Document: Cornelis Vonk, Opening the Scriptures: Numbers, trans. by Nelson D. Kloosterman (Jordan Station, ON.: Reformational Digital Library, 2019).

Excerpt: The title of this chapter—“In the wilderness”—is also the title of this fourth book of the Bible in the Hebrew editions of the Old Testament. That title comes from the first verse of Numbers, which begins this way: “Yahweh spoke to Moses in the wilderness.” Nonetheless, this is not the name of the fourth Bible book in our English translations. Our English title comes from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. That version replaced the Hebrew title (bamidbar) with arithmoi (numbers). Later the Vulgate translated this as “Numbers.” Both the Greek and the Latin titles mean: Numbers, or Censuses. It is true, of course, that in Numbers we are going to hear a lot about numbers and counting. But we will hear about something more than that. For that reason, the ancient Jewish name “In the wilderness” perhaps fits better as the title of a book that tells us about the journey that Israel made from Sinai to Canaan. That title had to be understood in a broader sense, however, than what is present in the verse from which it is taken, namely, Numbers 1:1. For the beginning of this verse goes on to say: “The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai.” By no means did everything narrated in this book occur in that one wilderness. Israel passed through various deserts en route to Canaan.

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Opening the Scriptures: Numbers – C. Vonk.pdf