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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Numbers 1

Verses 1-54

The First Census Numbers 1:1-54 records the first census that the Lord commanded the children of Israel to take before they departed from Mount Sinai. The purpose of this census was to organize the people for war (1:3, 20), which was the first step in possessing the Promise Land. Only men twenty years old and upward, who were able to go to war, were numbered. The tribe of Levi was not numbered with the other twelve tribes. They were numbered in 3:1-39, with a count of 22,000 men.

Note that this order of numbering the tribes is similar to the order of encampment around the tabernacle. Note the comparison of the two numbering of the children of Israel in the book of Numbers:

First Numbering Second Numbering Reuben (Leah's 1st) 46,500 43,730 Simeon (Leah's 2nd) 59,300 22,200 Gad (Zilpah's 1st) 45,650 40,500 Judah (Leah's 4th) 74,600 76,500 Issachar (Leah's 5th) 54,400 64,300 Zebulum (Leah's 6th) 57,400 60,500 Joseph: Ephraim 40,500 52,700 Joseph: Manasseh 32,200 32,500 Benjamin (Rachel's 2nd) 35,400 45,600 Dan (Bilhah's 1st) 62,700 64,400 Asher (Zilpah's 2nd) 41,500 53,400 Naphtali (Bilhah's 2nd) 53,400 45,400 Total 603,550 601,730 1:5-16 The Captains Over the Tribes are Chosen - The head of these armies (a captain over each tribe) are listed in Numbers 1:5-16. These leaders were chosen by God, and not appointed by lot or by Moses.

Numbers 1:46 Even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.

Numbers 1:46 Comments - The book of Exodus tells us that approximately six hundred thousand men came out of Egypt (Exodus 12:37).

Exodus 12:37, “And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.”

Numbers 1:47 But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them.

Numbers 1:47 Comments - There were twenty-two thousand men numbered at the beginning of the wilderness journey, and twenty-three thousand numbered at the end (Numbers 3:39; Numbers 26:62). Note that during the second numbering, which took place forty years later, not a single man was left of the first numbering, except Caleb and Joshua (Numbers 26:63-64).

Numbers 3:39, “All that were numbered of the Levites, which Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the LORD, throughout their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand .”

Numbers 26:62, “And those that were numbered of them were twenty and three thousand , all males from a month old and upward: for they were not numbered among the children of Israel, because there was no inheritance given them among the children of Israel.”

Numbers 26:63-64, “These are they that were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho. But among these there was not a man of them whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered, when they numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai.”

Numbers 1:53 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.

Numbers 1:53 Comments - The Levites were sanctified so that they could encamp around the Tabernacle.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Numbers 1". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/numbers-1.html. 2013.