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In 1 Samuel 6:19 a number of people are struck dead by God after looking into the ark of the LORD.

1 Samuel 6:19 (NIV)

But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy[a] of them to death because they looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them.

As is evident from the citation above, the NIV has a footnote on the number 70, noting that most of the manuscripts have 50,070 people rather 70. This is not a small difference. I notice the NET opts for 50,070 while the NIV prefers 70. Which was more likely the original number?

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I think this is a corruption of the original text that is too deep into the Hebrew for me to understand the proposed reconstructions. I think those who can answer this question will reconstruct the original to say 70. The background pressure might be the feeling that the inhabitants would not have exceeded 50,000 and because there is textual corruption needing some kind of reconstruction. However due to the uncertainty one can probably argue the other way also. – Mike Sep 27 '13 at 13:12

The Hebrew has two phrases: one has 70, one has 50K, and the grammar is not right to just add them up. Or to do anything else. In short, the text is a mess, and every translator has to choose his or her own solution. 'Likely' depends entirely on what assumptions you bring to the table.

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