Numbers 26

The Word Made Fresh

1After the plague had run its course the LORD spoke to Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, saying 2“Make an official count of all the Israelites twenty years old and older, in their family groups; all who can go to war.” 3So Moses and Eleazar spoke with the people in the plains of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho. They said, 4“Count the people in your family groups who are twenty years old or more,” just as the LORD had instructed Moses.

The Israelite tribes who had come up from Egypt were:

5The Reubenites (Israel’s firstborn): the clans descended from Reuben were the Hanochites, the Palluites, 6the Hezronites, and the Carmites. 6These were the family groups belonging to the tribe of Reuben. There were forty-three thousand seven hundred thirty of them.

8Eliab was a descendant of Pallu. 9His children were Nemuel, Dathan and Abiram – the same Dathan and Abiram who, goaded on by the people, had joined with Korah and rebelled against the LORD. 10The earth had opened up and swallowed them along with Korah when that whole rebellious group of two hundred fifty men were devoured by the fire and became a warning to all the people. 11Nevertheless, Korah’s sons did not die.

12The descendants of Simeon were the Nemuelites; the Jaminites; the Jachinites; 13the Zerahites; and the Shaulites. 14These were the clans of the tribe of Simeon, and there were twenty-two thousand two hundred of them.

15The descendants of Gad were the Zephonites; the Haggites; the Shunites; 16The Oznites; the Erites; 17the Arodites, and the Arelites. 18These are the clans of the tribe of Gad, and there were forty thousand five hundred of them.

19The sons of Judah were Er and Onan who died in the land of Canaan. 20The descendants of Judah were the Shelamites; the Perezites; and the Zerahites. 21From Perez came the Hezronites, and the Hamulites. 22These were the clans descended from Judah. There were seventy-six thousand five hundred of them.

23The descendants of Issachar were the Tolaites; the Puahites; 24the Jashubites; and the Shimronites. 25These were the clans descended from Issachar, and their numbered was sixty-four thousand three hundred.

26The descendants of Zebulun were the Seredites; the Elonites; and the Jahleelites. 27These are the clans descended from Zebulun; they numbered sixty thousand five hundred.

28Joseph’s sons were Manasseh and Ephraim. 29The descendants of Manasseh were the Machirites and the Gileadites. 30The descendents of Gilead were the Iezerites; the Helekites; 31the Asrielites; the Shechemites; 32the Shemidaites; and the Hepherites. 33Hepher’s son Zelophehad had no sons, but five daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 34All these are the clans descended from Manasseh, and they numbered fifty-two thousand seven hundred.

35The descendants of Ephraim were the Shuthelahites; the Becherites; the Tahanites. 36From Shuthelah the clan of Eranites sprang. 37So, these are all the clans descended from Ephraim – they numbered thirty-two thousand five hundred. And all these families of Manasseh and Ephraim were descended from Joseph.

38The descendants of Benjamin were the Belaites; the Ashbelites; the Ahiramites; 39the Shuphamites; and the Huphamites. 40And from the Belaites descended the Ardites and Naamites. 41All these clans were of the tribe of Benjamin, and there were forty-five thousand six hundred of them.

42The descendants of Dan were the Shuhamites. 43They numbered sixty-four thousand four hundred.

44The descendants of Asher were the Imnites; the Ishvites; and the Berites. 45From the Berites descended the Heberites; and the Malchielites. 46Asher’s daughter was Serah. 47In all, the Asherites numbered fifty-three thousand four hundred.

52Then the LORD said to Moses, 53“The land will be inherited by these who have been counted. 54Large tribes will receive large grants of land; small tribes will receive smaller grants; every tribe will be apportioned land according to their number. 55Each ancestral tribe will have land allotted to them, and the name of their territory will be the name of their tribe. 56This is their inheritance, apportioned between the tribes, large and small.

57The Levites were also counted by their clans – the Gershonites, the Kohathites and the Merarites. 58The Levites also included the clans of the Libnites, the Hebronites, the Mahlites, the Mushites, and the Korahites.

Kohath had been the father of Amram, 59who married Levi’s daughter Jochebed, born in Egypt. She and Amram had three children; Aaron, Moses, and their sister Miriam. 60Aaron’s sons were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, 61Nadab and Abihu died when they took unauthorized fire before the LORD. 62The number of Levites was twenty-three thousand, including every male one month old or older. They were not included in the roll of the Israelites because they were not allotted land among them.

63So, these were the official rolls established by Moses and Eleazar the priest. They counted the Israelites in the plains of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho. 64The enrollment did not include a single person counted by Moses and Aaron back in the Sinai desert 65because the LORD had decreed they would die in the wilderness. Only Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun were still living.

Commentary

1-4: Ah, another census. Apparently nearly 40 years have passed, for this is the second generation from those who left Egypt. Notice in verse 3 that Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron are the leaders now since Aaron has died.

5-51: Here are the totals of the 12 tribes, from 20 years old and up. The previous totals from Numbers chapter 1 are in parentheses:

 Reuben: 43,730 (46,500)

Simeon: 22,200 (59,300) The man Phinehas killed was a Simeonite: 24,000 died in the plague.

Gad: 40,500 (45,650)

Judah: 76,500 (74,600)

Issachar: 64,300 (54,400)

Zebulun: 60,500 (57,400)

Manasseh: 52,700 (32,200) Notice that the names of Zelophehad’s daughters are listed in verse 33. They’ll turn up again in chapter 27.

Ephraim: 32,500 (40,500) In the first census Ephraim was numbered before Manasseh.

Benjamin: 45,600 (35,400)

Dan: 64,400 (62,700)

Asher: 53,400 (41,500)

Naphtali: 45,400 (41,500)

Total: 601,730 (603,550)

52-56: The tribes will be allotted territory in the Promised Land according to the census, the larger tribes getting the larger territories.

57-62: Levi: 23,000 (22,000) The Levites are counted from one month old and up.

63-65: Among the twelve tribes only Joshua and Caleb remain of those who were numbered in the first census at Mt. Sinai.

Takeaway

The census-taking, while boring to us, was essential to them. Much like our censuses are important to us – our census determines the allocation of a lot of services provided by the government. In Israel’s case the census determined the allocation of land when they conquered Canaan.