Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Note on Demographics

I live at Shiloh, a Jewish revenant community village some 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Jerusalem, almost midway between Ramallah and Shchem (Nablus).

This past Shabbat, we celebrated the brith milah (circumcision ceremony) of a neighbor's grandchild.

It is a Jewish tradition not to be too exact about numbers. As is explained:

Counting people is traditionally regarded in Judaism as bringing bad luck or a curse. This appears to be based on events in the second book of Samuel, when David orders a census of the number of troops at his disposal throughout his kingdom. A divinely ordained plague sweeping through his kingdom seems to be a direct consequence of this action, since which time, counting people has been regarded as a hazardous activity in Jewish circles.

as it is recorded:

4 Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel. 5 And they passed over the Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that is in the middle of the valley of Gad, and unto Jazer; 6 then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtim-hodshi; and they came to Dan-jaan, and round about to Zidon, 7 and came to the stronghold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites; and they went out to the south of Judah, at Beer-sheba. 8 So when they had gone to and fro through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. 9 And Joab gave up the sum of the numbering of the people unto the king; and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men. 10 And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD: 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, O LORD, put away, I beseech Thee, the iniquity of Thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.'

So, bearing that tradition in mind, I can tell you that my neighbor now has just over 30 grandchildren.

Moreover, he told me that if we count cumulatively from his grandmother, who was a only child, there are now in those five generations of direct descendants, over 1000 progeny.

Ken Yirbu!

Translation: and so may they increase.

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