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:
|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!