The Word Made Fresh
1These are the campsites of the Israelites when they left Egypt in various groupings following the leadership of Moses and Aaron. 2Moses, at the LORD’s command, kept a record of all the places they camped.
3They left Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They were brave and left while the Egyptians watched them go. 4The Egyptians were burying their dead children, the oldest of each family that the LORD had killed in their homes. The LORD passed sentence on them and even on their gods.
5The Israelites left Rameses and camped at Succoth. 6They left Succoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 7They left Etham and backtracked a distance to Pi-Hahiroth near Baal-Zephon and camped facing Migdol. 8From Pi-Hahiroth they walked across the Red Sea into the wilderness, hiked for three days through the wilderness of Etham and made camp at Marah. 9From Marah they traveled to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there. 10They left Elim and camped beside the Red Sea. 11They broke camp beside the Red Sea and traveled to the wilderness of Sin. 12From there they set out, and their next encampment was at Dophkah. 13They moved again, this time to Alush. 14From there they hiked to Rephidim and camped there where there was no water for the people to drink. 15They left Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai. 16They moved on from there and made camp at Kibroth-Hattaavah. 17They moved on from there and camped at Hazeroth, 18and from there they moved on to Rithmah. 19From Rithmah they moved on and camped at Rimmon-Perez. 20Their next camp was at Libnah.
21From Libnah they moved on to Rissah, 22then to Kehelathah, 23Mount Shepher, 24Haradah, 25Makheloth, 26Tahath, 27Terah, 28Mithkah, 29Hashmonah, 30Moseroth, 31Benejaakan, 32Hor-Haggidgad, 33Jotbathah, 34Abronah, 35and Ezion-Geber. 36From there they moved on and camped in the wilderness of Zin at Kadesh. 37They left Kadesh and made camp at the edge of the land of Edom.
38Aaron the priest ascended Mt. Hor at the LORD’s command, and that is where he died in the fortieth year after having left Egypt, on the first day of the fifth month. 39Aaron was one hundred twenty-three years old when he died.
40That is about when the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negeb wilderness in Canaan, got wind of the Israelites’ approach.
41The Israelites then moved from Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah. 42From there they moved to Punon, 43then to Oboth, 44then to Iye-Abarim in Moabite territory. 45Then they broke camp at Iyim and moved on to Dibon-Gad, 46then to Almon-Diblathaim, 47then to the mountains of Abarim facing Nebo. 48They moved on from there and camped in the plains of Moab beside the Jordan river across from Jericho. 49Their encampment beside the Jordan stretched from Beth-Jeshimoth all the way to Abel-Shittim on the plains of Moab.
50There the LORD spoke to Moses and said, 51“Tell the Israelites that when they cross over the Jordan into Canaan 52they must drive out all the people who live there. They must destroy all their carved stone images and metal-cast images and tear down their high places of worship. 53Tell them they must take complete possession of the land and settle down there, for I have given the land to them. 54Divide the land among the tribes by casting lots; give large tracts of land to the more numerous tribes and smaller tracts to the smaller tribes. Cast lots to see which tribe gets which territory. 55If they don’t completely drive out the inhabitants of the land, the ones that are left will be like burrs in your eyes and briers in your skin and they will give you trouble when you settle there, 56and I will do to you what I plan to do to them.
1-4: We learn that all the while Moses has been keeping a record of their wilderness wanderings, beginning with the first Passover when the first born of the Egyptians perished.
5-37: Here is the itinerary for the Israelites from Egypt to the border of Edom. Surprisingly, the crossing of the Red sea is barely mentioned and there is no mention of the miraculous rescue from the Egyptian army. The list gives the names of places where they camped in their journey across the wilderness. It does not match exactly the accounts we have read so far in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, leaving out some places and mentioning others that have not been named before. In particular, in verses 19-36 we have locations that have not been mentioned at all until now, filling in some of the history that was not recorded before. We noted earlier that there seemed to be a sudden jump from the second year of their wilderness wanderings until the 39th year. These verses fill in some of those gaps.
38-39: Another detail is added: Aaron, whose death was recorded at the end of Chapter 20, died in the 40th year of their sojourn in the wilderness, at the ripe old age of 123.
40: The king of Arad is mentioned almost as a footnote in the midst of the list of campsites. He had attacked Israel early on, an event recorded in 21:1-3.
41-49: Most of the locations listed here are names we haven’t seen before, but Mt. Hor, Oboth, Iye-Abarim and the plains of Moab are familiar and echo the portion of their journey recorded in chapters 21 and 22.
50-56: The last part of the chapter points to the coming invasion of Canaan. They are given specific rules for the conduct of the wars to come:
- Drive out all the inhabitants of the land.
- Destroy their cultic symbols and sanctuaries.
- Take possession and settle the land.
- Apportion the land to each of the tribes according to the census.
- If you allow any of the current inhabitants to remain in the land, they will be your downfall.
Nowhere, however, does God tell them to slaughter every man, woman and child as will be described in Deuteronomy and Joshua. Numbers has been a bloody enough book, though, hasn’t it?