Did 23,000 or 24,000 die in the plague at Shittim?


Numbers 25:9

Those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.

1 Corinthians 10:8

We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did - and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.


There are several different resolutions offered for these verses. The three most common are:

  1. 23,000 died in one day, and another thousand died later, for a total of 24,000
  2. There was a copyist error in one of the passages
  3. 1 Cor 10:8 refers to the plague punishing the golden calf incident (Ex 32), not the plague at Shittim (Num 25:1-9).

It seems to me that 1 and 2 are the most likely. 1 Cor 10:7-10 actually lists four different plagues that occurred while the Israelites were in the desert. The plague in v. 8 is described as being punishment for sexual immorality in particular, which played a greater part in the Shittim incident than the golden calf incident.


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