MemberJanuary 21, 2021 at 4:16 am
As well as the unusual incidence and distribution of round numbers and the unlikely relations between the ‘thousands’ and ‘hundreds’ digits, there are anomalies amongst the totals. The Levite males numbered in Sinai are 22,000 (Num 3:39), but the sum of the males of the Levite clans — Gershon (7500), Kohath (8600) and Merari (6200) — is 22,300 (vv. 22, 28, 34). As the figure of 22,000 is used in subsequent calculations for ‘redemption’ of the firstborn sons of Israel, a corruption of one of the individual clan totals may be inferred.10
10 Perhaps the total for Kohath (v.28) should be 8300 instead of 8600, reading שְׁלֹש 'three' instead of שֵש 'six'. There is evidence that the initial letter of a number (in this case ש) was at times used as an abbreviation. John W. Wenham, “Large Numbers in the Old Testament,” Tyndale Bulletin 18 (January 1, 1967): 22.