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Bible Commentaries

Clarke's Commentary Clarke Commentary

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Bibliographical Information

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/numbers-1.html. 1832.

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/

Whole Bible (51)Old Testament (1)Individual Books (2)

## Verse 1

THE FOURTH BOOK OF MOSES CALLED NUMBERS-Year before the common Year of Christ, 1490.

-Julian Period, 3224.

-Cycle of the Sun, 27.

-Dominical Letter, D.

-Cycle of the Moon, 9.

-Indiction, 6.

-Creation from Tisri or September, 2514.

CHAPTER I

On thefirst dayof thesecond monthof thesecond yearafter Israel came out of Egypt, God commands Moses to number allthe males of the people fromtwenty yearsand upward, who wereeffective men and able to go to war, 1-3.A chief of each tribe is associated with Moses and Aaron in thisbusiness, 4;the names of whom are given, 5-16.Moses assembles the people, who declare their pedigreesaccording to their families, 17-19.The descendants ofREUBENare numbered, and amount to46,500,ver. 20, 21.Those ofSIMEON, 59,300,ver. 22, 23.Those ofGAD, 45,650,ver. 24, 25.Those ofJUDAH, 74,600,ver. 26, 27.Those ofISSACHAR, 54,400,ver. 28, 29.Those ofZEBULUN, 57,400,ver. 30, 31.Those ofEPHRAIM, 40,500,ver. 32, 33.Those ofMANASSEH, 32,200,ver. 34, 35.Those ofBENJAMIN, 35,400,ver. 36, 37.Those ofDAN, 62,700,ver. 38, 39.Those ofASHER, 41,500,ver. 40, 41.Those ofNAPHTALI, 53,400,ver. 42, 43.The amount of all the effective men in Israel, fromtwentyyearsold and upward, was603,550,ver. 44-46.TheLEVITESare not numbered with the tribes, because they werededicated to the service of God. Their particular work isspecified, 47-54.NOTES ON CHAP. I

Verse Numbers 1:1.

The Lord spake unto Moses-on the first day of the— As the tabernacle was erected upon the first day of the first month, in the second year after their coming out of Egypt, Exodus 40:17; and this muster of the people was made on the first day of the second month, in the same year; it is evident that the transactions related in the preceding book must all have taken place in the space ofsecond monthone month, and during the time the Israelites were encamped at Mount Sinai, before they had begun their Journey to the promised land.## Verse 2

Verse Numbers 1:2.

— God, having established the commonwealth of Israel by just and equitable laws, ordained every thing relative to the due performance of his own worship, erected his tabernacle, which was his throne, and the place of his residence among the people, and consecrated his priests who were to minister before him he now orders his subjects to be mustered,Take ye the sum, c.1. That they might see he had not forgotten his promise to Abraham, but was multiplying his posterity.

2. That they might observe due order in their march toward the promised land.

3. That the tribes and families might be properly distinguished; that all litigations concerning property, inheritance, c., might, in all future times, be prevented.

4. That the promise concerning the Messiah might be known to have its due accomplishment, when in the fulness of time God should send him from the seed of Abraham through the house of David. And,

5. That they might know their strength for war for although they should ever consider God as their protector and defence, yet it was necessary that they should be assured of their own fitness, naturally speaking, to cope with any ordinary enemy, or to surmount any common difficulties.

## Verse 3

Verse Numbers 1:3.

— In this census noFrom twenty years old and upwardwomenwere reckoned, norchildren, norstrangers, nor theLevites, norold men, which, collectively, must have formed an immense multitude; the Levites alone amounted to 22,300. True-born Israelites only are reckoned; such as were able to carry arms, and were expert for war.## Verse 14

Verse Numbers 1:14.

— This person is calledEliasaph, the son of Deuel.Reuel, Numbers 2:14. As the דdalethis very like the רresh, it was easy to mistake the one for the other. TheSeptuagintand theSyriachaveReuelin this chapter; and in Numbers 2:14, theVulgate, theSamaritan, and theArabichaveDeuelinstead ofReuel, with which reading a vast number of MSS. concur; and this reading is supported by Numbers 10:20; we may safely conclude therefore that דעואלDeuel, not רעואלReuel, was the original reading. SeeKennicott.An ancient Jewish rabbin pretends to solve every difficulty by saying that "

Eliasaphwas a proselyte; that before he embraced the true faith he was called the son ofReuel, but that after his conversion he was called the son ofDeuel." AsReuelmay be translated thebreach of God, andDeueltheknowledge of God, I suppose the rabbin grounded his supposition on the different meanings of the two words.## Verse 16

Verse Numbers 1:16.

— Literally,These were the renownedthe called, ofthe congregation- those who were summoned bynameto attend. The order of the tribes In the above enumeration may be viewed thus: -1. Reuben |

2. Simeon |

3. Judah |- Sons of Leah.

4. Issachar |

5. Zebulun |

6. Ephraim |

7. Manasseh |- Sons of Rachel.

8. Benjamin |

9. Dan......... 1st son of Bilhah, Rachel's maid

10. Asher....... 2d son of Zilpah, Leah's maid.

11. Gad......... 1st son of Zilpah.

12. Naphtali.... 2d son of Bilhah.

## Verse 25

Verse Numbers 1:25.

— Mr. Ainsworth has remarked that Gad, theForty and five thousand six hundred and fifty.handmaid'sson, is the only one of all the tribes whose number ends withfifty, all the others are bythousands, and end withhundreds; which shows God's admirable providence and blessing in multiplying them so, that nooddorbrokennumber was among all the tribes. But Numbers 1:46.## Verse 33

Verse Numbers 1:33.

The tribe of Ephraim - forty thousand and five— Ephraim, as he was blessed beyond his eldest brother Manasseh, Genesis 48:20, so here he is increased by thousands more than Manasseh, and more than the whole tribe of Benjamin, and his blessing continued above his brother, Deuteronomy 33:17. And thus the prophecy, Genesis 48:19, was fulfilled:hundred.His younger brother(Ephraim)shall be greater than he, (Manasseh.) No word of God can possibly fall to the ground: he alone sees the end from the beginning; his infinite wisdom embraces all occurrences, and it is his province alone to determine what is right, and to predict what himself has purposed to accomplish.## Verse 46

Verse Numbers 1:46.

All they that were numbered were six hundred thousand— What an astonishing increase fromand three thousand and five hundred and fifty.seventysouls that went down into Egypt, Genesis 46:27, about 215 years before, where latterly they had endured the greatest hardships! But God's promise cannot fail (Genesis 16:5;) and who can resist his will, and bring to naught his counsel? That a comparative view may be easily taken of the state of the tribes, I shall produce them here from the first census mentioned in the first chapter of this book, in theirdecreasingproportion, beginning with thegreatestand proceeding to theleast; and in the second census, mentioned Numbers 26:1-65, where theincreaseof some and thedecreaseof others may be seen in one point of view. It may be just remarked, that except in the case ofGadin this chapter, andReubenin Numbers 26:7, all the numbers are what may be calledwholeorroundnumbers, beginning withthousands, and ending withhundreds,GadandReubenalone ending withtens; but the Scripture generally usesroundnumbers,unitsandfractionsbeing almost constantly disregarded.1st census,Numbers 1:02d census,Numbers 26:0Total603,550601,730Thus we find

Judah, themost populoustribe, andManassehtheleastso; the difference between them being so great as 42,400, for which no very satisfactory reason can be assigned.In the second census, mentioned Numbers 26:34,

Judahstill has the pre-eminency; andSimeon, the third in number before, is become the least. Now we see also that the little tribe ofManassehoccupies theseventhplace for number.Sevenof the tribes had anincrease; fiveadecrease.Manassehhad an increase of 20,500;Judah, 1,900;Issachar, 9,900;Zebulun,3,100;Benjamin, 10,200;Dan, 1,700;Asher, 11,900.On the contrary there was a decrease in

Reubenof 2,770; inSimeon, 37,100;Gad, 5,150;Ephraim, 8,000;Naphtali, 8,000. Decrease in the whole, 61,020 effective men. Numbers 26:51; but balanced with theincrease, the decrease was upon the whole 1,820.On the subject of these enumerations, and the manner in which this vast multitude sprang in about

fourgenerations fromseventy-fivepersons, Scheuchzer has some valuable calculations, though liable to some objections, which I shall take the liberty to insert, as they tend to throw considerable light upon the subject."We find in the writings of Moses

threeenumerations of the Jewish people, that follow each other pretty closely: -625,550We find the same number, on adding that of each tribe given us in detail, which is the best proof of the exactness of the calculation.

"I think I shall afford the reader some degree of pleasure by presenting him, in this place, the number of each tribe

separately, beginning at their earliest ancestors. We shall see, by this means, how faithfully God fulfilled the promise he had made to Abraham, as well as the great utility of the mathematics for the right understanding of the Holy Scriptures. I shall begin with a Genealogical Table of thatfamilywhich God so wonderfully blessed; and to it I shall afterward add each separate tribe, following the calculation ofReyher, (Math. Mos., p. 222.) And we shall see that thefourthgeneration, taken with thethird, produces the very number mentioned in the text.Children of JACOB by LEAH.Genesis 46:15.Phallu

Hezron

Carmi

46,500.Numbers 1:21.

Jamin

Ohad

Jachin

Zohar

Shaul

59,300. Numbers 1:23.

Shemei

7,500. Numbers 3:22.

Izehar

Hebron

Uzziel

8,600. Numbers 3:26.

Mushi

6,200. Numbers 3:34.

Pharez

Zerah

Hesron

Hamul

74,600. Numbers 1:27.

Phuvah

Job

Shimron

54,400. Numbers 1:29.

Elon

Jahleel

57,400. Numbers 1:31.

Children of JACOB by ZILPAH.Genesis 46:18.Haggai

Shuni

Ezbon

Eri

Arodi

Areil

45,650.Numbers 1:25.

Isuah

Isui

Beriah

Heber

Malchiel

41,500. Numbers 1:41.

Children of JACOB by RACHEL.Genesis 46:22.Ephraim

40,500

Becher

Ashbel

Gerah

Naaman

Ehi

Rosh

Muppim

Huppim

Ard

35,400. Numbers 1:37.

Children of JACOB by BILHAH.Genesis 46:25.Guni

Jezer

Shillem

53,400. Numbers 1:43.

I. - REUBEN 46,500

"Let us now descend to the particular enumeration of each tribe. REUBEN had

foursons: now if we suppose that one of thesefoursons hadseven, and that each of the otherthreehad eight, we shall find the number 31 for thefirstEgyptian generation. If we afterward suppose that each of these 31 sons hadfivesons, thesecondgeneration will amount to 155, which, multiplied by 15, will produce 2,325 for thethirdgeneration; and these, multiplied by 19, will make 44,175 for thefourth; so that thethird, together with thefourth, will make 46,500. We shall have the same product if the given sum, 46,500, be divided by the most probable number of children, for example, by the number 19; we shall then have 2,447 for thethirdgeneration; which sum being deducted from the sum total, there will remain 44,053 for thefourthgeneration, which is exactly the number that is produced in multiplying 2,440 of thethirdgeneration by 18, and the other 7 by 19. If we wish to make the same calculation with respect to the preceding generations, i. e., divide them by the most probable number of children, we shall have the following sums: -46,500II. - SIMEON 59,300

"SIMEON had

sixsons. Let us suppose that each of the three first hadsixchildren, and each of the three othersseven, we shall havethirty-ninefor the first generation. If we multiply 31 of this number by 9, and 8 by 10, we shall have for the second generation 359; of which number, if we multiply 355 by 11, and 4 by 12, the third generation will give us 3,953. Let us then multiply 3,948 of these by 14, and 5 of them by 15, and we shall have for the fourth 55,347. Thethirdandfourth, added together, will make 59,300.III. - LEVI 22,300

"

Gershon, Levi's eldest son, hadtwochildren: let us give to one of these 16 children, and to the other 17, and we shall have 33 for thesecondgeneration; 28 of which, multiplied by 15, and 5 by 16, will produce 500 for thethird. Multiply each by 14, and these will produce 7,000; and thethirdandfourthtogether, 7,500."

Kohath, Levi's second son, hadfoursons, which form the first line. Give to one of them 10 sons, and 11 to each of the other three, for thesecondgeneration there will be 43. Multiply them by 10, there will be 430 for thethird; these, multiplied by 19 for thefourth, will produce the number of 8,170. Thethirdandfourthadded together make 8,600."

Merari, thethirdson of Levi, hadtwosons. Give 10 children to each of them, there will then be 20 for thesecondgeneration. Now if we say that 10 of these 20 had each 15 sons, and each of the others 16, we shall have 310, which, multiplied by 19, will give us 5,890 for thefourth; and thetwolast together, 6,200. This may be seen by the following example: -GershonitesKohathitesMerarites"Amount of generations III. and IV.: Gershonites, 7,500; Kohathites, 8,600; and Merarites, 6,200 - total number of Levites, 22,300.

IV. - JUDAH 74,600

"The sons of

JudahwereShelah, Pharez, andZerah. His grandsons byPharezwereHezronandHamul.Hezronhad two sons. Suppose each of them hadsixchildren, which will make 12 for the first generation; to eight of whom alloweightchildren, andnineto each of the others, and there will be 100 for thesecondgeneration. To 92 of these then give 18 children, and 19 to theeightothers; this will produce for thethirdgeneration 1,808. If we then suppose that 1,800 of these had each 18 children, and that each of the othereighthad 19, thefourthgeneration will be 32,552, which, added to the product of thethird, will make the descendants ofHezronamount to 34,360."

Hamulhadtwosons, who, multiplied by 10, produce the number of 20 for thesecondgeneration: these, multiplied by 20, will make 400 for thethird, and these again by 25 will produce 10,000 for thefourth. And thus the two last generations will amount together to the number of 10,400."If we allow

fivesons to Shelah, andsixto Zerah, we shall have 11 for the first generation. Tothreeof whom allow 10 children and 11 to the othereight, this will give us 118 for the second. To 113 of these give 14, and 15 to the otherfive, and 1,657 will be produced for thethird. Give 17 to 1,643, and 18 to the 14 remaining, and for thefourththere will be 28,183. Thethirdandfourthadded together will produce the number of 29,840."According to this calculation, all these generations will amount to the following numbers: -

74,600V. - ISSACHAR 54,400

"ISSACHAR had

fivesons. Suppose thatthreeof them had eachfivechildren, and the othertwo, six, we shall have 27 for the first generation. If we then imagine that of these 19 had eachninesons, and each of the othereight10, the second generation will be 251. Now 241 of these, multiplied by 12, will produce 2,892, and the 10 others, multiplied by 13, will make 130; consequently thethirdgeneration will amount to 3,022. If 3,018 of these had each 17 sons, and each of the otherfourhad 18, thefourthgeneration will be 51,378; thethirdandfourthgenerations, then, will produce a number of 54,400.VI. - ZEBULUN 57,400

"

Zebulunhadthreesons. If we suppose thattwoof them had in all fourteen children, and thethird, six, here will be 20 for thefirstgeneration. Thesecondwill produce 143, on multiplying 17 by 7, and 3 by 8. If we multiply 135 by 16, and 8 by 17, thethirdwill amount to 2,296. By multiplying thethirdby 24, thefourthwill give us 55,104. The two last will produce, together, 57,400.VII. - GAD 45,650

sevensons.45,650VIII. - ASHER 41,500

Jimnah, Ishua, andIsui, multiplied by 8, produce for the27,590"

HeberandMalchielwere sons ofBeriah. Now thesetwosons multiplied by 5, give us for12,870"Another son of

Beriahhad in the1,04041,500IX.-JOSEPH

MANASSEH 32,20032,200EPHRAIM 40,50040,500X. - BENJAMIN 35,400

35,400XI. - DAN 62,700

62,700XII. - NAPHTALI 53,400

53,400625,850625,850"In the above calculations,

ScheuchzerandReyhertake for granted,1. That from the going down to Egypt to the exodus there were

fourgenerations.2. That the first two generations had died in Egypt.

3. That the promise of God in multiplying them as the stars of heaven, had taken place particularly in the two last generations.

4. That these two last generations alone form the aggregate sums given in the sacred text.

5. That their method of accounting for this aggregate through the four generations, is not only perfectly natural and mathematical, but strictly accordant with the promises made by God to them, as the sum of each tribe sufficiently proves.

6. That the whole account shows the truth of the Divine promise, the great accuracy of the Jewish lawgiver, and a proof of the inspiration of the sacred writings.

But even to these calculations and deductions there may be objections, e. g. "Scheuchzer gives to 2,508 families of Dan, 24 male children, each above the age of 20: we may fairly allow an equal number of females, and add 5 more under 20,

See the note at "Exodus 12:37", and we have 53 children on the average through all the families of a tribe; whilst to 4,425 families of Benjamin are allotted 7 males aged 20, and adding 7 females at 5 children, we have 19 children in each family; a tolerable number; but apparently more reasonable than the other." - ANON.