Author: Moses (date of writing: c 1440-1400
Period: c 1440-1400 BC.
Title: The English title is taken from the Latin
translation (Numeri) of the Greek word Arithmoi, the title given to this book in
the Septuagint. The traditional Hebrew title, "be-midbar" ("In the
wilderness..."), is taken from the opening phrase of the book.
Summary: Numbers is the fourth book of the Pentateuch.
It is a historical book, and its Greek and Latin names reflect the fact that two
censuses of the Israelites are recorded in Numbers. The Hebrew title more
closely reflects the contents of the book, which primarily tells of the
rebellion of the Israelites in the wilderness after the exodus from their
bondage in Egypt. Because of this rebellion, only two of the adults leaving
Egypt were to enter into the promised land of Canaan. The book covers a
If the book were considered only as a historical record of the
wanderings, then much of its message would be missed. One major theme
throughout: God's character is demonstrated in His dealings with His people --
for example, His complete holiness in the incident of Moses smiting of the Rock
to produce water (Num 20:7-13), and His righteous jealousy in Num 25:1-13. His
justice can be seen in the establishment of the covenant of peace with Phinehas.
His faithfulness is shown in Num 23:19. He established a covenant with Israel,
and the events of this book show His faithfulness to that covenant even in the
face of adversity from His people.
Numbers has the first of many instances when God's people
choose to ignore Him and to worship other "gods". This reveals that God will
punish wrongdoing but be merciful to those who seek to follow His laws. In Num
16:1-50, God punished the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, but accepted
Moses' atoning intervention.
Numbers shows that God has established high standards, and He
expects His people to maintain them. At the same time He is just and merciful,
and He is faithful to His covenant. He continually dwelt with His people during
their wilderness wanderings. The declaration made in Exo 29:45-46 is repeated in
Num 35:34 -- God dwells with His people. He leads them (Num 9:15-23) and He
delivers them from adversity (Num 21:1-54). It is only proper that He expects
faithfulness in return.
Num 1:1 -- 10:10 Practical instructions for the wilderness
Num 10:11 -- 12:16 From Sinai to Paran
- 1:1-54 The
- 2:1-34 Positions of tribes during the
- 3:1 -- 4:49 Duties of the
- 5:1 -- 7:89 Various
- 8:1-26 Consecration of the
- 9:1 -- 10:10 The Passover and God's
Num 13:1 -- 20:13 At Kadesh
- 10:11-36 Moving
- 11:1-35 The people
- 12:1-16 Miriam and
Num 20:14 -- 22:1 From Kadesh to Moab
- 13:1-33 Spying out the land of
- 14:1-45 God's
- 15:1-41 Various
- 16:1-50 Korah, Dathan and
- 17:1-13 Aaron's
- 18:1 -- 19:22 Duties of the priests, and
- 20:1-13 Moses'
Num 22:2 -- 32:42 The Plains of Moab
- 20:14-21 King of
- 20:22-29 Death of
- 21:1 -- 22:1 Opposition to
Num 33:1 -- 36:13 Sundry Matters
- 22:2 -- 24:25 Balak and
- 25:1-18 Punishment for
- 26:1-65 Another
- 27:1-11 Further
- 27:12-23 Joshua -- Moses'
- 28:1 -- 30:16 Further
- 31:1-54 War against the
- 32:1-42 Some
- 33:1-56 Summary of
- 34:1-29 Settlement in the
- 35:1-24 Cities of
- 36:1-13 Concerning inheritance within the
tribes of Israel