SPECIAL TOPIC: THOUSAND (eleph)

The Hebrew word eleph means "thousand" (BDB 48, KB 59 II).  It is used in several senses in the OT.

1. a family unit, Jos. 22:14; Jdgs. 6:15; 1 Sam. 23:23; Zech. 9:7; 12:6

2. a military unit, Exod. 18:21,25; Deut. 1:15

3. a literal thousand, Gen. 20:16; Exod. 32:28

4. a symbolic number, Gen. 24:60; Exod. 20:6; 34:7; Deut. 7:9; Jer. 32:18

5. the Ugaritic cognate alluph means "chieftain," Gen. 36:15

These different connotations cause modern interpreters to question the literalness of the numbers

1. of the exodus

2. of Israeli tribal military units

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