Numbers 1

Numbers 1 has Moses and Aaron taking tally of all the people.  “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head”.  Seems simple enough doesn’t it.  Have them all log into an online survey and fill out the information on their household.  Oh wait, this was thousands of years before computers so that isn’t how it is going to work.  We struggle to get this information to in our highly technology centric world so it had to be quite a process for Moses and his team.

But wait, how many people could there possibly be anyway.  After all they traveled with Moses as a group.  It can’t be that many.  And Moses had to be wondering what the purpose of this count was anyway.  “From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company”.  This is God’s way of preparing His people for the future.  There are some major threats coming, and having a handle on the people and how they are organized is vital to their future protection and success.

Here is what they counted:


Tribe Count Leader
Reuben 46,500 Elizur the son of Shedeur
Simeon 59,300 Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai
Judah 74,600 Nahshon the son of Amminadab
Issachar 54,400 Nethanel the son of Zuar
Zebulun 57,400 Eliab the son of Helon
Ephraim 40,500 Elishama the son of Ammihud
Manasseh 32,200 Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur
Benjamin 35,400 Abidan the son of Gideoni
Dan 62,700 Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai
Asher 41,500 Pagiel the son of Ochran
Gad 45,650 Eliasaph the son of Deuel
Naphtali 53,400 Ahira the son of Enan

There was one exception to the count – the tribe of Levi.  “Only the tribe of Levi you shall not list, and you shall not take a census of them among the people of Israel”.  The Levites served as priests and keepers of the tabernacle, so they were not going to be resources for war.  God’s instruction to them was to keep them focused on watching “over the tabernacle of the testimony….and over all that belongs to it”.  They have a very clear mission in life.  Moses and Aaron get the count done, but not alone. Often we read that they did as the Lord commanded.  In this instance “the people of Israel; they did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses”.  Can you imagine uniform obedience like this – everyone doing what they were supposed to do to accomplish any task?  It can be done. We simply need a strong leader with a plan, and then a heart to obey!

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