Our seventh flight over the Bible from 30,000 Feet will take us through Numbers chapters 1-14. Numbers is the fourth of the Pentateuch. In the Hebrew it is called ba-midbar, "in the wilderness." In the Septuagint version it is called Arithmoi or "numbers," and this name is now the usual title of the book. It is so called because it contains a record of the numbering of the people in the wilderness of Sinai (1-4), and of their numbering afterwards on the plain of Moab (26). The key chapters to review in advance are: Numbers 3, 6, 9, 11, 13 & 14.
Numbers is the fourth of the Pentateuch. In the Hebrew it is called ba-midbar, "in the wilderness." In the Septuagint version it is called Arithmoi or "numbers," and this name is now the usual title of the book. It is so called because it contains a record of the numbering of the people in the wilderness of Sinai (1-4), and of their numbering afterwards on the plain of Moab (26).
CALENDAR OF EVENTS:
c. 1527 B.C.
Moses Is Born
c. 1487 B.C.
Moses Flees Egypt For Midian
c. 1446 B.C.
The Israelites Cross The Red Sea And Arrive At Mt. Sinai
c. 1445 B.C.
The Law Is Given At Mount Sinai
c. 1445-1405 B.C.
Events In Numbers
c. 1407 B.C.
Return To The Wilderness Of Sin And The Instructions Of Deuteronomy
c. 1406 B.C.
Forty Years Of Wandering In The Wilderness
c. 1405 B.C.
Israel Enters The Promised Land Under Joshua
The Book Of Numbers can be divided into two sections. The first section covers the process of organizing the wilderness march and ends with Israel refusing to enter into the Promised Land.
1. Organizing people and priesthood - Numbers 1-4
2. Consecration and obedience affirmed by God's Presence - Numbers 5-10
3. Complaint by the people, Moses, Miriam and Aaron - Numbers 11-12
4. Disbelief in the promises of God at Kadesh - Numbers 13-14
NOTE: Another way to look at the book of Numbers is by the generations. Part 1 deals with the first generation in the wilderness (1-25) and Part 2 deals with the second generation entering the Promised Land (26-36).
PLACES OF INTEREST:
Canaan - during the time of the Hebrews this was a thinly populated land with relatively prosperous agricultural communities. The Amorites occupied the hilly regions west of the Dead Sea and East of the Jordan River. The Phoenicians occupied the coastal regions.
Kadesh - the sacred city of the Hittites, on the left bank of the Orontes, about 4 miles south of the Lake of Homs.
Kibroth Hattaavah - Translated means "the graves of the longing or of lust." Located 30 miles northeast of Sinai, this is the place where the children of Israel complained regarding the way that God was providing for them. God punished them by giving them what they want - meat in the form of quail. The meat spread disease among them and a plague broke out killing many.
Wilderness Of Paran - the location of much of the wilderness wanderings. The Paran plateau contains a lot of gravel because with a lack of rain, there is no soil formation. It is located in the north-eastern section of the Sinai Peninsula with the Arabah on the east and the wilderness of Shur on the west.
PEOPLE OF INTEREST:
1. Caleb - From the tribe of Judah, Caleb was one of the twelve spies sent to scout the land of Canaan (Num 13). He gave an honest report, as did Joshua, and was later granted entrance into the Promised Land. When Israel did enter Canaan forty years later, Caleb was given the area around the city of Hebron.
2. Joshua - The son of Nun of the tribe of Ephraim. Of the twelve spies, Joshua and Caleb were the only two men who gave an encouraging report, and were rewarded with permission to enter Israel with the new generation of Israelites. Later, he was chosen to succeed Moses as the leader of Israel (Num 27).
3. Levi - the third son born to Jacob by Lea and a full brother of Reuben, Simeon and Judah. All the male descendants of Levi (Levites) were set apart by Moses, acting under Divine command, for the service of the sanctuary. Moses himself was a Levite. They never cultivated the soil, nor worked at trades, but were to receive one tenth as tithes from the people. Their duty was to instruct the people in the law.
4. Miriam - Miriam was the oldest sister of Aaron and Moses. According to some sources she was 7 years older than Moses. Miriam was the one who arranged for the mother of Moses to nurse and raise Moses until he was weaned.
5. Sons Of Aaron - Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord because they offered profane fire. Eleazar and Ithamar ministered as priests in the presence of Aaron.
6. Sons Of Gershon - They were responsible for transporting the curtains and the holy items of the tabernacle from place to place.
7. Sons Of Kohath - This family was in charge of setting up and taking down the tabernacle. They were part of the tribe of Levi.
8. Sons Of Merari - They were responsible for transporting the hardware for the tabernacle from place to place.
9. The Heads Of The Tribes Of Israel:
Anointed - The verb means to wet or daub a person with olive oil. This ritual designated a person or object as set apart for God's special purposes. Kings, priests and prophets were anointed at the beginning of their service.
Cloud By Day And Fire By Night - Was this real? YES. The cloud would cover the people during the day - providing protection from the desert sun. The fire would burn in the midst of the camp providing warmth and comfort during the night.
Laying On Of Hands - This is actually an Old Testament ritual and represented that the person was being dedicated entirely to the Lord. Three things occurred: (1) Hands were physically placed on the person, (2) This symbolic act identified this person to the public as being dedicated to the Lord, (3) Prayers asking for God's divine sanction were offered publicly.
Nazarite Vow - A vow made voluntarily by those who desired to separate themselves unto the Lord for a determined season. During this time of separation the Nazarite was bound by three absolute restrictions: (1) Eat nothing made of the vine, (2) Cannot cut their hair, (3) He could not touch a dead body.
Figure 1 The Wilderness Journey
Figure 2 The Placement Of The 12 Tribes Of Israel