Numbers 6:6 – A dead person – a dead body

The text:

Throughout the period of their dedication to the LORD, the Nazirite must not go near a dead body …   (Numbers 6:6)

A dead body is the translation of two Hebrew words in this verse, i.e. soul and the verb to kill – to die.
The Hebrew says literally:

… he shall not go near a dead soul (or deceased soul).

A second text:

If they fail to purify themselves after touching a human corpse, they defile the LORD’s tabernacle. …   (Numbers 19:13)

Here too a corpse is the translation of the same two words in Hebrew and it says literally

Anyone who touches a dead soul (or deceased soul), any person, who has died …

The expression ‘a dead soul’ for someone who has died only appears in these two verses, both in the book of Numbers.

A theologian, who had also studied ancient Egypt, remarked in an article that this expression is typical of ancient Egypt.

For him, this was the confirmation that Moses¸ who had been brought up at the court of the Egyptian pharaoh from childhood, was the author of the first five books of the Old Testament.


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Numbers 6:6 – A dead person – a dead body.