JPS Torah Commentary: Numbers Page 14...

Commentary on the Torah' forth book by one of the most insteresting modern Jewish thinkers.

INTRODUCTION Preliminaries The Title The fourth book of the Torah is called Bemidbar ( literally, “ In the Wilder-ness”) in Hebrew. The English title Numbers goes back to the Latin Numeri and the earlier Greek ( Septuagint) arithmoi. However, these titles are probably derived from the oldest Hebrew title homesh ha- pekudim “ the fifth ( of the Torah) the mustered” ( Mish. Yoma 7: 1, Mish. Men.  4: 3), so named because of the several censuses recorded in the book ( chaps. 1– 4, 26).  It was also entitled va- yedabber after the first word ( see Rashi on Exod. 38: 26), as is the case  with the other Torah books. The present Hebrew title Bemidbar ( the fifth word of the opening verse) seems more apt since it actually encompasses all the events described in the book that took place “ in the wilderness.”The  Text Except for a few lines of ancient poetry ( see the Comments to 21: 14, 30; 24: 22– 24),  the text of Numbers is in an excellent state of preservation. The variations in Masoretic  manuscripts are few and insignificant. Greater deviations from the Hebrew are found in the Septuagint and Samaritan versions. However, these are not evidence of a dif-ferent Hebrew text but, probably, curtailments or enlargements of the Masoretic version. The Samaritan, for instance, has freely incorporated parallel material from Deuteronomy in order to harmonize the Numbers accounts with that book.  Such additions from the Samaritan are pointed out in the Comments to 12: 6; 14: 41, 45; 20: 13;  and 21: 13,  22. The Chronology The tradition that Israel spent forty years in the wilderness  fol-lowing its Exodus from Egypt is demonstrably old ( Deut. 1: 46; Amos 2: 10; 5: 25).  Yet thechronology  within that forty- year period is marred by two major problems. The events  of1: 1– 10: 11  cover nineteen days from the first to the nineteenth  of the second month of thesecond year. Those of the final chapters 21: 10– 36: 13  occur within five months of  the for-tieth year ( see 20: 28= 33: 38; 20: 29; Deut. 1: 3). The  material in between, 10: 12– 21: 9,  is undated but must fall in the intervening thirty- eight  years. Even then the first part  of this middle block, 10: 12– 14: 45, occurs  at the very beginning of this period ( to judge by  14: 34) and the last part, 20: 1– 21: 10,  at the end of this period ( see the Comment to 20: 1). This would leave  the events of the  Korahite rebellions ( chaps. 16– 17) and several laws ( chaps. 15, 18– 19)  as all that can be attributed to the intervening thirty-  eight of the forty years spent in the  wilderness. At present there is no satisfactory solution to this puzzle. All that can be said is that the wilderness traditions survived, in the main, without fixed dates, and they were clustered at the beginning and at the end of the wilderness sojourn. It would seem that the intent of the Book of Numbers is to concentrate on the aftermath of the Sinaitic revelation and the preparations for entering the land. The  forty years serve as a pe-riod of transition, allowing for a new generation to arise ( 26: 65).   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C

JPS Torah Commentary: Numbers


About Book JPS Torah Commentary: Numbers

FRONT MATTERTitle PageDedication PageCopyright PageContentsIntroductionNotes to the IntroductionGlossaryAbbreviationsMapsWEEKLY READINGSBemidbarNaso'Beha ‘alotekhaShelah-lekhaKorahHukkatBalakPhinehasMattotMase‘eiTHE GENERATION OF THE EXODUS (1:1-25:19)The Organization of the Wilderness Camp (1:1-10:10)Census in the Wilderness (1:1-54)The Arrangement of the Camp (2:1-34)The First Levite Census (3:1-51)The Second Levite Census (4:1-49)Purification of the Camp (5:1-6:27)Final Preparations for the Tabernacle Cult (7:1-8:26)Final Preparations for Departure (9:1-10:10)The March from Sinai to Transjordan (10:11-22:1)From Sinai to Kadesh (10:11-12:16)The Reconnaissance of Canaan (13:1-14:45)A Miscellany of Laws (15:1-41)Encroachment on the Tabernacle (16:1-18:32)Purification from Contamination by a Corpse (19:1-22)From Kadesh to the Steppes of Moab (20:1-22:1)Balaam (22:2-24:25)Idolatry and Expiation at Baal-Peor (25:1-19)THE GENERATION OF THE CONQUEST (26:1-36:13)The Second Census (26:1-65)The Law of Succession in Inheritance (26:1-11)The Succession of Moses by Joshua (27:12-23)The Calendar of Public Sacrifices (28:1-30:1)The Annulment of Vows and Oaths Made by Women (30:2-17)The War Against Midian (31:1-54)The Settlement of Transjordan (32:1-42)The Wilderness Itinerary (33:1-49)The Division of Canaan (33:50-35:44)Marriage Requirements for Heiresses (36:1-13)NOTES TO THE COMMENTARYEXCURSUSESExcursus 1. Some Political Institutions of Early Israel (chap. 1)Excursus 2. The Census and Its Totals (1:1-40)Excursus 3. The Encampment (chap. 2)Excursus 4. The Levites: Guards of the Tabernacle (3:5-43)Excursus 5. The Encroacher and the Clergy (chap. 3)Excursus 6. 'Avodah : The Levites' Work Profile (chap. 4)Excursus 7. The Rationale for Biblical Impurity (5:1-4)Excursus 8. The Judicial Ordeal (5:11-31) Excursus 9. Adultery in the Bible and the Ancient Near East (5:11-31)Excursus 10. The Case of the Suspected Adulteress: Redaction and Meaning (5:11-31)Excursus 11. The Nazirite (chap. 6)Excursus 12. The Structure of Numbers (6:1-21)Excursus 13. The Priestly Blessing (6:22-27)Excursus 14. The Chieftains' Gifts and Sacrifices (chap. 7)Excursus 15. Moses' Audience with God (7:89)Excursus 16. Determining the Date of the Chieftains' Contribution (chap. 7)Excursus 17. The Menorah (8:1-4)Excursus 18. The Literary Structure of Numbers (8:5-22)Excursus 19. Levitical Kippur (8:19)Excursus 20. The Second Passover (9:1-14)Excursus 21. Trumpet and Shofar (10:1-10)Excursus 22. The Ark in War (10:33-30)Excursus 23. The Inverted Nuns (10:35-30) Excursus 24. The Structure of Chapters 11-12Excursus 25. Ecstatic Prophecy in Israel and the Ancient Near East (11:24-30)Excursus 26. Prophecy in Israel and the Ancient Near East (11:24-30)Excursus 27. Sanctifcation: Preparation for Theophany (11:18)Excursus 28. The Tent of Meeting: Two Traditions (11:16; 12:5)Excursus 29. The Structure of Chapters 13-14Excursus 30. The Scout TypologyExcursus 31. Caleb (chaps. 13-14)Excursus 32. Judgment and Mercy: Vertical Retribution and Salah (14:18-20)Excursus 33. Repentance in the Torah and the Prophets (14:19-20)Excursus 34. The Ger (15:27-29)Excursus 35. The Two Sections on the Purifcation Offering Excursus 36. The Penalty of Karet Excursus 37. The Case of the Wood Gatherer (15:32-30)Excursus 38. The Tassels Tsitsit (15:37-40)Excursus 39. Korah's Rebellion: A Study in Redaction (chap. 10)Excursus 40. Sacral Responsibility for Encroachment (chap. 18)Excursus 41. The Tenufah Offering (18:11)Excursus 42. The Terumah Offering (18:8,11,19)Excursus 43. First Fruits (18:12-13)Excursus 44. The Status of Herem (18:14)Excursus 45. The First- Born (18:15-16)Excursus 46. The Tithe (18:21-32)Excursus 47. The Structure of Chapter 19Excursus 48. The Paradox of the Red Cow (chap. 19)Excursus 49. The Effect of the Sinner upon the Sanctuary (chap. 19)Excursus 50. Magic, Monotheism, and the Sin of Moses (20:1-13)Excursus 51. The Encounter with the Canaanites (21:1-3)Excursus 52. The Copper Snake (21:4-9)Excursus 53. The Song of the Well (21:17-18)Excursus 54. The Song of Heshbon (21:27-30)Excursus 55. The Redaction of Chapters 20-21Excursus 56. The Unity of the Prose and Poetry in Chapters 22-24Excursus 57. Balaam and the Ass (22:22-35)Excursus 58. Balaam: Saint or Sinner? (chaps. 22-24)Excursus 59. Balaam: Diviner or Sorcerer? (chaps. 22-24)Excursus 60. Balaam and the Deir 'Alla InscriptionExcursus 61. The Apostasy of Baal-Peor (25:1-18)Excursus 62. The Apportionment of the Promised Land (26:52-56)Excursus 63. The Inheritance Rights of Daughters (27:1-8)Excursus 64. The Urim and Thummim Excursus 65. The Tamid (chap. 29)Excursus 66. Oaths, Vows, and Dedications (30:3)Excursus 67. The War Against Midian (chap. 13)Excursus 68. The Literary Structure of Chapter 31Excursus 69. The Literary Structure of Chapter 32Excursus 70. The Settlement of Transjordan (chap. 32)Excursus 71. The Integrity of the Wilderness Itinerary (chap. 33)Excursus 72. The Literary Structure of 33:50–56Excursus 73. The Boundaries of Canaan (chap. 34)Excursus 74. The Levitical Town: An Exercise in Realistic Planning (35:1–5)Excursus 75. Asylum Altars and Asylum Cities (35:9–15)Excursus 76. The Postulates of the Laws of Homicide (35:16–28)Excursus 77. The Redaction of Chapter 36NOTES TO THE EXCURSUSESExcursus 1Excursus 2Excursus 3Excursus 4Excursus 5Excursus 6Excursus 7Excursus 8Excursus 9Excursus 10Excursus 11Excursus 13Excursus 14Excursus 16Excursus 17Excursus 18Excursus 19Excursus 20Excursus 22Excursus 23Excursus 24Excursus 25Excursus 26Excursus 28Excursus 29Excursus 30Excursus 31Excursus 32Excursus 33Excursus 34Excursus 35Excursus 36Excursus 37Excursus 38Excursus 39Excursus 40Excursus 41Excursus 42Excursus 43Excursus 44Excursus 45Excursus 46Excursus 48Excursus 49Excursus 50Excursus 51Excursus 52Excursus 53Excursus 54Excursus 56Excursus 57Excursus 58Excursus 59Excursus 60Excursus 61Excursus 62Excursus 63Excursus 64Excursus 65Excursus 66Excursus 67Excursus 69Excursus 70Excursus 71Excursus 73Excursus 74Excursus 75Excursus 76Excursus 77
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