The Book of Numbers (from Greek Ἀριθμοί, Arithmoi; Hebrew: בְּמִדְבַּר, Bəmiḏbar, "In the desert [of]") is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah. The book has a long and complex history, but its final form is probably due to a Priestly redaction (i.e., editing) of a Yahwistic source made some time in the early Persian period (5th century BCE). The name of the book comes from the two censuses taken of the Israelites.
Numbers begins at Mount Sinai, where the Israelites have received their laws and covenant from God and God has taken up residence among them in the sanctuary. The task before them is to take possession of the Promised Land. The people are counted and preparations are made for resuming their march. The Israelites begin the journey, but they "murmur" at the hardships along the way, and about the authority of Moses and Aaron. For these acts, God destroys approximately 15,000 of them through various means. They arrive at the borders of Canaan and send spies into the land. Upon hearing the spies' fearful report concerning the conditions in Canaan, the Israelites refuse to take possession of it. God condemns them to death in the wilderness until a new generation can grow up and carry out the task. The book ends with the new generation of Israelites in the Plain of Moab ready for the crossing of the Jordan River.
Numbers is the culmination of the story of Israel's exodus from oppression in Egypt and their journey to take possession of the land God promised their fathers. As such it draws to a conclusion the themes introduced in Genesis and played out in Exodus and Leviticus: God has promised the Israelites that they shall become a great (i.e. numerous) nation, that they will have a special relationship with Yahweh their god, and that they shall take possession of the land of Canaan. Numbers also demonstrates the importance of holiness, faithfulness and trust: despite God's presence and his priests, Israel lacks faith and the possession of the land is left to a new generation.
Most commentators divide Numbers into three sections based on locale (Mount Sinai, Kadesh-Barnea and the plains of Moab), linked by two travel sections; an alternative is to see it as structured around the two generations of those condemned to die in the wilderness and the new generation who will enter Canaan, making a theological distinction between the disobedience of the first generation and the obedience of the second.
God orders Moses, in the wilderness of Sinai, to number those able to bear arms—of all the men "from twenty years old and upward," and to appoint princes over each tribe. A total of 603,550 Israelites are found to be fit for military service. The tribe of Levi is exempted from military service and therefore not included in the census. Moses consecrates the Levites for the service of the Tabernacle in the place of the first-born sons, who hitherto had performed that service. The Levites are divided into three families, the Gershonites, the Kohathites, and the Merarites, each under a chief. The Kohathites were headed by Eleazar, son of Aaron, while the Gershonites and Merarites were headed by Aaron's other son, Ithamar. Preparations are then made for resuming the march to the Promised Land. Various ordinances and laws are decreed.
The Israelites set out from Sinai. The people murmur against God and are punished by fire; Moses complains of their stubbornness and is ordered to choose seventy elders to assist him in the government of the people. Miriam and Aaron insult Moses at Hazeroth, which angers God; Miriam is punished with leprosy and is shut out of camp for seven days, at the end of which the Israelites proceed to the desert of Paran on the border of Canaan. Twelve spies are sent out into Canaan and come back to report to Moses. Joshua and Caleb, two of the spies, report that the land is abundant and is "flowing with milk and honey", but the other spies say that it is inhabited by giants, and the Israelites refuse to enter the land. Yahweh decrees that the Israelites will be punished for their loss of faith by having to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
Moses is ordered by God to make plates to cover the altar. The children of Israel murmur against Moses and Aaron on account of the destruction of Korah's men and are stricken with the plague, with 14,700 perishing. Aaron and his family are declared by God to be responsible for any iniquity committed in connection with the sanctuary. The Levites are again appointed to help in the keeping of the Tabernacle. The Levites are ordered to surrender to the priests a part of the tithes taken to them.
Miriam dies at Kadesh Barnea and the Israelites set out for Moab, on Canaan's eastern border. The Israelites blame Moses for the lack of water. Moses is ordered by God to speak to a rock but initially disobeys, and is punished by the announcement that he shall not enter Canaan. The king of Edom refuses permission to pass through his land and they go around it. Aaron dies on Mount Hor. The Israelites are bitten by Fiery flying serpents for speaking against God and Moses. A brazen serpent is made to ward off these serpents.
The Israelites arrive on the plains of Moab. A new census gives the total number of males from twenty years and upward as 601,730, and the number of the Levites from the age of one month and upward as 23,000. The land shall be divided by lot. The daughters of Zelophehad, their father having no sons, are to share in the allotment. Moses is ordered to appoint Joshua as his successor. Prescriptions for the observance of the feasts and the offerings for different occasions are enumerated. Moses orders the Israelites to massacre the people of Midian. The Reubenites and the Gadites request Moses to assign them the land east of the Jordan. Moses grants their request after they promise to help in the conquest of the land west of the Jordan. The land east of the Jordan is divided among the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Moses recalls the stations at which the Israelites halted during their forty years' wanderings and instructs the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanites and destroy their idols. The boundaries of the land are spelled out; the land is to be divided under the supervision of Eleazar, Joshua, and twelve princes, one of each tribe.
The majority of modern biblical scholars believe that the Torah (the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) reached its present form in the post-Exilic period (i.e., after c.520 BCE), based on pre-existing written and oral traditions and "contemporary geographical and demographic details but even more importantly from contemporary political realities". The five books are often described as being drawn from four "sources" - schools of writers rather than individuals - the Yahwist and the Elohist (frequently treated as a single source), the Priestly source and the Deuteronomist. There is ongoing dispute over the origins of the non-Priestly source(s), but it is generally agreed that the Priestly source is post-exilic.
David A. Clines, in his influential The Themes of the Pentateuch (1978), identified the overarching theme of the five books as the partial fulfilment of a promise made by God to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The promise has three elements: posterity (i.e., descendants – Abraham is told that his descendants will be as innumerable as the stars), divine-human relationship (Israel is to be God's chosen people), and land (the land of Canaan, cursed by Noah immediately after the Deluge).
The theme of the divine-human relationship is expressed, or managed, through a series of covenants (meaning treaties, legally binding agreements) stretching from Genesis to Deuteronomy and beyond. The first is the covenant between God and Noah immediately after the Deluge in which God agrees never again to destroy the Earth with water. The next is between God and Abraham, and the third between God and all Israel at Mount Sinai. In this third covenant, unlike the first two, God hands down an elaborate set of laws (scattered through Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers), which the Israelites are to observe; they are also to remain faithful to Yahweh, the god of Israel, meaning, among other things, that they must put their trust in his help.
The theme of descendants marks the first event in Numbers, the census of Israel's fighting men: the huge number which results (over 600,000) demonstrates the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham of innumerable descendants, as well as serving as God's guarantee of victory in Canaan. As chapters 1–10 progress, the theme of God's presence with Israel comes to the fore: these chapters describe how Israel is to be organised around the Sanctuary, God's dwelling-place in their midst, under the charge of the Levites and priests, in preparation for the conquest of the land.
The Israelites then set out to conquer the land, but almost immediately they refuse to enter it, and Yahweh condemns the whole generation who left Egypt to die in the wilderness. The message is clear: failure was not due to any fault in the preparation, because Yahweh had foreseen everything, but to Israel's sin of unfaithfulness. In the final section, the Israelites of the new generation follow Yahweh's instructions as given through Moses and are successful in all they attempt. The last five chapters are exclusively concerned with land: instructions for the extermination of the Canaanites, the demarcation of the boundaries of the land, how the land is to be divided, holy cities for the Levites and "cities of refuge", the problem of pollution of the land by blood, and regulations for inheritance when a male heir is lacking.
Book of Numbers
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Adam Barrington Spencer (born 29 January 1969) is an Australian comedian, media personality and former radio presenter. He first came to fame when he won his round of the comedic talent search Raw Comedy in 1996. Soon thereafter, he began working at Triple J, on mid-dawn and drive shifts before hosting the Triple J Breakfast Show with Wil Anderson. He later hosted Breakfast on 702 ABC Sydney.
He is a patron of science-related events and programs, including the University of Sydney's Sleek Geeks Science Prize (category in the Eureka Prize). He collaborated with Karl Kruszelnicki for the long-running Sleek Geek Week tour (as part of National Science Week). He hosts events and panels, writes mathematical recreation books, and performs his own comedy at events around the country.
He is an avid supporter of the Australian rules football team, the Sydney Swans, and was declared their number one ticket holder for the 2016 season.Balaam
Balaam /ˈbeɪlæm/ (Hebrew: בִּלְעָם, Standard Bilʻam Tiberian Bilʻām) is a diviner in the Torah (Old Testament), his story begins in Chapter 22 in the Book of Numbers (Numbers:22). Every ancient reference to Balaam considers him a non-Israelite, a prophet, and the son of Beor, though Beor is not clearly identified. Though some sources may only describe the positive blessings he delivers upon the Israelites, he is reviled as a "wicked man" in both the Torah and the New Testament (2 Peter 2:15, Jude 1:11, Revelation 2:14). Balaam refused to speak what God did not speak and would not curse the Israelites, even though King Balak of Moab offered him money to do so (Numbers 22–24). But Balaam's error and the source of his wickedness came from sabotaging the Israelites as they entered the Promised Land. According to Revelation (Revelation 2:14), Balaam told King Balak how to get the Israelites to commit sin by enticing them with sexual immorality and food sacrificed to idols. The Israelites fell into transgression due to these traps and God sent a deadly plague to them as a result (Numbers 31:16).Balaam and the Ass
Balaam and the Ass is a 1626 painting by the Dutch artist Rembrandt, dating from his time in Leiden and now in the Musée Cognacq-Jay in Paris.
It portrays the biblical account of the talking ass debating with diviner Balaam.Book on Numbers and Computation
The Book on Numbers and Computation (Chinese: 筭數書; pinyin: Suàn shù shū), or the Writings on Reckoning, is one of the earliest known Chinese mathematical treatises. It was written during the early Western Han Dynasty, sometime between 202 BC and 186 BC.Dathan
Dathan (Hebrew: דָּתָן Dāṯān) was an Israelite mentioned in the Old Testament as a participant of the Exodus.
He was a son of Eliab, the son of Pallu, the son of Reuben. Together with his brother Abiram, the Levite Korah and others, he rebelled against Moses and Aaron. The Book of Numbers relates that "the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses." (Book of Numbers 16:31)Eldad and Medad
Eldad and Medad are mentioned in the Book of Numbers, and are described as having prophesied among the Israelites, despite the fact that they had remained in the camp, while 70 elders had gone to the tabernacle outside the camp to receive the ability to prophesy from God. According to the narrative, Joshua asked Moses to forbid Eldad and Medad from prophecy, but Moses argued that it was a good thing that others could prophesy, and that ideally all the Israelites would prophesy.In rabbinical tradition, Eldad and Medad are said to have predicted a war with Gog and Magog, with the king from Magog uniting the non-Jews and launching war in Palestine against the Jews, but these non-Jews being defeated and slain by fire from the Throne of God. Some classical rabbinical literature argues that the non-Jews would be at the mercy of the Jewish Messiah; such Messianic connections of Eldad and Medad also circulated among early Christian groups, and a particularly popular discussion of such prophecy was even quoted in the apocryphal Shepherd of Hermas.According to biblical scholars, the real purpose of the story was to indicate that prophecy was not restricted to a select few people. However, the text states that Eldad and Medad were of them that were written down, making them less representative of the general population, although some textual scholars believe that this is a gloss added to the original Elohist account, by a later editor who objected to the idea that anyone could become a prophet. The names themselves are hence unimportant to the point of the story, and may have been chosen simply for the sake of assonance; they seem to refer to dad, suggesting polytheism and/or a non-Israelite origin:
if the names are Hebrew, then dad could mean paternal uncle, with Eldad thus meaning God is the brother of my father or El is the brother of my father, and Medad meaning (one who is) of my father's brother
if the names are Assyrian, then dad could be a corruption of daddu, meaning beloved, with Eldad thus meaning God is beloved or El is beloved, and Medad meaning object of affection
if the names are Akkadian, then dad could be a corruption of Adad, the name of a deity known to the Aramaeans as Hadad, with Eldad thus meaning El is Hadad or Hadad is God, and Medad meaning (one who is) of HadadAccording to Jewish tradition, Eldad and Medad were buried in the same cave in Edrei.Ephraim
Ephraim ; (Hebrew: אֶפְרַיִם/אֶפְרָיִם, Efrayim) was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan.The Book of Numbers lists three sons of Ephraim: Shuthelah, Beker, and Tahan. However, 1 Chronicles 7 claims that he had at least eight sons, including Ezer and Elead, who were killed by local men who came to rob him of his cattle. After their deaths he had another son, Beriah. He was the ancestor of Joshua, son of Nun, the leader of the Israelite tribes in the conquest of Canaan.According to the biblical narrative, Jeroboam, who became the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, was also from the house of Ephraim.Gilead
Gilead or Gilad (; Hebrew: גִּלְעָד, Arabic: جلعاد) is the name of three people and two geographic places in the Bible. Gilead may mean hill of testimony. If this the case, it is likely derived from gal‛êd, which in turn comes from gal (heap, mound, hill) and ‛êd (witness, testimony). There also exists an alternative theory that it means rocky region. It is now within the Kingdom of Jordan.Heresy of Peor
The heresy of Peor is an event related in the Torah at Numbers 25:1–15. Later biblical references to the event occur in Numbers 25:18 and 31:16, Deuteronomy 4:3, Joshua 22:17, Hosea 9:10; Psalm 106:28. Another reference is found in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 10:8.Manna
Manna (Hebrew: מָן mān, Greek: μάννα; Arabic: المَنّ), sometimes or archaically spelled mana, is an edible substance which, according to the Bible and the Quran, God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert during the forty-year period following the Exodus and prior to the conquest of Canaan.Meribah
Meribah or "Mirabah" (Hebrew: מְרִיבָה) is one of the locations which the Torah identifies as having been travelled through by the Israelites, during the Exodus, although the continuous list of visited stations in the Book of Numbers does not mention it. In the Book of Exodus, Meribah is mentioned at the same time as Massah, in a context which suggests that Massah is the same location as Meribah, but other biblical mentions of Massah and Meribah, such as that in the Blessing of Moses, seem to imply that they are distinct.Numbers Rabbah
Numbers Rabbah (or Bamidbar Rabbah in Hebrew) is a religious text holy to classical Judaism. It is a midrash comprising a collection of ancient rabbinical homiletic interpretations of the book of Numbers (Bamidbar in Hebrew).
In the first printed edition of the work of Constantinople (1512), it is called Bamidbar Sinai Rabbah, and so cited frequently by Nahmanides (1194–c. 1270) and others. It is the latest component of the Rabbot collection of midrash on the Torah, and as such was unknown to Nathan ben Jehiel (c. 1035–1106), Rashi (1040–1105), and Yalkut.Og
Og (Hebrew: עוֹג, ‘Ōḡ ʕoːɡ; Arabic: عوج, cûĝ [ʕuːd͡ʒ]) according to the Hebrew Bible, was an Amorite king of Bashan who, along with his army, was slain by Moses and his men at the battle of Edrei. In Arabic literature he is referred to as ‘Uj ibn Anaq (‘Ûj ibn ‘Anâq عوج بن عنق).
Og is introduced in the Book of Numbers. Like his neighbor Sihon of Heshbon, whom Moses had previously conquered at the battle of Jahaz, he was an Amorite king, the ruler of Bashan, which contained sixty walled cities and many unwalled towns, with his capital at Ashtaroth (probably modern Tell Ashareh, where there still exists a 70-foot mound).
The Book of Numbers, Chapter 21, and Deuteronomy, Chapter 3, continues:
"Next we turned and headed for the land of Bashan, where King Og and his entire army attacked us at Edrei. But the Lord told me, ‘Do not be afraid of him, for I have given you victory over Og and his entire army, and I will give you all his land. Treat him just as you treated King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.’“So the Lord our God handed King Og and all his people over to us, and we killed them all. Not a single person survived. We conquered all sixty of his towns—the entire Argob region in his kingdom of Bashan. Not a single town escaped our conquest. These towns were all fortified with high walls and barred gates. We also took many unwalled villages at the same time. 6 We completely destroyed the kingdom of Bashan, just as we had destroyed King Sihon of Heshbon. We destroyed all the people in every town we conquered—men, women, and children alike. But we kept all the livestock for ourselves and took plunder from all the towns.“So we took the land of the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River—all the way from the Arnon Gorge to Mount Hermon. (Mount Hermon is called Sirion by the Sidonians, and the Amorites call it Senir.) We had now conquered all the cities on the plateau and all Gilead and Bashan, as far as the towns of Salecah and Edrei, which were part of Og’s kingdom in Bashan. (King Og of Bashan was the last survivor of the giant Rephaites. His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide. It can still be seen in the Ammonite city of Rabbah.)"Og's destruction is told in Psalms 135:11 and 136:20 as one of many great victories for the nation of Israel, and the Book of Amos 2:9 may refer to Og as "the Amorite" whose height was like the height of the cedars and whose strength was like that of the oaks.Phinehas
According to the Hebrew Bible, Phinehas or Phineas (; Hebrew: פִּנְחָס, Modern: Pinəḥas, Tiberian: Pineḥās) was a priest during the Israelites' Exodus journey, the grandson of Aaron and son of Eleazar, the High Priests (Exodus 6:25). He distinguished himself as a youth at Shittim with his zeal against the Heresy of Peor. He was displeased with the immorality with which the Moabites and Midianites had successfully tempted the Israelites (Numbers 25:1–9) to inter-marry and to worship Baal-peor, so he personally executed an Israelite man and a Midianite woman while they were together in the man's tent, running a javelin or spear through the man and the belly of the woman, bringing to an end the plague sent by God to punish the Israelites for sexually intermingling with the Midianites.
Phinehas is commended for having stopped Israel's fall to idolatrous practices brought in by Midianite women, as well as for stopping the desecration of God's sanctuary. After the entry to the land of Israel and the death of his father, he was appointed the third High Priest of Israel, and served at the sanctuary of Bethel (Judges 20:28). He is commemorated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church on September 2.Promised Land
The Promised Land (Hebrew: הארץ המובטחת, translit.: ha'aretz hamuvtakhat; Arabic: أرض الميعاد, translit.: ard al-mi'ad; also known as "The Land of Milk and Honey") is the land which, according to the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), was promised and subsequently given by God to Abraham and his descendants, and in modern contexts an image and idea related both to the restored Homeland for the Jewish people and to salvation and liberation is more generally understood.
The promise was first made to Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21), then confirmed to his son Isaac (Genesis 26:3), and then to Isaac's son Jacob (Genesis 28:13), Abraham's grandson. The Promised Land was described in terms of the territory from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates river (Exodus 23:31). A smaller area of former Canaanite land and land east of the Jordan River was conquered and occupied by their descendants, the Israelites, after Moses led the Exodus out of Egypt (Numbers 34:1-12), and this occupation was interpreted as God's fulfilment of the promise (Deuteronomy 1:8). Moses anticipated that God might subsequently give the Israelites land reflecting the boundaries of God's original promise, if they were obedient to the covenant (Deuteronomy 19:8-9).
The concept of the Promised Land is the central tenet of Zionism, whose discourse suggests that modern Jews descend from the Israelites and Maccabees through whom they inherit the right to re-establish their "national homeland". Palestinians also claim partial descent from the Israelites and Maccabees, as well as all the other peoples who have lived in the region.The imagery of the "Promised Land" was invoked in African-American spirituals as heaven or paradise and as an escape from slavery, which can often only be reached by death. The imagery and term have also been used in popular culture (see Promised Land (disambiguation)), sermons and in speeches, such as the "I've Been to the Mountaintop" (1968) speech by Martin Luther King Jr.:
"I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."Sifre
Sifre (Hebrew: סִפְרֵי; siphrēy, Sifre, Sifrei, also, Sifre debe Rab or Sifre Rabbah) refers to either of two works of Midrash halakhah, or classical Jewish legal Biblical exegesis, based on the biblical books of Bamidbar (Numbers) and Devarim (Deuteronomy).Sifri Zutta
Sifre Zutta (Hebrew: ספרי זוטא) is a midrash on the Book of Numbers. (Zur Gesch. der Jüdischen Tradition, ii. 238). Medieval authors mention it under the titles "Sifre shel Panim Aḥerim" and "Wi-Yeshalleḥu Ẓuta"; and to distinguish from it the Sifre, Or Zarua (ii. 22) calls the latter "Sifre Rabbati." The Sifre Zuṭa has not been preserved; and, as appears from a remark of Abraham Bakrat, it was no longer extant at the time in which he wrote his commentary on Rashi (comp. Brüll, Der Kleine Sifre, in Grätz Jubelschrift, p. 184). However, fragments of the Sifre Zutta have been discovered in the Cairo Geniza, and excerpts taken from the book are quoted in the Midrash HaGadol and in Yalḳut Shim'oni.The Twelve Spies
The Twelve Spies (Hebrew: שנים עשר המרגלים), as recorded in the Book of Numbers, were a group of Israelite chieftains, one from each of the Twelve Tribes, who were dispatched by Moses to scout out the Land of Canaan for 40 days as a future home for the Israelite people, during the time when the Israelites were in the wilderness following their Exodus from Ancient Egypt. The account is found in Numbers 13:1-33.
God had promised Abraham that there would be a Promised Land for the nations to come out of his son, Isaac. The land of Canaan which the spies were to explore was the same Promised Land. Moses asked for an assessment of the geographical features of the land, the strength and numbers of the population, the agricultural potential and actual performance of the land, civic organization (whether their cities were like camps or strongholds), and forestry conditions. He also asked them to be positive in their outlook and to return with samples of local produce.
When ten of the twelve spies showed little faith in the doom and gloom report they gave about the land, they were slandering what they believed God had promised them. They did not believe that God could help them, and the people as a whole were persuaded that it was not possible to take the land. As a result, the entire nation was made to wander in the desert for 40 years, until almost the entire generation of men had died. Joshua and Caleb were the two spies who brought back a good report and believed that God would help them succeed. They were the only men from their generation permitted to go into the Promised Land after the time of wandering.Transjordan in the Bible
The Transjordan (Hebrew: עבר הירדן, Ever HaYarden) is an area of land in the Southern Levant lying east of the Jordan River.