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This is the March 13 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: March 13
<< Lev 27

For New King James text and comment, click here.

Numbers 1-2    Listen Podcast

 

Reckon how many we're runnin'...anyway? (Numbers 1)

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,
2 Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls;
3 From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies.
4 And with you there shall be a man of every tribe; every one head of the house of his fathers.

We're 13 months out of Egypt when God requires Moses to get a count of the fighting men of Israel. This count consists of all men above 20 years of age who are not Levites. The Levites were exempt from military service.

Step #1: Determine the names of the leaders of each tribe

5 And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you: of the tribe of Reuben; Elizur the son of Shedeur.
6 Of Simeon; Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.
7 Of Judah; Nahshon the son of Amminadab.
8 Of Issachar; Nethaneel the son of Zuar.
9 Of Zebulun; Eliab the son of Helon.
10 Of the children of Joseph: of Ephraim; Elishama the son of Ammihud: of Manasseh; Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.
11 Of Benjamin; Abidan the son of Gideoni.
12 Of Dan; Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
13 Of Asher; Pagiel the son of Ocran.
14 Of Gad; Eliasaph the son of Deuel.
15 Of Naphtali; Ahira the son of Enan.
16 These were the renowned of the congregation, princes of the tribes of their fathers, heads of thousands in Israel.

Step #2: Arrange all the people under their tribal respective leader

17 And Moses and Aaron took these men which are expressed by their names:
18 And they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls.
19 As the LORD commanded Moses, so he numbered them in the wilderness of Sinai.

Step #3: Count the men twenty years of age and older

Reuben - 46, 500

20 And the children of Reuben, Israel’s eldest son, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
21 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Reuben, were forty and six thousand and five hundred.

Simeon - 59,300

22 Of the children of Simeon, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, those that were numbered of them, according to the number of the names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
23 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Simeon, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred.

Gad - 45,650

24 Of the children of Gad, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
25 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Gad, were forty and five thousand six hundred and fifty.

Judah - 74,600

26 Of the children of Judah, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
27 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Judah, were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred.

Issachar - 54,400

28 Of the children of Issachar, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
29 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Issachar, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred.

Zebulun - 57,400

30 Of the children of Zebulun, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
31 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Zebulun, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred.

Ephraim - Joseph's son - 40,500

32 Of the children of Joseph, namely, of the children of Ephraim, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
33 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Ephraim, were forty thousand and five hundred.

Manasseh - Joseph's son - 32,200

34 Of the children of Manasseh, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
35 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Manasseh, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred.

Benjamin - 35,400

36 Of the children of Benjamin, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
37 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Benjamin, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.

Dan - 62,700

38 Of the children of Dan, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
39 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Dan, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred.

Asher - 41,500

40 Of the children of Asher, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
41 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Asher, were forty and one thousand and five hundred.

Naphtali - 53,400

42 Of the children of Naphtali, throughout their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
43 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Naphtali, were fifty and three thousand and four hundred.

But what about the Levites - the sons of Levi?

44 These are those that were numbered, which Moses and Aaron numbered, and the princes of Israel, being twelve men: each one was for the house of his fathers.
45 So were all those that were numbered of the children of Israel, by the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel;
46 Even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.
47 But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them.
48 For the LORD had spoken unto Moses, saying,
49 Only thou shalt not number the tribe of Levi, neither take the sum of them among the children of Israel:
50 But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle.
51 And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
52 And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, throughout their hosts.
53 But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of testimony.
54 And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they.

How appropriate that the Book of Numbers begins with...numbers. Here we're going to get a count of how many in each Tribe of Israel...with a couple of exceptions. Our count found here will include only men (20 years of age and older). And one more thing - no Levites are counted here; we'll get their count in Numbers 3-4 (see notes). Why the age of 20? Verse 3 specifies, "all that are able to go forth to war." The Levites were the keepers of the Tabernacle; they were special (verses 49-54).

So, here are your population figures for the Tribes of Israel 13 months after the Exodus:

This gives us a total of 603,550 men, 20 years of age and older. This total is also given in Exodus 38:21-26 (see notes). You will notice that without the Levites, we still have 12 tribes because of the two adopted sons of Jacob from Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh in Genesis 48:5-22 (see notes). Incidentally, the setting apart of the Levites for ministry service seems to have been determined after the golden-calf incident in Exodus 32:26-29 (see notes). By the time we get to Exodus 38:21 (see notes), it seems to already be understood that the Levites have this special place among the Hebrews.

This chapter contains the count in the second year following the exile. To see the count after forty years in the wilderness just prior to entering Canaan, click here to see the table which accompanies the notes on Numbers 26.

And where do we set up our tents? (Numbers 2)

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
2 Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father’s house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch.

On the east side of the camp - 186,400
Lead tribe - Judah
Flanked by Issachar and Zebulon

3 And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be captain of the children of Judah.
4 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred.
5 And those that do pitch next unto him shall be the tribe of Issachar: and Nethaneel the son of Zuar shall be captain of the children of Issachar.
6 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred.
7 Then the tribe of Zebulun: and Eliab the son of Helon shall be captain of the children of Zebulun.
8 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred.
9 All that were numbered in the camp of Judah were an hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four hundred, throughout their armies. These shall first set forth.

On the south side of the camp - 151,450
Lead tribe - Reuben
Flanked by Simeon and Gad

10 On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their armies: and the captain of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur.
11 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were forty and six thousand and five hundred.
12 And those which pitch by him shall be the tribe of Simeon: and the captain of the children of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.
13 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred.
14 Then the tribe of Gad: and the captain of the sons of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of Reuel.
15 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty and five thousand and six hundred and fifty.
16 All that were numbered in the camp of Reuben were an hundred thousand and fifty and one thousand and four hundred and fifty, throughout their armies. And they shall set forth in the second rank.
17 Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp: as they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place by their standards.

On the west side of the camp - 108,100
Lead tribe - Ephraim
Flanked by Manasseh and Benjamin

18 On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their armies: and the captain of the sons of Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Ammihud.
19 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty thousand and five hundred.
20 And by him shall be the tribe of Manasseh: and the captain of the children of Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.
21 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred.
22 Then the tribe of Benjamin: and the captain of the sons of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni.
23 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.
24 All that were numbered of the camp of Ephraim were an hundred thousand and eight thousand and an hundred, throughout their armies. And they shall go forward in the third rank.

On the north side of the camp - 157,600
Lead tribe - Dan
Flanked by Asher and Naphtali

25 The standard of the camp of Dan shall be on the north side by their armies: and the captain of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
26 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred.
27 And those that encamp by him shall be the tribe of Asher: and the captain of the children of Asher shall be Pagiel the son of Ocran.
28 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty and one thousand and five hundred.
29 Then the tribe of Naphtali: and the captain of the children of Naphtali shall be Ahira the son of Enan.
30 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and three thousand and four hundred.
31 All they that were numbered in the camp of Dan were an hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six hundred. They shall go hindmost with their standards.

The grand total (only men, but no Levites) - 603,550

32 These are those which were numbered of the children of Israel by the house of their fathers: all those that were numbered of the camps throughout their hosts were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.
33 But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses.
34 And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses: so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according to the house of their fathers.

This chapter deals with the arrangement of the camp in the wilderness. I have prepared a visual below to illustrate the numeric strength of the tribes along with their positioning in the camp. You'll notice that on each side of the Tabernacle Judah, Reuben, Ephraim and Dan were each flanked by two other tribes. The formation was orderly and deliberate.

Tribes of Israel in the Wilderness

Some observations are in order. You will notice that Rachel's boys are positioned together on the west side of the tabernacle. Leah's boys are on the east and south side of the tabernacle with one exception; Gad (the son of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid) slips down into the open slot with Leah's two oldest sons, Reuben and Simeon on the south side. The remainder of the handmaids' sons reside together on the north side of the encampment. Gad wasn't the oldest of the handmaids sons, but he was the oldest of Leah's handmaid.

It's interesting that hundreds of years later, an order is still observed in keeping with the birth of Jacob's sons. As a matter of fact, there's also listed a lead tribe on each side of the encampment - Judah on the east, Reuben on the south, Ephraim on the west and Dan on the north. These are the senior sons of Jacob that take the lead with one exception - Ephraim. However, you will recall that when Jacob adopted the two boys (Manasseh and Ephraim) in Genesis 48:5-22 (see notes), he gave the elder-son birthright to the younger son, Ephraim instead. So...there you have the logic behind the positioning of the Tribes of Israel around the tabernacle.


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner