From Slaves to Soldiers

Chapter 26

The trouble and distress caused by the gross sin of the men of Israel, when they followed the Moabite women to their sex and worship feast in honor of Baal, was over. Yahweh instructed Moses and Eleazar to number the people by families. They were to count every person twenty years old and older who was able to serve in the military forces of Israel.

Yahweh was ready to take Israel into the Promised Land and he told Moses to divide the inheritance of the land based on population. A larger group was to get a larger inheritance; a smaller group was to be given a smaller inheritance. Not one of them would be among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest in the census of the people of Israel taken in the Wilderness of Sinai. Yahweh had said that they would all die in the wilderness except for Caleb and Joshua and they did.

The Levites were to be numbered and a record kept but they wouldn’t get land for farming like the other tribes.

Reuben was Israel’s firstborn son so his tribe was recorded first. They were listed according to the four clans with the names of their heads – 43,730. The names of the sons of the clan of Reuben who had rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the Korah rebellion against Yahweh were recorded. The narrator also recorded their fate and the fact that the line of Korah didn’t die out completely.

The heads of the five clans of Simeon were recorded by name – 22,200. The seven clans of Gad numbered 40,500. Their leaders’ names were also recorded. There were three clans and two sub clans in the tribe of Judah. The narrator made a note that Er and Onan[1] were sons of Judah who died early on in Canaan. He recorded the names of the heads of the five clans. Their number was 76,500. The tribe of Issachar had four clans and their number was 64, 300. Zebulun had three clans with a number of 60,500.

Joseph’s two sons Manasseh and Ephraim were each a tribe. Manasseh had one clan which had one sub clan which had seven sub clans. They numbered 52,700. Their heads were recorded along with the names of the women of a clan with no sons. Ephraim had three clans which had a sub clan with two sub clans. Their number was 32,500.

Benjamin’s five clans had two sub clans and all those leaders were named. They numbered 45,600.

Dan had two clans but all the descendants were from Shuman and numbered 64,400. Asher had four clans and three sub clans which included Asher’s daughter, Serah. They numbered 53,400. Naphtali had four clans and their number was 45,500.

The narrator recorded the names of all the tribes’ leaders. All together Israel numbered 601,730.

There were eight Levite tribes with 23,000 males one month old and older. The three main tribes had five sub tribes. The narrator made a record of the line of Kohath who was the grandfather of Moses and Aaron. He recorded that their mother was also a descendant of Levi. He also left a record of Aaron’s sons and the fate of Nadab and Abihu who died when they offered unauthorized fire in the Sanctuary[2].

 

Summary of chapter 26

This was the second census of Israel in the wilderness some 38 years after the first while Israel was still camped at Mount Sinai. The first census had organized them to get them ready for the Promised Land but they needed faith to go with their structure for it to be effective.

In the first census, Reuben counted 46,500 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 43,730 – a loss of 2,770 men (6%).The narrator made documentation that Dathan and Abiram belonged to the tribe of Reuben and were co-leaders with Korah in the rebellion against Yahweh and Moses.[3] It is possible that one reason Dathan and Abiram resented Moses’ leadership was because they were from the tribe of Israel’s firstborn son (Reuben); while Moses, descended from Levi (a younger son) was the leader of the nation. God’s judgment of Dathan, Abiram, Korah and their followers was a sign, both to that generation in the wilderness and beyond.

In the first census, the tribe of Simeon counted 59,300 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 22,000 a loss of 37,100 men for this once-great tribe (a loss of 63%).

In the first census, the tribe of Gad counted 45,650 men ready for war; 38 years later, they count 40,500, a loss of 5,150 fighting men (11%).

In the first census, the tribe of Judah counted 74,600 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 76,500, a gain of 1,900 (3%).

In the first census, the tribe of Issachar counted 54,400 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 64,300. This was a gain of 9,900 (18%).

In the first census, the tribe of Zebulun counted 57,400 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 60,500, a gain of 3,100 (5%).

In the first census, the tribe of Manasseh (Joseph’s son) counted 32,200 ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 52,700, a gain of 20,500 (64%). In the first census, the tribe of Joseph’s son Ephraim counted 40,500 ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 32,500, a loss of 8,000 men (20%).

In the first census, the tribe of Benjamin counted 35,400 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 45,600, a gain of 10,200 men (29%).

In the first census, the tribe of Dan counted 62,700 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 64,400, a gain of 1,700 men (3%).

In the first census, the tribe of Asher counted 41,500 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 53,400 men, a gain of 11,900 (29%).

In the first census, the tribe of Naphtali counted 53,400 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 45,400 men, a loss of 8,000 (15%).

In the first census, Israel counted 603,550 men ready for war; 38 years later, they count 601,730 men – a loss of 1,820 men (.3%). The total number of men ready for war during the wilderness stayed effectively the same over the 38 year interlude while the Faithless generation died in the wilderness.

The general rule of inheritance was to be that larger tribes would receive larger portions of land and smaller tribes would have a smaller portion of land.

The Levites were not numbered in either the first or the second census, because the men of their tribe were not to go to war and they were not to receive an inheritance of land with the other tribes. Their inheritance was greater than because it was Yahweh himself.

No one counted in the first census were counted in the second. They were the old generation of unbelief, who perished in the wilderness and had no inheritance in the Promised Land with the exception of Caleb and Joshua.[4]

 

Prayer: Lord, some years ago when I was holding tight to you by a thread that threatened to break you sent a song over the air waves that made a rope out of the thread and it has often been the prayer of my heart since – as it is today. When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary; when troubles come and my heart burdened be; then, I am still and wait here in the silence until you come and sit awhile with me.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas. I am strong, when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up’ To more than I can be.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas. I am strong, when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up’ To more than I can be.
There is no life – no life without its hunger. Each restless heart beats so imperfectly; but when you come and I am filled with wonder sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas. I am strong, when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up’ to more than I can be. You raise me up’ to more than I can be[5]. Thank you my precious Lord.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why do you think Israel’s sovereign ordered another census?
  2. Why do you think the narrator made a record here of Yahweh’s instructions for the allotment of land?
  3. Why do you think the narrator mentioned Caleb and Joshua in this record?
  4. Why were the Levites numbered separately?
  5. Why do you think the narrator made a record of the names of the leaders of each tribe?
  6. Why did Joseph’s two sons each have a tribe? What do you think was the significance of the number of clans in each tribe?
  7. Why do you think the narrator made another record of Nadab and Abihu in this record of the census?

 

 

[1] Genesis 38:3-10

[2] Leviticus 10

[3] Numbers 16:1-50

[4] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/numbers-26.html

[5]You Raise Me Up” is a song originally composed by Irish-Norwegian duo Secret Garden. The music was written by Secret Garden‘s Rolf Løvland and the lyrics by Brendan Graham. After the song was performed early in 2002 by the Secret Garden and their invited lead singer, Brian Kennedy, the song only became a minor UK hit. The song has been recorded by more than a hundred other artists including Josh Groban, who popularized the song in 2003; his rendition became a hit in the United States. The Irish band Westlife then popularized the song in the UK two years later.[1] “You Raise Me Up” is sung as a contemporary hymn in church services. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Raise_Me_Up  https://genius.com/Secret-garden-you-raise-me-up-lyrics

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