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Observations on the use of the number 1,000 (’elef II אֶלֶף) in Scripture

I was recently notified that a respected conservative was entertaining the possibility that the word 1,000 in the Pentateuch meant either "troop" or "clan." If that were the case, the number of male Israelites exiting Egypt would be less than 1/10th of the 600,000 number in English translations. That set me looking at the use of the number 1,000 (’elef II אֶלֶף) in Scripture.

In nearly all the discussions of the "problem" of the large number in the Pentateuch I have read, there is very little actual discussion of the way in which the word 1,000 (’elef ) is used in the Pentateuch or elsewhere.

I suspect this is because the linguistic data is so straightforward and consistent that such a discussion would serve to minimize rather than highlight the "problematic" nature of the text. In fact, I have never seen anyone suggest that the word ’elef  is mistranslated on the basis of textual analysis.

The consistent basis for suggesting alternative transla…

Beyond the Holy of Holies as a Place

It just struck me for the first time as I was reading/listening to Numbers 18 that ‘most holy’ as a superlative category has a fairly wide range of referents. I have thought of the Holy of Holies as the only “most holy” item, but that is incorrect. In addition to referring to the Holy of Holies, the terminology  קדשׁ קדשׁים is used for the following items:
Altar of burnt offering (Exod. 29:37)Altar of incense (Exod. 30:10)Tent of meeting, ark of testimony, table of showbread and its utensils, altar of incense, altar of burnt offering, lamp stand and utensils, laver and base (Exod. 30:26-29)The incense (Exod. 30:36)The remainder of the grain offering (Lev. 2:3)The sin offering (Lev. 6:25, 29)Guilt offering (Lev. 7:1, 7)Showbread (Lev. 24:9)All items “devoted” (cherem) to Yahweh (Lev. 27:28)
Note: Lev. 21:22 identifies the types of food a priest with a defect may eat as “both the most holy and the holy”

The Kohathites work with the “most holy things” (Num. 4:4). They alone are allowed t…

The Loss of Wisdom

The urgent “retain” language of Proverbs finally began to sink into my consciousness this last year. Solomon says plenty about gaining, buying, finding, and searching for wisdom. That has been my focus for the past 25 years.
However, I have begun to notice a pattern in my life. If I don’t regularly teach, talk about, think about, or otherwise call certain truths to mind, they tend to slip out of my consciousness.Anybody who has taken a foreign language knows the principle “Use it or lose it.”I’m beginning to understand that principle applies to wisdom too.
Proverbs 3:1My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments;
Proverbs 3:18 [Wisdom] is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who hold her fast.
Proverbs 3:21My son, let them not vanish from your sight; Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
Proverbs 4:5Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Proverbs 4:13 Take hold of instruction; do no…

Morning Meditations on Yahweh from Proverbs 29

Prov. 29:13 רָשׁ וְאִישׁ תְּכָכִים נִפְגָּשׁוּ מֵאִיר־עֵינֵי שְׁנֵיהֶם יְהוָה׃

The poor and the oppressor meet together; Yahweh enlightens the eyes of them both.

Information: Yahweh is responsible for giving sight to the eyes of all men, regardless of their status.

Implication: All men are dependent upon Yahweh. All men should be grateful. All men are responsible to Yahweh for their use of His gift.

Inclination, i.e., how should this truth enliven my will and emotions, inclining them to glory in Yahweh and gladness in Him?: I am thankful for sight! Please grant me to fear using your gift for sinful purposes. “Take my eyes and let them be, pure, compassionate like Thee.”

Prov. 29:25 חֶרְדַּת אָדָם יִתֵּן מוֹקֵשׁ וּבוֹטֵחַ בַּיהוָה יְשֻׂגָּב׃

Fear of man creates a snare, but the one trusting in Yahweh is safe.

Information: Yahweh is trustworthy. Yahweh is strong. Yahweh makes Himself available to those who trust Him. Yahweh exercises strength for those who trust Him.

Inclination: I rest f…