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Ex 16-18 vs Num 11

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  • Ex 16-18 vs Num 11

    Has anyone investigated the apparent discrepancy between Exodus chapters 16 to 18 and Numbers chapter 11?

    On face value we have parallel accounts of two events but an apparent scribal (priestly) redaction of a third (assuming these accounts are of the same chronological events).

    Also there is a contradictory time differential wherein the parallel events of Numbers 11 occurred after 26 months of exile, whereas the parallel events of the book of Exodus occurred within a couple of months of the commencement of the exile.

  • #2
    It's not clear to me what parallel accounts you're talking about. Are you saying that the appointment of seventy elders to "receive some of the Spirit that is on Moses" to assist with a crisis of revolt in Numbers 11:16-30 is the same as Moses, at Jethro's recommendation, choosing "heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens" to help judge the people's disputes, prior to Sinai, in Exodus 18:13-26? While both episodes involve delegation of powers, they don't sound like parallel accounts of the same event. Or are you talking about something else?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by RBerman View Post
      It's not clear to me what parallel accounts you're talking about.
      Note the complaints of the Israelites, the then appearance of the manna and then the partridges, and finally the delegation of Moses' responsibilities. In the later case, Exodus has Jethro the priest of the Midianites (Moses' father-in-law) instigating such. In Numbers Moses appeals to YHWH to reduce his burden and so YHWH reduces the spirit given to Moses and redistributes it towards the seventy.

      Originally posted by RBerman View Post
      Are you saying that the appointment of seventy elders to "receive some of the Spirit that is on Moses" to assist with a crisis of revolt in Numbers 11:16-30 is the same as Moses, at Jethro's recommendation, choosing "heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens" to help judge the people's disputes, prior to Sinai, in Exodus 18:13-26? While both episodes involve delegation of powers, they don't sound like parallel accounts of the same event. Or are you talking about something else?
      On face value focusing exclusively on Ex 18 I might agree. However, taking Ex 15-17v nto account we find identical circumstances of the Israelites revolt ie: the Israelites starvation and the solution = the delivery of the manna and partridges. If the events are separate then from the Israelites viewpoint we have a "been there, done that event" (with a 26 month interval between identical events). If these are two separate chronicles, then we have to accept that Moses' implementation of Jethro's advice failed and he had to start all over again using YHWH's direct intervention. That is a possibility, but still we are stuck with reconciling the background story and the occasion of the manna and partridges...
      Last edited by apostoli; 05-19-2014, 04:19 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by apostoli View Post
        Originally posted by RBerman
        Are you saying that the appointment of seventy elders to "receive some of the Spirit that is on Moses" to assist with a crisis of revolt in Numbers 11:16-30 is the same as Moses, at Jethro's recommendation, choosing "heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens" to help judge the people's disputes, prior to Sinai, in Exodus 18:13-26? While both episodes involve delegation of powers, they don't sound like parallel accounts of the same event. Or are you talking about something else?
        On face value focusing exclusively on Ex 18 I might agree. However, taking Ex 15-17v nto account we find identical circumstances of the Israelites revolt ie: the Israelites starvation and the solution = the delivery of the manna and partridges. If the events are separate then from the Israelites viewpoint we have a "been there, done that event" (with a 26 month interval between identical events). If these are two separate chronicles, then we have to accept that Moses' implementation of Jethro's advice failed and he had to start all over again using YHWH's direct intervention. That is a possibility, but still we are stuck with reconciling the background story and the occasion of the manna and partridges...
        Certainly there are some similarities between the two events, as I discussed. For that matter, one could argue that the same thing happens over and over in the book of Judges: Israel rebels, is conquered, repents, and successfully rises against their oppressors. I would not attempt to collapse all those into a single event, though. For that matter, Mark's gospel account contains both the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6) and the feeding of the four thousand (Mark 8), and specifically mentions that they were different events. (Mark 8:19-21) Jesus also appears to have cleansed the temple on two different occasions. Are you of the higher critical school that collapses all these into single events, or perhaps myths altogether?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by RBerman View Post
          Are you of the higher critical school that collapses all these into single events, or perhaps myths altogether?
          No!

          Should you need to categorize me, I'd put me into the analytical school (in Jewish terms Hillel vs Shammai). It is obvious in scripture that here and there, there are priestly redactions (revisions). The most famous and obvious being David's census of his troops which is variously attributed as God inspired or Satan inspired (imo, David & the Israelites got full of themselves and determined they were not dependent on YHWH for their victories - it was simply a matter of muscle. Which is why YHWH punished all of Israel for David's census, and why David himself had to repent to save Israel from YHWH's wrath).

          Could Numbers 11 be another priestly redaction which attempted to impose a priestly perspective on a shameful event ie: Jethro, Moses' father-in-law was a priest of the Medianites, Moses' wife was a Midianite, such is kept quite in Numbers, to presumably excuse what was presumably a priestly inspired genocide of the Midianites (many a commentor, Jewish and otherwise make mention of the competition between what is termed the YHWHists and the ELists. Which might be interpreted as the competition between the Levites and the order of Melkezidek, plus both competing against the various Baal priesthoods) .

          Originally posted by RBerman View Post
          Certainly there are some similarities between the two events, as I discussed. For that matter, one could argue that the same thing happens over and over in the book of Judges: Israel rebels, is conquered, repents, and successfully rises against their oppressors. I would not attempt to collapse all those into a single event, though. For that matter, Mark's gospel account contains both the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6) and the feeding of the four thousand (Mark 8), and specifically mentions that they were different events. (Mark 8:19-21) Jesus also appears to have cleansed the temple on two different occasions. Are you of the higher critical school that collapses all these into single events, or perhaps myths altogether?
          Now how often do you have the Israelites starving and God sending manna and partridges to save them and then Moses delegating his authority? The similarities are too identical to be taken as separate events, though with a huge stretch of the imagination they might be conceived as such. It is interesting that on delivery of manna, partridges and delegation of powers that the scribes didn't comment that "once again" YHWH delivered his people in the same way that he had done more than two years earlier...
          Last edited by apostoli; 05-19-2014, 06:49 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by apostoli View Post
            Should you need to categorize me, I'd put me into the analytical school (in Jewish terms Hillel vs Shammai). It is obvious in scripture that here and there, there are priestly redactions (revisions). The most famous and obvious being David's census of his troops which is variously attributed as God inspired or Satan inspired (imo, David & the Israelites got full of themselves and determined they were not dependent on YHWH for their victories - it was simply a matter of muscle. Which is why YHWH punished all of Israel for David's census, and why David himself had to repent to save Israel from YHWH's wrath).
            The "analytical school" sounds an awful lot like the Higher Critical school that wrecked mainline Christianity in Europe and America. I do agree that God punished David for pride in the census results. I understand why some blanch at one text saying God inspired it and another text saying Satan inspired it, but redaction is not the only explanation, and certainly not the best one for those who believe that the Bible is God's Word.

            Could Numbers 11 be another priestly redaction which attempted to impose a priestly perspective on a shameful event ie: Jethro, Moses' father-in-law was a priest of the Medianites, Moses' wife was a Midianite, such is kept quite in Numbers, to presumably excuse what was presumably a priestly inspired genocide of the Midianites (many a commentor, Jewish and otherwise make mention of the competition between what is termed the YHWHists and the ELists. Which might be interpreted as the competition between the Levites and the order of Melkezidek, plus both competing against the various Baal priesthoods).
            I see no reason to think it was a redaction. I noted several other repeated events on which one could fire the "redaction-cannon" if one was inspired to do so, but why go there?

            Now how often do you have the Israelites starving and God sending manna and partridges to save them and then Moses delegating his authority? The similarities are too identical to be taken as separate events, though with a huge stretch of the imagination they might be conceived as such. It is interesting that on delivery of manna, partridges and delegation of powers that the scribes didn't comment that "once again" YHWH delivered his people in the same way that he had done more than two years earlier...
            Does the Bible always say "once again" when a similar event happens more than once? Do you, in your own life? I don't, and an argument from such silence is no argument.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by RBerman View Post
              Originally posted by apostoli
              Should you need to categorize me, I'd put me into the analytical school (in Jewish terms Hillel vs Shammai).
              The "analytical school" sounds an awful lot like the Higher Critical school that wrecked mainline Christianity in Europe and America.
              The "German" school of thought to which you refer has been quite devastating on mainline protestant christianity but has had little impact on the more scholastic branches (eg: the RCC). Basically, I deal in facts as opposed to wishful thinking or aberrant literalism (eg: according to scripture, a day in God's eyes is not the same as ours, thus a day to God is likened to a thousand years to us).

              Imu, when we learn that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (1 Tim 3:16), we shouldn't be expecting a book containing literal histories or sciences or an "Idiots guide to life" but a discourse on failures and successes from which we can draw upon to guide our direction. My favourite example is King David, whom on the scriptural account, I perceive as a most despicable person with no saving graces, yet YHWH saw some virtue in him, to the extent that YHWH permitted David to be worshiped in direct equivalence (1 Chron 29:20). The scriptural evidence is that like Christianity, David usurped the Levitical priesthood and as a consequence discarded Moses' ordinances which was the Levitical bulwark.

              Originally posted by RBerman View Post
              I do agree that God punished David for pride in the census results.
              It is nice when we can agree on some things ;-}

              Originally posted by RBerman View Post
              I understand why some blanch at one text saying God inspired it and another text saying Satan inspired it, but redaction is not the only explanation, and certainly not the best one for those who believe that the Bible is God's Word.
              The fact that the texts we have received down to this age have been redacted in various places is indisputable - there is sufficient manuscript evidence to prove the point (especially with the masoretic text used by many modern bible translations). Imo, it doesn't really matter, as the scribes were attempting to teach (albeit at times there appears to be political motivations), not implement some idolatrous phenomena (as protestants have had a tendency to do, and in so doing have diminished the message God intended - thus the decline in most protestant denominations).

              Originally posted by RBerman View Post
              I see no reason to think it was a redaction. I noted several other repeated events on which one could fire the "redaction-cannon" if one was inspired to do so, but why go there?
              Most people follow a path to see or revisit where it concludes. In Biblical study the aim is to seek out the lesson we are being taught, we "go there" to seek out the truth rather than close our eyes to reality.

              Unfortunately, none of your excuses have four events in the same chronological order as each other. Possibly the parallel accounts in Exodus 16-18 and Numbers 11 are co-incidental - but probability suggests otherwise, especially when we take to account Aaron's apparent hatred of the Midianites (on the basis of scriptural imputation, such hatred being inspired by Moses' wife's influence on Moses, which takes us back to Jethro, the priest of the Midianites who for a time was Moses' chief adviser).

              Originally posted by RBerman View Post
              Does the Bible always say "once again" when a similar event happens more than once? Do you, in your own life? I don't, and an argument from such silence is no argument.
              An empty comment.

              If we assume that the parallel scenarios of Exodus 16-18 and Numbers 11 are separate events, first we need to deduce what happened with the Judges instigated by Moses on Jethro's advice. What happened to them that led to Moses' appeal to YHWH and the establishment of the 70? Scripture is silent on the matter!!!

              The argument stems from the fact that both accounts present four circumstances in the same chronological order, with the only discrepancy being who instigated the last event. Plus the background stories in Numbers and Exodus. Only the profoundly deaf and/or blind would argue that here we have an argument from silence (cp. Is 6:10; Acts 28:27) but the coherent person would perceive something requiring investigation = What are we to learn from the two accounts?

              All the above aside: We are left with the biblical silence that Moses' establishment of the Judges via Jethro's advice was a dismal failure that was abandoned. Numbers 11 tells us that two years later Moses appealed to God to take the load from his shoulders which led to the dissolution of his spirit and its redistribution amoungst the selected seventy. If we have two different events then we are still left with a major problem concerning Moses' ready adoption of Jethro's ...if it was against God's will, why did God wait two years before intervening, but still implementing what Jethro had suggested?
              Last edited by apostoli; 05-20-2014, 12:33 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by apostoli View Post
                The "German" school of thought to which you refer has been quite devastating on mainline protestant christianity but has had little impact on the more scholastic branches (eg: the RCC). Basically, I deal in facts as opposed to wishful thinking or aberrant literalism (eg: according to scripture, a day in God's eyes is not the same as ours, thus a day to God is likened to a thousand years to us).
                Context, please. Psalm 90:3-4 is not saying that anytime we see the word "day" in the Bible, it may actually mean "a thousand years." It's saying that the lifespans of men are nothing in comparison with God's eternity. Which of us is really engaging in "aberrant literalism" in his interpretation of that verse?

                Imu, when we learn that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (1 Tim 3:16), we shouldn't be expecting a book containing literal histories or sciences or an "Idiots guide to life" but a discourse on failures and successes from which we can draw upon to guide our direction. My favourite example is King David, whom on the scriptural account, I perceive as a most despicable person with no saving graces, yet YHWH saw some virtue in him, to the extent that YHWH permitted David to be worshiped in direct equivalence (1 Chron 29:20). The scriptural evidence is that like Christianity, David usurped the Levitical priesthood and as a consequence discarded Moses' ordinances which was the Levitical bulwark.
                The Bible is not an idiot's guide to anything. It is however a revelation of God's will for his people, either by instruction or by example. The Bible always grounds its theological claims in historical claims. If the history is not true, then the theological claims should not be taken seriously either. Paul makes this argument about the resurrection of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15, for instance. Does it matter whether Christ's resurrection really happened? It does; otherwise, "Your faith is in vain."

                The fact that the texts we have received down to this age have been redacted in various places is indisputable - there is sufficient manuscript evidence to prove the point (especially with the masoretic text used by many modern bible translations). Imo, it doesn't really matter, as the scribes were attempting to teach (albeit at times there appears to be political motivations), not implement some idolatrous phenomena (as protestants have had a tendency to do, and in so doing have diminished the message God intended - thus the decline in most protestant denominations).
                Your claim of redactions is in fact heavily disputed, though perhaps not in the circles in which you walk.

                Unfortunately, none of your excuses have four events in the same chronological order as each other. Possibly the parallel accounts in Exodus 16-18 and Numbers 11 are co-incidental - but probability suggests otherwise, especially when we take to account Aaron's apparent hatred of the Midianites (on the basis of scriptural imputation, such hatred being inspired by Moses' wife's influence on Moses, which takes us back to Jethro, the priest of the Midianites who for a time was Moses' chief adviser).
                Your assessment of "probability" seems colored by your redactionist bias.

                If we assume that the parallel scenarios of Exodus 16-18 and Numbers 11 are separate events, first we need to deduce what happened with the Judges instigated by Moses on Jethro's advice. What happened to them that led to Moses' appeal to YHWH and the establishment of the 70? Scripture is silent on the matter!!!

                The argument stems from the fact that both accounts present four circumstances in the same chronological order, with the only discrepancy being who instigated the last event. Plus the background stories in Numbers and Exodus. Only the profoundly deaf and/or blind would argue that here we have an argument from silence (cp. Is 6:10; Acts 28:27) but the coherent person would perceive something requiring investigation = What are we to learn from the two accounts?

                All the above aside: We are left with the biblical silence that Moses' establishment of the Judges via Jethro's advice was a dismal failure that was abandoned. Numbers 11 tells us that two years later Moses appealed to God to take the load from his shoulders which led to the dissolution of his spirit and its redistribution amoungst the selected seventy. If we have two different events then we are still left with a major problem concerning Moses' ready adoption of Jethro's ...if it was against God's will, why did God wait two years before intervening, but still implementing what Jethro had suggested?
                Again, the two events are separate issues, with separate consequences. Exodus 16 describes the institution of a legal system which consisted of more than Moses. The Israelites would have needed one, without the Egyptian court system they had left behind. This freed up Moses not to have to hear every petty squabble between two people. Surely you don't take the Bible's further "silence" on the tribal judicial system to mean that it collapsed, and all million people resumed bringing their individual complaints to Moses directly?

                Whereas in Numbers 11, the seventy elders were appointed as a buffer between the griping tribes and Moses, who was going bonkers from the constant complaining. The text specifically says that the Spirit resting on the elders only caused them to prophecy a single time. The elders are mentioned again in Deuteronomy 27, 29, 31; Joshua 7,8, 23, etc.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                  Again, the two events are separate issues, with separate consequences. Exodus 16 describes the institution of a legal system which consisted of more than Moses. The Israelites would have needed one, without the Egyptian court system they had left behind. This freed up Moses not to have to hear every petty squabble between two people. Surely you don't take the Bible's further "silence" on the tribal judicial system to mean that it collapsed, and all million people resumed bringing their individual complaints to Moses directly?

                  Whereas in Numbers 11, the seventy elders were appointed as a buffer between the griping tribes and Moses, who was going bonkers from the constant complaining. The text specifically says that the Spirit resting on the elders only caused them to prophecy a single time. The elders are mentioned again in Deuteronomy 27, 29, 31; Joshua 7,8, 23, etc.
                  The fact is that scripture provides two identical scenarios of four events with only the last having a different impetuous. Focusing on the last, according to scripture, was it Jethro who suggested a method to relieve Moses' burden which Moses implemented or was it Moses' appeal to YHWH's intervention two years later that relieved Moses of his burden which according to Numbers 11 causes a diminution in his Spirit allocation?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by apostoli View Post
                    The fact is that scripture provides two identical scenarios of four events with only the last having a different impetuous. Focusing on the last, according to scripture, was it Jethro who suggested a method to relieve Moses' burden which Moses implemented or was it Moses' appeal to YHWH's intervention two years later that relieved Moses of his burden which according to Numbers 11 causes a diminution in his Spirit allocation?
                    They are not identical; we have discussed the several ways they are different, from the burden at hand, to whose idea it was to do something, to what was done. Their only similarity is that Moses got help, which is surely something that happened not just twice, but many times.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                      They are not identical; we have discussed the several ways they are different , from the burden at hand, to whose idea it was to do something, to what was done.
                      News to me! Show me where...

                      Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                      Their only similarity is that Moses got help, which is surely something that happened not just twice, but many times.
                      Obviously you haven't read either Exodus or Numbers in the context we are discussing. There are three identical circumstances that proceed the establishment of the judges:

                      1. The Israelites sojourn in the desert
                      2. They are hungry. God sends them manna.
                      3. They hunger for meat. God sends them partridges.

                      According to Numbers the Israelites are on the verge of stoning Moses and Moses can no longer take the pressure. In Exodus everything seems OK, and Jethro suggests a way for Moses to relieve his day to day burden. On the basis of those two circumstances you may have point. However, you still haven't accounted for the background story ie: the sojourn in the desert, the manna and the partridges...

                      The author of Numbers apparently didn't have a high opinion of Moses, once describing him as the meekest of men (ie: spineless).
                      Last edited by apostoli; 05-21-2014, 11:24 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by apostoli View Post
                        News to me! Show me where...
                        I am referring to posts #2 and #8 in this thread.

                        Obviously you haven't read either Exodus or Numbers in the context we are discussing. There are three identical circumstances that proceed the establishment of the judges:

                        1. The Israelites sojourn in the desert
                        2. They are hungry. God sends them manna.
                        3. They hunger for meat. God sends them partridges.

                        According to Numbers the Israelites are on the verge of stoning Moses and Moses can no longer take the pressure. In Exodus everything seems OK, and Jethro suggests a way for Moses to relieve his day to day burden. On the basis of those two circumstances you may have point. However, you still haven't accounted for the background story ie: the sojourn in the desert, the manna and the partridges.
                        The sojourn in the wilderness lasted forty years and was the background for many events, some of which would have resembled each other in the monotony of the desert. It seems a safe bet that, over the course of their time in the wilderness, the Israelites complained not just twice but many times that every single meal was manna. But to avoid tedium, we only hear about two occasions.

                        The author of Numbers apparently didn't have a high opinion of Moses, once describing him as the meekest of men (ie: spineless).
                        Jesus praises meekness in Matthew 5:5, quoting Psalm 37;11, which is describing what God's people should be like. Psalm 45:4 lists meekness as an attribute of the conquering king of Israel. Are you sure it's an insult?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                          The sojourn in the wilderness lasted forty years and was the background for many events, some of which would have resembled each other in the monotony of the desert. It seems a safe bet that, over the course of their time in the wilderness, the Israelites complained not just twice but many times that every single meal was manna. But to avoid tedium, we only hear about two occasions.
                          That would have to be the lamess (and most biblically ignorant) statement I have ever read. It ignores all the biblical facts presented to us...

                          Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                          Jesus praises meekness in Matthew 5:5, quoting Psalm 37;11, which is describing what God's people should be like. Psalm 45:4 lists meekness as an attribute of the conquering king of Israel. Are you sure it's an insult?
                          There is a difference between what Jesus describes as meekness and what Numbers describes of Moses. Aaron and his wife were on a persecution quest of Moses' wife, YHWH punished Aaron's wife in a most severe manner - Moses just hid in a corner (so to speak).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by apostoli View Post
                            There is a difference between what Jesus describes as meekness and what Numbers describes of Moses. Aaron and his wife were on a persecution quest of Moses' wife, YHWH punished Aaron's wife in a most severe manner - Moses just hid in a corner (so to speak).
                            Or perhaps Moses left vengeance to God.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                              Or perhaps Moses left vengeance to God.
                              If so, then why did Moses plead with YHWH to heal Miriam of the leprosy that YHWH had just inflicted upon her?

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