A Thousand Times, No : ʾlf does not Mean 'Contingent' in the Deuteronomistic History

One solution regularly offered to the problem of historically implausible numbers in Joshua - 2 Kings is that the term ʾlf, normally translated 'thousand', actually refers to a 'contingent of armed men'. This article argues that 'contingent' is not a plausible translati...

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Main Author: Flanders, Denise (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language: English
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Published: [2018]
In: Biblica
Year: 2018, Volume: 99, Issue: 4, Pages: 484-506
Standardized Subjects / Keyword chains: B Old Testament / Hebrew language / Number / ʾlf / Translation
Online Access: doi
Summary: One solution regularly offered to the problem of historically implausible numbers in Joshua - 2 Kings is that the term ʾlf, normally translated 'thousand', actually refers to a 'contingent of armed men'. This article argues that 'contingent' is not a plausible translation for ʾlf in the Deuteronomistic History. The argument focuses on grammatical evidence, as there are several unique ways that the term ʾlf behaves grammatically like a numeral when it is used in conjunction with other numerals, and comparative evidence, as other ANE battle narratives do not enumerate numbers of contingents when reporting numbers of troops and casualties.
ISSN: 2565-7070
DOI: 10.2143/BIB.99.4.3285660
Persistent identifiers: DOI "10.2143/BIB.99.4.3285660"