Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Numbers 16:30--Other Perspectives

George Bush Commentary (not the former U.S. President): http://archive.org/stream/notescriticalan06bushgoog#page/n245/mode/1up

Adam Clarke: "If the Lord make a new thing - יהוה יברא בריאה ואם veim beriah yibra Yehovah, and if Jehovah should create a creation, i. e., do such a thing as was never done before."

See http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/view.cgi?book=nu&chapter=016

NET Bible: "But if the Lord does something entirely new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up along with all that they have, and they go down alive to the grave, then you will know that these men have despised the Lord!"

Footnote from NET Bible: "tn The verb בָּרָא (bara’) is normally translated 'create' in the Bible. More specifically it means to fashion or make or do something new and fresh. Here the verb is joined with its cognate accusative to underscore that this will be so different everyone will know it is of God."

"But if a death which hath not been created since the days of the world be now created for them, and if a mouth for the earth, which hath not been made from the beginning, be created now, and the earth open her mouth and swallow them and all they have, and they go down alive into Sheul, you will understand that these men have provoked the Lord to anger" (Targum on Numbers: Pseudo-Jonathan).

[From The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee by J. W. Etheridge, M.A. First Published 1862.]

Rashi's Notes on Numbers 16:30:

"But if . . . a creation: A new one."

"the Lord creates: to kill them through a death by which no man has died until now. And what is this creation? 'And the earth will open its mouth and swallow them up.' Then you will know that they have provoked the Holy One, blessed is He, and I [Moses] have spoken by Divine word. Our Rabbis interpret it: If there was a mouth already created to the earth from the time of the six days of Creation, well and good, but if not, let God create [one now]. - [Mid. Tanchuma Korach, Sanh. 110a]"


Duncan said...

Interesting quotes - thanks.

On Exodus 15:12.

"The sea spake to the earth, Receive but the earth spake to the sea, Receive thy murderers. And the sea was not willing to overwhelm them, and the earth was not willing to swallow them up. The earth was afraid to receive them, lest they should be required from her in the day of the great judgment in the world to come, even as the blood of Habel will be required of her: whereupon Thou, 0 Lord, didst stretch forth Thy right hand in swearing to the earth that in the world to come they should not be required of her. And the earth opened her mouth and consumed them.

[JERUSALEM. The sea and the earth had controversy one with the other. The sea said to the earth, Receive thy children; and the earth said to the sea, Receive thy murderers. But the earth willed not to swallow them, and the sea willed not to overwhelm them. And by the Word from before Thee Thou. didst stretch forth Thy right hand in oath., and didst swear unto the earth that Thou wilt not require them of her in the world to come. Then did the earth open her mouth and swallow them up.]"

(Targum on Numbers: Pseudo-Jonathan).

So clearly not perceived as a Metonymy by these authors.

Edgar Foster said...

Matthew Poole's commentary gives three possible interpretations for this specific part of 15:12; Ellicott points to Ex 15:4-5, 10, all verses which delineate the sea's role in the Egyptians' demise. See the Cambridge Bible on this verse too.

So not all concur on the writer's intent, yet there is room to understand the language as metonymy or possible synecdoche.

Duncan said...


Literature of the ancient Near East often uses the act of swallowing to be a sign of death.

erets as Sheol examples

Psalms 63:9, 71:20; Isaiah 14:9, 29:4, Jonah 2:6