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Bible Commentaries

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
Numbers 1



Verse 1

AND. Numbers begins with "And", as all the books of the Pentateuch do. It is therefore one whole in five sections, rather than separate books.

the LORD spake = Jehovah (the Covenant God) spake to His own People. He spake fifty-six "sundry times" (7 x 8) in Numbers, and in thirteen "divers manners" (twelve to Moses, once to Aaron), and four times indefinite:.
(1) To Moses alone (
Numbers 1:1, Numbers 1:48; Numbers 3:5, Numbers 3:11, Numbers 3:14, Numbers 3:44; Numbers 4:21; Numbers 7:4; Numbers 8:5, Numbers 8:23; Numbers 10:1; Numbers 11:25; Numbers 13:1; Numbers 16:44; Numbers 25:10, Numbers 25:16; Numbers 26:52; Numbers 27:6; Numbers 31:1, Numbers 31:25; Numbers 34:16.
(2) To Moses, to speak to Aaron (
Numbers 8:1).
(3) To Moses, to speak to Aaron and his sons (
Numbers 6:22).
(4) To Moses, to speak to Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest (
Numbers 16:36).
(5) To Moses, to speak to the Levites (
Numbers 18:25).
(6) To Moses, to speak to the congregation (
Numbers 16:23).
(7) To Moses, to speak to the children of Israel (
Numbers 5:1, Numbers 5:5, Numbers 5:11; Numbers 6:1; Numbers 9:1 (Compare Numbers 1:4), 9; Numbers 15:1, Numbers 15:17, Numbers 15:37; Numbers 17:1; Numbers 28:1 (Compare Numbers 1:2); Numbers 33:50; Numbers 34:1; Numbers 35:1, Numbers 35:9).
(8) To Moses, to speak to the rock (
Numbers 20:7).
(9) To Moses and Aaron (
Numbers 2:1; Numbers 4:1, Numbers 4:17; Numbers 14:26; Numbers 16:20; Numbers 20:12, Numbers 20:23).
(10) To Moses and Aaron, to speak to the children of Israel (
Numbers 19:1).
(11) To Moses and Aaron and Miriam (
Numbers 12:4).
(12) To Moses and Eleazar (
Numbers 26:1).
(13) To Aaron (
Numbers 18:8). (Numbers 1:20 should be "said".)
(14) Jehovah spake (indefinite) (
Numbers 1:19; Numbers 3:1; Numbers 14:35; Numbers 27:23).
For "the LORD said", see note on
Numbers 3:40 (sixteen times, making seventy-two in all).

Sinai. To which they had come on the third month after the exodus (Exodus 19:1), and where they abode till the twentieth day of the second month of the second year (Numbers 10:11). The numbering (Num 1) began on the first day of that month (Numbers 1:18).

tabernacle = tent (Hebrew. "ohel). See App-40.

come = gone.

Verse 2

Take ye. Compare Exodus 30:11, Exodus 30:12; Exodus 38:25. In Exodus, moral law (prophet); Leviticus, ritual law (priest); Numbers, commonwealth law (king).

sum. Three numberings. Exodus 30:11, Exodus 30:12 (Compare Numbers 38:25, Numbers 38:26); here; and 26.

congregation. See note on Genesis 28:3.

children = sons. Hebrew. banim, from banah, to build, because the family thus built up. Compare Genesis 30:3. Ruth 4:11. So throughout, polls. Edition of 1611 = poll. Figure of speech Synecdoche (of Part), App-6, skull or head put for person.

Verse 3

thou and Aaron. In second numbering it is Moses and Eleazar, Numbers 26:1.

Verse 4

man. Hebrew. "ish. See App-14.

every tribe. Hence twelve, and, with Moses and Aaron, fourteen. So the twelve apostles, with Paul and Barnabas = fourteen.

Verse 5

these are the names. The order here = five sons of Leah, three of Rachel, one of Bilhah, two of Zilpah, and one of Bilhah. See App-45for other orders of the names.

men. Hebrew, plural of "Ish, or "enosh. See App-14.

Verse 7

Nahshon. In the line of the promised seed, the father of Salmon (husband of Rahab of Jericho), progenitor of Boaz of Bethlehem (husband of Ruth). Compare Ruth 4:18-22. Matthew 1:4, Matthew 1:5. Luke 3:32.

Verse 19

As = according as.

wilderness of Sinai (Numbers 1:1), to distinguish it from the second, which was in the plains of Moab.

Verse 20

Reuben. Lost his dignity in Genesis 49:3, Genesis 49:4; not many in number here.

eldest son. See App-45.

Verse 22

Simeon was greatly diminished by sin in Numbers 26:4, and Moses does not mention him in Deut 33.

Those that were numbered of them. Some codices, with two early printed editions, Targum of Onkelos, The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel Septuagint, and Syriac, omit this clause. Compare verses: Numbers 1:20, Numbers 1:24, Numbers 1:26, &c.

Verse 24

Gad takes the place of Levi here.

Verse 25

fifty. Gad is the only one who has "tens", all the others "hundreds". In the case of the firstborn (Numbers 3:43) we have not only tens but units.

Verse 26

Judah. His number is greatest (Genesis 49:8).

Verse 32

Joseph. "The fruitful vine" (Genesis 49:22) has two tribes (not merely "families"). Thus Joseph has "the double portion" (1 Chronicles 5:1, 1 Chronicles 5:2).

Ephraim. Blessed first (Genesis 48:19, Genesis 48:20), is here named first, and is increased more than Manasseh (Deuteronomy 33:17). But in journeyings his numbers were diminished by 8,000. See Numbers 26:37, and compare 1 Chronicles 7:20-22.

Verse 34

Manasseh. The lowest in number. See Genesis 48:19. Increased by 20,500 in journeying, Numbers 26:34, Numbers 26:37 (compare Job 12:23).

Verse 42

Of the children. So in Authorized Version, and Revised Version, but not in Hebrew text, though it is so in some codices, Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate. Some Jewish commentators explain it as being only "the sons", because Naphtali had more daughters than sons, and in Genesis 49:51 is likened to a female (hind). Hence in Numbers 26:64 it is said, the "men" died (but the women multiplied).

Verse 44

twelve men: one man for one tribe (Numbers 1:4).

men. Hebrew "Ish. App-14.

Verse 46

all they. The number in Exodus 12:37 is not "exaggerated", as the number here had increased since then; moreover, the numbers here coincide with the numbers of the half-shekels, which had been contributed by them in Exodus 30:14 with Exodus 38:25, Exodus 38:26, before the tabernacle was set up. Compare Exodus 38:25 with Exodus 40:17.

Verse 47

Levites not numbered here with the nation, but separately in Numbers 3:14-29.

Verse 48

spoken. See note on Numbers 1:1.

Verse 50

tabernacle = habitation. Hebrew. mishkan. See App-40.

Verse 51

put to death. Probably by Jehovah. Compare 1 Chronicles 13:10.

Verse 53

pitch = encamp.

that there be no wrath: i.e. no judgment from God. "wrath" put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Cause) for the judgment inflicted. App-6. Hebrew. kazaph. First occurrence.


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Bibliography Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 1:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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