The Composition of Numbers 32: A New Proposal

Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

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 Gray, Numbers, 426; 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)

    Bacon, Triple Tradition, 235. 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 Baden, Composition, 103-128; 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 Kuenen, Hexateuch, 101; 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 Knohl, Sanctuary, 98; Milgrom, Numbers, 493.

  • 62)

    Van Seters, Life, 443; Loewenstamm, “Settlement,” 127; Achenbach, Vollendung, 376-377; Knohl, Sanctuary, 98.

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  • 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-Battersby, Hexateuch, 239.

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