#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

#281. Did the Israelites pass around Moab OR through Moab? (Num 21:12-13; Judg 11:18 vs Num 33:45-49; Deut 2:18)

From there [Hor, east of Edom, or Iye-abarim (see #268, #275, #278)] they traveled and they encamped in the Wadi Zered. And from there they traveled and they encamped across the Arnon, in the wilderness extending from the territory of the Amorites. For the Arnon represents the boundary of Moab, dividing Moab from the territory of the Amorites. (Num 21:12-13) The tradition recorded here (J) makes it sound as if theRead More

#280. Where are the 1st generation Israelites killed off: in the Wilderness of Paran OR the Wilderness of Paran plus Transjordan OR during the trek southward to the Red Sea and northward around Edom? (Num 14:29-35, 32:13 vs Num 26:1-65 vs Deut 2:14-15)

Chronologically speaking it looks like the Priestly and Deuteronomic traditions are in agreement about when the 1st generation Israelites die off in the wilderness. Yahweh, tradition has it, wiped out 625,548 Israelites during the 38 years spanning the spying of the land till the 40th year. However, since the itineraries of these traditions vary greatly (see #268, #275, #278) where these Israelites are cut down geographically also varies. Again, Deuteronomy 2:14 statesRead More