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On Bemidbar (Numbers) 11:25

Posted by Stephen Pidgeon on Friday, November 13, 2015 at 12:00 AM

 

Bemidbar (Numbers) 11:25

And YAHUAH came down in a cloud, and spoke unto him, and took of the RUACH that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the RUACH rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

The commentary which criticizes this translation claims that the foregoing is misleading, relies on the argument that the above is easily misunderstood. Earlier, at verses 10 and 13, Mosheh tells YAHUAH that the people are complaining, saying that they want meat. In verse 19, YAHUAH tells him that He is going to practically bury them in meat! And, in verse 25, the 70 elders prophesy about the unbelievable amount of meat that YHWH is going to bestow on the people. 

However, the claim is that the verse should be consistent with the Aramaic Peshitta which states that “when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and then they ceased to complain."

The Eth Cepher does not rely on the Aramaic translation as a primary source, as the Aramaic was translated from the Greek which was in turn translated from the underlying Hebrew.  Again, this passage appears in the Torah, which is the most reliable writing in all of history.  The English translation, of course, takes its position downstream from there. Let’s look at the Hebrew:

Bemidbar (Numbers) 11:25

וירד (v’yarad) [and descended] יהוה (YAHUAH) בענן (b’anan) [in a cloud]  וידבר (v’dbar) [and said] אליו (el’i) [towards me] ויאצל(v’atsal) [to keep] מן (min) [a part] הרוח (h’ruach) [the RUACH] אשׁר (asher) [which is] עליו (al) [of above] ונתן (v’nathan) [and give]  על (al) [to] שׁבעים (sh’biym) [seventy] אישׁ (ish) [men] הזקנים (h’zakaniym) [elderly] ויהי (v’hayah) [to be] כנוח (b’nooakh) [at rest] עליהם  (al) [by] הרוח (h’ruach) [the RUACH] ויתנבאו (v’yath’navaw) [and they prophesied] ולא (v’lo) [and without] יספו׃ (yasaf) [augmentation].

Comparing with the original:

And YAHUAH came down in a cloud, and spoke unto him, and took of the RUACH that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the RUACH rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

And descended YAHUAH in a cloud and said to me to keep a part of the RUACH which is of above, and give to seventy elderly men to be at rest by the RUACH, and they prophesied and without augmentation.

However, it is worth pursuing this Hebrew word yasaf a bit, as one of the most important verses in the Torah contains this word.  Let’s take a look:

Devariym (Deuteronomy) 5:1-22

AND Mosheh called all Yisra’el, and said unto them, Hear, O Yisra’el, the commandments and judgments (here, the Hebrew is Shema Yisrael, eth hoqiym v’eth mishpatiym) which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. 2 YAHUAH our ELOHIYM made a covenant with us in Chorev. 3 YAHUAH made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. 4 YAHUAH talked with you face to face in the Mount out of the midst of the fire, 5 (I stood between YAHUAH and you at that time, to show you the Word of YAHUAH: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the Mount;) saying,

6 I am YAHUAH your ELOHIYM, which brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim, from the house of bondage. 7 You shall have no other gods before me. 8 You shall not make you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: 9 You shall not bow down yourself unto them, nor serve them: for I YAHUAH your ELOHIYM am a jealous EL, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, 10 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. 11 You shall not take the name of YAHUAH your ELOHIYM in vain: for YAHUAH will not hold him guiltless את (eth) that takes his name in vain. 12 Keep the Shabbat to sanctify it, as YAHUAH your ELOHIYM has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labour, and do all your work: 14 But the seventh day is the Shabbat of YAHUAH your ELOHIYM: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a servant in the land of Mitsrayim, and that YAHUAH your ELOHIYM brought you out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore YAHUAH your ELOHIYM commanded you to keep the Shabbat.

16 Honour your father and your mother, as YAHUAH your ELOHIYM has commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which YAHUAH your ELOHIYM gives you. 17 You shall not kill. 18 Neither shall you break wedlock. 19 Neither shall you steal. 20 Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbour. 21 Neither shall you desire your neighbour's woman, neither shall you covet your neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbour's.

22 These words YAHUAH spoke unto all your assembly in the Mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them on two sapphire stones, and delivered them unto me.

Now this phrase – and he added no more – is expressed in the Hebrew as v’lo yasaf! This is the exact same phrase which finishes the verse in Bemidbar 11:25.  How should the passage actually read?  As such:

Bemidbar (Numbers) 11:25

And YAHUAH came down in a cloud, and spoke unto him, and took of the RUACH that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the RUACH rested upon them, they prophesied, and they added no more.

So, at no place do you find the word complain.  The meaning here in this passage is best understood that once the RUACH came upon the seventy elders, they prophesied and did not add to such prophecy by injecting their own augmentation.  One way to understand this is that they prophesied without ceasing – which is to say they never stopped prophesying long enough to add their own opinion.

The Aramaic understanding, like the Septuagint before it, and the Message after, paraphrases the passage to isolate a singular understanding which may or may not comport with all of the implications of the Hebrew.  The concept that “the people stopped their complaining” is simply not a warranted conclusion from the text.

Of course, this passage, like the passage in Devariym 5:22, begs the question.  Did the seventy elders actually add no more?  Given the size of the Mishnah in all of its volumes, the answer is a most assured no.  Consider the word mishneh:

מִשְׁנֶה mishneh (Strong’s 4932) means, properly, a repetition, i.e. a duplicate (copy of a document), or a double (in amount); by implication, a second (in order, rank, age, quality or location).

In conclusion, we stand corrected.

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