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.
    May 15 '18 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. May 15 '18 at 12:17

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.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.