Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Numbers: Author

Author: Moses (1543 - 1423 BC)

Evidence of Moses’ authorship of Numbers is similar to the other books of the Torah. In Numbers there are eighty references to the Lord speaking to Moses. Moses kept detailed, eyewitness records of the events in this book (Numbers 1:1; 33:2; 36:13). He was the best qualified to write these books of anyone, and many stories found here could only have been written by him, detailing his conversations with the Lord, familiarity with the desert, etc. Events in Numbers are cited in several places in the NT (Acts 7; 13; 1 Corinthians 10:1-11; Hebrews 3). Our Lord quoted from Numbers and verified that it was indeed Moses who lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14; cf. Numbers 21:9).

Some have claimed that the third person references to Moses (Numbers 8:23; 14:36; 15:1, 22) point to a different author. While unusual to a Western mind, ancient writers commonly used the third person, and it is consistently used throughout the Pentateuch (Exodus 24:1; Leviticus 6:1; Deuteronomy 5:1). Some use Numbers 12:3 as an argument to question either Moses’ authorship or his true humility. This snide argument forgets the fact that Joshua edited small parts of the Torah himself (Deuteronomy 34) and possibly placed this note in the text after Moses’ death.