Numbers 1-4: How to Move

I’ve been a little intimidated of Numbers. These logistical chapters have been a bit of a trudge and I’m not exactly looking forward to more of it. I’ll get through it though. It is valuable information, just not all of it is pertinent to the purpose of this study, which is to see just how misogynistic the Bible is or isn’t and take a feminist look at it’s tenets. Like I said in the Reflections on Leviticus, I won’t be judging the whole book on pretty much anything that happens this early, though. That’s likely to go for the entire Old Testament. That being said, Numbers doesn’t even start out with information that’s pertinent to this study, though there are some things we can glean from it.

These first four chapters are entirely about how to set up future encampments and assessing their war strength. The first chapter counts all the able-bodied men of each tribe except the Levites. Chapter two tells them how to set up their next camp. Chapter three counts the Levites and does a trade and a redemption for them as the first borns, it goes on to begin to explain their duties which are seperate from the men who were counted to fight earlier. Then chapter four continues lining out the duties for the Levites while they are moving camps.

Some notes:

  • The total number of war fighting Israelites = 603,550
  • The total number of Levites = 22,000
  • The total numer of Israelite first borns = 22,273 (the last 273 had a redemption price paid for them but the others were kind of traded for a Levite)
  • Women were not counted in any of these chapters, neither were males under 20 as war fighters and most of the Levites were between 30 and 50 only.
  • It was interesting to see that the age for the Levites was so different, but it does make a little sense when you think about it. Men over 30 would likely already have children that are old enough to help move the household which would leave them free to move the items from the tent of meeting without worry or family strain. Men over 50 would likely be too old to carry the weight.

Have you read it? What do you think?

Chapter links go to the ESV translations at but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App.



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