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Chapter Four: Hortative Numerical Sayings

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Chapter Summary

Hortative numerical sayings are framed in order to regulate human behavior. The list of the numerical saying describes certain actions expected of the persons addressed, and the numerical element defines the frequency or the extent of such actions. There can be little doubt that it was originally a separate unit of oral tradition, much like the other materials contained in the Book of the Covenant. Yahweh's covenant with Israel is one of the central themes of the Old Testament. As far as the Old Testament concept of the covenant between Yahweh and Israel is concerned, the pattern of the decalogue or dodecalogue turns out to be one of the outstanding formulations of the covenant stipulations. The Mishnah-tractate Pirqe Aboth, the most wisdom-like of the tractates of the Mishnah, contains a number of numerical sayings, many of which have been discussed. Three numerical sayings can be characterized as hortatory.

Keywords: Book of the Covenant; hortative numerical sayings; Israel; Mishnah-tractate Pirqe Aboth; Old Testament; wisdom; Yahweh's covenant

10.1163/9789004275362_006
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