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Sizes in ancient texts sometimes used hyperbole e.g. "as many as the grains of sand on the shore" is a typical example. But also a factor in ancient languages is that they used homonyms just as the English language does, and distinguished differences from context. (Example: "row" has several meanings in English, I can think of 3 immediately and there may be more.)

To take a biblical example, "אלפ" means thousand in ancient Hebrew. But it originally meant "head" or "head of an ox", and in context regarding numbers of people in the 12 tribes it also meant "head of the household".

So in Numbers 2 where you see the listing of the peoples, you might see a modern translation like: "The leader of the people of Judah is Nahshon son of Amminadab. His division numbers 74,600." Then: "The leader of the people of Issachar is Nethanel son of Zuar. His division numbers 54,400." And so on.

But if you add up all the numbers you get: 74,600+54,400+57,400=186,400; 46,500+59,300+45,650=151,450; 40,500+32,200+35,400=108,100; 62,700+41,500+53,400=157,600. Then 186,400+151,450+108,100+157,600=603,550. However there is something strange. If you then go right to numbers 3:43 it says: "The total number of firstborn males a month old or more, listed by name, was 22,273". So really -- if there were 603,500 men able to fight, but between them all they only had 22,273 firstborn sons? Something is wrong.

One attempt at handling this is to assume in context that Judah consisted of 74 households of 600 men, and Issachar had 54 households of 400 men, and so on. This approach results in 598 households of 5,550 men. But this results in too small of a number of men, because they couldn't have 22,273 firstborn sons. Or if it was 22 households with 273 firstborn sons, that is too few firstborn sons for 5,550 men.

So no matter how you slice it, the numbers are messed up. A clue exists in the name of the book (Numbers) but no one has I think ever figured out an explanation that satisfies everyone.

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Subject Views Written By Posted
Case for an Older Baalbek 2405 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 06:04
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 384 MDaines 11-Apr-18 08:28
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 310 Origyptian 11-Apr-18 11:15
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 302 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 22:34
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 286 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 13:25
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 280 MDaines 12-Apr-18 13:39
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 253 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 22:47
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 268 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 22:31
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 235 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 13:01
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 284 MDaines 12-Apr-18 13:25
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 249 Audrey 12-Apr-18 17:49
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 234 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 22:36
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 251 Audrey 12-Apr-18 23:08
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 240 Origyptian 13-Apr-18 01:44
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 247 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 03:07
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 222 Eddie Larry 13-Apr-18 03:26
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 234 Origyptian 13-Apr-18 04:00
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 270 Audrey 13-Apr-18 03:16
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 229 Origyptian 13-Apr-18 04:18
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 307 Barbelo 11-Apr-18 11:41
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 263 Thunderbird 11-Apr-18 15:02
Re: Case for no King Solomon 285 Thunderbird 11-Apr-18 15:19
Re: Case for no King Solomon 266 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 22:51
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 297 Audrey 11-Apr-18 16:42
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 254 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 23:11
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 254 Eddie Larry 11-Apr-18 20:40
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 255 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 22:18
How Big Was The Forest? 262 Barbelo 11-Apr-18 23:25
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 251 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 13:58
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 250 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 16:18
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 257 MDaines 12-Apr-18 16:54
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 235 Audrey 13-Apr-18 03:29
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 266 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 15:20
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 257 Audrey 14-Apr-18 01:57
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 296 Eddie Larry 14-Apr-18 04:12
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 246 Barbelo 14-Apr-18 10:25
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 241 Eddie Larry 14-Apr-18 15:54
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 203 Barbelo 14-Apr-18 22:13
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 221 Eddie Larry 14-Apr-18 22:45
Re: Beer bottles Fly......Duck! 229 Thunderbird 14-Apr-18 22:26
Re: Beer bottles Fly......Duck! 225 Eddie Larry 14-Apr-18 22:37
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 218 Thanos5150 15-Apr-18 02:49
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 219 Eddie Larry 15-Apr-18 02:56
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 236 Thanos5150 15-Apr-18 03:36
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 218 Eddie Larry 15-Apr-18 04:21
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 255 Barbelo 15-Apr-18 05:45
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 208 Eddie Larry 15-Apr-18 14:00
Zagros, Shoulder of the Cosmic Matriarch 259 MDaines 16-Apr-18 07:41
Re: Zagros, Shoulder of the Cosmic Matriarch 224 Thunderbird 16-Apr-18 12:59
Re: Zagros, Shoulder of the Cosmic Matriarch 271 MDaines 16-Apr-18 13:30
Re: Zagros, Shoulder of the Cosmic Matriarch 251 Thanos5150 16-Apr-18 19:39
Re: Zagros, Shoulder of the Cosmic Matriarch 256 MDaines 17-Apr-18 07:40
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 230 Thanos5150 14-Apr-18 14:43
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 263 Mike D 20-Apr-18 13:15
Re: Did the Russians visit Baalbek? 211 Thunderbird 20-Apr-18 13:56
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 211 Thanos5150 20-Apr-18 16:00
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 230 Eddie Larry 20-Apr-18 16:09
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 221 Thanos5150 20-Apr-18 17:00
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 219 Eddie Larry 20-Apr-18 17:11
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 240 Barbelo 20-Apr-18 20:47
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 211 Origyptian 20-Apr-18 21:45
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 316 Barbelo 20-Apr-18 22:57
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 227 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 00:53
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 229 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 03:56
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 239 Corpuscles 12-Apr-18 00:34
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 252 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 01:39
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 249 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 03:52
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 224 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 04:36
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 243 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 14:12
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 239 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 14:44
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 196 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 17:01
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 260 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 00:47
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 185 Eddie Larry 13-Apr-18 03:40
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 259 Audrey 13-Apr-18 05:44
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 222 Thanos5150 14-Apr-18 01:32
Re: Baalbek.....Home of the God's 237 Thunderbird 13-Apr-18 15:14
Re: Baalbek.....Home of the God's 226 Audrey 14-Apr-18 02:30
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 220 Audrey 12-Apr-18 19:42
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 208 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 20:43
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 225 Audrey 12-Apr-18 16:56
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 236 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 17:08
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 229 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 21:42
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 209 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 22:41
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 224 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 22:58
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 205 Eddie Larry 13-Apr-18 17:52
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 221 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 19:06
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 213 Origyptian 13-Apr-18 21:08
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 236 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 21:37
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 216 Origyptian 13-Apr-18 22:06
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 228 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 22:41
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 229 Origyptian 14-Apr-18 15:14
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 213 Jon Ellison 14-Apr-18 22:20
Re: For God's sakes Lee!... 229 Thunderbird 16-Apr-18 00:15
Some Give A Shit 285 Barbelo 12-Apr-18 05:11
Re: Some Give A Shit 277 MDaines 12-Apr-18 07:48
Re: Some Give A Shit 243 Audrey 12-Apr-18 20:42
Re: Some Give A Shit 246 Barbelo 12-Apr-18 21:43
Re: Some Give A Shit 227 Audrey 12-Apr-18 23:21
Re: Some Give A Shit 225 Barbelo 13-Apr-18 00:44
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 232 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 15:03
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 233 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 17:11
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 269 MDaines 12-Apr-18 17:55
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 228 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 22:18
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 238 Thunderbird 12-Apr-18 22:53
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 221 Audrey 13-Apr-18 00:28
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 257 Thunderbird 13-Apr-18 03:31
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 233 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 04:46
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 280 Race Jackson 12-Apr-18 22:54
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 287 MDaines 13-Apr-18 08:20
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 255 Audrey 14-Apr-18 00:40
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 299 MDaines 14-Apr-18 08:04
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 271 Manu 13-Apr-18 18:10
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 233 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 19:28
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 237 Manu 13-Apr-18 19:50
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 228 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 20:53
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 238 Manu 13-Apr-18 21:31
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 238 Barbelo 13-Apr-18 20:26
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 69 Thanos5150 14-Sep-19 15:17
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 78 Eddie Larry 14-Sep-19 15:50
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 104 engbren 17-Sep-19 03:13


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