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Friday, February 24, 2017

Num. 3-4 (counting & colors)

We've discussed how the first born often play second fiddle.  Examples:
  • Cain -- first murderer
  • Ishmael -- exiled through no fault of his own
  • Esau -- cheated out of birth right
  • Reuben -- slept with Dad's wife
  • Manasseh -- not as good as Efraim
  • Aaron -- Moses' PR guy
  • Nadab -- consumed with fire for offering "unauthorized fire"

No es bueno por los primogénitos.  But then we get this from Numbers to remind us that first born kids were special to the Israelites. 

The Lord also said to Moses, “I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.”

Numbers 3:11-13.  Interesante, ¿no?

Next, we have uncovered the color controversy.  Earlier, I noticed what the Spanish translators were rendering as "púrpura, carmesí y escarlata," the English translators were calling, "purple, blue and scarlet."  But, carmesí is crimson.  So, I didn't see how you got from blue to crimson.  In today's text, the colors are separated out and I have discovered that what is happening is that púrpura and blue are translating the same Hebrew word, and carmesí and purple are translating the same Hebrew.  Less of a color stretch. 

Last, equally trivial point.  There are a couple of censuses taken.  Levites 30-50 (total 8,580 which matches the total of each clan, Num 4:34-49) because they can serve in the temple.  Before that, Levites older than one month.  The Levite clans total 7500, 8600, and 6200.  The total number of first born Israelites, excluding Levites, totals 22,273.  Because the Levites total 22,000, the Israelites need to redeem the excess 273 first born Israelites with a temple tax.

Monte Python Hebrew: Excuse me, but 7500, 8600 and 6200 are actually--
Monte Python Levite: Right, about 22,000. So, since the total number of first born Israelites is 22,273, the Lord God Almighty requires that you pay a tax on the excess.
MPH: No, but that's what I'm saying. Those number actually total to--
MPL: Yes, yes, 22,000 give or take. That is why you have to pay the tax because it is less than the 22,273 first born. So it will be five shekels per excess.
MPH: Well, I suppose at some point we should get into what a ridiculous basis for a tax that is. But, in the meantime, even accepting your exceptionally silly formula, these numbers don't add up to--
MPL: Okay, look, why don't you ask Nabad his thoughts on the matter. Oh wait, you can't because the Nameless God consumed Nabad in a ball of fire for using the wrong formula of lighter fluid to light the fire the Nameless God requires for burning large pieces of animal flesh to make the Nameless God happy! So, seems to me the best course of action for you is to spend less time totally four digit numbers and more time counting out shekels.

Scene.  (based on Numbers 3.) 

UPDATE 2/25:  This fellow here, quoting an 18th century commentator Adam Clarke, makes a pretty attractive argument for the letter/number representing the second digit in 7500 being mistaken for a 5 when really a 2.  Seems pretty plausible, particularly given the representations of the Hebrew letters he provides, but I also thought it was plausible that "The Eye of the Needle" was a gate in Jerusalem, which it evidently is not.

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