#269. When and where do the Israelites enter Canaan, the promised land: through the southern Negeb before the Transjordanian conquest OR from Transjordan after its conquest? (Num 21:1-3 vs Josh 1:10-11:23)

As previously noted (#268), the whole reason for the necessity of the Transjordanian conquest—at least from the perspective of the story itself—is because the Israelites were unable to take Canaan, the promised land, directly from the south. They were defeated at Hormah according to the tradition now preserved in Numbers 14 (#242), and thus pushed back into the wilderness to wander 38 years until Yahweh could finish off this faithless generationRead More

#268. From Mount Hor the Israelites travel northeast into the Negeb OR south toward the Red Sea OR east into Edom? (Num 21:1-3 vs Num 21:4; Deut 2:1; Judg 11:16 vs Num 21:10-12, 33:40-44)

Following the previous post’s brief introduction to Numbers 21 where the textual, geographical, and chronological problems that this chapter poses were set forth, today’s contradiction addresses the geographical inconsistencies evident in the opening of this chapter by the insertion of J’s (?) version of the Hormah battle at Numbers 21:1-3 and P’s (or R’s, the Priestly redactor’s) intermittently inserted itinerary at verses 4 and 10-11. In sum, Numbers 21 preserves 3Read More

A Brief Introduction to Numbers 21

Numbers 21 poses a number of problems for the critical reader, all of which will be examined in detail over the forthcoming entries (about a dozen). Textually from a source-critical analysis, the chapter is a melange of different textual traditions, battle records, archaic poetry, and even a named, now lost source, “the scroll of the wars of Yahweh” (yes, after all source-critical analysis is firmly grounded in how ancient texts wereRead More

#267. When was Moses told that he could not enter the promised land: in the 40th year of the wilderness campaign OR in the 2nd? (Num 20:1-13 vs Deut 1:22-37)

A new year. . . a new (re)start. Let’s see if I can get back on track here. First, Happy New Year! Second, this contradiction continues where we left off—noting the variant traditions concerning Moses’ death and the reasons why, from the perspective of our various scribes (mainly P & D), he was not allowed to enter the promised land. I’m indebted to a reader who pointed this one out toRead More

#266. Why was Moses not allowed to enter the promised land: because he rebelled against Yahweh’s word OR because he bore the sins of the people who rebelled against Yahweh? (Num 20:12, 27:14; Deut 32:51 vs Deut 1:37, 3:26, 4:21)

The Deuteronomic (D) and Priestly source (P) differ on their reason for why Moses could not enter the land of Canaan. Since this issue is not presented in the older Yahwist nor Elohist traditions, we might assume that this story derived from a later “need” and was thus inserted into the tradition. At any event, D and P give competing answers. As we saw in the previous entry (#262-265), the PriestlyRead More

#262. Where did the Waters of Meribah happen: in the wilderness of Sinai or Zin? (Ex 17:2-7 vs Num 20:2-13)
#263. Do the people quarrel with Moses OR Moses and Aaron? (Ex 17:2 vs Num 20:2)
#264. Is Moses commanded to strike the rock or speak to it? (Ex 17:6 vs Num 20:8)
#265. Was Yahweh’s holiness affirmed OR not (Num 20:13 vs Num 20:12)

The present contradictions concerning the story of the Waters of Meribah should be seen in the broader context of other duplicate stories from the wilderness tradition (e.g., #125, #127, #128, #171, etc.), which were redacted together centuries after these once independent versions circulated as oral and/or written stories in differing cultural settings and time periods, and for different purposes. What many modern “readers” fail to acknowledge is that storytelling was partRead More

#260. Where was Kadesh: in the Wilderness of Paran OR the Wilderness of Zin? (Num 13:26 vs Num 20:1, 27:14, 33:36; Deut 32:51)
#261. When did the Israelites arrive at Kadesh: at the beginning of the wilderness period OR in the 40th year? (Num 13:26, 32:8 vs Num 20:1, 33:36-38)

And the children of Israel, the entire congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. (Num 20:1) Numbers 20 picks up the narrative of the wilderness wanderings, our last episode having been the scouting of the land story in Num 13-14 (#233, #234, #235-236, #237, #238-240). Again, it is important to keep in mind that many of these wilderness stories were preservedRead More