of the new 
produce of the year, of the corn sifted on their threshing-floors 
and the wine that fills their vats, so the Levites are to set aside 
for Yahweh a tithe of what they receive in tithe from the rest 
of the Israelites ; and (v. 30f ) as the latter, once having paid 
their sacred dues, enjoy the rest of the produce of their fields 
where and as they please, so the Levites may consume the 
remaining nine-tenths of the tithe with like freedom. — 27. The 
fulness] an old term for the new produce of the year ; see Ex. 
22 28 (29) anc j a bove, p. 226 f. — 29. Of all your gifts (i.e. the 


tithes) ye shall contribute the whole of the contribution due to 
Yahweh, (to wit) the hallowed part thereof > (selecting it) from 
the best part thereof . The tithe of the tithe is to be given in 
full, and to consist of the best part (lX>n ; cp. v. 12 n.) of the 
tithe. — 30 f. See on v. 27f \ — 31. The tithe, not consisting, like 
the dues payable to the priests, of holy things, may be eaten 
anywhere ; ct. v. 10 . — 32. If the Levites duly pay the tithe of 
the tithe they will bear no sin on account of it \ cp. Lev. 19 17 
2 2 9 . The meaning of the last half of the v. is not too clear ; 
the tithe apparently was not one of the holy thi?igs of the 
children of Israel within the meaning of the chapter ; more- 
over, the position of the phrase in Hebrew suggests that it 
refers to something other than what has been mentioned 
in the previous sentence. Probably, therefore, it is a warning 
that the Levites are to be content with their tithes and not 
profane, by consuming, what might only be eaten by the 

26. osnSma] BDB. s.v. 31 i. 7 b .— 29. norm •?=] Some Heb. MSS. and <& 
om. ^3 (cp. v. 28 $?). — 1:DD • • • wpo • • • i^n] the suffixes refer to ^3 at 
the beginning' of the v.; Kon. iii. 306a. — it!^i?a] see io 21 n. The abnormal 
punctuation may be intended as a warning that the word has not its usual 
meaning of "sanctuary": cp. Kon. ii. 97. BDB. (874a) propose tahg 
here. But it is possible that the whole clause is corrupt ; as an apposition 
to the clause next but one before it, it is strangely placed. — 30. O'bh] "S 
vobis, which Paterson thinks original. 

The 1 8th chapter of Numbers, when compared with 
other passages dealing with the priestly or Levitical dues, 
forms a valuable contribution to the history of the Jewish 

The salient fact is this : the dues here assigned to the 
tribe of Levi are immensely more valuable than those which 
are assigned, by direct statement or implication, to the Levites 
in Dt. or any pre-exilic literature ; and considerably more 
valuable than those required, for the priests, by Ezekiel. 
They are less valuable than those required in the Mishnah, 
and, in one respect, than those required in Lev. 27 s0-33 (P s ). 

It is possible in the abstract to suppose that this chapter 
contains the most ancient priestly claim, that that claim could 
not be made good, and that, therefore, the Deuteronomic 

xvi 1 1. 30-32 237 

legislators demanded only the smaller dues which it had 
become the custom to pay, and that, half a century later, 
Ezekiel reasserted, to a great extent, the more ancient claim. 
On this assumption, Nu. 18 might be regarded as earlier in 
date than Dt. or Ezek., and as containing a programme of 
claims which the priests would like to have made good if they 
could. But this is an improbable hypothesis : and it is certain 
that the practice of the pre-exilic period, so far as it may be 
gathered from notices scattered through the early literature, 
though it corresponds somewhat closely with the laws in Dt., 
differs widely from the regulations of Nu. 18, with which, on 
the other hand, the practice of the post-exilic age is in funda- 
mental agreement. The most natural conclusion from this 
fact is that Nu. 18 is a regulation later in date than Dt. 
This conclusion is greatly strengthened by the fact that there 
is a similar agreement in a number of other matters between 
the regulations of P and the practice of the post-exilic age 
(Kue. Hex. § 11). 

At all periods sacrifices consisted of two great classes : 
those of the one class (r6y, hhl) were withheld from human 
consumption and, being made over wholly to the deity, were 
consumed by the altar fire or ultimately given to the priest ; 
those of the other class formed the substance of a sacrificial 
meal in which the offerer, his family, and those who might be 
associated with him, participated.* It was sacrifices of the 
latter class that formed the prominent feature in early Hebrew 
life : sacrifices were festal occasions which the people were 
very ready to multiply (cp. e.g. Ex. 32 5f -, 1 S. i 4fl - 9 nff - i6 1-13 , 
Am. 4 4 , Hos. 8 13 ) ; this continued to be the case at least 
as late as Josiah's reformation, for in Dt. the phrases "to 
sacrifice," "to eat before Yahweh," and "to rejoice," are 
virtually synonymous (Dt. 12. 16 passim). In these sacrificial 
feasts the Levites, or priests of the time, used to be invited 
to take a share (above, pp. 230, 234). 

But mere participation in sacrificial meals was an inade- 
quate means of support for a class of men. And, apart from 
any income that may have accrued to them as arbitrators, 

* Cp. Jos. Ant. iii. 9 1 . 


some, at least, of the priests appear at a quite early period to 
have laid claim, and to some extent to have substantiated 
their claim, to more fixed sources of income. 

At the famous shrine of Shiloh, as we learn from a narrative 
(1 S. 2 12-16 ) probably as old as the 8th cent. B.C., the priests 
sent their servants to remove portions from the pot in which 
the sacrificial flesh was boiling. This is regarded in the story 
as a comparative innovation ; yet it was tolerated ; what 
roused opposition and ill-feeling was the claim of the priests to 
parts of the raw flesh. 

But long before the close of the 7th cent, this claim must 
have been decided in favour of the priests. Dt. (18 3 ) lays 
down that certain fixed parts of every head of oxen or small 
cattle offered as a sacrifice (of peace-offerings) must be given 
to the priests. 

The "holy bread," referred to in 1 S. 2i 3ff -, though not 
invariably, was probably, as a general rule, consumed by the 
priests. A passage in 2 K 23° referring to the consumption 
of unleavened bread by the priests of the high places after the 
suppression of these latter is obscure. 

Apart from these sacrificial portions, the priests at Jeru- 
salem must have derived some income from the "money for 
guilt" and "the money for sin" (DE>K spu and nxan SJD3) 
which are referred to in 2 K. i2 17(16 \ but unfortunately in so 
brief a manner as to leave us in doubt as to its exact nature 
or extent (cp. Nowack, Arch. ii. 226). 

In Dt. 18 4 the "first" (JVB>&a) of corn, wine, oil, and fleece 
is a due to the priests. 

These pre-exilic references do not suffice to give us a com- 
plete account of what the priests received. Dues to which we 
find no reference may have been paid them. On the other 
hand, we should not be justified in putting all the few refer- 
ences that do exist together, and inferring that the sources 
of income so mentioned formed part of a contribution 
regularly made to all priests from the time of David to 
Josiah. Manifestly, the priests at Jerusalem may have 
obtained payments that priests at less important sanctuaries 
failed to secure ; and the particular portions of sacrifices 

xviii. 239 

which gradually became fixed dues may have differed at 
different sanctuaries. 

And, again, in attempting to form a conception of the 
income of the priests before the Exile, two facts must be borne 
in mind, (i) That the form of sacrifice prominent alike in 
pre-exilic narratives and codes, and presumably, therefore, in 
the life of the people, was that in which the bulk of the sacri- 
ficial flesh was eaten by the offerer and his friends. (2) That 
the early literature, though it is acquainted with the rarer 
practice whereby certain victims were altogether removed 
from use as food and made over entire to the deity, says 
nothing of victims removed from use as food by the offerer, 
but handed over for consumption by the priest. 

Turning now to sources of priestly income alluded to in 
Nu. 18 and actually paid after the Exile, we find that some 
are simply not mentioned before the Exile ; it is possible, 
therefore, that even then the priests received them. Others 
are there mentioned, but they are assigned for entirely different 
purposes ; these, therefore, had not always contributed to the 
support of the priests. The dues in P include — 

(1) All meal-offerings; all sin-offerings ; all guilt-offerings 
(cp. Ecclus. 7 31 ). The assignment of these to the priests is 
required by Ezekiel (44 29 ), but is previously unknown. The 
germ of the law may, however, be seen in (a) 1 S. 2i 3-6 ; the 
bread was not necessarily eaten by the priests only ; but they 
might more readily preserve that ceremonial cleanness which 
was required when eating it; (b) 2 K. i2 17(16) : the fines — as 
they appear to have been — may have been paid for errors 
committed at the sanctuary ; with the increasing Sense of the 
necessity of offerings for sin, offerings took the place, as also 
the names, of these fines. The sin-offering and the guilt- 
offering are first referred to by Ezekiel, though they must, it 
would appear from his mode of reference to them, have arisen 
before he wrote — possibly between the time of Josiah's 
reformation and the Exile (cp. Nowack, ii. 2256".). Owing to 
the extreme frequency of these offerings in the later ritual, 
they constituted in themselves a very large revenue in kind ; 
apart from the sacrifices required at frequently-recurring 


public solemnities (see, e.g., c. 28 f.), sin- or guilt-offerings 
from private persons must have been offered daily, since they 
were required from women after childbirth (Lev. 12 6 " 8 ), for 
touching an unclean thing, and for other frequent occurrences 
(Lev. 5). Lev. 4, which withdraws certain sin-offerings from 
priestly consumption, appears to belong to P\ But even so, 
the amount of flesh falling to the priests must have been more 
than they could well consume (cp. Nowack, Arch. ii. 234). 
Even if the question of the disposition of these offerings 
before the Exile were left an open question, the far greater 
frequency of them after the Exile would account for a very 
considerable increase in the income of the priests. 

(2) Herem. The demand that all "devoted things " should 
be given to the priests is not mentioned before Ezekiel. The 
value of this due is uncertain ; see on v. u . 

(3) First-fruits and tithes (on vegetable produce). These 
dues were among the most valuable paid to the priests after 
the Exile. First-fruits and tithes were withdrawn from ordi- 
nary private use before the Exile, but the part of the priest 
in them was small ; for details, see above on v. 12f - 21 . 

(4) Firstborn. This included a payment to the priests of 
five shekels (about 12s.) on every (male) firstborn child, a 
payment for all firstborn of unclean animals, and the assign- 
ment to them of all firstborn of clean cattle. Before the 
Exile the priests received little or nothing of this valuable due ; 
see above on v. 15 . 

(5) Fixed portions of the peace-offerings. This, the least 
valuable due in the list, probably constituted the main per- 
quisite of the earlier priests. Even here P (Lev. 7 s2 - 34 ) requires 
more than D (18 3 ). 

(6) A number of dues mentioned in P are not mentioned in 
this c. : some, such as the skin of the burnt-offering, prob- 
ably because they are of a different nature from those which 
are here included, but others more probably because they are 
later in origin than P g ; such are the tithe on cattle (see on 
v. 21 ) and the Levitical cities (c. 35). 

These sources of priestly income, which are not distinctly 
specified in the present c, though some may be covered by its 

xix. 241 

general terms, are the skin of the burnt-offering- (Lev. 7 8 ), 
the shewbread (Lev. 24 5-9 ), amounts paid in compensation 
for fraud in cases in which no representative of the defrauded 
person exists (Nu. 5 8 ), certain similar payments (Lev. 5 16 22 14 ), 
unredeemed fields (Lev. 27 21 ), and certain specially large dues 
for regular offerings in specific cases {e.g. Nu. 6 19f -). 

Scribal ingenuity in the attempt to reconcile the irreconcil- 
able still further increased the priestly exactions ; see above, 
p. 234. 

Literature on the subject of the Priestly dues and their history. — We. 
Proleg. 149-166 (Eng. tr. 152-167) ; Kue. Hex. 31-33, 198-201 ; Baudissin, 
Priesferthum, 39-43, 86-88, 122-127 J Schiirer, 3 ii. 243-262 (Eng. tr. II. 
i. 230-254) ; Nowack, Arch. ii. 125-129 ; Di. (on this c. and also) Exodus 
u. Leviticus, 6346°.; Driver, Deut. 168-173, 186 f., 213-221, 290; van 
Hoonacker, Le Sacerdoce Le"vitigue, 383-435 (mainly harmonistic in its 

XIX. Purification from Uncleanness by the Dead. 

Literature. — Spencer, De Legibus Hebraorum Ritualibus, bk. ii. c. 
26 ; Mishnah, tractates Ohaloth and Parah : Midrash Rabba (ed. Berlin), 
vol. iv. folio ri]ia; Bahr, Symbolik, ii. 493-511 ; Winer, Biblisches Real- 
Wb'rterbuch, ii. 504-506 ; Nowack, Arch. ii. 287-290 ; Kennedy's art. " Red 
Heifer " in Hastings' DB. ; and Simcox in EBi. 846 f. 

The present chapter, like c. 15, though it clearly belongs 
to P, has no intimate connection either with what precedes 
(c. 16-18 — the revolt of Korah) or with what follows (c. 20 — 
the arrival at Kadesh). Unlike c. 15, it is devoted to a 
single subject — pollution through contact with the dead, and 
its removal by the use of a liquid in which the main in- 
gredient consists of the ashes of a red cow; v. 1-13 deals 
mainly with the method of purifying those polluted ; v. 14-22 
with the circumstances under which the pollution is con- 

The actual want of organic connection between this chapter and those 
that follow is proved rather than disproved by the attempts to establish 
one ; the law, it is said, is placed here on account of the wholesale 
slaughter that followed the rebellion of Korah. 

Not only is the present section entirely unrelated to the 
preceding and following, it is also separated by much inter- 


vening matter from that part of the Hexateuch with which 
it is in subject most closely connected — viz. from the laws 
dealing with various forms of ceremonial uncleanness (Lev. 
11-15); and that although uncleanness from the dead has 
been frequently referred to, or discussed, in previous parts of 
the Hexateuch, Lev. 5 2 118.24-23 2I i-4. iof. 22 4-7 } Nu . 5 2 56-12 

~6f. lOf. 


The present law is presupposed in 3i 19 ~ 24 . On the other 
hand, the method of purification here described is not recog- 
nised in the case of the polluted Nazirite: in his case an 
entirely different method is followed ; he purifies himself by 
shaving his hair and making certain offerings, 6 9_n . Lev. 
5 1 " 6 requires a guilt-offering from one who has unwittingly 
suffered by pollution from the dead. 

The reason why neither of these laws refers to the " water of unclean- 
ness" may be that they presuppose it, and refer simply to the special 
requirements of the special circumstances with which they respectively 
deal. But the absence of allusion to it in Lev. 22 4 " 7 (H) n 24 " 28 is more 
difficult of explanation if the present law at the time enjoyed a general 
sanction : so far as the priests are concerned, Lev. 22 4 " 7 appears to 
place uncleanness from the corpses of men on the same footing- as 
other forms of uncleanness, and to require for it, as for them, simply 
bathing in plain water; and Lev. 11 24 " 28 requires nothing more than this 
simpler cleansing in the case of any man defiled by the carcase of an 
unclean beast. 

Though, therefore, the law has been edited in the priestly 
school, it does not appear to have formed part of P s , nor to 
be of the same origin as the laws of uncleanness in Lev. 
11-15, nor, perhaps, of the same origin as Nu. 6 or Lev. 
5 1-6 . That it is younger than any or all of these there is little 
or no positive ground for saying ; the law is P x rather than 
P s . Least of all can the absence from the present c. of any 
demand for offerings on restoration to cleanness be cited in 
favour of a late origin of the law. 

As connecting the c. with P, note, amongst other things, the intro- 
ductory formula, v. 1 (CH. 185), inp'i Sntr "22 bi< im v. 2 (cp. 5 2 n.), my v. 9 
(cp. i 2 n.), and the numerous ritual terms. On the other hand, phraseo- 
logical peculiarities are, in addition to fru 'D (only again in 31 23 ), rmnn npn 
v. 2 (also 3i 21 t), ttannn = to unsin one self, v. 12 - 13 - 20 (also8 21 n., 3 ii9'- 2 3 ) and 
in a different sense Job 41 17 1), gin ws) *?aS> no v. 11 (ct. 6 8 ) ; see also the notes 

xix. 243 

below on " Ele'azar the priest" (v. 4 ), "rns vdx (v. 18 ), nxon (v. 9 ). We. and 
Kue. , who refer the whole c. to P s (cp. Di.), consider v. 14 " 22 an explana- 
tory addition to the main law. CH., on the other hand, refer v. 1 " 18 to 
P s , but v. 14 * 22 to P\ judging the latter "less like an addition than an 
independent ordinance on a similar basis." It has been argued that 
v. 12 implies that the polluted man sprinkles himself, v. 19 that he is 
sprinkled by another. But with v. 12 cp. v. 20a , and note that v. 13 (like 
v. 201 *) implies that the man has the water thrown over him by another : 
see note there. 

But whatever the exact age of the literary origin of the 
law, the belief on which it is based and the custom which 
it regulates are ancient and primitive. Purification from 
pollution through the dead by the use of the ashes of the red 
cow is but one of many primitive or popular practices which 
were assimilated and regulated by the later priestly religion 
and described by its writers ; such were the bells on the high 
priest's cloke (Ex. 28 s3 - 35 ), the water of bitterness (Nu. 5 11-31 ), 
the goat for Azazel (Lev. 16) : see what is said above, pp. 
46-48. The belief or doctrine underlying the law and the 
specific regulations here enforced are not, however, necessarily 
of the same origin and age. The doctrine is this — a dead 
body is a source or cause of pollution ; and this doctrine is 
both ancient and widespread. There is nothing peculiarly 
Hebrew, or even peculiarly Semitic, about it. 

Thus to refer to some parallel practices that indicate the prevalence 
of the same doctrine : "Among the Navajos [of North America], the man 
who has been deputed to carry a dead body to burial, holds himself un- 
clean until he has thoroughly washed himself in water prepared for the 
purpose by certain ceremonies." "Among the Basutos of South Africa, 
warriors returning from battle must rid themselves of the blood they have 
shed. . . . Therefore they go in procession ... to the nearest stream to 
wash. ... It is usual in this ceremony for a sorcerer, higher up the 
stream, to put in some magical ingredient, such as he also uses in the 
preparation of the holy water which is sprinkled over the people with a 
beast's tail at the frequent public purifications." " The Zulus . . . purify 
themselves by an ablution after a funeral." "Tibetan . . . mourners 
returning from the funeral stand before the fire, wash their hands with 
warm water over the hot coals, and fumigate themselves thrice with 
proper formulas" (Tylor, Primitive Culture* ii. pp. 433 f., 437; cp. 
Frazer, GB. i. 322-325). The Madangs of Borneo, after depositing the 
coffin, pass through a cleft stick, the ends of which, when all have passed 
through, are tied close together again. Then all who have taken part 
in the ceremony bathe before returning home, and rub themselves 
with rough pebbles (Hose in Geographical Journal, xvi. 45 f.). The fore- 


going are customs that have come under modern observation ; but they 
prove the wide prevalence — in America, Africa, and Asia — of the doctrine. 
The classical authors, the Zendavesta, the laws of Manu, and other 
ancient Oriental lawbooks show its prevalence among the ancient 
Romans, Greeks, Persians, and Indians. For Roman practices, cp. 
Virg. s£n. vi. 228-231 — 

Ossaque lecta cado texit Corynagus aeno. 
Idem ter socios pura circumtulit unda, 
Spargens rore levi et ramo felicis olivae, 
Lustravitque viros, dixitque novissima verba ; 

andii. 717-720. In Greece a bowl of water was placed before the door of 
the house where a death had taken place that persons entering the house 
might purify themselves with it ; after the funeral the house was purified ; 
dead bodies were excluded from sacred enclosures, and contact with a 
dead body rendered a person polluted (/j-vaapos) and unfit to approach an 
altar (Eur. Ale. 98-100; Iph. in Taur. 380-383; Helen, 1430 f. ; Paus. 
ii. 27, together with Frazer's note in Pausanias Descr. of Greece, iii. p. 
239). In India a death renders the relatives of the dead man unclean, 
whether they come into contact with him or not : for this and other 
matters connected with the Indian doctrine of pollution by the dead, 
see Gautama, c. 14 f. =SBE. ii. p. 2461?".; Manu, v. 57-104 = .Si?i?. 
xxv. p. 177 ff. ; cp. Oldenberg, Die Relig. des Veda, pp. 577-591. The 
doctrine of pollution from the dead is peculiarly influential in Zoroastri- 
anism, and is seen to be closely connected with demonology ; see 
Vendid&d (SBE. iv.), esp. Fargards v-xii ; cp. Sh&yast Id sh&yast, c. 
ii. {SBE. v. pp. 245-276), and Darmesteter's introduction to the Vendid&d 
(SBE. iv. pp. lxxxv-xcv), from which this summary of the doctrine 
maybe cited— " Impurity or uncleanness may be described as the state 
of a person or thing that is possessed of the demon : and the object of 
purification is to expel the demon. 

The principal means by which uncleanness enters man is death, as 
death is the triumph of the demon. 

When a man dies, as soon as the soul has parted from the body, the 
Drug Nasu or Corpse-Drug falls upon the dead from the regions of hell, 
and whoever thenceforth touches the corpse becomes unclean, and makes 
unclean whomsoever he touches " (p. lxxxvi). 

For other illustrations of the connection between uncleanness from the 
dead and the belief in the danger to the living from the spirits of the 
departed, see Frazer, GB. iii. 397-401. 

The susceptibility of the dead body to the attacks of demons was also 
held by the Babylonians, and, with them, led to the custom of purifying 
the corpse itself (Jastrow, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 602 f.); 
with which custom we may compare that of the Aztecs mentioned by 
Tylor (Prim. Culture, ii. p. 436). 

Clearly, then, there is nothing in any way peculiar to the 
Hebrews in the belief that a dead body is a cause of pollution ; 
and consequently the origin of the belief and the original 

xix. 245 

significance of the customs must be sought not in what is 
peculiar to the Hebrew religion, but in that system — if the 
term may be used — of primitive thought out of which the 
higher religions and the Hebrew among them sprang. Con- 
sequently, too, there is no reason for thinking that the belief 
was borrowed by the Hebrews ; and, indeed, although the 
present law and other references in the Hexateuch (Lev. 

Il3 lff.39f. 2I lfl. H> Nu> 5 2 6 9 9 10 3I 19ff. P> Dt> 26 14) to the sub . 

ject do not carry us further back than the 7th cent. (Dt. 26 14 ), 
the belief is unmistakably referred to in Hos. g 4 ; other 
references outside the Hexateuch are Hag. 2 13 , Ezek. 44 s5 ; 
cp. 2 K. 23 14 . In none of these passages is there any sugges- 
tion that the demonological beliefs, with which the doctrine 
seems to have been originally connected, were still consciously 
held by the Hebrews. This also is true of subsequent 
allusions: see Tob. 2 9 , Ecclus. 31 30 (34 25 ), Bar. 3 11 . 

When we turn from the doctrine to the specific regula- 
tions of this law, it is less easy to establish the antiquity of 
the usage in Israel, or to find exact parallels to it elsewhere. 
Purification in some form is naturally as ancient and general 
as the doctrine. But with the particular means of purification 
here decreed it is different. Generally speaking, ceremonial 
impurity in Israel, as among many other peoples, was re- 
moved at the end of a certain period after the impurity was 
incurred (sometimes on condition of the discharge of certain 
other regulations also, such as the presentation of offerings), 
by the use of simple water, which is often, however, expressly 
required to be "living," i.e. running, and not stagnant (cp. 
Lev. 13. 15). And this mode of purification appears to be 
regarded in some of the laws cited above as sufficient even 
in the case of pollution from the dead. The peculiarity of the 
present law is that it requires this purification to be made by 
means of water which has been mixed with the ashes of a 
red cow. 

Three questions naturally arise, though they can be but 
very partially answered. (1) What is the history of the use 
of this particular mixture? (2) What analogy has it in 
Hebrew ritual? (3) What analogy has it outside Israel? 


(1) As to the history. The use of this mixture cannot be 
actually traced further back than this law ; unless, perchance, 
we should find some indirect evidence of it in the story of 
the people being given water mixed with the ashes of the 
golden calf to drink (Ex. 32 20 JE).* Subsequent allusions 
to or discussions of the use are found in Heb. 9 13 and the 
Mishnah. The influence of the story rather than of the 
actual practice accounts for the allusion to the red cow in the 
Koran (ii. 63-68), on which see Geiger, Was hat Muhammad 
aus dem Judenthum genommen, p. 172. 

(2) Water specially treated — with, amongst other things, 
"cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop," as in the present law 
(v. 6 ) is employed in the rite of cleansing lepers or a leprous 
house, Lev. i4 4t - 49 ~ 52 . The "bitter" or "holy waters" 
employed in the ordeal of jealousy (5 uff ) afford another 
parallel to the imparting of special virtues to water by adding 
to it ingredients. Once, again, the origin of such prepara- 
tions is not to be sought in anything peculiar to Hebrew 
religion. These medicated waters are mere survivals from 
primitive practice, or the result of borrowing on the part of 
the Hebrews at a late period. For 

(3) Analogies, more or less close, are to be found outside 
Israel. Passing over remoter parallels, some of which will 
be found in the customs cited above, it must suffice to call 
attention here to the use of the cow in lustration. 

So far as the present writer is aware, this is, apart from 
the Hebrew rite under discussion, confined to the Arians.f 
It is peculiarly common in the Zendavesta, where the use 
of gomez, i.e. oxen's urine, is frequently enjoined in connection 
with pollution from the dead ; see, e.g. , Vendiddd, v. 5 1 (a 
woman who has born a still-born child drinks "gomez mixed 
with ashes " to purify her womb) ; vii. 73-75 (cleansing of 
polluted vessels by gomes, earth and water); viii. II— 13 

* Cp. Simcox in EBi. 547 : "Is the putting- away of the heifer with 
something of a royal funeral an almost unconscious reminiscence of a 
well-nigh forgotten cultus of sacred animals ? Is the red heifer the last 
trace of a cow goddess? " 

t We. {Comp. 178) speaks of the use of the ashes of the red cow as 
" recalling Arian methods of purification." 

xix. 247 

(corpse-bearers wash their hair and bodies with the urine of 
sheep or oxen). Cows' urine also ranked as a peculiarly 
valuable means of purification in India (cp. Oldenberg, Veda, 
p. 490). Have we, then, in this use of the cow a trace of 
Persian influence on the Jews ? So far as the known literary 
history of the chapter is concerned, this is not impossible. 
On the other hand, this would not account for the slaughter 
of the cow. To this we may find a closer parallel in the 
Roman use of the ashes of calves in lustration: cp. Ovid, 
Fast. iv. 639, 725, 733. Cp., further, W. R. Smith, Rel. 
Sent. 1 362, 2 382. For Egyptian and Roman instances of red 
victims, see below on v. 2 . 

In origin many of the elements in the present ritual 
are not peculiarly Hebraic or Jewish. But what did they 
signify to the Jews? Philo naturally allegorises. The 
mixture of water and ashes is to remind men of what they 
consist, for knowledge of oneself is the most wholesome 
form of purification [De victimas Offerentibas, c. ii. ; Mangey, 
ii.252). Needless to say, the rite had no such meaning for the 
ordinary Jew. But is Bahr much nearer the mark? According 
to him, the purpose of the whole rite is to symbolise the anti- 
thesis between life and death. The pollution has been caused 
by death ; everything in the rite of purification must point to 
life : hence the redness of the cow and the scarlet, for red is 
the colour of life : the female sex of the animal, for the female 
is the source of life: the cedar, for cedar wood is incorruptible ; 
and so forth. For another suggestion, see EBi. s.v. " Clean," 
§ 16 ad fin. 

To Christian interpreters the c. gave from the first (cp. Heb. 9 18 ) a 
wide scope for allegorising — to them, indeed, the meaning of the rites 
here recorded was evident, to the Jews obscure (Ep. of Barnabas 7 9 ). In 
Barnabas (c. 7) the allegory is already elaborate, but later it was much 
more fully developed. Many of the requirements of the law, such as the 
spotlessness of the victim and its being burnt outside the camp, had an 
obvious meaning for the allegorist. Augustine in his lengthy discussion 
(Qaast. in Num., No. 33 in Migne, Patrologia Latina, xxxiv. 732-737) 
interprets amongst other things the victim itself as symbolising Christ in 
the flesh ; the female sex, the weakness of the flesh ; the red colour, the 
bloody passion ; the cedar, hope ; the hyssop, faith (quae cum sit herba 
humilis, radicibus haeret in petra) ; the scarlet thread, charity. In the 


burning he sees a sign of the resurrection : since fire naturally ascends, 
and what is burnt becomes fire. That the victim is burnt before Ele'azar, 
portends that Christ's resurrection was witnessed by those who were to 
become a royal priesthood. The dead which make men unclean are dead 
works — and so forth. 

1-13. The preparation, effect, and use of the waters for 
the removal of uncleanness. — A red cow which is without 
blemish, and has never borne the yoke, is to be slain outside 
the camp, v. 2f - ; Ele'azar is to sprinkle some of its blood 
seven times towards the tent of meeting-, v. 4 ; then the cow — 
skin, flesh, blood, and fecal matter — is to be burnt, v. 5 ; with 
the ashes, cedar wood, " hyssop," and scarlet thread are to 
be mingled, v. 6 ; the whole constitute the ingredients of the 
" water of impurity," v. 9 . Every one concerned in the pre- 
paration of this water is rendered unclean, v. 7f - 10 . Every one 
defiled by contact with the dead is to get himself sprinkled 
with this water on the third and seventh day from defilement, 
under pain of being " cut off" ; and thus on the seventh day to 
recover his cleanness, v. 11-13 . 

1. Unto Moses and Aaron] 2 1 n.; Moses only is recognised 
in v. 2 . — 2. This is the statute of the law] or "teaching" (npn 
minn) ; also 31 21 f ; cp. the similar double phrase ttDCD npn 
2 7 n 35 29 f • — Speak] the Hebrew is sing, pin) ; Moses is the 
subject : cp. i 2 n. — That they take unto thee] the verb here 
used (npp) is not the same as, but virtually synonymous with, 
that commonly rendered "bring" (X^n) ; the two interchange 
in Lev. i2 6 - 8 . — A red cow] no unnatural colour is intended: 
for though the word DIN at times denotes a brilliant red colour 
(as of blood), it is also used where we should rather speak of 
a brown or reddish brown (Zech. I s , Gn. 25 30 — of lentils) ; cp. 
EBi. 873. Hebrew terms for colour were not precise: see 
G. W. Thatcher's art. "Colour" in Hastings' DB. Why the 
cow had to be red is uncertain. Possibly because red is the 
colour of blood ; so the colour was commonly understood 
by the allegorists. But the equivalence of red and blood is 
also primitive (cp. Clay Trumbull, Blood Covenant, 236 f.). 
On the other hand, in the offerings by the Romans of 
reddish -golden puppies (Rutilcz ca?ics) to make the crops 
grow ripe and ruddy, and of red-haired men, whose ashes were 

xix. 1-3 249 

scattered with winnowing - fans, and of red oxen by the Egyp- 
tians, Frazer (GB. ii. 311, 142, 254 f.) detects a symbolism 
of the ruddy golden corn. — The animal is a female, in this 
resembling an animal brought as a sin-offering, 6 14 , Lev. 4 27 
5 6 14 10 , and the animal used in the rite described in Dt. 2i 1-9 . 
But the term used (ms) does not define the age or condition 
of the animal ; it means simply a female of the bovine kind. 
" Heifer" (RV.) is wrong; for ma is used in 1 S. 6 7 of cows 
that had borne calves; cp. also Job 21 10 and the metaphorical 
use in Am. 4 1 . Nor does the specification that the animal is 
never to have been yoked necessarily imply that a heifer is 
intended ; for the kine of 1 S. 6 7 are also such as have never 
before been yoked. — Faultless, wherein there is no defect] for a 
similar redundance of expression, cp. Lev. 22 21 (H). The cow, 
like a sacrificial animal {e.g. Dt. 17 1 , Lev. 22 20ff ), is to be free 
from such defects as lameness or blindness. — Upon which a 
yoke hath never come] (by rvby nby vb "IBW) 1 S. 6 7 f ; cp. Dt. 21 3 
(?y3 nat^O N? iCX) : cp. the a^vyeq and injuges of the Greeks 
and Latins. The animal is to be one that has never been used 
for profane purposes. This provision is not made for cows 
offered as sacrifices. The cows of 1 S. 6 7 are indeed ultimately 
sacrificed (v. 14 ) ; but they were not selected for this purpose. 
Neither the heifer of Dt. 21, nor the red cow (see below) is 
offered as a sacrifice ; but in each case the animal is selected 
for a special sacred purpose, and for this reason must be one 
that has not previously been used for ordinary domestic pur- 
poses : cp. the case of the firstborn, Dt. 15 19 . — The Jewish 
doctors disputed about the degree of redness and the age of 
the cow ; most agreed that it must be at least two years old 
(for a ma would be older than a nby), and some admitted 
that it might be as old as five years. As to the colour, some 
maintained that the presence of two black or white hairs 
rendered an animal unsuitable (Parah, c. 1. 2); this maybe 
mere extravagance, arising from erroneously connecting neon 
with no*7K in the sense " wholly red " (so Siphre) ; but a similar 
scrupulosity is attributed by Plutarch (De /side, 31) to the 
Egyptians in the choice of their red victims. — 3. And ye shall 
give it] the pi. subject in accordance with v. 1 ; (Si ical Swaeis, 


following up the " speak " and "for thee " of v. 2 .— To Ele'asar] 
the preparation of the " water of impurity" entails pollution ; 
hence Ele'azar is intrusted with it, rather than the high priest 
Aaron himself; cp. the strict injunction of Lev. 21 11 (H), and 
also 17 2 n. — And it shall be taken outside the camp and slain 
before him] on these passive renderings, see phil. n. RV. is 
only right with regard to the second verb. The fact that the 
sacred victim is slain outside the camp is quite exceptional, 
and is inconsistent with the view that it is a sacrifice, an 
offering to Yahweh ; that the flesh of certain sin-offerings, 
after presentation and undergoing sacrificial rites at the altar, 
was burnt outside the camp (Lev. 4 nf - 21 8 17 9 11 16 27 : cp. Ex. 
29 14 ), is only a partial parallel, and to be differently explained 
(cp. p. 65, 209 f.). Nor is it a complete explanation to cite 5 1 - 4 
and to say that the victim, having reference to death, is there- 
fore removed from the camp. W. R. Smith {Rel. of Semites? 
354 ff., 2 374ff.) cites a number of instances from other re- 
ligions in which human sacrifices were burnt outside the city. — 
4. Ele'azar is to sprinkle (riffi ; ct. pit 18 17 n.) some of the blood 
of the cow seven times (cp. Lev. 4 6 - 17 i6 14 - 19 ) towards the front 
of the tent of meeting ; this, apparently, is to indicate that the 
cow is sacred to Yahweh. — 5. The cow is to be burnt entire 
in the sight of Ele'azar. With clause b, cp. the somewhat 
differently expressed directions of Ex. 29 14 , Lev. 4 11 8 17 16 27 : the 
present is the only instance in which the blood is dealt with 
in the same way as the skin, flesh, and fecal matter (Bna) ; 
and this for the reason that the blood of all sacrifices was 
drained off either to be tossed against the altar or used for 
sprinkling. Only quite exceptionally, too, was the skin of a 
sacrifice burnt (Lev. 4 11 - 20 ). — 6. Cedar, hyssop, and scarlet 
thread] these are cast into the yet burning carcase of the cow 
and reduced with it to ashes, so that with the ashes of the 
cow they form the ingredients of the cleansing mixture. The 
use of the same three objects in Lev. i4 4 - 6 - 49 - 51f - in the rite of 
purification from leprosy is different ; for there it appears that 
the cedar and hyssop, bound together by the scarlet, are used 
as a sprinkler with which the liquid is sprinkled on the person 
to be cleansed : cp. the use of the bunch of hyssop below in 

XIX. 4-7 251 

v. 18 and in Ex. 12 22 . "Hyssop," after the vggwko*; of (Sr, 
is the conventional rendering of the Heb. 31TK ; but appears 
to be wrong", since Hyssopus officinalis, L., is not native to 
Palestine. That some climbing- plant is intended, is clear 
from 1 K 5 13 (4 33 ). Beyond this all is very uncertain. The 
favourite identification is with the caper [Capparis spinosa), a 
vivid green creeper which grows, amongst many other places, 
on the walls of Jerusalem, and was held in high esteem for its 
cleansing and medicinal properties. Jewish tradition rather 
favours Origanum marjorana, L. (a kind of marjoram).* What- 
ever the plant, it was doubtless used in this and the parallel 
rite of purification from leprosy on account of its cleansing 
properties (Ps. 5i 9(7) ). The scarlet thread was presumably 
selected for its colour, for the same obscure reason that 
required the cow to be red ; the cedar, perhaps on account 
of its soundness and endurance, and its supposed property 
of imparting these qualities — a virtue also attributed to the 
juniper, which many f argue must be intended by the Heb. TIN 
here. Pliny remarks [HN. bk. xvi. § 76) : '■' Cedri oleo peruncta 
materies nee tineam nee cariem sentit ; Junipero eadem virtus 
quae cedro." Numerous medicinal qualities with which cedar 
and hyssop were credited in the ancient world are mentioned 
by Pliny ; see the Index to HN. in Silleg's edition (Gotha, 1857), 
s.v. " Cedrus " and " Hysopus." — 7 f . The priest and the man 
who actually burnt the cow are alike rendered unclean by their 
duties; they must wash their persons (cp. Lev. 15 passim) 
and their clothes (cp. Lev. u 25 - 28-40 l ^b an( j passim); at the 
close of day they recover their cleanness : cp. v. 10 . Similarly, 
some of those who were concerned in the rites of the Day of 
Atonement, the effect of which was to cleanse the people, are 
themselves rendered unclean : see Lev. i6 26 - 28 ; cp. the notes 
below on v. 20f \ — Until the evening] (inyn *1J?) so, as defining 
the close of (the shortest) period of uncleanness, Lev. u 24f - 27f - 

31f. 801. I4 46 I5 5-8. lOf. 16f. 19. 21-23. 27 ^U Nu# Ig 7f. 21f. ( all p) . Lev# 

* Tristram, Natural History of the Bible, 456 f. ; Low, Aram. Pflanzen- 
namen, 93; and the Bible dictionaries under "Hyssop" ; also EBi. s.v. 
" Caper-berry." 

t See, especially, Post in Hastings' DB. s.v. " Cedar." 


22 6 (H) f. The same term of time is differently defined in 
Dt. 23 12 (B>DBTI X3D1 . . . Tty nvsh). — 9 f. A man ceremonially 
clean is to collect the ashes and deposit them in a clean place 
outside the camp, where they are to be kept for mixing - , as 
occasion may arise, with running- water to produce "water of 
impurity," v. 17 . The man who collects the ashes is rendered 
unclean by the duty (cp. v. 7f - 21f -). — Water of impurity] (ma *0, 
also v. 13,20 3 1 23 : man *n v. 21 f) i.e. water for the removal of 
impurity: see n. on " water of sin" (nson "'D) 8 7 . Cp. Zech. 
13 1 "a fountain . . . for [i.e. for the removal of] sin and 
impurity." The term mi, which is also used of menstrua- 
tion, refers to ceremonial uncleanness under its aspect, of 
something that is abhorrent, to be shunned or avoided ; cp. the 
figurative use of the word in Ezek. 7 19f \ The root in Heb. 
and Arab, means " to flee from"; in Aram. " to abominate" 
or " shrink from" (see BDB.). — //, viz. the cow thus reduced 
to ashes, is a means of removing- sin] cp. (3r (ayvtafia) ; the 
Heb. nxtsn ( = "sin") received a number of secondary mean- 
ings, such as "punishment for sin," "offering for sin": 
there is no necessity for adopting the latter sense here ; it 
would be pointless. Moreover, unlike actual sacrificial offer- 
ings, this cow is not slain at the sanctuary. — 10a. Cp. v. 7f \ — 
10b. Cp. i5 13_16 n. — 11-13. Touching a dead person entails 
uncleanness for at least seven days : but by making use of 
the "water of impurity " on the third and seventh days from 
defilement, the uncleanness is removed at the end of that 
period ; failure thus to remove the uncleanness is punished 
by being "cut off."- — 11. He that toucheth the dead, even any 
human corpse] £'33 is clearly used in v. 13 of that with which it 
is possible to come into physical contact, i.e. of the corpse ; 
and so it is best rendered here : the ? in £>QJ to? is then not 
genetival (RV.), but summarising (cp. BDB. p. 514^). See 
also 5 2 phil. n. — Shall be unclean seven days] this longer term 
of uncleanness (ct. v. 7 ), the observance of which is referred to 
in 12 14 (E), is due to the more serious nature of the defilement 
as compared with that which entailed only one day's defilement 
(v. 7 n.); other causes of defilement that last seven days are 
menstruation and other issues (Lev. c. 15), or the birth of a 

XIX. 9-13 253 

male child (Lev. 12 2 ). — 12. In v. 19 two sprinklings, one on the 
third day and one on the seventh, are quite clearly required. 
The same requirement is presupposed here in clause b, and 
might, with difficulty, be read into clause a even as it now 
stands in fij. But for "inc in clause a read, with S (S, 
inm, and render — He must unsin himself (or, get himself 
unsinncd, 8 21, 26 ) therewith on the third day and on the 
seventh, and so become clean ; but if he do not unsin himself 
on the third day and on the seventh, he will not become 
clean. — 13. Every one who louche th a dead person, i.e. 
the corpse of any man that may have died] cp. v. 11 . — Hath 
defied the dwelling of Ya/nveh] Lev. 15 31 . — That soul shall be 
cut off] 9 13 n. — Fro?n Israel] after the preceding - phrase only 
occurs again in Ex. i2 15 f. — Because the water of impurity 
was not thrown over him] so also v. 20 ; the verb (pit) means 
"to throw in quantities," e.g. in handfuls or bowlfuls ; it is 
quite distinct from the verb nin =" to sprinkle," v. 4 . See 
BDB. s.v. pit. In v. 19 a rite of sprinkling is described ; in 
v. 20 , again, the water is described as thrown in a quantity. 
The distinctly passive vb. here indicates that the water is 
thrown over the person to be cleansed by another. 

2. inp'i . . . -m] cp. 5 2 n.— 3. Brian . . . K'sim] Dav. io8rt ; G.-K. 144^. 
(K renders both verbs in the pi. — runs'?] 05 + els rbwou KaBapbv : cp. v. 9 $~{. — 
i. ijnsND] (Ei omits. — 5. »pBn] (5r KaraKaia-ovcnv (cp. n. on v. 3 ), and for rpw 
at end of v. KaraKavd-qasTai. — 5. nsns] una does not mean excrement (R.V.), 

but, like LLJji and Assyr. pirlu, the contents of the intestines : see Haupt's 
n. in SBOT., " Judges," p. 30. — 6. Y^cm] t& nal ififSaXovo-iv ; but wrongly : 
this verb, like the preceding and following, refers to Ele'azar. — 8. QTQ (1)] 
{JH and one or two Heb. MSS. om. ; cp. v. 7 - 10 - 19 |$. D'D3, common 
after yni, is never used after 033 in Piel, and but once after Pual (Lev. 15 17 ): 
so Paterson in SBOT. — 9. "isn here and in v. 10 , but sy v. 17 ; neither is 
the word used of the ashes of burnt sacrifices, which is \wi. — nil 'c] 
EV. " water of separation " — a Jewish, but incorrect, interpretation: cp. 
Ibn Ezra D3H3D 1D3 pirn iciys mi 'D (Is. 66 8 ). Another traditional and in- 
correct interpretation is "water of sprinkling"; so ffi (S5up pavrtcrfiov) 

& (IcOCOJ) f-i-^Q) £° TB Rashi. This sprang from giving to nil the 
sense of the Aram. m: = Heb. mi, Rashi defends it by a reference to 
nT=" to cast " in Lam. 3 s3 , Zech. 2 4 . But the noun nil in Hebrew always 
means " impurity " ; cp. e.g. Ezr. 9 11 . — 10. nrrm] G.-K. 1446. — 11. xcai] Dr. 
Tenses, 123a. S reads N2a' ; cp. Cr. — 13. pv ah mi *d] ace. with pass. : 
Dav. 79 f.; G.-K. 12106; otherwise Kon. iii. 349^. 


14-22. This section repeats in greater detail and in some- 
what different phraseology the substance of v. 11-18 — the 
occasion, effect, and means of removal of defilement by the 

Among the differences of phraseology note the different ways of ex- 
pressing "any dead body" (with v. lla - 13a , ct. v. 16a - 18b ) and the "ashes" 
of the cow (nsx v. 9f> ; nsy v. 17 ) ; note also that vsi is used in different senses 
in v." (cp. v. 13 ) and v. 18 (cp. v. 22 ) ; and, further, ct. v. 12 and 19 , and ^mr TW1D 
(v. 20 ) with ^K-itrD (v. 13 ), and ndb m,v tnpD m and ma kce (v. 20 ) with ]:vd nx 
nob mrv and nw ndb (v. 13 ). 

It is not unlikely, therefore, that v. 14-22 and v. 1-13 were 
originally distinct laws, which have been combined by the 
compiler for the sake of completeness. For different views 
as to their relative antiquity, see above, p. 242 f. 

14 f. A death in a tent defiles all persons who are in the 
tent at the time, or who enter it at the time, and all uncovered 
vessels. The defilement in the case of persons lasts seven 
days. This is more comprehensive than v. 11-13 , which only 
speaks of defilement being occasioned by physical contact with 
a corpse. In Indian law a death defiles all relatives of the 
deceased, whether near or far away at the time (Manu, v. 
74 ff.) ; so also in the Zend-avesta (Fargard xii.) : cp. further, 
above, p. 244. — When any man dies in a teni\ the term " tent " 
is chosen out of regard to the supposed situation in the wilder- 
ness. It must mean any dwelling : ffi rightly expresses the 
sense by oiKia. — 15. Which hath no covering and no cord upon 
it\ the meaning perhaps is, which has no covering tied over it ; 
but the exact meaning of the words here used is uncertain: see 
phil. n. — 16. Contact in the open with the corpse of any one 
who has died through violence or naturally, or with any human 
bone, or with any grave, also entails seven days' defilement ; 
cp. 31 19 . — 17 ff. The mode of purification. — 17. Cp. v. 9 . Some 
of the ashes of the cow, here referred to as the hattath (see on 
v. 9 ), are mixed in a vessel with spring water (D"n DVD: cp. 
Gn. 26 19 , Zech. 14 8 , Cant. 4 15 ) : cp. Lev. I4 5f - 5 °- 52 .— 18. Some 
man, ceremonially clean, takes a bunch of hyssop (v. 6 n.), and 
by means of this sprinkles the mixture over the persons de- 
filed (v. 14,16 ), over the tent where a death has occurred, and 

XIX. m-22 255 

over all the vessels defined in v. 15 . This use of "hyssop" 
as a lustral sprinkler may be compared with that of the laurel 
by the Greeks and Romans, which is discussed by Botticher 
(Baumkultus der Hellenen u. Romer, 369 f.). — 19. Not incon- 
sistent with v. 18 ; see n. there. But in addition to what is 
stated in v. 12 , it is here laid down that after the ceremonial 
sprinkling with the mixture on the seventh day, the defiled 
person is to wash his person and his clothes; cp. 31 24 . — 
20. Cp. v. 13 . — From the midst of the assembly] ct. v. 18 "from 
Israel " : the phrase here used is in two respects singular : see 
phil. n. — He is unclean] a different mode of expressing " his 
uncleanness is still in him," v. 13 . — 21a. The foregoing regula- 
tions are of perpetual validity; cp. v. 10b . — 21b. While the 
water of impurity cleanses the unclean, it defiles clean persons 
who touch it ; hence the clean person (v. 18 ) who sprinkles the 
unclean is himself rendered unclean : uncleanness in this case 
is of the lighter kind (cp. v. 7 - 9 ), lasts only till the close of day, 
and is removed by simple washing of the clothes. With the 
defiling effect of the water which is sacred (see on v. 4 ), Nowack 
[Arch. ii. 288 n. 1) aptly compares the later Jewish doctrine 
that the Holy Scriptures "defiled the hands " (cp. Yadaim, 
c. 3f.; especially 4 6 ). — 22. Every thing that the person defiled 
by the dead touches, becomes unclean, and any one touching 
it is rendered unclean for the rest of the day ; cp. the similar 
cases of persons, male or female, rendered unclean by a natural 
discharge — Lev. 1 54-6. 9f. 20-23. 26f. The clause 13 . . . -icn ^3 
is no doubt, as the parallels in Lev. suggest, to be taken 
neutrally, but as including persons, i.e. any one who touches 
a person during the period of his defilement is defiled. Cp. 
Gautama, xiv. 30 ( = SBE. ii. p. 250) — "On touching an 
outcast, a Katidala, a. woman impure on account of her con- 
finement, a woman in her courses, or a corpse, and on touch- 
ing persons who have touched them, he shall purify himself by 
bathing dressed in his clothes." 

14. ^niea niD' '3 din rrnnJl nm] The accents (note the athnah under 
hrim) mean : This is the law -when a yuan dieth in a tent ; so RV. ; 
rather, This is the law. When a man dies, etc. In either case the 
Hebrew is very unusual. The phrase minn nNi nowhere else stands thus 


by itself. Elsewhere we have nSiy 1 ? rmnfl n«T or the like ; see 5 M n. ; 
more frequently . . . mm nxi followed by a word defining the subject of 
the law, e.g. 5 129 6 1S , Lev. 6 2 - 7 - 1S .— mo- -3 dik] a characteristic construc- 
tion at the beginning- of a law in P; cp. e.g. 5 s - 12 , Lev. 1". So also in 
the Mishnah (Ber. 2 8 3 6 ) ; but not in Ex. 21-23 (see, e.g., 2i 7 - 14 ), nor Dt. 
(see, e.g., 19 11 22 13 ). See 5 s n.— 15. vby ^ns tdx pa t»k] <£b g aa 01 ) x j 

Sefffibv Karadiderai iv avrui ; g> \\ . % ]oC71 j]o ; £° qpD JW nsiOD Il'Sl 
Mi^y. These renderings scarcely carry us beyond the general sense, and 
contain no precise tradition as to the meaning of TDX, which elsewhere 
means a "bracelet." Nor can a suitable meaning be safely established 
by etymology ; jU-», cited, e.g., by Ges. (Thes.) in the sense of " stopper " 

or "cover" (the meaning of the RBUD of £°), is uncertain and rare. 
Perhaps TDS was already obsolete when the law was edited and was 
explained, whether quite rightly we cannot say, by the addition of Wis= 
"a cord" (i5 3s ). S reads toisi TDS.— 17. jnji] S ffi una; cp. inp 1 ? at the 
beginning of the v. Either both vbs. were sing. (cp. ene-i . . . trxim in 
v. 3 ) or both were pi. Haupt in SBOT. favours the sing., noting nphi in 
v. ls and regarding its present subj. 11.10 cn as a gloss.— 19. frm] fflr L + 
vwa ; cp. v. 7f - |tj. — 20. !?fipn -pro] cp. 16 33 ; never elsewhere after the phrase 
trnn vsan ntnxn, which is regularly completed by n(')Dy aipn Ex. 31 14 , Nu. 
15 30 ; cp. Lev. i7 4 - 10 18 29 20 3 -"- 18 : for other completions of the phrase, 
see v. 13 , Ex. 12 15 ("?*ntrD) and Ex. i 2 la (Saw mj;D).— 21. on 1 ?] S <2£ £ M 1 ?. 

XX. 1-2 1. Events at Radesh. 

The events here recorded — the death of Miriam, the 
miraculous production of water from a rock, the sin and 
doom of Aaron and Moses, the embassy to the king- of Edom 
— carry the narrative down to the close of the period of 
wandering. The final march, concluding with the conquest 
of Canaan from the E., is already contemplated. The present 
section mainly serves the purpose of an introduction to the 
account of the march itself, which begins in 20 22 and is con- 
tinued in the following chapters; for it explains (1) why 
Moses and Aaron were cut off by death before the completion 
of their undertaking to lead the people into the land of 
promise, v. 2 ~ 13 ; and (2) how. in the first instance, the Israelites 
sought to get at Canaan by a peaceful passage through Edom, 
v. 14 " 21 . 

Thus, according to the chronological scheme of P g , to 
which the composite narrative of the Hexateuch is accommo- 
dated, these events are nearly forty years later than those 

xx. 257 

recorded in c. 13 f. (the spies and the condemnation to forty 
years' wandering). But the fusion of divergent accounts, the 
attempt of the editor to make the divergences less apparent, 
and the insertion of miscellaneous laws and stories connected 
with no definite time or place in c. 15. 19, have obscured this 
lapse of time, and also the original representations of the 
various sources. To a considerable extent this obscurity can 
be cleared up by analysis, though in detail much remains 
doubtful or ambiguous. 

According to P g , the spies had been despatched from, and 
the people were condemned to wander in, the wilderness of 
Paran (13 3 14 32 ): the wilderness of Sin lay between Paran 
and the land of promise (13 21 ). Now that the period of wan- 
dering is over, the whole company advances to the district 
first reconnoitred by the spies a generation before. This is 
the wilderness of Sin, or Kadesh. Here the people lack water, 
and murmur. Moses and Aaron, bidden by Yahweh to pro- 
duce water for the people in a miraculous manner, so as to 
impress upon the people Yahweh's holiness, show themselves 
unbelieving, and are punished ; like the rest of their genera- 
tion, they had been guilty of the sin of unbelief, like them 
they must now be punished by exclusion from the holy land. 

This incident is apparently all that P s related of Kadesh. 
But the editor thought it a suitable occasion to introduce into 
his narrative from his other sources some further matters 
connected with the same place. Since, however, according 
to these sources (JE), Kadesh had been reached by the people 
before the period of wanderings (see 13 26 ), the editor has 
omitted from v. 1 the number of the year, which must have 
been given in P e , and has inserted (from JE) the clause "and 
the people abode in Kadesh," and the notice of Miriam's 
death, leaving the reader free to place the arrival at Kadesh at 
an indefinitely earlier point in the period of the wanderings ; 
and the transition to the fortieth year at some point of the 
narrative between v. 1 and v. 28 (cp. 33 s8 ). Still the date 
originally given in P g was in all probability the fortieth year ; 
see on v. 1 . 

But this is not the whole of the editor's work. Other 


stories of the murmurings for water were current, and also 
other stories of the particular murmurings which gave rise to 
or were told in order to explain such names as Massah 
(" temptation ") and Meribah (" strife "). The editor appears 
to have fused some of these different stories both here and in 
Ex. 17 1 "" 7 . Here he draws in the main on P ; in Ex. mainly 
on E ; but in both cases he has also incorporated matter from 
J. By fusion and some modifications of his own he has here 
succeeded in representing the sin of Moses and Aaron in a 
milder form than it assumed in his sources, though at the 
expense of leaving the reader without any clear idea of the 
character of the sin. The close connection between the 
present section and Ex. ij l ~ 7 is apparent not only in the 
general similarity of the story and the identity of one of 
the names explained (Meribah), but also in the common clause, 
"And the people strove (3T1) with Moses," which plays on the 
name to be explained (Ex. 17 2 , Nu. 20 3 ). 

Certain linguistic peculiarities also point to considerable 
editorial treatment of the present section. 

In detail Cornill (ZATW. xi. 20-34) nas discussed the analysis of the 
present section in the most thorough manner. His conclusions cannot 
rank as certain, but they are as probable as any that can be drawn from 
the data at command. The following' brief summary of his argument 
will, in connection with the commentary that follows, open up to the 
student the chief questions at issue and the nature of the evidence avail- 
able for a decision. 

E clearly associated the miracle of the smitten rock with Horeb (Ex. 
17 6 ), and, consequently, with the early period of the wanderings. Parts of 
the story in Ex. (17 2 " 7 ) are derived from J. In Nu. 20 1 " 13 the analysis is 
as follows — 

E. V. lb (the reference to Miriam). 

J. V. 1 (enpa oyn aen), 8 (|| to v. 4 P). 

P. V. 1 (to "month"), 2 - 3 (from %% 4 (except UTJOl urns), «'• 8 " n (but 
much recast by R), 12f \ 

R has modified v. 3 , inserted uryai i:n:x in v. 4 , and radically recast v. 8 " 11 , 
and is wholly answerable for 'a BTODMn tth jjr and DTya. 

In this analysis Corn, agrees in the main with earlier critics like 
Colenso, Nold., Schrader, and Kayser ; he differs from Di. and others, 
and that chiefly in deriving a far larger part from P and reducing the 
amount derived from E to a minimum. In particular Di. finds it 
necessary, chiefly on account of the reference to Moses rod, to refer v. 8 " 11 
to E. Other clear indications of this source are lacking, for YJD is not 
such ; whereas my (i 3 n.) certainly points to P, and Corn, argues that the 

xx. i 259 

rod in question is Aaron's rod—" the rod before Yahweh " of v. 9 being the 
rod of i? 28 ! 10 '. Di. eliminates these words in v.* as editorial. Recently 
Bacon and CH. have attributed the difference between speaking to and 
smiting the rock to difference of source, and have consequently assigned 
v. 8b (and speak . . . its -waters) to J ; whereas Corn, refers both to the 
original story of P, in which Moses and Aaron are first commanded by 
Yahweh to produce the water by merely speaking to the rock, and only 
in consequence of their unbelief are bidden to smite it (see on v. 8 " 11 ). 

Corn.'s theory of the relation between Ex. 17 and Nu. 20 and their 
respective sources is as follows :— Before the editor there lay JE and P ; 
JE contained two stories of the miraculous production of water — one (E) 
was connected with Rephidim, the other (J) was connected with the 
arrival at Kadesh, and explained the two names Massah and Meribah. 
P contained a similar story, explaining the names Meribah and Kadesh. 
The editor, as usual, follows P most closely, and, accordingly, throws 
forward the story to the close of the period of the wanderings, whereas in 
J it stood at the beginning ; to reduce the divergence of the two accounts, 
he omits the number of the year (Nu. 20 1 ). Similarly, the editor frames 
his story so as to explain both Meribah and Kadesh, but omits J's Massah. 
For this he finds a place in the earlier story (E) now found in Ex. 17, 
and provides that story with what it originally lacked— an etymological 
motive. Since there he retains both J's etymologies (Massah and 
Meribah), he necessarily retains there also the clause tod a'j Dj/n 3Ti. 
Hence the identity of Nu. 20 3a and Ex. 17 3 . 

For other discussions of the relation between Ex. 17 1 * 7 and Nu. 2o 1_ls 
and the analysis, see Kuenen, Hexateuch, § 6 n. 42 (where references to 
earlier discussions may be found); Bacon, Triple Tradition, 86 f., 196 f. ; 
Holzinger, Exodus, p. 55 ; S. A. Cooke in EBi. " Massah and Meribah." 

1. Arrival (P) and residence (J) at Kadesh, and death of 
Miriam (E). 

la (P). The children of Israel ', the whole congregation] the 
same unusual combination of phrases, each by itself frequent 
in P (CH. 11, 45), occurs again only in v. 22 (P). — Came] from 
the wilderness of Paran, which lay further south (io 12 13 21 n.), 
and in which the years of wandering had been spent (14 29 ). — 
To the wilderness of Si?i] in which Kadesh was situated ; cp. 
27 14 33 36 , Dt. 32 61 (P), and the paranomasia in v. 13 below; see 
also on 13 21 . — In the first month] the number of the year has 
been omitted deliberately (see above). In all probability it 
was the fortieth ; for (1) the event to be related is given as 
the reason why Moses and Aaron, who had led the people all 
through their wanderings, are cut off just before the entrance 
into Canaan (v. 22 " 29 2 7 12 - ]4 , Dt. 32^ (P), and Dt. 34 (so far 
as it is derived from P)) ; (2) in c. 33, which, though not derived 


from, is dominated by P*, the wilderness of Sin is the station 
next before Mount Hor, where Aaron died in the fifth month 
of the fortieth year. Thus, according to P e , Kadesh was 
merely visited by the people for a short period at the end of 
the wanderings. In JE Kadesh is the scene of a prolonged stay. 
The people go thither straight from Sinai (cp. 13 21 ), and are 
still there at the end of the period of wanderings (v. 14 ). To 
this source, therefore, and perhaps in particular to J, we may 
refer and the people abode in Kadesh; cp. Jud. n 17 and also 
for the vb. (nt^l) Nu. 2I 25 - 31 (JE). The change of subject {the 
people for the children of Israel, etc., in clause a) corresponds 
to the change of source: cp. 14"- n. In Dt. c. 1 f. we find a 
third view of the place of Kadesh in the wanderings, viz. 
that Israel "abode" (n^""l) there for an indefinite time (not 
exceeding a few months) at the beginning- of the period. On 
the inadequacy of harmonising efforts, see Driver, Deut. 
pp. 31-33. — And Miriam died there, and was buried there] with 
the phraseology, cp. Dt. io 6 (E). It is E who elsewhere is 
interested in Miriam ; see p. 98 f. The traditional date of 
Miriam's death must remain unknown ; since the date in 
clause a and the statement of death are derived from different 
sources, and had no original connection with one another. 

2-13. Lack of water miraculously supplied. The sin of 
Moses and Aaron. 

2-4. Distressed by want of water, the people reproach 
Moses and Aaron for having brought them into the wilder- 
ness. The lack of water would naturally be felt soon after 
arrival at Kadesh : on this, as well as on other grounds, v. lb 
may be recognised as interrupting the immediate sequence of 
v. la and v. 2 .— 2a (P). V. 5 (last clause) and Ex. \f h (JE) are 
differently worded : Nu. 33 14 (P s ) mixes the phraseology of 
both sources. — 2b (P). Cp. i6 3a (P) ; as in 16 3 , the words 
spoken (v. 3b ) originally followed immediately on the statement 
of the assembling of the people (v. 2b ). — 3a = Ex. 17 2 (JE). In 
v. 3 * (in contrast with v. 2b - 4,6 etc.) it is with Moses alone, and 
not with Moses and Aaron, that the people quarrel : cp. i6 2a n.; 
the subject as in i a (J) is the people. — 3b (P). Would God we 
had died] 14 2 , Ex. 16 3 (P). — When our brethren died before 

XX. 2-8 26 1 

Yahiveh] at the time of the revolt of Korah ; see c. i6f., 
especially i7 27 < 12) . — Yahweh's assembly] 16 3 n. — We and our 
cattle] Cp. Ex. 17 3 (JE), but note that a different word (rupn 
not Tya) is there used for cattle ; see also n 4 n. P* does not 
mention cattle in the corresponding- complaint of Ex. 16 3 ; but 
his account of the establishment of the sacrificial system pre- 
supposes that the Hebrews were accompanied by cattle. Still 
the clause is scarcely from P g ; see phil. n. — 5 (JE). Why has 
Moses brought the people up from Egypt to this infertile and 
waterless region? The parallel from JE to the preceding v.: 
cp. Ex. 17 3 , Nu. 16 13 21 5 (all JE). The vb. in f^, as in the first 
two passages just cited, is singular, and addressed to Moses 
(cp. v. 3 ). The pi. punctuation of MT is an accommodation 
to the composite narrative. — 6 f. (P : in continuation of v. 4 ). 
Moses and Aaron withdraw from the complaining people to the 
tent of meeting, where the glory of Yahweh, ominous of the 
divine anger, appears; cp. 14 10 16 19 (P). — 8-11. These vv. 
should describe the sin of Moses and Aaron, for evidently up 
to this point (cp. v. 13 ) it is the people and not their leaders 
whose conduct has provoked the divine anger. The sin which 
excluded Moses and Aaron from Canaan is described in v. 12 
as unbelief, in v. 24 27 14 as rebellion. But in v. 8 " 11 , as they 
now stand, neither unbelief nor rebellion on the part of Moses 
and Aaron is recorded ; either the one or the other has often 
been read into the verses, but neither is there. Yahweh bids 
Moses take the rod (v. 8a ), and he obeys (v. 9 ) ; Yahweh bids 
Moses and Aaron speak to the rock and so bring water from 
it (v. 8b ) ; it is not recorded either that they obeyed or dis- 
obeyed the command to speak to the rock, but they carried 
out the divine intention of procuring the people water. In its 
present form the narrative does not record what directions 
Yahweh gave as to the use of the rod, so that it is impossible 
to say whether in striking the rock at all or in striking it 
twice, Moses was guilty of disobedience or unbelief. It is 
possible that Moses struck the rock and refused to speak to it 
through lack of faith in Yahweh's power ; it is possible that 
he struck it twice, because he thought a single stroke would 
be insufficient. But if it is difficult to discover Moses' sin, it 


is more difficult still to discover Aaron's ; for he did not strike 
the rock either once or twice, and, indeed, all that the story 
says of him is that he assisted Moses to assemble the people 
at the rock. 

The truth is, the story is mutilated ; and as any attempt to reconstruct 
it must be tentative, the exact nature of the sin of the leaders must remain 
doubtful. But the subsequent allusions favour the view that it was an 
act of open rebellion, rather than of simple unbelief. In v. 12 the editor 
has softened down the terms of the original story. According to Cornill's 
reconstruction, Pes original story ran as follows : — Yahweh first bade 
Moses and Aaron publicly address the rock, and so bring forth water. 
Moses and Aaron refuse, sceptically asking Yahweh (in words now 
addressed to the people), Can we bring forth ivater for them out of this 
rock? Yahweh replies (with words now addressed by Moses to the 
people), Hearken to Me, ye rebels, and bids them strike the rock : this they 
do. Afterwards Yahweh pronounces doom on the leaders, Because ye 
■were rebellious against My command, that ye should sanctify Me, and so 
forth, as in v. 12b . 

In Dt. the cause given for the exclusion of Moses from Canaan is 
entirely different : it is Yahweh's anger with him on account of the dis- 
obedience of the people when the spies returned to Kadesh (Dt. i 37 3 28 4 21 ). 

8. Take the stick] this is denned in v. 9 as the " stick 
before Yahweh " ; but that cannot well refer to anything but 
Aaron's stick, which was put back, after it had budded, to be 
kept " before the testimony" (i7 25 ^), i.e. before Yahweh (cp. 
jyi9(4) w ith i7 22<:7) ). Probably it is merely by a textual error 
(inDD for HDD) of more recent date than ffi that the stick is 
described in v. 11 as "his {i.e. Moses') stick." The stick with 
which wonders is wrought is, generally, in P's narrative, 
used by Aaron (Ex. y 9 - 19 8 1- 12 (5, 16) ) ; another instance of its 
use by Moses is possibly to be found in Ex. 14 16-18 , which is 
mainly derived from P, though most refer the single clause 
about the rod to E ; cp. also the part played by Moses in the 
miracle of the stick blossoming in c. 17. — The rock] a descrip- 
tion of the conspicuous rock at f Ain-el-Kadis, around which 
the present story gathered, is cited in the n. on 13 26 . — 9. 
Moses obeys, and takes the rod as directed. Whether the use 
he makes of it (v. 10 ) was also in accordance with Yahweh's 
command cannot be determined, for the divine instructions 
as to the use of the rod are now missing from the story : see 
above.— 10. Hearken now] If Jfy be original, the W of KJ-iyet? 

XX. 8-13 2 ^3 

is due to the editor : see 16 8 n. But ffir reads Hearken unto me 
(*3WDB>) ; cp. Gn. 23 (P) where 'JgOtP, UW, and *21J7DtS', which are 
found nowhere else in the Pentateuch, occur in all five times : 
Corn. {ZATW. 1891, p. 26). — Ye rebels] Dnon is not quite 
suitably used by Moses in addressing the people : for they 
had murmured, but not rebelled. On the other hand, Moses 
and Aaron are elsewhere spoken of as having on this occasion 
rebelled against Yahweh's command (""S nx 1*id) ; hence it has 
been suggested * that in the original form of the story these 
words were addressed by Yahweh to Moses and Aaron. — 
From this rock must we produce water for you ?] these are the 
"rash" words which, according to Ps. io6 32f -, called down on 
Moses the divine sentence. In their present context they are 
best understood as an expression of ill-temper. The impf. 
K*Xtt might equally well be rendered, can we produce? But 
inasmuch as the words are immediately followed by Moses' 
production of the water, such an interpretation of the clause 
in its present position would be unnatural. See, however, 
above, p. 262. — 11. With the stick] so (5r : f^ "his stick," 
see n. on v. 8 . — 12 f. Moses and Aaron condemned, on account 
of their unbelief, not to enter Canaan. On the incongruity 
between these verses and v. 8-11 , see on the latter. — To 
sanctify Me] cp. 27 14 , Dt. 32 51 . With these words (Fhakdi- 
sheni) the writer plays on the name of the place of the 
incident (Kadesh) ; so again in v. 13 . By their sin Moses and 
Aaron prevented the full might and power of Yahweh be- 
coming manifest to the people, and so robbed Him of some of 
the fear due to Him: for the sense of "sanctity," cp. Is. 8 13 
2g 23 , Ps. 99 3 in 9 . — 13. The waters of Kadesh were called 
Meribah ("strife"), because the people strove (rdbd; cp. 
bimribath haedah, 27 14 ) with Yahweh there ; and the place 
Kadesh, because in spite of Moses and Aaron's sin, Yahweh 
vindicated His holiness {wayyikkadesh : cp. Lev. io 3 ) there. 
The two names Meribah-Kadesh are combined in 27 14 , Dt. 
32 51 , Ezek. 47 19 48 28 , if not also in Dt. 33 s (cp. (K : and see 
Di., Dr.). Whether Meribah was also really called Massah 
(Ex. 17 7 ) is more doubtful. 

* Nold., Corn. 


3. "Ox*? nON'i] TDK followed by ton 1 ? without any intervening word is 
unusual ; but see Ex. 15 1 (overlooked by Corn.) and also 2 S. 5 1 20 18 , 
Jer. 29 s4 , Ezek. (12 27 ) 33 10 , Zech. 2 4 : cp. Corn. ZATW. xi. p. 22.— iSl] The 
Waw is used forcibly with nothing- previously expressed for it to connect 
with ; cp. n 29b (jiv 'Di) and (as here at the beginning - of a speech) 2 S. 24* 
(*]DVi), 2 K. i 10 (dni : v. 12 ok alone), 7 19 : see, further, Dr. Tenses, 3 p. 141 n. 
— i:jm] a favourite word with P : Driver, L.O.T. p. 131, No. 9; CH. 51. 
— ran iaio,i Vk] Ex. 16 3 (P). — i3Tj?3i] a much less usual word for cattle 
than rupD (Ex. 17 3 ). The latter is common alike in P and J, and used, 
though less frequently, by E and D (CH. 18'). Tjn, except in the 
present c, occurs only in Gn. 45 17 (E), Ex. 22 4 , Ps. y8^; see, further, 
Corn. ZATW. xi. 24 f. — 5. un^j/n] nVjWi of Yahweh bringing Israel out of 
Egypt is characteristic of JE ; CH. 136. — 8. Tfpvm . . . nasim] (£ has 
three verbs in the 2nd pi. (under the influence of the preceding email) : 
but v. 9 shows that the singulars of |£j are original. For orrm read rnai 
with <§ ; even if the clause containing it be from JE the 2nd sing, is 
required: cp. 3a. 5.— 10. l^ip'i] <Rx £ Vnp'i; note "ran and, according to ffi, 
'jijjdb' following; and in v. 11 dti ; but, on the other hand, N'sij in v. 10 and 
the pi. subj. of ^npm in v. 8 . — diudn.i n 1 ? |jp] neither |JP nor j'Dsn is used by P ; 
Corn. ZATW. xi. 29. 

14-21 (JE). The Israelites send messengers from Kadesh 
to the king of Edom asking to be allowed a peaceful passage 
through his country. They are refused. — The original sequel 
to this passage is in 2i 4b - 12 - 13 . Refused a passage across 
Edom, the Israelites march south to the head of the Gulf of 
'Akabah, pass round the southern end of Edom, and then, 
keeping to the E. of Edom and Moab, march northwards to 
Arnon : cp. Jud. u 17 '\ 

It is probable that P related neither the petition to Edom, nor its 
rejection ; and that, on the other hand, in entire disagreement from the 
foregoing story, he represented the Israelites as actually crossing the 
northern end of Edom in their passage from Kadesh on the W. to the E. 
of the 'Arabah. 

The present passage, which is intimately connected in style and 
motive with 21 21 " 23 , Jud. ii 16 " 18 , is clearly derived from JE. Note the 
general vividness of the narrative and such details as ki in v. 17 (i6 8 n.), 
pj?s in v. 16 (CH. 141. 23), and the "angel" in v. 16 . JE appears, in the 
main at least, to have derived the incident from E; so Kue. {Hex. 151), 
Meyer {ZATW. i. 121), Di., Str., Dr., Corn., Bacon. The conception of 
the "angel" in v. 16 is E's : then with unxxo i^x .iN^ni'Va in v. 14 , cp. mctanrVa 
□hnxd ~wk in Ex. 18 8 (E), and note that jm = to suffer, permit (v. 21 ), occurs 
also in 21 23 , Gn. 20 6 31 7 (all clearly E) and 22 13 (probably the same source), 
twice in D (Dt. 18 14 , Jos. io 19 ) and only twice besides in the Hex., in 
Ex. 3 19 12 23 — passages which are perhaps to be attributed to JE rather 
than J. CH. assign v. 14 * 18 - 31 * to E and v. 19f - 21b to J ; but their argu- 

XX. i 4 265 

ment is inconclusive, and rests in part on the hazardous assumption thai 
v. 22 " (enpo wi) is from E rather than P (or R). We. (Comp. no), ex- 
ceptionally, refers the passage in the main to J, but on the wholly 
inadequate ground of the use of the singular pron. of the nations. 

14. And Moses sent messengers] the sending - of messengers 
is directly attributed to the whole people in 21 21 , Jud. ii 17- 19 . 
— The king of Edom] Hebrew tradition assigned to the 
monarchy a more ancient origin in Edom, and, indeed, among 
many of the neighbouring peoples, than among themselves ; 
Gn. 36 31 , Nu. 22 4 , 1 S. 8 5 . — Thy brother Israel] Edom is 
Israel's ''brother"; consequently also an individual Israelite 
may be described as "brother" of an Edomite ; see Dt. 2 4 
2^8 (7) } ob. 10 - 12 , Am. i 11 . The mode of speech shows how 
closely the Hebrews felt themselves to be connected with 
the Edomites. Another expression of the same feeling is 
found in the patriarchal stories where Edom = Esau is the 
brother of Jacob = Israel. — Thou knowest] the subj. refers to 
the whole people of Edom, who on account of their kinship 
are expected to be moved by this recital of Israel's sufferings 
and deliverance, rather than to the king mentioned in clause a. 
See last n. So thy border, thy land, in v. 16f -, is the border, the 
land of Edom. The case is different in the communications 
with Sihon, king of the Amorites, in 2i 21-23 . 

The personification of a whole class or people so that it is spoken 
of or represented as speaking in the singular is frequent in Hebrew. 
In these cases the pronouns referring to the class or person are naturally 
in the singular, though rapid transitions to and from plural pronouns are 
frequently made, as in the present passage (v. 19 ). The result in some 
cases is so strange that the singular pronouns can scarcely be retained 
in an English translation ; in RV. the pi. is frequently substituted for the 
sing. The following passages, in all cases literally rendered, may serve 
as illustrations of the usage: "And Egypt said, Let me flee" (Ex. 14 25 ); 
" And the man of Israel said unto the Hivite, Perhaps thou art dwelling 
in my midst" (Jos. g 7 ); "The children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, 
Why hast thou given me but one inheritance . . . seeing that I am a 
numerous people ? " (Jos. 17 14 : cp. v. 18 * 18 ) ; " The 'Ekronites cried out, say- 
ing, They have brought about the ark to me ... to slay me and my 
people "(iS. 5 10 ). See also 2i l ' s - M , Jud. i 8 , 2 S. ic^f 48 ). All 'the foregoing 
are from early prose narrative. The same usage is found in Deut., where 
all Israel is constantly addressed as "thou" (see, e.g., c. 8. 9), and not 
unnaturally in poetry: see, e.g., Lam. i 15 ' 2 *. To what extent the " I" of 
the Psalter stands for Israel is disputed : it obviously does so in Ps. 


I29 1 " 1 . See Smend, "Ueber das Ich der Psalmen" in ZATW. 1888, pp. 
49-147; G. Beer, Individual- u. Gemeinde- Psalmen ; Driver, L.O.T. 389- 
391. The usage is closely connected with the fact that the characteristic 
and original names of nations are singulars — Moab, Edom, Israel, 
Midian, Jerahme'el ; ct. , in Greek, "lawes, AloKeTs, Awpieh. The derivative 
eponyms — Ion, Aeolus, Dorus — of the Greeks are entirely different in 
character from Moab, Edom, etc. See We. Reste d. arab. Heidentums} 
I76f. ; Nold. in ZDMG. xl. i7of. ; Smend, Alttesta?nentliche Religions- 
gesc/iichle, 1 27. In the light of the usage it is easy to see that it was 
not difficult for Hebrew tribal traditions, though generally cast in the 
form of narratives of tribes {e.g. Israel and Edom as here), to assume 
also the form of narratives of individuals (as, e.g., of Jacob and Esau). 

All the hardship] nvhn ; Ex. 18 8 (E), Lam. 3 5 , Neh. 9 s2 f. 
The vb. nx? in Hebrew means " to be weary " ; the noun in Lam. 
is used as a synonym with "gall." — 16. And Yahweh sent an 
angel] Ex. I4 19a 23 20 32 s4 (E). The angel in E plays the same 
part in preventing the Egyptians from overtaking the Israelites 
as the pillar of cloud in J : with Ex. i4 10a (E), ct. v. 19b (J). The 
angel, as usual in earlier writers, is theophanic in character ; 
Yahweh Himself is present in the angel : see EBi. s.v. 
"Theophany." — Kadesh, a city on the edge of thy territory] 
Kadesh (13 26 n.) lay on the southern border and within the 
territory of Judah (34*) and on the W. border of Edom. The 
earlier attempt to gain an entrance into Canaan from the S. 
(c. 13. 14) left Edom unaffected; but in order to get into 
position to invade Canaan from the E. the Israelites had 
either to traverse Edom, or to make a long and circuitous 
march. The territory of Edom, as the present statement 
most clearly shows, and as Buhl has argued at length 
{Edomiter, 22-26), extended W. of the 'Arabah ; the north- 
western border was probably formed by the Wady Fikreh 
which runs south-westwards from the southern end of the 
Dead Sea. — 17. Israel promises, if suffered to traverse Edom, 
to keep to the regular road without molesting the cultivated 
land ; to pass through the country, not like an enemy, but 
peaceably like traders, paying the king's toll, and for all 
they need in the way of food and water (cp. v. 19 ). The 
terms of the v., which are, however, repeated in reference to 
the Amorite country N. of Arnon in 21 22 , refer to two striking 
features — the fertility and the roads — of Edom, or rather of 

XX. 16-19 267 

the territory of Edom E. of the 'Arabah. Speaking of this 
Palmer* says: "The country is extremely fertile . . . 
goodly streams flow through the valleys, which are filled 
with trees and flowers ; while on the uplands to the east 
rich pasture lands and corn fields may everywhere be seen." 
A story in the Talmud describes the astonishment of two 
Rabbis visiting Gebal (the N. part of Edom) at the size 
of the grapes produced there.! At a later period Edom was 
certainly traversed by trade routes over which the frank- 
incense from S. Arabia and other commerce to and from the 
port of Elath on the Gulf of 'Akabah were carried, and it can 
scarcely be doubted that the trade which created them was 
very ancient. Some ancient through route (or routes) of 
this kind is intended by the term the king's way.\ In modern 
Palestine such a through route is known by the name of the 
darb es-sultan or "Sultan's way." But neither the term here 
used nor r6oD in v. 19 implies that the route was a thoroughly 
made and well-kept road.§ Such roads hardly existed before 
Roman times. The earlier roads were scarcely better than 
the modern "Sultan's roads," one of which is described by 
Seetzen (ii. 336) as an almost invisible path, rocky and 
stony. — 18. Edom refuses Israel's request, and threatens to 
meet any attempt to traverse the country with armed re- 
sistance. — 19. The Israelites repeat their peaceable inten- 
tions. The repetition may possibly be the result of the 
fusion of J and E : see above. The speech begins in the 
plural we will go up, but passes over to the singular / (i.e. 
Israel) and my cattle: see on v. u . — Only — it is no matter of 
offence or annoyance (cp. 1 S. 20 21 ) — on my feet would I pass 
through, i.e. as ordinary, peaceful foot-passengers : cp. Ps. 
66 6 , Jud. 4 17 . Cp. Dt. 2 28 . According to & the request of 
v. 19 is a modification of that in v. 17 . At first the Israelites 
ask permission to pass through Edom (TrapeXevao/xeOa 8ta 

* Desert of the Exodus, 430 f. : cp. Buhl, Gesch. der Edomiter, p. 15, 
with the literature there cited. 

t Ketuboth 112a, cited by Neubauer, Ge'ographie du Talmud, 67. 

t On ancient routes through Edom, see Buhl, Gesch. der Edomiter, 44, 
18 ; G. A. Smith in EBi. art. "Trade and Commerce," § 32f. 

§ Cp. Nowack, Arch. \. 151 f. ; otherwise, Buhl, Geog. 126. 


•7-779 7779 (tov . . . e&>? av Trapi\da)/jL€v ra opia crov) ; on being 
refused this, they ask permission to pass along the borders 
of Edom (irapa rb opos Trape\ev<r6fjieda). — 20, 21. Again 
refused, Israel turns away from Edom in order, as the con- 
tinuation of JE in 21 4 explains, to turn the southern extremity 
of Edom. V. 20 and v. 21a are in substance identical, and may 
be from different sources (v. 20 J : v. 21a E). 

The traditions as to the early relations between Israel and Edom are 
to a large extent cast in the form of patriarchal stories ; cp. the small 
print n. on p. 265 f. Among these stories of Esau ( = Edom) and Jacob 
( = Israel), the account of the meeting of Esau and Jacob in Gn. 32 forms 
in some respects a striking parallel to the foregoing narrative. In Gn., 
it is true, the story concludes by bringing the two brothers into friendly 
relations with one another ; but such a conclusion is as little anticipated 
by the reader as by Jacob himself, when on first learning of Esau's 
advance with four hundred men (Gn. 32 7b ( 6b >, cp. v. 20b here) he prepares 
for the worst (Gn. 32 s - 12 1 7 " 11 )). There, as here, on approaching the land 
of Edom, Jacob ( = Israel) sends messengers to find favour for him with 
his brother Esau ( = Edom) ; the messengers are repulsed (Gn. 32' < 6 )), and 
return to Jacob with the news of Esau's hostile intent. Cp. Steuernagel, 
Die Einwanderung d. israelitischen Stammen, 105. 

D does not refer to the present incident, but in Dt. 2 1 " 8 relates that 
subsequently, on the northward march E. of the 'Arabah, Israel did 
actually cross a part of Edom in the same peaceable way which they 
here seek in vain to pursue. The two stories are not necessarily incom- 
patible, but it is impossible to determine what amount of historic fact 
lies at the basis of the stories, or how far they merely reflect later rela- 
tions between the two peoples. 

In all these traditions there are two common and fundamental assump- 
tions : 1. that the Edomites were more ancient than the Israelites; 2. 
that they already occupied the country in and about the 'Arabah, subse- 
quently called by their name, at the time of the immigration of Israel into 
Canaan. Certain passages in early Egyptian sources have a bearing on 
these assumptions. It was for long supposed that Edom was mentioned 
in the romance of Sinuhit (Dyn. xii. : before B.C. 2000) ; but the name 
formerly transliterated Eduma (Sayce, Higher Crit. and the Monuments, 
203) should be read kdm = o~tp (E. Meyer, Gesch. Aeg. 182; W. Max 
Miiller, Asien u. Europa, 46). On the other hand, the identification of 
'A-du-ma in Pap. Anastasi vi. 4 14 (c. 1300 B.C.) with Edom, though 
questioned by Winckler (Gesch. Isr. 189 f.) and Cheyne (EBi. 1182), is 
generally admitted. In this document the request is made by an Egyptian 
official that " the Bedawin tribes (tribes of £a-su) (belonging to the land) 
of 'A-du-ma" be allowed to pasture on the N.E. frontier of Egypt (Max 
Miiller, op. tit. 135). Rameses ill. (about B.C. 1200) relates: "I inflicted 
a defeat on the Sa-'a-Vra belonging to the Bedawin tribes." The equiva- 
lence of Sa-'a-Vra with crvi/B- (the inhabitants of Mt. Seir) is not questioned. 

XX. 20-22 269 

Max Miiller (op. cit. 136 f.) argues that this excludes the possibility that 
the Edomites had up to that time occupied Mt. Seir. If his argument 
were admitted, the placing of Edomites in and about the 'Arabah in the 
Biblical stories would be an anachronism. But against the validity of 
his argument, see Nold. in EBi. s.v. " Edom," § 3. 6 ; Buhl, Gesch. d. 
Edomiter, 53. Further evidence may yet come to light : what exists at 
present, unless the identification of 'A-du-ma = Edom, be denied, proves 
the existence of the name Edom at or prior to the time of the Hebrew 
immigration : it neither proves nor at all clearly or necessarily disproves 
that Edomites already occupied the country later known by their name. 

14. nDM m . . . donSd . . . rvW'i] cp. Gn. 32**- (JE): m + some part of 
tdn with a human or (as so frequently in the prophets) a divine subject is 
very characteristic of JE as contrasted with P : see CH. 87 and 222. — 
njrr .inx] the expression of the pronominal subject with j;v is characteristic 
of JE : CH. 174. — 16. "l^n: nsp] cp. 22 s6 ; "?13: in these vv. is clearly used 
not of the boundary or border, but, as often (BDB. sv. ^21 2), of the 
territory enclosed with borders. Hence we have the alternative ex- 
pressions -mxa to n-ojn, -^a: naj» (v. 17 ), 'a -njm (v. 18 ), ^232 -ny (v. 2i ). rixp is 
here used of the border or boundary: cp. "anan nxp Ex. 13 20 , px nsp Ex. 
16 35 .— 17. a-o2i rrwa] cp. 16 14 21 22 . — 21. ]'m] G.-K. 66/; the same form 
occurs in Gn. 38 s (J) ; E elsewhere uses peculiar infinitive forms ; see 
phil. notes on 22 13f \ — "ny] is one of the two accusatives (Dav. 90c) governed 
by jro ; cp. Job 9 18 ; but as both here and in 21 23 "oy is preceded by a word 
ending in h, we should perhaps restore "ny 1 ? : so Paterson in SBOT. 

22-29. Arrival at Mt. Hor ; death of Aaron, and investiture 
of Ele'azar (P). 

Apart from v. 2 - a the whole section is clearly derived from Ps ; with v. 24 
cp. v. 12 '- (P), and generally Dt. 32 eo (P); see also Nu. 33 38 - 40 (P s ); and note, 
e.g., myn (i 2 n.) v. 22 - 29 ; vdj? *?x ion' v. 24 ; yu v. 29 ; see L.O.T. pp. 131, 133 
(Nos. 256 and 9). Mt. Hor (v. 22f - 2B - » 21 4 33 s7 " 39 - 46 , Dt. 3 2 B0 ) is referred to 
only by P. It has been questioned whether v. 22 * is from P, on the ground 
that he would have written trip mnDD (cp. 27 14 ), or js -moo (v. 1 ) rather 
than enpD ; hence some (e.g. Di.) refer the clause to R ; others, in view of 
ij/D'i (ct. 2i 12 ' - ) more questionably, to E (CH.). In any case v. 24 suffices to 
show that, according to Ps, Mt. Hor was reached after leaving Kadesh. 

The continuation of P's narrative is to be found in 2i 4a - 10f * 
22 1 . In one respect certainly, and probably in two, it conflicts 
with other Hebrew traditions. It makes Mt. Hor the scene 
of Aaron's death, whereas according to E that event took 
place at Moserah (Dt. 10 6 ), and it appears to imply that the 
Israelites marched straight across Edom to the E. of Jordan 
instead of making a circuit of Edom, as according to another 
tradition they did (see above on v. 14-21 ). 


22. The children of Israel, all the congregation] v. 1 n. — 
To Hor the mountain] the site is unknown ; but since it is 
situated, like Kadesh, on the border of the land of Edom 
(v. 23 33 37 ), the traditional site, near Petra, which is in the 
midst of the country of Edom, is certainly wrong. Some 
recent scholars have identified Jebel Madurah with Mt. Hor ; 
this is described as "a round isolated hill," and lies a short 
day's journey S. of the southern end of the Dead Sea, on the 
eastern bank of the Wady el-Fikreh, which may have formed 
the N.W. boundary of Edom (v. 16 n.). The site satisfies the 
conditions of the text ; it was on the border of Edom, and, 
like the site of Moses' death, near the land of promise ; but 
the data are insufficient to render the identification certain. 
Jebel Madurah lies N.E. of 'Ain el-Kadis (Kadesh), and 
therefore on the route which would naturally be followed in 
marching direct from Kadesh across Edom. 

Clay Trumbull (Kadesh- Barnea, 127-139) has argued at length for the 
identification of Jebel Madurah and Mt. Hor ; but, from a critical stand- 
point, much of his argument is vitiated by his indiscriminate use of the 
various sources. Further, his attempt to identify the names Madurah 
($ i*X*) and Moserah ('"nDb) in Dt. io 8 is philologically most hazardous. 
For other descriptions of Jebel Madurah, see Seetzen, Reisen, iii. 14 ft .; 
Robinson, BR. ii. 589; Palmer, Desert of the Exodus, 415 f. — The tradi- 
tional site was determined by the erroneous traditional identification of 
Petra and Kadesh. Josephus (Ant. iv. 4 7 ) already places Aaron's death 
near Petra. Jerome's note in the Onomasticon runs : " Or mons in quo 
mortuus est Aaron juxta civitatem Petram, ubi usque ad praesentem diem 
ostenditur rupes qua percussa Moyses aquas populo dedit." Similarly 
Eusebius ; Lagarde, Onom. 2 pp. 175, 291. The tradition is perpetuated 
in the modern Arabic name of a mountain near Petra, the Jebel Nebi 
Harun (described by Palmer, op. cit. 433 f., 520; Robinson, BR. ii. 

23. Mt. Hor on the border of the land of Edom] (TQJ 7V 
DIN pK) ; cp. "on the edge {mpi) of the land of Edom," 33 s7 . 
Since in both places Mt. Hor is mentioned immediately after 
Kadesh, which lay on the W. of Edom, it is on the western 
border of Edom, whose territory stretched westwards of the 
'Arabah, and therefore far beyond Petra, that we must seek 
Mt. Hor. — 24. Shall be gathered to his kinsmen] The word, 
rendered in AV. "people," is plural (vcy), and denotes "one 

XX. 22-XXI. I 271 

o, * 

of the same kin," in Arabic {»z) "one of the father's kin"; 

in this and similar phrases (e.g. "to lie with one's fathers") 
used of death, earlier writers use the synonymous term 
"fathers"; see, e.g., Jud. 2 10 , t K. i 21 14 31 ; and for further 
references, BDB. s.v. 2K 4. — Because ye rebelled against My 
commandment] ("'S, cp. io 13 ) : an allusion to the story pre- 
served, though probably only in a distorted form, in v. 7-13 ; 
see above, p. 261 f. In what Aaron's sin consisted is certainly 
obscure ; it is described by the same term as here in 27 14 , by 
a milder one in v. 12 , and by the specifically priestly term bvv 
be faithless (5 s ) in Dt. 32 51 (also P).— 26. Strip Aaron of his 
garments^ his official garments, as described in Lev. 8 7-9 , are 
evidently intended ; clothed in these Ele'azar descends from the 
mountain as Aaron's successor in the high priesthood (v. 27f ). 

28. It is not explicitly stated where Aaron was buried 
(cp. Dt. 34 6 ), but obviously popular tradition regarded the top 
of Mt. Hor as the site. The modern Bedawin have a great 
liking for being buried on mountain tops, and sometimes the 
body of a distinguished person is brought three or four days 
out of the steppe that it may be so buried. According to a 
statement made to Wetzstein, they believe that thus buried 
they retain their union with their tribe, if from the mountain 
top they can look out over the tribal camp.* — 29. The people 
mourn for Aaron 30 days : cp. Dt. 34 s (P). 

22. "inn nil] this peculiar order and cstr. is always found with this 
phrase (even when the northern Mt. Hor is intended, see 34 7 '-) ; ct. 
"vo -in, kry in, etc. ; see Kon. ii. 333 w. v.—2i. voy] S my ; the versions also 
have the sing. — 25. ffi adds ivavri ir&o-rjs rrjs <rvvaywyrjs : cp. v.- 7 J^. — 
26. BB-sm] S nasyam.— 27. l^m] S (ffi) vhyn ; <K L = dSjh : cp. v. 25 % 

XXI. 1-3. Hormah. — The Canaanites of the Negeb (under 
the king of 'Arad, a place some 50 or 60 miles almost due 
N. of Kadesh), hearing of Israel's advance in the direction of 
their territory take the offensive, fight against Israel, and 
take some of them captive. Israel vow to Yahweh, if granted 
revenge, to place the Canaanite cities under the ban (herem). 

* Wetzstein, Reisebericht iiber Hauran und die Trachonen, 26 ; see also 
Baudissin in PRE. 3 viii. 183 ; We. Reste des arab. Heidentums? 15 f. 


Success is granted them, the ban is put into force, and the 
region or city (? 'Arad) is consequently called Hormah (Ban). 

It has long been recognised that the section is, in part at 
least, out of place, and does not refer, as from the position 
which the compiler has given it it should do, to the period 
spent at Mt. Hor (20 22 21 4 ), nor, indeed, to any time im- 
mediately before the Israelites took their departure to the 
E. of Jordan. For why, as Reland (Paleslina, s.v. " Chorma") 
pertinently asked, should they abandon the country in the S. 
of Canaan W. of the 'Arabah, in which they had just proved 
themselves victorious? It has been frequently considered a 
sufficient solution to regard v. 3 as a parenthetic anticipation 
of Jud. i 16 - 17 . Yet the last thing that ought to be said of 
v. 3 is that it is "evidently" parenthetical.* On the other 
hand, there is no indication whatever that the writer regarded 
Israel's success as far removed in time from the defeat. It is 
more satisfactory to assume that the whole section, though 
already found in its present position by the compiler of 33 
(see v. 40 ), is badly placed. 

It is difficult to reach any certain conclusion as to the original position 
of the section. The style, from which all marks of P are absent, but 
which is marked by some characteristics of JE, such as 3 on 1 ?:, ^ip3 yoc, 
proves that it is not derived from P, and, consequently, that the assign- 
ment of the incident to the stay at Mt. Hor is no older than the editor who 
united P and JE. Further, the story did not, even in JE, stand after 20 21 
and before 21 4 ; for that passage speaks of the Hebrews taking a southern 
course from Kadesh ; the present incident implies that they were moving 
towards the Negeb, which lies N. of Kadesh. As between the two 
sources J and E, ':j?:3n (v. 3 ) favours referring the passage to the former. 

As to the relation between the present passage, 14 45 and Jud. i 16 '*, 
Moore {Judg. 36) considers that the present passage has no connection 
with Jud. i 16 '-, but is a parallel and different explanation of the name 
Hormah. Steuernagel (Einwanderung, 76 f.), on the other hand, considers 
all three passages scattered fragments of one and the same narrative, 
which immediately followed the narrative of the spies and, in its original 
form, described how Jud 'ah (cp. Judges), which took no part in the con- 
quest of Canaan from the E. , gained its footing in Western Canaan from 
the S. The present passage, on this theory, generalises a tradition which 
originally related to only a section of Israel, and makes it apply to the 
whole people. 

* Palmer, Desert of the Exodus, 522. 

XXI. i, 3 273 

1. The Canaanite, the king of 'Arad, who dwelt in the 
Negeb] the king of ' Arad may be an interpolation, for (1) the 
personal title is strange after the collective national term, 
which alone is subsequently referred to {this people, v. 2 ; them 
and their cities, v. 3 ) ; and (2) after the mention of 'Arad, which 
is situated in the Negeb, the clause who dwelt in the Negeb 
would be redundant. See also on v. 3 . With the Canaanite 
who dzoelt in the Negeb, cp. "the Canaanite dwelt in the 
valley" (14 25 ); see also 14 45 . — The king of 'Arad] also men- 
tioned (immediately after the king- of Hormah) in Jos. 12 14 . 
'Arad, according to Jerome (Onom. 88 2 ), lay 20 Roman miles 
S. of Hebron. The name survives in Tell 'Arad, which lies 
17 English miles almost due S. of Hebron,* about 30 miles 
due N. of Jebel Madurah, and about 50 miles N.N.E. of 'Ain 
Kadis (Kadesh). — The way of {the) Atharitn] Atharim (nnnxn) 
seems to be a proper name. Di.'s view, that the whole phrase 
means the "caravan route," is not very probable, and "the 
way of the spies " (AV. after 2E, etc.) must be abandoned ; see 
phil. n. — 2. Them I will devote] or place under the ban, and 
so destroy; cp. 18 14 n. The name ZToraflA is here explained 
as a place that had been laid under the ban and destroyed, 
though, like the similar names Hermon and HSrem, it may 
actually have acquired the sacred or inviolable character which 
is implied by the name in some other way. — And the name of 
the district was called Hormah] In Jud. i 17 it is distinctly 
stated that Hormah was the name given to a city, and that 
the former name of the city was Sephath. It is commonly 
supposed that the present passage also asserts that the name 
Hormah was given to a city ; then the city should be 'Arad 
(v. 1 ); yet in Jos. 12 14 Hormah and 'Arad are distinct cities. 
But the term DipD, though it may be used of a city, may also 
refer to a wider area including many cities : e.g. it is used of 
the whole land of Canaan (Ex. 23 20 , 1 S. 12 8 ; cp. CH. 65 JE ). 
In the present instance, after the preceding clause, and they 
devoted them (the Canaanites) and their cities, it is most 
natural to take Dlpo in the wider sense. In Jos. 12 14 15 30 19 4 , 

* Robinson, Biblical Researches, ii. 473; Smith, Hist. Geog. 278 f. ; 
EBi. s.v. "Arad." 


i S. 30 30 , i Ch. 4 80 , Hormah (without the art. as here and in 
Jud. i 17 ) is mentioned among a number of cities; but in 
from Seir to Hormah (Dt. i 44 ffi) it may well be, like Se'ir, the 
name of a district; cp. the Hormah in 14 45 . 

1. onnxn Tn] ffi ('Adapeiv(fi)) certainly and, in all probability, the other 
versions also presuppose the present text of ft?. The rendering- the -way 
of the spies (j& 2T IB, Sam. V., Aq., Symm.) is due to the resemblance of 
Dnnx and onn ; but there is no philological connection between the two 
words. Di.'s suggestion noted above rests on a comparison with the 

Arabic ..'! = a trace, sign. Cheyne in EBi. (2651 n. 5) proposes "in T.TI 
HDK. — 2. Dnnj; fix 'JiDinni] (Hi avadefiariQ) avrbv koX rds 7r6Xeis avrov ; cp. v. 3 
|l?.— 3. '3J?33.1] Add with S ffi (cp. %) its ; cp. v. 2 |Q.— onnn] see BDB. 846. 

4-9. The bronze serpent (JE). — The people complain of the 
unsatisfying - manna and of the lack of water. Yahweh 
plagues them with serpents. At the people's request, Moses 
intercedes with Yahweh, who instructs him to make an arti- 
ficial serpent, and set it on a pole. Moses makes the serpent 
of bronze and sets it on a pole ; and every one suffering from 
a serpent-bite who looks at it is healed. 

V. te (and they journeyed from Aft. Hor) is taken directly from, or com- 
posed by the editor in the manner of, P. The rest of the passage is from 
JE, and, probably, in particular from E. V. 4b continues 20 21 (E), and 
explains how, on the Edomites' refusal to give Israel passage through 
their country, they gained their purpose of getting E. of Jordan. With 
»)1D D' TH cp. 14 23 , Ex. 13 18 (E), Dt. i 40 2 1 . Whether the story of the bronze 
serpent stood in its present position in JE, or was placed there by the 
editor, cannot be determined. Characteristic of JE are WJW (of the 
Exodus) in v. 6 (cp. 14 13 16 13 ; CH. 136); B'an v. 9 (cp. 12 8 23 21 ; CH. 179), 
^snn v. 7 bis (cp. 11 2 n.) The last word, as also d\"i?n in v. s and perhaps 
2 121 in v. 6 (cp. I2 1 (E)), point to E, to which source the passage is re- 
ferred by Di., Kue., Bacon, Kit., CH. 

From a notice in the Book of Kings (2 K. 18 4 ), it appears 
that in the 8th century B.C. the "bronze serpent" was an 
object of popular worship in Judah : the people burnt sacri- 
fices (cmDpD) to it. It was therefore destroyed by Hezekiah, 
who acted, as we may suppose, under the influence of Isaiah's 
iconoclastic teaching (Is. 2 8 17 8 30 22 31 7 ). The notice in the 
Book of Kings agrees with the present in attributing to Moses 
the manufacture of the serpent. 

The relation between these two notices may be regarded 
in two ways. Either (a) the present passage records the 

XXI. 4-9 275 

actual origin of the bronze serpent, and the symbol, origin- 
ally erected by Moses without idolatrous intent, came to be 
an object of idolatrous worship; or (b) Nu. 2I 4 " 9 is an 
etiological story told to explain a symbol that actually owed 
its origin to other than Yahwistic belief. The acceptance or 
rejection of explanation (a), which is adopted, for example, 
by Strack, will be largely determined by the general con- 
clusion as to the date and historical value of the Pentateuchal 
sources : it need only be pointed out here that the story 
contains no adequate explanation of the choice of this par- 
ticular form of miracle, nor of how the Israelite nomads on 
the march were in a position to manufacture, with the speed 
which the circumstances demanded, so important a work in 
metal. Explanation (b), which is now very generally adopted, 
accords with a general tendency in religion to endeavour to 
impart new and more appropriate significance to incongruous 
rites and practices which happen to possess a great hold on 
the people : cp. p. 48. 

Beliefs in the connection between the serpent and healing, 
which, if the present story is rightly regarded as etiological 
in character, must have been recognised by the Hebrews, 
are widespread. A conspicuous instance is the Greek god 
of healing, Asklepios, who is said to have appeared in the 
form of a serpent, and is constantly represented accom- 
panied by serpents.* Possibly another trace of such a belief 
among the Hebrews may be found in " the Dragon's spring" 
(pn py Neh. 2 13 ), for the " Arabs still regard medicinal 
waters as inhabited by the jinn, which are usually of 
serpent form." f 

Whatever its origin, the mass of the Hebrew people came 
to attribute healing power to the bronze serpent itself. Not 
so those who had come under the higher prophetic teaching 
among whom, at some time prior to Hezekiah, this story 
must have been framed to controvert the popular belief, and 

* Pausanias, Description of Greece, ii. 10. 3 ; and see Frazer's n. on 
ii. 10. 3 (vol. iii. 65-67), where parallels from Greek and Roman writers 
and wider fields may be found. 

t W. R. Smith, Rel. of the Semites* 168. 


to trace back the power of healing to Yahweh Himself, who, 
as the prophets taught, both bruised and healed (see, e.g., 
Hos. 6 1 n 3 , and compare such stories as that of the healing 
of Naaman (2 K. 5)). The point of the story is clearly seized 
by the author of Wisdom ; the bronze serpent is a av^LJ3okov 
atoTijpLas, and "he that turned toward it was not saved 
because of that which was beheld, but because of thee, the 
Saviour of all " (Wisd. i6 6f -)- 

In later times the story readily lent itself to allegorizing-. To Philo 
the serpent erected by Moses is Kaprepia, patient endurance (the metal 
symbolising' strength) ; this is equal to overcoming pleasure, which is the 
real meaning of the serpent who tempted Eve (De Alleg, ii. 20 (Mangey, 
80) ; De Agricul. 22 (Mangey, 315))- Less elaborate is the explanation in 
Rosh hash-Shanah iii. 8. The allusion in Jn. 3 14 has given rise to a 
large typological literature, for which see references in Winer, Bibl. 
Realwb'rterbuch, s.v. " Schlange, Eherne." 

The place of the serpent in Semitic and especially Hebrew religion 
has been fully discussed by Baudissin in Studien stir semit. Religions- 
geschichte, i. 257-292. The data are insufficient to justify any certain 
inference as to the actual origin of the cult of the bronze serpent. In view 
of the slight influence of Egyptian religion on the Hebrews it is unlikely 
that the cult of the serpent is of Egyptian origin. Of various other views 
that have been held, two or three may be mentioned. (1) W. R. Smith 
(Journal of Philology, ix. 99 f.) argued that the serpent was originally a 
totem symbol, and that other traces of the serpent as a totem were to be 
found in certain proper names (on which see also HPN. p. 88 ff., Nos. 
24, 44, 45, and p. 108 ff., Nos. 3 and 9). (2) Cheyne in EBi. s.v. 
" Nehushtan," has skilfully argued that the "bronze serpent" in the 
temple, like the "bronze oxen" and "the sea," was a symbol connected 
with the Babylonian dragon myth which certainly has left its mark on 
Hebrew mythology (Gunkel, Schiipfung u. Chaos, esp. pp. 29-114); see 
also Zimmern, Die Keilinschriften u. das AT, 3 505. (3) Frazer (GB. ii. 
426 f.) cites the present story in connection with the custom of getting rid 
of vermin by making images of them. Thus the Philistines, when their 
land was infested by mice (1 S. 5 6 (5r), made golden images of the 
creatures, and sent them out of the country. " Apollonius of Tyana is 
said to have freed Antioch from scorpions by making a bronze image of 
a scorpion, and burying it under a small pillar in the middle of the city. 
Gregory of Tours tells us that the city of Paris used to be free of dor- 
mice and serpents, but that in his lifetime, while they were cleaning a 
sewer, they found a bronze serpent and a bronze dormouse, and removed 
them," whereafter they abounded. See also Jacob, Altarab. Parallelen 
zum AT, p. 11, who cites instances from Kazwini (ii. 369, 373), and 
amongst others the case of a well near Toledo which became infested 
with leeches : a bronze leech was cast into the well and the real things 

XXI. 4-6 2 77 

4. And they set out from Mt. Hor] the clause connects the 
narrative of P (20 22-29 2i 10f ), now interrupted by the insertion 
of two passages from JE (2I 1 " 3 - 4b -°). With p Wl, cp. v. 10 '- 
(ct. v. 12ff -) io 12 , Ex. 13 20 16 1 17 1 (P).— 4a /3. The continuation 
of 20 21 (JE): the original source ran — And Israel turned away 
from him {i.e. Edom : 20 21 ) by the -way of Yam Suph to compass 
the land of Edom. They went southwards from Kadesh, which 
was on the boundary of Edom (20 16 ), to pass round the southern 
extremity of Edom to the E. ; cp. Jud. 1 1 17 - 18 . On the way of 
Yam Suph, see 14 25 n. — 4b, 5. The people, unable to restrain 
their impatience at being led about in so barren a country, 
spoke angrily against ( 1 2 1 n.) God and Moses, and complained that 
there was no food to be had, but the unsatisfying manna which 
they loathed. — The soul of the people was short] shortness of soul 
(&£}) or spirit (rm) is impatience or incapability of restraining 
one's anger. For example, under Delilah's persistent teasing, 
Samson's soul grew short till he revealed his secret (Jud. 
16 16 ). Short-spirited is the antithesis in Prov. 14 29 to long- 
suffering (D-DX "ps) ; see, further, Ex. 6 9 , Jud. io 16 , Mic. 2 1 , 
Zech. 11 8 , Job 2 1 4 . The prep 2 gives either the ground of 
complaint, as in Jud. io 16 , Zech. 1 1 8 — because of the way; or 
the place — in the way. — Wherefore have ye brought us up] 
According to MT. the subject is God and Moses : see last 
clause. But the verb should be pointed as a sing, (unvyn : 
so <5r BFL & U), the subject being Moses only, as in 16 13 , Ex. 
jy3 — Why hast thou brought us up?] For the complaint, cp. 
20 5 . — This worthless bread] tflokel occurs only here, but the 
root in Heb. means literally to be light, and so contemptible 
{e.g. 2 S io, 44(43) , Is. 8 23 (9 1 )). On account of a special develop- 
ment of the root-meaning in Assyr. {kalkaltu = hunger), some 
interpret k e lokel here unsatisfying. — 6. The burning serpents] If 
the adj. saraph is connected with vb. cpE? to burn, it refers to 
the burning sensation of the inflammation produced by the 
bite, rather than to the fiery appearance of the serpent or, 
in particular, of its eye, for the vb. does not mean give 
light. Formally the word here used as an adj. is identical 
with the noun in Is. 6 2 , s'raphim. The s'raphim of Is. 6 2 
are mythological in character : that is scarcely the case with 


the serpents that in this story attack the Israelites. As a 
matter of fact, serpents of various kinds abound both in the 
Sinaitic peninsula and in the deserts south of Palestine ; either 
this actual fact is reflected in the story, or the plague of 
serpents in the story is entirely due to the need for explain- 
ing the existence in later times of the bronze serpent: see 
above, p. 275 f. — We have sin?ied\ Aaron and Miriam make a 
similar confession (12 11 (E)). After the confession, Moses, 
as on other occasions, intercedes with effect (n 2 n.). — Make 
thee a serpent] (K L & add of bronze, as in v. 9 . — The words KTI3 
= serpent, and nana = bronze, are very similar, and the one 
word might very easily be omitted by accident after the 
other. The conventional rendering of JIBTia is brass; but 
this is almost certainly incorrect. The word denotes in the 
first instance an ore, or natural metal (Dt. 8 9 ; cp. n£J>ina Job 
28 2 ). It is used for all sorts of utensils (17 4 , 2 K. 25 14 ), is 
less valuable than gold (Is. 60 17 ) or silver (Dan. 2 32 ), and 
was a bright metal (1 K. 7 45 , Ezr. 8 27 ). All this points to 
copper, a metal in early use among various peoples of 
antiquity. Copper articles have been found, for example, 
in the tomb of Menes, the "first king of Egypt," copper and 
bronze at Tell el Hesy and Troy. From the fact that 
some of the OT. allusions {e.g. 1 S. i7 5f -, 1 K. 4 13 , Is. 48 4 , 
Job 40 18 ) seem to imply a stronger and harder metal than 
unalloyed copper, it is inferred that ntJTU may also mean 
bronze. Bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) was much 
employed by, whereas brass (an alloy of copper and zinc) 
was hardly known to, the ancients.* — On a pole] The word 
Da is generally used of a conspicuous object round which 
people, especially troops, mustered; see, e.g., Is. 5 26 n 12 18 3 
62 10 , Jer. 50 2 : here it seems to mean nothing more than a 
pole sufficiently high to be conspicuous. 

6. Wwd] <& = H\trx>* »33D. — 8. n»m] (Sx + ibv 8&Ky 8(pis 8.v6puirov: cp. 
v. 9 fQ. — 9. «5"N nx] On the n»t with the formally indefinite but quasi- 
pronominal c"n ( = any one), see Dav. 72, R. 4; Kon. iii. 2&&g; G.-K. 

* EBi. s.v. "Copper," "Brass"; Nowack, Arch. i. 243 f. In AV. 
brass — copper ; see Wright's Bible Word Booh. 

XXI. 7-XXI. 10 279 

XXT. 10-XXXVI. (JE P). Marches and Events 
East of the ' Arabah and the Jordan. 

After a march northwards from the gulf of 'Akabah along 
the E. of Edom and Moab (2i 10 ^ 12) -22 1 ) the Israelites come 
to rest, before attacking Canaan W. of the Jordan, in the 
country immediately to the N.E. of the Dead Sea. With 
the story of the Israelites in this district are connected the 
episode of Balaam (22 2 -24 18 ), the seduction of the Israelites 
by the (Moabites or) Midianite women (25 1 " 9 ), whose conduct 
is visited on the whole people of Midian (c. 31), the taking 
of the second census (c. 26), the selection of Moses' successor 
Joshua (27 15-23 ), the communication of numerous laws and 
instructions (27 1_u 28-30. 33 50 -36). The greater part of c. 32 
also finds a suitable place in this section ; and the itinerary of 
c. 33 is as well placed here as anywhere else. 

The greater part of the section is derived from P, much of 
it from P s . But it is the view of JE with regard to the march 
that most clearly appears in the compilation. If it was P's 
view that the Hebrews marched across the N. of Edom (see 
2 1 11 n.), the editor has succeeded in obscuring it. 

XXI. 10. -XXII. 1. Marches and Conquests East of the 
Dead Sea and Jordan Valley. 

Literature. — Noldeke, Untersuchungen, 85^; Wellhausen, Comp. 
nof., 343-346; Meyer, ZATW. i. 1 17-146; Stade, Geschichte des Volkes 
Israel, 116-118, 130 n. 1; Kuenen, Hexateuch, 151 f., 230, and Th. Tijd. 
xviii. (1884), 516-532 ; G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. c. xxvi. and Appendix iii. ; 
Bacon, Triple Tradition, 209-212 ; Kittel, Geschichte der Hebrder, 81-83, 
192-194, 206-209; Sayce, Early History of the Hebrews, 222-228; Steuer- 
nagfel, Die Einivanderung der israelitischen Stdmmen, §§ 11 and 13 

The passage contains the work of many writers. The 
poetical passages (v. uf - 17f - 27 - 30 ), in view of the manner in which 
they are introduced, are obviously older than the narrative 
with which they have been incorporated. V. 33-35 are derived 
from Dt. i 1-3 . The repeated formula of marching and en- 


camping in v. 10 - lla 22 1 is in Hebrew different from that in 
v. 12f -. That in v. 10 - lla 22 1 is the same as is found else- 
where in P (v. 4 n.) ; v. 12f - has the same formula as Dt. io 6f - 

Even the narrative that remains, after removing- the 
poetical passages, the extract from P, and the citation from 
Dt., is not homogeneous or self-consistent. For in v. 20 the 
people have reached Pisgah in the very heart of the country 
between Arnon and Jabbok : in v. 2U - they are still outside of 
this country, and only enter it after conquering the Amorites 
who then possessed it. Minor incongruities are the difference 
in the formulae of the march in v. 12f - and 18b - 20 , the descrip- 
tion of the country occupied by the Hebrews as "land" in 
v 24a-3i k ut as cities in v. 26 - 32 , the fact that v. 25b and v. 31 are 
doublets, and that "these cities" in v. 25 refers to nothing in 
the present context. Taken together these differences point 
to connecting (a) v . llb - 13 - 21 ~ 2i& - 31 ; (b) v. 16 - 18b - 20 - 24b - 25 (26) - 32 . 
(a) can be read consecutively — After passing several stations 
Israel reaches the border of the Amorite country which 
stretched from Arnon to Jabbok ; they ask to be allowed to 
make a peaceful passage through this country ; the Amorites 
refuse : the Israelites conquer the Amorites, and occupy the 
country. This story can be assigned with some confidence 
to E: for (1) v . 21 - 24a closely resembles 20 14 - 18 (E) ; (2) it 
agrees with Jud. n 12ff - and Dt. 2 24fl - in locating the Amorites 
between Arnon and Jabbok ; (3) the formula of the march in 
v- i2f. a gr re es with Dt. io 6f - (E). The narrative (b) is not con- 
secutive ; for v. 25 presupposes something not expressed. Nor 
can it on any strong positive grounds be assigned to its 
ultimate source ; as belonging to JE yet inconsistent with E, 
it may provisionally be referred to J. 

The analysis here adopted is virtually that of Bacon and CH. We., 
on the insufficient ground noted above (p. 265), assigned the whole of v. 21 " 31 
to J. Otherwise the general tendency was to refer a much larger part of 
v. 17 " 30 to E ; Kit. and Kue. referred the whole section, Meyer all except 
v i8b-20 to th a t source. Kuenen, slightly modifying the older harmonistic 
exegesis, thus attempts to get over the difficulty of the inconsistency of 
v 16-20 anc j y. 21-24. £ "prefaced his own narrative by a passage from an 
older itinerarium , , . and illustrated certain points by poetical citations 

XXI. io, ii 28l 

. . . just as he did with the main feature of his own narrative also" 
{Hex. 152). Steuernagel has recently denied the presence of J in the 
section ; arguing that v. 21 " 30 are out of place, that v. lsb ' M not less than 
v _iib-i8 belong to E, and that v. nb " 20 immediately preceded the episode of 
Balaam, which he refers entirely to E and E 2 . 

When the poetical fragments were introduced into the narrative is 
uncertain. The introduction of the first and third may be due to the 
same hand (note }3 hy v. 14-27 ; ct. v. 17 ); but whether this was E or R' E 
or even (though this is less likely) a later editor, must remain uncertain. 
The second poem (v. 17 ) is introduced in the same manner as the song at 
the Red Sea (Ex. 15 1 ), and possibly, therefore, by the same hand (J). 

10, 11a (P). And the children 0/ Israel set out] The point of 
departure is omitted: ct. v. 4a , Ex. 13 20 i6 x etc. In 23 i2t 
between Mt. Hor (v. 4a ) and Oboth, two other places, Salmonah 
and Punon, are mentioned. — Oboth] site unknown. — ' Iyye- 
' Abdrim] The first part of the name is the cstr. of Tyyim 
(33 45 ) an< 3 plural of 'Ai or 'I, which, defined by the art., 
also appears as the name of a place. It appears to mean 
"heaps" or "ruins." 'Ai and another 'Iyyim in Judah were 
on the W. of the Jordan valley. The addition of the words 
"of the 'Abarim" here and in 33 44 , defines this 'Iyyim as 
being on the E. of the Jordan valley; for "the 'Abarim," 
meaning- literally "places on the other side," is a name 
given to the country E. of the Jordan- valley, specifically 
to that on the other side from Judah (cp. 27 12 , Dt. 32° ; 
and see G. A. Smith's art. "Abarim" in EBL). Little 
that is more precise can be said of the site of 'Iyye-' Abarim 
with certainty ; for the next clause and the following verses 
appear to be from a different source. If, however, the com- 
piler has here been careful so to combine his sources as 
correctly to represent geographical facts, 'Iyye-' Abarim lay 
E. of Moab (clause b) and S. of Arnon ; for between 'Iyye- 
'Abarim and Arnon (v. 13 ) the present compilation places the 
Wady Zered. In 33 44- 45 the next station beyond 'Iyyim on 
the northward march is Dibon-Gad, which was only two or 
three miles N. of Arnon. In 33 44 'Iyyim is said to be in the 
territory or on the border of Moab ; if the latter translation of 
the ambiguous phrase be adopted, 'Iyyim should be located 
at the S.E. corner or Moab, and, therefore, most probably 
at some part on the upper course of the Wady el-Ahsa which 


flows into the southern end of the Dead Sea from the S.E, 
But however this may be, the main point is certain : 'Iyye- 
'Abarim lay E. of the Jordan valley (including the 'Arabah) ; 
and thus the narrative of P g , in so far as it is extant, mentions 
between Mt. Hor (20 22 2i 4a ) on the W., and f Iyye-'Abarim on 
the E., of the 'Arabah only one place, Oboth (the site of which is 
unknown), and gives no indication whatever that the passage 
from W. to E. was made by a long detour southwards from 
Kadesh by the head of the Red Sea. The fuller itinerary of 
c. 33, which, though the work of P s , is in the main governed 
by P s 's point of view, mentions, indeed, a larger number of 
intervening stations ; but it also gives no indication of a 
detour south. It is therefore highly probable that P B repre- 
sented the people marching, unmolested and with ease, 
straight across the northern end of Edom. Just as forty 
years before the spies passed through the whole length of 
Canaan at will, so now the Israelites approach Canaan by the 
direct and chosen route with entire disregard of the people 
then in possession of the country. 

11. onnyn -<ii] the existence of a D"y in Judah is a little uncertain : of 
the versions H (Jim) alone supports ft] in Jos. 15 29 , the only passage 
where the place is mentioned ; ffi B reads Bokuk ; j$ . > \S ; ffi AL Aveifi, 
pointing to o'ly (cp. Jos. 18 23 (5r AL ). Even of the present name it is 
doubtful whether the original form was not rather the sing. Dnnyn 'y 
(distinguished from '$?n near Bethel in western Canaan). "B {Ijeabarim, 
Jeabarim) clearly supports the pi., and, possibly, (& L (Teei) does the same ; 
% always reads | ifri^L? |l 1 \ which is ambiguous ; but, with the 
exception just mentioned, all the readings of (5 are either curious or 
point to the sing. ; for Tai, the regular equivalent of 'y(n) (see Hatch and 
Redpath, Supplement, s.v. Tai, A77ai), is read in ffi ABF in 33 44 S and here 
(IJaf (vid) have Ax^ydt, B xoXyXci, l Ax^l/j. xoiet/O. So in Onom. Altj, tj 
Kal 'Axe\>a£ (21 1 8 ), Ate quce et Achalgai (86 1 ). The origin of dS's A^fX 
(cp. in NT. 'AxeXSa^tax, here = Aram. Spn) is not obvious; it might (after 
v) be a corruption of NaxeX = Sn:; but if so, whence came *?m ? It is 
worthy of notice that the hard pronunciation of V which still influences 
ffi is neglected in the forms of the Onom. (A117, Ate). On this point and 
on the possible presence of 'V in Vn'j?, see Academy, June 21, 1896. 

lib— 15. A fragment of E's itinerary, describing how the 
Israelites advance, keeping outside Moabite territory and the 
border of the Amorites (v. ub - 1S ). This is followed by a fragment 

XXI. ii— 13 2^3 

of an ancient poem (v. uf ). Previous fragments of E's itinerary 
are to be found in 20 21 2i 4b , Dt. io 6_s . Evidently, from the 
position which they occupy in c. 33, the places mentioned in 
Dt. io 6 ~ 8 belong to the march southwards from Kadesh : 
those mentioned here, to the march northward from f Esion- 
Geber on the Gulf of 'Akabah. In view of the different 
definition of 'Iyye-'Abarim in 33 44 and the similarity to Jud. 
ii 18 , CH. seem justified in referring v. nb [in the wilderness 
which is over against Moab on the east) to E rather than P. 
Whether in E v. ub defines f Iyye-'Abarim or some other place 
cannot be determined, but the fact that 'Iyye-'Abarim in 33 45f - 
immediately precedes Dibon-Gad favours the latter alter- 
native.— The Wady Zered\ Dt. 2 13 '- Taken by itself the 
context in Dt. favours the identification * with the Wady el- 
Ahsa, formerly the southern border of Moab, and still "the 
recognised boundary between the districts of Petra and 
Kerak " ; for the command not to vex Moab would be more 
suitably given as the Israelites were approaching the southern 
border, than after they had been for some time skirting the 
eastern border of Moab. But if the compiler of the present 
narrative was accurately acquainted with and accurately repre- 
sents the topography of the district, 'Iyye-'Abarim must lie on 
or N. of the Wady el-Ahsa, and consequently the Wady Zered 
must be some wady further north, such as el-Franji (the upper 
course of the Wady el-Kerak) or the Seil Lejjun (cp. p. 286).! 
— 13. Beyond Arnon] if the writer speaks from the standpoint 
of the march, this must mean north of the Arnon : this is the 
most natural interpretation both here and in Jud. ii 18 (see 
Moore, ad loc.). If the phrase is used from the fixed stand- 
point of an Israelite, beyond Arnon would mean on the side of 
Arnon out of Israelite territory, and hence south of Arnon ; so 
it is commonly taken here. J — Which is in the wilderness] the 
clause apparently defines Arnon (rather than lay). Such a 
definition is not unnecessary, for the name Arnon in the 
OT. covers a number of branches of the great wady whose 

* Robinson, Biblical Researches, ii. 555 f. ; Tristram, Land of Moab, 50, 

t Di. ; Driver on Dt. 2 13 . 

% Di., Str., Meyer, ZATW. v. 45 n. 1. 


modern name is Wady Mojib (cp. v. 14 n.). G. A. Smith (in EBi. 
3170 n. 1) suggests that the particular stream here intended is 
one of the branches of the W. Waleh, which comes from the 
N. into the main wady 4! m. from its mouth. — The •wilderness 
•which stretches away from the territory of the Amorite] viz. to the 
east. The whole description points to some locality on the 
upper Arnon, in agreement with 2i 4 - llb and Jud. u 18 , which 
represent the march as outside of and therefore necessarily east 
of Edom and Moab. The upper Arnon could be easily crossed 
by a large body of men : not so the lower Arnon, which runs 
through a chasm two or three miles across and 1700 feet 
deep.* — For Arnon is the Moabite border between Moab and the 
Amorite] What this statement is intended to substantiate is 
not clear, possibly owing to an incomplete citation of the 
source. For the view that at the time in question the country 
N. of Arnon was occupied by the Amorites, see v. 24-26 , Jud. 1 1 22 , 
Jos. 12 2 . The Moabite N. boundary shifted in later times, 
as the contemporary evidence of the Moabite Stone suffices 
to show. Under 'Omri and Ahab Arnon formed the border 
between Israel and Moab; Mesha' reconquered many of the 
towns N. of Arnon (e.g. 'Aro'er, Mehedeba, 'Ataroth, Nebo), 
and reoccupied the country. Mesha''s inscription, in fact, 
refers to three changes: (1) in the time before 'Omri, Moab 
occupied country N. of Arnon ; (2) in the time of 'Omri, and 
Ahab, Moab was confined to the S. of Arnon ; (3) in the 
period of Mesha' (and subsequently, cp. Is. 15 f.), Moab again 
extended N. of Arnon. There is thus nothing historically 
improbable in the representation of this chapter that at a 
much earlier period Moab had to fight, and not always 
successfully, to maintain its claim to the country N. of the 
Arnon. — 14 f. A snatch from the book of Yahweh's Battles 
is cited to show that Arnon was the border of Moab. — 
WJierefore it is said] or that is the meaning of the saying (p ?y 
"i»X' 1 ) : cp. Gn. io 9 , and the similar phrase nON 11 p bv in v. 27 . 
The book of the Battles of Yahweh] To judge from the specimen 
here preserved, and from its title, this book, like the book oj 
the Yashar (Jos. io 13 , 2 S. i 18 ) or the Hamasa and similar 
* G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 558; Tristram, Land of Moab, 125 ff. 

XXI. 14, IS 2 &5 

collections of the Arabs,* appears to have been a collection 
of ancient popular songs that had been handed down orally 
till the fuller establishment of a national life brought with it a 
period of literary activity. The date of the collection cannot 
be determined with any certainty.! The book of the Yashar 
cannot be earlier than David (2 S i 18 ); and the book 0/ 
Yahwetis Battles may well have arisen in the same period. 
The subject of the collection, as indicated in the title, was the 
struggles of the nation or its heroes against its foes ; for 
these were what the Hebrews meant by " battles of Yahweh " 
(1 S. 18 17 25 s8 ) ; and the battles were so called because they 
were waged by the help of Yahweh (e.g. 1 S. i4 6 - 23 ) and by 
the presence in the heroes of Yahweh's spirit (Jud. 6 34ff - 1 S. 
n 6ff -) and against Yahweh's enemies (Jud. 5 31 ). War with 
the Hebrews, as with other peoples of antiquity, was a sacred 
undertaking,! and as such demanded consecration (Jos. 3 5 , 
Is. 13 3 , Jer. 6 4 5 1 27 , Joel f, Micah 3 5 ).— The snatch itself is an 
obscure fragment beginning in the middle of one sentence 
and breaking off in the middle of the next — 

. . . 14b Waheb in Suphah, and the valleys, Arnon. 
15 The cliff of the valleys which extends to the site of ' Ar, 
And leans on the border of Moab . . . 

The verb on which Waheb is dependent may have been "Oy, 
or npb, or the like, and so — We (i.e. the Israelites, Yahweh's 
warriors) passed through or took Waheb. Waheb (G Zwofi) 
is quite unknown ; Suphah, the district in which it is situated, 
may possibly be identical with the obscure Suph of Dt. i 1 
(see Driver, ad loc), but scarcely, as suggested by Tristram 
(Moab, 50 f.) with the Ghor es-S&fiyyeh, a small oasis just 
S.E. of the Dead Sea (see Dr. in DB. s.v. " Zoar "). The 

* On which see Brockelmann, Arab. Lilteratur, 17-21, and Fried. 
Riickert's German metrical translation with notes of the Hamasa of Abu 
Temmam (2 vols. ; Stuttgart, 1846). 

t Reuss, Gesch. d. Heiligenschriften ATS.,- 215 (temp. David-Sol.); 
Meyer, ZATW. i. 131 f. (c. 850-800 B.C. , cf. Sta. GVI. 50). 

X Schwally, Semitische Kriegsaltertiimer (Der heilige Krieg itn alten 
Israel), 1901. 


sibilants do not correspond, and Safiyyeh is a specifically 
Arabic term (Wetzstein in Del. Gen.* 586 n. 2), which does 
not seem to be a likely explanation of Suphah. — The valleys, 
Anion] the valleys which constitute Arnon, i.e. the present 
Wady Mojib, which is formed by the junction just above 
'Ara'ir, some thirteen miles from the Dead Sea, of three 
deep wadies : two of these (the Lejjun and the Balu'a) 
coming from the S. first unite and then join the Seil Saideh 
from the E. (F. Bliss, PEF Qu. St., 1895, 204 (map), 215). 
"The whole plateau up to the desert is thus not only cut 
across, but up and down, by deep ravines, and a very 
difficult frontier is formed. . . . but all the branches probably 
carried the name Arnon from the main valley right up to the 
desert. It is not the valley but the valleys of Arnon which are 
named in the ancient fragment of song- celebrating Israel's 
passage" (G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 558 f.). The second and 
third lines of the fragment seem to introduce a notice (in the 
citation left incomplete) of one particular Arnon valley — that, 
viz., which turns towards or extends to 'Ar, and forms the 
Moabite border ; and this is probably the main valley, with its 
lofty and precipitous cliffs. " Cliff" seems the most probable 
meaning of ICK, which is only here used in the singular, but 
occurs in the pi. of "the slopes of Pisgah " (Dt. 3 17 4 49 , Jos. 
I2 3 1330-}-^ an ^ } w }th a general reference, in Jos. io 40 , where it 
forms one of four divisions (the hill-country, the negeb, the 
shephelah, and the slopes) into which the whole land was 
divided according to physical aspect. — The site of Ar] (*iy ]"I3K'), 
a poetical expression ; ct. TJ/n 2W)12, 2 K. 2 19 . — 'Ar is also 
mentioned in Dt. 2 9 - 18 - 29 , and in the fuller form 'Ar Moab in 
v. 28 , Is. 15 1 . 'Ar means city, and may have been the regular 
Moabitic equivalent of the Heb. 'ir (pi. ' ' arini). 'Ar, therefore, 
is presumably the same as 'Ir Moab (22 s6 ; RV. " the city of 
Moab"). In that case (and even Dt. 2 18 with the context 
almost suffices to prove it) 'Ar was situated on the upper 
(eastern) course of the Arnon. In Is. 15 1 ffi renders 3JOO ~iy 
by Mwa/3etTt5, and it has been suggested that 'Ar was a 
district rather than a town. The identifications with indi- 
vidual sites, such as Muhatet el-hajj, just south of the Wady 

XXI. 15, i6 287 

Mojib, lack proof, or are definitely unsuitable.* The cliff of 
the valley which forms the border of Moab is poetically said 
to lean upon that border. It is for this last statement that 
the fragment is quoted. 

11. At the end of the v., S and the margin of codices 85 and 130 of <& 
and the Syr. Hex. (see Field's Hexapla) add (with the change of ,( ?n to 
nss'D Vn and the omission of rtcnha) Dt. 2 9 which forbids Israel to fight with 
or take possession of Moab. After v. 12 , S adds Dt. 2 18f \ — 13. layo] S naj?a 
(cp. (K) : so Jud. ii 18 #?.— 14. nsiD3 am nx] ffi ttjv Zwd/3 tQXbyiaev. The 
obscurity of the fragment offered much scope to the Haggadic faculty. 
ftSlO suggested <yiD c, am (in some MSS. amnx is read as one word, which 
gives an Aramaic verbal form) was taken to refer to a gift of, or a miracle 
wrought by God. Hence "B, depending on Jewish exegesis as repre- 
sented in {£J er , Sicut fecit in mart rubro sic faciei in torrentibus Arnon : 
similarly AV. HJ° n connects nsio both with raw a storm, and f]iD end, 
extremity. In the next verse ~w&, taken in the sense of pouring out, 
suggested a story of how the Edomites and the Moabites, hiding in the 
valleys with a view to surprising the Hebrews, were crushed by the 
mountains coming together at the command of Yahweh, and of how 
the valleys "poured" with their blood. — That am nx is rightly divided, 
and am (possibly a corrupt form) a place-name, is clear from the 
following clause. — piN n'^mn] on the appositional cstr. , see Dr. Tenses, 
190. — 15. icw] Either a third ace. to the two in the preceding v. 
(Di.), or, in view of the absence of nx, more probably a nom. (casus 
pendens) of a sentence left incomplete in the citation. The precise 
meaning of iwk is uncertain. The root in Heb. appears only in this one 

word (pi. rnB"N). In Aram, icx ,_» j means to pour out, and is especially 

used of "shedding blood." Hence the Targum renderings. On *±~y 
see Nold. in ZDMG. xl. 160 ; and on Sabaean ion, D. H. Miiller, ib. 
xxxvii. 8. Fried. Del. (Heb. in Light of Assyr. Research, p. 30 f.) compares 
iSdu = base; cp. U radices in Dt. 3 17 . The sense sloping side, cliff', which 
is suggested by ruDsn men nnn, may have been developed from one or 
other of these root meanings, ffi and ££> translate by verbs ; S reads ib'n. 

16-20. The itinerary continued : Be'er (Mattanah), Nahali'el, 
Bamoth, Pisgah. — This section of the itinerary seems to be 
derived from a source different from the foregoing - ; and, 
strictly regarded, it is certainly out of place before v. 21-24 . 
See p. 280. Of the places mentioned here, the Pisgah at least 
lay N. of Arnon, and the entire description in v. 20 points to a 
spot above the N.E. shores of the Dead Sea. If read as a 
continuation of the preceding section, the remaining places 

* For suggested identifications and criticisms of them, see Buhl, Geog. 
269; G. A. Smith's art. " Ar" in EBi. 


lie between the upper Arnon (v. 18 n.) and the N.E. of the 
Dead Sea, and thus the line of march is north-westerly. 

16. Be'er] Like the synonymous term 'En ('Ain), Be'er, 
which means a well, frequently appears by itself or denned by 
a following genitive, as a place name. The OT. mentions 
Be'er (Jud. 9 21 ), Be'eroth (2 S. 4 2 ), Be'er-sheba, Be'eroth- 
bene-ya'akan (Dt. io 6 ), Be'er-elim (Is. 15 8 ). The present may 
be an abbreviated form of the last. Such abbreviations are 
common (EBi. s.v. " Names," §92). If so, to judge from Is. 
15 8 , it lay in northern Moab. But the site is quite uncertain. 
— 16b reads like a note inserted by another hand; in v. 16a 
Be'er = Well is a proper name ; otherwise, as in v. 16b , it would 
have the article : moreover, had the writer of the itinerary 
wished to define the well meant, he would more naturally 
have written, "And from there to the well whereof Yahweh 
spake," etc. The note appears to refer to a story no longer 
extant ; ct. the terms in which a similar incident is described 
in 20 8 ; for the rabbinic interpretation, see phil. n. — Then 
sang Israel this song] Ex. 15 1 (J). The clause with the song 
introduced by it would follow v. 16a suitably enough ; it is less 
suitable after v. 16b , which speaks only of Yahweh's promise 
of water, not of the fulfilment of such a promise. Moreover, 
the terms of the promise in v. 16b lead the reader to expect 
that Yahweh will provide the water miraculously : if this be 
really intended, then the song itself does not answer to the 
situation, for it speaks of a well naturally made of service 
by the leaders of the people. 

On the song-, see W. R. Smith, British Quarterly Review, lxv. (Jan. 
l8 77)»4Sf-: Religion of the Semites, 127, 167; 2 139, 169 n. 3, 183 (and in 
criticism of this Koberle, Natur u. Geist, 1 14) ; Budde in New World 
(1895, March), 136- 144 = Preussische Jahrbiicher, 1895, pp. 491-580; 
Cheyne, art. "Beer" in EBi. The original character of the song is 
obscured by the historical setting which is given to it. It is scarcely a 
historical poem, but belongs rather to a particular class of popular 
poetry, of which, unfortunately, very few Hebrew examples survive. Such 
poetry consisted especially of short snatches sung in honour of the vine 
at time of vintage, or of wells and springs, and even, as Ewald {History 
(Eng. tr.), ii. 203 n. 3) put it, "of popular songs accompanying the 
alternate strokes of hard labour." No complete vintage song survives, 
though a line of one is probably quoted in Is. 65 s (cp. Ps. 57 title), and 

XXI. i6-i8 289 

imitations of the class may be found in Is. 5"- 27 2 ' 8 . The present lines 
are a complete, or all but complete, popular song, addressed to a well, 
in which, perhaps, as W. R. Smith suggested, "the Hebrew women as 
thej' stand round the fountain waiting their turn to draw, coax forth the 
water, which wells up all too slowly for their impatience." Budde and 
Cheyne trace the origin of the song to the Negeb, where wells were 
highly prized (cp. Gn. 2l 22a '• 26 15IT -), and without which it is impossible to 
live (Jud. i 18 , Jos. 15 19 ). Budde may be right in detecting in the song 
an allusion to a custom by which when a well had been discovered 
it was lightly covered over, and then, on a subsequent occasion, solemnly 
opened with a symbolic action of the sceptre-like staves of the Sheikhs 
of the clan, and formally declared clan property. Two interesting 
parallels are cited: Kazwinl (i. 189) relates, "When the water [of the 
wells of Ilabistan] failed, a feast was held at the source, with music and 
dancing, to induce it to flow again ..." And Nilus (Migne, Patrologia 
Grceca, torn, lxxix. col. 648), as Goldziher (Abkandlungen, i. 58) has pointed 
out, reports of the nomadic Arabs, that when they found a well they 
danced by it and sang songs to it (Ka0e\6vTes oTiv tQv Ka/iTjXwe r& (popria, 
ticeivas fxtv itciitveadai Stcupiatnv i\ev6tpip tto51 ' avrol 5£ irepiTpixovai ry vdari 
irivovres, irepiK\v£6(jiei>oi, Xovd/ievoi, ovk Zx ovt *' 5\wi, &Va>s xp^crwyrai rrj <pt\o- 
Tifitq. tov vda.Tos- rovrip St wpoaxopevovTes ko.1 tt)v Trrjyrjv avvfivovvres bpQxnv 
Kara rr\v virwpfiav ix vos Swp.ariov fiiKpov). Modern travellers speak of the 
songs used by the Bedawin as they draw water for their flocks ; Seetzen, 
Reisen, ii. 223. 

Whether W. R. Smith is justified in seeing in the song the influence of 
well-worship is less certain ; the well, it is true, is addressed as a living 
thing ; but so also, to cite merely the closest parallel, is the vineyard in 
Is. 27 2 ; see, further, Koberle, loc. cit. 

To attempt any more precise determination of the date when this 
ancient popular song was composed than is suggested by the foregoing 
remarks, would obviously be fruitless. 

Spring- up, O well ! Sing ye to it ! 
To the well which the princes dug, 
Which the nobles of the people delved, 
With the leader's wand, with their staffs. 

The song" is addressed to a well that is already known and 
celebrated, rather than to one just discovered. The perfect 
tenses in the second and third lines are historical. The 
drawers, as they stand round the well, pray it to supply them 
again as in the past, exhort one another to sing to the well, 
and recall the fact that the well was found and secured to 
them by the Sheikhs of their clan. A similar popular tradition 
attached to Jacob's well near Shechem (John 4 12 ). 

Sing ye to ii\ cp. Is. 27 2 . — With the wand] not, as in AV., 
"by the direction of the lawgiver," for ppno signified the 


commander s ox leader s wand &.$> well as the com?nander himself. 
See Gn. 49 10 , Dt. 33 21 , with Di.'s and Driver's notes thereon. 
The second word (myco) is regularly used of the staff em- 
ployed in ordinary life (Ex. 21 19 , Zech. 8 4 ). A story told of 
Mohammed illustrates the use of the staff referred to in the 
poem : some wells at Hodeibia being choked with sand, 
Mohammed made one of his followers descend one of them, 
and with an arrow — the only implement at hand — scrape away 
the sand; afterward the water flowed freely.* Di., however, 
on the ground that the well must have been too considerable 
for its waters to have been thus brought to the surface, 
explains with the wand as meaning at the instruction and under 
the superintendence of the leaders. But this assumes an un- 
paralleled and improbable use of 3. Preferable to this is the 
explanation that the action with the wand is symbolical (see 
above). — And from Wilderness to Mattanah] If the text be 
right, Wilderness ("mo), being without the article, must be a 
proper name. But this is improbable. Moreover, the place last 
reached, and from which, therefore, the departure is actually 
made, is Be'er (v. 16a ) ; hence many, with (£, read, and from 
Be'er to Mattanah. But Budde questions whether this was 
the original text of (Si (see phil. n.), and, omitting the 1 
( = and), regards the last two words of v. 18 as the last line 
of the song, and renders, From the wilderness a gift. For 
mattanah = a gift, see, e.g., Gn. 25 s . The omission of the 
article before wilderness would be in accordance with common 
poetical usage (Kon. iii. 292). — 19. And from Mattanah] the 
words are omitted in fflr L ; and rightly, if Budde's view of the 
text (see last note) be correct. In any case the site of 
Mattanah is unknown; in OS. (137 30 , 277 s2 ) Mathane, 
MaOOavefM, is identified with Maschana, said to be situated 
on the Arnon, 12 miles E. of Medeba ; but the two defini- 
tions of the site of Maschana are incompatible, since Medeba 
was considerably N. of Arnon. According to Budde the 
original text of the itinerary (v. 16-19 ) ran, And from there to 
Be'er, and from Be'er to NahaWel, and from Nahalfel to 
Bamoth. — Nahaliel\ the name means the wady of God, 

* Muir, Mahomet, 3 343 f. 

XXI. 19 291 

'• which is not an unfit name for the Wady Zerka Ma'in with 
its healing springs."* The Wady Zerka Main bisects that 
part of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea which extends 
northwards from the mouth of the Arnon. A station on its 
course would therefore be about half-way between the Arnon 
and the Wady 'Ayun Musa (v. 20 n.). Still the identification 
of Nahali'el with the Wady Zerka Ma'in must either govern 
or be governed by that of Batnoth, itself uncertain. Ba?noth, 
or high places, were as characteristic of the land of Moab 
{Mesha , 1. 3 ; Is. 15 2 16 12 , Jer. 48 s5 ) as they were, down to the 
time of Isaiah's reformation, of the land of Israel ; and, con- 
sequently, the generic term Bamoth, like others, such as Be'er 
(v. ia n.), may in more than one instance have become the 
proper name of a place. This being so, the identification of 
the Bamoth of this passage with the Bamoth-Ba'al of 22 41 , 
Jos. 13 17 , and the Beth-Bamoth of Mesha, 1. 27, is, though 
probable, not certain. The alternative forms of the name of 
the same place would be in accordance with well-established 
custom. t This identification of Bamoth, Bamoth-Ba'al, and 
Beth-Bamoth being assumed, the place lay in the territory 
north of Arnon which passed to and fro between Israel and 
Moab, was loftily situated, and commanded a view over "the 
plains of Moab" (22 41 , Jos. 13 17 ). Some high place not far 
south of the valley of v. 20 (? the Wady 'Ayun Musa) seems 
best to meet the requirements. Some | place it near the Wady 
Jideid, " in the dolmens immediately north of El-Maslubiyeh," 
the view from which is described by Tristram [Moab, 322 f.). 
In considering the claims of this identification, too much 
ought not to be made of the presence of dolmens, for they 
are particularly prevalent in Moab.§ Others, || attaching 
importance to the order of mention in Jos. 13 17 , seek Bamoth 
between Dibon and Ba'al Ma'on (see notes on v. 30 and 32 s8 ), and 
in particular on Mt. 'Attarus, which rises south of the Wady 

* G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 562. 

t See the present writer's discussion in EBi., " Names," § 92 f.; HPN. 
•25-136, 324. 

% G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 562 ; Conder, Heth and Moab, 145 f. 
§ Conder, Palestine, 156. 
U Hengst., Di., Str. 


Zerka Ma'in. In this case Nahali'el, being mentioned before 
Bamoth in a northward march, must be one of the less im- 
portant wadies between Arnon and the Wady Zerka Ma'in. — 
20. From Bamoth the route is followed to a valley (Wi) near 
the N.E. of the Dead Sea. So much seems tolerably clear; 
but in detail the v. is difficult of interpretation. Nothing ex- 
cludes the identification * of the "valley" with the Wady 'Ay un 
Musa, and on certain views of the text and meaning of the 
passage there is much that favours it ; but it is not fully 
established. — The region of Moab] 3X1D 7TW is an alternative 
term for the land (ptf) of Moab. It is found in Gn. 36 s5 and 
several times in Ruth. Cp. the land (px) of Se'ir, the region 
(mB>) of Edom. This wide definition of the district where the 
" valley " lay required limitation ; this follows in the words the 
head (or top) of the Pisgah, which may be intended as an 
appositional clause limiting the region of Moab, or as in 
apposition to and explanatory of the valley. In either case 
the effect is sufficiently awkward to justify a suspicion that 
the text is corrupt, or that the words the head of the Pisgah 
have been inserted by an editor without regard to style. The 
Pisgah (njDQn) appears to be used of the western edge of the 
Moabite plateau which falls steeply to the Dead Sea, and, 
perhaps, more particularly of that part of it which lies to the 
N.E. of the Dead Sea:f the term is elsewhere used in 23 14 , 
Dt. 3 17 - 27 4 49 34 1 , Jos. 12 3 i3 20 f. The root JDD in Aramaic (Dr. 
Deut. p. 58) and Mishnic Hebrew (Levy, Neu-hebr. Worterbuch) 
means to cleave', the name may therefore have been given 
on account of the aspect of the range as seen from below. 
The head of the Pisgah (naoan G5>K"l), mentioned also in 23 14 , 
Dt. 3 27 34 1 t, appears by itself to be a collective term for the 
promontories or headlands which run out from the Moabite 
plateau, generally at a slightly lower level than the plateau 
itself. The several individual headlands, which, regarded 
from below, are peaks 4000 feet high, had separate names : 
two of these are mentioned elsewhere, viz. the Field of the 
Watchers (23 14 ) and Mt. Nebo (Dt. 34 1 ). — And it looks out 

• Di., G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 564. 

t Buhl, Geog. § 76 ; G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 562. 

xxi. 20 293 

upon the JesMmon] The word W&\ from the root OB* = to be 
■waste, desolate, is used in poetry, without the art., of the 
wilderness of wandering - ; see, e.g., Dt. 32 10 . With the art. it 
is used in certain prose passages virtually as a geographical 
proper name. Such is the use of the word here. Used thus 
it appears in 1 S. 23 19 - 24 26 1 - 3 to be the name of the desolate 
country of Judah above the northern part of the western shore 
of the Dead Sea.* It is commonly supposed,! in view of the 
present passage and 23 28 , that the same name also attached 
to the waste country in the Jordan valley just N. of the Dead 
Sea and east of the river, a district in which was situated 
Beth-Jeshimoth (33 49 n.). — The verb and it looks out (nDptWl) 
is in $2 f em - '■> tne subst. should therefore be the Pisgah, the 
only unambiguously fem. noun in the context. But the read- 
ing of the verbal form is open to suspicion (see phil. n.). If 
corrected to a masc. it would still be preferable to refer it to 
head (cp. 23 28 ) rather than, with Di., to the valley. But in 
any case if the Jeshimon intended lay to the N.E. of the Dead 
Sea, the whole description points somewhat clearly to identify- 
ing the "valley" with the Wady 'Ayun Musa,} which descends 
from Mt. Neba through the district which, on the hypothesis, 
was called the Jeshimon, into the northern end of the Dead 

The following passages from G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 562-565, will 
substantiate some of the statements in the preceding- notes, and further 
elucidate the passage :—" During their journey over the Tableland, 
Israel had no outlook westward across the Dead Sea. For westward the 
Plateau rises a little and shuts out all view, but on the other side of the 
rise it breaks up into promontories slightly lower than itself, which run 
out over the 'Arabah and Dead Sea valley, and afford a view of all 
Western Palestine. Seen from below, or from across Jordan, these 
headlands, rising three or four thousand feet by slope and precipice from 
the valley, stand out like separate mountains. But eastward they do 
not rise from the Moab Plateau — they are simply projections or capes 
of the latter, and you ride from it on to them without experiencing any 
differences of level, except, it may be, a decline of a few feet." 

"One thing is certain : this journey [Nu. 21 18 " 20 ], though it is described 

* G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 312, 513; Buhl, Geog. 96. 
t E.g. Di., Ges.-Buhl {s.v. jid'js"), Str., G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 564 
n. 1. 

X Di., G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 564. 


in the book of Numbers before the war with Sihon [Nu. 2i aiff ], must have 
come after the latter. No host, so large and cumbered as this, could 
have ventured down any of the glens from the Plateau to the Jordan 
before their own warriors had occupied Heshbon [v. 25 ], for Heshbon, 
standing above them, commands these glens." 

16. mxn CfCi] (E Kal ineWev rb <pp£ap : so also S> "S {ex eo loco apparuit 
puteus) : 2T° (KT3 \irh navwuc jonm). These renderings probably embody 
the Haggadah that the water produced from the rock at Kadesh (20 8ff -) 
followed the Israelites in their subsequent wanderings (cp. i Cor. io 4 ). 
£jer and jon take the following verses as a description of the places 
through which the water followed the people. See Driver in Expos., 1889 
(Jan.), 15-18. — TDK nm -man] cp. io 2y . — 17. "»« ^v] ffi (wrongly) iirl rod 
(ppdaros. S ~bn, which should be pointed either rh]i, n.xa being treated 
as masc, or rtyl the well is springing- up. — 20. JTSpBm] Frequentative, and 
it used to look, if the text be correct: Driver, Tenses, 3 p. 162 n. 1. But 
we should probably read nspeun (cp. 23 s8 and the rb fiXeirov of (K here), 
or with S t]pP3rr. n'J is regularly masc. ; the single instance of nu as a 
fern. (Zech. 14 4 ) is decidedly suspicious in view of the fact that it is treated 
in the following verses as masc. 

21-33. The conquest and occupation of the country between 
Arnon and Jabbok, then held by the Amorites under king 

The story of the defeat of Sihon is told elsewhere, rhe- 
torically expanded in Dt. 2 24-37 , and in a shorter form in Jud. 
ii 19-22 . There are many allusions to it (see v. 21 n.). 

The present story is probably compiled from two sources at least, and 
possibly from three ; for the song (v. 27 " 30 ) may have been derived direct 
from an ancient collection by the compiler. Jud. n 19 " 21 appears related 
to one only of these (E), but Dt. 2 24 " 36 may depend either on the present 
composite story or on both of those that lie behind it ; for it refers to 
the occupation of "cities" (Dt. 2 s4-36 ) as well as of the country as a 
whole (2 31 ). S has in turn expanded the story in Numbers by interpola- 
tions from Dt., viz. of Dt. 2 24f - before v. 21 , of the words other nan after 
nr»n (v. 21 ) from Dt. 2*- 6 , of the fuller message of Dt. 2 27 " 29a (mainly in 
place of v. 22 ), of Dt. 2 31 (with the necessary change of -hx to wd ^k) after 
1S3J3 in v. 23 ; cp. Introduction, § 14. 

21-24a (E). The Israelites send messengers to the Amorite 
king Sihon, asking, as they had previously asked the Edomites 
(20 14ff ), to be permitted to pass peaceably through his country. 
Sihon refuses, marches against Israel, engages in battle with 
them at Jahas, and is defeated. The Israelites occupy his 

xxi. 21-23 2 95 

21. And Israel] so Jud. n 19 , but G ABL Moses; cp. $ in 
20 u and Dt. 2 26 . — Sihon, king of the Amorites) Sihon is 
similarly titled (nDKPl "fto) in v. 26 32 s3 , 1 K. 4 19 , Ps. :3s 11 136 19 
(cp. Dt. 3 1 4 , Jos. 2 10 9 10 ): cp. *1DK 1^0 v. 29 . Frequently he 
is entitled after his chief city, king of Heshbon; so Dt. 
2 26.30 3 « 2 9 6 ? j os> I2 5 I3 27 } cp# Neh. g 22 . Frequently also the 
two descriptions are combined: e.g. Sihon, king of Heshbon, 
the Amorite (Dt. 2 24 ) : Sihon the king of the Amorites, who 
dwelt in Heshbon (Dt. i 4 ) : see also Dt. 3* 4 46 , Jos. 12 2 i 3 10 - 21 , 
Jud. 11 19 . In the parallels to the present passage, Dt. 2 26 
gives the alternative description only (king of Heshbon), Jud. 
11 19 gives both. How closely associated were the names 
of Sihon and Heshbon appears in v. 26 " 28 , Jer. 48 45 .— The 
territory of Sihon at this time extended, according to the 
present narrative, from Arnon to Jabbok (v. 24 ), and from the 
wilderness to Jordan (Jud. 11 22 ). The embassy, as in the 
similar negotiations with Edom (20 16 ), would naturally be sent 
when Israel had reached or were stationed on, but before they 
had crossed, the borders of the country through which they 
requested permission to pass, and therefore while they were 
still in the wilderness E. of the Amorite territory. That the 
embassy was, as a matter of fact, sent from the wilderness 
appears indirectly from v. 23 , and the direct statement to this 
effect is preserved in Dt. 2 26 , which defines the point as " the 
wilderness of Kedemoth." In v. 21 , then, the people are still 
where they were in v. 13 . — 22. The message closely resembles, 
but is slightly shorter than, that sent to the Edomites (20 17 ). 
It appears in a much shorter form in Jud. n 19 and much 
expanded in S and Dt. 2 27-29 . — Let me now pass through] see 
n. on 20 14 . The remaining vbs. of the v. are 1st pi. in Pj : 
but the singular is retained almost throughout in the parallel 
matter in S and Dt. 2 27 " 29 .— 23. To the wilderness] N. of 
Arnon and E. of Moab ; cp. v. 13 , Dt. 2 26 , and n. on v. 21 
above. — To fahas] the site * remains uncertain. It lay some- 
where on the Moabite plateau (Jer. 48 21 ), and in 1 Ch. 6 63(78) 

* Tristram, Moab, 124*".; G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 559 n. 8. In 
addition to the references to Jahas given in the text, the OT. references 
are Dt. 2 82 , Jos. 13 18 21^, Jud. u» Is. 15*, Jer. 48 s4 . 


is mentioned along - with " Beser in the wilderness" and 
Kedemoth, which must also be sought in or near the wilder- 
ness, since it gives its name to a part of it (Dt. 2 26 ). Mesha''s 
allusion to Jahas ("I took it to add it to Daibon " ; 1. 20) 
may imply that it lay not far from Dibon. These data for 
what they are worth point to a place not far north of Arnon * 
and close to the wilderness ; and this would quite satisfy the 
requirements of the present story. It is unnecessary to locate 
Jahas actually in the wilderness. Israel, hearing of the approach 
of Sihon, would march to meet him as he was on his way to- 
wards the wilderness. — 24. From Arnon to Jabbok] On the 
Arnon, see v. 13 n. — The Jabbok is by common consent f iden- 
tified with the Nahr ez-Zerka (distinct from the Wady Zerka 
Ma'in mentioned in the n. on v. 20 ), the head waters of which 
"rise on the edge of Moab, only some 18 miles from the 
Jordan, yet to the east of the water-parting. So the river 
flows at first desertwards, under the name of Amman, past 
Rabbath-'Ammon to the great Hajj road. There it turns 
north, fetches a wider compass north-west, cuts in two the 
range of Gilead, and by a very winding bed flows west-south- 
west to the Jordan [which it joins at a point about 25 miles 
in a direct line from the Dead Sea]. The whole course, not 
counting the windings, is over 60 miles " (G. A. Smith, Hist. 
Geog. p. 584). Like the Arnon, it has always formed one of 
the frontiers of E. Palestine (ib. : cp. also p. 539). In Jud. 
11 22 (cp. v. 13 ) Jabbok is quite clearly given as the northern 
boundary of the Amorites, the eastern and western borders 
being also given as the wilderness and the Jordan respectively. 
It is probable, therefore, that here also the Jabbok is the 
northern boundary, and consequently that unto the children 
of 'Amnion (cp. Jos. 13 10 ) is not in apposition to Jabbok, but 
states tersely a third, viz. the eastern, boundary (cp. Jud. 
11 13 ). The whole means, then, that Israel occupied the land 
between Arnon on the S. and Jabbok on the N., as far 

• North of Dibon, if we may suppose Jerome well informed, and Debus 
an error for Dibon in his statement " et usque hodie ostenditur intei 
Medaban et Debus," Onotn. 131 l7 . 

t See, e.g.. Buhl, Geog. 122; G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 583 f. 

XXI. 24 297 

east as the 'Ammonite country ; this last lay round about the 
upper courses of the Nahr ez-Zerkaon which Rabbath-'Ammon 
was situated ; cp. Jos. 13 10 , Dt. 2 37 3 16 . Still this mode of 
defining the eastern border may be due merely to the com- 
piler (see next note) ; and the original definition may rather 
be found in Jud. 1 i 22 . — For Jdzer was the border of the children 
of 'Ammon] This is the reading of ffi, and probably of the 
original text. The meaning is that Ja'zer was on the boundary 
between the Amorites and the 'Ammonites (cp. v. 32 ). In Jud. 
jji9-22 (|| v> 2i-24a here) no reference is made to 'Ammon. Since 
the reference to cities indicates that the compiler in v. 25 draws 
on a source different from that used in v. 24a (see p. 280), the 
transition to this source may well be placed at the words utito 
the sons of 'Amnion in v. 24b , which attach awkwardly to the 
preceding. If this be admitted it is unnecessary to regard the 
last clause of the verse as a gloss.* The text of ^, for 
the border of the children of ' Ammon was strong (in which Tl?, 
strong, is probably a corruption of "lTjr, Jdser), has been ex- 
plained (1) as giving the reason why Sihon had not extended 
his conquests further : f such a clause might have followed 
v. 26 ; it is out of place here ; (2) as accounting for the fact 
that the Israelites did not capture the 'Ammonite as well as 
the Amorite country ; in that case the passage would repre- 
sent a different point of view from Dt. 2 19 , according to 
which Yahw T eh commanded the Israelites to leave the 
Ammonites unmolested in the possession of their ancestor 
Lot. Linguistically the rendering of iy by strong in the 
sense of " well fortified" whether naturally or artificially, is 
unparalleled and questionable. Ja'zer is mentioned frequently 
in OT. ; see more particularly Jos. 13 25 , which supports the 
suggestion of v. 32 that it was not at this time, as in the 
Maccabaean period it had become (1 Mac. 5 8 ), 'Ammonitish. 
During parts of the interval it belonged to Moab (Is. i6 8f> , 
Jer. 48 32 ). The site is uncertain ; according to Eusebius 
(Onom. 264 98ff -) it lay 15 (Roman) miles from Heshbon and 
10 W., according to Jerome about 8 W. (Onom. 86 23f - ; cp. 

* Meyer, ZA TW. i. 120 n. 1 ; Stade, GV1. 120 n. 1. 
t Knobel, Keil. 


Eusebius, Onom. 262 s9 ) of Philadelphia ( = Rabbath-'Ammon). 
These data are tolerably satisfied by the site of Sar (two 
hours S.W. of Rabbath-'Ammon), or the neighbouring place 
Sir ; * but the sibilants in these names are not the same as 
in Ja'zer. Cheyne t identifies Ja'zer with Yajuz, a little W. 
of El-Jubeihat ( = Jogbehah, 32 s5 ), N.W. of Rabbath-'Ammon ; 
others with Beit-zera', a long way S.W. of Rabbath-'Ammon.} 
— 25. Israel captures and enters on the occupation of all the 
Amorite cities. This is parallel to v. 24a ; but it is differently 
expressed, and represents a rather different point of view. 
Here the cities, there the country as a whole, is occupied. 
— All these cities] There is nothing in what now precedes 
for these words to refer to. The verse is probably a closing 
summary of the capture of several individual Amorite cities 
(cp. v. 32 and 32 s ), and the source from whence it is derived 
may have represented the conquest of the Amorite country 
E. of Jordan in the same manner as the conquest of Western 
Canaan is represented in Jud. 1, i.e. as a gradual conquest 
city by city rather than as a sudden and complete occupation 
of the whole country (v. 24 ). — And Israel dwelt in all the cities 
of the Aftzorites] the parallel statement in E, "and Israel 
dwelt in the land of the Amorites," is postponed to v. 31 . 
Possibly as an editorial link with the following verses, the 
most famous of these Amorite cities is now specially men- 
tioned, Heshbon and all its daughters, the last phrase meaning 
all the dependent towns. According to 32 lff - Heshbon, though 
conquered, was still unoccupied by the Hebrews at a later 
time than this. The site of Heshbon is certain, the name 
surviving in Hesban, which is finely situated on hills higher 
than Mt. Neba, which is 5 miles away to the S.W.§ — 26. 
Heshbon was at the time in question one of the Amorite 
cities ; for though it had previously belonged to Moab, it 
had been wrested, with all the country N. of Arnon, by 
Siljon from the fonner king of Moab. — For Heshbon was the 
city of Sihon the king of the Amorites] cp. v. 21 n. — All his land 

* Seetzen, Reisen, i. 397 f., 406, ii. 318, iv. 216 ; Buhl, Geog. 263 f. 

t In EBi., following- Oliphant, Land of Gilead, 231 ff.. 

X Survey of Eastern Palestine., i. 91. § lb. i. 104-108. 

XXI. 25-27 299 

out of his hand unto Arnon] perhaps this originally ran, All 
his land from Jabbok to Arnon: cp. v. 24 , Jud. n 22 , and see 
phil. note, below. In any case, as in v. 13 , Arnon is the 
southern limit of Sihon's conquest. 

23. IWp] The original name of the town was jw (Is. 15 4 . Jer. 48 s4 , 
Meshd 11. 19 f.) ; but in OT. it is more frequently found with the locative 
ending (note the penultimate accentuation), whether (as here and in Dt. 
2 32 ) with or, as elsewhere, without any locative force ; cp. nJDn and nroDn 
(e.g. Jud. 14 2 ) ; Kon. iii. 269a b.—2i. ain *sh] an old phrase ; not used by 
P, but common to JE D (CH. 150^).— 26. itd] the position of the clause 
between inx and the clause that defines it p"ix i]! is suspicious. <&from 
'Aro'er is in itself quite improbable, for the well-known 'Aro'er lay close to 
the Arnon, and it is unlikely that the boundary would have been defined by 
the 'Aro'er of Jos. 13 25 ; but it (ffi) and ijnj> (<&) may be different corrup- 
tions of pa': see above and Meyer, ZATW. i. 129 n. 3. 

27-30. At this point the editor introduces an old poem in 
illustration of his narrative. The point which he probably 
intends it to illustrate is the conquest of Moab by the Amorites 
(v. 26b ). — Wherefore the reciters of meshalim say] the similarity 
of the introductory formulae here and in v. 14 may point to the 
same editor ; but if so the difference between them indicates 
that he has taken the two songs from different sources, the 
one from a book, the other directly from men's lips. The 
frequently repeated suggestion that this poem, like that in 
v. 14 '-, was derived from the Book of YahweJis Battles is there- 
fore improbable. The persons who were accustomed to recite 
this poem are called Dv^Si] ; the pi., the art., the frequentative 
tense of the following vb. (n»&0) all indicate that a class of 
people is intended. The vb. bwo is a denominative ; it might 
mean to make a mashal : in usage it actually means to utter or 
repeat a mashal, and that not always, at all events, of one's 
own making (e.g. Ezek. i8 2f -). So the class here described 
consisted of men who were primarily reciters of poems. It is 
easy to imagine how these reciters went about in Israel and, 
especially in time of war, by reciting poems like the present 
(cp. Is. I4 4fl -; also Hab. 2 6 ), and thus recalling former victories, 
stimulated and encouraged the people (cp. Jud. 5 31 ). But 
possibly the repertoire of these "ballad-singers" (Perowne in 
Smith, DB. ii. 584a) was not confined to odes of war and 


victory ; and there is certainly no justification for limiting 
the sense of the participle of the denominative verb here 
used to satirists, for mashal (23* n. ; see also Addenda) is a 
term of various applications, and satire is neither the original 
nor even the most frequent meaning of the word. Conse- 
quently the interpretation of the following poem must be 
determined purely by internal evidence, and without any 
prejudice that it must be a satire. 

The view that the poem is the work of an Amorite poet 
celebrating the victory of his people over Moab * may be 
dismissed as inherently improbable. Sufficient ambiguities 
and possibilities of interpretation remain, however, when the 
poem is regarded as being, what it doubtless was, the work 
of a Hebrew poet. The one thing that is clear is that the 
poem celebrates a victory over Moab. Every thing else is 
more or less uncertain. The ambiguous details are dealt 
with in the notes. It is necessary here to discuss briefly the 
general motive and purpose of the poem. 

1. Since Ewald,f the view most commonly held has been 
that the poem is a satiric ode. J In the words of W. R. 
Smith, "the children of Israel invite the Amorites to return 
and fortify the demolished fastness of their king, Sihon, 
exalting that monarch's prowess against Moab, in order to 
bring into stronger light the valour of Israel, beneath which 
the invincible Amorite and his stronghold had for ever 
fallen." § On this view, v. 27f - is addressed mockingly by the 
victorious Israelites to the now conquered Amorites ; in v. 29 
the Israelites address the Moabites, who had been conquered 
not by themselves, but by the Amorites : in v. 30 the Israelites 
exultantly record their own conquest of the Amorites. In 
brief, the thought is — the Amorites destroyed Moab, but we, 
the Israelites, have destroyed them, viz. the Amorites. It 
will thus be seen that v. 30 should contain a strong antithesis, 

* Knobel. t History (Eng. tr.), ii. 205-207. 

% Ewald's view is substantially adopted by W. R. Smith {Brit. Quarterly 
Review, lxv. (Jan. 1877) 67), Keil, Str., G. A. Smith {Hist. Gtiog. 560); 
cp. Sayce, Early Hist, of the Hebrews, 227. 

§ British Quarterly Review, lxv. (Jan. 1877) 67. 

XXI. 27 3 GI 

both subject and object requiring emphasis. Unfortunately 
the text of v. 30 is very questionable ; but one thing is certain : 
it does not contain an emphatic antithesis. The first word 
of the v. (0T31) may be a verbal form with a pronominal 
suffix; but even if so, neither subject nor object is empha- 
sised ; the construction with the impf. and waw conversive 
should smoothly carry on what precedes. There is not the 
slightest indication that the conquerors of v. 30 are different 
from those who are represented as conquerors in v. 27 '-, and 
consequently the poem itself contains no indication that v. 27f - 
are tauntingly spoken. On this ground the view in question 
appears to the present writer in the highest degree improbable. 
2. Breaking loose from the suggestion of the Hebrew 
editor and the last line of v. 29 (which they regard as a gloss) 
that the poem has anything to do with the Amorites, Meyer 
and Stade have argued that it is a triumphal ode celebrating 
throughout a victory of Israel over Moab. They regard the 
first word of v. 30 as a noun. But even if it should be taken 
as a verb, it is no longer open to the same criticism as in the 
case of the first view of the poem. No emphatic antithesis 
is required at this point by the present theory ; for the same 
people (the Israelites) who in v. 27 exhort one another to 
occupy the cities captured from Moab, continue, though no 
longer in the second person of mutual exhortation, but directly 
in the first person, to describe their destruction of Moab. 
This theory is not without difficulties, though the necessity for 
regarding v. 29e as a gloss is scarcely one of these. The chief 
difficulty lies in the fact that the natural, though perhaps 
not the inevitable, inference is that Sihon was actually a king 
of Moab, and only became turned into a king of the Amorites 
in later traditions. 

The determination of the date 01 the poem must obviously depend on 
the interpretation. Stade not unreasonably refers it to about B.C. 900, the 
period of the conquest of Moab by'Omri which is referred to in Mesha's 
inscription ; cp. Wellhausen, Comp. 343. On the first view of the inter- 
pretation the poem might be much older. 

27 Come ye to Heshbon ! Let it be rebuilt! 
Let the city of Sihon be established ! 


28 For fire went out from Heshbon, 
Flame from the town of Sihon ; 
It devoured 'Ar of Moab, 

The lords of the high places of Arnon. 

29 Woe to thee, Moab ! 

Undone art thou, people of Kemosh : 
Who has made his sons fugitives, 
And his daughters captives, 
[To an Amorite king Sihon.] 

30 So their posterity has perished from Heshbon to Dibon 

to Medeba. 
Come ye to Heshbon] the speakers are the Israelites : either 
they exhort themselves to occupy and rebuild the cities de- 
stroyed in their conquest of the Amorites, or they mockingly 
address the conquered Amorites, according to which of the 
views discussed above be adopted. — The city of Sihon] an 
epithet of Heshbon, just as " the city of David " (2 S. 5 7 , 1 K. 
2 10 , and often) is of a part of Jerusalem. That Heshbon ranked 
as the chief city of Sihon is evident from the fact that king of 
Heshbon and king of the Amorites are alternative titles given 
to him (v. 21 n.). Certainly such a description of Heshbon in 
an Israelitish triumphal ode over Moab would be most easily 
accounted for if Sihon were a king of Moab. Yet it is 
possible that among the Israelites this name clung to 
Heshbon long after the Amorite power had passed away. — 
— Be rebuilt] 7\11 frequently has this sense; see Jos. 6 26 , Am. 
9 14 . — 28. For fire went forth from Heshbon] this appears to 
give the reason for the summons of v. 27 : — Come and rebuild 
Heshbon, for now, together with the country as far S. as 
Arnon, it lies overthrown and wasted by war. Those who 
adopt Ewald's view of the poem give no satisfactory explana- 
tion of the for (""a) : Di., for example, says vaguely that the 
ground or explanation of the mocking summons of v. 27 is not 
contained in v. 28 alone, but in v. 28-30 . It has, indeed, been 
subtly argued that the phrase t /ire went forth from Heshbon can- 
not refer to the desolation of Heshbon itself by a foreign foe, 
but must mean that Heshbon caused the desolation of Moab."* 
* Kuen. Th. Tijd. xviii. 525 ; Di. 

XXI. 2 7 , 28 3°3 

But two of the passages (Lev. io 2 , Nu. 16 35 ) cited by Rue. 
to prove this ought at once to be dismissed from con- 
sideration, since the phrases used are significantly differ- 
ent, viz. not from, but from with (nNd) and from before 
(^260). It is true that in the others (Jud. o. 15 - 20 , Ezek. 19 14 ) 
the phrase is used of the starting-point of the conflagration, 
but surely not of the cause ; the bramble of Jotham's parable, 
from which fire goes forth, is itself consumed, and not 
apparently, in the intention of the writer, by self-combustion : 
the case is similar in Ezek. 19 14 . The actual meaning of the 
phrase is rendered still clearer by the use of the Hiphil 
(followed by "pno), which admits of the statement of the cause 
as well as of the starting-point of the conflagration (Ezek. 
28 18 ). To judge, then, by the use of the phrase, the meaning 
of the poem is that Heshbon and the country southwards to 
Arnon suffered the same fate, the cause of which is not 
directly stated, but is most naturally understood to be the 
speakers in the poem. Obviously, if this be the meaning, it 
does not apply to a war victoriously made on Moab by the 
king of Heshbon. Further, since the line of devastation and 
conquest proceeds southwards from Heshbon, it cannot refer 
to Israel's conquest of the Amorites, which proceeded north- 
wards from Arnon towards Heshbon. On the other hand, it 
describes the natural line of conquest in a war waged 
victoriously by Israel, during the period of the monarchy, on 
Moab. It is, of course, legitimate, and, if the first view of 
the poem were adopted, it would be best to render for fire had 
gone forth. But this rendering is not necessary : the emphatic 
word naturally stands first after the causal ''a, even when no 
pluperfect sense is required or even possible (cp. Gn. 2 3 - 23 3 20 ) : 
here the subj. (/ire) is put first because it is the emphatic 
word, since it and not the verb contains the idea of destruc- 
tion. — ' Ar of Moab] v. 15 n. — The lords of the heights of Arnon] 
For the first word fivi), ffic has a verb (KaTeirtev) parallel to 
the verb in the previous clause. (3r apparently read the 
word Jj^sni = and swallowed down, which is hardly suitable. 
But some verb implying destruction may well have stood in 
the original text. If %} be right, the lords are the proprietors, 


freeholders of the district (Jos. 24 11 , Jud. 9*, 1 S. 23 11 ). The 
word niD3 appears to be used here without a religious refer- 
ence simply of the heights along the Arnon (cp. Ezek. 36 2 , 
Dt. 32 13 ) : but «JT interprets the phrase lords of the heights as 
heathen priests. — 29. The poet addresses Moab, the conquest 
of whose northern territory has been just described. Kcmosh 
was the name of the national deity of Moab : 1 K. 1 1 7 and 
Mesha r 's inscription, passim. The Israelites, who called them- 
selves the people of Yahweh (Jud. 5 11 , Ex. 15 16 ), quite naturally 
called the Moabites the people of Kemosh : for in early times 
the Israelites questioned the real existence of the god of a 
neighbouring people just as little as the real existence of 
Yahweh; see, especially, Jud. n 24fl -. The disasters that 
had befallen the Moabites proved to the author of the poem 
the anger of the Moabite god with his people ; for it is to 
Kemosh that he ascribes the flight and capture of the Moabite 
men and women. The same view was taken of similar 
disasters by the Moabite king Mesha' himself, who writes : 
<<c Omri . . . afflicted Moab for many days, because Kemosh 
was angry with his land " (Mesha"s Inscr. 11. 4f.). The Moabite 
men and women are described as sons and daughters of Kemosh 
in accordance with an ancient mode of thought which has 
left its mark on a type of personal names common to many 
of the Semitic peoples : instances are Abi'el, Abiba'al, 
Abiyahu, meaning respectively God, Ba'al, Yahweh is Father.* 
In the citation from this poem in Jer. 48 46 these traces of 
early thought are obliterated ; the people are described as sons 
and daughters of Moab, and their capture is not attributed 
to the anger of their god, but is expressed by a passive vb 
— To the king of the Amorites, Sihon] the style is somewhat 
strange ; see phil. n. The line is questionable, since it forms 
the single exception to the two-lined parallelism which 
otherwise extends uniformly through the poem. It is not 
improbably a gloss. — 30. The text is corrupt, and nothing 
certain can be made of the verse. If, as in the above transla- 
tion, we adopt the reading of ffir {ical ro crirep^ia avrcov = EJ'? 1 .), 
it continues the description of the calamity that had befallen 
* G. B. Gray, Hebrew Proper Names, 21-86. 

XXI. 29-32 305 

Moab ; and if we may further restore from, with U and 2C 
(cp. tS 1 - ev = 2 which is very frequently confused with ft), 
before Heshbon, the extent of the calamity and the direc- 
tion from which it came correspond to what is differently 
described in v. 28 ; see note there. Dibon is the modern 
Dhiban, about 4 miles N. of Arnon.* Others find in the v. 
two verbs in the 1st pers. pi., and suppose that there is a 
sudden return (cp. v. 27 ) to the Israelites' victory over the 
Amorites ; then we = Israel : them = the Amorites. On various 
conjectures of varying" degrees of uncertainty, see phil. note. 
The name of Medeba mentioned at the end of the v. (and 
also Is. 15 2 , Jos. 13 s - 16 , 1 Ch. io, 7 ' - ) survives in the modern 
Madeba, which lies between Hesban and Ma'in. According 
to MT. another place, Nophah, is also mentioned ; it is quite 
unknown. — 31. Israel settles down in the Amorite country. 
This is the sequel to v. 24a , and a parallel statement to v. 25b . 
It is the conclusion of one of the narratives of the conquest 
of the Amorites. — 32. Here the editor has added a detail 
from another account, viz. the capture of Ja'zer and the 
dependent cities, and the expulsion of the Amorites resident 

27. pism] see for the form, G.-K. 54c; for the (comparatively) rare 
passive sense of the Hithpael, Kon. iii. 101. — 28. ninh] fflr L £+1, cp. Jer. 48 40 
(f||). — nipD] Jer. i'3D, which is probably an error for n'3D. — .Y?3n] Jer. 
hmm (cp. ijhere). — -ij;] ffi j$ S erroneously ij?: in Jer. nns is from Nu. 24 17ef , 
which is there substituted for the present close of the v. — 29. mas] Jer. "ox. 
— n'3c] S '31? ; n'3sy elsewhere occurs only in the phrase n , 3B' 3isy : for the 
present sense, we find elsewhere '387 or mst. — 'tdn] if adjectival, cp. Gn. 
i4 13 , Dt. 2 24 . The people are elsewhere referred to collectively by the sing. 
with the art. in poetry {e.g. Ps. 136 19 ) as well as in prose. The omission 
of the art. (which S supplies) may be due to the fact that the word is 
here intended to be taken adjectively {to an Amorite king), which gives a 
strange expression, or to poetic licence (Kue.), or to a glossator's brevity of 
style (Meyer). The quotation in Jer. breaks off with the preceding line. — 
30. d'imi . . . Dm] none of the ancient versions recognise verbs in these 
words. The modern attempts to translate the words as verbs make the 
lines extraordinarily harsh and obscure : Di. e.g. renders the former 
line, we shot at (hy) them (and in consequence of our shooting, i.e. of our 
fighting) Heshbon was undone unto Dibon {i.e. the whole district unto 
Dibon was undone as well as Heshbon). For other views, see Di. The 

* Tristram, Land of Moab, 131 if. ; Buhl, Geog. 268. 


second line is still more irrecoverable. For -irx S ffi read en, a reading 
which is probably indicated in MT. by the dot over the i: otherwise 
the Versions show variations through misunderstanding rather than 
variants. (3r, for example, renders nai ai yvvalKes aiirwv £ti wpoat^Kavaav 
irvp iir) Mwd/3, which Meyer {ZATW. i. 130) takes seriously and adopts, 
with the substitution of N3TD from 11) for the Mwd/3of l&. An extraordinary 
suggestion of Delitzsch's should be mentioned, since it has gained th< 
approval of Di., Str., and, hesitatingly, of BDB. (under ns:) : according 
to this, the line read K3TD ij? B>x ns: iy zwt>y\ = and we laid -waste until fire 
was blown as far as Medeba. Paterson and Haupt (SBOT.) make the 
whole v. satisfactory to themselves by the simple process of omitting 
pert -on and N3TD iy npn as glosses. The punctuators probably took 
DTii as 1st pi. Hiphil of ddc (G.-K. 671'). For the punctuation of the 
suffix in D-j'31, if a verb, see G.-K. 6od. — 31. p»o] S njn, ffi "W ^33 by 
assimilation to v. 25 2T 

33-35. The conquest of f 0g and occupation of Bashan. — 
y 33f. j s verbally identical with Dt. 3 lf -, except that the 1st 
persons of Moses' speech in Dt. here become the 3rd persons 
of narrative, as in similar interpolations in S from Dt. V. 85 
is abbreviated from Dt. 3 s . The clause and his sons, which 
appears here in Pf though not in S, is not found in Dt. 3 s : 
but cp. Dt. 2 s3 . The last clause of the v., and we possessed 
his land, may be regarded as a summary of the subsequent 
narrative in Dt. (especially 3 12a ). In view of these facts 
there can be little doubt that the story of 'Og has been 
incorporated in Nu. from Dt. ; and this accounts for the lack 
of reference to it in 22 2 (cf. also Jud. n 22 ). The tendency to 
interpolate the text of Nu. from Dt., which is so marked in 
S (Introd. § 14a), has here also influenced ^. For notes on 
the passage, see on Dt. 3 1-3 . 

XXII. 1 (P). Israel encamp in the steppes of Moab, opposite 
Jericho. — The v. forms no natural sequel to the account 
either of the occupation of Bashan (2i 33 ~ 35 ), or even of the 
occupation of the country between Arnon and Jabbok (21 21 " 32 ). 
It belongs to the itinerary which was broken off at 21 11 by 
the introduction of matter from another source. 

And the children of Israel journeyed] the same phrase as in 
2i 10f -. The point of departure has been omitted; probably 
it was given in the source as "the mountains of the Abarim " 
(33 48 )-— The steppes of Moab] is a term peculiar to P (26 s - 63 
3 ,is 3348-50 35 i 36 u Dt. 34 1 - 8 , Jos. 13 32 1). It denotes the 

XXI. 33-XXII. 2 307 

low country E. of Jordan and immediately N. of the Dead 
Sea. The corresponding- flat country on the W. of Jordan 
went by the name of the steppes of Jericho (Jos. 4 13 5 10 (P) ; 
2 K 25 5 = Jer. 39 s = 52 8 f). The steppes of Moab extended at 
least from Beth-Jeshimoth to Abel-Shittim (33 40 n.), and the 
term no doubt covers the whole of the open plain from 5 to 
7 miles broad, into which the Jordan valley expands on the 
E., some 9 miles from the mouth of the river. This plain 
is covered with trees, and well watered ; see Driver's note 
on Dt. 34 1 . 

inv jit] pv is cstr. (G.-K. 125A), since in prose it always takes the 
art. when absolute. The phrase thus means the Jordan of Jericho, i.e. 
that part of the Jordan which flows in the neighbourhood of Jericho. 

XXII. 2-XXIV. 25 (JE). Moab and Israel. 

Literature. — Verschuir, Dissertatio de oraculis Bilea?ni (1773); 
Hengstenberg, Die Geschichte Bileams u. seine Weissagungen (1842); 
Reinke, Beitrdge zur Erkldrung des AT. (1855) iv. 179-287; Ewald, 
fahrbilcher der bibl. Wissenschaft (1856), viii. 1-41 ; Oort, Disputatio de 
Pericope Num. xxii. 2-xxiv. (i860) ; Kalisch, Bible Studies, part i. (1877); 
Kuenen, " Bileam " in Th. Tijd. (1884) xviii. 497-540; Wellhausen, Comp. 
111-113, 346-351; Van Hoonacker, "Quelques Observations Critiques 
sur les Remits concernant Bileam " in Le Mustfon (1888), vii. 61-76 ; Franz 
Delitzsch, "Zur neuesten Literatur iiber den Abschnitt Bileam" in 
Zeitschr. f. kirch. Wiss. (1888) pp. 117-126; Cheyne, "Some critical 
Difficulties in the Chapters on Balaam " in Expository Times (1899), x. 
399-402; Wobersin, Die Echtheit der Bit 'amspriiche (1900); von Gall, 
Zusammensetzung u. Herkunft der Bileam-Perikope (1900). For other 
earlier literature, see Reinke, op. cit. 205-207. 

The Israelites, fresh from their conquest of the Amorites 
(22 2 ), are now settled on the border of Moab, and fill Balak, 
king of Moab, and his people with fear (v. 3f -). The Moabites 
prepare for battle (v. 6 - n ) ; but in order that his undertaking 
may be successful, Balak sends messengers, carrying a suitable 
fee for the service required (v. 7 ), to a foreigner whose name is 
Balaam, and who is distinguished for the effect of his cursings 
and blessings, that he may come and formally curse Israel 
before the war begins (v. 6 - n ). Balaam at first refuses on the 
ground that Yahweh withholds His permission (v. 8-14 ) ; Balak 
sends a more impressive embassy (v. 15-17 ) ; Balaam receives 


Yahweh's permission to go, but only to do as He tells him, 
and goes (v. 1 *" 21 ). On the way Yahweh manifests Himself to 
Balaam and his ass (which miraculously addresses its master), 
and makes known His anger with him for going; Yahweh 
gives him permission to go, but only to speak what He tells 
him (v. 22-35 ). Balak meets Balaam at the frontier of Moab 
(v. 36 ) and leads him successively to Kiriath-husoth (v. 39 ), "the 
field of Sophim on the top of Pisgah " (23 14 ), and the top of 
Pe'or (23 s8 ). At each place he shows Balaam the Israelites 
encamped below, and endeavours to get him to curse them. 
But on each occasion Balaam pronounces a blessing, which 
in every case consists of a poem celebrating the prosperity, 
present or future, of Israel (23 7 " 10 - 18b " 24 24 315 - 9 ). After the 
second blessing, Balak bids Balaam say nothing further (23 25 ) ; 
and after the third, bids him go home (24 11 ). Balaam, how- 
ever, before going home (24 25 ) recites unsolicited a fourth 
poem (24 15b ~ 19 ), predicting the ultimate destruction of Moab by 
Israel, and a similar fate for Edom. Without any demur from 
Balak, Balaam further recites three much shorter poems, pre- 
dicting the fate of 'Amalek (v. 20 ), the Kenites (v. 21f -), Asshur 
and 'Eber (v. 24 ). 

Such is a brief analysis of these chapters in their present 
form ; it necessarily leaves certain things, such as Balaam's 
country and the reason of Yahweh's anger with him for setting 
out on his journey, obscure or ambiguous ; for in these respects 
the present narrative is itself obscure. This obscurity is not 
lessened but enhanced by attempting, as was formerly the 
custom, to interpret this narrative by the allusions to Balaam 
in 31 s - 16 . To these obscurities earlier interpreters devoted the 
utmost ingenuity. But in vain. The obscurities have been 
occasioned by the existence in the OT. of widely different 
stories about Balaam. Two of these have been combined in 
the present narrative. With the recognition of this, some of 
the difficulties of older interpreters disappear. But not all. 
It is impossible to recover in detail and with any certainty the 
original forms of the stories here combined. Consequently, the 
interpretation of these chapters still remains an incompletely 
solved problem. 

xxn. 2-xxiv. 25 309 

The narrative, as distinguished from the poems which it 
contains, is certainly a compilation from at least two sources. 
This appears most clearly in c. 22. Here the most conspicuous 
evidence of compilation is as follows: — (1) the doublet in 22 3a 
and 3b ; (2) the irrelevance of v. 4b after v. 2 ; (3) the incon- 
sistency of the two definitions of Balaam's home in v. 5 , one 
clause placing- it on the Euphrates, the other in " the land of 
the children of Ammon " (so read with ffi) ; and (4) the 
parallelism and inconsistency of v. 22-35 with much of what 
precedes. A number of smaller points, such as the different 
terms used for Balak's messengers, taken together, also 
support the conclusion that the narrative is composite, though 
taken separately some of them might be otherwise explained 
without serious difficulty. Any detailed analysis must of 
necessity largely rest on this less conclusive evidence. 

Quite the most important of the points mentioned in the 
last paragraph is the inconsistency of 2 2 22 " 35 and the preceding 
section. This consists mainly in the fact that inv. 20t Balaam, 
having- received Gods permission to go, is on his way accompanied 
by the princes of Balak, whereas in v. 22 Balaam is on his way 
accompanied by two servants, and without having received 
Yahweh's permission : for that is the obvious meaning of 
Yahweh's anger. 

There is no such conclusive evidence that c. 23 f. is derived 
from two sources. But 23 25 looks like the original conclusion 
of a narrative; the statement in 24 1 , that Balaam "went not, 
as at other times, to seek for enchantments," attaches to 
nothing that precedes ; 24"- might well imply that Balaam 
now, for the first time, sees Israel, and for the first time 
realises Yahweh's purpose to bless Israel, in which case it 
could not have been the original sequel to c. 23. The repeti- 
tion of 23 22 - 24 in 24 s - 9 , and the postponement of Balaam's 
solemn introduction of himself (24 3f - 15f -) to the third and fourth 
poems, also favour the conclusion that c. 23 and c. 24 are not 
the work of a single writer. 

Most writers,* therefore, are now agreed that the present 
narrative is a compilation from the two sources J and E. 
* We., Di., Kit., Driver, Corn., Bacon, CH., Addis, Moore (EBi. 3442). 


Kalisch, Kuenen, Steuernagel, and von Gall take more or less con- 
siderable exception to this conclusion. Kalisch argued that Nu, 22 2 -24 25 , 
apart from two interpolated passages (22 22 " 35 and 24 18 ' 24 ), formed an inde- 
pendent book, dating from the age of David, and had no connection with 
either J or E. Kuenen comes nearer to the general position, but holds 
that the section as a whole is derived from E, who himself derived 22 s2 * 35 
from J, and incorporated it with his narrative. Von Gall maintains that 
22 2-« 2^1-6. 11-13 ; s compiled in the usual manner from J and E, but that 
23 13 -24 25 is the work of five successive editors all later than JE, and that 
all the poems, including 23 7 " 10 , are post-exilic. Both the sources (J and E), 
he further argues, related one blessing only, and the original compiler 
(JE) retained this feature of the story. Now, that there is some editorial 
work in 23 ,3 -24 25 is highly probable (see below on 24 20 " 24 ; see, further, 
CH.), but some of the features referred to in the last paragraph but one 
are not well accounted for by the theory that the whole of this section was 
written by editors before whom 22 2 -23 6 and 23 11 '- already lay in its present 
form : in particular, the terms of 24"- and Balaam's self-introduction in 
the third and fourth poems present as much difficulty to this theory as to 
the theory that the chapters are a unity. Steuernagel's theory is that the 
whole section consists of the work of E 1 and additions by E 2 which are 
distinguished by the use of the divine name Yahweh, and consist of 

22 8. 13. 18f. 22-35 2 ^3. 4a/3-6. 12-i3a«. 16-17. 26. 27a« 2 -l. ll a/ gb. 12b. 13 (fSK. (1899) T.AO f . : 

Einwanderiing, 72, 103-105). This is also open to some of the fore- 
going objections, and entirely fails to meet the difficulty presented by 
22 22 "S5, anc j bases more than is safe on the use of the divine names (see 

It is true, however, that the characteristics of E are more 
apparent than those of J. But before attempting to indicate 
the positive indications of either of these sources, it is neces- 
sary to consider, in the first place, from a purely textual point 
of view, the use of the divine names. The divine names used 
in ^ are : Yahweh, 29 times ; God (D*n?K(n)), 9 times, and also 
twice with a suffix ; God (?x), 8 times ; Shaddai, twice ; and 
Elyon, once. The last three may be dismissed from considera- 
tion ; for although both (Sr and <& give God for Shaddai, 
there is every probability that wherever these three occur, 
ty represents the original text (Shaddai = 6 deos 6 e'yu-o? in 
Gn. 49 s5 ; El Shaddai regularly becomes deos fiov, crov in 
the Hexateuch). In the use of Yahweh and Elohim, on the 
other hand, %} does not always preserve so early a text as 
S or ffi. 

The variations of S trom f§ are as follows : — 

S has d'.iSn instead of the mrr of 1^ in 23*. 
If H ^'N'" 1 II 15 II 33* 

xxii. 2-xxiv. 25 311 

S has hit ikVd instead of the m.T of Tfy in 23 s - 18 . 
„ ,, m.T „ D'n!?K ,, 22 22a . 

,, ,, D'nSn inVd „ ,, ,, 22 20 . 

S has throughout ]-i;l0 for m.T and |C5tA| for DViVk(."i). The varia- 
tions of ffi are as follows : — 

(1) (6) de6s— mm 15 times without variants (besides 23 s ). 

(2) „ „ 3 » with 

(3) 6 Ki/'ptos = D , n l ?Nn 2 ,, ,, ,, 

The instances of ( 1 ) are 22 23 " 28 - »"■ 35 23*- 5 - 12 - «• 26 2 4 13l \ In_2 3 8 6 0e6s = 
mm, but in the parallel line Ks= Sn. The MSS. supporting Ks in the six 
cases of (2) and (3) are as follows (cursives not cited when the reading is 
embodied in Lagarde) :— (2) in 22 13 , L; in 22 22b , 44. 74. 84. 106. 134; in 
22 31 , BL ; (3) in 22", 16. 73 ; 22 22a , FN 53. 71. 

The fact that in the great majority of the cases S agrees with 1$ 
against (Sir's (6) 0s would by itself cast grave suspicion on (K's readings ; 
but there is further evidence of ffi's tendency here to use 6 0s ; thus it is 
6 0s that appears in the interpretation of 'St? in 23 s , and, naturally indeed, 
in the addition at the end of 23 s (cp. 24" % and <&). 

It follows (1) that an unsupported reading 6 0s in (Sir is valueless as 
evidence of the original reading ; (2) that such a reading adds little or 
nothing to other evidence favouring an original reading D'n^Jt(n) ; but 
(3) that wherever (6) Ks appears in ffi, it deserves attention as a possible 
indication of the original text. 

Thus on purely textual grounds (1) it is highly probable 
that in 22 22a Yahweh (S and important MSS. of ffi) is an earlier 
reading than God (fl?) ; (2) in 23 s - 26 God (S) is at least as 
probably original as Yahweh (^) ; (3) in 22 9 Yahweh read by 
certain MSS. of ffit may possibly be earlier than God ($.?). In 
all other cases %} probably presents a text earlier than ffi, 
though it is still, of course, perfectly possible that in certain 
cases ffi accidentally reverts to the text of the ancient source. 
But that is not a question of textual criticism. 

It will be convenient to tabulate here the usage of Yahweh and God. 
Yahweh is used (reading thus in 22 22a ) — 

(a) in narrative, 16 times— 22 22 " 35 (13 times) 23 s - 1S 24 1 ; 

(b) in speeches of Balaam, 12 times (two doubtful)— 22 s - ,3 - 18 - 1B 

2 3 3 (S God) «■ ,2 ' "• 26 (S God) 2 4 «- 13 *" ; 

(c) in speeches of Balak — 24 11 . 
God (□ , n l 7N(n)) is used— 

(a) in narrative, 6 times— 22 9 - 10 - 12 - 20 23* 24 2 . In 22 s some MSS. of 

ffir read Yahweh ; 
(6) in speeches of Balaam, twice (22 s8 23 27 ), and twice besides in S 

(23 s - 26 )- 
No conclusive and complete explanation of this usage can be given. 


It is partly due to fusion of sources ; it is perhaps partly due to an 
editorial principle incompletely carried through. It is to be observed 
that in 22 2 ' 21 God is consistently used in the narrative, Yahweh in the 
speeches of Balaam. It is possible that God stood originally in (some of) 
the speeches, and has been deliberately altered by an editor in order to 
make it clear that Balaam owes what he has to say to the God of Israel 
(Di. ). The principle is not carried through, for in 22 s8 23^ the reading 
God is, on textual grounds, beyond suspicion ; for a similar incomplete- 
ness, see <&, particularly in 22 22b " 35 , where 0s takes the place of IMP 11 
times, but Ks is allowed to stand in 22 s4 . 

The consistent use of Yahweh (13 times) to the entire 
exclusion of God in 2 2 22-35 , and the consistent use of God in 
the narrative parts of 22 2-21 , favour referring 2 2 22-35 to J, and 
the parts of 22 2 " 21 containing God and inconsistent with 22 22 ~ 35 
(see above) to E. The only OT. parallel to the speaking - ass 
in 22 22-36 is the speaking- serpent, and this also appears in 
J (Gn. 3); revelation by night (v. 2a : cp. v . 19 - 21 - 8 " 10 - 12f ) is 
characteristic of E (12 6 n.). Some slight indications of J's 
style (as distinct from E's) will be mentioned in the notes on 
v. 29, 31 , and of E's (as distinct from J's) on v. 13 . 

Further analysis must proceed from this starting-point ; and the more 
remote it becomes, the more uncertain also. The following suggestions 
are offered merely from this point of view. In 22 5 the land of the children 
of 'Ammon is from J, Pethor, which is by the river (Euphrates) from E ; for 
from 'Ammon Balaam might well be represented as coming on an ass with 
a couple of servants, but the long journey from the Euphrates would call 
for a larger retinue, such as that of the princes of Balak, who are closely 
connected with passages referring to Balaam's receipt of revelation by 
night. In J, then, Balaam is an 'Ammonite, in E an Aramcean ; hence 23* 
(from Aram Balak brought me) is E. Thus in this episode E appears to 
term the messengers princes (or, when God is speaking, men — 22 9, 20 - I 38 '); 
and hence there falls to E 22 14f> 40 23 6, n . Different terms (messengers, 
elders, servants of Balak- — 22 5- 18 24 12 ) may point to the other source — J. 

In the main at least c. 23 and c. 24 cohere respectively. But if this be 
so, c. 23 is mainly from E on account of Aram in 23 7 and princes in 23 s - 17 : 
note, further, God in 23 4 and in S also in 23 s - 26 , yet in the present text 
Yahweh is more frequent. Cp., further, 23 20 with 22 12 (E). In c. 24 God 
(cnhx) is used but once (24 s1 ), Yahweh several times ; 24 12 in virtue of 
messengers connects with 24 s (J). Attention should, however, again be 
drawn to the comparatively slight positive evidence of J. In particular, 
note that 24 s5 more closely resembles Gn. 32 1 ' - (E) than iS 331 * (J). 

Further analysis proceeds from the conclusion that c. 23 is E and c. 24 
J, or turns on minuter points of evidence. 22 17 '* 37b is J if 24 11 - 1S is ; 22 8b • u 
contains a curious phrase (pWl ]"i> iw noi) found again only in Ex. io f u 

xxii. 2-xxiv. 25 313 

generally assigned to J. In 22 6 - u Dixy and 'Vin are more characteristic of 
J than E (CH. 59, 64). There is no obvious reason for separating (with 
CH.) 22 3711 from clause b; note rather a point of connection with 22 s (V? tnph 
and 1 1 ? xipS). 22 s7 as a whole may then be J and, consequently, 22 s6 is E, 
if Wellhausen's suggestion (see on 22 37 ), that in 22 37 Balak has come to 
Balaam's home, be accepted, for certainly in E Balaam goes to Balak ; in 
the original form of the ass episode he may have returned home. 

The tentative analysis thus reached may be tabulated thus — 

J 22* (except to Pethor, which is by the river) 6 - 7 - n - 17f - -2-35a. 37 2 ^ ( m t j, e 
main except v. 2s ). 

E 22 5 (" to Pethor, -which is by the river") 8 - 10 - 12 ' 15 - 19 " 21 - M - *° 23 (in the 
main), 24 25 . 

The result agrees for the most part with the analysis of CH. who, 
however, carry the analysis further. 

If c. 23 and c. 24 are from different sources, then these three times in 
24 10 , part at least of the transition from the one source to the other {e.g. 
2 3 27 ' 29 )> a °d perhaps Pe'or in 23 28 , may be regarded as editorial ; possibly, 
also, the peculiar formula (cp. Job 27 1 29 1 ), common to both chapters, 
which introduces the first four poems. On the subsequent interpolation 
of 24< 18 ' - ) 20 ' 24 see the introductory note to these verses. 

The date of the narratives is the date of the sources 
(J and E) to which they have been traced, i.e. the 9th ? or 
8th? century B.C. The date of the poems is not necessarily 
the same. Like those in c. 21 they may be older than the 
narrative ; or the two in c. 23 may be the work of E, the two 
in c. 24 of J ; or they may be either ancient or more recent 
poems subsequently inserted in the completed narrative by 
an editor in place of Balaam's original words. Under these 
circumstances the poems must be briefly considered by them- 

In the first place, the poems were obviously written to fit 
into a story of Balaam : see 23™- 18 - 20 24 s - I5 ; though it is only 
in the first two that a close structural connection with a story 
of Balaam is found. It is quite possible that 24 3b (4) - 15b < 16 ) are 
merely introductions attached to poems that originally had no 
connection with such a story. 

The strongest point in favour of the antiquity of the 
poems, and, in the opinion of the present writer, it is very 
strong, is the feeling of national confidence, success, pro- 
sperity, and contentment which pervades them, and in virtue 
of which they are most closely connected with the ancient 
poems known as "the blessing of Jacob" (Gn. 49) and " the 



blessing - of Moses " (Dt. 33). If the allusion to Agag in 24' 
could be relied on, the third poem would belong to the age of 
Saul ; but it cannot. If it were certain, which it is not, that 
24 18f - were an original part of the fourth poem, the only actual 
king satisfying the reference would be David, who alone 
conquered both Edom and Moab. If the poems be post- 
exilic the only mode of accounting for the tone would be 
to regard them as depicting the Messianic age ; and this is 
the view of those who argue for a post-exilic origin. But, 
especially in the case of the third poem, it seems to the present 
writer singularly improbable. If pre-exilic, the poems which 
contemplate in Israel and Jacob something more than Judah 
must have been composed before the fall of the northern 
kingdom in B.C. 722, if not also before the disruption of the 
kingdoms. On the other hand, 24 7 - 17 (though probably not 
23 21 , see note there) presuppose the monarchy : a date earlier 
than Saul is therefore out of the question, a date earlier than 
David improbable. The poems in their present state contain 
some interpolation (see on 23 23 ), and the second and third 
common matter. The reappearance of z^'f in Jer. 48 45 is 
inconclusive ; for there is the difficulty, common in the case 
of parallel passages, of determining which is the original. 

Until recently the antiquity of the first four poems was not questioned. 
Diehl (Erklarung von Ps. 47 (1894), 8-10) drew attention to certain 
linguistic and other features common to the poems and later literature. 
CH. (n. on 23 7a ) just raise the question whether the poems may "belong 
... to the reproductive style of after times " ; and recently von Gall 
has argued at length in favour of a Messianic interpretation throughout 
and of a post-exilic date of all the poems. Some of his arguments are 
criticised, or in some cases, when they turn on interpretation, tacitly 
met in the commentary ; but see, in particular, notes on 23 7, 19 . Many of 
the instances cited by him as late usages have slight weight, or rest on 
insufficiently established results as to the late date of many of the passages 
in which the words or phrases in question occur elsewhere. Some in 
themselves are of some weight, such as jtoSd (instead of .137DD) and ]vh]l ; 
and it becomes a question then whether they suffice to outweigh the 
evidence indicated above for an early origin of at least the main part of 
the poems. 

Bela', son of Be'or, is the name of the first of the kings of 
Edom ot whom a list is given in Gn. 36 s1-43 . His city was 

XXII. 2-XXIV. 25 315 

Dinhabah, and he reigned some considerable time before 
the establishment of the monarchy in Israel. There is no 
reason to question the historical accuracy of these state- 

Virtually, if not exactly, identical with the name of this 
Edomite king" is that of Balaam the son of Be'or, who, though 
not an Israelite, received communications from Yahweh, and 
was specially and widely distinguished for his power of 
cursing and blessing. Balaam played this part in Hebrew 
traditions at least as early as the 9th century B.C. (J). The 
connection between the historical king of Edom of say the 
1 2th or nth century and this traditional figure of the 9th 
century can be only a matter of speculation. The tradition 
already had a history (which cannot, indeed, be traced) as 
early as the 8th? century: for Balaam has by then already 
become in one form of the tradition an Aramaean (E) whose 
home was in the region of the Euphrates, in another (if the 
view taken of 22 5 , pp. 312, 326, be correct) an 'Ammonite (J), 
possibly in a third a Midianite, for this last description may 
be much earlier than the first direct literary reference to 
it (Nu. 3 i 8 - 16 P s ). 

This traditional figure is one of the chief elements in the 
episode of Nu. 22-24. An even more important element, the 
fear and hostility felt by Moab for Israel, not improbably has 
some foundation in history. But in the main the episode is 
a creation of the Hebrew national spirit in the days of 
national prosperity, and self-confidence sprung from reliance 
on the national God, Yahweh. It may, indeed, contain other 
historical features ; such as the name of Balak, who may have 
been an actual king of Moab ; but no means at present exist 
for distinguishing any further between the historical or 
legendary elements and those which are supplied by the 
creative faculty and the religious feeling of the writers. 

The motive of the story and its religious presuppositions 
are in this case the points which it is most important to 
determine. The motive is perfectly clear, though it has 
generally been obscured, or at least cast into the shade, by 
undue prominence given to what is not a matter of leading 


interest with the writer, viz. the character ot Balaam. Balak, 
except in so far as he represents Moab, and Balaam are in 
reality subordinate figures in the story ; the protagonists are 
Israel and Moab ; the overruling thought is Yahweh's power 
to defend His people and His purposes of good concerning 
them ; and the fatal madness of those who, through them, 
oppose Him. As at the outset, when Yahweh determined 
to bring His people to the land of promise, Pharaoh, and 
through him Egypt, opposed Israel to their own undoing, 
so at the close, as Israel is on the point of entering on its 
inheritance from Yahweh, Moab attempts, with like hard- 
ness of heart, a similar opposition, and suffers a similar fate. 
This motive was clearly felt by a prophet of the 7th century ; 
the outstanding proofs to him of Yahweh's care for His 
people are summed up in Yahweh's appeal to Israel, "I 
brought thee up out of the land of Egypt ; and from the 
house of slaves I redeemed thee, and sent before thee Moses, 
Aaron, and Miriam. O my people ! remember now what 
Balak, king of Moab, devised, and wherewith Balaam, the 
son of Be'or, answered him . . . that thou mayest recognise 
the proofs of Yahweh's faithfulness (mn» JYipis) " (Mic. 6 4f -). 

The same motive governs the two different stories which 
have been brought together by the editor (JE) ; and it was 
carefully preserved in the story as it left his hands. Drawing 
on both sources (J and E), the editor is indifferent to incon- 
gruities, produced by his method, which strike the modern 
reader ; but he is careful so to combine his material as to give 
fuller effect to the leading motive. Not once nor twice only, 
but thrice in this final form of the story does Balak persist 
in his attempt to get Israel cursed ; and at each attempt his 
own doom approaches nearer : for, as the editor has arranged 
them, the poems rise to a climax. In the first Balaam speaks 
of Israel's freedom from Yahweh's curse, of its security from 
its foes, and of its countless numbers ; in the second of 
Yahweh's irrevocable promise and unalterable determination 
positively to bless Israel, of Yahweh's presence in Israel's 
midst, and briefly of Israel's conquests ; in the third of the 
fertility of Israel's land, of the celebrity of their king, of the 

xxn. 2-xxiv. 25 317 

national prowess, and of the utter destruction of all who 
oppose them. In the fourth unsolicited poem the climax is 
reached ; Moab itself is singled out by name as about to 
perish before Israel; and on this note the episode in JE 
closed : all that followed it was the simple statement that 
Balaam and Balak went their respective ways. One point 
in the earlier part the editor may have suppressed, viz. the 
personal visit of Balak to Balaam, if this once formed part 
of J's story (22 s7 n.). But he retains with all clearness the 
corresponding - development of the main motive in E ; in the 
earlier as in the latter part of the story Balak, like Pharaoh 
in the story of the plagues, blinded and rendered fatuous by 
his enmity to Israel, increasingly provokes, to the frustration 
of his plans and his people's undoing, the anger of Yahweh. 
Had he rested content with Balaam's first refusal, he would 
merely have lost the assistance he hoped to derive from a 
powerful curse ; he sends again, and Balaam comes to bless, 
and so to range against him the very forces with which he 
wished to be allied. 

Of the religious presuppositions of the story the most 
striking is the recognition of Yahweh's revelation of His 
purposes concerning Israel to one who was not an Israelite ; 
and of the familiar intercourse of this foreign seer with the 
God of Israel. In one place (22 18 ) Balaam indeed speaks of 
"Yahweh, my God," just as an Israelite did [e.g. Jos. 14 8 , 
1 K. 3 7 ). It is indeed possible, as was pointed out above 
(p. 312), that one of the stories in its original form used 
throughout the term God. Even so, the Hebrew writer can 
only be thinking of the God who was God of Israel. In either 
case, to the writer's mind, the God of Israel reveals Himself 
outside the limits of the chosen people ; we have here, there- 
fore, an approximation to the idea of God which is found in 
Amos and other prophets of the 8th century. Whence this 
idea came cannot be determined ; it is not clear that it is 
due to a knowledge on the writer's part of the fact, for 
which there is some evidence, that the divine name Yahweh 
was known outside of Israel, or had, in the first instance, been 
obtained by the Hebrews from without. There are some 


partial parallels for the writer's point of view ; J makes al 
men at the beginning call on the name of Yahweh (Gn. 4 s9 ) ; 
in E (Gn. 20) God reveals Himself by night to Abimelech, 
king of Gerar, a place where a Hebrew would naturally have 
expected that the worship of God would be unknown (Gn. 
20 11 ) ; in the same source God reveals Himself in a similar 
manner to Laban the Aramaean (Gn. 31 24 ). 

There are perhaps in the two stories two different points 
of view as to the manner in which Balaam received or obtained 
communications from God. In E, certainly, Balaam resembles 
the conspicuously true Hebrew prophet Michaiah the son of 
Imlah (1 K 22); each alike waits for God to speak, and each 
alike repeats what Yahweh says, whether it be pleasant or 
unpleasant to the person affected. In J Balaam's custom was 
to obtain oracles (24 1 : cp. 22 7 ), by observation of omens or 
casting of lots if we are to press the probable implication of 
the terms employed ; but he delivers his messages to Balak 
overmastered, like a Hebrew chosen of Yahweh for any 
special task, by the Spirit of God. In J, too, Balaam proves 
incorruptible by Balak's proffered gifts. 

The motive of the story is clear ; but the subsidiary 
religious beliefs of the writer beyond a certain point become 
obscure. Yet more is obscure when we pass on to ask what 
was the writer's estimate of the character of Balaam. The 
truth is, this question can easily be, and has generally been, 
pressed too far. The writer himself is, comparatively speak- 
ing, indifferent to it. It is hardly overstating the case to 
say that Balaam is an accident, and is not of the essence of 
the story. He is the instrument by which the proud opponent 
of Israel and Yahweh is led on to his destruction. But if 
the question of Balaam's character be raised, the outstanding 
fact to be kept in view is that nothing suffices to seduce 
him from carrying out the will of Yahweh. Balak may 
think, it may be the intention of the writer to express this 
in passing, that Balaam is open to a sufficient appeal to his 
avarice. But if so, the event proves him wrong. It may be 
said that Balaam does all that he does under divine com- 
pulsion ; this, however, is only in another way to neutralise 

xxii. 2-xxiv. 25 319 

the character of the prophet. But if it be further said that 
he does everything- unwillingly, that he would if he could 
have satisfied his avarice, this is simply to import into the 
story what is not there. 

The position taken up in the last paragraph is entirely 
at variance with the interpretation that till comparatively 
recent times entirely held the field. It was criticised in 
great detail by Kalisch, who, through a not unnatural re- 
action, laboured to prove Balaam as admirable as to previous 
writers he had been a detestable character. The older in- 
terpretation of necessity depended on ingenious and forced 
explanations of details which were fully exposed by Kalisch ; 
it was justified on one assumption and one assumption alone, 
viz., that all the details mentioned in all the references are 
actual and true descriptions of one and the same real life ; 
if Balaam's last act was to counsel Balak to seduce the 
Hebrews to the worship of his god by means of the sensuous 
attractions of the Moabite women (31 16 ), then he was indeed 
a hypocrite, and the most natural explanation of his conduct 
is avarice. Bishop Butler's sermon, which represents the 
high-water mark of this mode of interpretation, is then not 
only a characteristic and masterly study in an unquestionably 
real type of human character, but a faithful delineation of 
Balaam's character in particular. But the assumption is no 
longer justified. The story of c. 22-24 is complete in itself; 
the allusion in 31 16 first appears centuries later, and (see p. 
320) is of doubtful historicity. Hence it is illegitimate to 
allow it to dominate the interpretation of c. 22-24. 

Though in the main they have broken free from the older interpretation 
toajuster estimate of Balaam's character, Di. (138: cp. 140) and Bacon 
(p. 221) are still so far under its influence that they attribute to the Balaam 
of J a certain greed or avarice which they make no attempt to prove. 
That the final editor of the Hexateuch thought out a consistent character 
for Balaam before he admitted both representations to a place in the same 
work * (though by no means to stand side by side) is incapable of proof: 
as to its probability, each reader can judge for himself. 

With Balaam's departure for his home (24 25 ) the story, 
whose motive is as described above, is complete. The sub- 
* Cp. " Balaam," by W. Lock, in Journal of ' Theol. Studies, ii. 163. 


sequent fortunes of the seer were irrelevant to it. But the 
curiosity out of which the Haggadic Midrash on the Old 
Testament sprang wanted to know more both of his fate 
and of his character and personality : and after its wont it 
created what it wanted, till in the course of time it gave 
Philo material for his lengthy and spirited description. In 
particular, the exclusive spirit of a later age could not 
tolerate the appearance of a true prophet of God among the 
heathen : it consequently took care to represent him in an 
unfavourable light. Such is the general tendency, though 
even later there are rare exceptions to it. The later refer- 
ences in the OT. prove that this depreciatory Haggadah 
developed early ; and much of which there is only later 
evidence may be considerably earlier in origin. 

Apart from a reference in a subsequent passage of E 
(Jos. 24 9f ), on which see below, the earliest OT. reference 
(Mic. 6 4f ) to Balaam is that already cited (p. 316); this, 
most naturally interpreted, regards Balaam favourably ; as 
God frustrated the evil purposes of Egypt by means of Moses, 
Aaron, and Miriam, so He frustrated those of Moab by means 
of Balaam. But in the next reference, though it belongs 
only to the end of the same (the 7th) century, Balaam already 
appears in a more sinister light ; by the end of the 7th century 
it had become impossible for a prophet who received pay to 
retain the same esteem which a Samuel or Ahijah, though 
they took fees, enjoyed; the Deuteronomist (Dt. 23 5f - (4f,) ) is, 
therefore, depreciating Balaam when he expressly states 
what the story of Nu. 22-24 merely implies (for in the age 
of that story it was a prevalent custom) that Balaam received 
fees ; he also attributes to him a desire to curse which 
Yahweh would not gratify. Neh. 13 2 is merely an echo of 
this, and a similar echo is probably to be found in Jos. 24 10 , 
where what seems to be the original reading preserved in fflr 
(but Yahweh would not destroy thee) has been replaced in ty 
by but I would not hearken unto Balaam. The latest OT. 
references are found in P, but belong to P s rather than P g ; in 
these Balaam is the "oracle-monger" (DDp) — in so late a 
writer there is no question that the term is one of the utmost 

XXII. 2-XXIV. 25 32 1 

reproach ; it is he who counsels the employment of the 
Moabite women to seduce the Hebrews (cp. 2 Pet. 2 13 " 15 , Rev. 
2 14 ), and he who fills up what was felt to be lacking in the 
earlier story by recording that Balaam died in battle in the 
war of Israel against Midian (31 s - 16 , Jos. 13 22 ). 

The earliest writers in which the charge of avarice is 
explicitly made appear to be Philo {De Vit. Mos. i. 48 (Mangey, 
123)) and 2 Pet. 2 15f - (cp. Jude n ). It is less vigorously 
charged against Balaam by Josephus [Ant. iv. 6), though in 
other respects he presents him in nearly as unfavourable light 
as Philo. 

The favourable judgments on Balaam in later writers are 
few ; but some of them are emphatic. Thus commenting on 
Dt. 34 10 [There hath not arisen in Israel a prophet), Siphre 
(ed. Friedmann, 150a) adds, "but among the heathen there 
has, viz. Balaam," and then points out various points in 
which Balaam was even superior to Moses as, e.g., in receiv- 
ing his revelations lying down, whereas Moses received them 
standing up ; see, further, Kalisch, p. 27 f. 

Of the details of the Haggadic elaboration the following 
are among the more interesting or important : Balaam was 
lame or blind of one eye (deduced from the sing. ?]} in 24 15 ) ; 
he died as a bloody and deceitful man at the age of thirty-three 
or thirty-four, i.e. before he was half seventy (cp. Ps. 55 24 : so 
Sanh. 106b) ; and, like Doeg, Ahithophel, and Gehazi, he had 
no part in the world to come, while the lot of his disciples 
also, who are the exact opposites of the disciples of Abraham, 
is Gehenna (Sanh. io 2 , Abhoth 5 19 ( 20 )). The two who accom- 
panied Balaam on his journey (22 22 ) were Jannes and Jambres, 
who had counselled Pharaoh to destroy the Hebrew male 
children and rivalled Aaron before the Egyptian king (<£ Jon 
on Nu. 22 22 , Ex. i 15 7 11 ). 

Balaam is, moreover, identified with various persons who had opposed 
Israel, such as Laban (2TJ° n on Nu. 22 B , Sanh. 1056), an identification 
which has, in a sense, been revived by Steuernagel {Einw and e rung, 104 f.). 
There is far more spirit about Philo's {De Vit. Mos. i. 48-55 ; Mangey, 
122-128) description, but it is too long to quote or summarise : Josephus 
{Ant. iv. 6) is less interesting. See, further, Kalisch, 22-32 ; and Jewish 
Encyclopedia, ii. 467-469 ; for references to patristic and later Christian 



estimates of Balaam's character, which are always more or less unfavour- 
able, and differ mainly on the point whether he was a mere heathen 
magician or actually received revelation from God, see Reinke, 221 ff. ; 
and, for some modern English estimates, Lock in Joum. Theol. Studies, 
ii. 161-163. On account of the supposed similarity in the meaning of the 
names, Balaam has been connected with the Nikolaitans (Rev. 2 6 - 15 ) and 
the Arabic fabulist Lokman : for literature on both points, see Kalisch, 
23 and 53 ff. ; Mohammedan scholars, though not unanimously, explain 
Kor. 7 174,< as a reference to Balaam (see, e.g., Beidawi thereon). 

XXII. 2-4. Moab's fear of Israel. — Moab's fear is occasioned 
by the success of the Israelites over the Amorites (see, how- 
ever, also v. 4 n.), and their occupation of the Amorite country 
(2 1 21 " 24 E, or 2 1 25 J). This feature in the story may reflect 
actual historical circumstances. It is in no way improbable. 
Even though Moab may, in the first instance, have actually 
called in Israel to attack their troublesome neighbours, or, 
at least, have maintained a friendly neutrality during that 
attack, their feelings may well have changed now that they 
found the Hebrew tribes settled on their borders, fresh from 
war and hungry for land. — Balak the son of Sippor] king of 
Moab (v. 4 - 10 ). The first name is from a root which in 
Hebrew means to lay waste, and may therefore signify the 
devastator. The second is identical with the Hebrew and 
Phoenician (CIS. i65 llf - 15 ) term which denotes a small bird of 
the sparrow type, but is scarcely confined in usage to a single 
species. Sipporah, the fern, form of Sippor, is the name of 
Moses' Midianite wife, and occurs in the form Nisv in 
Palmyrene inscriptions (de Vogue, 11 = Lidzbarski, Nordsem. 
Inschriften, p. 458, No. 3 s ). The attempts to give these and 
the names in v. 5 an allegorical significance are unsuccessful ; 
these names are no doubt traditional. See, further, phil. n. 
Nothing is recorded of Balak independently of what is told of 
him in the present connection ; but he is once mentioned 
without Balaam (Jud. n 25 ). — To the Amorites] the Hebrew 
collective term refers to Sihon and his people ( 2 i 2L 25f - 31f -), 
but does not include 'Og and his people, mentioned, but not 
termed Amorites, in 2i 33-35 ( = Dt. 3 1-3 ). All the passages in 
the Hexateuch which speak of 'Og as king of the Amorites 
appear to be later than the main Deuteronomic history ; see 

xxn. 2-4 3 2 3 

Dt. 3 8 4 47 3 1 4 , Jos. 2 10 9 10 24 12 . — 3. Moab's fear of Israel 
is stated in two materially identical clauses ; a similar 
tautology, probably due to the same cause, viz. fusion of 
sources, occurs in Gn. 21 1 . The repetition of the subject 
Moab, and the expression of the object in the second clause 
by a fresh term children of Israel instead of by a simple pro- 
noun referring- to the people (14 1 n. 20 1 n.), also, point to the 
fact that the verse combines the similar statements of two 
sources. The verb in clause a ("VU) occurs elsewhere in the 
Hexateuch in Dt. i 17 18 22 32 27 ; cp. also, e.g., 1 S. 18 15 ; the 
verb ()'1p) in clause b is stronger, the fundamental meaning 
being to feel loathing for', the nearest parallels to its present 
use are Ex. i 12 , Is. 7 16 (and the Hiphil, if the text be right, in 
Is. 7 6 ) ; the original sense is clearer in Gn. 27 46 , Lev. 20 23 , Nu. 
2 1 5 , 1 K. 11 25 , Pr. 3 n f. — 4. Moab, very largely a pastoral 
people (2 K. 3 4 ), fears that the Israelite hordes will devour 
all the pasturage around them. The occasion for the follow- 
ing episode, and the cause of Moab's fear here assigned, are 
perhaps not the same as in v. 2 It is the mere approach, 
rather than (as in v. 2 ) the conquests, of the Israelites. — The 
elders of Midian] these are again mentioned in v. 7 , there in 
combination with the elders of Moab. But the narrative takes 
no further account of them ; Balaam's dealings are with the 
Moabites only ; the Midianites are not mentioned, even where 
they might be expected, and where Josephus, indeed, found 
it necessary to insert them; see, e.g., in E 23 s - 17 [princes of 
Moab only) and in J 24 10 - u (ct. Jos. Ant. iv. 6 5f ) ; of the fate 
of Midian, Balaam has nothing to say. Some,* therefore, 
attribute these references to the Midianites to a redactor who 
thus attempted to connect the present story with extraneous 
notices which connect Balaam with Midian (31 s - 16 , Jos. i3 21f- )« 
Others! think that they are derived from J, whose story, 
fragmentarily preserved, was introduced by an explanation that 
Moab and Midian were neighbours, and made common cause 
against Israel. The latter view still leaves the omission of any 
reference to Midian in c. 24 unexplained. The association of 
Midianites and Moabites need in itself occasion no difficulty; 
*Kue.,We. t DL, Bacon. 


for see Gn. 36 s5 , and cp. n. on io 30 . — And Balak b. Sippor was 
king of Moab at that time] This remark comes in somewhat 
late after Balak has been already referred to in v. 2 without 
explanation. Harmonists * argue that in v. 2 Moses had 
only his contemporaries in mind who needed no explanation, 
but that by the time he reached v. 4 remembering that he was 
writing for posterity also, he added this note t for their benefit. 

1. -on 1 ?'] pi. before coll. bnp, as, e.g., Lev. 4 14 ; G.-K. 1456c ; S (cp. <£) 
inS', sing, with coll. Vnp, as, e.g., Gn. 35 11 ; G.-K. 145/— Snpn] SffiSF + 
run, which is necessary in the mouth of a non-Israelite speaking of Israel, 
and therefore evidently original. It was passed over by an inattentive 
copyist, familiar with P's common custom of using hr\pn absolutely of 
Israel: see, e.g., io 7 16 32 . — in^DJ The vb. in 1 ? occurs 6 times in OT. ; 
but in no case does the consonantal text happen to distinguish the con- 
jugation. MT. here points as Kal ; in the remaining five cases as Piel. 
In Aram, and Arabic the simple conjugation is used, with the sense to 
lick up.— 2XiDb i?D] cp. Jos. I2 18b , 2 K. 19 13 ; Kon. iii. 280W*. 

5-14. The fortune of the first embassy sent by Balak to 
Balaam. — V. 5 '* (mainly J) Balak sends messengers to the 
country of the 'Ammonites — or to Pethor on the Euphrates 
(E) — to summon Balaam b. Be'or to curse the people which, 
having come out of Egypt, is now settled opposite Moab. 
With the help of Balaam's curse Balak hopes to bring the 
war against the Israelites, which he contemplates, to a 
successful issue. 

And he (i.e. Balak) sent messengers] cp. 24 12 (J) ; ct. princes, 
v> 8. 13. 21 e t c> (j?) ; see above, p. 312. — Balaam b. Be' or] the 
resemblance to Bela' (j6a) b. Be'or, king of Edom (Gn. 36 s2 ), 
is remarkable, and scarcely accidental. In ^ Balaam (njta) 
differs from Bela' merely by the presence in the former of the 
afformative -am. Bela' occurs as the name of two other persons 
(26 s8 , 1 Ch. 5 s ) ; but the name Be'or is otherwise unknown. 
If the textual tradition in Genesis be correct, or if Balaam be 
there read with Ball (SBOT.) for Bela', the ultimate identity 
of Bela' king of Edom and Balaam is highly probable. J The 

* E.g. HengsL 

t Kalisch (p. 88 f.) criticises this and similar explanations at length. 
+ So, e.g., N61d. Untersuchungen, 87 n. i; Hommel, Altisraelitischt 
Ueberlieferung, 154, 222. 

xxii. 5 3 2 5 

meaning of Balaam is ambiguous ; for it would be possible to 
treat it as a compound of \>2 = Bel and QJ? = kinsman (or 
'Ammu : see i 7 - 10 n., and cp. HPN. 43, 63, 123). The meaning 
of the root ybl is to swallow down : hence the identification of 
Balaam and Lokman ( Jj] = deglutivit). The interpretation, 
swallower or destroyer of the people (oy y?a), already appears 
in 3T Jon . It is entirely unphilological, but has possibly caused, 
if it be not in part due to, the late pronunciation Bifam 
(MT.); (B (EV.) keeps what was probably the original 
pronunciation Bafam. On this and other interpretations 
of the kind both of Balaam and Be'or, see Kalisch, 90-96. 
— Pethor, which is by the river] i.e. the river Euphrates : 
cp. Ex. 23 31 , Jos. 24 2 - 3,uf - (all E). The identification of 
Pethor with Pitru, which is mentioned by Shalmaneser 11. 
(860-825 B.C.), and with pe-d-riii, which appears in the lists of 
Thothmes ill. (c. 1500 B.C.), has been generally accepted.* 
Some scholars, however, have recently questioned the identifi- 
cation on the philological ground that in view of the long 
6 in Pethor (minD, ffir $adovpa) the Assyrian form should 
be Pitara. Then explaining away the statement of Dt. 23 5 
that Pethor was in Aram-naharaim, they have sought foi 
the place somewhere on the "river of Egypt" (34 5 n.\ 
which, they allege, is in Gn 36 s7 called "the river" simply. f 
Pitru was situated a little S. of Carchemish, not indeed 
actually on the Euphrates, but on the Sajur, a few miles from 
its junction with the Euphrates. The Sajur is a tributary 
from the W.; it is a considerable stream, and in its lower course 
flows between two ranges of low chalk hills. J Shalmaneser II. 
thus refers to Pitru : "At that time I restored to their former 
condition Ana-asur-utir-asbat, which the Hittites (Hatti) call 
Pitru, which is situated on the Sagura, on the far side of the 

* Sayce, Academy, x. (1876, Sept.) 291, and Early History of the Hebrews 
(1897), 40, 228; Schrader, COT. 2 155 f. ; Fried. Delitzsch, Wo lag das 
Parodies? 269 ; Max M tiller, Asienu. Europa, 98 n. 1, 267 ; Records of the 
Past (2nd series), v. 38 (No. 280) ; Driver in Hastings' DB. iii. 

t Marquart, Fundamente israelitischer u. jiidischer Geschichte (1896), 
73 f. ; Cheyne in EBi. 3685 f. 

X Chesney, Survey of Euphrates, i. 419; cp. Sachau, Reise in Syrien. 



Euphrates, and Mutkinu . . ., which Tiglath-Pileser [1.: c. 1 10c 
B.C.] . . . had filled with settlers, and which in the time of Asur- 
kirbi, king of AsSur, the king of Arumu [the Aramaeans] had 
captured by force: I settled Assyrians therein." * The descrip- 
tion of Pethor as situated in Aram-naharaim (Dt. 23 s (4) ) quite 
agrees with the Assyrian definition of the site of Pitru : for 
Aram-naharaim is not merely the country between the 
Euphrates and the Tigris ; it is the Naharin {River-country) 
of the Egyptian inscriptions, called Nahrima or Narima in the 
Tel el-Amarna tablets — a district which appears to have ex- 
tended from the valley of the Orontes eastwards across the 
Euphrates.! The journey from Pitru to Moab would be some- 
thing like 400 miles, and would occupy over twenty days, J and 
from any other place on the Euphrates the time-distance would 
not be appreciably less. The four journeys of the story would 
therefore have required about three months. A journey to 
Aram-naharaim, related elsewhere, was undertaken with camels 
(Gn. 24 10 ) ; the ass of v. 22-34 belongs to a story which locates 
Balaam's home much nearer Moab.§ 

To the land of the children o/Ammon] (jltty *33 px) this is 
the reading of S S IT, and appears to have been the original. || 
In MT. it has been accidentally, or rather, perhaps, deliber- 
ately, changed, by the simple omission of the final J, into 
1BJ? "22 sons of his people (cp. Gn. 23 11 , Lev. 20 17 ). The resi- 
dence of Balaam among the Ammonites, who were neighbours 
of the Moabites, would agree with the features of v. 22-34 , which 
are unsuitable in a story that locates Balaam a great distance 
off by the Euphrates, viz. the journey on an ass, without a 
numerous escort, and between fields and vineyards. Those 
who prefer MT.^f see in the clause an explanation that Balaam 

* Monolith Inscription in. Rawl. 7-8, col. ii. 11. 36-38, translated KB. 
i. 163, 165 (on which the above translation is based) ; also, though 
differently, in Records of the Past (1st series), 92 f. ; cp. Records of the 
Past (2nd series), iv. 40; KB. i. 133. 

t Max M Ciller, Asien u. Europa, 249-267 : EBi. s.v. " Aram-Naharaim.' 

J Merrill, East of the Jordan, p. 268 (twenty-five days or a month). 

§ Cp. We. Comp. 351 ; Merrill, op. tit. (last n.). 

II So Geddes, Houb. (see Oort, p. 6), We., Bacon. 

IT E.g. Hengst, Oort, Kue. (p. 504). 

XXII. 5, 6 3 2 7 

was not a mere sojourner in Aram, but that it was his native 
land; the point of such a remark here is not obvious. It 
becomes more pointed if the suffix be referred to Balak,* who 
would then appear as a foreign conqueror of Moab. But the 
phrase elsewhere used in Heb. for native land is different, 
viz. mho pN (Gn. ii 28 24 7 31 13 ). Others,! also retaining 
MT., render the land of the children of'Amm, 'Amm being 
regarded as the proper name of a deity, which is detected by 
some scholars in the proper names compounded with 'Am, 
'Ammi. — To call htm] cp. v. 20 - 37 . Behold it has covered the 
face (lit. eye', pj?) of the earth like locusts (Ex. io 5>15 J), and 
it is now dwelling or settled over against me. 

5. mins] -ma (Dt. 23 s ) + n T , the ace. ending-. U (ariolum), S> ( |? ■ 2 
the interpreter), make the word an appellative in app. to DJ^a. Many {e.g. 
Hengst. ) while treating it as a place-name, misled by the Heb. pins, base 
much on the supposition that it means " Interpreters' Town," overlooking 
the fact that the Aramaic to interpret has V for the Heb. n. The meaning 
is really quite uncertain. — p«] not, of course, genitive (ffi AV.): for see 
G.-K. 125a: scarcely locative (Driver, Tenses, 191, Obs. 2), but rather 
ace. of direction (Kon. iii. 330 b) : cp. 32 s2 , Gn. 4s 25 , Jud. i 26 21 21 , 1 S. 13 7 . 
The awkward position of the word, as also of nDK 1 ? ih mph, is probably due 
to the fusion of sources at this point. — HD3 n:n] S ffi (also v. 11 in (E B ) and 
some MSS. of pj '3 ram : in v. 11 flj has D3'i (cp. S both here and there). 

6. And now come curse me this people] Balak contemplates 
fighting the Israelites, and wishes them effectually cursed 
beforehand, so as to ensure his success. Balaam's curses 
have the reputation for hitting the mark. Obviously the 
Hebrew writer shares the belief, which he attributes to Balak, 
in the objective power of the curse. 

The objective power and independent existence attributed by the 
Hebrews, as by other peoples of antiquity, to a blessing (6'- 2 " 27 ) or curse 
(5 23f -) is but a special case of the belief in the power and independent 
existence of the spoken word (30 2 n.). Such blessings or cursings had 
peculiar power when uttered by men in close communication with the 
deity — by a priest or magician. Among the solemn blessings or cursings 
recorded in the OT. the more noticeable are those of Noah (Gn. g 26 " 27 ), 
Isaac (27 Bir -)i Jacob (c. 49), Joshua (Jos. 6 29 , cf. 1 K. i6 34 ), and Elisha 

* Midrash Rabbah, Rashi ; cp. Marquart, Fundamente, 74. 
f Sayce, Records of the Past (2nd series), iii. p. xi. In criticism of this 
view see Gray, Heb. Proper Names, 52 f. ; aiso EBi. s.v. " Ammi. " 



(2 K. 2 s4 ) ; Isaac's blessing-, though pronounced by mistake over Jacob 
instead of over Esau, once uttered is beyond even his own control ; the 
reality is inseparably associated with the form of blessing (Gn. 27 s3 ) ; in 
blessing Jacob, Isaac gives him the service of his brethren (Esau), and 
though against his will all he can do subsequently is to decree Esau to be 
Jacob's servant. See, further, Koberle, Natur u. Geist, 165-169. 

Where such beliefs prevail, it is a very natural development to attach 
importance to having an enemy duly cursed. Goliath, when David came 
to engage with him in single combat, cursed him by his gods (1 S. 17 43 ). 
When it was a case of warfare between tribes or nations, it would seem 
to have been customary to obtain the services of some man possessing, 
owing to his exceptional power with the deity, peculiar skill and efficacy 
in cursing. In an account of a much later period a closer parallel to 
the story of Balaam occurs. In the civil war between Hyrcanus 11. and 
Aristobulus 11. (69-63 B.C.) the troops of Hyrcanus, largely consisting of 
Arabs under Aretas, insisted on calling in the help of Onias, Skaios avi<p 
ko.1 6eo<pi\-f]s, who once in a time of drought had by his prayers obtained 
rain. Brought unwillingly into the camp, Onias was required to place 
curses on Aristobulus and his party (<V ovtws apas Orj /card 'Api<rToj3oij\ov 
ical twv <rv<TTa<Tia<TT<j}i> aurov). Instead of complying, he prayed God not 
to listen to one party against the other. For this he was murdered by 
the baser Jews (Ant. xiv. 2 1 ). Goldziher, in his Essay on the origin of 
the hijd' poetry (Abhandlungen zur arabischen Philologie, i. 1-121), has 
brought together much evidence that serves to illustrate the power attri- 
buted to Balaam, and the part which he was asked by Balak to play. 
The poet, Goldziher argues, was supposed by the pre - Muhammedan 
Arabs to be inspired by the jinn. The hijd', i.e. the utterances of these 
poets, spoken at the beginning and during the course of the tribal wars, 
was as important as, perhaps indeed more important than, the use of 
arms. Consequently the hijd', no less than warfare itself, was forbidden 
during the sacred month. One of the Kureish on the way to the battle of 
Bedr, addressing a poet, said, You are a poet, help us with your tongue. 
The value of the hijd' rested on the fact that it was originally a magical 
formula. The independent existence of such a solemnly uttered speech or 
curse was very materially conceived : it is an arrow shot from the bow, 
and "it was said that if, when a man was cursed, he was thrown down, it 
avoided him" (Ibn Hisham, 641, 15 — cited by Goldziher, 29 n. 1) ; in other 
words, the curse-arrow passes over him, leaving him untouched and un- 
injured. The poets employed to assist in war were not always of the 
same tribe as that which was fighting (p. 26 ff. ). 

This view of the power of a curse is practically discarded in one of the 
later OT. writers : see Prov. 26 s ; and for later Judaism, cp. the principle 
stated in T'rumoth 3 s , cited below on 30 s . 

For it (Israel) is stronger than I am] cp. Ex. i 9 . Balak 
speaks as representing his people ; & read, or paraphrased, 
than we are (UOD for *3D&). On the singular pronoun refer- 
ring to Israel, see 20 14 n.; and on the change of persons in f^, 

XXII. 7-9 3 2 9 

see below. — 7. The elders of Midian (see on v. 4 ) and of Moab 
deliver Balak's message (v. 6b , also v. 11 ) to Balaam. — It was 
customary to pay seers or priests or others having- special 
relations to the deity for their services, and the fee, whether 
in money or kind, was offered beforehand ; e.g. Saul's servant 
proposes to pay Samuel \ shekel for telling Saul and himself 
what will happen to them (i S. 9 8 ) ; and people, when sick, sent 
presents to the seer of whom they inquired whether they should 
recover (i K. 14 3 , 2 K. 8 8f ). See also 1 K. 13 7 , 2 K. 5 5 '-, Am. 
7 12 , Mic. 3 5 . So Balak's messengers bring (though only as an 
earnest of what he might receive, v. 17f ) fees for Balaam ; 
these fees are here called D^DDP, literally, enchantments, that 
is, the fee for enchantments ; so rnB>3 glad tidings, in 2 S. 4 10 , 
means the fee given to one for bringing such tidings', see also 
phil. n. on 3 46 . The Hebrew writer cannot intend it to be an 
evil trait in Balaam that he is offered, or even that he received 
fees : for though prophets like Micah and Amos denounce or 
indirectly condemn the priests or prophets who prophesy for a 
reward (Mic. 3 6, n , Am. 7 12-15 , Ezek. 13 19 ), in earlier times 
men held in high esteem, like Samuel and Ahijah, received fees, 
as the references cited above suffice to show. It is, however, 
possible that the particular term employed may contain some 
reflection on Balaam's methods ; for DDp, DDp (see 23 23 n.) 
are always used in the OT. in connection with illegitimate 
means of obtaining knowledge. But for the avarice attributed 
to Balaam by many commentators, there is no support in the 
text either here or in v. 15 ; ct., rather, v. 18 24 13 . It is true that 
the rewards offered to Balaam were far greater than those 
offered to Samuel ; but so were the services required of him ; 
they were of national importance to Moab ; Samuel was offered 
\ shekel to tell an individual about some lost asses. — 8-14. 
Balaam promises the messengers an answer in the morning ; 
in the night (cp. v. 13a ) God forbids Balaam to go (v. 12 ). The 
messengers report their ill-success to Balak. — As Yahweh shall 
tell me] On Balaam's use of the name Yahweh, see above, p. 
311 f. — 9. That the divine manifestation took place by night 
is clear from a comparison of v. 8a and v. 18a ; it is stated directly 
in the case of the second visitation (v. 20 ). The trait is charac- 


teristic of E ; see 12 8 n. For a question of the kind here attri- 
buted to God, cp. e.g. Gn. 3° 16 8 . — 11. Balaam repeats to God 
in a slightly abbreviated form and with some verbal variations 
(see phil. n.) the message of Balak as given in v. 5b - 6a (J). 

6. irix] the form which is repeated in 23* is abnormal for rnk. So in 
v. 11 - 17 is nafl for n^p: G.-K. 670. — wuni . . . ns: ^din] the nx of MT. is 
an impf. subordinated to a preceding- vb. ; the cstr., common in Syr. and 
Arabic, is rarer in Heb. ; yet see (after hy as here) Lam. 4 14 and, for 
further instances, Driver, Tenses, 163 Obs. The text, however is sus- 
picious. The change of persons (1st sing-., then 1st pi., then again 1st 
sing.) must be explained on the principle discussed in 20 14 ; cp. also Konig, 
iii. 206. But apart from mj, the 1st sing, is preserved throughout in this 
v. and in v. 11 ; moreover, in v. 11 biix is quite clearly followed by an inf. 
with 7. Probably hdj has arisen by corruption from an infinitival form, 
the 7 of the inf. having been first accidentally dropped after h(JMt). But it 
is unnecessary to invent an unknown inf. Piel n?j (Kon. iii. 399^/). (E 3$ 
render ^jin by a 1st pi. — a paraphrase, rather than a real variant. 2C° 
assimilates v. 6 to v. 11 . — 13 rm] For 3 after ran, see 1 S. 14 31 18 7 23 2 . Pater- 
son in SBOT., following Gratz, reads inisn, restoring the more usual cstr. 
with the ace. and also getting rid of roj (see last n.). — 8. "iti ornN vcrown] 
i3 2Sf# n. — 11. The versions assimilate the reported message to the original 
(v. 51 -): thus, for — 

ksm Dyn of MT. S§S read NX' oy. 

D3'i ,, (&b ^ read as in v. 5 (see note there), 
after yian „ <K inserts '"rao 3tr ki.ii. 

."inj? „ S 6r reads nnjn. 
after vnenn ,, © inserts y\nn p. 
Further, (5r S> 5J 3T fail to represent differently the different words for to 
curse (mp and .tin). The word 33p (not 3pJ, for see 23 s7 ) occurs only in Nu. 
22-24 ( m both sources J and E) and Job 3 s 5 3 , Prov. n 26 24 s4 . — 13. ods-in] 
<Sc D3J1K. — l^n 1 ?] This peculiar inf. cstr. (G.-K. occurs twice besides 
in E, v. 16 (cp. also v. 14 ), Ex. 3 19 ; otherwise only in Eccl. 6 8f \ The use of 
such peculiar infinitives (for another see 20 21 n. ) is somewhat characteristic 
of E; G.-K. 6gm ; CH. 119" 1 . — 13. Tin 1 ?] For \nz = to suffer, allow, as 
characteristic of E, see p. 264. — 14. Y?n] This might be, so far as the 
consonants go, inf. abs. used as the direct obj. (G.-K. 113a?) ; but MT. is 
justified in printing as cstr. (on the form see preceding note), since [no 
clearly takes the cstr. without 7 in Jer. s 3 *. 

15-21. The fortunes of the second embassy (E, except v. 17 '-). 
— Balak sends more numerous and more eminent princes to 
Balaam. They also spend the night with Balaam, who, having 
obtained permission from God, departs with them in the 

Assuming the avariciousness and insincerity of Balaam, 
commentators have contrived to read into these verses much 

xxii. n-2o 33 x 

that is not there ; thus the reason that the second embassy is 
more eminent in personnel (v. 16 ) and carry richer presents (v. 17 ) 
is that Balak saw in Balaam's refusal an indication that he 
had not been offered a sufficiently high reward. This is prob- 
ably enough the writer's view of Balak 's attitude ; it proves 
nothing with regard to Balaam's. Then it is quite gratuitously 
assumed that v. 18b is hypocritically spoken ; and it is argued 
that Balaam was wrong to inquire of God the second time 
(v. 19 ), instead of dismissing the princes at once. As a matter 
of fact the text says nothing of Balaam making a second 
request. Balaam bids the messengers wait in case God of 
His own accord should visit Balaam by night and give him 
directions. In v. 20 as in v. 9 God, not Balaam, opens the 

16. Hold not thyself back from coming] the verb here used 
is the reflexive (Niphal) of that used (with Yahweh as subject) 
in 24 11 . Possibly the words are chosen to indicate that Balak 
regarded Balaam's previous refusal as an excuse. — 17a. Cp. 
v. 37 24 11 . — 17b. The request is as before (v. 6 ) ; the verb for 
to curse (nip) as in v. 11 . — 18. Cp. 24 13 . Balaam warns the 
messengers, here called the servants of Balak (cf. 2 S. io 2 ~ 4 , 
Gn. 40 20 41 s7 - s 8 ), that he can do nothing either great or small, 
i.e. nothing at all (cp. 1 S. 20 2 22 15 25 s6 ; Kon. iii. 92), without 
the permission of his God, Yahweh, however great the in- 
ducement Balak may offer, even though it were his houseful of 
silver and gold ; but (19) he suggests that they should stay the 
night, that he may have an opportunity of a nightly visitation 
of Yahweh, and of learning thereby any change in the wishes 
of Yahweh. — 20. This course is justified by the event; Yahweh 
now commands him to go, but to speak only according to His 
direction. On the former occasion (v. 10 ), Balaam tacitly asked 
two things — permission to go to Balak and permission to curse 
Israel ; both were refused (v. 12 ). Now the first is granted ; 
the second is neither definitely granted nor definitely refused ; 
but Balaam appears rightly to have gathered that what 
Yahweh would put in his mouth would not be the curse that 
Balak desired ; and immediately on meeting Balak he warns 
him to this effect (v. 38 ; cp. 23 12 - 28 ). Balak, blinded like 


Pharaoh, calls down on himself more and more of the anger and 
punishment of Yahweh (see above, p. 316). — 20b. That shalt 
thou do] cp. 23 26 ; otherwise in the similar locutions the verb 
sj>eak is used — 22 s5 - 38 23 12 24 13 . — 21a a. Cp. v. 13a . — He saddled 
his ass] the ass (priX) is a she-ass ; other references to she-asses 
used for riding are Jud. 5 10 , 2 K. 4 22 ; otherwise the he-ass 
(lion) is more frequently referred to in this connection (Ex. 4 20 , 
Jos. 15 18 , 1 S. 25 20 , 2 S. 16 2 17 23 19 27 , 1 K. 2 40 13 13 , Zech. 9 9 ). 
The ass was used by persons of all ranks, as the references 
already cited show, and was in early Israel the animal regu- 
larly employed for riding, except for long journeys such as that 
to the Euphrates country, when camels were used (v. 5 n.). 
Even after the introduction of other riding animals (the mule 
and, later, the horse), the ass remained in great demand 
(Nowack, Arch. i. 75 f. 224). 

18. H3J>] ffi "W. — ami tpi W3 n^d] Driver, Tenses, § 194. — 19. ma nj 13c] 
a variation on fiS lr 1 ? of v. 8 : but cp. taen v. 8b ; ma 2 ^ U29 and ma u 1 ? ia» 
Ex. 24 14 (E). .in is characteristic of JE (9 times) as against P who never 
uses it, but it is not distinctive of either J or E individually (CH. 168). — 
f]P>] Kon. iii. 191c. 

22-35 (a a). Balaam and his ass (J). 

22. And the anger of Yahweh (so S : f^ God; see p. 311) 
was kindled because he was going] This is clearly not the 
original sequel to v. 20f - in which God expressly directs Balaam 
to go. It is only the incidents recorded in the following verses 
that show Balaam that his journey displeases Yahweh ; when 
he discovers it, he offers to go back (v. 34 ). It was the belief 
of the early Hebrews that Yahweh frequently first manifested 
His anger towards any one who, however unwittingly, had 
offended Him, by subjecting them to inconvenience or disaster, 
e.g. Uzzah's well-meaning act draws down on him the fatal 
anger of Yahweh (2 S. 6 6 ) ; cp. also 1 S. 6 19 , 2 S. 2i lff \ 
Balaam, in J's narrative, we must suppose, after warning 
Balak's messengers that he cannot curse or bless except as 
Yahweh permits (v. 18 ), sets out without consulting Yahweh on 
the mere question of going or not. 

The harmonistic explanation really explains away the statement and 
replaces it by another ; Yahweh was not angry with Balaam for going, 

xxii. 20-23 333 

but for the avarice which induced him to go. See, e.g., Hengst. (pp. 
43-45), and somewhat similarly Keil ; Rashi's explanation, like the text 
itself, really ignores v. 20 '-, l l r l ? mitiui oipori vya in -\21nzf mn. 

The angel of Yahweh] i.e. a temporary appearance of 
Yahvveh in human form ; note in his hand, v. 23 ; see 20 16 n. — 
Placed himself in the way as one who would oppose him] or 
would place a hindrance in his way. The word (JOE*) here used 
purely attributively becomes later the name (Satan) of the arch- 
opponent of God and men : see already 1 Ch. 21 1 (ct. 2 S. 24 1 ). 
The sense of the word, which is confined to this passage and 
v. 32 in the Hexateuch, is sufficiently illustrated by 1 S. 29*, 
2 S. 19 23 (EV. v. 22 ), 1 K. s 18(i) ii 14 - 23 - 25 . — The angel of 
Yahweh thus meets Balaam as the latter was riding upon his 
ass (v. 21 n.), his two servants being with him; the princes of 
v. 21b have disappeared, and Balaam is here accompanied by 
two servants, the same number that Abraham took with him 
for a three days' journey in Canaan (Gn. 22 s ) ; sometimes for 
a short journey a single servant only was taken (Jud. 19 3 , 
1 S. 9 3 ). This mode of travelling suggests that Balaam's 
home was much nearer to Moab than the Euphrates ; as a 
matter of fact in J's narrative Balaam appears to have come 
from 'Ammon (v. 5 n.), which would be but two or three days' 
journey away ; Rabbath-' Ammon is about 40 miles from the 
Arnon. — 23. Balaam and his party are proceeding along a 
road or track ("P" 1 ) through cultivated but open country 
(mtJ>; cp. 20 17 and, e.g., Ex. 23 16 , Mic. 3 12 ), when, unperceived 
by Balaam (and apparently by his servants) but seen by the 
ass, the angel of Yahweh, with his sword drawn in his hand 
(cp. v. 31 , Jos. 5 13 , 1 Ch. 21 16 ), blocks the way; the ass turns 
off the track on to the cultivated land, and is beaten by 
Balaam to bring her back into the way. In cases of this 
kind it is not unusual to represent one or more of the party 
as perceiving what the others do not perceive, either at 
first or at all; cp. 2 K. 6 16t> , Ac. 9 s - 7 (ct. 22 s ). Apologetic 
interpreters, such as Hengstenberg and Keil, sought to 
establish the credibility of this particular instance by an 
appeal to the fact that irrational animals have "a much 
keener presentiment of many natural phoenomena, such as 


earthquakes, storms," etc., than men, and possess a power 
of clairvoyance. — The scenery of this and the following verses 
is not that of the Syrian desert (v. 5 n.); if the Euphrates 
were really Balaam's starting-point in this story, we should 
be compelled to conclude that the present incident occurred on 
the last day or two of the long journey.* — 24 f. The angel of 
Yahweh retreats some distance before the advance of Balaam 
(cp. v. 28a ) till the track across the open cultivated country 
becomes a way between vineyards which are enclosed by 
walls of stone (Pr. 24 31 ), or rather perhaps of thorns (Is. 
5 5 ) ; here he again blocks the way, and is again seen by the 
ass alone ; the ass having now no open country to turn into, 
tries to pass the angel, and in so doing she crushed herself 
against the wall, and she crushed Balaam's foot against the 
•wall. — 26 f. The angel again retreats, and now takes up his 
stand in a place so narrow that he completely blocks the 
way ; the ass seeing him crouches down, and is angrily 
beaten by Balaam. — 28. Then a marvel happens; Yahweh 
enables the ass to speak and upbraid Balaam. A piece of 
folklore is here utilised for the purposes of the story. Many 
similar marvels are related by ancient authors,! who record 
instances of speaking horses, cows, rams, lambs, and dogs. 
For example, in the Egyptian Tale of the two Brothers, \ the 
cow says to its keeper, " Verily, thy elder brother is standing 
before thee with his dagger to slay thee " ; Livy more than 
once relates that in a certain year an ox was said to have 
spoken with human voice. The speaking serpent in Gn. 3 
is the only OT. parallel, and that speaks of itself without 
any direct assistance of Yahweh. The marvel has occasioned 
considerable trouble to some commentators, who have re- 
garded the narrative as historical, but have been unwilling 
to admit that the ass actually spoke. They have consequently 
endeavoured to explain the difficulty away on the ground that 
the whole incident is the record of a vision that Balaam 

* Hengst. 

t See the collection of Bochart in Hierozoicon, Pt. I. lib. ii. c. xiv. (ed. 
Rosenmiiller, 1793, p. 168 ff.); see also Kalisch, 129, 132-134. 
% Records of the Past (1st series), ii. 142. 

xxii. 24-32 335 

saw.* Unfortunately for this view the text says absolutely 
nothing of a vision. But the majority of writers and commen- 
tators who regard the narrative as historical have correctly 
interpreted it as referring to a miraculous occurrence ; t and 
some have been at pains to defend and account for the marvel, 
discussing such questions, for example, as whether the vocal 
organs of the ass were changed in order to adapt them to 
human speech. — And Yahweh opened the mouth of] The 
same phrase is used of Yahweh's enabling a prophet to 
deliver his message, Ezek. 3 27 33 s2 (cp. Ps. 51 17 ). — 29. Balaam, 
unsurprised at the speech of the ass as was Eve at that of 
the serpent, replies to her question why he had thrice beaten 
her, becatise thou hast made sport of me ; the verb (ppynn) 
means to treat some one (maliciously)yb? one's own pleasure. (5c 
einrai^eiv; cp. Ex. io 2 , Jud. 19 25 , 1 S. 6 a 31 4 ( = 1 Ch. io 4 ), 
Jer. 38 19 . Had he only a sword with him, Balaam would 
slay the ass outright. — 30. The ass hints that there was 
"reason in her madness"; all his life Balaam had used her 
for riding, and never before had he found room for com- 
plaint. — 31. And Yahweh uncovered Balaam's eyes] so that 
he saw what the ass had previously seen (cp. v. 23 ) and fell 
down before the angel. — To uncover the eyes (DWJJ n^J) occurs 
also in Ps. 119 18 : cp. below, 24*- 16 . Similar is the phrase 
to open the eyes (nps) ; 2 K. 6 17 - 20 . — 32 f. The angel addresses 
Balaam ; the angel, not the ass, is the real hinderer of 
Balaam's journey. The ass, so far from injuring, had pre- 
served the life of her master. It is I (the pronoun is em- 
phatic) who have come forth (Dan. g 22 ) as a hinderer (v. 22 ). — 
The meaning of the last clause of v. 32 is obvious enough 
from the context : cp. especially v. 22a - 34b . The angel, here 
identified with Yahweh (cp. before me, and see EBi. 
11 Theophany "), explains that the reason of his opposition 
is that he disapproves of Balaam's journey. But the precise 

* E.g. Maimonides, Moreh Nebukim, ii. 42 ; Hengst. pp. 48-65 ; 
Strack ; see also the literature cited by Di. 

t 2 P. 2 18 ; Jos. Ant. iv. 6 3 ; PirkS Abdth v. 9 (6) ; Aug. Qucest. in 
Num. 1. ; Rashi (n. on ff'm nn«i in v. 33 ), Calvin, Kurtz {History of the 
Old Covenant (Eng. tr.), iii. 406-423), Wobersin, p. it. 


meaning of the verb (LJ*V) in f^ is uncertain, and the text of 
the clause suspicious ; see phil. n. — 33. Unless she had turned 
aside] EV. here adopts an emendation without acknowledg- 
ment : $f reads (senselessly) perhaps she turned aside. Read 
'71?= unless for ^lX = perhaps, — 34. Balaam admits that he 
has made a mistake (TiNDn, cp. Ex. g 21 ) in pursuing his 
way against hindrances, the meaning of which he had at first 
failed to recognise, and offers to go home. — 35. The original 
reply of the angel in J has been suppressed in favour of a 
repetition by the editor from E (cp. v. 20 ), Go with the men 
(so only v. 9 - 20 E) : but thou must speak only what I (the angel) 
speak unto thee. — 35b. = v. 21b (cp. for Balak, v. 13 ). It is 
possible only to speculate as to the conclusion of the incident 
in J : perhaps the angel bade Balaam return home.* Most 
naturally interpreted v. 37 seems to imply that Balaam was at 
home, and Balak had come to him. Then instead of the two 
embassies in E, the story in J told of one embassy, consisting 
of Balak's servants or courtiers, and of one personal visit of 
Balak. Both narratives would, however, agree in making 
Balak's insistence the occasion of his complete discomfiture. 

22. iVin] the participle is followed by the subj. after '3 (Driver, 135 (4); 
S "pn (cp. (3r S) is probably intended to be pf. — pvh] for the ^ cp. 
Ex. 2 1 2 , 1 S. 3 20 22 18 ; Kon. 332W. — 24. Viyeo] Slit. Xey. Apparently 
from the same root as fyv ( = 1. hollow 0/ the hand, Is. 40 12 ; 2. handful, 
1 K. 20 10 : cp. |1 vn j) Hence, perhaps ^ijwd means the confined place 
between walls. (& (tv) rats av\a£iv (t<2v AfiiriXwv), S W^D. — 26. niBjV 
h-MDm |'D'] cp. 20".— 28. m] Cp. 14 22 : BDB. p. 261 b.— D'Vn thv] Cp. v. 82f -, 
Ex. 23 14 . Otherwise a'Oj/e ; cp. Ex. 23 17 , Nu. 14 22 24 10 (S d^ji).— 29. 
nny '3 . . . 1 1 ?] Cp. BDB. s.v. 1 1 ?, 2 end. Cp. nny '3 after 'S 1 ? in v. 83 
(reading 'M for '^in), Gn. 31 42 43 10 (JE). Either the '3 is simply asseve- 
rative (as in ik '3 2 S. 2 s7 19 7 ), or (less probably) the sentences are, 
strictly speaking-, aposiopeses : Konig, iii. 415m ; Driver, 141. — is"] occurs 
20 times in J, only 3 (and rather doubtfully) in E : so CH. 84. — 30. "|*nyD 
fiM DVM iy] Cp. Gn. 48 15 ; and with myo = ever since I was, all my life long, 
cp. mm (Ps. i04 a3 = I46 2 ) = S0 long as I shall continue to be. Literally the 
statement is, of course, in the present passage an exaggeration, ffi 5k (as 
also in Gn. 48 15 ) from my youth, i.e. ttjnd (cp. 1 S. 12 2 , Jer. 3 s5 ) — a prosaic 
paraphrase rather than a variant. — 'n:3cn] 2T° / have been accustomed, and 
so many modern versions and scholars, e.g. RV., Reuss, Socin (in 
Kautzsch, Heilige Schrift), Oort, S'r. But the sense of [3D (used but ..wice 
besides in Hiphil, Ps. 139 3 , Job 22 21 , and there with different senses), 

* Wellhausen. 

XXII. 33-36 337 

though possibly correct and certainly suitable here, is not well established. 
Di. thinks (£ may have read vtaon (cp. Gn. 31 28 ), Have I dealt foolishly 
in acting thus? — 31. inntri ip'i] in the Hexateuch the use of these two 
verbs together is confined to J, who uses it 7 times: CH. 126. — 32. 
job- 1 ?] S(55]J -pasr 1 ?. — Tnn by]. The ^/by occurs at most once besides 
— in Job 16 11 ; there, if the text be correct, the Kal is trans, {".y^i:, Baer, 
but doubtless — should have metheg). by is explained by most modern 

scholars, who admit the reading, by reference to )c\%—to throw, cast head- 
long; hence, the way is (or, reading Pual, has been made) precipitate 
before me; or, reading Fiyv, thou hast made the way precipitate, i.e. hast 
rushed headlong against me (Di., Haupt in SBOT.). Tnn looks wrong: 
we should expect ipm (so S <& U) ; toy may be the corrupt remainder 
of some word or words expressing the wrongness of the way. The 
versions paraphrase or guess. Rashi, who refers to the view that by was 
a notarikon for (nna): (nnx)T (.ijo)', himself connects it with Ban fear, Jer. 
49 s4 , which is, of course, impossible.— 33. ris 1 ?] S (cp. <£ S> U) 'iflta— 85. 
osn] = ")n (v. 20 ). dsn used thus only occurs again in 23 13 (which is probably 
like the present passage redactorial). — "mri] S <& iarh -idbti : cp. 23 12 1^. 

36-40. Balak's reception of Balaam.— 36 (E). The original 
continuation of v. 21 . — Hearing - of Balaam's approach, Balak 
goes to meet him at the frontier town oVlr {city of) Moab 
(2 1 15 n.; p. 286), •which is on the boundary of {i.e. formed by) the 
Arnon, which is at the extremity of the boundary (cp. 20 16 E) : 
both relative clauses define 'Ir Moab: the first explains that it 
lay on the northern boundary of Moab (for cp. 21 14 ), the second 
that it lay at the end of that boundary, i.e. the eastern end, 
since Balaam is coming from the east (cp. 2$). Meyer 
{ZATW. i. 120 f.) insists that the words must mean which is 
in the territory about the Arnon on the border of the (Moabite) 
territory. This journey of Balak's to meet Balaam may be the 
modified form of an earlier story of his going to fetch him 
from his home, the modification being perhaps a necessary 
result of locating Balaam's home so far away as the Euphrates. 
The place at which Balak meets Balaam fits in with a form of 
the story that brings Balaam from the N.E. : in itself it is 
not decisive between the competing claims of 'Ammon and 
the Euphrates region to be the home of Balaam, but it is 
inconsistent with the suggestion that Balaam came from the 
river of Egypt (see p. 325). It is further to be observed that 
this description of the northern border of Moab agrees with 
the view of c. 21 that the country N. of Arnon was not at 


the time held by Moab. — 37 (J). Balak inquires why Balaam 
did not come to him ? Did he doubt his power to reward 
him ? Taken by itself the verse seems to imply that Balak 
has himself come to Balaam in consequence of his mes- 
sengers having- failed in their mission. If so, the lost 
portions of J's narrative must have recorded how Balaam 
sent Balak's messengers back with the evasive answer of 
v. 18 (cp. 24 12 ) ; how he started himself, but went home after 
meeting the angel of Yahweh (v. 34 ) ; and how he received 
permission from Yahweh, when Balak himself came, to return 
with him. — Did I not send unto thee to call thee?] Cp. And 
he sent messengers unto Balaam . . . to call kim, 22 s (J). — 
Why didst thou not come to me P] Those who assume that 
these words were spoken after Balaam had come to Balak, 
explain, Why didst thou not come when I first sent to thee? 
This finds but very insecure support in the now of v. 38 . — 
Am I really unable to honour thee?] cp. v. 17 24 11 (J). — 38. 
Balaam warns Balak that though he has come, he can only 
speak as Yahweh directs him. Is this the original answer 
to v. 37 ? If so, render, Lo, I am come unto thee now,* 
though I refused at first. But the position of the word nny 
favours rather the rendering, Lo, I am come unto thee ; have 
I now any power P\ etc. For nny thus before questions, cp. 
Is. 36 5 - 10 (as here before n)._ 38b. Cp. 1 K. 22 14 . Balaam 
is as little ready to gratify Balak, as was Michaiah to gratify 
Ahab, by speaking except as Yahweh directed. — The word 
which God puts in my mouth] ('33 . . . D^*) cp. 23 s - 12 - 16 (E), 
Ex. 4 15 (JE). — 39. Balaam accompanies Balak to Kiriath- 
husoth. This v. may well belong to the same source (J) as 
v. 37 , and refer to Balaam's journey from the land of 'Ammon 
with Balak to Moab. It is unnecessary and, perhaps, out of 
place between v. 38 and 40 (see on v. 40 ). In the present com- 
posite narrative it refers to the journey from f Ir Moab (v. 36 ). 
Kiriath-husoth ( = City of Streets) is mentioned only here and, 
since it is by no means necessarily identical \ with Kiriathaim 

* E.g. Hengst., Kue. 

t AV., RV. (cp. F), Keil, Str. 

% As suggested by Dietrich (cited by Di.) and Tristram, Moab, p. 305 

XXII. 37-40 339 

(? mod. Kureiyat N.W. of Dibon ; cp. 32 s7 n.), the site is un- 
known, but it probably lay north of Arnon : see below, p. 340. — 
40 (E). In honour of Balaam's arrival Balak sacrifices cattle, 
large and small ('N¥1 "ip3, cp. 2 S. 12 4 ), and gives portions of 
the sacrificial flesh to Balaam and the princes who had brought 
him (v. 2lb ). Such seems to be the meaning of the v., though the 
interpretation is not free from difficulty, the phrase and Balak 
sent to Balaam being obscure: it cannot mean that Balak sent 
to fetch Balaam from a distance, since they have already met 
and are together (v. 381 -) ; it seems best, therefore, on the 
analogy of Neh. 8 12 to take the verb transitively, the unex- 
pressed object being supplied in thought from the preced- 
ing clause.* In illustration of the custom of giving 
special portions to visitors, cp. 1 S. g 23t . Von Gall (p. 10) 
thinks that the last clause of the verse is a gloss replacing 
perhaps the original object of the vb., which mentioned 
the entrails of the sacrificial animals from which Balaam 
was to discover God's willingness to curse Israel. If the 
sacrificial feast be in honour of Balaam's arrival, v. 39 is in 
all probability intrusive, since the feast would naturally be 
made at the place where Balaam and Balak met, viz. at 
'Ir Moab (v. 36 ). Others t explain the sacrifice as the com- 
mencement of the supplicatory offerings of the following 
day : this is less satisfactory, for would not Balak have left 
this till he reached the scene of operations at Bamoth Ba'al 
(v. 40 )? 

37. "rings' nW xSn] The inf. abs. is here as often {e.g. v. 80 - 88 , Gn, 24 s 
37 a - 10 ) used to emphasise the question : Kon. 3297-/3. There is therefore 
no necessary reference in the question to the sending of two embassies, 
and We.'s criticism (Comp. 2 348) of Kuenen is on this point unquestionably 
sound.— MBKrt] cp. Gn. i8 ls . — 38. 731k] S (E AL in 1 ? tdv* ; cp. v. 86 n.— 
39. isn't] S 5 into'l. 

XXII. 41-XXIII. 6 (E). Balak makes arrangements for 
Balaam to curse Israel in due form. — 22 2 " 40 contains the account 
of Balak's attempt, at first unsuccessful, to get Balaam to 
come ; 22 41 -24 26 the account of Balak's increasing ill-success 
in bringing Balaam's visit to the desired issue. It is im- 

* Hengst, Oort, Di. t Hengst., Di., Str. 


portant to determine as clearly as possible the duration and 
scene of the actual visit. 

According- to 22 41 , on the morning- after Balaam's arrival, 
Balak takes him to Bamoth Ba r al. There is no other note of 
time, and apparently the whole of the following events — the 
sacrifices at the several places, the several utterances of 
Balaam, and Balaam's departure — are thought of as occurring 
in a single day. 

The scene of these events is in view of part or the whole 
of the Hebrew hosts (22 41 23 13 24 2 , cp. 23 s ), and the places 
specifically mentioned as visited by Balaam are Bamoth Ba'al 
(22 41 ), "the field of Sophim " on "the top of Pisgah " (23 14 ), 
"the top of Peor that looketh down upon the Jeshimon " 
(23 28 ). Unfortunately for none of these places has any precise 
and certain identification been made. Nevertheless it seems 
probable that all the traditions alike placed the scene North of 
the Anion. 

This is certainly the implication of the present composite story : for 
the Israelites are encamped N. of the Dead Sea and E. of the Jordan 
(22 1 25 1 ), and sites overlooking- them there must be at least N., and, in- 
deed, considerably N. of the Arnon. The same holds good of the com- 
bined source JE, to which 25 1 (mostly assigned to E) belongs, if we may 
take that as determining Israel's position during the events here recorded; 
not necessarily, however, if Israel's position is to be defined more widely, 
according to 2I 25,31 , as being in the " Amorite country," for that included 
all land N. of the Arnon (21 13 ). A similarly indefinite description of 
Israel's position occurs in the narrative itself — 24 1 (J). If this excludes 
the position at the N. E. end of the Dead Sea, the present episode in J 
must have stood before the fragment in 2i 1B "- u . 

Of the places mentioned, we know that "the Pisgah" lay at least in 
part very considerably N. of Arnon (see on 21 20 ) ; there is no evidence that 
it extended S. of Arnon ; moreover, no site overlooked from one of the 
headlands of the Moabite plateau S. of Arnon would be suitable for the 
Israelitish encampment. Pe'or (23 28 ), if not a mere editorial substitute 
for the Pisgah, must, in view of the identical definition of the site, have 
lain in the same neighbourhood. Bamoth Ba'al must at least have lain 
N. of Arnon (cp. Jos. 13 17 ). E, then, certainly places the entire events 
N. of the Arnon (22 41 23 14 ; cp. 25 1 ) ; J also, if we assign to him 23 128 , or 
identify Kiryath-husoth (22 s9 ) with Kiriathaim ; or assume that the com- 
piler has not violated the order of events as given in J in placing 21 16 " 20 
before this story. 

Thus for the following events, according to the composite 

XXTI. 41 341 

narrative, the source E and possibly also the source J, we 
reach the conclusion — 

Duration: one day. Scene: various sites N. of Arnon, 
Now the mere events would have crowded a single day un- 
duly ; but when it is considered that the solemn sacrifices 
were offered on three different sites (not immediately con- 
tiguous, and, according to some identifications, separated 
from one another by more than a day's journey), it will be seen 
that we are here moving (as, e.g., in Job 1 13 - 22 ) in the realm of 
poetry, not of fact. " We should very surely do the author 
wrong if we should take him literally, and begin to reckon 
out how all this can possibly have taken place within the 
limits of time. He is a poet, and will be understood as a 
poet."* Once this is appreciated we may also dismiss the 
question how the king of Moab and his princes ventured 
unprotected into the territory N. of the Arnon, though it had 
been just captured by the Israelites from the Amorites. 

The unreality or, in other words, the poetical character of 
the narrative extends apparently to the source E. It is less 
obvious that the reasons stated apply to the source J. 

41. In the morning of the day following the sacrificial 
feast of v. 40 Balak, accompanied by the princes of Moab (23 s ), 
takes Balaam from 'Ir Moab (v. 36 E, rather than, as the com- 
posite narrative implies, from Kiriath-husoth, v. 39 J) to Bamoth 
Ba'al, which lay near Dibon, not far north of the Arnon, or, 
according to others, much further north, near the modern el- 
Maslftbiyeh (see 21 19 n.). The site was chosen mainly in 
order that Balaam might deliver his curse in sight of the 
objects of it (23 13 2^), but also because it was, as its name, 
the high places of Ba'al, indicates, an ancient shrine. "The 
places at which Balaam took his stand and looked for omens 
were all probably sanctuaries. The range is covered with the 
names of deity — Ba'al, Nebo, Pe'or. Nor could there be more 
suitable platforms for altars, nor more open posts for observ- 
ing the stars, or the passage of the clouds, or the flight of 
birds across the great hollow of the 'Arabah. The field of 
Gazers was rightly named. To-day the hills have many 
* Kuenen, Th. Ti. 530 ; cp. Oort, 68 f. 


ancient altars and circles of stones upon them."* The ex- 
tremity of the people (QJ?n nap), i.e. the nearest part of the 
Israelites, or the part unobscured by the intervening- hills : not 
the whole, including the most distant part (cp. Vnx ITCpD and 
the use of nspD Gn. 19 4 ) ; for cp. 23 1 " 


XXIII. If. At Balaam's direction Balak builds seven 
altars, doubtless of material on the spot, such as earth or 
undressed stones (cp. Ex. 20 24f ), and offers on each a bullock 
and a ram. The same solemn rites are gone through at the 
Field of Sophim (v. 14 ) and on the top of Pe'or (v. 29 ). Their 
object is favourably to dispose God, that He may grant Balak's 
desire, and suffer Israel to be cursed. For other instances of 
the use of seven sacrificial victims, or the repetition of a 
ritual act seven times, see, e.g., Gn. 2i 28ff -, Lev. 4°, Job 42 s ; 
see also the introduction to c. 28. 

Discussions of the sacred significance of the number " seven " among 
various peoples may be found in Hengstenberg, Gesch. Bileams, 70-73 ; 
Hastings' DB. iii. 565 (Konig) ; EBi. 3436 (Barton). The seven walls of 
the underworld of Babylonian mythology, the seven evil spirits (Jastrow, 
Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, 570, 264 f. ), the constantly recurring 
seven-fold obeisance ("At the foot of my lord the king seven times and 
seven times I fall") of the Palestinian correspondence of c. 1400 B.C. 
(Tel el-Amarna), may serve as illustrations. A single close parallel from 
a Latin writer may be added : " Nunc grege de intacto septem mactare 
iuvencos Praestiterit, totidem lectas de more bidentis " (Vergil, j£n. vi. 
38 f.). 

And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bullock 
and a ram on each altar] So ffi correctly reads. In P? the 
words Balak and Balaam are inserted as the subject of offered, 
but the addition is obviously a gloss. The subject of the two 
verbs (pJTl . . . E'yi) is the same : it is Balak alone who offers 
the sacrifices. Note " thy (his) burnt-offering," v. 3 - 6 - 15 - 17 . The 
gloss appears to be due to v. 4b , a misplaced and consequently 
misunderstood clause. — 3. Balaam goes some way off alone, 
in the hope that Yahtoeh (S God) may cross his path ; the 
verb !Tlp3 is also used of the meeting of God and man in 
v. 4 - 15f -, Ex. 3 18 and (X"ip3) 5 3 (all JE). It is generally supposed 
* G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. 566. 

xxiii. i-5 343 

that Balaam goes away to make observations of natural 
phenomena, with a view to discovering in them, as a magician, 
the will of God.* But this view is not established by a refer- 
ence to 24 1 , and gains no support from it if that passage be 
from a different source. The view is rather to be rejected 
on the ground of the parallels in Ex. 3 18 5 3 (cp. also Am. 4 12 ),f 
and also because Balaam had reason to believe that God 
would speak to him as directly as He had previously done 
(22 20 ). Moreover, in the following narrative no allusion is 
made to discernment by magical means, but to direct revela- 
tion of God (v. 6 - 16 ). — On this, as on other grounds, the 
emendation must be rejected which has been suggested for 
the corrupt word (*SB>) at the end of the v., making the last 
clause run, And he went to seek enchantments (D*Be>D7). J And 
he went to a bare height (RV.) can be just defended. But it 
is suspicious. Why a bare height ? Scarcely because it was 
sacred, for Bamoth Ba'al itself was sacred ; nor (on grounds 
stated above) in order that, like the Roman augurs, who chose 
open and lofty places for their observations, Balaam might 
perform magic rites. See phil. note. — 4 f. God meets Balaam 
and gives him "a word," and bids him return and deliver it 
to Balak. V. 5a should immediately follow 4a ; cp. v. 16 . The in- 
tervening clause (v. 4b ) is a misplaced speech of Balak's (which 
originally stood between v. 2 and 3 ), informing Balaam that he 
had done according to his request. It was Balak, not Balaam, 
who prepared and offered the sacrifices (v. 1 and note on 2b ). 
5a. This, no doubt, originally ran: and he (viz. God, v. 4a ) put 
a word in his (Balaam's) mouth (cp. 22 36 n.), as in v. 16 ; an 
editor inserted Yahweh and of Balaam for clearness' sake 
after the accidental misplacement of v. 4b (see last note). 
Originally, then, v. 2-5 ran : 2 And Balak did as Balaam had 
said unto him, and offered a bullock and a ram on each altar. 
3 And he said to him, I have arranged the seven altars, and 
offered a bullock and a ram on each altar. And Balaam said to 
Balak, Stand here by thy burnt-offerings and let me go ; per- 
haps God will fall in with me, and whatsoever he shows me 

* E.g. Hengst, Di., Kue., KeiL t Oort 

% Kuenen, Robertson Smith. 


I -will tell thee. And he went away. . . . 4 And God fell in with 
Balaam, 5 and put a word in his mouth. — 6. Balaam returns 
to Balak and the princes of Moab. 

41. Sjn nion] fflrTTjj/ (r-HiXijv roOBadX ; 5E° .rnSrn na~\ = high place of his god. 
— XXIII. 1. mi] see 22 19 n. — mi] S nvy. — 3. -fr wiM »JRT to nail] Either, */ 
/fe s/jow we aught, I -will tell thee— a. hypothetical sentence similar to the 
type discussed in Driver, § 149 (BDB. p. 5536) ; or rather, -whatsoever He 
shows me, I -will tell thee ; to, as 2 S. 21 4 (BDB. p. 553a (<?)). The latter 
view is favoured by the fact that Balaam expects a " word " from Yahweh. 
In either case the whole idiom is unusual. Kuenen's suggestion, to read 
13"!] and connect with the preceding, is not acceptable. — 'St?] apparently 
the sing, used only here, of d^ec bare heights (Jer. 3*- a 4 11 7 s9 ia u 14 6 , 
Is. 41 18 49 9 t). The sing. '£» perhaps occurs with the meaning of bald- 
ness in Job 33 21 (Kt). The simple ace. of direction is possible, though 
the present is an improbable instance (cp. Kon. iii. 330c). None of the 
ancient versions recognise the meaning bare height, nor is it favoured 
by the verb here used ; if such were the meaning, Sjh would be more 
natural. It is possible that -tm iSi is but a corrupt fragment of an 
originally longer text ffi has /cat iraptarr] BaXa/c ^7ri ttjs dvalas airov. Kal 
Bakaa/j, iwopevdr) iirepuTTjirai rbv 6e6v' Kal iiropevdi} ebdeiav ; yet the last two 
clauses of ffi are clearly doublets ; "S has cumque abiissit velociter. 
It is not clear that the Versions had anything but the present Heb. text 
before them. — 6. 3WD] (Sc + M-er avrov ; cp. v. 17 J§. 

7-10 (E). Balaam's first utterance. — In a poem of 14 lines 
(7 distichs), consisting for the most part of three or four words 
each, Balaam explains the cause and purpose of his visit (v. 7 ), 
and that it is doomed to failure (v. 8 ) ; he dwells on the inde- 
pendence (v. 9 ) and the vast numbers of Israel (v. 10a ), and closes 
with the wish that their fortune may be his. 

7. And he took up his discourse] so v. 18 24 s - 15 - 20 - 21 - 23 . For 
KB>3 to take up (on the lips) = to utter, cp. , in addition to 
b)p H&:, n?K . . . $&) = to utter a curse (1 K. 8 31 ), H3*p 'a = to 
utter a dirge (Jer. 7 29 ), and the noun NCD = an utterance. There 
is no satisfactory equivalent in English for the term mashal 
which is applied to all Balaam's poems. Discourse, though 
preferable to parable (RV.), which is here wholly unsuitable 
and even misleading, is itself inadequate, and must be under- 
stood as implying something poetical and conceived in an 
elevated strain. Any suggestive saying that implied more than 
it actually said might apparently be called a mashal, as being 
a, likeness^ a. representation, i,e, a statement standing for or 

xxiii. 6, 7 345 

representing- other facts (see Fleischer in Delitzsch's Proverbs 
on i 1 ). Haupt (SBOT. Prov. p. 32 f.) has recently argued that 
the original meaning was simply a verse of poetry or a verse as 
something that consisted of two halves ; cp. Assyr. mislu = half. 
But wide as the actual usage of mashal is, this seems too 
general, and does not explain certain early applications of the 
term (1 S. io 12 24 14 ) ; the same criticism applies to another 
suggestion (offered, e.g., by BDB.) that mashal means speech 
cast in parallelism. The early mashals cited in 1 S. io 12 24 14 
are short current sayings which are neither cast in parallelism 
nor are verses. Other instances of mashal used of popular 
proverbs may be found in Ezek. 12 22 18 3 . Mashal is also used 
of lamentations (exultant or otherwise) over some one's fall 
(Is. 14 4 , Mic. 2 4 , Hab. 2 6 : cp. n. on 21 27 ), whence probably 
arose the transferred meaning common in Deuteronomy, and 
later, a byword, an object of taunting (e.g. Dt. 28 37 ) ; or of 
parabolic or allegorical utterances (Ezek. 17 2 24 s ). In later 
Hebrew it came to be used specifically of didactic and artistic- 
ally constructed sentences, such as constitute and give its 
name to the Book of Proverbs or M'shalim (Prov. i 1 io 1 25 1 
26 7 - 9 , Job i3 12 , Eccles. 12 9 ). The present use (cp. Job 27 1 
29 1 ) seems to be an extension of the last ; these poems of 
Balaam have in them something of a declaratory, senten- 
tious, or didactic character. The term is never used of the 
ordinary discourse of the Hebrew prophets, or of ordinary 
Hebrew poetry. 

7 Balak bringeth me from Aram, 

The king of Moab from the mountains of East : 
11 Come, curse me Jacob, 
And come denounce Israel." 

8 How can I curse whom God hath not cursed ? 

Or how denounce whom Yahweh hath not denounced ? 

9 For from the top of the rocks I see him, 
And from the hills behold him — 

Lo ! a people dwelling alone, 

And not accounting itself as one of the nations. 

10 Who hath numbered the dust of Jacob? 

Or ' who hath counted the myriads ' of Israel ? 


May my soul die the death of the upright, 
And may my closing - days be like his ! 
7. Cp. 22 6, \ Aram, according to Dt. 23 d and the prevalent 
view of Nu. 22 5 (see note there), here refers in particular to 
the region of the Euphrates. Generally Aram standing by 
itself refers to the Aramaean region round Damascus, whence 
the country about the Euphrates is commonly defined either 
as Aram - naharaim or (in P) as Paddan-aram. But Hos. 
I2 i3 (12) re f ers to the same district as " the region of Aram " (mt? 
□~ix), of which the present use may be regarded as a not un- 
natural poetical abbreviation. In any case, however peculiar, 
there is nothing to show that the present is a very late usage ; * 
it might quite as well be very early. — The mountains of the 
East] Dip "Hiri occurs also in Dt. 33 15 , but there means ancient 
mountains, which von Gall (p. 19) adopts here. The land of the 
children of the East (mp *33 ps) lay between Canaan and the 
home of Laban the Aramaean (Gn. 29 1 E). The " children of 
the East " were nomad tribes (Gn. 25 16 ), wandering E. of the 
cultivated lands of 'Ammon, Moab, and Edom (Ezek. 25*- 10 , 
Jer. 49 28 , Jud. 6-8). The mountains of the East may therefore be 
the high ranges of the Syrian desert, visible on the far southern 
and western horizons from above the lower courses of the Sajur 
on which Pethor lay,f hardly the low ranges (22 s n.) of the 
Sajur valley itself. — Jacob . . . Israel] the use of these terms 
in parallelism is common to all four poems (v. 10 - 21 - 23 24 s - i7(i8f.)^ 
The frequent use of the parallelism is characteristic of two 
other writers only, viz. Isaiah 40-55 (17 times) and Micah 
1-3 (4 times). I — 8. The poetical equivalent of 22 38 . — 9, 10a. 
The sight of Israel is proof to Balaam that God will bless and 
not curse the people. If the poem is to be interpreted by the 
prose introduction, Balaam sees only part of the people (22 41 ) ; 
possibly, however, it should be inferred from this verse, which 
does not suggest a partial and impeded view, that an existing 
poem was incorporated by the prose writer in his narrative, 
and not specially written by himself for it. — Dwelling- alone] 
securely and unmolested ; cp. Dt. 33 28 , Mic. 7 14 , Jer. 49 31 , and 

* Von Gall, Bileam-Perikope, 17 f. f Sachau, Reise, 159 1. 

X Gray in Crit. Review (1898), viii. 281 f. ; von Gall, 19-22. 

xxiii. 7-'o 347 

perhaps Ps. 4 9 . — Not accounting itself one of the nations] but 
peculiar, unique in its prosperity and good fortune ; the 
Israelites thought of themselves as so conspicuously fortunate, 
that all other peoples must wish to be equally fortunate (Gn. 
I2 2f - 28 14 '-). Others * take the phrase to mean constituting of 
itself a state, and not merely the province of a great empire ; 
others,! a people distinguished by its peculiar religion. For 
Israel's sense of its peculiar relation to Yahweh, and conse- 
quent unique position in the world, see Ex. 19 5 (JE) and 
the kindred passages, which are, however, presumably later 
than the present. — 10. The dust of Jacob] i.e. the number of the 
descendants of Jacob, which is like the dust ; Gn. 13 16 28 14 . — 
IVJ10 hath reckoned the myriads of Israel P] This translation is 
based on (5r, and is probably correct ; J with the myriads oj 
Israel, cp. io 36 . It is in the highest degree improbable that 
the present text of ^ (whence RV., or by number the fourth 
part of Israel) is the original. On it is based the very prosaic 
conclusion that Balaam only saw one of the four camps into 
which Israel was divided (c. 2 (P)).§ RV. margin is not a 
rendering of f£?. See, further, phil. n. In the closing couplet 
Balaam illustrates the saying that by Israel all nations should 
bless themselves, i.e. in invoking blessing on themselves 
should use Israel as the type of blessing, and say, May God 
make me, or may I be, like Israel (cp. Gn. 48 20 ). For the 
upright {ysharim) are the typical or ideal individuals among 
Israel (Yisrael) ; in v. 10c Balaam expresses the desire to die 
the death of individual true Israelites, in v. lod to enjoy a 
future like that of the people — prosperous and secure as it has 
just been described. A similar tacit reference to Israel is 
probably to be found in the title of a collection of early Hebrew 
(national) poems, The Book of the Upright {Sepher hay-yashar) ; 
cp., further, the poetical title for Israel, Vshurtin. At the same 
time the death of the upright expresses its own proper meaning, 
a death not premature or violent (cp. Job 4 7 ), but peaceful and 
in a good old age, such a death as the heroes of national story 
died (Gn. 15 15 ). On the locution may my soul die, see phil. n. 

* Oort. t Di., Keil, von Gall (p. 25). 

% Cp. e.g. Di., Ges.-Buhl (s.v. sm), Kautzsch. § €, Keil. 


on 5 2 . By my end or future (Winx), which Balaam wishes to 
be prosperous like Israel's (now referred to in the collective 
singular — inoD), is intended the closing days or years, the latter 
part yet to come contrasted with the first part (JVCXi, cp. Job 
8 7 42 12 ), now over, of this present life. The old unhistorical 
view which saw in these words an allusion to a Hebrew belief 
in a future life of blessedness beyond the grave, and, conse- 
quently, a wish on the part of Balaam for such a blessed after- 
life, was criticised at length by Hengstenberg (pp. 94-101), 
and has been generally abandoned. Some regard v. 10cd as a 
subsequent addition to the poem.* 

7. €r (under the influence of 24 2 ) inserts at the beginning- of this v. koX 
4yevrj0T] -rrvevfia 6eov iir' ai/r£. — "Jnr] Dr. Tenses, 27 ; Da v. 45 n. 2. — HDJ?:] 
The usual sense of ^/dj?i in Heb. is to be indignant, and it is always used 
of Yahweh except in Dan. 1 1 30 and (the noun) in Hos. 7 16 , Jer. 15 17 . In the 
present passage and in Pr. 24^, Mic. 6 10 , this meaning is hardly suit- 
able. Our best clue to the meaning is the parallel (here and in Pr. ) which 
suggests a synonym for to curse ; so (Hr (iiriKardpaaai, Kara-parou), U (detestor), 
Ges. (Thes.), BDB., Ges.-Buhl. The rare Aram. Ul±] means to find 

fault with, to blame. The Arabic +cj is used of speaking simply ; *z'3 

(with c), a rare verb, is used of angry speech (Lisan el-' Arab). — 10. 

run 'd] On the pf. in such questions as this (cp. 17 28 ), see Dr. Tenses, 19 2 . 
— idddi] Those who retain the text explain this as an ace. of closer 
definition ; so Ew. (Syntax, 283a), according to number, i.e. exactly, as 
though the thought were, the people are too numerous to number quite 
accurately ! The closer definition is here manifestly not only superfluous 
(in spite of Hengst.'s curious contention to the contrary, strangely 
accepted by Oort), but objectionable. Read -\so 'p ; so ffi (cf. U), 
Geddes, Di., Kautzsch, Konig (iii. 33017/3). For fHD and nsD together, 
cp. 1 K. 3 8 ; and for nso used, as here, with reference to an innumerable 
host, Gn. 15 5 . ran = myriads for y2-\=fourth part, is conjectural but prob- 
able. (5r (5-rifiovs) does not appear to have read jm. — lriDD tersely for mnnto : 
cp. mS'Ka ,( ?n mss-D, Ps. 18 34 . 

11-17. Introduction to Balaam's second utterance. — 11 f. 
Balaam, in reply to Balak's angry reproach for the blessing 
just pronounced, reminds the king that he had fairly warned 
him (22 s8 ) that he would not be answerable for the character 
of his utterances, which would be determined by Yahweh and 
not by himself. — 11. To curse my enemies I took t/iee] ("pnnp$5 ; 

* SBOT. ; von Gall, 25 f. 

xxni. ii— 13 349 

cp. 22 41 23 14 - 27 '-); ffi &, I called thee (Tntnp; cp. 22 5 - 20 - 37 ).— 
^4wfl? /o/ Mow //as/ */t>«c nothing but bless] such is the force of 
the infin. abs. "]-Q na-Q ; Dav. 86c. — 12. Cp. 22 s5 (20) 23 s . — 
13. Balak proposes to take Balaam to another place in the 
hope of getting - a curse pronounced from thence. It was a 
matter of constant experiment to find out the place in and the 
circumstances under which a god would favourably regard 
special requests ; some places were more adapted for one kind 
of manifestation ; others for another. Even the Hebrews had 
one special mountain of cursing ( f Ebal) and another for bless- 
ing (Gerizzim). Balak's first attempt to obtain a curse from 
Balaam, like his first attempt to get Balaam to come, had been 
unsuccessful ; but he hoped that as Balaam's God had changed 
His mind before, so He might again. Balak's persistence is en- 
tirely explicable on the analogy of the widely prevalent custom 
of persisting, when oracular replies or omens were unfavour- 
able, till they became favourable.* This view of the inconstancy 
of God's purpose is not shared by the Hebrew writer, nor attri- 
buted by him to Balaam (v. 19 ). Balak, on the other hand, is led 
on by it to his own destruction: see above, p. 316. — Another place 
whence thou may est see Mm] i.e. Israel (i:&nn coll. sing, suffix, 
see 20 14 n.). From the site on which the first utterance had 
been delivered Balaam had seen only part of the people (22 41 ), 
now he is to see Israel without restriction ; such is what is 
obviously to be expected, and what the present sentence im- 
plies. But there now follows a qualification (inserted probably 
by a redactor), stating (but with more emphasis) that Balaam 
is now to see exactly what he saw before, viz. a part only 
of the people — only his (i.e. Israel's) extremity shall thou see, 
but thou shall not see the whole of him. The difficulty pre- 
sented by the clause may be best appreciated in the light of 
the desperate exegesis which it has occasioned. Thus (1) Keil 
interprets: "only his extremity dost thou see" now and 
here on Bamoth Ba'al (22 41 ), whereas from the next place 
thou shall see the whole people ; but this is to import into the 
text all that is most crucial. The verbs throughout are im- 

* See, e.g., Gardner and Jevons, Manual of Greek Antiquities, 255 f., 


perfects, and there is neither adversative conjunction nor 
adverb of time or place to indicate that the second clause of 
Balak's speech refers to something other than the first. (2) 
Equally foreign to the statement of the text is Hengstenberg's 
explanation : Balaam is to see a part, but a larger part than 
before. The difficulty is most probably due to redactorial 
activity. Hengstenberg (p. 105) very wisely remarks : " If 
Balaam already saw the whole people from here [the field of 
Sophim], no reason can be discovered why Balak subsequently 
took him up to Pe'or." The editor felt this, and inserted the 
qualification, betraying his hand linguistically also in the 
peculiar use of D3X (see phil. n. on 22 35 ).* The sight of all 
Israel dwelling according to its tribes {2^) is thus reserved 
for Balak's third and last attempt. — 14. Balak accordingly 
takes Balaam to the field of Sophim on the top of the Pisgah, 
and, as before (v. lf -), makes altars and offers sacrifices. The 
site of the field of Sophim is uncertain, for the top of the Pisgah 
was not the name of any particular peak (21 20 n.), and it. can- 
not therefore be inferred that the outlook from the field of 
Sophim was that described in 21 20 . It is likely enough, how- 
ever, that it lay far away from Bamoth Ba'al (see above, p. 340 f.), 
and the name indicates that it commanded an extensive view : 
it is the field frequented by the 'watchmen (D'EWf ; cp. e.g. 1 S. 
14 16 , 2 S. i8 25 - 27 , 2 K. 9 17 , Is. 52 s ).— 15. And let me fall in 
with (Yahweh) yonder] the suppression of the object is curious. 
In the light of v. 4 what is intended is clear. — 16. Cp. v. 4f \ — 
17. Cp. v. a . 

13. l^>] more generally written m 1 ? (G.-K. 48/) : but see Jud. ic) 13 , 2 Ch. 
25 17 t- — ta?B abnormal for H^jj. Various views as to the significance of the 
punctuation are fully discussed by Konig, i. 357 f. — 15. na . . . ^d] here 
. . . there, or here . . . yonder; so somewhat similarly 11 s1 , Ex. 2 12 , S 
omits the first na.— 16. m.T] fit 6 6e6s ; so also some MSS. of J$. 

18-24 (JE). Balaam's second utterance. — This is consider- 
ably longer than the first, consisting of 22 lines (11 distichs) ; 
the greater length is probably in part, though not wholly, due 
to interpolation (see on v. 23 ). 

Addressing Balak (v. 18 ), Balaam admonishes him that God 

* Di., Bacon, CH. 

XXIII. 14-19 35' 

does not change His purpose (v. 19 ), and consequently he 
(Balaam) cannot recall his former blessing (v. 20 ). He then 
depicts Israel's freedom from trouble (v. 21a ), its happiness in 
the possession of Yahweh (v. 21b - 22 ), and its irresistible attack 
on its foes (v. 24 ). The reason for this, or the proof of Yahweh's 
presence, is, if the verse be original, traced to Israel's abstention 
from magic (v. 23 ). 

18 Arouse thee Balak and listen, 
Give ear unto me, son of Sippor ! 

19 God is not man that He should break His word, 
Nor of human kind that He should repent : 

Is He to have promised without accomplishing, 
To have spoken without fulfilling it? 

20 Behold to bless I received (instruction), 
That I should bless and not recall it. 

21 I behold no misfortune in Jacob, 
I see no trouble in Israel ; 
Yahweh his God is with him, 

And shouts in honour of his king in his midst. 
32 God who brought him forth out of Egypt 

Is for him like the ' glory ' of a wild ox. 
24 Behold a people, like a lioness, standing up, 

And, like a lion, lifting itself up ; 

It lieth not down till it devour the prey, 

And drink the blood of the slain. 
18. Arouse thee'] " Rise up " (RV.) is unsuitable, since Balak 
is already standing (v. 17 ). Dip is really pleonastic ; cp. Is. 32 s , 
Gn. 13 17 ; on this and other pleonasms, see Dalman, The 
Words of Jesus, 20 ff. — 19. Balak hoped to change Yahweh's 
disposition (v. 13 n.) ; Balaam now warns him that God, unlike 
men, cannot be induced to break his word of promise ; he does 
not change his purpose; cp. 1 S. 15 29 (cf. v. 11,35 ), Judith 8 16 . 
He has decreed that Israel is to be blessed (v. 20 22 12 23 s ) ; and 
blessed Israel will therefore be. The promise, the word of 
God is no matter of question : it is a fact. The sentences are 
not double interrogatives (RV.) ; but the interrogative governs 
.ne whole sentence (cp. Is. 5 4b ). Render as above or, shall 
he, having- promised, not accomplish? — Son oj man] This is 


the only instance earlier than Ezekiel (who uses it some 90 
times) of D1X p in the singular. Th