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CRITICAL AND PRACTICAL,
ON THE BOOK OF
DESIGNED AS A GENERAL HELP TO
BIBLICAL READING AND INSTRUCTION.
BY GEORGE BUSH,
LATE PROF. OF HEB. AND ORIENT, LIT. IN N. Y. CITY UNIVERSITY.
$ 1. Title, Author, Scope, &c. THE title by which this book is designated by the Jews is 23794 va yedabber, the spake, from the first word of the original, or 2723 bemidbar, in the wil
wess, the fifth word of the first verse; the last, probably, from the fact that .'contents of the book relate in great measure to the history of the sojourning of
Israelites in the wilderness. The Septuagint terms it APIOMOI Arithmoi, f which the Latin NUMERI, and the English NUMBERS are a translation. The fact is somewhat peculiar, as every one of the other books of Moses is designated by the Greek title in Anglicised form, viz., Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy. The present book might as well have been called Arithmoi, were it not that the Latin rendering Numeri (Numbers) for some reason had an early preference given it over the Greek, and for this reason it has maintained its ground. The book originally received its denomination mainly from its account of the numbering, mustering, or marshalling of the people on two different occasions, the first in the commencement of the history, the other towards the close. Besides which we meet with various lists or enumerations of persons and places, that may have entered into the account with those who first adopted the title. We have endeavored, however, in our Notes to show, from the genuine import of the terms employed, that the precise idea conveyed is not so truly that of numbering, as of ordering, arranging, marshalling, or, otherwise, mustering. As some important results flow from the establishment of this construction, we commend our remarks on this head to particular attention.
The authorship of the book is, like that of some of the preceding, determined by the general current of evidence which assigns the writing of the entire Pentateuch to Moses. It is clearly recognized in the subsequent books as pertaining to that body of documents technically termed “The Law,” as for instance we find in Josh. 4:12, the following distinct allusion to the arrangement made with the two tribes and a half to settle on the west side of Jordan after first crossing over with their brethren; “And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them.” Compare 2 Chron. 29:11. 31: 3. Ezek. 20 : 13. Matt. 12:5.
The time embraced in the book extends from the early part of the second year after the exodus to the beginning of the eleventh month of the fortieth year after that event; it therefore comprehends a period of thirty-eight years and nine or ten months. Most of the transactions, however, recorded in the book