by **ProfessorTertius** » Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:12 am

I don't care "who copied who" in terms of a contest of cultures. That wasn't my purpose. Most of us don't really care which culture first saw the significance of particular numbers, but it is entirely natural for cultures all over the world to do so. Explaining that process involves a lot of comparative anthropology study and an understanding of how counting systems develop. In the ANE the basis of symbolic numbers goes back to the natural advantages of the duodecimal system (base-12) and the sexigesimal system (base-60). We see the same facts at work among the Ancient Hebrews.

Most elementary school students learn about number systems and bases, as well the advantages of a base-12 over a decimal/base-10 system due to the convenience of maximizing whole divisors and prime factors. That's why so many cultures developed the DOZEN concept, recognizing that 12 objects (e.g., eggs) can be divided into convenient groups of 1,2,3,4,6, and 12. The 24 hour day reflects the 12 hours of A.M. and P.M. as well as the base-60 phenomena of 60 seconds and 60 minutes, as do the coordinate numbers of navigation. Geometry depends upon six sixties for 360 degrees. So it is not surprising that the ancient Mesopotamians liked to use 12's and 60's.

Some Christians seem to think that the ancient Hebrews ALWAYS MUST have been the first to invent or discover this or that---and they suspect that to deny that "first" somehow dishonors God and the Bible. But why? All humans are created in the Image of God and the human mind figures out all sorts of things. Moreover, the varied histories of the development of writings (and the varied histories of their PRESERVATION) in various cultures makes for an uneven comparative landscape. Cultural borrowing is both inevitable and natural. In any case, it is irrelevant to the hermeneutical issues to obsess over who preceded who--- and even if the Bible is studied in isolation from the neighboring cultures of the ANE, number symbolism is so obviously apparent throughout the Torah! Even most American evangelical children in their Sunday School classes learn the symbolic meanings of important numbers like 3, 7, 10, 12, 40, and 70. And who doesn't notice that the 12 tribes of Israel were echoed in the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ? I won't even try to list all of the different contexts in which 12 appears in the Book of Revelation, right down to the 12 stone foundations and 12 gates in the New Jerusalem. Of course, out of Israel will come the twelve 12,000, for 144,000 total. Symbolism abounds in the Bible, so I'm amazed that David Tee would deny any of it!

The basis of symbolic numbers goes back not only to the natural advantages of the duodecimal and sexigesimal number systems, but also their natural evolution from counting by hand. All humans have the same two hands with a thumb and four fingers on each. The ancients would use their thumb to point to one of the 12 finger bones of each hand (3 bones per finger) to count from 1 to 11 and then to use the five digits (notice that word's double meaning!) of the other hand to count to 60. (Alternatively, they could use the 12 bones system to count up to a dozen dozens!) So it is hardly surprising that we find these number systems among so many diverse peoples!

I'll not try to reduce countless dissertations into a few paragraphs. So I'll just jump ahead to the question of why just four or five digits of the ten possible appearing as the final digit in all of the 30 numbers of the Genesis genealogies. I'll reduce it to a few key numeric facts:

There are 12 months in a year.

There are 60 months in 5 years.

There are 5 digits on each hand.

There are 7 days in a week. (And even most Christians still consider 7 a "perfect number".)

Also, the ancient Mesopotamians emphasized that those two numbers made for important combinations: 5+7=12 and 5+7+7=19.

Taken all together, the above produces 5 special digits: 0,2,5,7,9.

There are 30 numbers in the Genesis genealogies. The final digit of each of those 30 numbers should be evenly distributed in the set of ten digits: {0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,} Yet they are not! Two of the sets of 10 numbers only end in {0,2,5,7} and the third set of 10 numbers end only in {0,2,5,7,9}. What are the changes of such a non-random distribution? About one in a billion!

Obviously, if the numbers in the genealogies were REAL LIFESPANS and AGES, we would expect them to be randomly distributed. But they aren't.

When I referred to "my analysis", I really should have written "my summary of the traditional analysis"---because this is not a discovery original to me. No, Ancient Near Eastern scholars have been observing and publishing the symbolism of ancient Mesopotamian numbers since long before any of us were born!

"Again you draw a conclusion when there is no evidence or direction to alter the literal reading of the pre-flood generations."

Are you sure you understand the nature of evidence? Do you deny that non-random distributions are evidence? Read the above. If you need citations, start Googling. This is all peer-review published information that's been appearing in the literature for well over a century now. Look it up. It is not my job to tutor.

"Why would you do that? What clue or discovery led you to this type of thinking?"

Seriously? You aren't following any of this???

" Now the old Babalyonians did copy and did enjoy such a reputation (Mesopotamia & the Bible ed. by Chavalas and Younger) so the Israelites copying other nations theory is skewed and erroneous."

If it makes you feel better to think that the Hebrews invented this and the Babylonians copied them, uhhhhh..... ok. Whatever. Who developed the symbolism first doesn't really matter. But I would think that you would notice that the antediluvian Patriarchs preceded Abraham and the Children of Israel. So it's a moot point.

Seriously, is all of this new to you?