The Composition of Numbers 32: A New Proposal

In: Vetus Testamentum


This paper addresses the compositional history of the story of the apportionment of the Transjordan to the Reubenites and Gadites in Numbers 32. After a detailed study of the narrative difficulties within this chapter, it is argued that Numbers 32 contains two independent stories and a post-compilational insertion. Each of the two stories is then analyzed on its own terms and placed within its broader Pentateuchal context.

  • 3)

    See GrayNumbers426; Kuenen Hexateuch 101. Both of these scholars suggest that the compiler or a redactor is deviating from his usual practice of weaving two sources together in order to make up his own account based upon them. Baden also suggests overly complex redactional activity in this chapter (Redaction 143-144).

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  • 33)

    BaconTriple Tradition235. Noting the resemblance of these verses to Judges 1 Gray argues that it originally belonged to the account of the conquest after Moses’ death (Numbers 438). Cf. Simpson Early Traditions 276; Carpenter and Harford Battersby Hexateuch 241.

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  • 41)

    See for example A. Hurvitz“Linguistic observations on the priestly term ‘edah and the language of P” Immanuel 1 (1978): 21-23; J. Milgrom “Priestly Terminology and the Political and Social Structure of Pre-Monarchic Israel” Jewish Quarterly Review 69 (1978): 65-81.

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  • 50)

    See BadenComposition103-128; J. S. Baden “The Narratives of Numbers 20-21” forthcoming; B. J. Schwartz “Reexamining the Fate of the Canaanites in the Torah Traditions” in Sefer Moshe: The Moshe Weinfeld Jubilee Volume: Studies in the Bible and the Ancient Near East Qumran and Post-Biblical Judaism (ed. C. Cohen A. Hurvitz and S.M. Paul; Winona Lake 2004) 151-170.

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  • 51)

    J. S. Baden“From Joseph to Moses: The Narratives of Exodus 1-2” VT 62 (2012) 153.

  • 54)

    Among others see KuenenHexateuch101; Seebass “Erwägungen” 37; Achenbach Vollendung 381-382; Simpson Early Traditions 272; Loewenstamm “Settlement” 129; Schmidt “Ansiedlung” 500; Licht Bamidbar 168-169.

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  • 58)

    Contra KnohlSanctuary98; Milgrom Numbers 493.

  • 62)

    Van SetersLife443; Loewenstamm “Settlement” 127; Achenbach Vollendung 376-377; Knohl Sanctuary 98.

  • 63)

    See T. Römer“Israel’s Sojourn in the Wilderness and the Construction of the Book of Numbers,” in Reflection and Refraction: Studies in Biblical Historiography in Honour of A. Graeme Auld (ed. R. Rezetko T. H. Lim and W. B. Aucker; Leiden Boston: Brill 2007) 444: “as a matter of pure speculation one could even imagine that Deuteronomy was first attached at the end of Leviticus.”

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  • 64)

    See T. Römer“Israel’s Sojourn” 427.

  • 65)

    Carpenter and Harford-BattersbyHexateuch239.

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