In its present form, the census description in Numbers 26 can be identified as the product of a protracted literary process. Three principal stages of composition may be discerned as: a) close reliance on the list in Genesis 46 produced a census description and a list of the Israelite clans when they left Egypt ; b) the displacement of the original list from its original location to its extant position, wherein it serves as a “database” for the allocation of Canaan in accordance with the size of the tribes; c) the text reflected in the MT, in which the original form of the list was changed to better fit the new context, thereby establishing a greater similitude between Numbers 26 and other parts in its literary context.
A careful analysis of the account of the investiture of Joshua in Num. 27:12-23 reveals that there are some interpolations. The reviser made this account correspond to the account in Deuteronomy, and emphasized the need for divine guidance. He also placed Eleazar the priest in a position of leadership alongside Joshua and gave him the higher status of the two. This pericope and its revision reflect controversy surrounding the question of the appropriate form of government that took place in the Persian period.
In the story of the siege of Samaria (2 Kgs 6:24–7:20), the passage in which the king surprisingly threatens to kill Elisha (6:31–33) is problematic. This passage also recounts the preparations by Elisha and the elders who are with him for the arrival of the king’s messenger who comes to kill the prophet (6:32). Eventually, and without explanation, the king abandons his initial intention to kill Elisha (6:33). This strange passage does not promote the plot and its function in the story is not clear.
An analysis of this passage in its context leads to the recognition that the story is not unified and reveals the stages of its development. Understanding the motivation for developing the story leads to another conclusion: that the formation of this story is closely related to the wider context, namely the redaction of the Elisha cycle.