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In the WildernessThe Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers$
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Mary Douglas

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245413

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245413.001.0001

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The People of Israel Numbered

The People of Israel Numbered

(p.127) Chapter 6 The People of Israel Numbered
In the Wilderness

Mary Douglas

Oxford University Press

Characteristically for the literary forms of the period, the Book of Numbers has two prologues. The book focuses on the count (and accountability) of the men of Israel who are able to go to war. It also looks at the place of the Levites, called to serve the tabernacle. The structure of the first section seems to be very simple. The three numberings are organised in strict parallel. Each begins with a count, each count is followed by a rule that separates the Levites. The separations are progressive: first the people are separated from the Levites who are to protect the tabernacle from encroachment, second Moses and Aaron are separated from the other Levites and told to stand apart, third, among the Levite families, Kohath is singled out for special warning about the sanctuary.

Keywords:   Book of Numbers, prologues, men, Israel, Levites, tabernacle, separations

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