Sunday, February 13, 2022

Numbers: A new translation with commentary

William Whitt
This translation of Numbers follows a similar approach to my translations of Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Samuel. In this, as in my other translations, my priority was always to express the ideas in the text in the most natural way in English, and at the same time to capture the energy and rhythm of the original Hebrew.

One unique aspect of all my translations is that they jettison the traditional chapter divisions and instead organize the material according to the Masoretic parashot. Organizing the text in this way, I believe, gets us closer to the ancient writers, and yields numerous insights into their composition approach.

The commentary accompanying the translation focuses primarily on issues of translation and language. After the commentary I provide an essay that summarizes my views on the composition history of Numbers and that assigns each of the parashot to one of the six major compositional stages that I identify, which span a period of nearly 300 years, from the early sixth century to the late fourth century BCE.

In my treatment of the composition history, I make a number of unusual proposals. Specifically, I argue that (1) the earliest version of Numbers was composed in the first decades of the sixth century as part of the original composition of the "Deuteronomistic History" (Exodus plus Numbers though Kings in my proposal), and that (2) the Yahwistic priesthoods in Yehud and Samaria were jointly responsible for all other additions and edits made to the book between the late sixth century and the late fourth century.

Links to my other translations (all of which are open access) can be found at my author page at the Internet Archive (, and my author page at (

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