World Wide Study Bible

Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

1. The Census

1And Jehovah spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, 2Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, every male, by their polls; 3from twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel, thou and Aaron shall number them by their hosts. 4And with you there shall be a man of every tribe; every one head of his fathers' house. 5And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you. Of Reuben: Elizur the son of Shedeur. 6Of Simeon: Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. 7Of Judah: Nahshon the son of Amminadab. 8Of Issachar: Nethanel the son of Zuar. 9Of Zebulun: Eliab the son of Helon. 10Of the children of Joseph: Of Ephraim: Elishama the son of Ammihud. Of Manasseh: Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur. 11Of Benjamin: Abidan the son of Gideoni. 12Of Dan: Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. 13Of Asher: Pagiel the son of Ochran. 14Of Gad: Eliasaph the son of Deuel. 15Of Naphtali: Ahira the son of Enan. 16These are they that were called of the congregation, the princes of the tribes of their fathers; they were the heads of the thousands of Israel. 17And Moses and Aaron took these men that are mentioned by name: 18And they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month; and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls. 19As Jehovah commanded Moses, so he numbered them in the wilderness of Sinai.

20And the children of Reuben, Israel's first-born, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 21those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Reuben, were forty and six thousand and five hundred.

22Of the children of Simeon, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, those that were numbered thereof, according to the number of the names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 23those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Simeon, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred.

24Of the children of Gad, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 25those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Gad, were forty and five thousand six hundred and fifty. 26Of the children of Judah, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 27those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Judah, were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred.

28Of the children of Issachar, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 29those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Issachar, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred.

30Of the children of Zebulun, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 31those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Zebulun, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred.

32Of the children of Joseph, namely, of the children of Ephraim, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 33those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Ephraim, were forty thousand and five hundred.

34Of the children of Manasseh, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 35those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Manasseh, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred.

36Of the children of Benjamin, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 37those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Benjamin, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.

38Of the children of Dan, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 39those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Dan, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred.

40Of the children of Asher, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 41those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Asher, were forty and one thousand and five hundred.

42Of the children of Naphtali, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 43those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Naphtali, were fifty and three thousand and four hundred.

44These are they that were numbered, whom Moses and Aaron numbered, and the princes of Israel, being twelve men: they were each one for his fathers' house. 45So all they that were numbered of the children of Israel by their fathers' houses, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel; 46even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.

47But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them. 48For Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, 49Only the tribe of Levi thou shalt not number, neither shalt thou take the sum of them among the children of Israel; 50but appoint thou the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all the furniture thereof, and over all that belongeth to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the furniture thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle. 51And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. 52And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, according to their hosts. 53But the Levites shall encamp round about the tabernacle of the testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of the testimony. 54Thus did the children of Israel; according to all that Jehovah commanded Moses, so did they.

Select a resource above

1. And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai Although this is the first numbering of the people, of which we have an account, still, inasmuch as God had already imposed a tax upon every person, the amount of which has been recorded, we infer that it was in fact the second. But the reason for thus numbering the people a second time was, because they were very soon about to remove their camp from the wilderness of Sinai to take posession of the promised land. Since, however, their impiety withheld thmn from doing so, there was a third census taken just before their actual entrance into the land, and with this object, that it might be obvious, on comparison, how marvellously the people had been preserved by the springing up of a new generation, in spite of so many plagues and so much slaughter; for although a great proportion of them had been cut off, almost as many persons were found as before.

Further, it must be observed, that the people were not numbered except at God’s command, in order that He might thus assert His supreme dominion over them; and also, that the mode of taking the census was so arranged, that there should be no confusion of ranks either through fraud or irregularity; for this was the reason why each tribe had its superintendents, lest any one should slip into a tribe to which he did not belong; and this is expressly mentioned by way of assurance, since otherwise many might suspect that so great a multitude could hardly be distinguished into classes with certainty, so that the whole sum should be calculated without mistake.

20. And the children of Reuben, Israel’s eldest son If any disputatious person should contend that one family could not increase in 250 years to so great an amount, and thus should reject as nebulous what surpasses the ordinary rule of nature, we must bear in mind what I have already stated, that, inasmuch as this increase depended on the power of God, nothing is more absurd than to measure it by ordinary rules. For the intention of the Spirit is to represent to our eyes the incredible power of God in a conspicuous and signal miracle. Meanwhile, if you compared the tribe of Reuben with some of the others, it presents in its numbers some marks of the curse, so that we may gather that Reuben was degraded from the honors of his primogeniture; for the tribes of Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali were more numerous, whilst from Joseph alone, who was one of the youngest, a posterity descended which almost doubled it in numbers. God’s blessing, however, is most conspicuous in the tribe of Judah, in correspondence with the prophecy of Jacob; for by this prerogative, as it were, it was already called to the right of primogeniture and to supremacy, inasmuch as it surpassed all the principal ones.

47. But the Levites, after the tribe of their fathers We shall indeed hereafter see that they also were numbered, but Moses means that they were not included in the general census of the people, because God had chosen them to be His own property, and thus had severed them from the rest of the people. He writes, therefore, that they “were not numbered in the midst of the others,” 419419     Among them. — A. V. i.e., so as promiscuously to form a part of the multitude. Now, lest any one should object that Moses acted ambitiously in thus bestowing on his own tribe extraordinary distinction, he declares that he did not do this spontaneously, but that it was at God’s bidding that the Levites had a separate class assigned to them; for translators render this passage amiss, “And God said to Moses,” 420420     So the Vulgate, v. 48. as if he stated that the tribe of Levi was then first set apart when the sum of the people was taken, since it would have been absurd to omit a part, unless God’s will had been already declared. Moses, therefore, shews why he passed over his own tribe, via, because God had consecrated the Levites for the keeping and service of the tabernacle. Now, if it was not lawful for the tabernacle to be carried or set up by all persons indiscriminately, its sanctity was enforced by this symbol; for religion would not have been held in so much reverence, if it had been allowable for all without distinction to meddle with the sacred things. Meanwhile, the Israelites were reminded that all without, exception were unworthy to present themselves before God, when they were forbidden from access to the sanctuary; whereas the dignity which was conferred upon a single tribe was no ground for boasting, since it depended merely on the good pleasure of God. God, then, gave the Levites access to His tabernacle, not because they had deserved that honor by any virtue of their own, but in order to afford a testimony of His gratuitous favor. At the same time, under this image He represented the future priesthood of Christ, in order that believers might be assured that the Mediator, by whom others might have access to God, was to be of the human race; and therefore God declares by Isaiah that He would take the Levites under the kingdom of Christ from the general and dispersed body of the people. (Isaiah 66:21.) As to what relates to their office, let it be sought in its proper place.

Preferred Old Testament version:
Preferred Apocrypha version:
Preferred New Testament version:
Preferred commentary:
Text size: A A
Footnote style:

Permalink to this page. To permalink to a range of verses directly, simply enter a ranged passage reference first.

Advertisements