Reading Schedule and Intro
Today’s Bible Reading is Numbers 1-4
Tuesday, Feb. 21: Numbers 5-8
Wednesday, Feb. 22: Numbers 9-12
Thursday, Feb. 23: Numbers 13-16
Friday, Feb. 24: Numbers 17-20
We will spend these next four weeks in Numbers and Deuteronomy, and thus complete the entire Torah, or Law of Moses. Don’t bail out! You may not realize it yet, but Numbers and Deuteronomy are two of the most exciting books in the whole Bible.
The overall year’s plan is here.
My commentaries are sometimes long. The Bible is the priority. Read it first, and my commentaries are carefully sectioned so you can find the passage you may want help on. Please use the comment section of my blog if I missed something or you have something to add!
Numbers 1: The Tribes of Israel
Here you get a taste of the fact that the twelve tribes of Israel are not as simple as the twelve sons of Israel.
The twelve tribes are numbered but Joseph is numbered twice, once by his son Ephraim, and once by his son Manasseh. Levi, meanwhile, is not numbered at all, and a full explanation of this is given in v. 47-54.
Numbers 2: The Camp Around the Tabernacle
The Tent of Meeting was set up to face east. In chapter 1 we saw that the Levites would camp around it. The rest of the tribes camped in sets of threes in the four different directions.
Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun camped directly in front of the Tabernacle to the east. Judah was in charge of this group.
To the south side Reuben camped with Simeon and Gad. When Israel moved forward they would follow the camp of Judah, and these three tribes would move under the standard of Reuben.
When they marched Reuben would be followed by the Levites with the Tent of Meeting, making the center of the column of the Israelites.
On the west side was Ephraim accompanied by Manasseh and Benjamin. They marched third.
Finally, on the north was Dan accompanied by Asher and Naphtali. They would march at the rear of the column of Israelites.
It is probably worth noting that this east, south, west, north camping style made the camp the shape of a cross. Even the furniture of the tent of meeting, when set up, made the shape of a cross. From the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures to the very end of the apostles writings, God makes it clear that to him, the cross is the center of history.
Numbers 3: The Levites for the Firstborn
God takes the Levites for the tabernacle, and he exchanges them person for person for the firstborn who were sanctified to him after the plague of the Firstborn in Egypt.
The numbered parts of the Levites that you want to notice because they will continue to be referenced through the Hebrew Scriptures are the families of Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. They each have a section to the west, south, and north, while the families of Aaron and Moses took the east side in front of the tabernacle.
As it turned out there were a few more Firstborn than there were Levites, so they were redeemed at 5 shekels a piece. The Firstborn who were in excess of the 22,000 paid those 5 sheckels each.
Chapter 4: The Role of the Levites
You see already that the role of the Levites is divided among the Gershonites, the Kohathites, and the Merarites. They will remain central, though further in the future other other Levites will be come to known for their music and other roles, in particular the sons of Korah.