The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Numbers 1

Num 1:1

Heb title: "Be-midbar" = "in the wilderness..." See Lesson, Pentateuch, Hebrew titles.

Numbers: "The book of arrested progress".

Num 1:2

A CENSUS OF THE WHOLE ISRAELITE COMMUNITY: A head-count, based on Exo 30:12,13. Each man paid 1/2 shekel.

Num 1:5

THESE ARE THE NAMES OF THE MEN WHO ARE TO ASSIST YOU: What an wonderful honor -- to be called by the LORD God Himself. Yet God knows us all by name and has the power to write our names in the book of life by His grace, and also to give us a new name (2Ti 2:19; Rev 2:13,17) -- what an honor that is!

"God has given us all individual and special abilities that are different to the people we associate with. Some people seem to have more skills than we do, but they probably are just skills that are more visible to the people around them. God has a plan for your life and he has given you skills and opportunities to develop those skills so that you will be able to use them in His service.

"When God asked Moses to take a census of the Israelites, He told Moses to enlist the help of twelve men, one from each tribe, to count and register the people in their tribes. The twelve men God wanted were specifically named by Him to do this work. They were obviously men who had the skills and aptitude to do the job. There were many other people in Israel -- there were the skilled workers who made the Tabernacle, there were priests, there were the men chosen as spies, there were other heads of families -- but these men were chosen for this job because they had the skills to be able to do it and to do it well.

"We all have special abilities given to us by God. Let's tune them so that when the time comes and we are called to work, we can do it well for the LORD our God" (RP).

Num 1:18

AND THEY CALLED THE WHOLE COMMUNITY TOGETHER ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE SECOND MONTH...: This was for the purpose of taking a census of the whole congregation. A census was the means by which the place of each individual would be legally fixed within the nation. Why would such a thing be necessary? (a) The whole nation might be properly ordered in regard to the sanctuary and divine worship (Num 2:32,33). (b) In the encampment itself, each tribe would be fixed in its relation to all other tribes, and each family within a tribe would be fixed in relation to all other families (Num 2:34). (c) The fighting men needed to be organized, in the event of battles upcoming. (d) The proper order might be observed in the coming invasion and settlement of the Promised Land (Jos 13:31-33). (e) Each tribe would need to be situated in its own inheritance once they reached the Promised Land.

The principles embodied in this census are carried over into the LORD's instructions for His ecclesia in New Testament times -- where "everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way" (1Co 14:40).

Num 1:46

See Lesson, Large numbers in the OT.

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