#242. Was Hormah so named because the Israelites were destroyed by the Canaanites there OR the Canaanites destroyed by the Israelites? (Num 14:44-45 vs Num 21:1-3)

There are presently two traditions in the book of Numbers that recount how the town of Hormah, which means “destruction” in Hebrew, got its name. It is difficult to determine which one is from the Yahwist and which from the Elohist, or indeed from other archival traditions. At any event, Numbers 14:44-45 is the conclusion of the spying of the land story and is presented as yet another story about Israel’sRead More

#241. Do the Amalekites live in the land of the Negeb OR in the valley? (Num 13:29, 14:45 vs Num 14:25)

Numbers 13:25 claims that the Amalekites and Canaanites “live in the valley” and that therefore the children of Israel are to “turn and travel tomorrow to the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea” (Num 13:26). This is the conclusion of the spy narrative in the Yahwist account (see previous entries, #235-236, #237, #238-240) and verses 25-26 set the stage for the Transjordanian conquest—that is, since the Israelites had no faithRead More

#238. In the face of there being giants in the land, who encourages the people to have faith in Yahweh: Caleb alone OR Caleb and Joshua? (Num 13:30 [J] vs Num 14:6-9 [P])
#239. In his anger, Yahweh swears to slaughter all the Israelites except Caleb OR except Caleb and Joshua (Num 14:24 [J] vs Num 14:30 [P]; Deut 1:36-38)
#240. Does Yahweh immediately wipe out the other scouts [P] OR not [J]? (Num 14:37-38 vs Num 14:22-24)

Another textual indication that Numbers 13-14 now contains what once was two independent versions of the spy story are the duplicate and contradictory accounts of who steps forward to encourage the Israelites to have faith in Yahweh, and conversely whose lives out of all 600,000 men, or as the case may be 647,550 (#116 & #218), Yahweh spares! Thus, in response to the people’s lack of faith in their ability andRead More

#237. Do the spies report that the land is rich and bountiful OR one that devours its inhabitants? (Num 13:27 [J] vs Num 13:32 [P])

In rewriting the spy story, the later Priestly writer has not only changed who the initiator of the reconnaissance mission is (#233), the specific land that the spies are to reconnoiter (#234), and how many go and to whom they report back (#235-236), but also the content of the report brought back by the scouts. In the earlier Yahwist version the spies report back that the land is “flowing with milkRead More

#235. Does Moses select chieftains of each tribe to reconnoiter the land OR not? (Num 13:4-16 [P] vs Num 13:17b, Num14:4 [J])
#236. Do the spies report back to Moses only OR Moses, Aaron, and all the congregation? (Num 13:27 [J] vs Num 13:26 [P])

Of the 2 contradictions listed above, the second one is easier to spot in the composite text as it now stands. After the men are dispatched and reconnoiter the land, Numbers 13:25 marks their return: And they came back from scouting the land at the end of 40 days. And they went and came to Moses and to Aaron and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, to theRead More

#234. Are the spies to reconnoiter all the land of Canaan OR only the southern part, Judah? (Num 13:2, 13:21 [P] vs Num 13:22-24 [J]; Deut 1:24-25 [D])

Continuing from the previous post, #233, today’s contradiction reveals that in the earliest spy-story tradition, the Yahwist, only the land of the southern kingdom, namely Judah, is reconnoitered, and a later retelling of this tradition expanded the area to include all of Canaan. Numbers 13:22 makes it clear that the spies enter Canaan through the southern Negeb and arrive at Hebron, which is the capital of Judah until it is movedRead More

#233. Who suggests sending spies to scout out the land: Yahweh OR the people? (Num 13:1-2 [P] vs Deut 1:22-23 [D])

Numbers 13-14 recount the story—or rather stories—of the spying of the promised land, which as it now stands is a composite text, a patch-work of the earlier Yahwist and later Priestly versions. Deuteronomy 1:21-46 is also another version of the spy story and presents itself as a simple retelling, through the mouthpiece of Moses, of the events recorded in Numbers 13-14. Yet it departs in significant, and contradictory, ways from theRead More