Numbers 25:9

Hebrew Bible

7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he got up from among the assembly, took a javelin in his hand, 8 and went after the Israelite man into the tent and thrust through the Israelite man and into the woman’s abdomen. So the plague was stopped from the Israelites. 9 Those that died in the plague were 24,000. 10 The Lord spoke to Moses: 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites, when he manifested such zeal for my sake among them, so that I did not consume the Israelites in my zeal.

1 Corinthians 10:8

New Testament

6 These things happened as examples for us, so that we will not crave evil things as they did. 7 So do not be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 And let us not be immoral, as some of them were, and 23,000 died in a single day. 9 And let us not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by snakes. 10 And do not complain, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel.

 Notes and References

"... In 1 Corinthians 10:8, Paul says that 23,000 died in the incident of Baal Peor. However, Numbers 25:9 states that 24,000 died. ‘The case of the missing thousand’ has long preoccupied the minds of interpreters down the centuries. Most conservative interpreters have attempted to harmonize Paul and Numbers arguing either that Paul rounded down the number or that Numbers rounded it up. The problem here is that both are round numbers, and in any case poses the question as to how Numbers/Paul knew that the number ought to be rounded up/down. Other commentators have assumed that Paul made a mistake and recorded 23,000 from Numbers 26:62, where the 23,000 was the number of the Levites in the census. This creates the additional difficulty as to whether Paul’s memory really was so poor, and if so whether he or his secretary did not check and correct the draft. Thus, Gordon Fee concludes that the infamous ‘case of the missing thousand’ has no ‘entirely satisfactory solution’ ... I shall argue that Paul was not referring to a plague, that is, a disease sent by God but rather to a slaughter by the sword carried out by men, with Paul linking the Golden Calf and Baal Peor incidents together. This reading comes from a deduction implicit in Numbers 25:4-5 where Moses instructed the judges to slay the Israelites involved in idolatry, and linguistic and thematic links with Exodus 32. In this reading, Paul stood within interpretative traditions that existed in early Judaism ..."

Mody, Rohintan The Case of the Missing Thousand: Paul's Use of the Old Testament in 1 Corinthians 10:8 - A New Proposal (pp. 61-79) Churchman: A Quarterly Journal of Anglican Theology, 2017

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