Unger’s Dictionary on Moses Being Meekest Man on Earth

Numbers 12:3 says, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.

This is often laughed at because Moses wrote the Book of Numbers, therefore, Moses is saying he is the meekest man on the earth! How does the meekest man on earth say such a thing about himself?!

Unger’s says this under the entry on Moses: Character

The word meek is hardly an adequate reading of the Hebrew anaw, which should rather be much enduring. It represents what we should now designate by the word disinterested. All that is told of him indicates a withdrawal of himself, a preference of the cause of his nation to his own interests, which makes him the most complete example of Jewish patriotism.

Unger says he gets this from Smith’s Bible Dictionary.

I cannot find any other dictionary that takes this approach to the Hebrew word anaw. Therefore I am left wondering if this is legit or just one guy’s idea.

Most dictionaries give the definition as depressed, bowed down, lowly. The word is used 18 times and is either translated meek or poor.

Much enduring and disinterested seems foreign to the essential idea and appears to be a reading into the word.

It’s important to remember that many Bible dictionaries are biased toward interpretation and doctrinal camps. You should use a multitude of these resources and stick with how the definitions overlap rather than some guys idea that makes him feel better about a verse.

That’s my idea anyway.

3 thoughts on “Unger’s Dictionary on Moses Being Meekest Man on Earth”

  1. And I was looking at Bible dictionaries, wondering which one to get. Was leaning towards Unger’s because it was the most expensive. Thanks!

  2. I’m not sure I would agree with Unger’s view but this is a challenging verse and even the term is a kethiv/qere. In any case, words mean what they mean in context and so every translation is interpretive. But this one is more challenging than usual. I would like to think that on our best days we are not trying to make ourselves feel better but trying really hard to understand what the Bible is saying but your observation might be correct in some instances.

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