# Do the "original texts" use fractional numbers?

The Bible, for example, uses fractions. In Lev. 5:16 - "He must make restitution for what he has failed to do in regard to the holy things, add a fifth of the value to that and give it all to the priest, who will make atonement for him with the ram as a guilt offering, and he will be forgiven."

This is a quote from this link: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4995215

(I haven't hotlinked it because there's a cuss word in the thread title. I know that many people don't care, but I'm trying to be polite in a forum where I'm not quite sure of the boundaries.)

I'm not sure what version of the Bible this comes from. But what kind of fractions are used in the texts - are they this simple? "add a fifth of the value"?

• Hi Dan. That's an interesting question. As for cussing, I appreciate your conservative estimation of boundaries. I'd not personally be offended, but good on you for considering it. Jan 2 '13 at 15:27
• Dan, can you be a bit more specific about what you are asking? Clearly fractions are in the Bible since you quoted one of many verses that reference them. Are you asking how these values are expressed in Hebrew (or Greek)? I don't really know how to answer productively. Jan 3 '13 at 21:37
• Jon, Some cultures don't have a concept of numbers; they'll say 1, 2, or many. When I see fractions in the Bible are those words modern interpretations of ancient concepts that don't equate to that kind of fractional thinking? Or do the ancient texts have actual fractions that are similar to modern concepts? EG: Share between 2 people is "roughly give 2 people some stuff from 1 thing", but modern use would be "give them 0.5 each". I understand that this comment still hasn't added much clarity. Sorry! I don't know the words to ask the right question. Answers here have been useful! Jan 6 '13 at 21:49

One half:

Half the people Jos 8:33 See also Dt 27:12-13; 1Ki 16:21; Ne 4:16; Ne 12:31-32,38; Ne 13:24

The half-tribes of Manasseh Dt 3:13 See also Nu 32:33; Nu 34:13-14; Dt 29:8; Jos 13:29-31; Jos 22:10; 1Ch 5:23

Halves in offering sacrifices Ge 15:10 See also Ex 24:6; Ex 30:13; Lev 6:20

Significant examples of halves 2Sa 10:4 pp 1Ch 19:4 David’s men and the Ammonites; 1Ki 3:25 Solomon; 1Ki 10:7 pp 2Ch 9:6 the Queen of Sheba Half a kingdom: Est 5:3; Est 7:2; Mk 6:23 Isa 44:16-20 Idolatry

One third:

Thirds of a group 2Sa 18:2; 2Ki 11:5-6 pp 2Ch 23:4-5

Thirds in the processes of judgment Rev 9:18 See also Eze 5:2,12; Rev 8:7-12; Rev 9:15; Rev 12:4

One fifth:

A fifth of the harvest Ge 41:34; Ge 47:24,26

A fifth in cases of restitution Lev 5:14-16 See also Lev 6:5; Lev 22:14; Nu 5:7

Redeeming what is promised to God Lev 27:13 See also Lev 27:15,19,27,31

One tenth:

Instructions about God’s tithe Lev 27:30-32 The term “tithe” is the Old English word for “one tenth”. See also Nu 18:21,26; Dt 12:6,11; Dt 14:22; Ne 10:38; Am 4:4; Mal 3:8-10

The royal tithe 1Sa 8:15,17

Examples of the tithe Abraham: Ge 14:20; Heb 7:1-10 Ge 28:22 Jacob The Israelites: 2Ch 31:5-6,12; Ne 10:37 Mt 23:23 teachers of the law and Pharisees

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