#291. Does Balaam wish to curse Israel and is prevented by Yahweh OR does he not wish to curse Israel? (Deut 23:5-6; Josh 24:9-10; Neh 13:2; 2 Pet 2:15; Jude 1:11; Rev 2:14 vs Num 22:22-35)

The narrative of Numbers 22-24 never presents nor implies that Balaam wishes to harm or curse Israel. To the contrary, Balaam is presented as a loyal vassal of Yahweh, and when on three separate occasions Balak asks Balaam to pronounce curses upon Israel, Balaam refuses saying that he can only utter that which his god—Yahweh—has placed in his own mouth. Indeed, Balaam even refers to Yahweh as “my god,” which mightRead More

#290. Does Yahweh permit Balaam to depart OR not? (Num 22:20 vs Num 22:22)

This contradiction is typically cited in the scholarly literature, although for my part it doesn’t seem all too problematic, nor even relevant. It does create for some interesting narrative tension however. Scholars who note this contradiction usually argue that the story about Balaam and his talking ass come from a different tradition. In either case, Yahweh’s pronouncement that Balaam should go with the king’s men in Num 22:20 and Yahweh’s angerRead More

#289. Where does Balaam come from: Pethor OR Aram (Num 22:5 vs Num 23:7)

Within the Balaam story itself, especially between the prose and poetry sections, there seems to be conflating traditions concerning Balaam’s origin. The prose of Numbers 22:5 places his coming from Pethor, while the poetry section of Numbers 23:7 accredits him originating from as far away as Aram. We will note other textual inconsistencies between the prose and poetry sections of Numbers 22-24 in future posts, all of which have led scholarsRead More

#288. Where are the Israelites: on the plains of Moab OR on the border of Moab? (Num 22:1 vs Num 22:3-5)

And the children of Israel traveled and they camped in the plains of Moab, across the Jordan from Jericho. (Num 22:1) The preceding itinerary, and indeed the final destination of the 40 year wilderness trek before the crossing of the Jordan, leads to the Israelites’ encampment on the plains of Moab (cf. Num 33:49-50 & Deut 1:1). Yet the following story—traditionally identified as the Balaam pericope (Num 22:3-24:25)—implies that the IsraelitesRead More

#287. Were the Moabites present OR not? (Num 22:2-3, 25:1-5 vs Num 21:12-31)

Numbers 21:12–25:5 compromise three independent stories that when placed one after the other produce some noticeable narrative inconsistencies, especially when speaking about the presence or lack thereof of Moabites in the area. 1) Numbers 21:12-35, which I’ve already treated in contradictions #281, #282-285, and #286 comes from the Yahwist tradition and narrates the Israelite conquest of Amorite territory in Transjordan north of the Arnon river. All of this territory is presentedRead More

#286. Do the Israelites conquer Bashan OR not? (Num 21:31-35; Deut 1:4, 3:1-13; Josh 12:4-5 vs Num 33:48-49)

This last contradiction of Numbers 21 will be a short entry since we’ve already dealt with the competing Transjordanian itineraries between the Priestly writer of Numbers 33 and the Yahwist material of Numbers 21 with respect to its alleged conquest or not. See #281 & #282-285. Thus, as J presented the conquest of Amorite territory in Transjordan and P was silent on the matter—there is no Transjordanian conquest in P—so tooRead More

#282. What were the borders of Moab: from the Wadi Zered to the Arnon OR from the Wadi Zered to the plains of Moab/Beth-jeshimoth? (Num 21:13; Deut 2:24 vs Num 33:44-49; Ezek 25:9; Is 15-16; Jer 48)
#283. From the Arnon the Israelites travel to Beer, east of Amorite territory (i.e., northern Moab) OR to Almon-diblathaim, directly in northern Moab? (Num 21:16 vs Num 33:46)
#284. Do the Israelites invade and conquer Amorite territory from the east OR do they peaceably trek through northern Moab? (Num 21:21-30; Deut 2:24-37 vs Num 33:46-49)
#285. Did the Israelites settle and live in Amorite territory (i.e., northern Moab) OR merely travel through it? (Num 21:25-32 vs Num 33:46-49)

The itinerary and geography presented in Numbers 33 (a Priestly text) contradicts the itinerary and geography given in Numbers 21, primarily the Yahwist material (cf. also Deut 2:2-3:17), on a number of points most of which we’ve already looked at: Num 33:36-38 (P) has the Israelites arrive at Kadesh in the 40th year, contrary to the 2nd year arrival in the earlier Yahwist and Deuteronomic traditions (#274, #279). Num 33:40 (P)Read More