אֶלֶף 'eleph "thousand" is not primarily a mathematical term, as well as the number 1,000, it refers to social organization. For example in Micah 5:2 (1 in MT) it is rendered "clans", and as in Jud 6:15 where the word is similarly translated, the topic is the small/weakness of the 'eleph.

There is a wide measure of agreement (see Hobbs, 73-80) that an 'eleph was the armed men raised by a mishpachah (clan).