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Torah Commentary Blog

Parashat B'midbar (May 24, 2014)
by Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson

SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY I learned that when meeting people for the first time, I should look them in the eye and repeat their names back to them — that doing so would help me put names to faces.

There are several names for the fourth book of the Torah. In Hebrew it is titled B’midbar, “in the wilderness,” because the book describes events that occur as the Israelites journey through the wilderness of Sinai on their way to the Promised Land. But the name by which it is most familiar to us comes from the Septuagint, the Greek translation. “Numbers” is fitting because the book opens with God’s command to Moses that he “number” the Israelites, that he count them.

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