Archive for November 1st, 2014

Numbers 26

Numbers 26 has Moses taking another census of the people.  Some 38 years earlier, at the beginning of the book of Numbers, God had them do the same.  They have just come through another plague that wiped out a number of their people.  The first census was primarily for military organization.  If they were going to make it into the Promised Land, they had to know what resources were available to fight the enemies, and how best to organize them for doing battle.

This second census also has a similar purpose – “all in Israel who are able to go to war” that were 20 years old or older.  38 years earlier Israel was organized enough; they just did not have enough faith to take the Promised Land. Organization is good, and the work of God can suffer from a lack of it; but the best organization can never replace bold trust in God.  Once again Moses needed to know what his resources were and how he can structure and lead the people into God’s place for them.  Here are the numbers of the two census:


Reuben 46,500 43,730 -2,770 -6%
Simeon 59,300 22,200 -37,100 -63%
Gad 45,650 40,500 -5,150 -11%
Judah 74,600 76,500 +1,900 +3%
Issachar 54,400 64,300 +9,900 +18%
Zebulun 57,400 60,500 +3,100 +5%
Manasseh 32,200 52,700 +20,500 +64%
Ephraim 40,500 32,500 -8,000 -20%
Benjamin 35,400 45,600 +10,200 +29%
Dan 62,700 64,400 +1,700 +3%
Asher 41,500 53,400 +11,900 +29%
Naphtali 53,400 45,400 -8,000 -15%
Levi Not counted Not counted
Total 603,550 601,730 -1,820 -0.3%

Moses still had over 600,000 men available to him for battle.  The big difference in the two lists is that Moses and Aaron’s list from Numbers 1 included those who left Egypt and would wander for 40 years.  “But among these there was not one of those listed by Moses and Aaron the priest, who had listed the people of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. For the Lord had said of them, “They shall die in the wilderness.” Not one of them was left, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun”.  The entire generation had died.  A sobering realization and understanding that God is absolutely in control.

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