#329. The Wilderness of Etham OR Shur (Num 33:8 vs Ex 15:22)

Numbers 33 seems to be an independent source which attempts to tally up the Wilderness itinerary from the time the Israelites leave Egypt to their arrival on the plains of Moab 40 years later (see Introduction to Numbers 33). Scholars attribute this composition to a later redactional layer from the Priestly source. Moreover, scholars contend that part of this redactional process included inserting itinerary verses into the narratives of Exodus andRead More

#327. Do the Israelites leave Egypt on the 15th day of the 1st month OR on the 14th day? (Num 33:3 vs Ex 12:14-19)
#328. Do the Israelites leave in full view of all of Egypt OR not? (Num 33:3 vs Ex 12:31-39)

Numbers 33:3’s summary of the Exodus event varies with the account in Exodus 12 on two points. First, within the Priestly tradition itself there seems to have been a discrepancy on the date assigned to the actual Exodus. Was it the 14th, that is Passover, or the 15th, that is the following day? Indeed this discrepancy may have actually been more of a discrepancy on calculating when day begins. So whileRead More

#326. Did Moses write down the Israelites’ itinerary by order of Yahweh OR not? (Num 33:2 vs Ex 15:22, 17:1; Num 11:1-3, 12:15, 13:26, 21:4, 21:18; Deut 1:1-2, 2:8, 10:6-7, etc.)

And Moses wrote down their route according to their points of departure by Yahweh’s word. (Num 33:2) Although there is no verse in the Torah that explicitly contradicts the claim made here in Numbers 33:2, there is nonetheless implicit support for drawing this claim into question by pinning it against other, and variant, itinerary traditions of the Torah that were also allegedly written by word of Yahweh, and which contradict and/orRead More

The Wilderness Itinerary from the Exodus to the Plains of Moab: An Introduction to Numbers 33

Numbers 33 displays the mark of a later tradition that was composed and inserted here in the narrative as a sort of summary to the Wilderness itinerary. It exhibits a number of stylistic features only found in the Priestly source and scholars assign it to a redactional layer by this Priestly tradition. Yet, as we shall see in the forthcoming contradictions, its itinerary is often at odds with the scattered itineraryRead More

#324. Did the Israelites completely destroy the cities of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og and all of Gilead OR not? (Num 32:16-17, 32:24; Deut 2:33-36, 3:3-6 vs Num 21:25, 32:26, 32:33)
#325. Did the Israelites completely annihilate all the indigenous of these lands OR not? (Num 21:32-35; Deut 2:33-36, 3:3-6 vs Num 32:17; Josh 13:13)

Not only are there variant traditions in the Torah that talk about when these Transjordanian territories were conquered and by whom (#317-318)—and even if there was a Transjordanian conquest (#282-285)—but there are also variant traditions describing what happened to the land’s cities and inhabitants. Were these cities utterly destroyed or did the Israelites simply “move in” to them? Likewise, were the inhabitants completely wiped out or were there still remnants of themRead More

#323. Did Moses give the children of Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh their Transjordanian possessions before the conquest of Canaan OR were Eleazar and Joshua to give it to them after the conquest? (Num 32:33; Deut 3:12; Josh 1:15, 13:8 vs Num 32:28-29)

This contradiction is rooted in variant textual traditions that were brought together during the Torah’s redaction. Not surprisingly, the only tradition that claims that these Transjordanian possessions will be assigned to the children of Reuben and Gad by Eleazar and Joshua after the conquest of Canaan is also the same tradition that assigns conditions to the granting of these possessions, which were discussed in the previous entry (#322)—the Priestly source. So the conditionsRead More

#322. What would have been the punishment for the children of Reuben and Gad if they had not crossed over the Jordan armed with the rest of Israel: sin OR a possession in Canaan rather than Transjordan? (Num 32:23 vs Num 32:32)

Numbers 32:23 and 32:30 introduce two very different types of punishments that the children of Reuben and Gad are to suffer if they refuse to crossover the Jordan armed with the rest of the Israelites and assist in the conquest of the land of Canaan. To some extent these difference can be minimized by looking at the two different addressees: in verse 23 Moses informs the Reubenites and Gadites that they will “sinRead More