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Highlights of Numbers 1, 2, 3

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Highlights From Bible Reading ‒ Numbers 1, 2, 3

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Num 1:1 - *** si p. 25 par. 3 Bible Book Number 3—Leviticus ***
(Numbers 1:1) 1 And Jehovah spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Si′nai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year of their coming out of the land of Egypt. He said:
3 What time period does Leviticus cover? The book of Exodus concludes with the setting up of the tabernacle “in the first month, in the second year, on the first day of the month.” The book of Numbers (immediately following the Leviticus account) opens with Jehovah’s speaking to Moses “on the first day of the second month in the second year of their coming out of the land of Egypt.” It follows, therefore, that not more than a lunar month could have elapsed for the few events of Leviticus, most of the book consisting of laws and regulations.—Ex. 40:17; Num. 1:1; Lev. 8:1–10:7; 24:10-23.

Num 1:19 - *** si p. 31 par. 12 Bible Book Number 4—Numbers ***
(Numbers 1:19) 19 just as Jehovah had commanded Moses. So he registered them in the wilderness of Si′nai.
At Jehovah’s command a census is now taken of all the men 20 years old and upward. The tribes are found to range in size from 32,200 able-bodied men in Manasseh up to 74,600 in Judah, making a total of 603,550 men qualified to serve in the army of Israel, besides the Levites and the women and children—a camp perhaps numbering three million or more.

Num 1:53 - *** it-1 p. 397 Camp ***
(Numbers 1:53) 53 And the Levites should encamp around the tabernacle of the Testimony, so that no indignation may arise against the assembly of the Israelites; and the Levites must be responsible for the care of the tabernacle of the Testimony.”
Thus those assigned to serve at Jehovah’s sanctuary lived near to and surrounding the tabernacle, providing a protective cordon from intrusion by non-Levites, “that no indignation may arise against the assembly.”—Nu 1:53; 7:3-9.

Num 2:1,2 - *** w04 8/1 p. 24 par. 5 Highlights From the Book of Numbers ***
(Numbers 2:1, 2) 2 Jehovah now spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 2 “The Israelites should encamp where their three-tribe division is assigned, each man near the banner of his paternal house. They should camp facing the tent of meeting, all around it.

2:1, 2—What were “the signs” around which the three-tribe divisions were to encamp in the wilderness? The Bible does not give a description of what these signs were. However, they were not regarded as sacred symbols or given religious significance. The signs were used for a practical purpose—to help a person find his proper place in the camp.

Num 2:31 - *** it-1 p. 573 Dan ***
(Numbers 2:31) 31 “All those registered in the camp of Dan are 157,600. They should break camp last, according to their three-tribe divisions.”
In the wilderness Dan’s tribe, with Ahiezer as chieftain, was assigned to camp on the N of the tabernacle alongside the tribes of Asher and Naphtali. On the move the tribe marched in the highly important position as rear guard, a compliment to their courage, loyalty, and dependability.—Nu 2:25-31; 10:25.

Num 3:3 - *** it-1 p. 831 Fill Hand With Power ***
(Numbers 3:3) 3 These were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests who had been installed to serve as priests.
The Hebrew expression mil•leʼ′ yadh, translated “consecrate” in many versions, literally means “fill the hand” and is used with reference to putting full power in the hands of those who are to serve in a priestly office. At their installation as priests of Jehovah, Aaron and his sons had their hands filled with power to serve in that capacity. (Ex 28:41; 29:9, 29, 33, 35; Le 8:33; 16:32; 21:10; Nu 3:3) To symbolize this, the ram of installation was killed and cut up, and parts of it together with certain baked items from the basket of unfermented cakes were put by Moses upon the palms of Aaron and his sons, who then waved the offering before Jehovah. Finally the things waved were made to smoke upon the altar on top of the burnt offering.—Ex 29:19-25; Le 8:22-28; see ANOINTED, ANOINTING; INSTALLATION; PRIEST.

Num 3:9 - *** w92 4/15 p. 12 par. 3 Jehovah’s Provision, the “Given Ones” ***
(Numbers 3:9) 9 You are to give the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They are given ones, given to him from the Israelites.
3 Jehovah told Moses: “Bring the tribe of Levi near . . . And they must take care of all the utensils of the tent of meeting . . . And you must give the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They are given ones [Hebrew, nethu•nim′], given to him from the sons of Israel.” (Numbers 3:6, 8, 9, 41) The Levites were “given” to Aaron to carry out duties in tabernacle service, so God could say: “They are given ones, given to me from among the sons of Israel.” (Numbers 8:16, 19; 18:6) Some Levites performed simple tasks; others received outstanding privileges, such as teaching God’s laws. (Numbers 1:50, 51; 1 Chronicles 6:48; 23:3, 4, 24-32; 2 Chronicles 35:3-5)

Num 3:13 - *** it-2 p. 683 Priest ***
(Numbers 3:13) 13 For every firstborn is mine. In the day that I struck every firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to myself every firstborn in Israel from man to beast. They are to become mine. I am Jehovah.”
Under the Law Covenant. When the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt, Jehovah sanctified to himself every firstborn son of Israel at the time that he destroyed Egypt’s firstborn in the tenth plague. (Ex 12:29; Nu 3:13) These firstborn ones accordingly belonged to Jehovah, to be used exclusively in special service to him. God could have designated all of these firstborn males of Israel as the priests and caretakers of the sanctuary. Instead, it suited his purpose to take male members of the tribe of Levi for this service. For this reason he permitted the nation to substitute the Levite males for the firstborn males of the other 12 tribes (the offspring of Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh being counted as two tribes). In a census there proved to be 273 more firstborn non-Levite sons from a month old and upward than there were Levite males, so God required a ransom price of five shekels ($11) for each of the 273, the money being turned over to Aaron and his sons. (Nu 3:11-16, 40-51) Prior to this transaction Jehovah had already set apart the male members of the family of Aaron of the tribe of Levi as constituting the priesthood of Israel.—Nu 1:1; 3:6-10.

Num 3:28 - *** it-1 p. 912 Genealogy ***
(Numbers 3:28) 28 The number of all the males from a month old and up was 8,600; they were responsible for taking care of the holy place.
Another problem for Bible scholars concerns the same census. At Numbers 3:27, 28, it is stated that four families sprang from Kohath, totaling, at the time of the Exodus, the high number of 8,600 males (8,300, some MSS of LXX) from a month old upward. Thus it would appear that Moses had, at this time, thousands of brothers, male cousins, and nephews. Some have concluded from this that Moses was not the son of Amram the son of Kohath but of another Amram, with several generations between, so as to allow sufficient time for the development of such a large male population in just four Kohathite families by the time of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt.
But the problem may be resolved in two ways. First, not all of a man’s sons were always named, as illustrated earlier. Therefore, it is possible that Kohath, Amram, and Amram’s four named sons had more sons than those specifically listed. Second, even though Levi, Kohath, Amram, and Moses represent four generations from the viewpoint of their four lifetimes, each could have seen several generations during his lifetime. Thus, even though we allow 60 years each between the births of Levi and Kohath, Kohath and Amram, and Amram and Moses, many generations could have been born within each 60-year period. Moses could have seen great-great-grandnephews, and possibly even their children, by the time of the Exodus. Hence the total of 8,600 (or, possibly, 8,300) would not necessitate another Amram between Amram the son of Kohath and Moses.

Num 3:30 - *** it-1 p. 816 Father’s House ***
(Numbers 3:30) 30 The chieftain of the paternal house of the families of the Ko′hath•ites was E•li•za′phan the son of Uz′zi•el.
(4), as variously translated, to a “father’s house,” “chief house,” “ancestral house,” “paternal house,” which, in some cases, took in several families. For example, at the time of numbering the Israelites in the wilderness, four families were regarded as making up the paternal house of Kohath. (Nu 3:19, 30; see also Ex 6:14; Nu 26:20-22; Jos 7:17.) Several paternal houses constituted a tribe (such as the tribe of Levi, made up of the paternal houses of Gershon, Kohath, and Merari).

Num 3:38 - *** it-1 p. 74 Alien Resident ***
(Numbers 3:38) 38 Those camping in front of the tabernacle toward the east, before the tent of meeting toward the sunrise, were Moses and Aaron and his sons. They were responsible for taking care of the sanctuary as their obligation in behalf of the Israelites. Any unauthorized person coming near would be put to death.
The considering of persons as strangers was done in matters pertaining to the Aaronic family and the tribe of Levi, and it affected the natural Israelite and the alien resident, as well as all other persons. Priestly functions were committed by the Law to the family of Aaron (Ex 28:1-3), and other temple matters were assigned to the tribe of Levi in general. (Nu 1:49, 50, 53) All other persons, including the natural Israelites of the 12 non-Levitical tribes, were likened to strangers with respect to the Levitical tribe in certain affairs. (Ex 29:33, NW ftn, “‘non-Aaronite,’ that is, a man not of the family of Aaron”; KJ margin, “every one not a Levite”; Nu 3:38, NW ftn, “that is, a non-Levite”; JB, “layman.” See also Le 22:10; Nu 3:10.) According to the context “stranger,” in most occurrences in the Pentateuch, refers to anyone not of the family of Aaron or not of the tribe of Levi, because priestly or ministerial privileges and duties were not assigned to him.
The stranger (non-Aaronite) could not eat of the installation sacrifice (Ex 29:33), nor be anointed with holy anointing oil (Ex 30:33), nor eat anything holy (Le 22:10). A non-Aaronite stranger could not handle any priestly duties. (Nu 3:10; 16:40; 18:7) A non-Levite stranger, that is, even those of any of the other 12 tribes, could not come near the tabernacle to set it up or for any purpose except to offer sacrifices or to approach the priests at the gate of the tent of meeting. (Le 4:24, 27-29) The daughter of a priest who married a non-Aaronite stranger could not eat of the contribution of the holy things, nor could her “stranger” husband.—Le 22:12, 13.

Num 3:39 - *** it-1 pp. 779-780 Exodus ***
(Numbers 3:39) 39 All the Levite males from a month old and up, whom Moses and Aaron registered by their families at the order of Jehovah, were 22,000.
In the census shortly after the Exodus the Levites were counted separately, and those from a month old upward numbered 22,000. (Nu 3:39) The question may arise as to why among all the other 12 tribes there were only 22,273 firstborn males from a month old upward. (Nu 3:43) This can easily be understood when the fact is appreciated that family heads were not counted, that because of polygamy a man might have many sons but only one firstborn, and that it was the firstborn son of the man and not of the woman that was counted.

Num 3:41 - *** w95 7/1 p. 16 par. 8 “The Israel of God” and the “Great Crowd” ***
(Numbers 3:41) 41 You must take the Levites for me—I am Jehovah—in place of all the firstborn of the Israelites, and take the domestic animals of the Levites in place of all the firstborn of the domestic animals of the Israelites.”
Were they a kingdom of priests? Well, in Israel the tribe of Levi was set aside for temple service, and within that tribe there was the Levitical priesthood. When the Mosaic Law was inaugurated, Levite males were taken in exchange for the firstborn of every non-Levite family. (Exodus 22:29; Numbers 3:11-16, 40-51) Thus, every family in Israel was, as it were, represented in temple service. This was the closest the nation got to being a priesthood.

Num 3:43 - *** it-1 pp. 779-780 Exodus ***
(Numbers 3:43) 43 The number of all the firstborn males who were registered by name from a month old and up was 22,273.
In the census shortly after the Exodus the Levites were counted separately, and those from a month old upward numbered 22,000. (Nu 3:39) The question may arise as to why among all the other 12 tribes there were only 22,273 firstborn males from a month old upward. (Nu 3:43) This can easily be understood when the fact is appreciated that family heads were not counted, that because of polygamy a man might have many sons but only one firstborn, and that it was the firstborn son of the man and not of the woman that was counted.

Num 3:45 - *** w95 7/1 p. 16 par. 8 “The Israel of God” and the “Great Crowd” ***
(Numbers 3:45) 45 “Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn among the Israelites, and take the domestic animals of the Levites in place of their domestic animals, and the Levites must become mine. I am Jehovah.
Were they a kingdom of priests? Well, in Israel the tribe of Levi was set aside for temple service, and within that tribe there was the Levitical priesthood. When the Mosaic Law was inaugurated, Levite males were taken in exchange for the firstborn of every non-Levite family. (Exodus 22:29; Numbers 3:11-16, 40-51) Thus, every family in Israel was, as it were, represented in temple service. This was the closest the nation got to being a priesthood.

References consulted on: Watchtower Library 2013 CD‒ROM

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