Lots of numbers — Numbers 1-3

Although it may not seem too much like it at this point, we’re about to enter into another narrative section of the Law. In case some of this vocabulary is new to you, the first 5 books of the Bible are known as either the Law, the Torah, or the Pentateuch. They are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. They were written by Moses (as per Matt. 8:4; Matt 19:8; Matt. 22:24; Mark 12:19; Mark 12:26; Luke 2:22; Acts 3:22; and others). Anyway, much of the 5 books is law, regulation, statute, and census; but much of it is also narrative. Hang on a little longer and we’ll start up the narrative (the story part) again. But for now, we have census to deal with.

This needn’t be as uninteresting as we sometimes imagine genealogy to be. There are references to people we know, ancestors of Jesus, and some interesting details about the Israelite’s journey through the wilderness.

But what I found interesting is the numbers themselves. Yes, the numbers! There were over 600,000 men in Israel’s army: men, 20 years old to approximately 40 years old (whoever was able to go out to war). Why is this interesting? Because of what we can surmise about the actual numbers of people cross the desert here. There would have been close to 4 times (conservatively speaking) as many people (women, children, teens, and old people) crossing the desert as there were soldiers. Each man we may presume had a wife (some men had more than one) and at least one or two children; many would have had many more than two, but we’ll average. Each soldier possibly had one living parent. That means that there were conservatively speaking, 2.4 million Israelites wandering around in the wilderness — each with cattle and sheep. The logistics would have been mind-boggling.

How did Moses find water enough to give 2.4 million people and their animals? Where could Moses find grazing enough for the millions of animals in the herds of these people? Where could Moses find enough food to eat in the middle of an arid and barren “nowhere”? Where could he find enough general supplies like clothing shoes, etc.? He couldn’t, of course. God did.

We fail to grasp, I think, the miracle of Israel in the wilderness. And failing to grasp that God provided so well and so generously for Israel keeps us from believing that He will take care of our needs, too.

See you tomorrow, Lord willing.

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
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