It was in Crash Course World History. It is at 1 minute and 53 second. Here it goes:

Your descendants will number the stars, and you can have the land of Canaan forever.

I have checked all the meanings of the verb, but still I cannot get it. I guess the speaker meant by that that the descendants will amount to the number of stars, but I am not sure because in all the examples given by the online dictionaries, there must be some number after the verb number. For example:

After the hurricane the homeless numbered over 200,000.

Is it possible that the presenter meant outnumber the stars?

  • It’s figurative language, so it doesn’t really matter if number means “outnumber” or “number the same as.” The point is: “Your descendants will be as countless as the stars.”
    – J.R.
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 10:53
  • It's at the very least an "unusual" usage. Having recently been reading up on Gaia Data Release 2 I was initially tempted to interpret number as [be able to] enumerate / count up [the stars]. But they didn't have astronomers with telescopes in Abraham's day, only astrologers.with fervent imaginations. Commented May 15, 2018 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


When number is used as a verb that means "be as numerous as, have a count equalling", the complement can be either a number such as 50,000, a quantifying pronoun like few or many or thousands, or a multitude. It is not used that last way in conversation nowadays. It is an older (oratorical) use, and the multitude is something vast and virtually uncountable.

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