The Numbers of Numbers: The Census Accounts in the Book of Numbers

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The Book of Numbers receives its name from the two census accounts it includes, at the beginning and towards the end of the account of the wilderness wandering (chapters 1-2; 26). In this paper I examine the literary relationship between these two accounts, which contain several similar components as well as some significant differences. Upon a careful inspection, it emerges that the differing features of the census accounts are explained by the assumption that two different documents underlie both accounts, while the similarities between them suggest that the same editorial hand was responsible for the composition of both. The terms used as part of the editorial activity in both accounts can teach us that this activity took place in the Persian period. The redactional process revealed in the census accounts seems to be related also to a similar process in the story of the spies, especially in Num 14,29.35.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-204
Number of pages16
JournalZeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
Issue number2
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Religious studies


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