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63

I believe it to be an euphemism similar to how today one might say something like gazillions for a large number. In a society that is mostly innumerate as well as illiterate, where neither pencils nor paper exist and both slateboards and chalk are fragile and rare, the scale of numbers readily accessible to the common population are much smaller than today. ...


61

There seems to be a bit of pushback on Pieter's (correct) answer, so perhaps a bit more detail is in order. It is not at all uncommon in languages to have words that, while technically a specific number, are usually used just to indicate an unspecified large amount. One of the technical terms for this is non-numerical vague quantifiers. The most well-known ...


11

Biblically, Forty is a number associated with testing and trials https://www.thoughtco.com/biblical-numerology-700168 Jesus wandered in the wilderness 40 days, Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years etc. It's a number that indicates enough time passed for God to achieve a goal. Fullness of time.


8

First: A warning. What you're going to get on this website is going to be the fruits of the Documentary Hypothesis and similar historical approaches. This often clashes with some folks' "fixed beliefs". I'm a Christian myself, and have no issue reconciling my faith with secular scholarship, but some faith traditions have big problems with it. The first ...


7

Motivation for the answer I'll take a literary approach, aiming less at the surrounding historical context and more at an internal analysis of what "significance" the document's authors intended to convey. However, rereading your question and David Robinson's comment, I see that you're not asking about this significance so much as the motivation to use "40"...


2

The whole story is mythical in nature and intention. Even finding similarities to actual events is seen as quite the fruitless endeavour. The biggest problem with this question is that it asks for the historical validity of the Joseph-story in its biblical version. But while the story is set in the second millennium BCE, it was first written down in the ...


1

It is still not very much known about the text in question. But for a direct parallel in anything 'bible' it seems safe to say: no. kw 333 imhw imhw (PT 235 §239a) […] suggesting that the phrase imhw may be 'm hwy 'mother of snake.' Recalling that Egyptian 3 was originally used to render Semitic r, […] further that 333 was the name Rir-Rir, a ...


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