Numbers chapter 1

The first census of Israel. Those to assist Moses. The census results. The Levites were omitted.

 


 

THE FIRST CENSUS OF ISRAEL

 

VERSE 1. The LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying,

The LORD. When rendered in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, “LORD” or “GOD” is the translation of God’s Proper Name.

 

VERSE 2. “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, every male, one by one,

Take a census. The LORD God directed Moses to take this survey. It was the right thing to do.

But in future centuries, the taking of a census would be forbidden.

 

VERSE 3. from twenty years old and upward, all who are able to go out to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall count them by their divisions.

all who are able to go out to war. This census had a military purpose.

 

THOSE TO ASSIST MOSES

 

VERSE 4. With you there shall be a man of every tribe, each one head of his fathers’ house.

a man of every tribe. Each of the twelve tribes will have one representative:

  1. Tribe of Reuben: Elizur the son of Shedeur (verse 5)
  2. Tribe of Simeon. Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai (verse 6)
  3. Tribe of Judah: Nahshon the son of Amminadab (verse 7)
  4. Tribe of Issachar: Nethanel the son of Zuar (verse 8)
  5. Tribe of Zebulun: Eliab the son of Helon (verse 9)
  6. Tribe of Ephraim: Elishama the son of Ammihud (verse 10)
  7. Tribe of Manasseh: Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur (verse 10)
  8. Tribe of Benjamin: Abidan the son of Gideoni (verse 11)
  9. Tribe of Dan: Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai (verse 12)
  10. Tribe of Asher: Pagiel the son of Ochran (verse 13)
  11. Tribe of Gad: Eliasaph the son of Deuel (verse 14)
  12. Tribe of Naphtali: Ahira the son of Enan (verse 15)

 

VERSE 5. These are the names of the men who shall stand with you: Of Reuben: Elizur the son of Shedeur.

Elizur the son of Shedeur. He represents the Tribe of Reuben.

 

VERSE 6. Of Simeon: Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.

Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. He represents the Tribe of Simeon.

 

VERSE 7. Of Judah: Nahshon the son of Amminadab.

Nahshon the son of Amminadab. He represents the Tribe of Judah.

 

VERSE 8. Of Issachar: Nethanel the son of Zuar.

Nethanel the son of Zuar. He represents the Tribe of Issachar.

 

VERSE 9. Of Zebulun: Eliab the son of Helon.

Eliab the son of Helon. He represents the Tribe of Zebulun.

 

VERSE 10. Of the children of Joseph: of Ephraim: Elishama the son of Ammihud; of Manasseh: Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.

Elishama the son of Ammihud. He represents the half-tribe of Ephraim.

Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur. He represents the half-tribe of Manasseh.

 

VERSE 11. Of Benjamin: Abidan the son of Gideoni.

Abidan the son of Gideoni. He represents the tribe of Benjamin.

 

VERSE 12. Of Dan: Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.

Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. He represents the tribe of Dan.

 

VERSE 13. Of Asher: Pagiel the son of Ochran.

Pagiel the son of Ochran. He represents the tribe of Asher.

 

VERSE 14. Of Gad: Eliasaph the son of Deuel.

Eliasaph the son of Deuel. He represents the tribe of Gad.

 

VERSE 15. Of Naphtali: Ahira the son of Enan.”

Ahira the son of Enan. He represents the tribe of Naphtali.

 

VERSE 16. These are those who were called of the congregation, the princes of the tribes of their fathers; they were the heads of the thousands of Israel.

those who were called. That is, councilors.

the princes. Or “chiefs” or “leaders.”

 

VERSE 17. Moses and Aaron took these men who are mentioned by name.

 

VERSE 18. They assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month; and they declared their ancestry by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, one by one.

 

VERSE 19. As the LORD commanded Moses, so he counted them in the wilderness of Sinai.

 

THE CENSUS RESULTS

 

VERSE 20. The children of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, one by one, every male from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

all who were able to go out to war. The census had a military purpose. Here are the results:

  1. Tribe of Reuben: 46,500 (verse 21)
  2. Tribe of Simeon: 59,300 (verse 23)
  3. Tribe of Gad: 45,650 (verse 25)
  4. Tribe of Judah: 74,600 (verse 27)
  5. Tribe of Issachar: 54,400 (verse 29)
  6. Tribe of Zebulun: 57,400 (verse 31)
  7. Tribe of Ephraim: 40,500 (verse 33)
  8. Tribe of Manasseh: 32,200 (verse 35)
  9. Tribe of Benjamin: 35,400 (verse 37)
  10. Tribe of Dan: 62,700 (verse 39)
  11. Tribe of Asher: 41,500 (verse 41)
  12. Tribe of Naphtali: 53,400 (verse 43)

TOTAL: 653,550 (verse 46)

 

VERSE 21. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Reuben, were forty-six thousand five hundred.

the tribe of Reuben. There were 46,500.

 

VERSE 22. Of the children of Simeon, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, those who were counted of it, according to the number of the names, one by one, every male from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

 

VERSE 23. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Simeon, were fifty-nine thousand three hundred.

the tribe of Simeon. There were 59,300.

 

VERSE 24. Of the children of Gad, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

 

VERSE 25. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Gad, were forty-five thousand six hundred fifty.

the tribe of Gad. There were 45,650.

 

VERSE 26. Of the children of Judah, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

 

VERSE 27. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Judah, were seventy-four thousand six hundred.

the tribe of Judah. There were 74,600.

 

VERSE 28. Of the children of Issachar, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

 

VERSE 29. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Issachar, were fifty-four thousand four hundred.

the tribe of Issachar. There were 54,400.

 

VERSE 30. Of the children of Zebulun, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

 

VERSE 31. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Zebulun, were fifty-seven thousand four hundred.

the tribe of Zebulun. There were 57,400.

 

VERSE 32. Of the children of Joseph: of the children of Ephraim, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

 

VERSE 33. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Ephraim, were forty thousand five hundred.

the tribe of Ephraim. There were 40,500.

 

VERSE 34. Of the children of Manasseh, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

 

VERSE 35. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Manasseh, were thirty-two thousand two hundred.

the tribe of Manasseh. There were 32,200.

 

VERSE 36. Of the children of Benjamin, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

 

VERSE 37. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Benjamin, were thirty-five thousand four hundred.

the tribe of Benjamin. There were 35,400.

 

VERSE 38. Of the children of Dan, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

 

VERSE 39. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Dan, were sixty-two thousand seven hundred.

the tribe of Dan. There were 62,700.

 

VERSE 40. Of the children of Asher, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

 

VERSE 41. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Asher, were forty-one thousand five hundred.

the tribe of Asher. There were 41,500.

 

VERSE 42. Of the children of Naphtali, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war:

 

VERSE 43. those who were counted of them, of the tribe of Naphtali, were fifty-three thousand four hundred.

the tribe of Naphtali. There were 53,400.

 

VERSE 44. These are those who were counted, whom Moses and Aaron counted, and the twelve men who were princes of Israel, each one for his fathers’ house.

 

VERSE 45. So all those who were counted of the children of Israel by their fathers’ houses, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war in Israel—

 

VERSE 46. all those who were counted were six hundred three thousand five hundred fifty.

all those who were counted. The grand total was 653,550 men of military age.

Much later, in Numbers chapter 26, there will be another census. The tally will be 601,730 men of military age.

Numbers 26:51. These are those who were counted of the children of Israel, six hundred one thousand seven hundred thirty.

 

THE LEVITES WERE OMITTED

 

VERSE 47. But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not counted among them.

the Levites … were not counted. The census had a military purpose. And so it ignored the Levites.

Compared with the total population of men of military age, the Levites were a tiny sub-population. In Numbers chapter 3, we learn the Levite population was a mere 22,000:

Numbers 3:39. All who were counted of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron counted at the commandment of the LORD, by their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty-two thousand.

 

VERSE 48. For the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

 

VERSE 49. “Only the tribe of Levi you shall not count, neither shall you take a census of them among the children of Israel;

 

VERSE 50. but appoint the Levites over the Tabernacle of the Testimony, and over all its furnishings, and over all that belongs to it. They shall carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; and they shall take care of it, and shall encamp around it.

 

VERSE 51. When the tabernacle is to move, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall set it up. The stranger who comes near shall be put to death.

 

VERSE 52. The children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, according to their divisions.

 

VERSE 53. But the Levites shall encamp around the Tabernacle of the Testimony, that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the children of Israel. The Levites shall be responsible for the Tabernacle of the Testimony.”

that there may be no wrath. Only the Levites may be near the Tabernacle. Other people will be killed.

 

VERSE 54. Thus the children of Israel did. According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so they did.

 


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