MemberJanuary 21, 2021 at 12:10 am
Just copy-pasting some other paragraphs (this was part of an abstract):
The census figures of Numbers 1 and 26 appear in totals of אֶלֶף ‘thousands’ and מֵאוֹת ‘hundreds’ for each of twelve tribes, and combine these into national totals for the population at either end of the wilderness era. The tribe of Levi is numbered separately for the cultic service of the Sanctuary and for the redemption of the firstborn sons of Israel. Some commentators dismiss the historical value of the texts on account of the exorbitant numbers, whilst others examine and interpret the figures in order to arrive at more credible totals ranging from 140,000 downwards. These theories usually involve translating אֶלֶף ‘thousand’ to mean ‘captain’, ‘troop’, or ‘family’, and taking the מֵאוֹת ‘hundreds’ figures to indicate ‘fighting units’ or ‘men-at-arms’. Nearly all the theorists are perplexed by the disproportion in size between Levi and the other twelve tribes, and the ratio of firstborn sons to the national population. Any revision of the census figures must allege that the national and firstborn totals have been amended by copyists.