Abstract: The expression ûqsāmîm b e yâdâm (Num 22:7) has been explained variously as "diviner's salary," "divinatory equipment," or "power of divination in their hands." None of these interpretations has been accepted universally. Parallels from newly published and republished Mari texts (Durand AEM I/1) suggest two new possibilities. The q e sāmîm may be substitutes for Israel upon which divination is to be performed. More likely, they are models of omens concerning Israel which are dispatched to Balaam for an expert, more advantageous opinion. The biblical q e sāmîm are functionally and semantically equivalent to the Mari têrētum which are baked and sent from one diviner to another for authoritative interpretation.
Hebrew Studies – National Association of Professors of Hebrew
Published: Oct 5, 1992