The Hebrew name for the Book of Numbers is B’MIDBAR (בְּמִדְבַּר) and it literally means “in the wilderness“.
Honestly, given that the majority of the content in this fourth book of the Torah doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with numerical symbols, don’t you think “In the Wilderness” would have been a much better title than “Numbers“?
How in the heck did we end up with the dull sounding title “Numbers” anyway?
Here’s what happened.
First of all, “Numbers” is just the English translation from the word ARITHMOI, which was the Greek title for this book.
So why did the Greeks decide to call the 4th book of the Torah ARITHMOI (meaning “numbers”)?
Simply because the first few chapters of this book deal with a census taken of the Israelites per YHWH’s command.
After this census is finished, the exciting action begins.
Now since Numbers is a pretty large book with a total of 36 chapters, let’s get to know the lay of the land beforehand.
Most commentators will divide Numbers into three sections based on the following locations.
-Plains of Moab
However, another theological division that is sometimes used is to make a distinction between the DISOBEDIENCE of the first generation and the OBEDIENCE of the second generation.
However, let’s stick with the more common 3-fold division and take a snapshot look at a Table of Contents of the key events that occur in each location-based section.
AT MOUNT SINAI (Chapters 1-10)
-A Census of the Israelites is taken
-The Levites are given their official assignments
-The Structure of the 12 Tribes is established
-Unfaithfulness and the Nazarite
-The Consecration of the Tabernacle
One interesting side note is that all the events in the first 10 chapters of Numbers takes place within a mere 3-week period.
AT KADESH-BARNEA (Chapters 11-25)
-God leads Israel by cloud and fire
-The grumbling towards Moses begins
-Israel’s negative response towards the mixed report of the 12 scouts
-Big-time idolatrous rebellion
-Balaam attempts to curse Israel
AT THE PLAINS OF MOAB (Chapters 26-36)
-The 2nd census
-Inheritance and the appointing of Moses’ successor
-Offerings and holidays
-The division of the land for Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh
-Establishment of cities of refuge and cities for the Levites
-Instructions to take the Promised Land
Before I close, I have a quick announcement.
From early tomorrow morning (Thursday, August 3rd, 2017), I’ll be boarding a Korean Air flight with two other friends that will take us from Tokyo to Seoul and then straight to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.
This is a long-awaited dream come true and my first trip to the Promised Land.
There are just two things.
First, during my trip, please understand that I may not be able to post daily as I have been over the past couple of years.
Second, for those who are reading this, please keep us in your prayers that we will be safe and sound during this trip to the Holy Land.
And that’s all folks!!!
My next post will be coming at you straight from Jerusalem!!!