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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 3276 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 06:04
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 527 MDaines 11-Apr-18 08:28
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 455 Origyptian 11-Apr-18 11:15
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 420 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 22:34
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 403 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 13:25
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 391 MDaines 12-Apr-18 13:39
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 363 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 22:47
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 385 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 22:31
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 364 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 13:01
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 395 MDaines 12-Apr-18 13:25
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 370 Audrey 12-Apr-18 17:49
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 373 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 22:36
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 356 Audrey 12-Apr-18 23:08
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 368 Origyptian 13-Apr-18 01:44
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 373 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 03:07
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 370 Eddie Larry 13-Apr-18 03:26
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 359 Origyptian 13-Apr-18 04:00
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 379 Audrey 13-Apr-18 03:16
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 357 Origyptian 13-Apr-18 04:18
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 455 Barbelo 11-Apr-18 11:41
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 376 Thunderbird 11-Apr-18 15:02
Re: Case for no King Solomon 421 Thunderbird 11-Apr-18 15:19
Re: Case for no King Solomon 400 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 22:51
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 424 Audrey 11-Apr-18 16:42
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 378 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 23:11
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 422 Eddie Larry 11-Apr-18 20:40
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 382 Thanos5150 11-Apr-18 22:18
How Big Was The Forest? 378 Barbelo 11-Apr-18 23:25
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 433 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 13:58
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 408 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 16:18
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 374 MDaines 12-Apr-18 16:54
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 355 Audrey 13-Apr-18 03:29
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 380 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 15:20
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 388 Audrey 14-Apr-18 01:57
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 430 Eddie Larry 14-Apr-18 04:12
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 383 Barbelo 14-Apr-18 10:25
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 367 Eddie Larry 14-Apr-18 15:54
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 305 Barbelo 14-Apr-18 22:13
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 337 Eddie Larry 14-Apr-18 22:45
Re: Beer bottles Fly......Duck! 364 Thunderbird 14-Apr-18 22:26
Re: Beer bottles Fly......Duck! 331 Eddie Larry 14-Apr-18 22:37
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 340 Thanos5150 15-Apr-18 02:49
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 338 Eddie Larry 15-Apr-18 02:56
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 364 Thanos5150 15-Apr-18 03:36
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 368 Eddie Larry 15-Apr-18 04:21
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 400 Barbelo 15-Apr-18 05:45
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 342 Eddie Larry 15-Apr-18 14:00
Zagros, Shoulder of the Cosmic Matriarch 378 MDaines 16-Apr-18 07:41
Re: Zagros, Shoulder of the Cosmic Matriarch 359 Thunderbird 16-Apr-18 12:59
Re: Zagros, Shoulder of the Cosmic Matriarch 397 MDaines 16-Apr-18 13:30
Re: Zagros, Shoulder of the Cosmic Matriarch 372 Thanos5150 16-Apr-18 19:39
Re: Zagros, Shoulder of the Cosmic Matriarch 394 MDaines 17-Apr-18 07:40
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 338 Thanos5150 14-Apr-18 14:43
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 402 Mike D 20-Apr-18 13:15
Re: Did the Russians visit Baalbek? 329 Thunderbird 20-Apr-18 13:56
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 390 Thanos5150 20-Apr-18 16:00
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 348 Eddie Larry 20-Apr-18 16:09
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 357 Thanos5150 20-Apr-18 17:00
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 340 Eddie Larry 20-Apr-18 17:11
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 355 Barbelo 20-Apr-18 20:47
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 354 Origyptian 20-Apr-18 21:45
Re: How Big Was The Forest? 465 Barbelo 20-Apr-18 22:57
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 373 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 00:53
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 341 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 03:56
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 363 Corpuscles 12-Apr-18 00:34
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 365 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 01:39
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 387 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 03:52
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 341 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 04:36
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 369 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 14:12
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 376 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 14:44
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 321 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 17:01
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 391 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 00:47
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 288 Eddie Larry 13-Apr-18 03:40
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 402 Audrey 13-Apr-18 05:44
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 359 Thanos5150 14-Apr-18 01:32
Re: Baalbek.....Home of the God's 351 Thunderbird 13-Apr-18 15:14
Re: Baalbek.....Home of the God's 367 Audrey 14-Apr-18 02:30
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 357 Audrey 12-Apr-18 19:42
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 321 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 20:43
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 338 Audrey 12-Apr-18 16:56
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 361 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 17:08
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 344 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 21:42
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 330 Eddie Larry 12-Apr-18 22:41
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 355 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 22:58
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 314 Eddie Larry 13-Apr-18 17:52
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 351 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 19:06
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 354 Origyptian 13-Apr-18 21:08
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 383 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 21:37
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 340 Origyptian 13-Apr-18 22:06
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 343 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 22:41
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 390 Origyptian 14-Apr-18 15:14
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 339 Jon Ellison 14-Apr-18 22:20
Re: For God's sakes Lee!... 351 Thunderbird 16-Apr-18 00:15
Some Give A Shit 396 Barbelo 12-Apr-18 05:11
Re: Some Give A Shit 393 MDaines 12-Apr-18 07:48
Re: Some Give A Shit 353 Audrey 12-Apr-18 20:42
Re: Some Give A Shit 376 Barbelo 12-Apr-18 21:43
Re: Some Give A Shit 346 Audrey 12-Apr-18 23:21
Re: Some Give A Shit 333 Barbelo 13-Apr-18 00:44
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 390 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 15:03
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 363 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 17:11
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 385 MDaines 12-Apr-18 17:55
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 358 Origyptian 12-Apr-18 22:18
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 355 Thunderbird 12-Apr-18 22:53
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 342 Audrey 13-Apr-18 00:28
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 393 Thunderbird 13-Apr-18 03:31
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 349 Thanos5150 12-Apr-18 04:46
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 414 Race Jackson 12-Apr-18 22:54
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 400 MDaines 13-Apr-18 08:20
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 380 Audrey 14-Apr-18 00:40
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 407 MDaines 14-Apr-18 08:04
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 403 Manu 13-Apr-18 18:10
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 375 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 19:28
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 360 Manu 13-Apr-18 19:50
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 363 Thanos5150 13-Apr-18 20:53
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 369 Manu 13-Apr-18 21:31
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 350 Barbelo 13-Apr-18 20:26
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 188 Thanos5150 14-Sep-19 15:17
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 204 Eddie Larry 14-Sep-19 15:50
Re: Case for an Older Baalbek 261 engbren 17-Sep-19 03:13


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