Numbers 1

The Census and the Preparation to Depart from Sinai[a]

Chapter 1

The Census. 1 The Lord spoke to Moses in the Sinai Desert in the tent of meeting on the first day of the second month of the second year after they left the land of Egypt, saying,[b] 2 “Take a census of the community of the people of Israel, arranging them by their families, by their clans, listing every single man by name. 3 You and Aaron will count them, company by company, each one who is twenty years and older and is able to go to war in Israel. 4 A man from every tribe,[c] the head of his clan, will accompany you.

Assistants to Moses Named. 5 “These are the names of the men who will accompany you: from the tribe of Reuben, Elizur, the son of Shedeur; 6 from the tribe of Simeon, Shelumiel, the son of Zurishaddai; 7 from the tribe of Judah, Nahshon, the son of Amminadab; 8 from the tribe of Issachar, Nathanel, the son of Zuar; 9 from the tribe of Zebulun, Eliab, the son of Helon; 10 from the son of Joseph, from the tribe of Ephraim, Elishama, the son of Ammihud, and from the tribe of Manasseh, Gamaliel, the son of Pedahzur; 11 from the tribe of Benjamin, Abidan, the son of Gideoni; 12 from Dan, Ahiezer, the son of Ammishaddai; 13 from Asher, Pagiel, the son of Ochran; 14 from Gad, Eliasaph, the son of Reuel; 15 from Naphtali, Ahira, the son of Enan.” 16 These were the ones summoned from the assembly, the leaders of their tribes. They were the heads of the clans of Israel.

17 Moses and Aaron took the men who had been named 18 and on the first day of the second month they gathered together the entire community who registered themselves by families, by the name of their fathers’ households. The men twenty years and older were listed according to their names, one by one, 19 as the Lord had commanded Moses. And so he counted them in the Sinai Desert.

20 The Count of the Twelve Tribes. Thus the members of the tribe of Reuben, the oldest son of Israel, who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms were listed by name according to their clans and families, one by one. 21 The number of men in the tribe of Reuben was forty-six thousand, five hundred.

22 The members of the tribe of Simeon who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms were listed by name according to their clans and families, one by one. 23 The number of men in the tribe of Simeon was fifty-nine thousand, three hundred.

24 The members of the tribe of Gad who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms were listed by name according to their clans and families. 25 The number of men in the tribe of Gad was forty-five thousand, six hundred fifty.

26 The members of the tribe of Judah who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms were listed by name according to their clans and families. 27 The number of men in the tribe of Judah was seventy-four thousand, six hundred.

28 The members of the tribe of Issachar who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms were listed by name according to their clans and families. 29 The number of men in the tribe of Issachar was fifty-four thousand, four hundred.

30 The members of the tribe of Zebulun who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms were listed by name according to their clans and families. 31 The number of men in the tribe of Zebulun was fifty-seven thousand, four hundred.

32 The sons of Joseph include the members of the tribe of Ephraim who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms. They were listed by name according to their clans and families. 33 The number of men in the tribe of Ephraim was forty thousand, five hundred.

34 There are also the members of the tribe of Manasseh who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms. They were listed by name according to their clans and families. 35 The number of men in the tribe of Manasseh was thirty-two thousand, two hundred.

36 The members of the tribe of Benjamin who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms were listed by name according to their clans and families. 37 The number of men in the tribe of Benjamin was thirty-five thousand, four hundred.

38 The members of the tribe of Dan who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms were listed by name according to their clans and families. 39 The number of men in the tribe of Dan was sixty-two thousand, seven hundred.

40 The members of the tribe of Asher who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms were listed by name according to their clans and families, one by one. 41 The number of men in the tribe of Asher was forty-one thousand, five hundred.

42 The members of the tribe of Naphtali who were twenty years or older and who were fit to bear arms were listed by name according to their clans and families, one by one. 43 The number of men in the tribe of Naphtali was fifty-three thousand, four hundred.

44 This was the number of men counted by Moses and Aaron and the twelve leaders, each representing his ancestral clan. 45 The total number of the people of Israel who were listed according to their clan who were twenty years or older and fit to bear arms in Israel 46 was six hundred and three thousand, five hundred and fifty.

47 Responsibility of the Levites. The families of the tribe of Levi, however, were not counted with the rest of them[d] 48 for the Lord had said to Moses, 49 “You are not to take a census of the tribe of Levi, nor are you to include them in the census of the people of Israel. 50 You will assign the Levites responsibility over the tent of the tabernacle and over all of its vessels and over all of the things that belong to it. They will carry the tabernacle and all of its vessels. They will care for it and they will camp around the tabernacle. 51 When the tabernacle is to be moved, the Levites will take it down. When it is to be erected, the Levites will set it up. Anyone else who approaches it must be put to death.

52 “Each of the Israelites will pitch his tent within his own camp, alongside his own standard, each in his own company, 53 but the Levites will camp around the tabernacle of the Testimony so that no wrath come upon the community of the people of Israel. The Levites will keep guard over the tabernacle of the Testimony.” 54 This is what the people of Israel did. They did everything that the Lord had commanded Moses.

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 1:1 The final editor of the Book has somewhat exaggerated the figures, undoubtedly in order to highlight the extraordinary fecundity of the people of the promise (Gen 13:16). Perhaps he was also mistaken about the meaning of the Hebrew word translated as “thousand”: at the time of the Exodus the word did not mean “thousand” but referred to the small contingent of men that each clan had to supply in time of war.
  2. Numbers 1:1 From the first verse of this book to the very last, it is Moses in his role as prophet—spokesperson of the Lord—that is emphasized time and again. Moses’ unique position is described in Num 12:6-8.
  3. Numbers 1:4 A man from every tribe: appointing one man from each tribe to assist Moses and Aaron fostered a community spirit and a fair and accurate count.
  4. Numbers 1:47 The tribe of Levi, the Levites, was responsible for worship and would not be counted for military purposes.

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